Ballinlough eventually seen off Longwood after extra-time to claim the Division 5 B-League title in Trim on Sunday. In a memorable encounter it was Ballinlough’s superior scoring power that finally seen them over the line.
A small crowd of enthusiasts were on hand as the North Meath club claimed their first title at adult level for 13 years, during which they endured seven successive defeats in county finals at various different levels. Fittingly one of Ballinlough’s better players was Kevin Devine; he was the only link between their last success which was also a Division 5 B-League title.
Ballinlough were out of sorts early on as Longwood made the better start; Conor Keenan and Alan Ennis were lively as they went 0-4 to 0-0 ahead after 11 minutes. But eventually ‘The Reds’ came to life when Tommy Shine kicked over a free and they were level after 17 minutes after Jonnie Reilly, who worked tirelessly throughout, supplied Ken Rothwell who powerfully finished to the Longwood net. Ballinlough had the upper hand for the remainder of the half and they got a major boost late in the half when Junior O’ Reilly combined with Tommy Shine who slotted home their second goal. Five points separated the teams at the switch of ends as Ballinlough led; 2-6 to 0-7.
Longwood were much quicker out of the blocks at the start of the second half as they reeled off a goal and two points without reply. Jim Dorran got the goal in the 32nd minute when he reacted quickest after the ball had struck the upright and the sides were level; 2-6 to 1-9, after Conor Keenan kicked a good point in the 40th minute. Tommy Shine was prolific in the Ballinlough attack and he kicked a good point to push them in front but Longwood were ahead in the 51st minute when Alan Ennis calmly slotted home a penalty to leave the scores; 2-7 to 2-9. Ballinlough’s response was positive as the kicked over three points in a row to hold a slender one point and when goalkeeper Matthew Brady fielded a ball brilliantly which appeared to be going over the bar it looked as if they were set for victory, but Ian Keenan kicked a great score from out on the right as the game finished; 2-11 to 2-11, at the end of 60 minutes.
With legs tiring rapidly a good start to extra time was always going to be crucial and it was the winners that made a dream start as Tommy Shine and Ken Rothwell both scored goals during the first period and even though Alan Ennis replied with a major for Longwood they were left with a mountain to climb as they trailed by four points; 3-12 to 4-13, after the first period of extra-time.
Both teams played continued to battle ferociously during the second period of extra time but scores were much harder to come by as the Ballinlough defence, where Michael Geraghty was outstanding, kept a tight reign of the Longwood attack. Simon Deevy kicked the only score of the second period as the North Meath outfit held on for a memorable victory.
After the match Ballinlough captain James Baugh accepted the cup on behalf of his teammates and he thanked club sponsors Quickway Contractors and he also thanked manager Michael Rennicks and selectors Kevin Reilly and Seamus Fagan.
Ballinlough: M. Brady, Jonathon O’ Reilly, E. Smith, M. Geraghty (0-1), K. Devine, N. Farrelly, G. Reilly (0-2), K. Mallen, Jonnie Reilly (0-1), Junior O’ Reilly (0-1), C. Briody, T. Shine (2-6, 2f), S. Deevy (0-1), K. Rothwell (2-2). Subs: J. O’ Higgins for Mallen.