A six point victory would suggest a comfortable win for Ballinlough but it certainly wasn’t the case and it took a late goal from Shane Smyth to finally see off Donaghmore/Ashbourne in an entertaining Junior D Quarter Final in Skyrne on Sunday evening.
Donaghmore/Ashbourne made the livelier start and they opened to a 0-2 to 0-0 lead after six minutes, Bryan Smyth got Ballinlough off the mark with a couple of scores and the sides were level 0-3 to 0-3 after 20 minutes when the Ballinlough defence failed to deal with a high ball which was eventually poked to the net from close range.
The concession of that goal must have acted as a wakeup call for Ballinlough as their performance improved dramatically in the 20 minute period either side of half time. James O’ Keeffe and Jonathon O’ Reilly were solid in the full-back line and midfielders Mark Mc Cullen and Junior O’ Reilly complemented their dominance with a point each before Simon Deevey opened his account to make it, 0-6 to 1-3, after 27 minutes. Then just on the stroke of half-time they made a major breakthrough when Deevey found Mark Mc Cullen in space and he finished to the net leaving his team ahead, 1-6 to 1-3, at the break.
Bryan Smith landed the first score of the second half when he sailed over a ’45 and he added another free from similar distance as Ballinlough made a purposeful start to the second half. The Donaghmore/Ashbourne defence was struggling to contain the Ballinlough attack and soon afterwards Deevey and Smith added further points as they established a seven point lead, 1-10 to 1-3, after 40 minutes.
A comfortable Ballinlough victory seemed the likely conclusion but they endured a nervy 15 minute period during which Donaghmore/Ashbourne hit four unanswered points that brought them right back into contention; 1-10 to 1-7, with three minutes remaining. At that stage the outcome was still in doubt but when Mark Mc Cullen laid the ball off to the onrushing Shane Smyth he finished to the roof of the net to secure a place in the last four for Ballinlough.
Ballinlough: D. Mc Cartan, Jonathon O’ Reilly, J. O’ Keffee, S. Smyth (1-0), P. Briody, G. Smith, E. Smith, M. Mc Cullen (1-2), J. O’ Reilly (0-1), J. O’ Higgins, S. Deevey (0-2), N. Farrelly, D. Lynch, M. Reilly, B. Smith (0-5, 1’45, 2f) Subs: A. Kellett for Farrelly, D. Mc Namee for Briody and J. Farrelly for Reilly.