Cortown provided the venue as Ballinlough booked their place in the Junior D Championship Final following a five point win over Dunsany on Friday evening. Ballinlough……….…………….2-5 Dunsany………………………..1-3
There was little to separate the teams in terms of commitment and effort as they went head to head in an exciting encounter but crucially Ballinlough held a distinct advantage when it came to score taking as Dunsany will look back ruefully on a succession of misses which ultimately ended their chances of success. However to say Dunsany threw this match away would be harsh on a young Ballinlough team that combined plenty of individual talent with a good work ethic, crucial to their success was the performance of their full-back line where James O’ Keeffe and Shane Smyth complemented 17 year old Jonathon O’ Reilly who was outstanding throughout.
Ballinlough got off to the better start and they went ahead, 0-3 to 0-1, with scores from Bryan Smith (two frees) and Niall Farrelly but a goal after 15 minutes propelled Dunsany into a 1-1 to 0-3 lead. Both teams added another point before Ballinlough received a major boost when Niall Farrelly finished brilliantly to the top of the net after Gerard Smith provided the assist with a surging run from inside his own half; this left them ahead, 1-4 to 1-2, after 22 minutes. Dunsany had plenty of possession before half-time and indeed they could have at least been on level terms had they converted a couple of their scoring chances, however the last score of the half came from Mark Mc Cullen who finished off a good Ballinlough move which left them ahead, 1-5 to 1-2, at the break.
The second-half was a tit for tat affair with both teams enjoying spells of dominance however a combination of good defending and poor finishing meant that both teams only added one score each during this period. The decisive incident of the half took place after 41 minutes when lively substitute Christopher Gaughran found Bryan Smith unmarked inside the Dunsany defence, a goal looked inevitable but Smith was hauled down inside the large square and the referee signaled for a penalty. The Dunsany ‘keeper made an excellent save from a well struck Smith penalty but the ball rebounded across the goal mouth where Gaughran palmed the ball into the net to give Ballinlough a, 1-5 to 1-2, lead.
Dunsany set about reducing the deficit and they launched numerous attacks but they only added one more point as poor finishing meant that they never got within touching distance as Ballinlough set up a final bout with either Clann Na NGael or Summerhill.
Ballinlough: D. Mc Cartan, Jonathon O’ Reilly, J. O’ Keffee, S. Smyth, P. Briody, G. Smith, E. Smith, M. Mc Cullen (0-1), J. O’ Reilly, J. O’ Higgins, M. Reilly, N. Farrelly (1-1), D. Lynch, S. Deevey, B. Smith (0-3f) Subs: C. Caughran (1-0) for Lynch, P. Monaghan for Reilly and A. Kellett for Briody.