Little separated the teams throughout and indeed with ten minutes remaining Blackhall Gaels looked the more likely winners as they surged ahead, but the introduction of Brian Brady, Oliver Brady and Michael Geraghty strengthened the Ballinlough attack significantly as they outscored their opponents by; 0-5 to 0-1 before the final whistle and recorded a three point win.
Pictured Left: Ballinlough U-21 captain Mark Mc Cullen.
The winners struggled to get into the game early on and they trailed by 0-3 to 0-1 after 19 minutes before Daire Farrelly produced a sublime piece of skill to flick the ball over the advancing goalkeeper, putting his team ahead; 1-1 to 0-3. Ballinlough enjoyed a purple patch; Adam Fox, Mark Mc Cullen, Gary Reilly and Jack Tunney all landed points as they went in 1-5 to 0-5 ahead at half-time.
Half-time came at the right time for Blackhall Gaels, they regrouped and started the second half very well, with their defence repelling anything the Ballinlough attack had to offer. A great save by Lorcan Gibney in the 42nd minute kept Ballinlough ahead but he was powerless to prevent a spot kick hitting the net two minutes later as Blackhall went ahead; 1-6 to 1-5. Ballinlough were on the ropes but decided to come out fighting, Oliver Brady made an instant impression and his run was halted with a high tackle close to goal, Mark Mc Cullen tipped over the resulting free to level it.
The ball winning ability of Brian Brady was also crucial and he was involved as points from Jonnie Reilly and Jack Tunney counteracted scores for Blackhall Gaels to leave it; 1-8 to 1-8, with 56 minutes on the clock. Ballinlough then recieved a massive boost as Michael Geraghty made a premature return from injury and was sprung from the bench. Geraghty along with the Brady's gave their attack much more power and all of a sudden The Red and Whites looked to have a different team as Tunney (2) and Jonnie Reilly sent them into the last four.
Best for Ballinlough were: James Baugh, Matthew Farrell, Jonnie Reilly, Gary Reilly and Mark Mc Cullen.
Ballinlough: L. Gibney, M. Farrell, J. Baugh, P. Farrelly, J. O' Reilly, J. Reilly (0-3), G. Reilly (0-1), K. Beirne, A. Fox (0-1), M. Mc Cullen (0-2, 1f), D. Montgomery Francis, J. Tunney (0-4, 1f), D. Farrelly (1-0). Subs: B. Brady, O. Brady and M. Geraghty.