A-League Final: Disappointing defeat for Ballinlough
Ballinlough season came to a disappointing end with a one point defeat to Blackhall Gaels in the Division 2 A-League final in Pairc Tailteann on Sunday afternoon.
As in the Corn Na Boinne final luck was not in Ballinlough's favour as they were forced to play much of the game with a numerical disadvantage after they came out the wrong side of a three player dismissal during the first half.
Sean Whelan's five-point salvo after the break was central to Blackhall Gaels' exciting minimum margin win over Ballinlough in the PS Supplies A FL Division 2 final at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday.
The Batterstown-Kilcloon side also used the extra man and the elements to good effect in the second-half to outscore Ballinlough by 0-8 to 0-6. Indeed, Tom Shine's men tagged on the first two scores following the resumption while Blackhall Gaels first second-half score - a Whelan free - didn't arrive until the 45th minute.
That left Blackhall trailing by 0-5 to 0-7 and they kicked-on to outscore Ballinlough by 0-7 to 0-4 in the time remaining that included nearly five minutes of added time.
Liam Keane's side passed up two gilt-edged goal chances in the opening 20 minutes with team captain Tadhg Brosnan and Paul Kelly off target at the old swimming pool end.
Then in the final quarter, after they regained the lead with two Whelan scores in quick succession to put them ahead by 0-9 to 0-8, Blackhall sub Dermot Carty's punched effort from John J Kelly's delivery crashed against the crossbar.
Ballinlough didn't create similarly significant goal chances but battled for just over half of the game numerically deficient, a minor altercation took place just before the break which involved a Blackhall Gaels mentor and several other players amazingly the referee choose to send off two Ballinlough players; Benji Smith and Lorcan Maguire while only one Blackhall Gaels player Tadhg Brosnan saw red, it was a decision that didn't sit well with the Ballinlough players or followers.
Despite being a man short, Ballinlough led by 0-7 to 0-4 with two-thirds of the hour gone. Without Peader Byrne the men in red and white were unable to sustain the effort required to take the title.
Showing admirable resolve, Ballinlough led by 0-10 to 0-8 with 55 minutes gone. Their sole other score arrived courtesy of Sean Geraghty and left the IFC winners 0-11 to 0-10 ahead after 58 minutes.
With momentum behind them Blackhall Gaels responded with a brace of Whelan scores, the match-winning one was an exquisite effort from about 40-metres in the third minute of added time.
There was still time for Ballinlough to salvage something from the fixture, but they were unable to unlock the Blackhall rearguard in the time remaining.
The scores were tied four times in the first half that included over six minutes of stoppage time. Kevin Devine opener for Ballinlough six minutes was countered by a Tadhg Brosnan free shortly after.
The latter put Blackhall Gaels in front with an effort from play. The pendulum swung Blackhall's way thanks to two Brosnan efforts (one free). Heading into the second quarter Mark McCullen levelled matters.
The sides were level twice more before a pointed 45 from full-back Pauric Muldoon earned the IFC winners a 0-5 to 0-4 interval advantage. The exciting second-half with the outcome decided by quality scores was the most impressive aspect of this final.
Another positive aspect saw the return of Blackhall Gaels' Alan Nestor from illness for a brief appearance near the end of the contest.
Blackhall Gaels - Tommy Dalton; Conor Stenson, Colum McElligott (0-1), Dan Carty (0-1); John J Kelly, John M Kelly, Niall Kelly; Paddy O'Brien, Donnacha Tobin; Dan O'Neill; Tadhg Brosnan (C) (0-3, 2fs), Stephen Morris; Paul Kelly (0-1), Tom Delany, Sean Whelan (0-5, 4fs). Subs - Dermot Carty (0-1) for Delany (ht), Ciaran Giblin for Dan O'Neill (42), Denis Beirne for John J Kelly (49), Jonathan Meyler for Kelly (56), Alan Nestor for Kelly (59).
Ballinlough - Keith McGuinness; Benji Smith, Pauric Muldoon (0-1 45), Robbie Farrell (0-1); Colm Mallon, Lorcan Maguire, Johnny Reilly (0-1); Jack Tunney, Kevin Devine (0-3 fs); Cian Mallen, Sean Geraghty (0-2), Mark McCullen (0-2); James Baugh, Tommy McCullen, Ronan McGuinness. Subs - Simon Deevey for T McCullen (18), Ken Rothwell (0-1) for McGuinness (ht), Michael Geraghty for Tunney (ht), Emmet Smith for Baugh (45), James O'Higgins for Deevey (59).