Ballinlough and fellow promotion chasers Clann Na NGael went head to head in Ballinlough on Wednesday evening and it was the home side that prevailed and booked their place in the Division 3 A-League final with a two point win.
Ballinlough……………………..0-9 Clann Na NGael……………..0-7
The icy cold November air didn’t prevent a good crowd from turning out for this top of the table clash and they were well entertained for the hour as Ballinlough withheld a late Clann Na NGael rally to remain undefeated in their league campaign.
A lack of recent competitive action and the absence of Peadar Byrne must have worried the Ballinlough camp but with Cian Mallen outstanding at midfield they always looked the more likely winners. Mallen was heavily involved early on before he was forced to leave the action with a facial injury, but he returned to the game after 20 minutes to kick his third point as Ballinlough went 0-4 to 0-2 ahead. Some poor finishing by the home team let Clann Na NGael off the hook and a couple of points late in the half from Gary Woods (free) and Graham Geraghty left it 0-4 to 0-4 at half-time.
Ballinlough started the second half full of purpose and early points from Colm Mallen and Lorcan Maguire (free) signaled their intent. Tommy Mc Cullen made a good impression after his introduction at half-time and his point left Ballinlough ahead, 0-7 to 0-4, after 35 minutes. They added two more points to take a commanding 0-9 to 0-4 lead after 43 minutes but they were scoreless for the rest of the match as Clann Na NGael tried to conjure up a late rally. Jamie Shaw and Garry Woods (2 frees) brought them back into contention, 0-7 to 0-9, and they could have taken the points had Ballinlough goalkeeper Kevin Mallen not been well placed to deal with a goal attempt three minutes from the end.
Cian Mallen was outstanding for Ballinlough, others to impress were Padraig and Derek Muldoon, Ronan Mc Guinness and Colm Mallen.
Ballinlough: K. Mallen, B. Smith, P. Muldoon, R. Farrell, J. Byrne, L. Maguire (0-1f), R. Mc Guinness, S. Fagan, Cian Mallen (0-3), Junior O’ Reilly, D. Muldoon, S. Geraghty, Colm Mallen (0-3, 1f), K. Rothwell (0-1), K. Devine. Subs: S. Byrne for Cian Mallen (BS), T. Mc Cullen (0-1) for O’ Reilly, M. Mc Cullen for Geraghty, S. Byrne for Fagan and Jonathon O’ Reilly for Rothwell.