Ballinlough got their Junior D campaign off to a winning start despite a spirited late fightback from Clonard, in this entertaining fixture played in sunny conditions in Kildalkey on Sunday.
Ballinlough's Ken Rothwell in Possession
The ‘Lough quickly opened up a five point lead thanks to three fine frees from the boot of James O’Higgins, one of which deceived the Clonard keeper to end up in the back of the net.
Clonard settled themselves after this nervous start and the game was end to end for the remainder of the half, with both sides registering some nice points.
Lorcan Gibney was impressive in his new corner forward role, and his hard work rate led to his sides first score from play. Returning corner back James O’Keefe also scored a fine individual point after a run from his own half. This left his side leading by 1-05 to 0-04 going into the change of ends.
The ‘Reds again started the second half on the front foot, with Nicholas Finlay finding the back of the net in the opening exchanges. A great pass from Ken Rothwell found Finlay in space in front of the goal, and the veteran forward finished with aplomb into the corner.
Minutes later, another green flag was raised. This time, Adam Fox, the young Ballinlough substitute, playing his first year of adult football, expertly punched into the back of the net after a speculative high ball landed into the area.
With fifteen minutes remaining, it appeared as if the ‘Lough were home and dry, holding a commanding ten point lead. However, some inspired substitutions by Clonard led to an onslaught of the Ballinlough goal, and after two quickfire goals, they were right back in the mix. However, the ‘Reds defence held tight for the last few minutes, to see out a winning margin of three points.
Best for Ballinlough on the day were James O’Keefe, Johnathan O’Reilly, Gary Reilly and James O’Higgins.
Ballinlough: K. McGuinness, J. O’Keefe, E. Smith, M. Farrell, K. Beirne, Johnathan O’Reilly, Junior O’Reilly, K. Mallen, G. Reilly, J. O’Higgins, K. Rothwell, N. Finlay, L. Gibney, S. Deevey, P. Monaghan. Subs: A. Fox for Finlay, B. Smith for Rothwell, J. Farrelly for Farrell, M. McGrane for Gibney.