Gordon Codd scored 2-4 as Cortown prevailed over Ballinlough in this re-scheduled IFC semi-final after extra time at Moynalty on Saturday evening. Cortown passed up a number of scoring chances in normal time and needed a stoppage time free from Codd to tie the scores at 1-9 each after the hour.
The scores were still level at the end of the first period of extra time, 1-11 each. As Ballinlough - who had a number of players affected by a stomach bug that necessitated the re-scheduling of this fixture- appeared to wilt, Cortown cut lose in the remaining ten minutes to book a final meeting with neighbours St Ultan’s.
Codd netted within seconds of the resumption in extra time. Then after Peader Byrne - Ballinlough’s top scorer with 1-4 from play - was sent-off on receipt of his second yellow card the Cortown number 15 got in for his second goal.
Glen Loughran was Cortown outstanding performer, dropping deep to win possession, and finished with five points to his name. He was greatly helped by the introduction of Richie Flanagan for the the second-half of normal time.
Centre-half-back Kevin Devine was Ballinlough’s best performer on this occasion and did well to stem the Cortown tide including making a goal-save block on Codd in the 55th minute with the team in red leading by 1-9 to 1-8. Ballinlough missed a couple of chances to post the insurance score before Codd’s late leveller with Ken Rothwell unfortunate to see a last gasp point attempt hit a post before going wide.
A Byrne point got Ballinlough off to a flying start but Cortown responded to lead by 0-3 to 0-1 after 13 minutes. Vinny Ryan’s men were back in front 18 minutes in when their top scorer flicked a Ronan McGuinness centre to the net and went on to lead by 1-5 to 0-6 at the first break.
Byrne extended Ballinlough’s advantage within seconds of the restart but with substitute Richie Flanagan assisting Loughran to good effect at midfield Cortown took control but couldn’t capitalise on their superiority.
Cortown got a break when Brian Casserly collected a poor kick-out from James O’Higgins before netting to leave it 1-8 to 1-7 after 43 minutes.
Points from Anthony Lynch (free) and Junior Reilly restored Ballinlough’s advantage but there were unable to secure another score that would have maintained their bid to make an immediate return to the senior ranks.
Ballinlough: J. O’Higgins; B. Smith, L. Maguire, R. Farrell; E. O’Reilly, K. Devine, G. Smith; Cian Mallon, S. Fagan (0-1); Colm Mallon (0-1), D. Reilly (0-1), P. Byrne (1-4); A. Lynch (0-3 frees), K. Rothwell (0-2), R. McGuinness. Subs (in extra time) - S. Byrne for Fagan (63 mins), Fagan for Lynch (73 mins).
Cortown: J. McFadden; M. Casserly, P. Kerrigan, D. Coyne; J. Casserly, D. O’Halloran, J. McGearty; G. Loughran (0-5, 1 45), J. Fagan; I. O’Halloran, B. Casserly (1-1), S. Fitzmaurice (0-1); G. Coyne (0-3, 2 frees), C. Kerrigan, G. Codd (2-4, 0-3 frees). Subs - S. Skelton for C. Kerrigan, R. Flanagan for Fagan (half-time), I. Coyne for J. Casserly (38 mins), B. Smith for Fitzmaurice (44 mins), Fagan for D. O’Halloran (60 mins). Subs in extra time - J. Reilly for B. Casserly (63 mins), D. Clarke for I. O’Halloran (78 mins).