The large crowd was treated to a thrilling game of football and although Ballinlough led from start to finish the result was in doubt right up until the final whistle. The Ballinlough followers must have wondered if the ten week layoff since their last championship outing would have an adverse affect on their team, but there was no sign of rustiness as they flew out of the blocks opening up a 1-2 to 0-0 lead after eight minutes.
Central to all of Ballinlough’s early scores was county star Peadar Byrne who displayed excellent leadership qualities throughout, particularly midway through the second-half when the match appeared to be swinging in Dunderrys favour. The first score of the game came after four minutes when Byrne collected a Seamus Fagan pass before galloping through the heart of the Dunderry defence and unleashing an unstoppable shot to the net. But Dunderry also had an inspirational figure in the form of TJ Garry who scored eight points, five of which came from placed balls from a variety of distances and angels. His opening score came in the 12th minute when he glided over an excellent 21 yard free from close to the sideline. But Ballinlough were not deterred by Garry’s excellence, playing some of their best football of the year to open up a 1-5 to 0-5 lead at half-time.
Dunderry showed glimpses of their potential early in the second half and they breached the Ballinlough defence in the 32nd minute, but the advancing James Higgins denied Bob Doherty. Garry got the first score of the second half with a close range free in the 34th minute, but despite enjoying the majority of the possession they could not penetrate a hardworking Ballinlough defence in which Robbie Farrell, Benji Smith, Ronan Mc Guinness and Lorcan Maguire were prominent. With a slender two point lead Ballinlough appeared to be panicking, but Anthony Lynch found an inch of space and launched over a massive score to leave the scores 1-6 to 0-6 after 41 minutes. The score seemed to have a calming affect on the winners and with Byrne starting to win some vital possession they still held a three-point lead, 1-7 to 0-7, with ten minutes remaining.
However, Dunderry showed their trademark spirit and two Garry points left the minimum between the sides with normal time up, but as has often been the case this year Ken Rothwell popped over a point for Ballinlough when they were most in need.
The injury time dismissal of Dunderry’s Kevin Slattery and Ballinlough’s Derek Muldoon for an innocuous altercation did not deter ‘The Reds’ as they booked a place in the semi-final against Cortown.
Ballinlough: J. O’ Higgins; B Smyth, P Muldoon, R Farrell, E O’ Reilly, L Maguire, G Smyth, Cian Mallon, S Fagan, J O’ Reilly, A Lynch (0-3, 0-2f), P Byrne (1-2), K Devine, K Rothwell (0-3), Colm Mallon. Subs: R Mc Guinness for G Smyth, D Muldoon for J O’ Reilly, P Ryan for Fagan
Dunderry: J. Brady; Darren Callaghan, David Callaghan, K. Slattery; C. Harte, E. Stephens, G. Newman; T. J. Garry (0-8, 0-5f), J. Kelleher; A. Coogan, M. Garry, A. Newman; T. Conaty, D. Clarke, S. Harte. Subs: B. Doherty for M. Garry, I. McCormack for Coogan.