Ballinlough's Tommy McCullen gains possession for the Reds
The sun shone on the Kilmainham pitch for the duration of the encounter, as the home side looked to claim their first win of the league campaign. It was a slow start to proceedings, and the first score didn’t come until the tenth minute when Ballinlough’s Sean Geraghty split the posts after some great fielding in the middle of the park by Peadar Byrne.
Kilmainham equalised two minutes later, as the game continued to ebb and flow from end to end. An off the ball incident soon saw Ballinlough reduced to fourteen men, when young corner forward Jack Tunney received a straight red.
This left the ‘Lough stretched, but Byrne did restore their lead in the twentieth minute, blazing a shot over the bar while bearing down on goal. However, it didn’t take long for Kilmainham to make the numerical advantage count, as they soon picked up the first goal of the game. Keith McGuinness in the Ballinlough goal pulled off a fantastic diving save to deny Kilmainham at first, but the rebound fell straight into the hands of Pat O’Sullivan who scrambled the ball across the line.
Benji Smith reduced the deficit, knocking over a classy point after another trademark run from defence. Kilmainham were then forced into a change when influential midfielder Barry Lynch was shown a black card for what appeared to be a fairly innocuous challenge. This set back didn’t seem to slow the Kilmainahm drive though, as their full forward, Gavin Butler, soon picked up his sides second goal with an expertly taken shot into the top corner of the net.
Tommy McCullen opened his account for the ‘Lough late on the half, finishing from distance after a fine run. His side received another blow before the change of ends though, as their reliable full back Podge Muldoon was shown a very harsh black card, being replaced by Emmett Smith.
Kilmainham went into the break leading by 2-01 to 0-04.
Ballinlough were forced into taking off the injured Peadar Byrne at halftime, as selector Ken Rothwell took his place.
Sean Geraghty opened the scoring for his side in the second half to reduce the deficit, but this was soon cancelled out by a Gavin Butler free kick for Kilmainham. A bizarre refereeing decision then saw Ballinlough’s Ronan McGuinness and Kilmainham’s Brian Black undeservedly shown straight red cards.
A brace of points from both Kevin Devine and Tommy McCullen saw the ‘Lough wrestle the lead back in the twentieth minute of the half, as their sides superior fitness began to show. From here, the ‘Lough seemed to find another gear and pulled away comfortably before the end. The evergreen Ken Rothwell finished well from a tight angle, before Kevin Devine converted another free kick. His reliable place kicking has been a large benefit for the ‘Lough this year. Sean Geraghty tagged on another two points late on, while Tommy McCullen picked up his fourth of the afternoon, finishing off a great day on the pitch for the two young forwards. Gavin Butler scored a consolation point for his side in the closing minutes, as the ‘Lough celebrated a five point victory.
It was a great second half performance by Ballinlough, with Emmett Smith, Sean Geragthy and Tommy McCullen particularly impressive. The ‘Lough go into next weeks final league encounter with Ratoath in great shape, and will be confident of getting a result.
Ballinlough: K. McGuinness, B. Smith, P. Muldoon, R. Farrell, Jonathan O’Reilly, D. Muldoon, J. Baugh, K. Mallen, P. Byrne, Colm Mallen, R. McGuinness, S. Geraghty, K. Devine, T. McCullen, J. Tunney. Subs: E. Smith for P. Muldoon, K. Rothwell for P. Byrne, Junior O’Reilly for K. Mallen, J. Reilly for J. Baugh.