A late goal from Michael Burke earned Longwood a share of the spoils in Group A of the Intermediate Football Championship in Cortown on Friday night.
Longwood’s equalsing goal came slightly against the run of play as Ballinlough had dominated the previous ten minutes, but a succession of missed opportunities meant they never got far enough ahead to withhold the inevitable Longwood fight back.
This was a highly entertaining contest with plenty of good football; however a lack of real scoring power was a feature as both teams had to work extremely hard for every score. Ballinlough’s Benji Smith got the first point of the game as he ran onto a Peadar Byrne pass and split the post from 25 meters, Byrne was highly influential throughout despite receiving a few heavy tackles which resulted in yellow cards for three Longwood players.
Longwood midfielder Rory Maguire also seen plenty of action and he kicked their first score in the eight minute, indeed Maguire and Karl Ennis battled tenaciously to win plenty of possession at midfield and were ably assisted by Michael Burke who spent much of the game around the middle third despite wearing number 14.
Sean Geraghty and Peadar Byrne traded points with Michael Burke and Rory Maguire to leave the sides level, 0-3 to 0-3, after 25 minutes. Ballinlough then made a breakthrough when Benji Smith, who had momentarily moved in to the attack to recover from a knock, latched onto a Cian Mallen pass and finished low to the net. Sean Geraghty sent over a point immediately afterwards as Ballinlough pulled four points clear but Anthony Healy kicked a good score just before the half-time whistle to keep Longwood well in contention; 0-4 to 1-4.
Longwood’s Christopher Lynch kicked the first score of the second half before Ballinlough’s Ken Rothwell then hit the post when a goal looked likely, but he made amends with a point and when Peadar Byrne kicked over another score from a tight angle in the 36th minute his team moved four points clear; 1-6 to 0-5. Byrne also kicked Ballinlough's next score; from a free, which came during a good period for Longwood during which Rory Maguire (2) and a good score from Aaron Ennis brought them within two points. But with Lorcan Maguire solid in defence and Peadar Byrne winning plenty of possession in midfield Ballinlough assumed control and pushed three points clear 1-8 to 0-8 in the 52nd minute when Byrne kicked over another long range free.
However despite dominating possession and creating plenty of scoring chances ‘The Reds’ never stretched their lead and they paid a heavy price when Michael Burke received a quick free close to goal in the 58th minute and finished low past Keith Mc Guinness to level the match; 1-8 to 1-8.
Suddenly the game was back in the melting pot and both teams were granted a final opportunity to snatch a winner; Peadar Byrne watched a 50 meter free go wide before the Ballinlough defence gave away a free when they got in possession close to the side-line. Rory Maguire sailed the ball towards the posts but it drifted wide as the Longwood faithful watched on in despair.
Disappointement at the final whistle
Ballinlough: K. Mc Guinness, R. Farrell, P. Muldoon, E. Smith, B. Smith (1-1), L. Maguire, Colm Mallen, P. Byrne (0-4, 3f), T. Mc Cullen, S. Geraghty (0-2), Cian Mallen, R. Mc Guinness, K. Devine, M. Mc Cullen, K. Rothwell (0-1).