A brilliant final quarter display saw Ballinlough come from six points down to earn an exciting victory over Longwood in Kildalkey on Sunday morning in the third round of the Intermediate football championship.
This was a highly entertaining battle of styles, but perhaps not to the liking of the purists as packed defences and counter attacking football were the prominent features; for three quarters of the match a hard working Longwood outfit looked the more likely winners.
Trailing by; 0-9 to 0-3, as the game entered the final quarter it looked unlikely that Ballinlough would be able to find a way through Longwood's superb defensive unit, but they displayed great patience and a couple of astute substitutions by Brian Donoghue saw his team gather momentum at a critical stage. Ballinlough outscored their opponents; 1-6 to 0-1, in a 15 minute spell when it was needed the most.
Longwood started brightly with a couple of frees from Mickey Burke and then their best player Ryan Moore kicked a nice score as they led; 0-3 to 0-0, after 12 minutes. Ballinlough looked out of sorts, lacking shape in their attack combined with the concession of some soft frees in scoreable positions. Ryan Moore pointed a couple of frees and only Sean Geraghty registered at the other end as Longwood stretched their lead; 0-5 to 0-1.
Vinny Byrne and Damien Healy were impressive as the Longwood defence repelled Ballinlough's patient approach and when Ryan Moore launched over another long range point on the counter attack it appeared that an upset was a real possibility as his side were ahead; 0-6 to 0-2, at the break.
The third quarter was somewhat fragmented as scores were hard to come by and good football was blighted by a couple of minor incidents, depite this Longwood stretched their lead; 0-8 to 0-2, as Ballinlough looked frustrated.
However the Ballinlough management team decided to roll the dice with the introduction of firstly Simon Deevy and then Michael Geraghty. Deevy's presence added shape and power to their attack while club captain Geraghty, who was a late withdrawal through injury, put his team on the front foot from midfield and along with his brother Sean he was central to their late surge.
Lorcan Maguire kicked a good score and when Peadar Byrne pointed two frees the momentum of the game switched and Longwood moved into survival mode as Ballinlough pressed high up the field.
Then came the games decisive score; Michael Geraghty fielded brilliantly from a Longwood kick-out and a move involving Jack Tunney and Peadar Byrne ended up with the ball being passed across the goal for Sean Geraghty to finish to the net from close range, to level the game 1-5 to 0-8 after 56 minutes.
Ronan Mc Guinness and Ryan Moore traded points as the sides were level once again, then Michael Geraghty found himself in a difficult position on his wrong side 25 meters from goal but calmly moved onto his weaker left foot and glided the ball over to put Ballinlough ahead; 1-8 to 0-10, in injury time. Peadar Byrne kicked a free as Longwood were forced to go in search of a late goal but it wasn't to be as Ballinlough held on for victory.
Ballinlough had good displays from: Locan Gibney, Padraig Muldoon, Jack Tunney, Sean Geraghty and Peadar Byrne.
Ballinlough: L. Gibney, B. Smith, E. Smith, R. Farrell, J. Baugh (0-1), L. Maguire (0-1), P. Muldoon, T. Mc Cullen, G. Reilly, J. Tunney, S. Geraghty (1-1), J. O' Reilly, M. Mc Cullen, P. Byrne (0-4f) and R. Mc Guinness (0-1). Subs: S. Deevy for J. O' Reilly and M. Geraghty (0-1) for G. Reilly.