Ballinlough maintained their push for promotion from Division 3 of the A-League thanks to a strong second-half display in Longwood on Saturday evening. Solid rather than spectacular would be the best way to describe the Ballinlough performance as they recovered from a slow start to run six point winners.
Longwood were short a number of regulars and their chances took a further blow in the first minute when Aaron Ennis picked-up a knee injury and was forced to leave the action, his absence was badly missed in an attack that struggled to make any significant progress against a Ballinlough defence in which Benji Smith was outstanding.
The first-half was a lackluster affair peppered with frees as both teams struggled to play with any cohesion in their forward lines. Rory Maguire scored two frees as Longwood took a 0-2 to 0-1 lead after 22 minutes, Ken Rothwell got Ballinlough back on terms after Benji Smith instigated the score with a great catch close to his own goal line and then he was further involved as the ball moved up-field to Rothwell who fired over from 25 meters. Derek Muldoon got his second point for Ballinlough in the last action of the first half as his team went 0-3 to 0-2 ahead at half-time.
Rory Maguire pointed an early free to bring Longwood level but then James O’ Higgins replied with an excellent score for Ballinlough and it was the catalyst for an improvement in their performance; points from Ken Rothwell and Tommy Mc Cullen helped them establish a 0-6 to 0-3 lead after 36 minutes. John Cullinane worked hard for Longwood at midfield and his long range point in the 37th minute narrowed the margin to two points. Lorcan Maguire and Rory Maguire traded frees, to make it 0-7 to 0-5 after 42 minutes, but by this stage Longwood were struggling to contain Ballinlough who dominated during the last quarter and points from Ken Rothwell (2), Benji Smith and Kevin Devine secured a comfortable victory for the North Meath side.
Benji Smith was outstanding for Ballinlough, others to impress were Joey Byrne, James O’ Higgins and Ken Rothwell.
Ballinlough: K. Mallen, B. Smith (0-1), P. Muldoon, R. Farrell, J. Byrne, L. Maguire (0-1f), R. Mc Guinness, S. Fagan, Cian Mallen , J. O’ Higgins (0-1), D. Muldoon (0-2), T. Mc Cullen (0-1), K. Devine (0-1), K. Rothwell (0-4), Colm Mallen. Subs: E. Reilly for Mc Guinness, M. Mc Cullen for Fagan, C. Briody for D. Muldoon and Jonathon O’ Reilly for T. Mc Cullen.