Sub Junior Reilly is the toast of Ballinlough following his side's sensational win over champions Navan O'Mahonys in this gripping hoganstand.com SFC Group B round four clash at Athboy on Friday evening.
Ballinlough 0-12 O'Mahonys 1-8
Reilly's score came in the fourth minute of stoppage time when a long delivery was diverted by a defender into his path and the 47th minute replacement calmly fisted the ball over the bar.
There was still time for the champions to snatch something from this fixture, but there was no way past a resolute and disciplined Ballinlough defence.
The outcome was a merited reward for the resolve and teamwork shown by Tom Shine's men. They overcame the concession of a 32nd minute goal, that levelled matters for the first time in 18 minutes.
Ballinlough's Robbie Farrell closes in on Jake Regan (Navan O'Mahonys) during the hoganstand.com Meath SFC game in Athboy
Colm Mallen beats Henry Finnegan to the ball
Ballinlough showed commendable composure in maintaining possession in the latter stages until a scoring opportunity emerged. They posted the final three scores of the fixture having fallen two points in arrears after 47 minutes.
Last year's IFC winners face Seneschalstown in round five with the prospect of reaching the knockout stages in their first year back at this level.
O'Mahonys - who face Skryne in round five - could point to the absence of a number of players through summer work commitments in the USA, but on the pitch they created enough to win here.
They posted nine wides to Ballinlough's four. Even allowing for a David Bray 27th minute 'point' that was ruled out having initially been given good, the Keegan Cup holders created enough openings to extract something from this clash of champions.
Ballinlough, bidding for their second win of the campaign, made most of the running in the first-half and Peader Byrne gave them a third minute lead. The scores were tied three times before a trio of points from Byrne, Kevin Devine and Tom McCullen left if 0-6 to 0-3 after 24 minutes.
Ballinlough keeper Keith McGuinness makes a one handed save
Goal chances were few, but two arrived in quick succession with Keith McGuinness keeping out Cathal Smyth's punched attempt. Play moved quickly upfield and Marcas Brennan advanced smartly to cut out a hopeful delivery. David Bray had the final score of the half to leave the IFC champions 0-7 to 0-5 ahead at the break.
Cian Mallen put in a tremendous hour's work - that included digging out the Ballinlough defence. His brother Colm posted a trio of points including the first one following the resumption.
O'Mahonys responded with their best spell. David Bray's 32nd minute goal experty finished along the deck tied the scores at 1-5 to 0-8. Cathal Smyth put O'Mahonys ahead with assistance from Henry Finnegan.
However, David Nelson's men passed up a few opportunities with Cathal Smyth wide from 20-metres from the left side. When David Bray (free) posted what proved to be O'Mahonys last score it was 1-8 to 0-9 after 47 minutes.
Niall McKeigue and Peadar Byrne contest the high ball
Moments later Alan Forde created an opening but instead of laying off to Stephen Bray his shot was deflected for a 45 by Robbie Farrell.
Colm Mallen (free) cut the gap to the minimum in the 49th minute. Five minutes later Peader Byrne placed Tom McCullen to level matters for the sixth and final time. Nearly ten scoreless minutes followed before Junior Reilly's intervention sealed a memorable win for Ballinlough, their second of the campaign.
Ballinlough - Keith McGuinness; Benji Smith, Michael Geraghty, Robbie Farrell; Emmet Smith, Lorcan Maguire, Johnnie Reilly; Kevin Devine (0-2 fs), Tom McCullen (0-3, 1f); Colm Mallen (0-3, 2fs), Ronan McGuinness (0-1), Cian Mallen; Peader Byrne (0-2), Padraig Muldoon, Sean Geraghty (0-1). Sub - Junior Reilly (0-1) for R McGuinness (47).
O'Mahonys - Marcas Brennan; Darragh Smyth, Niall McKeigue, Conor Finnegan; Stephen MacGabhann, Shane Crosby, Gary O'Brien; Kevin Reilly, Damien Moran; Henry Finnegan (0-2), Stephen Bray (0-1), Alan Forde; Cathal Smyth (0-2, 1f), David Bray (1-3, 0-1f), Darragh Maguire. Subs - Brian Dillon for Finnegan (ht), Jake Regan for Forde (56), Ross Geraghty for Smyth (56).