A good crowd turned out in Ballinlough on Tuesday evening as the hosts held on for a two point win over Nobber in the Finnan Cup semi-final. Tournament games are often tame affairs but this match wouldn’t belong in that category as both teams pulled out all the stops to try and get the win.
Seamus Kiernan and his management team will be pleased with this victory not least because they gained a measure of revenge for a comprehensive league defeat less than two months ago, they will also be pleased with the progression of younger players like Gary Reilly, Jonnie Reilly, Michael Geraghty, James Baugh, Kevin Mallen, Niall Farrelly and Paul Farrelly which has their squad looking considerably stronger than earlier in the year.
This was a full blooded affair and after a lively first quarter the scores began to dry up for both teams as they were forced to fight tooth and nail for every point. Ronan Mc Guinness was heavily involved for Ballinlough in the early exchanges kicking their first two points and Ken Rothwell was also on target from a free as the hosts took an early; 0-3 to 0-1, lead. Jamie Owens seen plenty of possession in the first quarter and he kicked a couple of points (1f) as he brought the sides level after 12 minutes, indeed Nobber could have been ahead at this stage had Brian Meade not been denied by an excellent save from Keith Mc Guinness who had a good game between the posts for Ballinlough.
Conditions didn’t favour good forward play as both sets of forwards struggled against their markers; Ballinlough just about edged the second quarter mainly due to the performance of their full-back line which tackled superbly without giving away any scoreable frees. Ken Rothwell and Kevin Mallen scored either side of a Darren Lambe point for Nobber as Ballinlough held a slender; 0-5 to 0-4, lead at half-time.
Kevin Mallen extended the Ballinlough lead early in the second half with a good score as Nobber found it very hard to get the scoreboard ticking and they had to wait until the 44th minute when Niall Farrell kicked a free to narrow the deficit to one point; 0-6 to 0-5. Ballinlough moved substitute Niall Farrelly further out the field and he became a central figure in the last 15 minutes winning some much needed possession and kicking a score from 25 meters, putting his team two points clear. Points from Brian Heffernan and Niall Farrell kept Nobber in contention but Ken Rothewell kept the scoreboard ticking for Ballinlough as they held onto their two point lead.
Nobber threatened to breakthrough for a goal late on but the Ballinlough defence looked solid and youngsters James Baugh, Gary Reilly and Michael Geraghty were to the fore as they made their way into the final of the Finnan Cup. Oldcastle will play Rathkenny in the other semi-final which takes place in Ballinlough on Friday night.
Ballinlough: K. Mc Guinness, R. Farrell, P. Muldoon, E. Smith, M. Geraghty, K. Devine, Colm Mallen, Cian Mallen, T. Mc Cullen, J. Reilly, R. Mc Guinness (0-2), G. Reilly, K. Mallen (0-2), S. Deevy, K. Rothwell (0-4,3f) . Subs: N. Farrelly (0-1) for Colm Mallen, J. Baugh for Smith, M. Mc Cullen for Reilly, P. Farrelly for R. Mc Guinness and M. Brady for K. Mc Guinness.