A win was a must for the ‘Lough, who had already tasted defeat earlier in the year to St. Colmcilles and Drumbaragh, and they got off to the best possible start when Kevin Devine converted a free in the first minute.
A number of positional changes in recent weeks have improved the Reds’ fortune, and it was newly appointed midfielder, Derek Muldoon, who soon extended their lead after a surging run forward was neatly tapped over the crossbar. A further free by Devine, combined with a fine point by Colm Mallen, opened up a four point advantage before Nobber registered their first score through ex-county man Brian Farrell.
The ‘Lough remained dominant though and soon scored the games opening goal, with Cian Mallen un-selfishly playing in Kevin Devine as he bore down on goal, and the veteran forward made no mistake. Further points from Peadar Byrne and Johnny Reilly extended the lead before the break.
Nobber rallied late in the half with some well struck points to reduce the deficit, but their chances were dealt a major blow when Farrell was sent off for striking out at Reilly, causing a brief melee to break out in front of the Ballinlough goal. The Reds led by a scoreline of 1-10 to 0-06 at the change of ends.
The second half was a much more evenly matched affair, with Nobber raising their game to make up for the missing man. Alan Farrell was especially impressive in leading this fightback from his midfield role.
Byrne was the catalyst for getting the ‘Lough back on track though with a well struck free from distance. Devines fine form also continued as he kept the scoreboard ticking over in his side’s favour. Sean Geraghty capped a hard working performance with a classy point from a tight angle, before Colm Mallen put the icing on the cake with a powerful finish to the back of the net. Nobber had no response to this, and the ‘Lough ran out convincing winners.
Devine put in one of his finest performances of recent years, and was ably assisted by Mark McCullen and Cian Mallen in the forwards. Robbie Farrell and Michael Geraghty fought bravely in defence to keep Nobber at bay, while Byrne and Muldoon were instrumental in the middle of the pitch. Ballinlough will be hoping to build on this performance once the championship resumes.
Ballinlough: K. McGuinness, B. Smith, P. Muldoon, R. Farrell, L. Maguire, M. Geraghty, J. Reilly, P. Byrne, D. Muldoon, M. McCullen, Colm Mallen, Cian Mallen, K. Devine, T. McCullen, S. Geraghty. Subs: R. McGuinness for J. Reilly, N. Farrelly for M. McCullen.