Scores were in short supply as Ballinlough recorded a hard fought victory over Ratoath in this A-League Division 3 match at Ballinlough on Thursday evening.
A heavy shower just before the match didn't facilitate free-flowing action as both sets of forwards had to work very hard for their returns.
The same teams met in Division 2 of the league last July on a wet and cold Sunday morning in Ballinlough, on that occasion the hosts conceded three goals on route to rescuing a last minute draw. The significance of that result only became apparent as the league teetered out and Ballinlough failed to pick-up any more points, a win in that match would have been enough to keep 'The Reds' afloat in Division 2.
Ratoath didn't find the Ballinlough defence as generous on this occasion and it was some disciplined tackling that ensured Vinny Ryan's charges remain unbeaten in their league campaign. The visitors were the first off the mark with a free in the 5th minute, but shortly afterwards Ken Rothwell leveled for the North Meath outfit as they started to convert possession into scores. Derek Muldoon, Lorcan Maguire, Ken Rothwell and Kevin Devine were all on target as they enjoyed a fruitful ten minute period midway through the first-half. Ratoath recovered well to launch a number of attacks during the remainder of the half, but Ballinlough corner-backs Robbie Farrell and Benji Smith were outstanding and Ratoath's only response came courtesy of a 28th minute free, which left it 0-5 to 0-2 at the break.
Ballinlough extended their lead early in the second half when the ever dangerous Rothwell fired over after good work from midfielder Cian Mallen. However, Ratoath were thrown a life line in the 42nd minute when an attempted clearance was intercepted and finished to the Ballinlough net, to leave them trailing by the minimum; 1-2 to 0-6. Seamus Fagan and Seamus Byrne continued to work tirelessly for the intermediate side and their efforts were rewarded when Lorcan Maguire kicked over a great score from play after 45 minutes and then shortly afterwards converted a close range free. Ratoath tried in vain to launch a late comeback but their only reward came in the way of an injury time pointed free as Ballinlough held on for an important win.
Ballinlough: B. Balfe, B. Smith, P. Muldoon, R. Farrell, J. O' Reilly, L. Maguire (0-3, 2f), C. Briody, S. Fagan, C. Mallen, R. Mc Guinness, S. Byrne, J. O. Higgins, K. Devine (0-1), K. Rothwell (0-3), D. Muldoon (0-1).