Ballinlough recorded their first Feis Cup victory in four years courtesy of a one point victory over St. Ultans in Ballinlough on Friday night. The home side recovered from a difficult third quarter to earn a place in the second round against either Oldcastle or Summerhill.
Ballinlough……………...0-9 St. Ultans……………....0-8
Both teams were short a number of regulars, however it certainly didn’t detract from a highly competitive match which was played in near perfect conditions. Ballinlough played with more urgency during the first-half and their dominance around midfield was evident as they created plenty of scoring chances. However their inability to convert a couple of goal opportunities meant that their supremacy was never truly reflected on the scoreboard.
A lot of Ballinlough’s first-half scores came from the endeavor of Seamus Fagan and he landed a long range point in the 12th minute to put his team 0-2 to 0-0 ahead. Cian Rennicks replied soon afterward for the Martry outfit but centre forward Seamus Byrne was proving effective for Ballinlough and his vision along with the accuracy of Ken Rothwell and Lorcan Maguire helped put their team ahead 0-6 to 0-2 after 24 minutes. Rothwell then traded points with Rennicks to leave it 0-7 to 0-3 at the switch of ends.
On the evidence of the first-half anything but a Ballinlough victory would have appeared unlikely. However; St. Ultans rallied impressively in the third quarter, playing with plenty of determination to register three points in the opening ten minutes of the second-half to leave the bare minimum, 0-7 to 0-6, between the teams. Ballinlough were beginning to look nervous but corner back Benji Smith soloed into unfamiliar territory before splitting the posts from 25 meters to increase the margin to, 0-8 to 0-6, with ten minutes remaining.
Rennicks struck another fine effort in the 56th minute, the next score was going to be crucial and both teams missed chances before Rothwell collected a misdirected Fagan effort and riffled over from 20 meters out with time almost up. There was still time for St. Ultan’s Ritchie Lynagh to kick the game’s best score from close to the right touch line but moments afterwards the final whistle sounded as Ballinlough booked their place in the second round.
Ballinlough were resilient in defense where Benji Smith was well supported by Joey Byrne. Seamus Fagan, Seamus Byrne and Ken Rothwell were others to impress.
Ballinlough: B. Balfe, B. Smith (0-1), P. Muldoon, R. Farrell, E. O’ Reilly, L. Maguire (0-3f), J. Byrne, S. Fagan (0-1), D. Muldoon, Colm Mallen (0-1), S. Byrne, C. Briody, J. O’ Higgins, K. Rothwell (0-3), K. Devine. Subs: K. Mallen for Briody and J. O’ Keeffe for O’ Higgins.