Ballyhaise passed another stern test tonight to make their way into a second consecutive intermediate championship final at the expense of a battling Drumlane side.
Stephen Smith and Kevin Tierney combined for 1-9 over the hour at Kingspan Breffni Park to keep John Brady's team in control for larger portions of this semi-final, but they wouldn't have it all their own way.
After trailing at the break by four points, three of which came from Tierney's 19th minute penalty, Drumlane made a spirited recovery at the start of the second-half and moved into the lead thanks to a pair of Ryan Connolly frees and a bravely taken goal by former Cavan minor midfielder Kian Monahan.
The Milltown men stayed in the ascendency with 18 minutes to go but, unfortunately, from a neutral's perspective, they wouldn't score again as Ballyhaise dug their deepest in the last quarter to grind out the win and it was an in from Smith that was on hand to convert the frees which punished their opponents' indiscipline at the back.
Tierney had the winners up and running early on by popping over a point after 51 seconds and Smith, scorer of 0-7, soon doubled the advantage with his first free.
Ciaran Crowe sent over a sweet score from the right half-forward position to queue the Drumlane contingent's first roar of the night and the west Cavan outfit were level by the 12th minute after Connolly (free) and JP Kelly kept the umpire's arm busy to erase another from Smith.
Ballyhaise would lose key defender Shane Briody to injury in the ensuing minutes, but they had reason to be cheerful soon after as Tierney had the ball in the back of Drumlane net.
A late tackle on Cavan minor star David Brady didn't go unnoticed by referee Tony Gregory and the Bailieborough man signalled horizontal arms for the spot kick, which former Cavan senior Tierney blasted expertly beyond Gareth Corrigan in the Drumlane goal.
With some momentum gathered, the next two scores came Ballyhaise's way via Smith, who stroked over his first from play before Connolly landed a beauty from the side-line to close the half at 1-5 to 0-4.
Whatever Frank Brady and Vincent Connolly said to their players at half-time ignited them for the restart, as they hit an unanswered 1-2 within the opening six minutes to come back to life in this contest.
From the throw-in, Kelly earned a free from a tricky angle for Connolly to convert and Drumlane's go to man was accurate again from his hands two minutes later.
Ballyhaise looked to get their shooters hot again but instead found themselves caught cold when defender Francis Lunney tore up the field and through their defence with some slick interchange passing and offloaded to Monahan, who got to the pass before 'keeper Eamonn Brady and bundled the ball to the back of the net.
It was very much game on after that, as Eamonn Costello and Connolly (free) traded points which maintained the advantage for Sons of O'Connell heading for the last quarter.
However, mirroring what they did in their quarter-final win over Butlersbridge, Ballyhaise kept their composure down the last stretch and put their faith in Tierney to earn frees, which Smith dually converted.
In fact, the last 15 minutes saw the men from Annalee Park outscore their opponents by 0-4 to nothing, as Drumlane were left to scrap for a late goal which never came and ponder what might have been after the final whistle.
Keen to end their long quest for the Tommy Gilroy Cup, Ballyhaise now eagerly await the winners of Arva and Belturbet, who play at 5.00pm at the same venue on Saturday, to see who'll provide the opposition for them in next month's finale.
Ballyhaise: Eamonn Brady; Francis McConnell; Mark Brennan, Fiachra McGoldrick; Shane McKiernan, Eamonn Costello (0-1), Francis Moore; Conor Lyons, Sean McCormack; David Brady, Shane Briody, Marcus Duffy; Kevin Tierney (1-2, 1 pen), Stephen Smith (0-7, 6f), Padraig Moore. Subs: Barry Kelly for S Briody (13mins, inj), Colm Reilly for S McKiernan (42), Barry McRudden for C Lyons (45), Martin Conaty for B Kelly (57), Niall Costello for P Moore (60).
Drumlane: Gareth Corrigan; Donal Monahan, John O'Dowd, Francis Lunney; JP Kelly (0-1), Dane O'Dowd, Glenn Fitzpatrick; Kian Monahan (1-0), Fergal Brady; Ciaran O'Reilly, Stephen McCann, Gary Tubman; Donal O'Reilly, Ryan Connolly (0-5, 5f), Ciaran Crowe (0-1). Subs: Barry Corrigan for S McCann (19mins), Barry Cunningham for G Tubman (51), Sean Smith for F Lunney (57), Stephen Connolly for J O'Dowd (60, BC).
Ref: Tony Gregory (Bailieborough Shamrocks)Tweet