St. Pats 1-10
A strong second half performance saw Ballinlough claim victory over St. Pats by the slimmest of margins in Simonstown on Friday evening.
It appeared as though the North Meath men were going to be in for a long evening in the early stages, as St. Pats raced into a seven point lead in the opening fifteen minutes. Neil O'Flaherty opened the scoring with a well taken goal in the fourth minute, before points from Alan Vickers, Daithi Whyte and Niall Mooney put St. Pat's further in front.
Ballinlough were struggling to gain possession around the middle of the field in these opening exchanges, and didn't get their first score until the sixteenth minute when a Ronan McGuinness pass set Peadar Byrne running into space, and the ex-county man finished with style over the crossbar. Moments later, Sean Geraghty doubled the 'Loughs tally with a fantastic point from distance.
The 'Reds were beginning to get more of a foothold in the game at this stage, with Tommy McCullen moved from the full forward line out to midfield, more breaks were going their way in the middle of the park.
St. Pats were still threatening however and registered further points through Shane Dowling and O'Flaherty. The later of which was a particularly impressive score, owing a lot to a defence splitting pass by Niall Mooney. They could have increased their lead further, but for a brilliant one on one save by Keith McGuinness in the Ballinlough goal, who's outstretched leg kept his side within touching distance. The contest then saw it's first black card when St. Pats centre back Ray Russell was given his marching orders for bringing down Sean Geraghty near the sideline
The 'Lough closed the half in the ascendancy. First Geraghty picked up his second point of the afternoon, after a great pass by Tommy McCullen, before Colm Mallen converted a free to leave the halftime score 1-6 to 0-4 in St. Pat's favour.
Pat's were again quickest out of the blocks in the second half, increasing their lead to six points with the opening point of the period. Ballinlough were maintaining possession better however, and momentum was starting to swing in their favour.
They picked up their first major score of the evening in the thirty seventh minute when Ronan McGuinness fired a lethal shot from distance past the despairing Robert Cluskey in the St. Pats goal. The energetic centre forward created the chance from nothing after a great run from distance, and his low shot left the keeper with no chance.
The end to end action continued as O'Flaherty and Whyte tagged on further points for St. Pat's, before the contest saw another black card. This time it was a Ballinlough man who had to go, as Padraig Muldoon was replaced by Jack Tunney.
Tunney had an instant impact, with an inch perfect pass to Kevin Devine who found his range with his first score of the game. Colm Mallen converted another free soon after, before Peadar Byrne scored a great point off his weaker left boot to leave just two points between the teams.
O' Flaherty, who had been a constant threat to the Ballinlough defence, increased the lead back to three points before he saw a goal disallowed for a square ball. His angry remonstrations with the officials saw another black card being produced, but as he had earlier received a yellow, there would be no replacement and St. Pats were reduced to fourteen men.
The 'Lough made full use of their numerical advantage and soon had the green flag raised for a second time, Kevin Devine finishing powerfully after a good pass by Sean Geraghty. This levelled the game with just minutes remaining on the clock.
St. Pats pushed on after this looking for the winner, but the Ballinlough defence was resolute, with Lorcan Maguire, Robbie Farrell and Michael Geraghty particularly outstanding in their work. Credit must also go to Johnny Reilly and Junior O'Reilly who provided a constant outlet with their tireless running.
It was to be Jack Tunney who scored the winning point, kicking a lovely curling effort from distance to seal the victory, and the first championship points for Ballinlough.
The winners will be delighted with the spirit and determination shown throughout, especially in the later stages of the game, as well as the strength in depth available to them in the absence of some key personnel.
The 2014 intermediate champions will be hoping to push on from this victory and gain qualification from their group. Their next championship opponents will be Skryne.
Ballinlough: K. McGuinness, R. Farrell, P. Muldoon, B. Smith, M. Geraghty, L. Maguire, Colm Mallen (0-2), K. Devine (1-1), P. Byrne (0-2), K. Beirne, R. McGuinness (1-0), S. Geraghty (0-2), T. McCullen, Johnny Reilly, Junior O'Reilly. Subs: J. Tunney (0-1) for P. Muldoon.
St. Pats: R. Cluskey, D. McQuillan, D. Quinn, A. Reilly, S. Dowling, R. Russell, A. Mooney, A. Vickers, F. Everard, N. Mooney, D. Whyte, B. Mooney, D. Landy, K. Lynch, N. O'Flaherty.