Ballinacourty 3-9; Rathgormack 1-7
Ballinacourty confirmed their place in the knock-out stages of the senior football championship with a convincing victory over Rathgormack in Kilmacthomas last Saturday evening.
While the win confirms their status as one of the premier football teams in the county, the defeat leaves Rathgormack winless after two games and in danger of crashing out of the championship at the first stage for the second time in two years. This fact confirms how far Rathgormack have fallen since the heady days of the mid to late ’90s when they were regular winners of the Conway Cup.
For long stages in this encounter, Rathgormack were more than a match for their more illustrious opponents but eventually the class of Ballinacourty proved too much to handle for Rathgormack.
In typical championship fashion, both teams tore into each other from the first whistle. Indeed, Rathgormack’s Paul and Richie Power as well as Ballinacourty’s Richie Foley were yellow carded following an early schemozzle.
The sides were evenly matched for the first twenty minutes with never more than a single point between the teams. Mark Ferncombe and Laurence Hurney notched points from play for Ballinacourty while James O’Mahoney converted a couple of frees. Rathgormack’s scores came from Kevin Power, Paul Drohan, Victor O’Shea and a free from Paudie Whelan.
The turning point in the game came in the 22nd minute when Mark Ferncombe fielded a sideline kick and laid the ball off to the rampaging Sean O’Hare who cracked a fierce drive to the back of Donal Larkin’s net.
Three minutes later, Larkin’s net was bulging for the second time. Wing-back Mark Gorman emerged from defence with the ball and played a long ball up to James O’Mahoney. O’Mahoney played the ball across the goal where it was met by the fist of Laurence Hurney and was dispatched to the back of the net.
A couple of minutes later, the referee sounded the half-time whistle with Ballinacourty leading by 2-4 to 0-4.
If Rathgormack were up against it at half-time, they were certainly up against it three minutes into the second half when James O’Mahoney and the hugely impressive John Gorman added two more points to increase the margin.
Rathgormack fans did have something to cheer in the 36th minute when their side were awarded a penalty. Paudie Whelan made no mistake with his kick and gave Declan Enright no chance. Rathgormack followed up their goal with a fine Richie Power point from play.
Former County senior hurling panellist, John Gorman scored the next two Ballinacourty points, with a Michael Crotty free for Rathgormack sandwiched between them. Substitute Robbie Power scored what turned out to be Rathgormack’s final point of the day with five minutes remaining. Things got worse for Rathgormack shortly afterwards when they lost wing-back Paul Power who was sent off after picking up a second yellow card.
Mark Fives then got his first and Ballinacourty’s last point of the day before midfielder, Riche Foley burst through the grab a goal with virtually the final kick of the game.
This was a convincing performance from Ballinacourty with some outstanding individual performances particularly from wing-forward John Gorman who looked dangerous throughout. Centre-forward Laurence Hurney also put in a solid shift on the 40 and helped himself to 1-1 in the process.
However, it was an evening to forget for his brother Patrick who finished scoreless in a championship match for the first time in this reporter’s memory.
Rathgormack will be extremely disappointed if they do not qualify from this group. At the outset, they would have fancied themselves to grab second place behind Ballinacourty. However, they will now need a victory over St Saviours in the final match to do this. On this occasion it was two of their older players who led the way.
Former Meath player, Paul Shankey and midfielder Richie Power were Rathgormack’s outstanding players on the night.
As things stand in this group, Ballinacourty are virtually assured of top spot and a place in the quarter finals. The rest of the teams will have it all to play for as they face into the final round of games.
St Saviours currently lie in second place with two points following their victory over Brickey Rangers last Friday. Rathgormack and Brickey Rangers have a point apiece following their drab draw in the opening round of games.
Ballinacourty: D Enright, J Phelan, S Briggs, G Breen, M Gorman, J Hurney, P Lynch, S O’Hare, R Foley, M Ferncombe, L Hurney, J Gorman, J O’Mahoney, M Fives, P Hurney. Subs: J O‘Brien for P Lynch.
Scorers: L Hurney 1-1, J Gorman 0-3, J O’Mahoney 0-3f, S O’Hare 1-0, R Foley 1-0, M Ferncombe 0-1, M Fives 0-1
Rathgormack: D Larkin, P Larkin, P Shankey, J Crotty, P Power, T Power, J Nugent, M Cummins, Richie Power, M Crotty, V O’Shea, K Power, P Whelan, E Hogan, P Drohan. Subs: R Cahill for P Larkin, Robbie Power for M Cummins.
Scorers: P Whelan 1-1 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), K Power 0-1, P Drohan 0-1, V O’Shea 0-1, Richie Power 0-1, M Crotty 0-1, Robbie Power 0-1