Ballinameela 1-4; Ballyduff Lr 0-7
The Intermediate footballers from Ballinameela and Ballyduff Lower will have to do it all over again after the two sides finished all square in last Saturday’s final which was played in near impossible conditions at Fraher Field.
Strong winds blew and heavy rain fell for much of the hour and with the surface in a poor state due to a large programme of games over recent weeks good football was a non-runner. But in fairness to both sides, they made the best of the conditions and served up a game in which the result could have gone either way.
Much of the talk in the lead-up was about how Ballinameela, if they won, would forego the opportunity to represent the county in the provincial championship 24 hours later, but as things panned out the trip made by representatives of the Spa Club in Kerry to Dungarvan was a pointless journey.
Ballinameela held a two-point lead at the break having playing with the aid of the elements, but they knew they would have to defend resolutely in the second period if they were going to get anything from the game.
Conor Buckley, who played minor football for Waterford this year, opened the scoring for Ballinameela with just three minutes on the clock. Shortly afterwards they lost their full-back Mike Walsh after he went to the ground with a shoulder injury after an accidental collision.
Ballyduff Lower equalised in the eighth minute when Emmet Power dissected the posts, but just three minutes later Ballinameela’s Eoghan Walsh finished a David Walsh cross when he outjumped his direct opponent to punch the dropping ball to the net.
Jack Kennedy hit a point in the 14th minute to keep Ballyduff Lower in touch, but this was quickly cancelled out when David Phelan pointed with 17 minutes played.
Ballinameela took what looked to be a comfortable lead when David Walsh pointed with nine minutes of the opening 30 to play, but Ballyduff Lower hit back with points from Eoin Cummins just as the half elapsed and two minutes into the four added minutes Ballyduff’s most industrious forward Emmett Power converted a free to leave the half-time score 1-3 to 0-4 in Ballinameela’s favour.
Towards the end of the first period it looked as if the awful weather conditions were relenting, but the second opened in even worse weather. Both sides found the conditions hard to master and it the first score of the second half arrived five minutes in per a point for Eoghan Walsh, a score that would prove to be Ballinameela’s last of the game.
The remainder of the match was totally controlled by Ballyduff Lower, with Ballinameela seldom venturing into the opposition half. Emmet Power hit the crossbar in the 35th minute but the chance was not lost as Pat Matthews was on hand to collect the dropping ball and put it over to leave just one point between the sides.
Power had a good goal opportunity with 17 minutes left but his shot was saved by James McGrath in the Ballinameela goal. Power kicked a point to level the scoring three minutes later, and no flag was raised at either end thereafter.
In trying circumstances both sets of players gave it their all and a few melees broke out, with one mentor ordered to the stand by referee Tim O’Byrne who took a firm grasp on proceedings before anything too serious could occur.
Ballyduff Lower had plenty of chances to win in the closing minutes but were left to rue some wayward shooting. Eoin Cummins was presented the best opportunity with just two minutes to play but his effort went wide. As the hour elapsed Ballyduff won themselves a 45 after an Eoin Cummins fisted effort was put over the line by the Ballinameela defence as it rebounded off the crossbar. The ball was worked in towards goal but John O’Leary’s last-gasp effort also went wide and both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils and a replay at the same venue this Sunday.
Ballinameela will feel that having withstood a lot of pressure in the final quarter they got out of jail, but will playing three four big games in four weeks take its toll?
On the other hand, up to last Saturday Ballyduff Lower went nearly a month without a competitive game and this was hardly ideal preparation. They will feel that if they take half the chances that they missed last Saturday they must stand a very good chance of advancing to play senior in 2010.
That said, Ballinameela have some fantastic footballers in like the Eoghan and Eamon Walsh, Brian and David Phelan, as well as Aidan Ahearne and Conor Buckley. Ballyduff Lower, though more noted for their hurling abilities, have some fine footballers as well. Pat Fitzgerald was superb at centre-back on Saturday and Jack Kennedy was also was a huge player for them. Emmet Power and Eoin Cummins also played well, as did John O’Leary and Brian O’Leary prior to his early exit due to injury.
Ballyduff however should prove to be the fresher of the two sides going into the game and are slight favourites to come out on top.
Ballinameela: J McGrath; S Flavin, M Walsh, J McGrath; J Harrington, Eamonn Walsh, D Phelan; A Ahearne, B Phelan; J Fletcher, C Buckley, C Radley; D Walsh, Eoghan Walsh, J Stack. Subs: T Curran for M Walsh, T Power for Harrington, J Curran for Fletcher.
Scorers: Eoghan Walsh 1-1, C Buckley, D Phelan, D Walsh 0-1 each.
Ballyduff Lower: M Millea; C Power, R Barron, S O’Leary; G Fitzgerald, P Fitzgerald, K O’Brien; J Kennedy, P Matthews; P Kennedy, J O’Leary, N Clifford; E Power, B O’Leary, E Cummins. Sub: M Power for B O’Leary.
Scorers: E Power 0-4 (2 Free), J Kennedy (1 Free), E Cummins, P Matthews 0-1 each.
Referee: T O’Byrne (Erins Own).