Balto end year on a high

Bray People - - Sport - Peter KEOGH

Balt­in­glass 1-10, New­cas­tle 16: The Johnny Fox Memo­rial Cup has found a new home on the banks of the river Slaney this win­ter af­ter Balt­in­glass had found a happy end­ing to a dis­ap­point­ing year.

Ninety five years ago two Wick­low Clubs, Balt­in­glass and New­cas­tle, wrote them­selves into the his­tory books when they played the fi­nal of the Wick­low Ju­nior Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship in Croke Park.

Meet­ings be­tween the two clubs have been few and far be­tween in more re­cent years but was re­lived on Sun­day when the pair met again in a county Ju­nior fi­nal at Bless­ing­ton.

The new grounds at Bless­ing­ton may have dif­fered quite a bit from the City and Sub­ur­ban Race­course and Amuse­ment Grounds on Jones Road which had just been pur­chased by the G.A.A. in 1913 for the sum of £3,500, but the re­sult on the day was the same

The match in Croke Park was the fi­nal of the 1912 JFC but this time it was the fi­nal of Divi­sion 3 of the Whit­tle SFL and for once the more con­sis­tent New­cas­tle team were the slight favourites to come out on top.

For much of the first-half the men from the east coast looked to be head­ing for victory on the fine sur­face of Bless­ing­ton’s new pitch.

Shane Cloake pointed a free to give them the lead but an in-form Conor Fo­ley pointed two frees to put Balt­in­glass in front. How­ever the lead was short-lived. When a Ro­nan O’Gara shot for the equaliser from a free dropped short and was fielded by big full-for­ward Richard Mer­ry­man he turned and drilled his shot to the net.

Ro­nan O’Gara pointed a free and Gra­ham O’Brien added an­other from play to leave New­cas­tle lead­ing by 1-3 to 0-2 at the end of the first quar­ter.

When the im­pres­sive David Faulkner shot for a point from 30 me­tres the ball dipped wickedly and beat the out­stretched arms of Ian Lucy in the New­cas­tle goal to the top cor­ner of the net.

Balto were back in busi­ness, but not for long.

Shane Cloake and Ro­nan O’Gara pointed frees as New­cas­tle con­tin­ued to press for­ward.

Balt­in­glass staged a strong come­back in the last five min­utes be­fore half-time and had the last three points of the half from Conor Fo­ley, Ja­son Kennedy and Ger Fo­ley to level the game at half-time – 1-5 each.

Ian Sheerin had a fine point on the restart to put Balt­in­glass in front and slowly but surely the men of the west be­gan to get on top all over the field.

Conor Fo­ley had a great point from a dif­fi­cult long-range free; sub Derek Byrne was only min­utes on the field when he drilled over a point in the 47th minute.

Adam Mer­ry­man, Ro­nan O’Gara and Ciarán Doyle tried to rally a flag­ging New­cas­tle side but all they got from oc­ca­sional raids into en­emy ter­ri­tory was two wides.

Af­ter ten score­less min­utes Balt­in­glass came again with points by Conor Fo­ley and Dave Faulkner to seal victory.

Even then New­cas­tle were not pre­pared to throw in the towel. Adam Mer­ry­man pow­ered his way through de­fence but saw his pow­er­ful shot bril­liantly saved by Patsy Keogh.

Keogh had kicked a ball off the goal line in the first-half when a New­cas­tle goal looked likely.

New­cas­tle got their first, and only point of the sec­ond-half in the sec­onnd minute of in­jury-time but by that time the Balt­in­glass sup­port­ers were un­cork­ing the cham­pagne.

Man of the match had to be county Mi­nor Conor Fo­ley who tor­mented the New­cas­tle de­fence from start to fin­ish.

How­ever, this was no one man show but a day when Balto were fir­ing on all cylin­ders with Thomas Fur­long play­ing a cap­tain’s part and us­ing all his great Se­nior ex­pe­ri­ence to lead by ex­am­ple.

New­cas­tle were bid­ding for the dou­ble, af­ter winning the Ju­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship but a long hard year may have taken its toll and they never reached the heights of other days.

The Johnny Fox Memo­rial Cup was pre­sented to Balt­in­glass cap­tain Thomas Fur­long by County Pres­i­dent Peter Keogh.

Balt­in­glass, the Johnny Fox Memo­rial Cup Divi­sion 3 cham­pi­ons at Bless­ing­ton on Sun­day.

Balt­in­glass cap­tain Tom Fur­long ac­cepts the Johnny Fox Memo­rial Cup from Wick­low GAA Pres­i­dent Peter Keogh.

Adam Mer­ri­man of New­cas­tle breaks through the chal­lenge of Peadar Os­borne of Balt­in­glass.

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