Ballymurn hit back
First provincial hurdle is cleared
CROSSABEG-BALLYMURN fought back from a four-point half-time deficit to safely negotiate the first hurdle in the AIB Leinster Club Junior football championship in O’Kennedy Park, New Ross, on Saturday.
After beginning brightly they were rocked back on their heels by two goals in the space of three first-half minutes from the Carlow champions, who built up a head of steam to lead by 2-4 to 0-6 at the interval.
However, the Wexford outfit regrouped well in the second-half and picked off a number of eye-catching points, with Ballon, who had only beaten Fenagh in the Carlow final three days earlier, looking more and more leg-weary as the game wore on.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn had five days extra to recover from their titanic tussle with Naomh Eanna and they certainly looked to be the fresher side in the early stages, with two nice points from the busy Pádraig Foley, either side of a Cormac O’Rourke double, putting them four to the good after 13 minutes.
A Michael O’Leary free midway through the half got Ballon off the mark, and moments later they were level when, after a flowing move involving John Gittens and Frank Fanning, Alan Kelly palmed the ball to the net to give them a timely boost.
The Carlow men were determined to strike while the iron was hot and seconds later Dan O’Connor burst through the defence with real menace, but goalkeeper Ben Turner was quickly off his line to smother the shot.
They did have the green flag waving again within a minute though, with O’Connor picking out Liam Brennan with a peach of a pass from the left wing, and the full-forward did the rest, confidently steering the ball past Turner to make it 2-1 to 0-4 with 19 minutes on the clock.
Sam Kelly (free) and Pádraig Foley pared two points off the lead but Ballon finished the half strongly, with Liam Brennan twice splitting the posts in style and Alan Kelly converting a placed ball.
Ballon weren’t able to maintain that purple patch though, and Crossabeg-Ballymurn dragged themselves back on level terms by the 45th minute, thanks to three Cormac O’Rourke points, and one from Conor Shovlin, who angled over a superb effort from the left wing.
Ballon were dealt a further blow when defender Johnny Brennan was dismissed after being shown a black card, following an earlier yellow, and, after O’Rourke and Frank Fanning exchanged points from frees, Crossabeg-Ballymurn confidently closed out the game.
Paddy Devereux slotted over after gathering a short free from Sam Kelly, with Kelly himself twice finding the range, before substitute Mark O’Connor grabbed the insurance point in injury time.
That score ensured Crossabeg-Ballymurn’s first-ever appearance in a Leinster Club football championship game was a winning one, as their fine form in both codes continues.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn: Ben Turner; Conor Gormley, Oisín Foley, Conor Barlow; Martin Redmond, Ronan Devereux, Seamus Carroll; Paddy Devereux (0-1), Pádraig Foley (0-3); Conor Shovlin (capt., 0-1), Sam Kelly (0-3, 2 frees), Cian Lambert; Oran Maddock, Robert Byrne, Cormac O’Rourke (0-6, 4 frees). Subs. - Bill Eviston for Carroll, Carroll for P. Foley (temp.), Carroll for Gormley, Mark O’Connor (0-1) for Maddock, David Kehoe for Byrne.
Ballon: Colm Barry; Johnny Brennan, Shane Byrne, Ryan Holick; Joe Holden, Dan O’Connor, Lar O’Sullivan; Jim Nolan, Glen Pullen; Tom Murphy, Frank Fanning (0-1 free), John Gittens; Alan Kelly (1-1, 0-1 free), Liam Brennan (1-2), Michael O’Leary (0-1 free). Subs. - Adam Feeney for Murphy, Joe Holden for Pullen, Rory O’Connor for O’Leary.
Referee: Alan Coyne (Westmeath).
Oisín Foley of Crosssabeg-Ballymurn racing on to the ball during Saturday’s victory against Ballon.