Balto survive tough exam
English goal after peno key
BALTINGLASS cleared a significant hurdle last weekend when they came with an impressive burst to end Annacurra’s hopes of progress in the hunt for the Miley Cup in 2018 and position themselves in third spot in the championship table.
A devastating counter attack from Ciarán Walshe’s men after Frank Clune had pulled Annacurra back to within a single point with a sweetly struck penalty 16 minutes into the second half proved the undoing of John Hynes’ outfit.
Clune’s major from the spot had made it 2-9 to 2-8 for Baltinglass after a frantic sort of game, but Baltinglass swept up the field in Joule Park Aughrim and Dan Kelly’s ball across the face of the Annacurra goal was met by the hands of impressive full-forward Mikey English and he finished the back of Bob Fitzgerald’s net.
It was a blow from which Annacurra would never recover, and Baltinglass would drive hard for the line from here, adding six points as the Annacurra challenge melted away.
This was an intriguing battle for the most part with some reckless challenges and sinister intentions on both sides keeping players well and truly on their toes all over the field.
Key man in the early stages was Baltinglass corner-forward Chris Heaslip who bagged 2-1 inside the opening 10 minutes to make Annacurra’s already difficult climb even steeper.
Frank Clune opened from a free after Ian McDonald was pulled back. A Mikey English lay off to Dan Kelly saw the centre half forward fire over the Baltinglass opener and then Heaslip showed nippy pace to gather a long Kevin Murphy ball, skip past Liam Moules and bury and low shot past Bob Fitzgerald to give the Slaneysiders‘ support plenty to cheer about.
The threat of Gearoid Murphy was one which Ciarán Walshe had obviously given plenty of thought and he deployed Pat Burke to try and curb the county man’s influence on the game. There was little Burke could do to stop the Tipperary native from lofting over a pure beauty three minutes in, in what was a perfect reply to Heaslip’s major moments before.
The Baltinglass ploy of long balls and intelligent running provided Chris Heaslip with the opportunity of his second goal and he took it with aplomb; John McGrath the instigator with a long ball to Dan Kelly who found Mikey English, on to Brian Lord, to Heaslip and bang!
Annacurra needed someone to take charge of matters and midfielder Stephen Murphy assumed that responsibility when he thundered up the field and walloped home past Mark Jackson to make it 2-3 to 1-3 after 13 minutes at a key juncture when Baltinglass could well have pulled away.
But Baltinglass looked to have that bit more polish around the field than their opponents. They opened a 2-7 to 1-4 lead after 24 minutes thanks to points from Heaslip, Dan Kelly (two, frees), Mark Jackson (free) (free) with a bomb from the runaway train that was Mick O’Brien being Annacurra’s only reply. O’Brien’s fine score on the gallop had been considered as wide but referee Noel Kinsella consulted his support staff and eventually the score was given.
John Hynes’ men finished the half very positively. A superb Gearoid Murphy score was followed by a Clive Horan pointed free after excellent pressure on the Baltinglass kick-out over on the stand side and the sides retired at the break with Baltinglass leading 2-7 to 1-6 with the Annacurra management team having a heated debate with referee Noel Kinsella immediately following the half-time whistle sounding.
A stray Annacurra kick out provided Baltinglass with their first score of the second half from the boot of John McGrath. A fine Stephen Murphy theft out the field allowed Annacurra attack and Ian McDonald profited most from the midfielder’s larceny when he split the posts after a swift move up the field.
Dan Kelly and Frank Clune (free) exchanged points and then Annacurra received a massive boost when Mark Jackson produced a foot block on Shane O’Keeffe with Noel Kinsella spreading the arms wide. Frank Clune dispatched the penalty and Annacurra were back to within one.
They say you are at your most vulnerable immediately after scoring a goal and so it proved for Annacurra who were carved open by a rapid response from Baltinglass with English finishing to the back of Fitzgerald’s net for what would ultimately be the score that sent the air gushing from Annacurra lungs.
Baltinglass put the boot down from here. Annacurra moved Martin O’Brien out from full-back and pushed up in search of scores and they did look more threatening as a result but Baltinglass were relentless on the counter and points from Heaslip, John McGrath, Kelly (two frees), Jackson (two frees) were more than enough in reply to points from Martin O’Brien and a Frank Clune free as Baltinglass marched to a deserved victory.
Scorers – Baltinglass: Chris Heaslip 2-3, Dan Kelly 0-6 (4f), Mikey English 1-1, Mark Jackson 0-3 (3f), John McGrath 0-2.
Annacurra: Frank Clune 1-3 (3f, 1p), Stephen Murphy 1-0, Gearoid Murphy 0-2, Clive Horan 0-1 (f), Mick O’Brien 0-1, Alan Horan 0-1, Ian McDonald 0-1, Martin O’Brien 0-1.
Baltinglass: Mark Jackson; John Murray, Ian Sheerin, Billy Cullen; Patrick Burke, Stephen Heaslip, Brian Nolan; Kevin Murphy, Jason Kennedy; John McGrath, Dan Kelly, Peadar Burke; Brian Lord, Mikey English, Chris Heaslip. Subs: Aaron Barrett for B Nolan, Sean O’Brien for B Lord, Jordan Deans for P Burke.
Annacurra: Bob Fitzgerald; Shane McAllister, Martin O’Brien, Liam Moules; Paul McDonald, Elliot Robinson, Alan Byrne; Stephen Murphy, Mick O’Brien; Michael Healy, Alan Horan, Ian McDonald; Clive Horan, Frank Clune, Gearoid Murphy. Subs: Shane O’Keeffe for A Horan. Referee: Noel Kinsella (Kilbride)
Jason Kennedy is tackled by Annacurra’s Elliot Robinson.