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2012 3rd Round North Intermediate championship

posted 30 Jul 2012, 13:37 by Unknown user
Ballinahinch 0-12
Ballina 0-10
by Kieran Mullarkey in Newport
Ballinahinch back in the hunt for semi-finals 
Ballinahinch kept their hopes of a semi-final spot in the North Tipperary Intermediate Hurling Championship alive with a gritty win over a hugely disappointing Ballina on Saturday evening.

In the clichéd game of two halves Ballinahinch emerged victorious and deservedly so. They demonstrated a greater hunger for the points but will need to improve if they are to make the semifinals for a second successive year.

It’s back to the drawing board for Ballina who failed to build on their fine win over Newport in the previous round. They failed to match the intensity that Ballinahinch brought to the opening exchanges and never recovered.

Ballinahinch laid the foundations for the win with an excellent defensive display with Alan Kelly at full back and Shane McGrath at centre back outstanding. Up front the attack looked lively and David Ryan had the first point within a minute. Wind assisted they added three more from play before Ballina could respond. Intelligent early ball allowed Brendan Ryan to pick of two good individual points before Adrian Kelly dispossessed Ballina’s Niall Sheehy and fired over. The score summed up much of the first half – laboured Ballina clearances contrasted sharply with a ferocious appetite for work from their opponents.

Fergal Collins opened Ballina’s account on ten minutes with a good point from distance after a Steven O’Brien pass. It was a rare piece of composure from Ballina as much of their first half play lacked direction. At midfield Collins and Pat Conway struggled to impose themselves against Brendan Healy and the impressive Kevin Mulcahy.

Brendan Ryan grabbed his third point on the quarter hour before the aforementioned Mulcahy hit two in a row, one a good free and the second from play after a clever pass from David Ryan. With the greater share of possession Ballinahinch tried in vain to hit a goal but an inability to create a single, clear opening will be of concern to their management team.
Instead Brendan Ryan completed an excellent opening half with two more points before Liam Berkery got his first after a good combination between Adrian Kelly and David Ryan.
On the stroke of half time wing back Thomas Collins raised Ballina spirits with a fine point from beyond midfield but ominously it was only his side’s second point of the half and they trailed by seven at the interval.
With the wind at their backs the expected Ballina fight back was a slow burner. Ballinahinch’s John Kelly, unusually subdued in the opening half, showed his experience to engineer an early free which Brendan Ryan duly converted.
Slowly Ballina began to haul in an eight-point deficit but frustratingly each score was punctuated by a plethora of wides. Underage star Steven O’Brien finished well after a typical surge before the resilient Jerry O’Brien landed a long range free. With their opponents dominating possession the Ballinahinch defence began to show the strain with a poor Shane McGrath clearance punished by a Fergal Collins point. The Ballinahinch attack struggled to win primary ball especially as Adrian Kelly was withdrawn through injury. Full forward Liam Berkery did well to snatch a point in an increasingly rare attack. Ballina responded with another Jerry O’Brien free as well as points from Aidan Hanley and Steven O’Brien. Entering the final quarter both sides battled frantically for the upperhand . Quick thinking from Shane McGrath allowed Kevin Mulcahy an unchallenged point from midfield but it was to be their last of the evening with just less than ten minutes left.
Ballina pressure earned them a twenty yard free and Martin McKeogh made the long trip from his own goal only to see his vicious strike deflected over by his counterpart Cormac McGrath.
In the dying minutes Steven O’Brien’s first time pull from a Jerry O’Brien delivery flashed over the bar to close proceedings as Ballinahinch played out the closing moments deep in Ballina territory.