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3rd Round Ballinahinch 2-14 Shannon Rovers 2-12

posted 26 Jul 2011, 14:24 by Unknown user
Ballinahinch's barnstorming finish
Ballinahinch have one foot in the semi finals after producing a barnstorming finish to leave champions Shannon Rovers on the verge of elimination from the Intermediate Championship.

Played in decidedly winterish conditions at MacDonagh Park, Ballinahinch were at times outmuscled but never outhurled and timed their late run to perfection to land a deserved victory.

With the aid of the strong wind Rovers dominated much of the opening half and had the opening score within a minute through an Alan Hogan free. But Ballinahinch replied immediately through John Foley who had two impressive points to his name within five minutes.

Indecision in the Ballinahinch defence allowed Darren Carroll in for a point before Alan Hannigan fired over after Julian O'Halloran's pass. The early momentum was certainly with the champions but Ballinahinch showed plenty of resilience to keep in touch and Ger Griffin's pointed free and another from play off the stick of midfielder Kevin Fitzpatrick were richly deserved.

In the second quarter Rovers adopted a more direct style targeting full forward George Hannigan who was engaged in a thrilling tussle with the excellent Alan Kelly. Rover's pressure was rewarded with a scrambled Carroll goal before Hannigan's best spell which saw him shoot over two fine points.

Martin Bourke's point on twenty minutes opened the gap to six points before a foul on the unusually subdued Shane McGrath was punished by Ger Griffin. Rovers replied quickly and huge pressure by their forwards allowed wing back Barry Cahalan fire over from under the stand. Andrew Byrne became the seventh Rovers player to score as his pointed effort on twenty six minutes increased their advantage to seven.
Somewhat against the run of play Ballinahinch snatched a life line with a Ger Griffin goal on the stroke of half time. John Foley's long ball was fielded in style by the former county minor and though his first effort was well blocked his instinctive pull sent the ball high past Paddy Heenan in the Rovers' goal.
A late free from Rovers Alan Hannigan left a five point margin between the sides and with the breeze freshening there was plenty of optimism amongst the sizeable Ballinahinch support.

The second half began with a series of goal chances with Andrew Byrne and George Hannigan spurning decent chances for Rovers but Ballinahinch's Ger Griffin making no mistake after he had little trouble collecting a John Foley delivery. Foley soon landed his third point, again showing unerring accuracy from distance to reduce the Ballinahinch deficit to just a single score.

Rovers responded, upping their intensity and firing a series of deliveries to target man Hannigan. Eventually, in the tenth minute, he broke past the tenacious Alan Kelly and beat Cormac McGrath to steady his side's nerves.

Significantly Ballinahinch switched Shane McGrath to centre forward for the final quarter and it was a master stroke as he became the focal point in attack as well as curtailing Rover's impressive captain Alan Byrne.
McGrath landed a trademark long free before another point from play which seemed to inject renewed vigour into those around him. Rovers battled manfully as the tide was visibly turning but too often their touch was off or Hannigan was sent into the corners chasing ball. Alan Hannigan did land a good point from play but then under hit a crucial free moments later.

Sensing their chance Ballinahinch went for the kill with two rapid points from Liam Berkery and John Foley before McGrath blasted over a clear cut goal chance to tie the game with seven minutes remaining. A panicked Rovers pressed for a goal but brave play from Ballinahinch's Cormac McGrath and Michael Fitzgerald denied George Hannigan a second.

Donnacha McGrath got his first point after fielding a puck out to grab the lead for Ballinahinch and another from Shane McGrath as the clock ticked into added time seemed to be the insurance.

However to their credit Rovers never quit and an Alan Hogan free left just a single point separating the sides with at least one more play in the game. Ballinahinch crucially gained possession and a speculative ball deep into Rovers' territory was seized on by Ger Griffin who fired over to finally end a nervy but exciting contest.

Scorers: Ger Griffin 2-3 (3frees), John Foley 0-04, Shane McGrath 0-4 (1free), Donnacha McGrath, Kevin Fitzpatrick and Liam Berkery 0-1.