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North Intermediate Hurling Championship 1st Round

posted 24 May 2011, 13:42 by Unknown user   [ updated 24 May 2011, 13:54 ]
Newport 2-17
Ballinahinch 2-09
by Kieran Mullarkey in Dolla.
Newport forwards hold the aces     
The 2011 North I n t e r m e d i a t e Championship began with more of a fizzle than a bang with the tame derby clash of Newport and Ballinahinch on Saturday evening.
Ballinahinch showed patches of admirable resilience but in truth Newport held all the aces and the result was all but decided entering the final quarter. The eventual winners deployed star man Conor O’Mahony at centre forward and his ability to link with Eoin Shinners proved the difference in the opening periods. Shinners opened the scoring from a 65 and moments later he easily rounded Donnacha McGrath before firing high to the net to open up a fourpoint margin. Shinners almost grabbed a second in as many minutes but Ballinahinch net minder Cormac McGrath produced a fine save. This seemed to rally his side and with Shane McGrath winning plenty of possession at midfield Ballinahinch began to settle.
John Foley, operating at full forward, pulled a point back before a McGrath free closed the gap to two.   Mike McKeogh was next on target for Newport after Andrew Hickey and O’Mahony combined well. Indiscipline in defence by Ballinahinch didn’t aid their cause especially with Shinners in form as he landed two frees in quick succession. But Ballinahinch showed plenty of heart and were rewarded with a tenth minute lead. Liam Berkery fired over after great work from Shane McGrath before John Foley managed to hold off a host of Newport challenges before   producing a cool, low finish to the net from a narrow angle.
This however was as good as it got for Ballinahinch who were forced to drop Foley back to curb the influence of O’Mahony and Shinners. Without a target man Ballinahinch struggled against the stiff breeze and by the 20th minute Newport had restored their four-point lead. O’Mahony, switched to full forward, pointed well before combining with the impressive Tom Moylan to set Vinny Maloney for his first of the evening.   Shinners soon fired over from a tight angle before tapping over yet another free.
The momentum was certainly Newport’s but with the breeze freshening they needed to amass a decent half time lead. Conor O’Mahony added a long range free after a foul on the impressive Sean O’Brien before pointing from play after a fine catch and unselfish lay-off from Odran Floyd. In response Ballinahinch were reduced to long range efforts, the first from John Foley, before McGrath himself landed a fine point from a free inside his own   half.
Only gutsy defending from the impressive Alan Kelly and Marcus Ryan held the Newport lead to six giving the Ballinahinch lads reason for optimism at the break. Indeed Ballinahinch gave their support reason to cheer with a blistering start to the second period. Aided by the breeze, Shane McGrath, landed a long free after. More Ballinahinch pressure saw them land their second goal. Ger Griffin’s attempt at a point dropped short to the unmarked Mark Kelly who turned and fired first time past Mike Flannery.  
With their tails up and the deficit only two points Alan Kelly was unlucky to be pulled back for steps and Eoin Shinners gratefully converted the free to crucially break Ballinahinch’s stranglehold. It was to prove a decisive moment as Ballinahinch were to score only three more times, all from placed balls. Newport’s defensive deserve great credit as time and again they cleared their lines in style. Mike Flannery in goals epitomised their composure whilst centre back Steve   O’Connor showed an uncanny ability to read most Ballinahinch attacks.
In attack Newport slowly tacked on the scores that their possession deserved. Again Shinners lead the line converting two further placed balls. Martin Carey landed another good score after Sean O’Brien snubbed out another Ballinahinch attack. Ballinahinch failed to use the elements and their only reply came from a long range McGrath free and another from Mark Kelly. Newport effectively ended the game with fitfteen   minutes remaining when Odran Floyd collected a free from Conor O’Mahony and with little in the way of resistance shot past Cormac McGrath.
The final periods saw little excitement save for a fine save from Cormac McGrath off Martin Carey’s shot, whilst at the opposite end Ger Griffin’s close range free was deflected over. Martin Carey added a further point for the winners whilst Conor O’Mahony had the final word with a point from centre field. 
  Newport's Mike McKeogh plays through a blocking move by Liam Berkery (Ballinahinch).
Man of the Match: Alan Kelly (Ballinahinch)
Team: Cormac McGrath(6); Ger Grace(6), Donnacha McGrath(5), Marcus Ryan(7); John Ryan(6), Alan Kelly(9), Shane Healy(7); John Skehan(5), Shane McGrath(8) (0-04, 3f); Sean Sheehy(6), Brendan Healy(7), Liam Berkery(6) (0-1); Mark Kelly(7) (1-01, 1f), John Foley(8) (1-02), Ger Griffin(7) (0-01f). Subs: Edward Ryan for J. Skehan, Kevin Fitzpatrick for D. McGrath, Brendan Ryan for L.Berkery.