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North Intermediate Hurling Semi-Final 2011

posted 22 Sep 2011, 08:16 by Unknown user   [ updated 20 Apr 2012, 02:27 ]
Silvermines withstand Ballinahinch comeback
 
Silvermines 4-11
Ballinahinch 2-15
 
Report by James Hayden in Cloughjordan.
 
Silvermines are back in a North Intermediate decider for the first time since 2006 after overcoming a determined Ballinahinch challenge in an absorbing semi-final clash on Saturday afternoon.
Going into this anticipated clash the ’Mines appeared to hold all the aces and despite a number of niggling injuries in the camp their previous form against Ballinahinch this year led many to believe that they would run out handy winners. The game didn’t turn out as expected though as Ballinahinch put in a tremendous effort to keep pace with a classier Silvermines side but in the end came up just short despite a tremendous second half performance which saw them whittle down a seven-point interval deficit to just one point by mid-way through the second half. For the ’Mines it was a lesson in how quickly a game can turn and were it not for the scoring exploits of the hugely impressive Jason Forde they could have found themselves in deep trouble in the closing stages.
 
Ballinahinch won the toss and elected to play against with the breeze but it was the ’Mines who registered first thanks to a well-taken Jason Forde point. Ger Griffin replied with a close-range point before Forde and Brendan Healy traded points in a flurry of opening exchanges. Shane McGrath edged Ballinahinch in front in the eighth minute with a wellstruck point from out the field before a Daniel Keogh free once more restored parity.
 
The tit-fortat nature of the game threatened to continue apace only for Jason Forde to blow the game wide open with a cracker of a goal from all of 30 metres out. The county minor star picked up the sliotar a sizeable distance from goal and embarked on a searing run before crashing a superb strike off the hurl past the outstretched Cormac McGrath in the Ballinahinch goal. The goal set the tone for the remainder of the half with the ’Mines adding quickly to their tally thanks to a Noel Quirke point. Donnacha McGrath, who was causing problems in the Silvermines inside back line, replied by blazing the sliotar over the bar from close-range, a shot that could have easily ended up in the roof of the Silvermines net.
 
Jason Forde was again on the mark with his third point in the 15th minute before Ballinahinch fashioned a goal of their own after Donnacha McGrath flicked Shane McGrath’s looping free past Cathal Sherlock in the ’Mines goal. Within seconds the ’Mines were back on the attack though with Jason Forde again on target before David Keogh batted Willie’s Keogh’s low delivery into the path of the inrushing David Boland and he rattled the net with aplomb for Silvermines’ second goal in the 23rd minute. Silvermines continued to dominate the majority of the exchanges with Ronan Sherlock dominant at centre-back while and they pulled further ahead shortly before half time thanks to a sweet strike from Willie Keogh and a booming long-range effort from the stick of Sherlock.
 
Ballinahinch were without doubt reeling from the barrage of scores but as they were praying for the solitude of the dressing room they were rocked once again with Daniel Keogh this time breaking the Ballinahinch cover and finding the net with ease. And the ’Mines could have had a fourth seconds later but Jason Forde saw his thunderous shot cannon off the crossbar and away to safety.
 
Despite trailing by ten points, Ballinahinch pegged back three crucial points without reply in injury time with Ger Griffin (two frees) and Shane McGrath reducing the gap to a more respectable level to see them trail by 3-8 to 1-7 at the break.
 
Within seconds of the restart Jason Forde had raised a white flag for the ’Mines but Ballinahinch responded with points from Ger Griffin and Shane McGrath before Donnacha McGrath bagged Ballinahinch’s second goal of the game in the 36th minute after he followed up on Shane McGrath’s rasper of a goal-bound shot. The goal cut the gap to just three points and with the Silvermines’ defence again showing signs of strain Declan Mulqueen was introduced for Donal Keogh, who had carried a niggly injury into the game.
 
Ballinahinch continued to whittle the gap down though and when Shane McGrath knifed over a 39th minute point it quickly heralded a double substitution for the Mines with Sean Quirke and Paudie Fogarty both coming into the Mines’ attack. Shane McGrath was once again on target in the 45th minute after a great clearance from Alan Kelly but Mines’ midfielder, Cathal Gleeson quickly cancelled McGrath’s effort with a long-range effort. Ger Griffin cut the gap once again with an awkward free from near the bank sideline before the Silvermines once more put a stop to Ballinahinch’s gallop with a second cracking goal from Jason Forde in the 49th minute.
 
Now trailing by four many would have forgiven Ballinahinch if their heads had dropped but despite the blow they once more came at the ’Mines with successive points from Ger Griffin reducing the gap to two again with five minutes of normal time remaining. Daniel Keogh (free) afforded the ’Mines some breathing space with a close-range free but Donnacha McGrath followed up by bisecting the uprights to bring Ballinahinch to within two again right on the stroke of full-time. Injury time proved a nervy experience for the ’Mines faithful as ball after ball rained in on top of the Silvermines’ defence, but credit to them they remained steadfast and thwarted the best Ballinahinch could muster to book their place in this year’s north intermediate decider.
 
Impressive for Ballinahinch were Shane McGrath, Donnacha McGrath, John Foley, Alan Kelly and John Ryan while for the ’Mines Ronan Sherlock, Damien Boland, Cathal Gleeson, Noel Quirke and Jason Forde were very much to the fore.
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