Cuchulainns 1.9 Ballinagh 1.9
Cuchulainns and Ballinagh shared the points on Sunday afternoon, after a tough encounter in the scorching heat in Mullagh. The teams came into the game have both made relatively good starts to this years league campaign, and each side knew that they faced a hard game.
The opening exchanges saw both defences on top, and it wasn’t until the 7th minute that Cuchulainns main attacking threat, Eugene Keating made some space for himself, and swung over a point with the left boot. One minute later the same player got the ball out along the sideline close to the 45m line, he rounded his marker and curled over a fantastic point with the outside of his right foot. Ballinagh won the resulting kick out and fed the ball into danger man Niall McDermott, he was fouled and Colin Gumley tapped over the free after 10 minutes of play. There was a gap of 5 minutes before the next score, McDermott had a couple of chances to add to Ballinagh’s tally but he was being marked very tightly by John Flanagan. Gavin Daly scored a point from play for the home team after 15 minutes to put two between the teams. Then a minute later Ballinagh got the first goal of the game. The Cuchulainns defence switched off after they conceded a free 30 meters out from goal, Gumley took a quick free to the unmarked McDermott, and he blasted to the back of the net. Cuchulainns were struggling at this stage, Ballinagh got on top and looked the more confident team. McDermott tapped over a free in the 18th minute, and this was followed up by two bad wides from the visitors. At the other end Conor Smith broke through the Ballinagh defence and looked certain to raise the green flag, but he stumbled at the last minute and tried to pass the ball to a team mate, only to see the pass intercepted. There was one more score before half time, again from Niall McDermott from a free in the 30th minute. This left the half time score 0.3 to 1.3 in favour of Ballinagh.
The second half saw Ballinagh continue where they left off and they added two points from play in the 4th and 5th minute through Terry Smith and Declan Beard. Cuchulainns found themselves five points behind and it wasn’t looking good for them at this stage. Shane Smith did pull one back in the 6th minute with a fine curling point. McDermott responded at the other end with another point of his own. There was another lull in the scoring for about 5 minutes mid way through the half, the heat was taking its toll on the players. Cuchulainns got the breakthrough they badly needed after 18 minutes. Shane Smiths shot for a point was partially blocked and looked to be dropping into the keepers arms, however some quick thinking from Conor Smith saw him get to the ball first and palm it into the back of the net. This gave Cuchulainns a lift and they sprung to life. They starting getting more possession and looked much more of a threat. There was an off the ball incident involving a group of players after 20 minutes, after a lengthy delay referee John Emo, who was having an excellent game it has to be said, flashed a straight red card to Anthony Gaynor. The sending off didn’t have the effect you would have expected, as Ballinagh got the bit between their teeth and rattled off three points in a row. First Gumly scored a fine point, then Terry Smith, and finally Gumley again after a mistake in the Cuchulainns defence. This was in the 25th minute, and it looked like there was no way back for Cuchulainns. The management moved things around Eugene Keating came out to mid-field and instantly won possession, he fed it into Shane Smith and he shot for a point in the 26th minute. Cuchulainns won the resulting kick out and got it to Keating, who fired over a great point in the 28th minute to leave two points between the sides. The pressure was really on both teams now, Cuchulainns tails were up and Gary Daly surged forward from centre back in the 29th minute to curl over an inspirational long range point to leave the minimum between the teams. It was all Cuchulainns at this stage, Paul Tully broke down the wing and tried to work his way in to fist the ball over the bar. Ballinagh turned over possession and they won a free out. Darragh McCarthy drove the ball out to midfield where Cuchulainns won possession again. They worked the ball into that man Keating and he took responsibility, and curled over a fine point to level the match. There was time for Ballinagh to work one more chance, McDermott won the ball at midfield and fed it into Terry Smith. He took a shot and it hit the wrong side of the post, ending up wide.
The game ended a draw and Cuchulainns will feel very lucky to have got something from the game. Ballinagh will feel they should have won and overall they were the better team. Being reduced to 14 men after il-discipline probably cost them the victory in the end. Crtedit must go to the home team fror battling back and scoring the last four points of the match. For them, Eugene Keating stood out and is obviously playing some fine football at the moment. John Flanagan also had a fine game and it was a great tussle between him and Niall McDermott. Both teams sit in the upper half of the league table but will need to pick up points in their upcoming games to make sure they stay there.
Cuchulainns: 1. Mark Clarke, 2. Peter Fox, 3. Chris Tully, 4. John Flanagan, 5. Patrick Murtagh, 6. Garry Daly, 7. Rory O’ Connell, 8. Adrian Taite 9. Pauk Taite 10. Diarmaid Foxe 11. Paul Tully 12. Gavin Daly (0.2) 13. Shane Smith (0.2) 14. Conor Smith (1.0), 15. Eugene Keating (0.5). Subs: Aoghan Daly.
Ballinagh: Niall McDermott 1.3 Colin Gumley 0.3 Terry Smith 0.2 Declan Beard 0.1