Ballinkillen 0-20, Rower Inistioge 0-15 (AET)
This Junior League semi-final in Graignamanagh on Wednesday last was exciting, with plenty of thrills and not too little skill being the order of the day. And it needed extra time to find a winner before the contestants pulled the tent-poles, released the stays and went about their merry way. In essence, the Carlow outfit lasted the distance better, but the hard-trying Rower Inistioge will point to a number of chances that were stared down, not availed of, and could have made the difference ultimately.
Free-takers were important in the overall context. The winners had David English in good form early on, and when his form dipped somewhat, young wing forward, Dion Wall stepped into the vacancy, and unerringly continued in similar vein to the more experienced English.
For the Rower, Danny Cottrell was no less effective, being successful from his free shots. The glaring difference being that his chances were numerically less that those on offer to the Ballinkillen pair.
The opening half, which started at a blistering pace, moved from one end line to the other with fierce determination and alacrity. No man had a breath of space to do the business on the ball; such was the closeness of the marking. The movement of the ball along the ground was very noticeable, and obviously a ploy predetermined by mentors and players alike, given the condition of the excellent Graignamanagh sod.
Both sides found it difficult to create some clear water between them. Ballinkillen led by three points to one by the 9th minute thanks to points from Wall, English and Sean Murphy. By the 13th minute, the Rower Inistioge had caught them with points by Cottrell (2frees), and the very valuable John James Kenny. Two mighty frees by English handed the initiative to the Carlow side, but Cottrell unerringly nullified the advantage with two smashing frees of his own by the 21st minute. Within four minutes of the break, the Rower Inistioge had struck out for advantage with two grand points by Michael Cody and Kenny, but again, not to be out manoeuvred, English and a superb Wall lineball stitched the whole affair up, at seven points apiece when John Kennedy blew the half time feadóg.
The second half progressed with an even greater fire.
English and Cottrell exchanged early points, but a free from Kenny, Paudie Fleming, and Cottrell extended the Rower advantage. Meaney narrowed it somewhat with a delightful point in the 42nd minute, but Neil Lyng restored the three-point advantage with a superb line ball two minutes after the Meaney effort.
Within the penultimate five minutes, points by Peter Minchen, Dion wall and the driving English levelled matters as the game flitted towards extra time. Another surging English run gave the advantage to the Carlow men, and it didn’t look too rosy for the Rower. But, cometh hour, cometh the man, and in the ebbing seconds Neil Lyng drilled the equaliser through the Ballinkillen posts from a forty-yard line ball.
We had extra time.
Four unanswered points by Wall, Minchen, Darren Dalton and John Ryan inside the last four minutes of the extra time first half probably sealed the game for Ballinkillen. Here points was a big lead at that stage, and they added another two points on the turn round. The Rower had a chance when a Rory Galavan 20-metre free screeched over the bar with three minutes remaining, but that was as good as it got for the men in green and red.
The better team won? Yup.
Ballinkillen: Dion Wall (0-8, six frees, one line ball); David English (0-6, five frees); Vinny Meaney (0-2); John Ryan, Sean Murphy, Peter Minchen, Darren Dalton (0-1 each).
Rower Inistioge: Danny Cottrell (0-6, frees); J.J. Kenny (0-3); Neil Lyng (0-2, line balls); Michael Cody (0-2); Paudie Fleming (0-1); Rory Galavan (0-1, free).
Ballinkillen: Martin Minchen, John Hughes, James Kinsella, Lauren Kinsella, Sean Minchen, David English, John Ryan, Craig Wall, Sean Murphy, Peter Minchen, Vinny Meaney, Dion Wall, Marty Dalton, Darren Dalton, Thomas Kinsella.
Sub (used): Brendan Foley
Rower Inistioge: David Murphy, Tadhg Leahy, Nicky Kenny, Toby Kavanagh, Richard Ryan, Neil Lyng, Pauric Ryan, Paudie Fleming, Rory Galavan, Brendan Lyng, JJ.Kenny, Tom Murphy, Michael Cody, Conor Lyng, Danny Cottrell.
Subs (used): Michael McDonald, Tomás Lyng.
Ref: John Kennedy (Shamrocks).