Shamrocks sunk as ’Vat brim with goals
Mullinavat 3-16, Ballyhale Shamrocks 1-14
At Hugginstown, basking in sunshine last Friday evening, Mullinavat were good value for an eight-point victory over Ballyhale Shamrocks in the second Special Junior A League semi-final.
Spectators enjoyed a high standard for this grade. The winners, who now meet Carlow’s Ballinkillen in the decider, established a firm grip through early scores. Although Ballyhale fought on to the end, they never really looked like overhauling this deficit. The Rod Iron men were able to drive on any time the gap narrowed.
On 16 minutes, Paddy Raftice copperfastened dominance in the middle third by goaling a penalty for a lead of 1-5 to 0-3. The Mullinavat full-forward line had been causing no end of bother. Two minutes later, Brian Kenneally finished a defence-shredding move with another green flag.
Two swift white flags meant Ballyhale Shamrocks, on 21 minutes, were staring at a ten-point hole, 2-5 to 0-3. They rallied and reeled off six points before the break. Graft by the forwards was the key to this upturn.
A Raftice point in the 28th minute meant his side’s halftime advantage was five points, 2-8 to 0-9. Hope glimmered for the chasers. Although Eóin Doyle quickly slotted a free on resumption, this shade never brightened. Ger Malone turned back on the style with two sharp minor scores. The leaders kept the opposition at arm’s length and hurled away. Even three fine points by Brian Cody left the deficit no better than 2-12 to 0-13 on 41 minutes. Five minutes later, the exuberant Malone killed the contest with a goal. Doyle did provide some consolation, deftly netting a penalty of his own in the 50th minute, but the die was cast. Mullinavat, who brim with promise at this level, eased away home.
For them, Paddy Jones kept a sound goal. His defence hurled solidly, with centre-back Thomas Aylward the rock on which many attacks perished. That seven of the front eight scored speaks for itself. Nicky Anthony and Paddy Raftice swung an advantage in midfield. The attack, led splendidly by Ger Malone, was consistently dangerous.
For Ballyhale, David Harrington made several good saves. Best at the back were Ger Holden and Keith Nolan. Tom Coogan and Willie Coogan battled to the death.
Up front, Patrick Mullen struck good ball and Eóin Doyle again registered strongly on the scoreboard. The promising Brian Cody took three classy scores.
BALLYHALE SHAMROCKS David Harrington, Stephen Donnelly, Michael Dermody (captain), Ger Holden, Keith Nolan, Kieran Grace, Brian Butler, Willie Coogan, Eóin Doyle 1-7 (1-0 pen, 6f), Michael Carroll 0-1, Tom Coogan, Liam Grant, Brian Cody 0-3, Patrick Mullen 0-2 (1f), Enda Fitzpatrick 0-1.
Subs: Liam Elvidge, Dylan Doran, Gary Fitzpatrick, Jack Kenneally, Darren Mason, Keith Murphy for Stephen Donnelly (19m).
MULLINAVAT Paddy Jones (captain), Derek Aylward, Gerry Anthony, Darren Kenneally, Simon Aylward, Thomas Aylward, Liam Murphy, Nicky Anthony 0-1, Paddy Raftice 1-4 (1-0 pen, 3f), Joe Gahan, Ger Malone 1-5, Tommy Holden 0-1, Brian Kenneally 1-1, Mossie Murphy 0-1, Eóin Maher 0-3.
Referee: Julian O’Dwyer (Windgap).