Derby delight as Shamrocks top ’Town
Ballyhale Shamrocks 2-14, Thomastown 0-12
Ballyhale Shamrocks made the Special Junior A League semi-finals via merited success against Thomastown.
The standard in a highly competitive tie, played last Friday evening at beautifully appointed Grennan, was commendable. If the visitors’ late flurry ― a free augmented in added time by Michael Carroll and Liam Grant ― did the hosts some disservice on the margin, the more consistent side won. This contest was defined by its two goals. Ballyhale had much the better of early exchanges but a series of wides allowed an economical Thomastown parity at 0-4 apiece on 25 minutes when Pádraig Caulfield pointed.
The Shamrocks kicked back. Tom Coogan replied, before a sweeping move on the stroke of halftime notched a superb goal. Wing-back Keith Nolan switched diagonally to Enda Fitzpatrick at top of the left. Taking a smart possession, he sent a pinpoint pass to Gavin Butler, who finished with aplomb.
A four-point margin at the break, 1-5 to 0-4, seemed to settle the Ballyhale men. The accurate Eóin Doyle slotted two frees on resumption.
Stirred, Thomastown shook the opposition with incisive attacks. By the 42nd minute, the deficit was back to three points, 1-9 to 0-9, after the improving Davy Prendergast struck.
The chasers seemed poised for the last quarter but a second goal, two minutes later, quelled their momentum. Liam Grant’s canny lateral ball from left wing found Brian Cody, heading for the space, in optimum position. The impressive tyro netted with an instinctive groundstroke.
Thomastown were game to the last and the Shamrocks had to survive attempts on goal from a few close in frees. But they stayed in control before that late flurry of white flags iced the victory.
The winners saw David Harrington extend good form between the posts. His defenders were alert and generally in control, with Kieran Grace terrific at centre-back. Eóin Doyle and the crafty Willie Coogan once more formed an effective midfield partnership. The freetaking of Doyle, still a Minor, has become an important asset.
Sustained graft at half-forward sourced a winning tally. Enda Fitzpatrick, ever in the thick of things, and Brian Cody, soft of hand and quick of thought, made further headway. Michael Carroll and Eóin Knox proved effective subs.
For the home club, Darragh McGarry kept a careful goal. Colin Clarke led from full-back, ably supported by Fergal Challoner. Seán Mahony battled hard on the wing.
The efforts of Pádraig Caulfield and Gary Lehane (first half) set up an intriguing midfield battle. Their attack was best served by Paul Barron, Adrian Burke and Davy Prendergast.
Ballyhale Shamrocks: David Harrington, Keith Murphy, Michael Dermody (captain), Ger Holden, Keith Nolan, Kieran Grace, Brian Butler, Willie Coogan, Eóin Doyle 0-8 (f), Tom Coogan 0-1, Gavin Butler 1-1, Liam Grant 0-1, Stephen Donnelly, Brian Cody 1-0, Enda Fitzpatrick 0-2.
Subs: Liam Elvidge, Michael Carroll 0-1 for Stephen Donnelly (39m), Eóin Knox for Keith Murphy (48m), Richard Deasy for Ger Holden (50m, inj), Dylan Doran for Gavin Butler (54m, inj).
Thomastown United: Darragh McGarry, Thomas Moore, Colin Clarke, Fergal Challoner, Seán Mahony, Michael Cullen (captain), Jamie Tennyson, Pádraig Caulfield 0-1, Gary Lehane 0-2, Adrian Burke 0-3 (2f), Paddy Whitty 0-1, Davy Prendergast 0-3, John Fitzgerald, Michael Mahony, Paul Barron 0-2 (1f).
Subs: Jamie O’Hara for John Fitzgerald (ht), Andy Walsh for Jamie Tennyson (ht), Mark Walsh for Michael Cullen (55m).
Referee: Richard Dowling (Kilmacow).