A magnificent display of attacking team football propelled Ballyfin to the top of the group and an assured knockout place as they completed two championship victories on the trot with an impressive victory over a disappointing Park Ratheniska side at McCann Park Portarlington on Saturday evening.
With their hurlers out of the championship, the footballers of Ballyfin have certainly grabbed the limelight and have installed themselves as serious contenders after first defeating highly fancied Annanough and now completing comprehensive league and championship victories over Park Ratheniska. In what is becoming a disastrous year for Park Ratheniska ,they slumped to their second defeat as once again they were heavily beaten following on from their first round defeat to Spink.
Ballyfin were by far the more committed side and Park had no answer to their aggressive style of attacking football throughout the park and the half time score of 1-8 to 0-2 was a true reflection of the difference between the sides.
Park did make more of a game of it in the second half but the nearest they got to the winners was five points and indiscipline cost them as they finished the game with just 13 players as in all three players saw red in what was in general a very sporting encounter.
The main difference between the sides apart from the greater physical commitment of Ballyfin was the displays of county panellist James Finn in the middle of the park and the attacking flair of Ricky Quillinan as well as the ability of the other forwards to pick off scores.
Finn gave an exhibition of long range free taking; Quillinan hit 1-3 from play while three other forwards hit two points each with some delightful attacking team football. Ballyfin were off to a flier with Quillinan and Finn points for a three point advantage after 10 minutes and it was the 14th minute before Mark Delaney opened his sides account.
After Mick McHugh screamed wide with a goal at his mercy his side hit four points on the trot with David Brophy, James Moore and Sean Lowry all hitting quality points and Finn converting another free for a 0-7 to 0-1 lead.
Then two minutes from the break Ballyfin almost wrapped up this game when a high ball in was grabbed by Ricky Quillinan inside the full back and he gave Brian Ramsbottom no chance with a cracking shot to the net and as Finn and Kieran Delaney traded frees Ballyfin went in with a comfortable nine point lead 1-8 to 0-2 at the break
Both teams were reduced to 14 men on the restart as Tommy White and Mick McHugh tangled on the ground. It seemed harsh in the extreme and particularly so on White who was celebrating his 40th birthday.
Ballyfin powered on with points from Peter Brophy, Finn and Quillinan to open up an 11 point and they still led by nine when Kieran Delaney set up substitute Ger Ramsbottom for a Park goal after 16 minutes of the half.
That certainly spurred them on and points from Kieran and mark Delaney and a fine effort from Cathal Og Greene left Park just five in arrears but with the clock against them and when Kieran Delaney was flashed a red card their race was up and a final James Moore point saw Ballyfin commanding and deserving winners.
SCORERS - Ballyfin: Ricky Quillinan 1-3, James Finn 0-6 (five frees), David Brophy, James Moore, Peter Brophy 0-2 each, Sean Lowry 0-1; Park Ratheniska: Kieran Delaney 0-5 (three frees), Mark Delaney Jnr 0-3 (two frees), Ger Ramsbottom 1-0. Cathal Og Greene 0-1.
BALLYFIN: Paul Houlehan, Alan Strong, Eoin Dunphy, Paul Dunphy, Dan Molloy, Jason Horan, Chris Dunne, Houlehan, James Finn, Mick McHugh, Sean Lowry, James Moore, Peter Brophy, Ricky Quillinan, David Brophy. Subs: Gary for Jason Horan.
PARK-RATHENISKA: Brian Ramsbottom, Benny Conroy, David Larkin, Martin Kelly, Benny Greene, Mark Delaney, Shane O’Connor, Cathal Og Greene, Paddy Kelly, Paul Brennan, John Sugrue, Tommy White, Mark Delaney Jnr, Kieran Delaney, Darragh Nolan Subs: Jimmy Langton for Benny Conroy, Dennis Brennan for Martin Kelly, Ger Ramsbottom for P Kelly, Eamon Cooke for Nolan