In a game dictated almost completely by the weather, Ballyfin battled hardest and used the elements more efficiently to score a fine win over Annanough in the opening fixture of their Intermediate Group B campaign.
Given their respective league form Annanough would have been seen as the slight favourites, but Ballyfin won the toss and elected to play with the strong wind at their backs in the first half. It was a wise decision as they immediately set about amassing a healthy lead and it was one that proved beyond an Annanough side who never really got going.
James Finn and James Miller traded early scores before Ballyfin took the lead through Ricky Quinlan eight minutes in and they never let that lead slip from there on in. After a Peter Brophy free put two between them Steven Miller responded at the other with a neat score, but that was to be their last score of the half as Ballyfin used the wind to full advantage.
James Finn fired two superb frees from difficult angles to help his side to that eight point advantage at the break with Peter Brophy, James Moore, Sean Lowry and Damien Holohan also adding to the cause, and even with that heavy breeze in their favour after the break it was hard to see Annanough coming back as they trudged into the Mountmellick dressing rooms trailing by 0-8 to 0-2.
They did improve after the restart and but for a fantastic point blank save from Ballyfin keeper Paul Holohan, who knows what could have materialised. James Miller broke free and bore down on goal but Holohan was out quick and denied Miller with a great stop.
Annanough did make some inroads into the eight point deficit through two James Miller frees in the first ten minutes, before Ballyfin’s James Finn fired his fourth of the game midway through the half. Annanough responded with three points on the bounce in a six minute spell with a James Miller free and two from Simon Miller cutting the lead to just four points with five minutes left.
Annanough probed with some patient hand-passing but the Ballyfin defence held firm and with such a wind behind them it probably would have been effective had Annanough chosen to go the direct route earlier in the half. They did push Donal Miller into full-forward late on but it was too little too late at that stage and it was star man James Finn who finished the scoring at the other end when Daniel Carroll fouled Ricky Quinlan and Finn duly tapped over the crossbar.
That was it in terms of scoring and Ballyfin secured the win that sees them join Spink at the top of the table. They will face Park-Ratheniska this weekend while Annanough go up against Spink in what is now a must win clash in Timahoe.
SCORERS - Ballyfin: James Finn 0-6 (five frees), Peter Brophy 0-2 (one free), Ricky Quinlan, Damien Holohan, Sean Lowry and James Moore 0-1 each; Annanough: James Miller 0-4 (frees), Simon Miller 0-2 (frees), Steven Miller 0-1.
BALLYFIN: Paul Holohan; Alan Strong, Eoin Dunphy, Paul Dunphy; Daniel Molloy, Jason Horan, Joe Brophy; James Finn, Damien Holohan; Chris Dunne, Sean Lowry, James Moore; Peter Brophy, Ricky Quinlan, David Brophy.
ANNANOUGH: Brad Turner; Darren Hennessy, Colin Miller, Martin Shortall; Daniel Carroll, Martin Stapleton, Tomas Whelehan; Donal Miller, Eddie Stynes; Ciaran Hennessy, Cyril Darcy, James Miller; Simon Miller, Steven Miller, Shane Stapleton. Subs: Seamus Stapleton for M. Stapleton (26mins, inj), Gerry Nerney for Shane Stapleton (44mins), Sean Murphy for C. Hennessy (56mins), Henry Conroy for Seamus Stapleton (57mins).
Referee: Vinny Dowling (O’Dempsey’s)