Ballinakill produced an incredible comeback in Mullingar on Saturday as they came back from the brink to edge out Cullion of Westmeath and advance to a meeting with Glenmore of Kilkenny in the next round of the Leinster club Intermediate hurling championship.
They looked dead and buried at various stages for the Laois men but they never gave in and powered on by a Paul Simms penalty save 10 minutes, they finished the stronger with a Cathal O'Shaughnessy goal two minutes from time turning the tide in their favour.
LEINSTER CLUB INTERMEIDATE HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUND 1
They were six points down at stages in both halves but kept their nerve and after been wasteful for the majority of the game, they found their range in the closing stages to pull off a dramatic win.
Ian Shanahan got the ball rolling for Ballinakill after just 13 seconds when he fired over from distance. After both sides traded some poor wides, Cullion opened their account when Brian Stones hit the net after just five minutes.
After a long ball was sent in and dropped in and around the house, Stones reacted quickest and managed to coolly dispatch past Paul Simms.
TJ Lalor opened his account for Ballinakill to settle them down but with 10 minutes on the clock, the Westmeath champions had their second goal of the game. Jack Galvin picked up possession 30 metres from goal and meandered his way through to fire home from close range to make it 2-0 to 0-2.
Lalor added his second score but Cullion opened up a five point lead after 13 minutes after points from Rob Gillen and Jack Gillen left them on control.
With Ballinakill now under pressure, they needed something before the water break and they got it on 15 minutes when Seamus Fitzpatrick did well to evade his man and send a powerful strike to the corner of the net.
Cullion did add another score before the water break but at the water break, Ballinakill were back in it and only trailing 2-3 to 1-4.
It was a miserable day for hurling and with mistakes high on both sides, the next few minutes yielded no score.
Cullion then began to kick on after the 20 minute mark and hit four points on the bounce from the 20th to the 24th minute with Jack Gillen landing two exceptional points as the Westmeath senior B champions led 2-7 to 1-4.
Sean Downey eventually got Ballinakill's first score in 13 minutes when he landed a long range free. Eddie Dwyer added another before the Laois men came back to life with their second goal of the game right on 30 minutes.
Ian Shanahan sent in a long ball and after Seamus Fitzpatrick fetched from the sky, he turned his man to fire home to leave Cullion only leading by a point at half time, 2-7 to 2-6.
Cullion got the dream start to the second half when wing forward Eoin Fox found the net from close range to extend their lead to four. Seamus Fitzpatrick got one back for Ballinakill but three points in two minutes for the Westmeath men left them in control of the game after 36 minutes leading 3-10 to 2-7.
The scores dried up somewhat until the water break but a point from corner back Mark Kehoe and another from Dan Bergin with his first touch after coming on brought it back to a four point game at the second water break.
Cullion had the chance to put the game to bed with the first attack after the water break. Brian Stones was fouled in the area but Jack Gillen's penalty was brilliantly saved by Paul Simms in the Ballinakill goals to keep the game alive as the game drifted into the final 10 minutes.
Seamus Fitzpatrick then landed two frees and between the penalty save and those two points, Ballinakill now had the grit between their teeth only trailing by two with four minutes to go.
With 58 minutes on the clock, Ballinakill hit the front. A long ball was sent in and after Cathal O'Shaughnessy ghosted in behind the last line of defence, the ball made its way through and he finished to the net from close range to make it 3-11 to 3-10.
With time just up, man of the match Jack Galvin cut over a sideline to level it up. Jack Gillen and Evan Dunne squandered big chances for a winning score but right at the death, Sean Downey powered foreward and launched over a mammoth score from way out the field to give Ballinakill the win.
Scorers: Seamus Fitzpatrick 2-3 (0-2 frees), Cathal O'Shaughnessy 1-0, Sean Downey (0-1 free), TJ Lalor and Eddie Dwyer 0-2 each, Mark Kehoe, Dan Bergin and Ian Shanahan 0-1 each.
Team: Paul Simms; Noel Duggan, Brian O'Mara, Mark Kehoe; Ian Shanahan, Sean Downey, Michael Moran; Dylan Byrne Gray, Padraig Lawlor; Jamie Drury, Seamus Fitzpatrick, Cian O'Shaughnessy; Evan Dunne, Eddie Dwyer, TJ Lalor. Subs: Cathal O'Shuaghnessy for Dylan Byrne Gray (41), Dan Bergin for Jamie Drury (47), Shane McEvoy for Cian O'Shuaghnessy (56)
Scorers: Jack Galvin 1-5 (0-1 S/L cut), Jack Gillen 0-4 (0-3 frees), Eoin Fox and Brian Stones 1-0 each, Rob Gillen 0-2
Team: Damien Golden; Pierce Shaw, James Clarke, Stephen Bourke; Conor Gilhooley, Conor Regan, Andrew Connaughton; Rob Gillen, Shane Broughan; Eoin Fox, James Kelly, Brian O'Reilly; Jack Gillen, Brian Stones, Jack Galvin. Subs: Sean Regan for Shan Broughan (44)
Referee: Conor Daly (Kildare)
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