Alan Farrell on the attack for Ballylinan. Pic: Denis Byrne
Two inspirational stoppage time points from Cathail Dunne won the Division 1B title for Ballylinan, as they beat a Portarlington side that will be ruing a host of missed chances.
Despite being reduced to fourteen men with a quarter of an hour to go, and Portarlington converting a penalty that looked to be the winner in the 60th minute, Ballylinan showed what they were made of to pick up their first piece of silverware this season.
Both teams were missing massive players in Gary Walsh of Ballylinan and Sean Byrne of Portarlington due to injuries.
Portarlington’s in-form full forward Colm Murphy had the opening goal opportunity of the game, as he beat his man, but his shot was straight at Aidan Walsh. Colm Murphy did indeed begin proceedings with a free in the fifth minute, but two minutes later Ballylinan’s Cathal Leonard levelled the match. Portarlington responded with a Cathal Ryan point.
However Alan Farrell was adopting a sweeper role, and was winning a lot of the kick outs. His hard work and bally carrying ability rewarded his brother Ciaran Farrell with a simple point. Ballylinan’s dominance allowed them to strike for a goal soon after. Larry Kealy's powerful strike rattled off the crossbar, but the umpires ruled that the ball had crossed the line.
Ballylinan’s Larry Kealy and Cathail Dunne both put one each between the posts, as Portarlington were still trying to figure out how to keep the ball out of the influential Alan Farrell’s arms. Five minutes passed until we had our next score, and it went to Ballylinan through Cathal Fennesssy, as they extended their lead out to six approaching half-time.
Portarlington’s David Murphy looked to have laid a goal chance on a plate for Jason Ward, but he took too much time, which allowed Aidan Walsh to set himself and pull off an eye-catching save. Colm Murphy ended the half with a point, but Portarlington were left with it all to do in the second half at they trailed 1-5 to 0-3.
Portarlington started winning a lot more ball in the second half, but were failing to capitalise on it, as both sides went nineteen minutes without a score. Colm Murphy and Jake Foster both missed scorable frees that were taken off the ground during this period.
However, Portarlington were perhaps dealt a lifeline when Larry Kealy, who had been having a great game up to this point, recklessly got himself sent off after throwing a needless kick at Patrick O’Sullivan. Portarlington were dealt a blow themselves as Robert Pigott picked up a black card two minutes later.
Despite having the extra man, Portarlington were missing chance after chance. Colm Murphy finally grabbed the first score of the half with a free, but substitute Conor Behan responded for Ballylinan. However, Portarlington seemed to spring to life just in time.
Colm Murphy pointed from play, which was followed closely by a point from substitute Evan Lyons. Jake Foster left just two in it with two minutes left of normal time, and then the drama unfolded.
Portarlington were awarded a penalty when Colm Murphy was fouled just as he was about to pull the trigger. Stephen Lyons took the penalty, and despite a tame effort, Aidan Walsh let it slip through his fingertips into the net. Portarlington looked like they had won it at the death, but Cathail Dunne had other ideas.
He levelled the game after using his strength to go past his man. Ballylinan won the resulting kick out, passed it to Cathail Dunne’s hands, and he sent it over the bar from an acute angle.
Portarlington couldn’t find another score, and Ballylinan went home with the silverware.
Scorers: Colm Murphy 0-4 (0-3 frees), Stephen Lyons 1-0, Cathal Ryan, Jake Foster and Evan Lyons 0-1 each
Team: Brian McAuley; Dean Foster, Hayden Weldon, Diarmuid Bennett; Graham Weldon, Paddy O’Sullivan, Robbie Pigott; Cathal Ryan, Eoin McCann; Cormac Curtis, David Murphy, Steven Lyons; Jake Foster, Colm Murphy, Jason Ward. Subs: Johnny Fulham for Curtis (27 mins), Eoin Kennedy for D. Foster (half-time), Evan Lyons for Ward (35 mins), Curtis Lyons Carroll for Piggott (45 mins, black card), David Condron for E. Lyons (60 mins, black card)
Scorers: Larry Kealy 1-1, Cathail Dunne 0-3, Ciarán Farrell, Cathal Leonard, Conor Behan and Ciarán Fennessy 0-1 each
Team: Aidan Walsh; Cathal Leonard, Dermot Leonard, Kevin Byrne; Seamus Lacey, Richie Ryan, James Redmond; Brian Kenna, Padraig McEvoy; Ciaran Farrell, Jamie Farrell, Cathal Fennessy; Alan Farrell, Cathail Dunne, Larry Kealy. Subs: Andy McEvoy for C. Farrell (half-time), Robbie Donoher for P. McEvoy (45 mins), John Kealy for Redmond (50 mins), Conor Behan for Kenna (51 mins), Tomás Lacey for Ryan (63 mins)
Referee: Eddie Kinsella(Courtwood)
Laois footballer Alan Farrell, despite not scoring, was pivotal to Ballylinan’s first half dominance, but Cathail Dunne gets the nod as he came up with the scores when his team needed them.
When Cathail Dunne landed the point in injury-time to level it, he inspired his team just when the heads were beginning to drop.
Eddie Kinsella let too much go, but he did get the big decisions correct i.e. the red card and the penalty.
Whilst Portarington have a number of rising stars within their ranks, is this team too young to seriously challenge the big teams in the championship?
Cathail Dunne’s winning point was a lovely one from an acute angle.
Larry Kealy sending off was unnecessary from the player.