Ballyfin Gaels will take on Colt Gaels in the final. Pic: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie
Gareth Dunphy’s 1-10 haul helped Ballyfin Gaels over the line and into the final as they saw off the challenge of The Harps in the curtain-raiser in O’Moore Park on Sunday afternoon.
With a swirling wind keeping the players on their toes in the opening half, Ballyfin Gaels, and Gareth Dunphy in particular, racked up a nine point lead with the wind behind their backs on a scoreline of 1-12 to 0-6 at the break - with Dunphy accounting for 1-9 of Ballyfin’s 1-12 in a near flawless first half performance.
Despite playing into an increasingly strong wind in the opening half, The Harps opened the scoring with a minute on the clock through a short-range Michael Lanigan free. Ballyfin Gaels wasted no time in putting the wind advantage to use as they slotted the next two through their in-form forward, Gareth Dunphy.
The Harps quickly drew on level terms with Lanigan’s second of the game, before Brian Dunne gave them a 0-3 to 0-2 lead with five minutes played.
Ballyfin Gaels began to pull the strings from here as they rattled off 1-6 in a fifteen minute period that they also held The Harps scoreless. A quick-fire brace from Dunphy, followed by what was ultimately the only goal of the game - again from that man Gareth Dunphy as he finished a great run with low shot past Peter Walsh.
And they weren’t finished there as they completed the blitz with points from Dunphy (3) and Eamon Duff as The Harps struggled to contain Ballyfin’s talismanic forward.
The Harps broke their fifteen minute drought with a well-taken point from Conor Brophy, but Ballyfin went straight back on the attack and notched points through Darragh Connolly and a Dunphy free as they went nine points clear.
The sides closed out the half with Padraig Delaney and Eoin Clancy exchanging fire with Michael Birmingham and Dunphy as Ballyfin Gaels held a comfortable nine point lead as the sides entered the dressing rooms.
Now playing into the blustery wind, Ballyfin Gaels reopened the scoring just a minute into the half through Eanna Lyons. However, this was to be first of Ballyfin’s solitary two points in the duration of the second half, coming twenty-one minutes apart.
The Harps took over the scoring from here as they chiseled away at the Ballyfin lead through five pointed frees from Lanigan to close the gap to five before the opposition would score again.
A Gareth Dunphy sixty-five ended the drought for Ballyfin Gaels in the fifty-second minute, but The Harps continued to search for a way back through points from Lanigan and Delaney, unfortunately to no avail as Ballyfin Gaels held firm to progress to their second final in as many years.
Scorers: Gareth Dunphy 1-10 (0-7 frees, 0-1 ’65), Eamon Duff, Darragh Connolly, Michael Bermingham and Eanna Lyons 0-1 each.
Team: JJ McHugh; Sean O’Neill, Kevin O’Rourke, Richie Downey; Bernard Rochford, James Finn, David Connolly; Darragh Connolly, Donncha Hartnett; Sean Lowry, Gareth Dunphy, Michael Bermingham; Eamon Duff, George Lanham, Eanna Lyons. Subs: Gary Hoffmeister for Duff (Blood Sub, 21-29 mins); Gary Hoffmeister for Lowry (39 mins); Nigel Murphy for Duff (49 mins); Redmond McEvoy for Lanham (63 mins).
Scorers: Michael Lanigan 0-8 (0-7 frees), Padraig Delaney 0-2 (0-1 free), Brian Dunne, Conor Brophy and Eoin Clancy 0-1 each.
Team: Peter Walsh; Gavin Dunne, Pakie Flynn, Richie Saunders; Daniel Comerford, Conor Dunne, John Prior; Shane Phelan, Eoin Clancy; Padraig Delaney, Brian Dunne, Conor Brophy; Ciaran Comerford, John Brophy, Michael Lanigan. Subs: Ronan Delahunty for Shane Phelan (half-time), Brian Clancy for Conor Brophy (50 mins); Barry Dunne for Lanigan (60 mins).
Referee: Noel Twomey (Park-Ratheniska)