St Joseph’s 4-11
Ballyfin Gaels 0-8
By Denis J. Croke
EVEN before a ball was kicked in this year’s championship, Ballyfin knew they would have had a battle to survive in the senior ranks. After their opening game against St Joseph’s in O’Moore Park on Sunday, it is even going to be more of a struggle.
The loss of Gareth Dunphy and Alan Strong, both defenders, to red cards is going to leave very short of cover at the back for their next game. St Joseph’s also had Jason Campion red carded following an off the ball incident with Dunphy. In fairness to both sides, three red cards give a mistaken impression of a game that was played in a sporting manner.
St Joseph’s may have been comprehensive winners, but they will need to up their performance if they are to be serious contenders. They could manage just three points in the opening 23 minutes, Danny Hickey and two Dylan Doyle frees. On the other side Sean Moore was on target twice for Ballyfin.
But once Matthew Campion finished an innocuous delivery to the net in the 25th minute the impetus swung the Saint’s way. Points from Liam Kealy and Campion ensured they went into the break leading 1-5 to 0-2.
Seven minutes into the new half we had the departure of Jason Campion and Gareth Dunphy just before Michael Keogh raised the winners’ green flag with a thunderous shot.
Dan Dunne added a point before Ballyfin staged a mini-revival with three points on the trot, two from Louis Duff and a Moore free, but it didn’t last long.
Dunne and Matthew Campion converted frees before Campion was denied twice by Ballyfin keeper Paul Holohan but the ball fell kindly to Danny Hickey and he made no mistake.
James Finn landed Ballyfin’s sixth point, but Kealy and Campion raised white flags for the Saints before Campion scored his second and the Saint’s fourth goal in the 58th minute.
There was some head scratching when Strong saw red but St Joseph’s Tom Dunne saw just yellow in another harmless off the ball incident.
Two Ballyfin points, both frees from Finn and Moore sandwiched a Michael Keogh point to round off victory for St Joseph’s.
ST JOSEPH’S: Daniel Nelligan; Adam Campion, Tom Dunne, Cian Maher; Danny Hickey (1-1), Donal Ramsbottom, Ian Donnelly; Kevin Campion, Jason Campion; Liam Kealy (0-2), Matthew Campion (2-3, 0-2f), James Doyle; Michael Keogh (1-1), James Smith, Dylan Doyle (0-2f).
Subs: Dan Dunne (0-2, 0-1f) for D Doyle (h/t), Colin Campion for Smith (32m, inj), Murtagh Condron for Kealy (59m, back card)
Red Card: Jason Campion (37m)
BALLYFIN GAELS: Paul Holohan; Barry Roche, Gareth Dunphy, Richie Downey; Alan Strong, George Lanham, Ciaran Fingleton; James Finn, Eoin Dunphy; Darragh Connolly, Louis Duff, James Furlong; Rickie Quillinan, Ben Conroy, Sean Moore.
Subs: Jason Horan for Furlong (40m), Max Connolly for E Dunphy (45m), David Connolly for Fingleton (54m), Dan Molloy for Darragh Connolly (65m), David Dunphy for Quillinan (65m)
Red Cards: Gareth Dunphy (37m), Alan Strong (58m)
Referee: Clifford Ward (Portarlington)