Crettyard Gaels 2-11
Ballyfin Gaels 0-15
By Pat Delaney
AFTER Ballyfin’s exploits last time out, there was much interest as they went in search of victories back-to-back for the first time at this level. After a slow start they improved but then faded again, only to produce a storming finish to nearly force at least a draw.
Evin O’Carroll was welcomed back in the tricoloured jersey after a stint in the Bronx and he marked his debut by scoring the game’s first point from a free two minutes into the game. Cormac Murphy added a second two minutes later and he was to be a thorn in the side of Ballyfin for the remainder of the contest.
Louis Duff opened the Ballyfin account and three in a row from Sean Moore pushed Ballyfin two clear after ten minutes. It was all Ballyfin now but then, against the run of play, Pat Brennan sent a long ball down field and Cormac Murphy was there to flick it past the Ballyfin keeper in the 17th minute.
Murphy added a point but two more by Moore kept Ballyfin in touch. Pat Brennan sent over from distance but James Finn saw a brilliant shot saved by Jeff Moran in the Crettyard goal. In the closing minutes, Crettyard added three more points and another free converted by Moore saw Ballyfin trail 0-6 to 1, although still very much in the game.
The opening five minutes were drab. Then, out of nothing, Crettyard put together a great move involving Pat O’Reilly and Pat Brennan and Paul Simms shot past the Ballyfin keeper for his side’s second goal. Dan Molloy opened the Ballyfin account but Cormac Murphy responded on the double from close-in frees.
Ballyfin came to life and hit a brace by James Finn and Sean Moore, only for Murphy to reply again at the end of the third quarter. Ballyfin then enjoyed their best spell, shooting points by Darragh Connollyand Sean Moore with a brace. But they were dealt a telling blow when George Lanham was issued with a second yellow card with five minutes remaining.
Undeterred, Ballyfin threw all they knew into attack and the Crettyard full back was dismissed on a black card, as was his replacement Conor Barry. James Finn drove on his colleagues and three superb points by Sean Moore reduced the margin to two points. However, time ran out and the Coalminers hung on for a place in the quarter finals.
Ballyfin can be happy they were involved in relegation last year and were short listed again. Sammy Kelly knows too well that Kilcruise will provide serious opposition in the quarter final.
BALLYFIN GAELS: Paul Holohan; Barry Roche, Ciaran Fingleton, David Connolly; Alan Strong, George Lanham, Richie Downey; James Finn (0-1), Max Connolly; Dan Molloy (0-1), Ben Conroy, Darragh Connolly (0-1); Sean Moore (0-11), Louis Duff (0-1), Ricky Quillinan; Subs Eanna Lyons for R Downey 32m, Jim Furlong for L Duff 45m
CRETTYARD GAELS: Jeff Moran; Ciaran Hosey, Sean O’Shea, Paddy Gorman; Cormac Phelan, Paul Simms (1-1), Patrick Brennan (0-1); Patrick O’Reilly, James Brennan; Michael Nash (0-1), Christoir Maher, Niall Purcell; Willie Fitzpatrick, Evan O’Carroll (0-1), Cormac Murphy (1-7); Sub Michael Jordan for W Fitzpatrick 45, Jason Kealy for P Simms 51m, Conor Barry for S O’Shea BL card 57m, Jason Dunne for C Barry Bl card 63m
Referee Darren Bracken (Portarlington)