By Alan Hartnett
EOIN Buggie and Colm Begley kicked 1-7 between them as Stradbally marched to the last four of the senior championship following a stunning 13 point win over Ballylinan on Sunday evening.
Joe Murphy’s side kept Ballylinan scoreless for the first 23 minutes and in that time they racked up 2-6 giving them an insurmountable lead.
Stradbally man Gary Kavanagh went up against his native club as manager of Ballylinan but it was a thoroughly unhappy experience as Colm Begley kicked them men from the Little Town into an early two point lead.
Ballylinan were then gifted a glorious opportunity to go in front. As John Kealy prepared to take a free kick on the half way line, eagle eyed referee Darren Bracken saw Jamie Kavanagh tug Andy McEvoy’s jersey in the penalty area and, after consultation with his umpires, spread his arms for a penalty. Gary Walsh stepped up to take the spot kick but Derek Beale guessed right to deny him and Stradbally never looked back.
The winners had their first goal after 11 minutes when a sweeping hand-passing move involving Damien Murphy and Colm Begley resulted in Greg Ramsbottom picking out Eoin Buggie on the 14 metre line and he beat keeper Aidan Walsh with a low shot into the corner.
Colm Kelly kicked a point before Stradbally raised another green flag at the midpoint of the half. Jody Dillon’s sideline kick caused havoc in the Ballylinan full back line and the ball eventually deflected into the net off the unfortunate Conor Behan.
Colm Kelly, Colm Begley and Conor Delaney all raised further points before Ballylinan finally troubled the umpires when Gary Walsh’s speculative effort crept over the crossbar.
He kicked another before half time but Stradbally didn’t let up and added more points before the break thanks to Buggie, Garry Comerford and a brace via Colm Kelly to leave the scoreline reading 2-10 to 0-2.
The sides swapped points on the resumption as Gary Walsh and Andy McEvoy saw efforts cancelled out by Begley and Jody Dillon before Stradbally were reduced to 14 men for the final 20 minutes when Conor Delaney picked up a second yellow card.
Ballylinan tried to make the most of their man advantage with points from Walsh, Cathail Dunne and Jamie Farrell but it was goals they needed and their best chance fell to the latter whose effort was blocked by Liam Knowles.
Stradbally settled down again though and made sure that Ballylinan were not going to make any inroads into their advantage with three unanswered points from Cormac Delaney and a brace from Colm Kelly.
Gary Walsh kept plugging away for Ballylinan, kicking their final four points, but Stradbally never relented and Buggie, Comerford and Kelly all raised white flags as the Little Town ran out convincing 13 point winners.
STRADBALLY: Derek Beale; Colin Beale, Eoin Buggie (1-3), Jamie Kavanagh; Cormac Delaney (0-1), Liam Knowles, Damien Murphy; Darren Maher, Colm Begley (0-4, 0-1f); Garry Comerford (0-2), Conor Delaney (0-1), Greg Ramsbottom; Podge Fitzpatrick, Jody Dillon (0-1), Colm Kelly (0-7, 0-4f).
Subs: Alan Delaney for Ramsbottom (50m), Philip Kelly for Maher (54m), Eamon Conlon for Fitzpatrick (57m)
BALLYLINAN: Aidan Walsh; Eric Kenna, Richie Ryan, Cathal Leonard; Conor Behan, Alan Farrell, Pauric McEvoy; Jamie Farrell (0-1), John Kealy; James Redmond, Ciarán Farrell, Podge Walsh, Andy McEvoy (0-1), Gary Walsh (0-9, 0-5f), Cathail Dunne (0-1).
Subs: Robbie Donoher for Leonard (17m), Oisin Leonard for A. Farrell (29m, black card), Dermot Leonard for O. Leonard (42m), Larry Kealy for J. Kealy (55m)
Referee: Darren Bracken (Portarlington)