Mountmellick Gaels 1-7
A LATE Mountmellick Gaels goal took some of the gloss off what was one of the more convincing victories of round one of this year’s senior football championship.
Ballylinan were by far the better team in this clash on Sunday evening in Ratheniska. The game had been due to take place at noon on Sunday but a funeral in Mountmellick that morning meant a change so the clubs headed for the slightly novel venue – one of the first time since 2008 that a senior championship game was played somewhere other than the county grounds.
Both teams came into the clash with league medals in their back pockets, but Ballylinan competed in and won a division higher than Mountmellick and it showed right from the off.
Ballylinan welcomed Gary Walsh back from a knee injury that had kept him out for the last month and he was amongst the early scorers as they took a lead they would never relinquish.
Andy McEvoy landed a brace either side of a Brendan Reddin point for Mountmellick as the game got into a flowing rhythm.
Niall Mullen, the focus of most of Mountmellick’s attacks, pointed frees either side of McEvoy’s third point but that was all they could manage in the opening half.
Cathail Dunne showed great skill to point from play and then Ciaran Farrell combined brilliantly with Pauric McEvoy to fire a great goal past Eoghan Keogh in the 27th minute. Farrell added a point moments later and at half-time Ballylinan led 1-6 to 0-3.
The second half was less than 30 seconds old when McEvoy dropped over his fourth point, another sweet score off his left boot, and Dunne and Walsh (free) had them nine up with still over 25 minutes to play.
Mountmellick rallied with a Mullen free a nice effort from full back Gearoid Hanrahan and to their credit they refused to give in. Jamie Farrell, who had a fine game in midfield, responded for Ballylinan but Mullen and Brendan Reddin left six in it as the game ticked into the final ten minutes.
Two brilliant points from Ciaran Farrell settled Ballylinan and although sub Mark Grennan got a goal from Mountmellick after a scramble in the square, a Gary Walsh free was the final scoring act of the game.
This win for Ballylinan has set up a mouth-water contest between them and neighbours St Joseph’s in the next round. On this form Ballylinan will have nothing to fear.
Mountmellick Gaels do down the qualifier route and will not relish the prospect of taking on the loser of the Portarlington v Arles Killeen replay.
BALLYLINAN: Aidan Walsh; Kevin Byrne, Dermot Leonard, Cathal Leonard; Alan Farrell, Richie Ryan, James Redmond; James Farrell (0-1), Pauric McEvoy; Seamus Lacey, Cathail Dunne (0-2), Laurence Kealy; Andy McEvoy (0-4), Ciaran Farrell (1-3), Gary Walsh (0-3f).
Subs: Robbie Donoher for Kealy (34m), John Kealy for P McEvoy (42m), Conor Behan for Redmond (45m, black card), Eric Kenna for C Leonard (58m), Brian Kenna for D Leonard (61m), Oisin Leonard for G Walsh (61m)
MOUNTMELLICK: Eoghan Keogh; Michael Lawlor, Gearoid Hanrahan (0-1), Oisin Morris; Laurence Kenny, Darren Fitzpatrick, Ben Forde; Stephen Lynch, Eoin George; Ben Reddin (0-2), Colm Coss, Karl Donoher; Mark Dowling, Niall Mullen (0-4f), Jason Caffrey.
Subs: Mark Grennan (1-0) for Caffrey (36m), James Mullaney for Donoher (37m, black card), Ciaran Rochford for Forde (41m), Ethan Lawlor for Kenny (41m), Darragh Hanlon for Lynch (55m), Bernard Rochford for George (61m, black card)
REFEREE: Eddie Kinsella (Courtwood)