Hot Harps rock Castle
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
Ballyholland 0-10. Castlewellan 0-07.
BALLYHOLLAND pulled off a shock victory over hotly-tipped Castlewellan in Friday's opening round game of the Down Senior Club Championship at Pairc Esler.
Castlewellan had great difficulty in breaking Ballyholland as the Harps men excelled in tackling, tracking back and generally harassing the Castlewellan forwards.
And it would be rude and ignorant to simply describe Ballyholland's style as the blanket defence it - was much more intelligent than that.
True, they led with a two-man attack but it wasn't hoof forward and hope but brilliant long-range passing and couragous and honest forward play from the master Ronan Murtagh and pupil, young Tiarnan Rushe.
Ballyholland didn't fall into the trap of contastnly counter-attacking by running at the Castlewallen defence, instead they had the conviction to play a long-range pass to Murtagh or Rushe and the duo had the ability to win possession and importantly stick the ball over the bar.
Rushe bagged the first point with only two minutes gone and Murtagh doubled Ballyholland's lead before Daniel Morgan replied for Castlewellan.
It was a game of cat and mouse and Ballyholland were always looking to attack, but they defended dilligently too.
Rushe converted two frees either side of Joseph Murphy's drilled 35-metre point. Murtagh bettered that with a wonderful 45 metre point from play as the Harps led 0-6 to 0-1 with 23 minutes played.
Murtagh's point increased Ballyholland's lead but Castlewellan finished the half on a high with a converted free from Colm Flanagan and were full value for their five-point lead at the break.
Half-time: Ballyholland 0-07 Castlewellan 0-02.
It took Castlewelland only nine minutes to whittle down the five points and draw level, but crucially Ballyholland needed
only 50 seconds to respond and regain the lead.
Donal McKibben squeezed over a point with only a minute of the restart played and Castlewellan were busier among the forward lines, spread the passes better and Cathal and Conal Crilly tagged on scores as the game sat at seven points apeice with 39 minutes played.
But the Ballyholland ship didn't creak, instead substitute Niall McKevitt showed a pair of strong hands to win a kickout, the ball was crossed for Murtagh to chase and he turned from his back to goal to swing his shot between the posts.
It was a nervy few minutes for Ballyholland until they grabbed their next point as substitute Pete Quinn converted a free on 51 minutes, giving Harps a two-point lead.
As expected Castlewellan pushed forward and they almost snatched a goal but Ballyholland's Anton Haughey rescued his side with a last-ditch flick from the goal-line.
And Ballyholland enhanced their lead with only two minutes remaining as Joseph Murphy dropped a free into Murtagh who rolled back the years with a tremendous high fetch at the edge of the square, he passed to the in-rushing Quinn who drilled over the bar.
But Castlewellan had a last throw of the dice - they were awarded a 21-metre free in injury-time, a scuffle insued in which Daniel Morgan received a straight red card.
The free was saved and in an incident at the sideline Castlewellan's Ruiari McArdle and Ballyholland's Ronan Murtagh each received a red card.
BALLYHOLLAND: Colm Keenan, Niall McQuillian, Anton Haughey, Damian McCrink, Paddy McAnulty, Keelan Haughey, Joseph Murphy, Paul Murphy, Paddy McAteer, Ruairi White, Tiarnan Rushe, Damien Campbell, Ronan Murtagh and Ciaran Murphy.
CASTLEWELLAN: Michael Cunningham, Barry Travers, Ruiri McArdle, Conall Corrigan, Caolan Brogan, Kevin Duffin, Daneil Morgan, Fintan McGreevy, Colm Flanagan, Conal Crilly, Cathal Crilly, Liam McKibben, Donal McKibben, S Connolly and David Gilmore.
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