Ballyea 1-12 Sixmilebridge 1-12
JUST after the final whistle sounded Sixmilebridge mentors, players and subs all took the opportunity to vent their fury at calls made by referee Ger Lyons.
Throughout the second half there had been frequent roars of anger from the ’Bridge sideline and while a couple of decisions did go against them, it’d be hard to argue that the side which narrowly avoided relegation last year, Ballyea, were undeserving of a point, which leaves them still in the hunt for a quarter-final berth.
The ’Bridge can also qualify, but their destiny is now out of their own hands. They will have to beat Ogonnelloe and hope that Ballyea topple Broadford, a sequence of results that would see them face the Black and Amber side again in a play-off.
Around 30 minutes before the appointed throw-in time, Ballyea were togged and doing drills on the second pitch, while a few Sixmilebridge stragglers were still arriving. The message was clear – Ballyea weren’t there just to make up the numbers.
They started well too, Tony Griffin pointing after 11 seconds and Alan Griffin adding another two minutes later.
Caimin Morey got the ’Bridge on the board in the eighth minute, while Niall Gilligan levelled it in the 10th, following good work from Morey.
The ’Bridge were getting on top at this point, with Danny Morey and Paudie Fitzpatrick hurling well. Gilligan, who enjoyed an outstanding first half in which he hit six of his side’s seven points, put them into the lead in the 11th minute, 0-3 to 0-2.
But Ballyea were not fazed and Griffin levelled it, before scoring his side’s goal in the 13th minute. A huge free from Shane O’Neill dropped into the goalmouth and following a Seamus Darby-esque nudge on a defender, Griffin gathered and rattled the net.
This gave them a bit of momentum and by the 22nd minute they had built up a five-point lead, 1-6 to 0-4. However, Gilligan was on fire in the full-forward line and by halftime the gap was back to three, 0-7 to 1-7.
As the half ended, some were of the opinion that Ballyea’s lead wasn’t enough and that they would be overhauled.It certainly looked that way as the ’Bridge hit three unanswered points in the first seven minutes, restoring parity. Ballyea hit back with a pointed free from Alan Hehir and a point from Tony Griffin, when a goal looked possible.
David O’Connor took the ’Bridge goal in the 10th minute. He cut in from the right wing and drove the ball beyond Shane O’Neill, putting the ’Bridge into the lead. It was followed up by a Gilligan free a couple of minutes later, leaving the score at 1-11 to 1-9 and with the breeze favouring them, it was looking good for them.
But there was a lot left in Ballyea. A Griffin free steadied the ship and sub Paul Flanagan levelled it yet again.
With six minutes of normal time left, Caimin Morey showed some good battling qualities and took another point to give the ’Bridge a one-point advantage once again. That looked like being the final score of the day until a monster free from Shane O’Neill made it a draw.
The awarding of the free that O’Neill scored from was a decision that particularly vexed the ’Bridge faithful and they felt that there should in fact have been a free in awarded, something that would most likely have seen them take a two-point lead, which would probably have been enough.
However, the break went to Ballyea and O’Neill came to take the free from inside his own 65, levelling the game.
On the day Ballyea were well served by Tony Griffin, Niall Keane and Gary Brennan, while O’Neill’s free was one of the highlights of the game.
The ’Bridge’s better performers included Tadhg Keogh, Paudie Fitzpatrick, Danny Morey and Gilligan.
Sixmilebridge: Derek Fahy; Tadhg Keogh, Stiofán Fitzpatrick, Wayne Kennedy; Tommy Morey, John Reddan, Paudie Fitzpatrick; Danny Morey, Barry O’Connor; John Fennessy, Caimin Morey, Eoin Quinn; David O’Connor, Niall Gilligan, Declan Morey.
Subs: Michael Liddane for Wayne Kennedy; Anthony Liddane for Eoin Quinn; Brian Culbert for David O’Connor.
Scorers: Niall Gilligan 0-9 (3f); David O’Connor 1-0; Caimin Morey 0-2; Declan Morey 0-1.
Frees: 13; Wides: 5
“Some of the decisions were unbelievable.” Christy Chaplin, Sixmilebridge manager.
Ballyea: Shane O’Neill; Eamon Griffin, Alan Carrig, Frankie Griffin; Brian Carrig, Niall Keane, Francie Reilly; Paddy O’Connell, Gary Brennan; Kevin Sheehan, Cormac Murphy, Brian Chambers; Tony Griffin, Donal Chambers, Alan Hehir.
Subs: Brian Murphy for Alan Carrig; Paul Flanagan for Alan Hehir; Francie Neylon for Donal Chambers.
Scorers: Tony Griffin 1-5 (1f); Gary Brennan 0-2, Alan Hehir 0-2 (1f); Brian Chambers 0-1; Paul Flanagan 0-1; Shane O’Neill 0-1 (1F).
Frees for: 11; Wides: 11
“We’re delighted but we possibly left it behind us with the wides we had in the last 10 minutes.” Michael Hehir, Ballyea selector.
Referee: Ger Lyons, Ruane