Ballycommon close down Tullamore. Picture: Ger Rogers
Ballycommon advanced to the Offaly Intermediate Football Final with a two point win over Tullamore in Clara on Sunday morning. Played in torrential rain, this game will not be remembered for its quality, however, it was an exciting game that went right down to the wire.
Tullamore Court Hotel Intermediate Football Championship semi-final
Ballycommon looked to be home and hosed. Tom Mealiffe’s 56th minute ‘45’ sent them four clears with four remaining and in such a low scoring game, the contest looked to be over. Tullamore scored two on the trot and there were some nail-biting moments at the end when Tullamore looked for a goal. However, the Ballycommon defence stood tall and they answered all questions that were asked of them in the second half.
Ballycommon started the brighter. In such terrible weather, there are not many teams who risk kicking it long into their full forward line, however, Ballycommon tested it and perfected it. They isolated Christopher Kenny inside in the early stages and he caused plenty of problems for the Tullamore defence, opening the scoring inside the opening minute.
Jay Sheerin quickly replied for The Blues, but Ballycommon were quick to regain the lead. Man of the match Stephen Conneely nudged Ballycommon ahead once again, his first of a four point first half haul as he caused havoc for the Tullamore defence.
Tullamore struggled for scores in the first half with talisman Shane Dooley well marshalled by David Dempsey. Shane Dooley did manage a first half free and Ryan Sheerin’s beautiful left footed effort left one in it with 20 minutes gone.
Ballycommon regained the momentum and Conneely pounced on a misplaced Anthony Lambe kickout to put Ballycommon two ahead before Brian Todd’s point from distance wrapped up the first half scoring, giving his side a three-point lead at Pauric Gallagher’s half time whistle.
The rain showed no signs of stopping and as conditions got trickier, unusually the game seemed to come to life.
The second half started just as the first had, as Christopher Kenny pointed inside the first minute.
However, Tullamore fought back and they raised the game’s only green flag soon after the restart. Jay Sheerin’s long-range effort bounced awkwardly in the rectangle for Paul Scally and he was unable to deal with the danger as the ball bounced into the back of the net to reduce the deficit to the minimum.
Gareth Mann and Tom Furlong traded points and substitute Ian Scally had an excellent goal chance 40 minutes in. However, he was unable to keep his shot down as he drilled over.
Jay Sheerin kept Tullamore in touch with two points either side of another Mann free and just as it looked as if the game would be nip and tuck for the remainder, Ballycommon found their stride.
Gareth Mann came to life in the second half and his two points followed by a wonderful Tom Mealiffe ‘45’ which sailed over the black spot increased the Ballycommon lead to four points with 56 minutes on the clock.
Pauric Brazil pointed for Tullamore to make it a one score game and when Shane Dooley was awarded a controversial free in injury time, he pointed leaving just two in it.
There were some nervous Ballycommon supporters in Clara in the final minutes as Tullamore bombarded their square with high balls. However, Ballycommon held on and they were glad to hear Paurig Gallagher’s full-time whistle as they booked their place in the 2022 Intermediate Football Final, where they will play Raheen.
Ballycommon: Stephen Conneely 0-4, Gareth Mann 0-4 (0-3F), Christopher Kenny 0-2, Brian Todd, Ian Scally, Tom Mealiffe (‘45’) all 0-1 each.
Tullamore: Jay Sheerin 1-2, Shane Dooley (0-2F), Ryan Sheerin 0-2(0-1F), Tom Furlong and Pauric Brazil 0-1 each.
Tullamore: Anthony Lambe; Mark Bolton, Mike Feeney, Devon Henchy; Eoin O’Connor, Dylan Hensey, Shane Enright; Cathal Kavanagh, Pauric Brazil; Tom Furlong, Liam Dillane, Ryan Sheerin; Ben Connolly, Jay Sheerin, Shane Dooley. Subs: Patrick Fahey for Mark Bolton (35),Shane Kelly for Liam Dillane (45), Aaron Hensey for Cathal Kavanagh (48), Patrick Robilliard for Dylan Hensey (55).
BALLYCOMMON: Paul Scally; David Dempsey, Kenneth Mann, Donal Scally; Aidan Bracken, Brian Todd; Tom Mealiffe, Michael Conneely; Sean Conway, Gareth Mann, TJ Bermingham; Stephen Conneely, Conor Dunne, Christopher Kenny. Subs: Ian Scally for Tj Bermingham (38), Barry Bracken for Kenneth Mann (42), Karl Dunne for Donal Scally (43).
Referee: Paurig Gallagher (Ballinagar)
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