BALLINAMERE Gaels overcame a shaky opening where they found themselves four points adrift after ten minutes to win this semi-final by three to set up a final date with Coolderry.
A timely goal from Paddy Murphy and a scoring burst of four unanswered points right at the start of the second-half proved crucial for Ballinamere Gaels and entering the closing minutes they held a four point lead.
A late goal from Adrian Hynes got Seir Kieran Og within one heading into injury-time but that was as close as last year’s beaten finalists got as a brace of points from Darren Scanlon rounded off the win for Ballinamere Gaels.
In glorious sunshine in Kinnitty the seven club amalgamation of Ballinamere, Durrow, Clara, Ballycumber, Tubber, Erin Rovers and Doon who together comprise Ballinamere Gaels were more clinical on the day.
Seir Kieran Og, a coalition of Seir Kieran, Drumcullen and Gracefield will look back on a number of missed opportunities over the piece and a lack of a cutting edge in front of goal.
Twice they denied by saves from David Carroll, one scramble on the Ballinamere Gaels line failed to produce a goal and late in the first half Donal Guinan looked all set to rattle the back of the net but full-back Dan Kellegher bravely threw himself in front of the shot to effect the block
Ballinamere Gaels full-back line of Kellegher, David Magner and John Egan collectively were the strongest unit on the field which was a key component in the win.
Chris McDonnell anchored the half-back very well while the midfield pair of Jamie McKeown, who scored a useful three points, and Gerry Spollen grew into the game as it progressed.
In attack Darren Scanlon was a constant threat however Paddy Murphy was the only other forward to register more than one score and that is something they will have to work on ahead of the final.
For Seir Kieran Og, Dermot Gath was to the fore in the early exchanges covering a lot of ground while Eanna Murphy, who chipped in with three points, and Christopher Connors anchored the back-line effectively.
In attack top scorer Adrian Hynes with 1-7 was the pick of the bunch although at times the supply into the inside forwards was less than favourable.
They did hit their straps in the opening minutes and they had their opponents firmly on the back foot but they allowed them back into the game courtesy of an avoidable goal after 10 minutes.
After that they seemed to lose some of the early pep they had in their step and it as very much nip and tuck between the sides for the remainder of the game.
Barry Cushen opened the scoring for Ballinamere Gaels but that was the only bright spot in the first ten minutes for his side as Seir Kieran Og dominated the opening exchanges.
Conor Kennedy levelled the scores and points in quick succession from Sean Coughlan and Thomas Carroll put them two ahead with five minutes on the clock.
Good work from Keith Dunne set up Adrian Hynes for the fourth point and the same player was on target again after nine minutes with Colm Coughlan this time the provider.
The game was slowing drifting away from Ballinamere Gaels but a goal from Paddy Murphy got them back in the game after ten minutes.
He reacted quickest to drill the lose ball to the net after Seir Kieran Og’s Cathal Murray had put in a tremendous block to deny Darren Scanlon.
Referee Noel Flynn let the game flow from start to finish and while there may have been a couple of hefty challenges that deserved frees that he let go, the officiating let the game to flow allowing it to be played at a high tempo.The first free of the game was only awarded in the 13th minute and Darren Scanlon duly pointed getting Ballinamere Og back on level terms.
A point from a ‘65 from from Eanna Murphy after Ballinamere Gaels’ David Magner had done well to bat a dangerous high ball to safety put Seir Kieran Og back in front.
However by the 20th minute, after having trailed by as many as four, Ballinamere Og edged in front for the first time following back to back points from Jamie McKeown, the second being a fine long range
Adrian Hynes drew Seir Kieran Og level after 20 minutes and a superb long range free from Eanna Murphy from tight to the left hand sideline on halfway put his side back into the lead at 0-8 to 1-4.
A further point apiece was added before the break with Paddy Murphy and Eanna Murphy on target leaving Seir Kieran Og a point to the good.
The game swung firmly in favour of Ballinamere Gaels in the opening nine minutes of the second-half with a run of four unanswered points.
A point from a free from Darren Scanlon was followed by a well taken score from Gerry Spollen.
Kevin Dunne had a glimpse of goal for Seir Kieran Og but he was crowded but their was no such pressure at the other end of the field as Jamie McKeown from long range and Tom Spain from only marginally closer took advantage of the space they were given to shoot over the bar.
Seir Kieran Og’s first point of the second-half came from a free from Adrian Hynes after 41 minutes but that was quickly canceled out by a point from Darren Scanlon also from a placed ball.
Two consecutive points from frees from Hynes reduced the gap between the sides to the minimum.
After a point in reply from Paddy Murphy, Hynes had a glorious chance to put his side in front after a great run from Kevin Dunne. The corner-forward hand-passed the ball across the square to Hynes and the full-forward did the right thing in doubling on it first time but his powerful drive flew just over the crossbar from close range.
Ballinamere Gaels took advantage of that let off with three quick fire points with the pick of them being from a free from inside his own half from Chris McDonnell.
That left four between the sides but Ballinamere Gaels could thank goalkeeper David Carroll for holding that advantage as he charged from his line to get his body in the way of a close range shot from Sean Coughlan.
Seir Kieran Og eventually got the goal they needed to set up a grandstand finish when Adrian Hynes found the back of the net after a shot on goal from a 21 metre free was saved.
That left just a point between the sides as the game entered injury-time but Seir Kieran Og did not get the chance to equalise and force extra-time as a brace points at the other end from Darren Scanlon saw Ballinamere Gaels over the line.
Ballinamere Gaels:Darren Scanlon 0-6 (0-5f); Paddy Murphy 1-1; Jamie McKeown 0-3; Barry Cushen 0-1; Gerry Spollen 0-1; Tom Spain 0-1; Philip McDermott 0-1; Chris McDonnell 0-1f; Martin Hackett 0-1
Seir Kieran Og: Adrian Hynes 1-7 (0-3f); Eanna Murphy 0-3 (0-2f, 0-1 ‘65); Conor Kennedy 0-1; Sean Coughlan 0-1; Thomas Carroll 0-1;
Ballinamere Gaels: 8 (3 1st half)
Seir Kieran Og: 11 (6 1st half)
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Gaels: David Carroll; David Magner, Dan Kellegher, John Egan; Tom Spain, Chris McDonnell, Philip McDermott; Jamie McKeown, Gerry Spollen; Eoin Wyer, Michael Murphy, Barry Cushen; Paddy Murphy, Cormac Spollen, Darren Scanlon. Subs: Martin Hackett for Eoin Wyer (40mins), Bernard Allen for Barry Cushen (48mins)
Seir Kieran Og: Joseph Connors; Cathal Murray, Christopher Connors, Brian Mulrooney; Colm Coughlan, Eanna Murphy, Brian Dunne; James Scully, Dermot Gath; Thomas Carroll, Sean Coughlan, Conor Kennedy; Donal Guinan, Adrian Hynes, Kevin Dunne. Subs: Keith Mullarkey for Donal Guinan (35mins), Shane Molloy for Conor Kennedy (48mins)
Referee: Noel Flynn
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