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21 Jan 2022

Injury time point sends Offaly Junior Hurling final to a replay

Injury time point sends Junior hurling final to a replay

Brosna Gaels and Ballinamere drew in the Junior A Hurling final at The Faithful Fields

A POINT from Oisin Cusack in the third minute of injury time earned Ballinamere a draw after a dramatic conclusion to the Offaly Junior A Hurling final played at the Faithful Fields in Friday evening.

Molloy Environmental Systems Offaly Junior A Hurling Final

BROSNA GAELS 1-13
BALLINAMERE 1-13

Brosna Gaels were in front for most of the game but Ballinamere gradually reeled them in throughout the second half and their efforts were finally rewarded when they got that equalising score deep in injury time to send the final to a replay.

On a bitterly cold, wintry night, the two sides deserve enormous credit for serving up an exiciting contest for the good sized crowd who gathered to watch the contest. The conditions certainly didn't help and you felt for the players but they both gave 100% and in the end a draw was probably a fair result.

Ballinamere started well and hit the opening two points of the game but from there on Brosna Gaels, with the wind behind them, had the better of the first half. They hit the next eight points in succession and after Ballinamee finally got their third point, Brosna Gaels struck for their goal and they went in a half time leading by seven points, 1-9 to 0-5.

With the elements in their favour after the break Ballinamere took the game to their opponents and when they struck for their goal 11 minutes into the half, the lead was down to three points and the momentum seemed to be in their favour. Brosna Gaels rallied and two points before the water break left them 1-12 to 1-8 at the that point. They were still three points up with two minutes to go but Ballinamere put in one final push and hit three points in a row to earn a draw.

It was a frantic conclusion to the contest and both sides will now get the chance to do it all again in the replay. They will hope for some more favourable conditions than they got on Friday night. The biting cold made ball handling difficult for both sides and while there were errors by both teams, there was certainly no lack of endeavour. Every ball was fiercely contested but, it must be said, in a fair and honest manner.

In their semi-finals the previous weekend, both sides had won well but on this occasion they found the opposing defences a bit more difficult to prise open than those of their semi-final opponents. Both defences were strong and every score had to be worked hard for. Both sides did manage to pick off some fine points and very few chances were wasted.

Sean Hackett, Lee Colgan and Richard Fox were impressive in the Brosna Gaels defence while Declan Buckley did a lot of valuable work around the middle of the field. Gary Larkin, Dan Kelleher and Eoin Murphy caught the eye in attack.

Ken Molloy, Danny O'Brien and Colin Waters played well in the Ballinamere rearguard, Stephen Fitzgerald's accuracy from placed balls kept his side in the contest, while in attack, Jack Wyer, Luke Wyer and Andrew Fitzgerald were best.

Ballinamere were quickest out of the traps with two pointed frees from Stephen Fitzgerald in the first three minutes. Eoin Murphy and Jack Quinn quickly levelled and Eoin Murphy put the Gaels in front from a free. Andrew Buckley stretched the lead before Gary Larkin and two Dan Kelleher points put them 0-7 to 0-2 ahead at the water break.

Dan Kelleher added a further point on the restart before Stephen Fitzgerald pointed another free. On 23 minutes Brosna Gaels struck for their goal when Ciaran Allen and sub Micko Kelly combined to set up Dan Kelleher and he fired to the net. Eoin Murphy pointed from a free to stretch the lead to nine but Luke Wyer and a Stephen Fitzgerlad '65' cut the gap to 1-9 to 0-5 at half time.

Daryl Troy and Stephen Fitzgerald cut the lead further after the break before Eoin Murphy replied with a free. Then after 11 minutes Ballinamere were right back in it when Luke Wyer and Daryl Troy combined only for the latter's shot to be saved on the line but Andrew Fitzgerald was on hand to fire the rebound to the net. Daryl Troy added another point and the gap was down to two but Dan Kelleher (from a long range free) and Eoin Murphy added points to leave Brosna Gaels 1-12 to 1-8 up at the second half water break.

Luke Wyer picked off another point and Stephen Fitzgerald pointed another free but Dan Kelleher doubled a high ball from Ciaran Allen over the bar to leave three in it with two minutes left. Stephen Fitzgerald pointed a '65' and a free to leave the minimum in it and Oisin Cusack then popped over the leveller in injury time to send the game to a replay.

MATCH ANALYSIS

THE TEAMS

BROSNA GAELS: Sean Farrell; Ger Buckley, Sean Hackett, Lee Colgan; Eoghan Hennessy, Richard Fox, Jack Buckley; Declan Buckley, John Egan; Andrew Buckley, Jack Quinn, Gary Larkin; Ciaran Allen, Dan Kelleher, Eoin Murphy. Subs. Micko Kelly (for John Egan, inj., 23 mins), Aaron Daly (for Jack Buckley, 43 mins).

BALLINAMERE: Kieran McLoughlin; Brian Cleary, David Gillespie, Ken Molloy; Eoin Boland, Danny O'Brien, Colin Waters; Stephen Fitzgerald, Conor Wyer; Andy Walsh, Oisin Cusack, Andrew Fitzgerald; Jack Wyer, Luke Wyer, Daryl Troy. Sub. Jody Leonard (for Daryl Troy, 52 mins).

REFEREE; Adam Kinahan,

MAN OF THE MATCH

Brosna Gaels captain Dan Kelleher led by example with another fine display. After a slow start when the ball wasn't coming his way he burst into life with three points in a row and then followed it up with a well taken goal. He added two further important points in the second half and moved futher outfield to win valuable possession and keep his side in the contest.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Despite coming under a lot of pressure, Brosna Gaels looked like they might just hang on until the third minute of injury time when Oisin Cusack won possession on the left and taking on the responsibility himself fired the ball over the bar to earn his side a draw.

REFEREE WATCH

Adam Kinahan refereed the game well. It was a fiercely fought but he let it flow as much as he could and there were very few arguments about any of his decisions and he wasn't really a factor in the outcome.

TALKING POINT

It may have been the last Friday in November, and a cold, wet and windy night at that, so we probably had no right to expect a good contest, but that is what we got and everyone involved deserves credit for that and it whets the appetite for the replay when they will both go at it again.

WHAT’S NEXT

The sides will have to meet again to decide who will be crowned Junior A champions for the year and move up to the intermediate grade in 2022.

VENUE WATCH

The Faithful Fields was in good condition for the game. The weather was miserable but the pitch looked well, even if it did appear soft in places, which isn't a surprise at this time of year. There were plenty of stewards on duty and parking was very well organised and the decent sized crowd was glad of the cover of the stand.

STATISTICS

Wides; Brosna Gaels 6 (4 in first half) Ballinamere 4 (1 in first half)

Yellow Cards: Brosna Gaels 2 (Richard Fox, Jack Quinn) Ballinamere 2 (Jack Wyer, Andrew Fitzgerald)

Red Cards: None

THE SCORERS

Brosna Gaels; Dan Kelleher (1-5, 0-1 free), Eoin Murphy (0-5, 0-3 frees), Jack Quinn, Andrew Buckley, Gary Larkin (0-1 each).

Ballinamere; Stephen Fitzgerald (0-8, 0-6 frees, 0-2 '65s'), Andrew Fitzgerald (1-0), Luke Wyer, Daryl Troy (0-2 each), Oisin Cusack (0-1).

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