All-square in SFC cracker between Ramor and Ballinagh

Senior Football Championship

Ramor United 2-16

Ballinagh 1-19

Kevin Óg Carney at Kingspan Breffni

Battle-hardened Ballinagh finished with a flourish last Sunday in Kingspan Breffni to bookend a thrilling SFC contest.

Hot favourites Ramor looked home and hosed in leading by three points approaching the hour mark but their opponents didn’t read the script.

In a great show of derring-do, Niall Mc Dermott popped over a free, Shane Finnegan pointed two minutes into added-on time and then Thomas Smith’s 63rd minute exocet left the word stalemate hanging under the autumnal sun.

Ballinagh’s reward was nothing if not deserved for in reeling in Ramor’s six point 17th minute lead (1-6 to 0-3), the long-time trailing team showed just how they emerged as a class apart last year in winning the IFC title.

In fairness, Ramor also deserve the height of praise in playing their part in what was an engrossing and exciting contest with the luminous James Brady and high-fetching midfielder Laurence Caffrey in inspirational form in particular.

Ramor started the game on the front foot and grabbed the initiative in the 4th minute when Brian O’Connell powered through the heart of the Ballinagh defence before picking his spot for a clinical goal which put his side into a 1-0 to 0-1 lead.

Ballinagh got a huge let off later in the 15th minute when Mark Magee failed to get enough purchase on his palmed effort from the edge of the small square after James Brady had fisted the ball across the square to his unmarked colleague.

The Saffrons hung in there but they had it all to do as the teams scattered for the water break with Ramor well-positioned to do the bookies justice in leading by 1-5 to 0-3.

Ramor proceeded to twist the knife on the restart with Ballinagh’s propensity to dive into the tackle allowing top scorer Brady to steadily add to his personal tally from frees.

The underdogs got a major leg up though in the 21 minute when, after sloppy work at the back by Ramor from a kick out, the ball was worked up to Kevin Smith who finished the ball to the net with aplomb.

Smith’s major cut Ramor’s lead to 1-6 to 1-3 but United ought to have engineered more clear water between themselves and their opponents in the 26th minute but a brilliant Patrick Carroll block saw Sean McEvoy’s goal-bound effort deflect for a fruitless ’45.

Ballinagh also spurned a chance for a second goal when in the 29th minute Shane Finnegan turned the ball over but Niall McDermott slid the ball wide as the Ramor ‘keeper advanced off his line.

Ramor’s second goal was crucial and timely when it did come along; Sean McEvoy rifling home after James Brady was unceremoniously stopped in his tracks.

Ballinagh began the second half trailing by 1-8 to 2-8 but within six minutes had drawn level (1-12 to 2-9) but Ramor hit back with points from James Brady and Enda Maguire (39) as the tempo of the game went up a notch or three.

Top midfielder Caffrey got the point (48) his efforts deserved but while Ballinagh bent they didn’t break and a fine Padraic O’Reilly effort (53) had them back in front for the first time in 45 minutes.

Ramor showed their mettle though in the run-in with a string of points – including a gem from Cathal Maguire – to put them in the box seat once more and clear favourites to nick the spoils.s

Ballinagh had other ideas though and their final flourish seen to it that justice was served.

Ramor Utd: Finn Lotscher: Lorcan Lynch, Damien Barkey, Matthew Magee; Adam O’Connell, Jack Brady, Eoin Somerville; Laurence Caffrey (0-1), Brian O’Connell (1-0); James Bradley (0-1), Gareth Mannion, Mark Magee; James Brady (0-12, 8f), Ado Cole, Sean McEvoy (1-0, pen).

Subs; Simon Cadden for E Somerville; Cathal Maguire (0-1) for G Mannion; Enda Maguire (0-1) for

B O’Connell (inj); Paddy McNamee for J Bradley; Killian Maguire for A Cole.

Ballinagh: Enda Brady; Evan Finnegan, Patrick Carroll, Aaron Reilly; Niall O’Reilly (0-1), Cormac Timoney, Paddy O’Brien; Padraic O’Reilly (0-1), Thomas Moore; Kevin Smith (1-3), David Finnegan, Shane Finnegan (0-5, 2f); Thomas Smith (0-4, ’45), Niall McDermott (0-5, 5f), Kyle Taylor.

Subs; Barry Connolly for K Taylor; Tristan Graham for K Smith.