Reds' late surge sinks Ballymachugh

IFC round 1

Cornafean 2-18

Ballymachugh 1-16

Paul Fitzpatrick at Our Lady of Lourdes Park

A haul of 1-3 in the closing stages of the match by sub Peter Doyle was the difference as Cornafean picked up a win in their Intermediate Championship opener against Ballymachugh in front of a good crowd in Mullahoran on Friday evening.

Ballymachugh came into this game buoyed by a come-from-behind replay win over Drumgoon in the recent Division 2 league relegation play-off while the Reds had enjoyed a strong league campaign; they were the third-highest scoring team in the county and went close to earning promotion to the top flight, losing by a goal to Arva in the semi-final.

That free-scoring trend continued from the off. At the midway point, Cornafean led by the minimum, 0-11 to 0-10, after an entertaining, open half of football.

The sides matched each other all the way in the first half, with both enjoying short periods of dominance. Shane Tynan opened the scoring with a long-range effort which was cancelled out at the other end by a 40-metre David Egan free.

Mark Kiernan and Liam Buchanan, who were both pivotal for the Hughs throughout, made it 0-3 to 0-1 but the Reds were ahead by the 11th minute following scores from James McGahern and two for Egan (one free).

At the other end, Killian Smith got on the end of a shot dropping short to palm over and Mark Kiernan threaded one from 40 metres – and when Aaron Briody sent it in long and Smith picked Emmett Martin’s pocket to point, Ballymachugh were two in front again and humming nicely.

They carved out a goal chance but Tynan’s effort was straight at Martin and after the let-off, the Reds soon found their groove.

Mark Johnston won the ball and laid off for Egan to register again and the full-back then turned finisher to level matters. The pacy Dean Kilkenny then fired over two points in quick succession, one from play and a well-taken mark after a Cormac Cullen pass, as Declan Beard’s side hit the front.

But the topsy turvy nature of proceedings continued as Ballymachugh regained the lead. After a Mark Kiernan fetch at midfield, Kieran Goldrick found Shane Tynan who pointed. The young attacker tied the game with a free after a Buchanan catch and when Tynan was fouled and converted himself, Ballymachugh led by 0-9 to 0-8.

In the closing stages of the half, the Doyles came to the fore for Cornafean. Shane laid on two scores for Barry and the latter added another quality effort off the left to make it 0-11 to 0-9 but the Hughs pulled another back just before the break when Buchanan fielded and Mark Kiernan sent over a stylish effort.

Kieran was to the fore again on the resumption as his free 30 seconds in tied the game. The Reds then struck for their first goal when Jason Miney squared the ball to James McGahern at the back post and he punched to the net.

But Ballymachugh weren’t deterred. Another point, under pressure, from Mark Kiernan was followed by a sweet 45-metre Tynan strike to make it a one-point game again on 36 minutes.

Jack Wharton knocked over a free after a foul on Cullen but Tynan conjured up a nice point from nothing in reply and a a 45-metre Kiernan free levelled the game again with 15 minutes to go.

Barry Doyle stepped up with another quality point and then sub Peter Doyle managed to squeeze over another in heavy traffic to put the Reds two up.

Then, the game took another twist. Ballymachugh sub Dillon Kiernan used his pace to create an opening and centred the ball for Killian Smith, who rose and got the deftest of touches as it found the roof of the net. Ref Barry McMenamin consulted with his umpires – the question was whether Smith made contact – and awarded the goal.

Both sides subsequently registered wides but when Peter Devine curled over a point, Raymond O’Reilly’s charged were 1-16 to 1-14 ahead with five minutes to go and in the box seat.

The Reds, though, dug deep and summoned up a big finish. After Ballymachugh failed to clear their lines, Jack Wharton found Peter Doyle, who pointed on the turn in the 58th minute.

Moments later, Peter Doyle picked up a short free from Barry Doyle and sent over a lovely point off the left to tie the game and the match-defining score arrived immediately afterwards.

A Ballymachugh kick-out went awry and Conor Sheridan and Jack Wharton were involved in getting the ball to Peter Doyle, who palmed to the net with exactly 60 minutes played.

Cornafean were on the front foot; Kilkenny quickly fired over off the left and then converted a long-range mark as the Reds won going away.

The final scoreline was harsh on Ballymachugh, who matched Cornafean almost all the way and even had chances in injury time but full credit must go to the Reds, who battled to the end and came up with the big scores when needed.

The sides were level seven times over the hour and the lead changed hands eight times, which paints a picture of a closely-contested match, but it is the Reds who come away with the points.

Cornafean: Emmett Martin, Ronan Trainor, Mark Johnston (0-1), Shane Doyle, Niall Corcoran, Jason Miney, Eamon Brady, Conor Sheridan, Dan Wharton, Cormac Cullen, Dean Kilkenny (0-4, 2m), James McGahern (1-1), Jack Wharton (0-1f), David Egan (0-4, 1f), Barry Doyle (0-4)

Subs: Peter Doyle (1-3), Pete Hogan, Gerard Sheridan

Ballymachugh: Kevin Browne, Stephen Halton, Gary Kelly, Aaron Briody, Mark Kiernan, Ryan Smith, Kieran Goldrick, Liam Buchanan (0-1), James Smith, Gary Murtagh, Barry Kiernan, Mark Kiernan (0-6, 2f), Shane Tynan (0-6, 4f), Peter Devine (0-1), Killian Smith (1-2)

Subs: Dillon Kiernan, Patrick Goldrick

Ref: Barry McMenamin