Midfielder Donncha O’Donovan pulls the strings in convincing Ballinhassig victory
JOE KENNEFICK REPORTS
FOR the third time in their history, Ballinhassig were crowned The Huntsman Bar & Restaurant South East junior A football champions.
They overcame a slow start to defeat reigning champions Ballymartle in a well-contested final played in Crosshaven’s magnificent new pitch on Sunday night.
In a game played in the right spirit, Ballinhassig prevailed despite playing second fiddle for the opening 20 minutes. Ballymartle started well and led 1-5 to 0-4 after 16 minutes, the goal coming from midfielder Jack Ryan, but Ballinhassig finished the half strongly and only trailed by a single point at the interval.
And a Colin Reynolds goal in the 40th minute proved crucial as it put them three points ahead. From here to the finish, they always looked the likely winners.
Ballymartle hit back with a goal from Jack Ryan in the 47th minute to set up an exciting finish, but Ballinhassig held firm to claim the title for the first time since 2015. Central to their victory was the performance of midfielder Donncha O’Donovan, who won the Fitzgerald & Partners sponsored man-of-the-match award. O’Donovan was a powerhouse from start to finish, and he was ably assisted by Fintan O’Leary, who kicked 0-7, and Cillian Tyers, who kicked 0-3 and was a constant menace for the Ballymartle defence.
For Ballymartle, it was a disappointing end to their reign as champions. They started very brightly and led 1-5 to 0-4 after 16 minutes, the first goal also coming from Jack Ryan, but they only scored 1-3 for the remainder of the game, although they were unlucky to see a Killian McCarthy goal ruled out for a square infringement in the 19th minute.
Ballymartle started quickly, and points from Shane Cummins, McCarthy and Daniel O’Leary had them ahead after four minutes, but scores from Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Tyers and O’Leary saw the sides level after nine minutes.
Ryan scored his first goal in the ninth minute, when his shot, which he kicked while falling, went to the net.
Ballinhassig had goal chances of their own, with Diarmuid O’Sullivan hitting the post after six minutes, and hitting straight at Ballymartle goalkeeper Gavin Murphy in the 18th minute, just before McCarthy was adjudged to be in the square when he flicked a Brian Corry delivery to the net.
Rikard Cahalane had two points for Ballymartle but similar scores from Michael Desmond, O’Leary (3) and Tyers left the half-time score 1-6 to 0-8 in Ballymartle’s favour.
O’Leary and Tyers pushed Ballinhassig ahead for the first time in the 32nd minute, but an excellent point from Daniel O’Leary tied the match again after 38 minutes, before Reynolds pounced for the all-important goal in the 40th minute.
O’Leary and Ger Collins increased Ballinhassig’s lead to five points before Ryan grabbed his second goal, but Ballinhassig controlled the closing stages of the game, and points from O’Leary and Shane Mulligan sealed their win.
Ballinhassig: F O’Leary 0-7 (2f); C Tyers 0-3; C Reynolds 1-0; Diarmuid O’Sullivan, S Mulligan, M Desmond, G Collins 0-1 each.
Ballymartle: J Ryan 2-0; D O’Leary 0-3 (2f); R Cahalane 0-2; K McCarthy (f), S Cummins, L Corry 0-1 each.
Ballinhassig: A O’Leary; E Lombard, P O’Leary, C Desmond; P O’Sullivan, S McCarthy, M O’Mahony; M Ahern, D O’Donovan; C Reynolds, Fintan O’Leary, M Desmond; S Coleman, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, C Tyers.
Subs: Declan O’Sullivan for M O’Mahony (39), G Collins for S Coleman (45), S Mulligan for M Desmond (51), T Madden for Diarmuid O’Sullivan (51), D O’Leary for S Mulligan (black card, 58), D Delea for C Reynolds (64).
Ballymartle: G Murphy; J Butler, M Tobin, D Dwyer; L Corry, E O’Leary, D McCarthy; C Healy, J Ryan; R Cahalane, D Edmonds, B Corry; S Cummins, K McCarthy, D O’Leary. Subs: S Corry for M Tobin (33), G Webb for D McCarthy (48 inj), N Crowley for S Cummins (56).
Referee: Brian Coniry (Crosshaven).