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Btown and Ballinkillen bag the points as Naomh Eoin and Naomh Brid lose out

LWB Reporter
July 18, 2023

Bagenalstown Gaels 1-16

Naomh Eoin 2-11

The opener in this double header was a tight affair in what was a must win game for Naomh Eoin following 2 opening defeats. Scores were at a premium and the deadly accurate free taking of Craig Doyle, and alertness off a breaking ball ultimately saw the Gaels home and into a semi final. 

Doyle struck for 7 first half frees, with Jason Wall the only man in black and green to raise a white flag from play. Naomh Eoin lead 5-3 after 23 minutes with scores from Colm Beck and Brian Treacy from frees and James Smithers and Gavin Ruschitzko from play. In the following 5 minutes the Town hit for 4 scores through the veteran Doyle as Naomh Eoin were guilty of some silly tackling that Doyle duly punished. 

At 7-5 coming close to the break, it looked like last years finalists would pull away, but a beautifully crafted goal fired home by Scott Treacy, made the contest come alive. The goal itself was a cracking team score with a good diagonal ball causing the harm. Doyle steadied the ship with the last score of the half from a dead ball to leave it 0-8 to 1-5. 

The 2nd half was equally as tense with only 2 scores in the opening 9 minutes. Indeed, we went 8 minutes between scores – Doyle and Beck trading frees, in this time before a breaking ball off a goalpost bounced to Paddy McDonnell and he squeezed it home from a tight angle to leave it at 1-9 to 1-6 after 40 minutes. 

Naomh Eoin settled with 2 scores – a nice one from play by Michael Kavanagh being the pick of them. The Town forwards eventually found their shooting boots and Mark McDonald and Danny Doyle hit 2 quick fire points in the 49th minute to give them a 5-point lead. Surely game over? Not a hope!

Beck and Brian Treacy – his 2nd long range free narrowed it in but Jake Doyle hit a cracker from under the stand in the 56th minute. The following minute saw a bit of good fortune as a long delivery hit the Gaels goalpost and on hand was Scott Treacy to pounce for his 2nd goal of the game. This levelled the game and when a short puck out went astray, Naomh Eoin turned over the ball and won a free which Beck converted and put them into the lead as we entered the 58th minute.

At this stage cool heads were needed, and Cian Doyle showed all his experience in winning a free which Craig Doyle hit superbly from the 65 into a breeze to bring the sides level. It was then Miseals turn to get turned over as the overcarried the ball after savage Town pressure 45m out from goal. Doyle slipped over the easy free and was on hand to score the insurance point deep in injury time as Miseal tried to go long in search of a goal. 

Bagenalstown will take the win but will surely look to up their performance if they are to challenge for honours this year. The loss of JP Treacy midway during the 2nd half will be a worry for them as he was a big presence in that middle. Jack McCullagh was dynamic at midfield throughout, but their forwards failed to find a rhythm against a dogged Naomh Eoin rear guard. 

Naomh Eoin will be disappointed not to have got something from the game. Some cheaply given away frees cost them scores at vital times and the had chances that went astray at the other end. Dwaine Kavanagh was superb at 6 for them for the hour as he reeled back the years. Progress but no points unfortunately.

Ballinkillen 2-21 

Naomh Brid 1-10

A 14-point victory was probably a reflection of the dominance of Pat English’s charges in the second game on Sunday evening and truth be told but for some poor shot selection at times, Ballinkillen could have increased the margin. 

The game started brightly for Naomh Brid with Fiach O’Toole scoring after 3 minutes from play and Ballinkillen were guilty of some poor shooting (4 wides in as many minutes) before Mark Foley opened their account. Eric English hit 2 quick fire points from a placed ball and open play and it was a lead they never relinquished.  They were running direct and fluffed 2 goal chances – one a smart save by Stephen Scanlan, as the game opened up.

Jack Treacy was having a massive influence on the game in a roving role in the middle and he hit the first of his 2 points in this period. Naomh Eoin dug deep and indeed created chances with Aaron Amond and particularly John Murphy at 11 causing problems and getting on the score board.

From the 17th minute to the 25th Ballinkillen hit 4 unanswered points including 2 from the midfield pair of Cormac Lomax and Kevin Kavanagh who were back to where they left off last year. This left the score at 0-10 to 0-4. Amond broke the cycle with a point, but Ballinkillen finished the half strongly and hit 3 unanswered scores to leave it at 0-13 to 0-5 at the interval. Debutant Shane Kelly was on   top form and causing massive trouble with his pace and last years county minor captain hit for 0-3 in the opening half. 

Naomh Brid opened up well in the 2nd half and Adam Dunne was on a lot of ball in the pivot role. Both teams traded 2 scores each – 2 beauties from Kavanagh from play, cancelled out by 2 O’Toole frees. The next score proved to be the big one of the games which really put the result beyond question. A long ball in broke and Mark Foley was on hand to whip it to the net from close range. 1-15 to 0-7 after 36 minutes.

Not to be undone, Naomh Brid continued to fight hard and in the next 7 minutes outscored their opponents by 1-3 to 1-0. Amond struck for a great goal after a beautiful 1 handed flick on from Mikey Bambrick into his path. This chemistry was evident all evening and this time it clicked. Ballinkillen settled this mini revival when Sean Murphy ran down the wing and struck for a beautiful goal into the bottom corner. Worringly it was his last action of the evening as he limped off with a muscle injury in the next phase of play. 

Zack Kelly hit a lovely score in the 44th minute to leave it 2 15 to 1 9 but Ballinkillen reeled off 6 in a row from Cormac Lomax, Craig Wall, and 2 each from English and Kelly. As the game rumbled into injury time it was fitting that John Murphy who worked tirelessly all evening finished the scoring with a well worked Naomh Brid score. 

Ballinkillen will be well pleased to be approaching a full panel of fit players – Pauric Hynes and Ciaran Whelan were notable absentees on Sunday, and they will time their challenge for the title you would imagine. Some poor shooting will be worked on, but they looked sharp around the middle and the return of Cormac Lomax in particular gave them a dynamic element that worked well for the team. 

Naomh Brid will be a little disappointed with how the hurled based on 2 stirring performance to date. They too had players missing and with a tighter panel, these can hurt more. They have 3 forwards in Murphy, Bambrick and Amond that create trouble against all teams and they will surely look to exploit these come next weekend v Naomh Eoin.

It is only their 2nd year back up, and with some promising younger players coming through, they need to be patient and have a longer-term view on things.