Our junior team continue to defy the odds and produced yet another outstanding performance in beating hot favourites Drom/Broadford to secure their place in the West Junior B Football Final. While the quarter final victory over St Senans was built on a sensational attack this victory had it’s foundations built on defensive doggedness and a steadfast refusal to relent against a powerful and speedy Drom side.
Drom/Broadford had topped the group stages and rightly went into the game as favourites to progress to meet either Glin or St Kierans in a West Final. It only took a matter of minutes for them to signal their intent as they struck with a well worked early goal which was quickly followed by a point. A Mark Murphy free settled the side as our backs began to find their feet and get the measure of their opponents. Pakie Neville went close with a shot on goal and Drom were pressured into missing a number of chances before another Murphy free helped close the deficit. However Drom stretched clear again and went into the break leading on a scoreline of 1-4 to 0-2.
Drom were first to score after the restart, now leading by 6 points they seemed set to close out a comfortable win but Ballysteen refused to relent and from there on produced a performance full of guts and determination. Conor Enright and Eamonn Murphy took control of the full back line and snuffed out numerous Drom attacks, Alan O’Shaughnessy was brought further out the field and marshalled his man to great effect. Goalkeeper and captain Ian Ranahan was finding his men from kickouts and half backs Mick Boyce and David Holland ran themselves into the ground as they attacked and defended with equal gusto. Another Murphy free saw the gap reduced to 5, before the outstanding midfielder Corey Flynn turned the game on it’s head. Flynn’s powerful direct, running was beginning to cause problems for Drom, and when he gathered the ball 20 yards from goal, he only had one thing on his mind. He brushed off two heavy tackles before side stepping the full back and burying the ball in the top corner of the net. It was goal which was richly deserved and with Emmet Whelan winning numerous kick-outs, we dominated for next 5 minutes with another free from Murphy leaving a single point between the sides entering the last 15 minutes.
However Drom weren’t for lying down and moved back up a gear, kicking two points in quick succession to leave the scoreline at 1-7 to 1-4 with 9 minutes left on the clock and only for more resolute defending the gap could have been more. Just as our final dream seemed to be slipping away Jack Neville produced a moment of individual brilliance to score an incredible goal. Gathering the ball on the edge of the D, he found a seemingly non-existent gap in the defence, jinking his way past 3 defenders he then calmly rounded the keeper before blasting the ball to the roof of the net. The game was now tied with just 3 minutes remaining. Not content to settle for the draw Ballysteen continued to push on in search of the winner.
Alan Kehoe, Barry McMahon and Enda Gallagher were linking well through the middle and continuously providing an option when turning defence into attack. This hard work paid dividends as the ball made its way to Dave Holland on the wing. A dummy solo, followed by a swift one, two, with the industrious Conor Barry, set Holland free and he made the most of the opportunity, evading a number of tackles before flicking the ball over the bar from close range to move us into the lead for the first time. We won the resulting kick out and a long ball delivered to Mark Murphy saw him fouled on the 20 meter line. He cooly slotted the resulting free over the bar as the final whistle sounded and a famous win was secured.
Team: Ian Ranahan, Conor Enright, Eamonn Murphy, Alan O’Shaughnessy, Mick Boyce, Enda Gallagher, Dave Holland, Corey Flynn, Barry McMahon, Emmet Whelan, Mark Murphy, Jack Neville, Alan Kehoe, Conor Barry, Pakie Neville. Subs: Mike Griffin (48min), Marcum Fitzgerald, Seamie Fitz, Maurice Hayes, John Blackwell.