THEY may have had to delay their celebrations by 12 months but Ballinderreen were finally crowned county Intermediate champions last Saturday after a well-deserved victory over Meelick/Eyrecourt.
The demons from last year’s final defeat to Ahascragh/Fohenagh were well and truly exercised in Kenny Park after Ballinderreen recovered from a two point half-time deficit to get their hands on the Mick Sylver Cup and ensure Senior hurling for 2018.
Ballinderreen were fancied going into the game but, though they started well, Meelick/Eyrecourt proved more than a match for them and were in fact 0-9 to 0-7 ahead by the time the contest reached the halfway stage. After a disappointing performance in last year’s decider, Ballinderreen were keen not to let it happen again, however, and were much the better team in the second half with Shane Larkin’s goal five minutes after the restart proving crucial.
Meelick/Eyrecourt, for their part, will be unhappy that their second half performance was not of the same standard as in the first 30 minutes. They only managed four points after half-time but credit must go to Ballinderreen, who were ferocious in defence, particularly in the closing stages.
It was Meelick/Eyrecourt who opened the scoring in the second minute, Niall Lynch firing over his first free of the day from the left wing, but things looked ominous for Lynch’s side when Ballinderreen hit the next four points of the game. Shane Coen and Roy Lane got a point each in the third minute before the same pair added to their tallies to leave three points between the sides, 0-4 to 0-1 after seven minutes.
Meelick/Eyrecourt responded well, however, with Charlie Killeen getting a much needed score for them in the tenth minute. Niall Lynch and Ballinderreen’s Kevin Lane then traded points from frees before Meelick/Eyrecourt took charge of proceedings.
Declan McEvoy reduced the gap to one with a neat score in the 17th minute, after Killeen and John Hynes had pressured Ballinderreen into turning over the ball. Niall Lynch then drew his side level in the 21st minute after he was on the end of a good move involving Michael Larkin and John Hynes, with Hynes in particular doing well to get his pass away under pressure.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.