Wednesday August 24th
QF SimplyFruit.com Intermediate Championship
Ballyhegan Davitt's v Shane O’Neill’s Camloch
The Morgan Athletic Grounds played host to the first Quarter Final of the SimplyFruit.com Intermediate Championship on Wednesday night between Ballyhegan Davitt’s & Shane O’Neill’s of Camloch. The Camloch side entered the contest as favourites, following an impressive first year in Division II.
Early evening downpours cleared and late summer sunshine bathed the home of Armagh GAA for the throw in.
Ballyhegan were unable to convert early dominance into scores, allowing Shane O’Neill’s to take an early two point advantage including a massive free kick from 50m.
In the tenth minute Davitt’s attackers Eoin Reynolds and Shane McCormack linked well to create a goal chance, however the defender got back to make a vital last ditch tackle, before Shane McCormack could pull the trigger.
Ballyhegan’s first score of the game came after 13 minutes of action, Paul Courtney was fouled on the right hand side, & young minor star Philip Kelly converted the resulting free kick with his trusty left boot.
The sides were level a minute later, Cathal McNeice bravely winning possession in the Ballyhegan defence to set Shane McCormack on the attack. Shane delivered a fine pass to the Eoin Reynolds, who neatly popped the ball over the bar.
The South Armagh men scored the next two points, both from play and from distance as intense Davitt’s defending forced them further out from goal.
Ballyhegan again responded well, this time Joey Murphy dispossessed an attacker, Shane McCormack again linked with Paul Courtney down the touch line, a one-two developing space for Paul to strike between the sticks.
Shane O’Neill’s had a goal chance of their own in the final stages of the first half, only to be foiled by a vital last ditch tackle from veteran defender Tony Keegan. However the South Armagh men still had time before the half time whistle to convert a free kick, two points the difference at the break.
Shane O’Neill’s begun to take control in midfield and the running and movement from the half forward sector caused the Davitt’s some problems. Three points in this period stamped their authority on the game. A full stretch save from the excellent Ballyhegan net minder, Jonny McKeever, kept the Davitt’s in the game in this period also.
Before the half way stage in the second half the Camloch men were six points up, following another excellent move up the field, finished with a point from wing back Michael Brady.
Shane McCormack got a very well deserved point a minute later, striking the ball off the ground after Eoin Reynolds won possession in the forward line.
With thirteen minute’s remaining Philip Kelly raced down the wing for Ballyhegan & split the posts with a loopy strike over the shoulder from 30 metres out, four points now the difference.
The Camloch outfit tagged on another point from a free kick, before centre back Conor Morgan kicked a lovely score from 35 metres following a quick one-two from a free kick.
With five minutes remaining in the game Davitt’s had a wonderful chance to score the opening goal of the game. Philip Kelly reading and dispossessing a loose Shane O’Neill’s pass and fed substitute James McKeever on a penetrating run at goal, unfortunately the shot went just wide of the far post.
Philip Kelly then converted a free kick following a foul on James McKeever, after fellow substitute Shane McKeever’s skillful run; a kick of the ball now the difference with two minutes of normal time remaining.
Unfortunately Shane O’Neill’s would tag three unanswered points in injury time to win the game by six points at the final whistle.
A low scoring, yet entertaining & closely fought contest, between two young, pacey teams. Shane O’Neill’s were the better team on the day, however the score-line somewhat flattered the division II high flyers.
Shane McCormack was the stand out player for Ballyhegan, an all action bustling display of ball winning and link play from the centre forward. He showed great leadership and was involved in almost everything.
Jonny McKeever in goals read the game well, & dealt with everything that came his way, including an excellent save, and in defence, the full back line of Joey Murphy, Mel Courtney & Tony Keegan all played very well, regularly dispossessed their men and didn’t allow any easy scores.
In attack Eoin Reynolds showed well along with Philip Kelly.
Best of luck to Shane O’Neill’s in the rest of the Championship!
Jonny McKeever, J. Murphy, M. Courtney, T. Keegan, C. McNeice (J. Guy, 48), C. Morgan 0.01, R. Devlin, P. Courtney 0.01, J. Wilson, P. Kelly 0.03 (2f), S. McCormack 0.01, A. Kelly, E. Reynolds 0.01 (James McKeever, 45), P. Nixon, P. Marley (S. McKeever, 41)