Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Gaels left stunned by Ballinagh

Driving force: County man Niall McDermott on scoresheet
Driving force: County man Niall McDermott on scoresheet

Ballinagh pulled off one of the shocks of the season as they turned in a superb performance to stun red-hot favourites Cavan Gaels in the Cavan SFC final.

Ciaran O'Reilly's side had never won the title and were appearing in their first final since 1986 against a Gaels side who started as unbackable 1/9 favourites and had won eight of the last 12 championships.

The first quarter was nip and tuck, with county man Niall McDermott – who kicked seven frees from eight – nudging Ballinagh in front after three minutes.

Ballinagh almost broke through for a goal, McDermott blazing wide, and the Gaels reacted well to go in just three behind, 0-8 to 0-5, at the break.

Dunne pointed for the Gaels on the restart when a goal looked likely but Ballinagh held their heads and further scores from McDermott and Terry Smith kept the favourites at arm's length.

However, the Gaels responded like champions and points from Dunne, Marc Leddy and Micheal Lyng levelled the match with ten minutes to play. It was anyone's game but Ballinagh stood tall and a snapshot from Thomas Moore and, fittingly, a free from McDermott saw them break for the line.

There was late drama as sub Anthony Gaynor and Gaels attacker Lyng saw red, and Johnston had a late free to win it but his attempt on goal was deflected over the bar and Ballinagh deservedly held on for a historic victory.

Ballinagh: Declan Beard; Killian McBride, Patrick Carroll, Conor Smith; David Finnegan, Damien McInerney (0-1), Philip Bogue; Padraic O'Reilly (0-1), Niall O'Reilly (0-1); Kevin Smith, Thomas Moore (0-1), Terry Smith (0-1); Colin Gumley, Niall McDermott (0-7, 7f), Enda Brady. Subs: Anthony Gaynor for T Smith (39mins), Eamon McEvoy for T Smith (57), Michael Ward for K Smith (60), Paul Galligan for Gumley (60).

Cavan Gaels: Martin Cassidy; Barry Fortune, Marc Leddy (0-1), Karl Crotty; Niall Murray, Eamonn Reilly, Levi Murphy; Dominic Reilly, Cathal Collins; Declan Meehan (0-2), Michael Lyng (0-1), Robert Maloney-Derham; Sean Johnston (0-3, 1f), Paul O'Connor, Martin Dunne (0-4, 3f). Subs: Conor McClarey for P O'Connor (12mins, inj), Kevin Meehan for D Reilly (HT), Sean Reilly for K Crotty (42), Niall Smith for Levi Murphy (48), Gavin Duffy for N Murray (58).

Referee: Kieran McCarville (Cootehill Celtic).

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