Bradley hails his Ballinascreen battlers but warns toughest test still to come
A brace of first-half goals proved crucial in taking St Colm's, Ballinascreen into the Ulster minor club tournament final when they overcame O'Donovan Rossa in yesterday's second semi-final by 2-5 to 0-8 at the St Paul's Complex, Shaw's Road, Belfast.
The Derry side went into yesterday's assignment as they had gone into their quarter-final tie against Errigal Ciaran as well - as underdogs.
"We knew that we were going in against tough opposition, but the fact that we got the couple of goals before the halfway stage helped us," said manager Jerome Bradley.
The Oak Leaf side rapped out an early warning that they intended to continue on from where they left off against Errigal Ciaran by poaching a fifth minute goal through Reece McSorley.
This proved the spur for a sustained period of pressure and it was no real surprise when Euan McBride drilled home Ballinascreen's second goal from a penalty in the 24th minute.
They were worthy of their 2-4 to 0-2 interval lead, O'Donovan Rossa's belated response to their opponents' surge coming via two late points from frees by Dominic McEnhill.
But the Belfast outfit, with McEnhill prominent, responded robustly after the break.
They chalked up six points, four coming from the accurate boot of McEnhill, but their cause was not helped when Michael Close was dismissed after incurring a second yellow card, while Matthew Mallon was shown a straight red card five minutes from the end.
And, even though Ballinascreen were held scoreless for 27 minutes at one stage, they still managed to close out the game, Emmet Duggan's late point helping to usher them to safety.
While delighted to see his side book their place in the decider for the first time, boss Bradley is conscious that their toughest test to date looms on the horizon.
Ballinascreen will now meet Enniskillen Gaels in the final following the Fermanagh side's 2-9 to 1-9 victory over St Eunan's, Letterkenny in the other semi.
"This will be a huge task for us given the way in which the Gaels have progressed into the final. They look a very good side with a lot of talented players but I believe that we can reach a new level ourselves. That will certainly be the challenge for us," asserts Bradley.
"But this is something we relish, it's where want to be."