A point and a goal from Jamie Langan in the dying moments of the first half proved decisive as Drumkeerin got the better of neighbours Ballinaglera in this local derby played in Drumshanbo on Sunday.
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Those scores put the winners six points ahead at the break but Drumkeerin had to withstand a great second half rally from their Ballinaglera neighbours, edging home by three points in the end.
With a draw between Fenagh and Ballinamore in the other group game, Drumkeerin are in pole position and a win against either St. Caillin’s or Sean O’Heslin’s will be more than enough to see them into the quarter-finals.
Ballinaglera, who have been playing in Division 3, will also be happy with the draw in the other game as it keeps them within touch. They probably found the step up against a Division One team a little too steep but a good result against Ballinamore would revitalise their campaign.
Aidan Dolan opened the scoring for the winners after five minutes & it was a further six minutes before Ballinaglera opened their account, a point from the boot of Fergal Wynne.
James Gallagher, from play and a pointed free, from Seamie McMorrow within a minute of each other kept the teams level, but two minutes after McMorrows point, Ballinaglera’s wing half back Thomas Cornyn received a black card from referee James McCaffrey and was replaced by James McDowell.
The next ten minutes was probably the winners best spell in the game, hitting over three points without reply from Colm Clarke (play), Cathal McCawley (free) & Jamie Langan (45). They were dealt a blow though when James Gallagher received a black card with Gabriel Flynn taking his place.
McMorrow hit over a good point from play to leave just two points between the teams, but minutes later, the winners had a great chance of a goal when Seamus McNama got through the losers defence only to be denied by keeper Ryan Crawford who seemed to get a hand to McNama’s effort, the ball eventually cleared off the line.
But the decisive goal did arrive minutes later, Langan first hit over a point after slack defending in the losers defence and almost immediately got in for a well taken goal to leave six points between the teams at the break.
These late first half scores were a huge blow to Ballinaglera and they needed a good start to the second half. It duly arrived with McMorrow & Patrick McGrail hitting over points to reduce the arrears to four points.
But they failed to capitalise on the good start and failed to score for the next 15minutes and in that same period allowed the winners regain their six point advantage when Clarke & Langan hit points.
But when it seemed all was lost for Ballinaglera, up stepped Anthony Mulvey to drive home a goal with just six minutes left and when McMorrow pointed a free two minutes later, we were set for a grandstand finish.
But that was as good as it got for Ballinaglera, try as the might, they could not breach the Drumkeerin defence and when Cathal McCawley hit over a free as we entered injury time, it gave the winners a three point cushion they held to the end.
Drumkeerin: Kevie Forde; Tommy Rogan, Keith Gallagher, Brendan McCawley; Colm Clarke (0-2), Felim McHugh, Aidan Dolan (0-1); Ciaran White, Patrick McHugh; Seamus McNama, James Gallagher (0-1), Jerome Maguire; Jamie Langan (1-3), Cathal McCawley (0-2), Glen Kavanagh. Subs: Gabriel Flynn for James Gallagher (BC).
Ballinaglera: Ryan Crawford; Padraig Clarke, Brendan McGourty, Shane Mulvey; Luke Bradley, Patrick McGrail (0-1), Thomas Cornyn; Padraig Cornyn, Anton McGourty; Kieran Feeney, Seamie McMorrow (0-4), Wayne Reynolds; Gerard Clarke, Anthony Mulvey (1-0), Fergal Wynne (0-1). Subs: James McDowell for Thomas Cornyn (BC); Rory McPartland for Gerard Clarke; Barry Gilmartin for P. McGrail.
Referee: James McCaffrey