Most people’s favourites for Championship glory Ballinamore Sean O’Heslins were sensationally dumped out of the competition last Sunday.
Glencar/Manorhamilton hassled and harried throughout the quarter-final encounter between the sides in Drumkeerin but they also showed plenty of skill in attack and determination in defence.
The names on many lips throughout the Intermediate Championship have been Wayne McKeon and Shane Moran but on Sunday last it was the likes of Aaron Hickey, Conor Dolan, the Poniard brothers David and Michael and the evergreen Shane Devaney that caught the eye.
The moment when Ballinamore’s challenge looked as though it would fall short arrived 12 minutes from the end when Kevin O’Connor was sent off. At that stage the sides were level but a goal and a point in quick succession after the red card put Glencar/Manor on course for success.
For Ballinamore defeat will prove to be a bitter pill to swallow as they were hoping to make an immediate return to senior championship football after the disappointment of last year’s relegation.
What last Sunday will have told them if they weren’t already aware is that securing Intermediate glory involves a lot of factors coming together and unfortunately for Ballinamore they were below their best for much of this game.
Shane Moran has deservedly received a lot of plaudits so far this year but the combination of David and Michael Poniard in the middle of the pitch was something Ballinamore never really came to terms with.
Aaron Hickey was well marshalled for much of the game by Mathew Murphy but the full-forward still managed to cause havoc on several occasions.
Having trailed by four points in the opening half, Ballinamore looked sluggish to say the least as they struggled to find top gear but captain Ronan O’Rourke, operating from wing back, looked determined to single handedly drag his team back into the game. Having scored an excellent individual point earlier in the half, O’Rourke’s second saw him exchange passes with Mark McGrory before pointing from a tight angle. That score certainly lifted Ballinamore as they finished the half strongly to ensure there was just two points between the sides at the interval.
Ballinamore brought that belief into the second half and a David Duignan point meant there was just the minimum between the sides.
Glencar/Manor regrouped with points from Aaron Hickey (free) and Michael Poniard either side of a Wayne McKeon pointed free but Ballinamore came fighting back again with Wayne McKeon’s second point (free) followed by a Johnny McWeeney point to level matters.
Unfortunately for Ballinamore that was as close as they would come to their opponents as Glencar/Manor took full advantage of their numerical advantage in the closing stages.
After Kevin O’Connor was sent off 12 minutes from the end following a high tackle on Dominic Kelly, which was mistimed rather than dirty, Glencar/Manor pounced.
When the game resumed after Kelly received treatment, Conor Dolan pointed to put his side in front and with five minutes left Dolan turned provider as he found Aaron Hickey who drilled a shot beyond Paul Prior.
A Hickey point extended the lead before Ballinamore hit back with points from Paul McLoughlin and Ryan Gavin.
Deep in injury time another of Glencar/Manor’s star performers Colin Ryan pointed before Johnny McWeeney registered his second point but that proved to be little more than a consolation as Glencar/Manorhamilton march on.
Glencar/Manorhamilton: Gary Hickey, Mark Fox, Shane Devaney, Cian McManus, Patrick Loughlin, Adrian O’Flynn, Daniel Maguire, Aaron Hickey (1-5), Michael Poniard (0-1), David Poniard (0-1), Dominic Kelly, Colin Ryan (0-2), James Rooney, Alan Sweeney, Conor Dolan (0-3). Subs: Shane Kerrigan, Ronan Flynn, Bredan Rooney.
Ballinamore Sean O’Heslins: Paul Prior, Philip Murphy, Matthew Murphy, Kevin O’Connor, David Duignan (0-1), Wayne McKeon (0-2), Shane Murphy (0-1), Brian Cafferty, Shane Moran, James McWeeney, Liam Ferguson, Anthony McTague, Ronan O’Rourke (0-2), Mark McGrory, Sean Murray (0-1). Subs: Luke Murphy, Paul McLoughlin (0-1), Johnny McWeeney (0-2), Ryan Gavin (0-1), Andrew Burns.
Referee: Eamon O’Grady