Ballinagore bridge 46 year gap to win Junior Championship
(This report appeared on the Westmeah Examiner in October 1986 and has been reproduced here with their kind permission)
Ballinagore 1-09 Shandonagh 1-00
Ballinagore, who last won the Westmeath Junior Football championship in 1940, regained the title at Cusack Park when they had an easy victory over a depleted Shandonagh side which had to line-out without two of their regulars - Gordon Carey and Ciaran Conway. The losers team became further depleted when youthful centre half back, Frank Conway, had to retire in the seventh minute. Shandonagh never recovered from those setbacks and an eager and enthuastic Ballinagore team went on to record a comfortable nine point success.
The decider got underway with Shandonagh playing with the lively breeze in their favour. Play was evenly contested in this half, with both sides looking a bit over-anxious and mistakes frequent. When they settled down, it became apparent that the Shandonagh attacks were being well contained by the Ballinagore defence, and with only a goal to show for their efforts at half time, it was on the cards that with wind assistance, Ballinagore had the advantage at this stage with the score 1-00 to 0-02, a mere single point lead which was not sufficient, as events proved. Ballinagore went on to score 1-07 in the second half, and so the game was well decided long before the final whistle.
Ballinagore had an all round soundness in their team. Captain, Jim Mahon, at full back was a leader by example, and the rest of the defence responded to play soundly and reliably. At centrefield, Gerry Claffey and John Deegan worked hard and consistently. In the forward division, Gerry Linnane, John Pidgeon and Pat Deegan were in control and the rest of the attack gave good support. Shandonagh played bravely, but they had not the encouragement of getting the occasional score to lift them with their attack blotted out so effectively. Tom Creagh, John Smyth, Michael Gavin, Eddie Tynan, Tommy Carey, Russell Creagh and Joe Tynan were their most prominent performers, and the rest of the team strove hard to get into the game. However, it was not their day and they could not find their best form at any stage of the game. As a result they became frustrated and were out of contention from midway in the second half. The further the game went the more pronounced the gap between the sides became.
Shandonagh had the advantage of the breeze in the first half. Both sides probed early on, with the respective goalkeepers in action. Then, Joe Tynan in the 5th minute sent a lobbing ball goalwards, and Rory O'Brien in attempting to field the ball saw it deflect into the net for the only score that Shandonagh was to chalk up for the rest of the game. Shandonagh suffered a big loss when Frank Conway, their centre half back, had to retire in the 7th minute. Joe Tynan reverted back to that position with PJ Reynolds coming on into the forward line. There was no further score until the 14th minute when a Ballinagore move involving Pat O'Connor, Pat Deegan and Jimmy Marshall ended in the Shandonagh defence conceding a free which John Pidgeon pointed to open Ballinagores account. Ballinagore continued to press and looked the more incisive. Paul Baker hit the woodwork with a fine effort and Eddie Gallagher was on hand to clear the danger.
A move by Kevin Claffey to put Pat Deegan through was foiled by Bobby Creagh in the Shandonagh goal with a timely interception. Ballinagore had their second point when Gerry Claffey setup John Pidgeon, who was fouled and then pointed the resultant free himself in the 25th minute. Aiden Donoghue sent Shandonagh attacking twice, but to no avail as the Ballinagore defence cleared their lines. Half time saw Shandonagh 1-00 to 0-02 in the lead.
On the resumption of play Shandonagh had a number of positional changes. Tommy Carey reverted to defence at right half back, Eddie Gallagher was a centre half back, Joe Tynan went back to his original position at centre half forward and Michael Garvin was at left half back. An early chance for Shandonagh was wasted when Eddie Tynan sent wide from a 25 metre free, after he himself was fouled. Pressing further Shandonagh had another wide by JJ Lynch. Ballinagore drew level in the 33rd minute when John Pidgeon pointed a 20 metre free. Tommy Carey pressing from defence was wide with an effort to get Shandonagh moving.
Then in the 37th minute Ballinagore took the lead, as Gerry Linnane sent Paul Baker through for a shot that was deflected for a 45, which was pointed by Gerry Linnane. John Casey replaced Ritchie Kavangh on the Shandonagh team. Ballinagore now began to assert their superiority. They rattled off three points, the first from Jimmy Marshall, the second from Gerry Linnane and the third, again by Gerry from a 30 metres free. These scores left them four points ahead in the 44th minute of the game, and it began to look like a Ballinagore win at this stage, as indeed it turned out to be. Aiden Donoghue and Tommy Carey combined to try and set Shandonagh back into contention but Tommy's parting effort was wide.
Two frees by Eddie Tynan were sent to the square, but no reward came from either as Ballinagores defence held firm. Joe Tynan of Shandonagh was ordered to the line by the referee at this stage of the game. Cristoir Ennis replaced Kevin Claffey on the Ballinagore side. Two Ballinagore wides followed, and then from a 40 metres free Gerry Linnane added another point in the 53rd minute. Two more wides for Ballinagore and good defence by Tommy Carey for Shandonagh followed. The Ballinagore goal that finally sealed the result came in the 57th minute when Pat Deegan and Gerry Linnane combined to send John Pidgeon through to shoot to the net.
Tony Robinson replaced Jimmy Marshall and Sean Robinson replaced John Pidgeon on the Ballinagore team towards the closing stages of the game. The last action came when Pat Deegan was wide for Ballinagore, and then with a 20 metre free he pointed to close the scoring. The final score was Ballinagore 1-09, Shandonagh 1-00. The Carmelite Cup was presented to the Ballinagore captain Jim Mahon by Co. Committee chairman, Seamus Whelan, at the conclusion of the game.
Ballinagore: Stephen Brudell, Sean Claffey, Jim Mahon, Rory O'Brien, John Durkan, Pat O'Connor, Ciaran Daly, John Deegan, Gerry Claffey, Jimmy Marshall (0-1), Gerry Linnane (0-4), Kevin Claffey, John Pidgeon (1-3), Pat Deegan (0-1), Paul Baker. Subs: Cristoir Ennis for Kevin Claffey, Tony Robinson for Jimmy Marshall, Sean Robinson for John Pidgeon.
Shandonagh: Bobby Creagh, Christy Sharry, Tom Creagh, John Smyth, Michael Gavin, Frank Conway, Eddie Gallagher, Eddie Tynan, Russel Creagh, Aiden Donoghue, Joe Tynan (1-0), Tommy Carey, Ger Hickey, JJ Lynch, Ritchie Kavanagh. Subs: PJ Reynolds for Frank Conway, John Casey for Ritchie Kavanagh.
Referee: Terry O'Dowd, Mullingar Shamrocks.