Garrycastle 0-09 Ballinagore 0-05
(This report was published in the Westmeath Independent on Friday, 22nd October, 1993 and has been reproduced by kind permission of the Westmeath Independent)
Garrycastle lifted the Westmeath Junior Football title on Sunday when they mastered the brave challenge of Ballinagore in this keenly-contested final replay at Pairc Chiarain, Athlone. Played in ideal conditions, the game produced a thrilling finale, with the outcome not being decided until the final minute when Donal Ryan grabbed an insurance point for Garrycastle to put them four points in front. Up until then, the Garrycastle following had been on tender-hooks as their side, who had led for most of the game, weathered a late rally from Ballinagore who sought in vain to bring the game into extra-time. But, for the third year running, it was not to be Ballinagore's day. Having gone so near, they spurned two great goal chances in the final five minutes to level the match and though they never gave up, Garrycastle always looked like holding out. That said, Ballinagore certainly could not begrudge the Garrycastle men victory. Only once in the match did the south Westmeath side trail the Ballinagore men, and they always looked the more threatening coming forward. They look the game to Ballinagore from the outset - putting together some great passing movements, which in truth should have yielded greater dividends.
Indeed, Garrycastle could have been rueing these missed chances at the end of the day if it weren't for the superb reflexes of their goalkeeper, Alan Reidy, who brought off a tremendous save in the 55th minute to deny Pat Deegan. Garrycastle's short passing style down the wings contrasted markedly with their opponent’s direct approach down the centre, and in the end, it proved the more effective on the day.
Their midfield duo of Gary Sammon and Ciaran Ryan had just the better of Paul Seery and Brendan Robinson over the 60 minutes, but it must be said both men were helped enormously by the roving wing-forwards, Donal Ryan and Jamie Murtagh. At the back, Joe Dunning and Oliver Nicholson were in top form - never giving the Ballinagore half-forward line an inch - while Michael Mulvihill turned in a tremendous display at left-full back. Ballinagore free-taker Dermot Connell, proved the best of his side's forwards on the day, a statistic that Pat Deegan could have laid claim if lady Luck had not deserted him so cruelly.
Elsewhere, Ballinagore were best served in the back line by Peter Robinson, Ger Connell, Stephen Brudell and plucky midfielder Paul Seery.
After a quiet start, Garrycastle opened the scoring in the 4th minute when Donal Ryan tapped neatly over the bar following some good work between Stephen O'Reilly and Rowan Mulvihill. The sides were level five minutes later when Paul Seery pointed from just inside the 40-metre line after Jimmy Marshall and Dermot Connell had combined well down the left. Ballinagore came close to finding the net a minute later when Norman Maxwell was put through by Pat Deegan, but his effort was parried away by Alan Reidy. However, they were awarded a free when Reidy was adjudged to have picked the ball off the ground and Dermot Connell made no mistake from straight in front of the posts. Garrycastle replied with a pointed free from the boot of Gary Sammon in the 16th minute, and they regained the lead soon after when Jamie Murtagh latched onto Ciaran Ryan's free and cooly slotted over, despite the close attentions of Sean Claffey. Ballinagore were back level again in the 23rd minute when Dermot Connell kicked a superb point, but this was to be his side's final point of the half as Garrycastle moved up a gear and tormented their opponents' back line with a series of slick passing movements.
The centre-forward duo of Rowan Mulvihill and Fergal Nugent combined well during this purple patch, but by half-time their hard-working efforts had only yielded two further points. Mulvihill got the first of these points in the 26th minute when he pointed a 40-meter free following a foul on Gary Sammon. Two minutes before half-time, a great move involving Donal Ryan, Murtagh and Mulvihill paved the way for Nugent to kick his first and only point of the match. This gave Garrycastle a two-point lead (0-5 to 0-3) at the interval. Within a minute of the re-start, Stephen O'Reilly increased their advantage with a well-taken point as Garrycastle continued to have the best of the midfield exchanges. They could have put the game beyond Ballinagore's reach seven minutes later when Ciaran Ryan was put clear on goal. However, the Garrycastle midfielder lost possession just as he was about to shoot and though Rowan Mulvihill was first to the breaking ball, his weakly struck shot proved no trouble for Stephen Brundell. A minute later, Garrycastle moved four points in front when Donal Ryan pointed a free from wide on the left, but this was cancelled out shortly after by Dermot Connell's pointed free. Connell reduced the deficit to just two points in the 44th minute when he guided the ball between the posts from deep in the left corner-forward's position after latching onto Paul Seery's neat pass. Four minutes later, Ballinagore nearly grabbed an equalising goal when Norman Maxwell found Pat Deegan unmarked on the "20" after catching Sean Robinson's high ball. However, the corner-forward saw his dipping shot whistle inches wide of Alan Reidy's left hand post. Garrycastle regained their three point advantage in the 53rd minute when wing-back Joe Dunning burst down the right and curled the ball straight over the bar. As the minutes ticked away, it looked as if Ballinagore had given their all, but they dug deep in the closing seven minutes to put the Garrycastle back line under severe pressure. Their late rally looked to have found its reward in the 55th minute when Jarlath Mahon put Pat Deegan clear down the left. The corner-forward soloed through on goal and rifled a rasping shot towards the far corner - only to be denied by the brilliant reflexes of Alan Reidy who tipped the ball away to safety. With two minutes remaining, Ballinagore had another chance to pull the game out of the bag when Norman Maxwell linked up with Sean Robinson, but just when he seemed certain to score he lost possession and Reidy rushed out of goal clear the danger.
Ballinagore continued to press forward right up until the final whistle, but the issue was put beyond doubt when Donal Ryan kicked his third point of the game in the final minute to give his side a deserving victory.
Garrycastle: Alan Reidy, David Dalton, Martin Jameson, Michael Mulvihill, Joe Dunning, Redmond Murphy, Oliver Nicholson; Garry Sammon, Ciaran Ryan, Jamie Murtagh, Stephen O'Reilly, Donal Ryan, Rowan Mulvihill, Michael Brennan, Fergal Nugent. Sub - Jim McHugh for Michael Brennan (45 mins).
Ballinagore: Stephen Brundell, Sean Claffey, John Durkan, Ger Connell, Gordan Alexander, Peter Robinson, Jimmy Marshall, Brendan Robinson, Paul Seery, Sean Robinson, Norman Maxwell, Dermot Connell, Rory O'Brien, Jim Miller, Pat Deegan. Subs - Jarlath Mahon for Jim Miller (22 mins) and Martin Seery for Jarlath Mahon (56 mins).
Scorers – Garrycastle: Donal Ryan (0-3, one free), Joe Dunning,Gary Sammon, Rowan Mulvihill, Jamie Murtagh, Fergal Nugent and Stephen O'Reilly (0-1) each.
Ballinagore: Dermot Connell (0-4, three frees) and Paul Seery (0-1).
Referee - P. Murray (St. Joseph's)