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2005 Junior Championship Final Westmeath Examiner Report

2005 Junior Football Championship Final Match Report

(This report appeared on the Westmeah Examiner on 8th October 2005 and has been reproduced here with their kind permission)

Michael Ennis goal crucial as Ballinagore triumph

Ballinagore 1-9 St. Paul’s 0-8

At Cusack Park on Sunday last (2nd October) the Junior Football Championship final was decided. After a well-contested game Ballinagore emerged winners by a four-point margin and thus made a quick return to Intermediate grade, having been relegated last year to Junior ranks. Their opponents on Sunday were St. Paul's, the Clonmellon-based team, who provided the winners with a stern test, and only gave best after a spirited and committed effort.

The closeness of the game is evidenced by the fact that the game was level-scoring five times in the first-half, and in the second half the Ballinagore lead varied from one to a four-point margin. Three minutes after the restart of play in the second half a goal by Michael Ennis set Ballinagore on the winning road. They kept ahead for the rest of the game and deserved to survive and take the title. Fair play to St. Paul’s they made their opponents fight all the way, and at no stage could Ballinagore feel they were in a safe position.

A Junior Championship final has an attraction all of its own and this one was typical of this grade. Ballinagore had a player who was a significant influence on the game: inter-county player Michael Ennis was a key figure in this success. His efforts for his club at Junior level was similar to his contribution in the county jersey. Young James Durkan gave able assistance as well as displaying competence with frees, in an attacking unit. Stuart Gavin was a consistent performer at centrefield and the defence came out well from a lively St. Paul’s attack with key places Nos. 3 and 6 ably manned by Louis Ennis and Paul Heraty. At No. 12 the captain Eoin Miller led well by example, and he contributed well to this success. Around those named the rest of the team each gave of their best, and there was no weak link in their sound team effort.

St. Paul’s had two players, noted on the hurling field with Brownstown, who displayed good football talent as well. At No. 6 Maurice Quinn was an excellent performer, and at No. 12 John McGuinness was outstanding. Other to show particularly well were Michael Murphy, Darren Henry, Kenny Higgins, James Henry, and James McQuaid. One had to give special credit to substitute Pat Clancy who came on late in the first half. A player who has given many years to Brownstown and Westmeath in hurling and St. Paul’s in football, he still can take the field and give a worthwhile display, which he did on Sunday. Pat is an example to be taken note of, and a credit to the football and hurling game in Westmeath.

Apart from those named, St. Paul’s, as with Ballinagore, had an all-round effort from each player and sub that figured in this well-played decider. In the end the victory went to Ballinagore and on a judgment on the hour they deserved to edge out a spirited and committed challenge by St. Paul’s. At the conclusion of the game, Football Board Chairman Denis Coyne, presented the Championship trophy to Eoin Miller, the captain of the Ballinagore team.

First half

In the first half, breeze advantage was with St. Paul’s. Eoin Miller had the opening point, seconds after the throw-in, to set Ballinagore on the way. St. Paul’s got going and John McGuinness soloed through to set-up Darren Henry to level the score. A free 40 mrs out by John McGuinness put St. Paul’s ahead after five minutes play had elapsed. Michael Murphy and Kenny Higgins defended well against a spell of pressure by Ballinagore, but the attack continued and Eoin Miller directed a free to Michael Ennis, who sent over the bar to level the score. Good play by Stuart Garvin sent them away again and Michael Ennis, from a free, edged them into the lead.

A sideline ball on the left was then sent over the bar by Darren Henry to level the score again. Pat Heduan defended well to hold off further St. Paul’s pressure. A good movement by Ballinagore, involving James Durkan and Michael Ennis, was finished for a point and the lead, by Ger Linnane, and the first-quarter ended. Maurice Quinn and Kenny Higgins both held up further pressure and set up St. Paul’s to counterattack. John McGuinness kept the momentum going and he placed James Henry to send over the bar. A free out on the right was pointed by John McGuinness and St. Paul’s now edged ahead.

St. Paul’s brought on Pat Clancy for David Dolan. Enda McCann and Peter Heraty held off strong pressure from the St. Paul’s attack. Ballinagore countered and Ciarán Carey and Cathal Ennis led the way, and James Durkan collected to send over the equalising point for the teams to be level for the fifth time in this first half. In goal John Fitzpatrick saved well from a strong attacking movement by the Ballinagore attack. The half-time score saw the sides level at 0-5 each. Ballinagore had two wides and St. Paul’s had five wides in this first half.

Second half

 The second half was in the third minute when a centre by Eoin Miller to the square was shot low to the net by Michael Ennis. Ballinagore held the lead for the rest of the game, and this score was influential in the end result. St. Paul’s hit back and a 45 mrs by Philip Gilsenan to the square was directed cleverly by Pat Clancy to John McGuinness, who sent over the bar under strong pressure. They added another point when Darren Henry soloed forward, and when a free was then sent to the square, Pat Clancy was on hand again, this time to send over the bar when closely marked. Now just a point adrift it was the chance for St. Paul’s to come to terms. But Ballinagore steadied and held firm for the rest of the game.

For St. Paul’s, Gary Gilsenan came on for Gareth Nolan. Michael Ennis was wide from a free, and from another free by Michael the ball came back off the post. Then a free out on the left was taken by James Durkan and he found the range to send over the bar. James was again given the task, and another free by him was again sent over for the lead now by a margin of three points. Shane Heraty came on for Ger Linnane on the Ballinagore team. John McGuinness from a free out on the right sent over for St. Paul’s last score. They now trailed by a two-point margin with nine minutes of normal time left for play. Ian Seery came on as a temporary substitute for Michael Ennis, who came back after a brief spell.

Ballinagore now sensed that they were within reach of success. They responded and two frees were pointed by James Durkan to give them a safe four point margin as the remaining minutes ticked away. St. Paul’s battled it out to the end and had the ball in the net, but the score was disallowed for a square ball infringement. Late replacements were Richard Sheridan for James McQuaid, St. Paul’s; and Ian Seery for Ciarán Carey for Ballinagore. The final score was: Ballinagore 1-9, St. Paul’s 0-8.

Ballinagore team and scorers: Patrick Maloney, Enda McCann, Louis Ennis, Pat Heduan, Eddie Quinlan, Peter Heraty, Peter Deegan, Stuart Gavin, Martin Linnane, Cathal Ennis, Ciarán Carey, Eoin Miller (captain) (0-1), James Durkan (0-5, 4 pts from frees), Michael Ennis (1-2, 1pt from a free), Ger Linnane (0-1). Subs: Shane Heraty for Ger Linnane; Ian Seery for Ciarán Carey; Temporary substitute Ian Seery for Michael Ennis.

St. Paul’s team and scorers: John Fitzpatrick, Michael Murphy, Ray Flynn, Pádraig Skelly, Kenny Higgins, Michael Quinn, Gareth Nolan, James McQuaid, Philip Gilsenan, James Henry (0-1), Paul Gilsenan, John McGuinness (captain) (0-4, 3 pts from frees), Darren Henry (0-2, 1 pt from a sideline ball), David Dolan, Dara Brady. Subs: Pat Clancy (0-1) for David Dolan; Gary Gilsenan for Gareth Nolan; Richard Sheridan for James McQuaid.

Referee: Michael Mannion (Garrycastle).

 

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