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2011 Intermediate Football Championship Match Reports

Moate drop down to junior ranks as Ballinagore win tight battle

Westmeath Examiner Report, Wednesday, 7th September, 2011

Ballinagore 0-9 Moate All Whites 0-7

The scene at the end of this Westmeath IFC relegation play-off in Rosemount said it all last Saturday evening.

Ballinagore, by virtue of two late points from midfielder Stewart Gavin and full-forward Tommy McDaniel (free), retained their Intermediate status and were in justifiably celebratory mood at the final whistle - while the Moate All Whites players were on their knees in anguish all around O'Growney Park at the thought of dropping to Junior grade football for 2012.

Once could only empathise with the losers at such a cruel blow to one of Westmeath's finest clubs over the years, while simultaneously extending congratulations to Mark Staunton's Ballinagore charges who, after a dreadful losing run in the championship, finally came good to chisel out a significant victory which ensures Intermediate football next year.

 

Rosemount's O'Growney Park is a beautifully appointed venue and, on a sunny evening, it was in pristine condition for football. A large attendance was present for this relegation play-off and with defences generally in control from an early juncture, a surplus of scores never seemed likely. Exchanges were, for the most part, tough and uncompromising with the physically stronger Ballinagore squad exerting pressure on their opponents from the throw-in.

The Ballinagore midfield duo of Eoin Miller and Stewart Gavin grabbed the initiative in this sector early on, with experienced centre-back Michael Ennis and centre-forward Ciaran Carey completing a central diamond of power and creativity. With full-forward Tommy McDaniel proving a consistent ball winner up front - although his marksmanship often let him down - the pressure was very much on the Moate rearguard as the opening half progressed.

Notwithstanding this, Moate (who lined out in the orange coloured jerseys of neighbours Tubber due to a clash of colours) defended with valour and ability, with Ciaran Kelly, Declan Whelan and Eamon McDermott prominent in the full-back line, while young Robbie Gorman turned in a masterful display at wing-back right through the contest.

Early misses delayed the opening score until the 7th minute when Cian Bradley put Moate ahead with a close-in free but, on an evening when the wind was not a factor, Tommy McDaniel responded in like manner for Ballinagore (sporting Kilbeggan Shamrocks' jerseys). Tommy Gorman's town charges suffered a 10th-minute setback when centre-forward Gareth Murray was forced off injured and, with both defences still ruling the roost, the next score didn't materialise until the 17th minute. It was, in fact, third time lucky for McDaniel, as his point from play followed two successive wides by the No. 14.

Turnovers of possession now became a feature, with promising forward movements coming to grief with the last pass going astray. After an attacking move led by Mark Ennis was thwarted by the Ballinagore defence, play quickly transferred to the other end where Moate goalie David Mackey made an outstanding save when emerging from a crowded goalmouth. Almost immediately, Mark Ennis lofted over a 20th-minute equalising point, but Ballinagore replied strongly, with Mackey having to deflect a dangerous Ciaran Carey shot over the bar. And, from the kickout, Michael Ennis secured possession and soled upfield for a rallying point.

The maroons' midfield pairing of Miller and Gavin continued to hold sway in this sector, but Moate broke away in the 28th minute for Cian Bradley to draw the foul and point the resultant free. After McDaniel's free hit the upright and came back into play, Nigel Adamson was narrowly off target three minutes into injury time, and Ballinagore were 0-4 to 0-3 ahead at the break.

Moate began the second half on an encouraging note as team captain Eamon McDermott placed midfielder Eoghan Dalton for a fine point in the opening minute, while Mark Ennis turned provider for Nigel Adamson to put the town team ahead four minutes later. However, back came Ballinagore, with Michael Ennis again soloing upfield for a levelling score. Then Ciaran Carey took a Tommy McDaniel pass to restore the lead to Mark Staunton's charges (37th minute). Shortly afterwards, Nigel Adamson was clearly fouled but no free was awarded to the wing-forward, but a worrying trend was now emerging for Moate with good opportunities being wasted by indecisiveness, with forwards seemingly unwilling to take on shooting responsibility, or alternatively short deliveries were falling into the welcoming arms of goalkeeper Mark Doyle. David Mackey saved another snapshot from McDaniel and Moate made it 0-6 all (44th minute), when Stephen Byrne drew a free, pointed by Cian Bradley. Again, however, a more direct approach by Ballinagore immediately paid dividends, when Ciaran Carey got possession and shot over from the right wing.

Moate sub Barry Webb came close to a major breakthrough but eleven scoreless minutes ensued in which the outstanding Robbie Gorman and fellow half-back Alan Claffey were seen to particular effect, while Eoghan Dalton worked unceasingly at midfield. The experienced duo of Niall Mackey and Jimmy Gillivan were introduced up front and the large Moate support were on song in the 66th minute when Jimmy turned provider for Niall to loft over the equalising point, 0-7 each. With the clock winding down the tension became almost palpable - who would break through for the decisive score(s)? It was a never-say-die Ballinagore who persevered when, in the 59th minute, Tommy McDaniel made the road for midfielder Stewart Gavin to split the uprights. Then McDaniel, after a foul on himself three minutes into injury time, pointed the free. Moate had a late, late chance, but the ball was cleared by a Ballinagore defender and the final whistle immediately sounded.

And so Ballinagore retained Intermediate status. They took a greater percentage of their chances on the evening and had prominent players in Pat Heduan, Michael Ennis, Stewart Gavin, Eoin Miller, Ciaran Carey and Tommy McDaniel.

It's been a frustrating few years for Moate All Whites at adult level but other clubs have endured relegation before and re-emerged with renewed vigour. The present influx of impressive young players whom with the more experienced hands, will not have long to wait for a resurgence but much work will be necessary in the meantime. The darkest night can and will give way to the brightest dawn.

Footnote

Congratulations to Rosemount GAA for the excellent condition of O'Growney Park and the provision of a match programme and scoreboard.

BALLINAGORE:

Mark Doyle, Mark King, Pat Heduan, James Keegan, Kieran Deegan, Michael Ennis (0-2), James Sheerin (c), Eoin Miller, Stewart Gavin (0-1), J.J. Hegarty, Ciaran Carey (0-3), Pearse Corcoran, Cathal Ennis, Tommy McDaniel (0-3, 2f), Ian Seery. Sub: Shane Heraty for Seery (57).

MOATE ALL WHITES:

David Mackey, Ciaran Kelly, Declan Whelan, Eamon McDermott (c), Brendan Arigho, Alan Claffey, Robbie Gorman, Eoghan Dalton (0-1), Jack Linnane, Nigel Adamson (0-1), Gareth Murray, Stephen Byrne, Mark Ennis (0-1), Cian Bradley (0-3, 3f), David Minnock. Subs: Jamie Madden for Murray (inj., 10), Barry Webb for Minnock (36), Niall Mackey (0-1) for Byrne (52), Jimmy Gillivan for Linnane (56), Colin Bracken for Arigho (60).

REFEREE:

Michael Gordon (Shandonagh).

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