Home Sport GAA 14-man Ballylinan win incredible ACFL Division 1B final

14-man Ballylinan win incredible ACFL Division 1B final

The Ballylinan team who beat Portarlington in the ACFL Division 1B final tonight
The Ballylinan team who beat Portarlington in the ACFL Division 1B final tonight

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Ballylinan 1-8 Portarlington 1-7

ACFL Division 1B

Ballylinan claimed the ACFL Division 1B title in dramatic circumstances in Stradbally tonight.

The men in green and yellow led for virtually all of the game before being reduced to 14 men and conceding a penalty in the first minute of second half injury time to go behind.

However, Paul Julian’s men showed incredible character to score two points in the time that remained to win – with Cathail Dunne proving to be their hero.

Portarlington almost had a goal in the opening minute when Colm Murphy got in behind the Ballylinan cover but keeper Aidan Walsh denied him.

The same player did open the scoring a minute later from a free but Ballylinan were level after six minutes when a fine handpassing move ended with corner back Cathal Leonard splitting the posts.

Steven Lyons showed great pace to set up the game’s next score which Cathal Ryan swung over but that would prove to be Portarlington’s last score for 20 minutes.

Ciarán Farrell levelled the match after a surging run from younger brother Alan and the game’s first goal arrived at the midpoint of the half.

Larry Kealy unleashed a thunderbolt from 20 yards that cracked off the underside of the bar before bouncing away but the umpire correctly spotted that the ball had crossed the line and raised a green flag.

Ballylinan were rampant now as points from Larry Kealy, Cathail Dunne and Cathal Fennessy moved them six points ahead as we approached half time.

Portarlington really should have had a goal when a lovely passing move involving Colm and David Murphy saw the latter square the ball to Jason Ward but his shot was saved brilliant once again by keeper Walsh.

However, there was just about time for Colm Murphy to fist a late point to leave the score reading 1-5 to 0-3 to Ballylinan at the break.

The Portarlington team who lost to Ballylinan in Stradbally tonight
The Portarlington team who lost to Ballylinan in Stradbally tonight

Incredibly, we went 21 minutes in the second half without a score for either team.

And in that scoreless period, it was Portarlington who were by far the most wasteful. Colm Murphy and Jake Foster were both guilty of missing routine frees as other efforts from play similarly went wide.

Ballylinan struggled to get forward and their cause was further hampered when goal hero Larry Kealy was sent off by referee Eddie Kinsella for an off the ball incident after he had initially fouled Colm Murphy.

It was Portarlington’s full forward who finally broke the deadlock from a free but Ballylinan went straight back up the other end and Pádraig McEvoy pointed to keep the gap at five in the 52nd minute.

But the men in maroon suddenly found their shooting boots and hit three points in a row via Murphy, Foster and substitute Evan Lyons to leave two in it as we entered six minutes of injury time.

In the first minute, Colm Murphy was hauled down as he raced towards goal by a combination of Cathal and Dermot Leonard and referee Kinsella awarded a penalty kick.

Steven Lyons stepped up and fired low but keeper Aidan Walsh guessed right and saved his spot kick only for the ball to then fall out of his hands and trickle into the net.

Portarlington were now a point up and a man up so it seemed like there would be no way back for Ballylinan.

Nevertheless, Cathail Dunne kicked them level in the 64th minute after beating at least four Portarlington defenders and he won it a minute later when his shot from virtually the sideline sailed over the bar.

Portarlington went searching for the point that would bring us to extra time but they couldn’t get it as Ballylinan held on for a dramatic victory.

SCORERS – BALLYLINAN: Larry Kealy 1-1, Cathail Dunne 0-3, Ciarán Farrell, Cathal Leonard, Pádraig McEvoy and Ciarán Fennessy 0-1 each PORTARLINGTON: Colm Murphy 0-4 (0-3 frees), Steven Lyons 1-0, Cathal Ryan, Jake Foster and Evan Lyons 0-1 each

BALLYLINAN: Aidan Walsh; Cathal Leonard, Dermot Leonard, Kevin Byrne; Alan Farrell, Richie Ryan, James Redmond; Pádraig McEvoy, Jamie Farrell; Seamus Lacey, Cathail Dunne, Larry Kealy; Cathal Fennessy, Ciarán Farrell, Brian Kenna. Subs: Andy McEvoy for Fennessy (ht), Robbie Donoher for McEvoy (45mins), Conor Behan for Kenna (51mins), John Kealy for Redmond (52mins), Tomás Lacey for Ryan (63mins)

PORTARLINGTON: Brian McAuley; Dean Foster, Hayden Weldon, Diarmuid Bennett; Graham Weldon, Paddy O’Sullivan, Robbie Pigott; Cathal Ryan, Eoin McCann; Cormac Curtis, David Murphy, Steven Lyons; Jake Foster, Colm Murphy, Jason Ward. Subs: Jason Moore for Curtis (20mins), Eoin Kennedy for D. Foster (ht), Evan Lyons for Ward (41mins), Curtis Lyons for Piggott (47mins, black card)

Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Courtwood)

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.