Ballymanus and Dunlavin must do it again after high-scoring thriller
ANOTHER HECTIC battle in Baltinglass; another heart-stopping finish and not a dull moment in a cracking game of non-stop action.
The first of nine great goals was scored after just 60 seconds - the final equalising point in the 61st minute. Two very well-prepared teams were going as strong at the finish as they were at the start - surely a credit to the respective trainers, Gerry Grehan of Ballymanus and Terry Allen of Dunlavin.
In the end it was an injury time point by Ciarán Whelan that earned Ballymanus a draw with Dunlavin in the quarter-final of the Intermediate football championship on Saturday evening.
On a brilliant evening for football this game swayed to and fro with first one side and then the other dominating. The first ten minutes were particularly exciting with scores coming quickly. In fact, the first wide of the match did not come until the 13th minute. From the moment that Kieran Kenny threw in the ball this game took off at pace. Shane Carty raced down the right wing and blasted the ball into the Ballymanus net in just over a minute and David Hanlon added a point.
Brendan Whelan opened the Ballymanus account with a point in the fourth minute but that brought a quick reply with Thomas Kelly raising another white flag for Dunlavin. Then in the sixth minute this game took one of its many turns.
Ciarán Whelan was pushed in the back going through and the ref pointed to the spot. Whelan himself blasted to the net. Just one minute later the 'Billies' were in again; this time Dunlavin goalie Colm Wright was in the right spot and brought off a brilliant save but the ball was not cleared and Brendan Whelan was in to put the rebound in the net again - Ballymanus ahead by 2-1 to 1-2.
Dunlavin hit back with a quick point and when Carty blasted home his second goal in the tenth minute they were in front again. Carthy tacked on a good point in the 12th minute before the hard-worked score keepers got their first break.
Dunlavin were in front by 2-4 to 2-1 at that stage but then kicked the first wide of the match; Ballymanus won a '45 but it was not converted and follow up that with a missed free. It was midfielder Ray Stapleton that broke an eight-minute scoring drought with a point in the 20th minute.
However, the goal rush was far from over, and after a great run down the left wing Brendan Whelan was in for another goal in the 23rd minute. And when the wing-forward completed his hat-trick two minutes later Ballymanus were in the driving seat again. Midfielder Ciaran Walsh kicked over a point in the 27th minute and Carty added another but Ballymanus still went in leading by 4-3 to 2-5 at half-time.The game was still wide open; Dunlavin would be playing into the scoring road goal and would have a very slight wind behind them so they were far from being out of the running.
The pattern changed little in that second-half; the Dunlavin fightback started with a Shane Carthy point in the first minute and Daniel Dawson added another. Then came the seventh goal of this amazing match, scored by midfielder Daniel Dawson in the 40th minute, and two minutes later corner-forward Gary Carroll blasted another past the luckless but brave Brendan Doyle and Dunlavin were back in front and looking good.
That lead lasted only a minute when Ciarán Whelan lashed home his second goal in the 43rd minute. The scoring slowed a bit at that stage but in the 50th minute Shane Corrigan moved upfield to kick over a point ant put two between the sides.
Ray Stapelton triggered another Ballymanus fightback with a long-range point and with five minutes left substitute Michael Stapleton sent over the equaliser. Daragh O'Keeffe put the Billies back in front a minute later. It remained tight to the end; Daniel Dawson put Dunlavin back on level terms and with minutes to go Shane Corrigan, the veteran of many battles, kicked over what looked a certain winner. The 'Billies' were still not finished and in the first minute of added time Ciarán Whelan rescued them with the last point of the match.
Kieran Kenny told us afterwards that there just 40 seconds to go on his stopwatch at that stage. It was over and Mick Hagan was left with the problem of finding a date for the replay.
Scorers - Ballymanus: Brendan Whelan 3-1; Ciarán Whelan 2-2; Ray Stapleton 0-2; Daragh O'Keeffe and Michael Stapleton 0-1 each.
Dunlavin: Shane Carty 2-2; Garry Carroll 1-1; Daniel Dawson 1-1; Shane Corrigan and David Hanlon 0-2 each; Thomas Kelly and Ciarán Walsh 0-1 each.