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Through the gap!

Ballymanus 0-3 An Tochar 1-4

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Ronan Lynch of the Billies tries to get away from An Tochar’s Liam Halligan

Ronan Lynch of the Billies tries to get away from An Tochar’s Liam Halligan

Ronan Lynch of the Billies tries to get away from An Tochar’s Liam Halligan

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Ballymanus and An Tochar got the SFL Division 2 underway for this season when they clashed in their opening game played in Askinagap on Saturday afternoon last.

The game turned into a severe test of endurance played in a wicked storm with sheets of rain blowing across the field and leaving it extremely difficult for both sets of players to maintain control of the ball when in possession.

The half-time score tells the tale. An Tochar led by 1-0 to 0-2 i.e. two scores to one. In fact, at half-time, referee Kieron Kenny did discuss with both sides the possibility of calling a halt to proceedings. However, the teams re-emerged for the second period.

If there was any advantage in the elements, they seemed to favour the side playing away from the road goal. Even then, play needed to be kept towards the right side of the field as the storm tended to push the play into the left-hand corner from where it was impossible to score.

Ballymanus had this questionable advantage in the first half. They probably had most of the early possession but found it difficult to create scoring chances. Padraig Byrne put the home side ahead with a point after ten minutes.

An Tochar enjoyed an even divide of possession thereafter but found it difficult to engineer attempts at scores. However, a rare goaling opportunity fell to midfielder Ciaran Byrne at the quarter-hour stage. His effort was not well struck and bobbed about close to the Ballymanus goal line with the defence failing to get control. An Tochar's Stephen Connor eventually forced the ball over the line for the simplest of goals.

Ballymanus continued to hold a lot of possession with Brendan Whelan, Philip Coogan, Padraig Byrne and half-forwards Ciaran Whelan, Roan Lynch and his brother Dylan prominent.

However, much of their attacks ended up in that left-hand corner where they had to face the full ferocity of the elements. Eventually Ciaran Whelan pointed a free just before the half-time break to leave the visitors ahead by a goal to two points.

When the second half got underway, weather conditions did appear to have improved marginally to this well sheltered observer. The sheets of rain across the field had ceased but the gale force wind continued.

Roan Lynch lifted Ballymanus hopes after four minutes when he brought the sides level with a point. However, that parity was short lived, and Jordan Brady pointed the Roundwood side ahead again.

Further points from Eoin Murphy and Brady again had the visitors a goal ahead at the three-quarter stage. The insurance point came from substitute Cian McHugh with seven minutes left.

An Tochar made better use of the route down the right flank of the field and manufactured their points with shots floated in on the wind. Ballymanus attacked strenuously at times but were unable to overcome the elements close to the goal.

The outcome of this game was a lottery right from the start but An Tochar came up with enough of the winning numbers to take home two valuable league points.

Scorers - An Tochar: Stephen Connor 1-0, Jordan Brady 0-2, Eoin Murphy 0-1, Cian McHugh 0-1.

Ballymanus: Padraig Byrne 0-1, Ciaran Whelan 0-1, Roan Lynch 0-1.

An Tochar: Peter Byrne; Eoin Murphy, Gavin Kenny, Bobby Brady; Stephen Connor, Conor Shortt, Gavin Fogarty; Conor Davis, Ciaran Byrne; Eoin Wolohan, Jordan Brady, Bill Halligan; Conor McKenna, Gerry Byrne, Dara Fee. Subs: Niall Gaffney, Jim Davis, Liam Gaffney, Liam Kenna, Cian McHugh.

Ballymanus: Brendan Doyle; Aidan Byrne, Paddy Byrne, Colm Coogan; Paul Murray, Brendan Whelan, Glen Farrar; Philip Coogan, Padraig Byrne; Ciaran Whelan, Roan Lynch, Dylan Lynch; Craig Farrar, Paddy Byrne, Seamus Coogan. Subs: Shane Whelan, Darragh Byrne, Cillian Farrar.

Referee: Kieron Kenny (Tinahely)


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