Whelan leads the way
This SFL Division 2 opener was played in Askinagap on Saturday last, March 2, in atrocious weather conditions.
Both sides should be complimented for serving up a well-contested game despite having to contend with heavy squalls of rain being blown across field for most of the hour.
Scores were scarce with five recorded in the first half and seven in the second period.
In fairness to both sides, ball control was difficult with many passes going astray and moves breaking down as players tried hard to keep possession, with close passing the order of the day.
Brendan Whelan was very strong in midfield for Ballymanus and got the opening score of the game after eight minutes when he began a move outfield and overlapped to finish on the end, beating Aaron Lynham from close in to register the only goal of the game.
It went on to prove a crucial score at the end of the game.
John Nolan and Mark Miley responded with a point apiece by 20 minutes.
However, the flow of play was slightly in favour of the home side, suggesting that the elements were helping the side playing up towards the road.
Colm Coogan extended their lead to two points with a fine score from 30 metres.
Coming up to the break, Laragh midfielder Damien Hanlon landed a great point from a '45'. During the half time break, a continuous burst of heavy rain fell to add to the woes both sides had to face in the second period.
Laragh put on heavy pressure in the early stages with centre back Myles Conway, and the midfield duo pushing forward to assist John Nolan, Stephen Olohan and David Miley.
Half-time sub Mark Cullen was handling a lot of ball. However, they were overdoing the short passing game and many moves invariably broke down because of the difficulty of controlling the ball in the weather conditions. A more direct approach might have reaped better dividend.
In addition, Brendan Whelan continued to have a 'man of match' performance at midfield for the home side and provided the leadership necessary to combat the Laragh onslaught.
Points from Craig Farrar and Whelan himself pushed the lead out to three points by 20 minutes.
Laragh's John Nolan pointed a free but Ciaran Whelan responded with a huge free from 45 metres.
Stephen Olohan came back with a fine point from play for the Laragh men and when John Nolan pointed another free the lead was reduced to the minimum.
Sensing that they might still rescue a point, Laragh came looking for the equaliser.
Brendan Doyle in the Ballymanus goal was called on to make a smart save, when he flicked out a dangerous goalmouth cross.
Full-forward Kevin Byrne eased Ballymanus nerves when he scored an insurance point in the final minute. Ballymanus ran out winners on a final scoreline of 1-5 to 0-6.
Scorers - Ballymanus: Brendan Whelan 1-1, Colm Coogan 0-1, Craig Farrar 0-1, Ciaran Whelan 0-1, Kevin Byrne 0-1.
Laragh: John Nolan 0-3, Mark Miley 0-1, Damien Hanlon 0-1, Stephen Olohan 0-1.
Ballymanus: Brendan Doyle; Paddy Byrne, Sean O'Neill, Aidan Byrne; Shane Whelan, Liam Byrne, Colm Coogan; Brendan Whelan, Seamus Coogan; Paul Murray, Padraig Byrne, Darragh O'Keeffe; Ciaran Whelan, Kevin Byrne, Craig Farrar. Subs: Philip Coogan, Jim Byrne, K Farrar.
Laragh: Aaron Lynham; Ross Doonan, Peter Merrigan, Ian Merrigan; Jack Dunne, Myles Conway, Craig McCoy; Damien Hanlon, David McDonald; John Nolan, Stephen Olohan, David Miley; Eric Olohan, Mark Miley, Dan Power. Subs: Mark Cullen, Stephen Curley, Liam McEvoy.
Referee: Kieron Kenny (Tinahely).