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Ballinteer save senior status as O'Toole's relegated

SENIOR football safety for Ballinteer St John's at Ayrfield yesterday.

They beat O'Toole's 1-7 to 0-8 to retain their AFL Division 2 status. The Larriers slip into Division 3. In the biting cold it was a typical relegation tussle. It was all about getting down and dirty. Grafting for the ball when you hadn't got it and holding onto it or turning it to profit when you had.

Nobody did that better than the genial Johnny McNally, who looked so fit that he could take his place in Shelbourne Park next Saturday night.

On a day when it really counted Johnny and his fellow former Dublin team-mate Coman Goggins delivered. McNally hit three crucial points, always found a shirt and swept up brilliantly in a deep role when the pressure came on in the second period.

The Marlay men defended well and they were good on the counter. In attack, Shane McCann was never slow to show for possession.

Ballinteer began brightly, going four points ahead attacking the road end in the 25th minute. Two McNally 45s, a Frankie Ward free and a lovely Colm O'Donnell point made up the tally.

Mick Cunningham hit O'Toole's first point in the 26th minute. They then hit five without reply to lead by 0-6 to 0-4 six minutes into the second period -- David Mooney, Derek Farrelly (0-2, 1f), Cunningham and Christy Mulligan on target.

The hosts, a point behind at the break, 0-4 to 0-3, had much possession thereafter, creating a parcel of chances, but they hit some costly wides.

A goal was going to be crucial. It came in the 38th minute as McCann pounced following good work from Goggins and McNally. Ward (free) and Mark Kavanagh extended Ballinteer's lead to three points. Mulligan replied for O'Toole's. McNally then struck a prince of a point.

Farrelly lofted over a free in injury-time. O'Toole's swarmed around the Ballinteer hall door, but time ran out.

Across in Glenaulin Park, St Patrick's also held onto their AFL Division 2 ticket at the expense of Whitehall Colmcille, 3-6 to 1-10.