Ballyduff scrape past Abbeydorney
County SHC Round 1: Ballyduff 0-13 Abbeydorney 0-12
A result that could have gone either way in what was at times a pretty disappointing contest, and one that won't linger that long in the memory.
In the end, Ballyduff snatched a late victory that, maybe, they deserved, having had more scoring opportunities, but realistically it could have gone either way, and on reflection Abbeydorney might feel with some justification that if they had converted a penalty in the 39th minute it might well have provided the platform for them to push on and shade the verdict.
Certainly, Ballyduff were playing catch up for long periods of the second half, and a goal for either side in a game where scores were very much at a premium looked as if it might well have had a significant bearing on the eventual outcome.
Mikey Boyle, from distance, pointed Ballyduff into a first minute lead but it was to be their only score from play throughout the opening thirty minutes of play. They enjoyed more territorial supremacy and created more scoring chances, but a tally of ten wides throughout this period was a significant statistic. Abbeydorney, by contrast, with Brendan O'Leary dominant in the pivotal centre half back berth were more economical, and points from Ronan Donovan, Brian O'Leary and a quite superb effort from James O'Connor meant that O'Dorney enjoyed a marginal 0-4 to 0-3 interval lead.
They built on that lead on the resumption with Nigel Roche converting some fine scores, and an excellent conversion from him, under pressure, meant that they had increased their lead to 0-6 to 0-3 inside the opening three minutes. However, three points from Padraig Boyle meant that Ballyduff were still very much in contention trailing by 0-6 to 0-7 after 39 minutes.
The penalty award at that juncture, after Ronan Donovan was fouled having made inroads along the end line, afforded Abbeydorney the opportunity to put some daylight between the teams, but Nigel Roche's effort was marginally wide of the goalkeeper's left hand post, thereby leaving Ballyduff off the hook. One is only left to speculate as to what might have transpired if he had managed to convert it. However, with Eoin Egan and Kieran Dineen well to the fore in defensive situations Abbeydorney mantained a 0-8 to 0-6 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Level 0-9 apiece by the 50th minute, Ballyduff, courtesy of points from the Boyle brothers Padraig and Aidan, were two in front with six minutes remaining. However, Abbeydorney were well equal to the task and two magnificent scores from James O'Connor, and another from substitute David Egan, tied up matters again.
With both sides having missed chances at opposite ends, Aidan Boyle's approach play provided brother Mikey with the opportunity to shoot the winning score from close range in added time. It concluded a contest that posed questions about both sides' Championship credentials and prospects. Ballyduff, without seven of the players who featured in last year's Championship final replay, are understandably struggling to replicate last season's level of performance, with the absence of Jack Goulding who scored 2-20 in 2016 being particularly significant. Equally for Abbeydorney the absence of Michael O'Leary, who contributed 1-20 throughout last year's campaign, will obviously lessen a lot their chances of being involved at the business end of the competition.
Ballyduff: PJ O'Gorman, Cathal Kearney, Eoin Ross, Michael Hussey, David Goulding (0-1), Paud Costello, Ally O'Connor, John Hussey, Anthony O'Carroll, Mikey Boyle (0-2), Aidan Boyle (0-2), Paul O'Carroll, Padraig Boyle (0-8; 6f), Gary O'Brien, Liam Boyle. Subs: Thomas Slattery for M Hussey.
Abbeydorney: Brian Donovan, Steven Egan, Eoin Egan, Niall O'Connell, Daniel O'Leary, Brendan O'Leary, Kieran Dineen, PJ Keane, Brian O'Leary (0-1), James O'Connor (0-3), Nigel Roche (0-6; 3f, 1 '65'), Niall O'Mahony, Damien Ryall, Mike Hannifin, Ronan Donovan (0-1). Subs: Darragh Scanlon for S Egan, David Egan (0-1) for D Ryall.
Referee: Damien Fox (Clare)