Ballinteer Saint Johns had a good win over Erin’s Isle on Sunday despite the Finglas side laying siege to the home net for much of the second half. The old cliché of a game of two halves best described the dynamic of this encounter as Ballinteer dominated from the start and amassed a serious lead with forwards Glen Whelan and Fergal Duffy prominent on the scoreboard. Going into the second half with a 12 point lead, Ballinteer’s malaise set in when the visitor’s finally started to cut supply to Whelan and Duffy; Isles Keith Dunne would marshall this second half fightback in style but when referee Tony Clarke blew the final whistle Johns could look to 2 points that nearly got away.
Ballinteer’s good start was established when early pressure led to Isles conceding two frees, one on each side of the posts, which were converted by Whelan and then Duffy. Having gone two points up Ballinteer won the next Isles kickout and supply enabled Whelan to convert another point from in front of the posts. The home side’s tails were well and truly up and concession from their own kickouts was hurting Isles; Johns player Conor Parker McCabe won the next kickout and fed ball to Pádraic Ó' Conchúir who dispatched a point with ease. Following good work by David Devereux Ballinteer established a 7 point lead when Ó' Conchúir slotted the ball past Isles keeper Graham Bedford to rattle the back of the net. Isles responded well to this setback and began to establish a passing rhythm in the Ballinteer half of the pitch; following a foul on Keith Dunne, a passing move between corner forward John Noonan and midfielder Colm Flynn allowed Niall Crossan the space to shoot but the ball went just wide from a tight angle. Ballinteer were still dominating possession but, wides from Whelan and Duffy and two pieces of play from Isles where the ball was dropped into the hands of the Johns keeper, dragged the game into a period where both sides were incapable of registering scores.
The visitors finally broke their duck when half forward Cara Mac Aodhaine kicked over a point from play. Isles resurgence would have been firmly established during this period had a shot on goal succeeded in finding the net but Johns keeper Colm O’ Donnell managed to get in a crucial fist to the ball to relieve the danger. Isles did get on the scoreboard again with a great point by Dunne following a characteristic run. However another converted Ballinteer free from Duffy off the right foot, and a tap into the net by the same player from the next piece of play, stunted the Isles revival. Indeed Duffy’s goal might have arisen due to a defensive lapse by Isles but when Whelan netted moments later, following a move involving substitute Aodhán Clabby, Jack Gilligan and the impressive Duffy, it looked like the Finglas side’s goose was cooked. Ballinteer were unrelenting leading up to the end of the half with Whelan making another good run and laying the ball off to Ó' Conchúir. Ó' Conchúir shipped a knock and hit the ground while in possession but deftly kicked over the bar under pressure. Isles substitute Luke Sweetman initiated a late attack that enabled his team mate Crossan to score a point off the left boot but Isles now had a mountain to climb with a half time score of 3-6 vs 0-3.
The second half began with more Ballinteer pressure on the Isles defence but this time the attacks began to falter with several wides during the first few minutes. A superb point by Isles Daniel Fox after support play by Dunne signalled the start of a serious revival of fortunes for the Finglas men. A further point from Fox followed by a good score by substitute Francis Carroll from the right corner reduced the arrears to 9 points. Isles dominance for the rest of the half would be characterised by the reversal of supremacy at midfield and the prominence of Keith Dunne in most attacking moves. Dunne nearly created an opening goal for his side when he made a threatening solo run through the Ballinteer half back line and attempted to hand pass off to full forward Fox but when the ball whizzed to the left of his team mate and over the line the goal opportunity evaporated. Crossan continued his scoring with a fine point followed by a converted free and when the corner forward blasted the ball into the back of the Johns net the arrears were now at 4. The home side’s goal was now under siege and when Dunne again made a solo run, jinked past his man and pulled the trigger it took a fine save from Johns keeper O’ Donnell to keep his team in the game. With the pressure beginning to tell Ballinteer were starting to commit fouls in key scoring positions and two more pointed frees from Crossan reduced the arrears to just two points.
Johns needed some inspiration to lift the siege and it came from the young guns of Duffy, Whelan, and Aodhán Clabby whose interplay created the move to enable Ó' Conchúir to kick a point. A Duffy pointed free from far out near the big pitchside tree stretched the lead further but Isles were not finished with their input and when Crossan again pointed from a free there was just a goal between the teams in the closing minutes. The insurance score came to much applause from the home side with Whelan and Duffy keeping possession and interchanging handpasses aided by team mates Peter O’ Curry and Jack Gilligan. With ten short passes already exchanged Whelan decided enough was enough and pulled the trigger from far out. The ball went high and over the bar to extend the lead with just a minute left on the clock. Whelan finished off his man of the match display with a pointed free giving Ballinteer the points in this entertaining league encounter. Final Score: Ballinteer Saint Johns 3-10 Erin’s Isle 1-11