Drumlin Group of Credit Unions Senior Football League
Ballybay 1-12 Monaghan Harps 0-11 8/6/11
Ballybay stayed top of the Senior Football League thanks to a four-point win at home to Monaghan Harps on Wednesday evening. Ballybay took almost a quarter of the game to get off the mark, but James Garraghan’s goal sparked their revival and they ground out a result to return to winning ways after they fell to their first defeat last time out against Clontibret. Paul Finlay’s accuracy was key in maintaining Ballybay’s unbeaten home record and he also pulled the strings from midfield, while Christopher McGuinness (who had a great battle with Stephen Driver), Ryan Wylie and Shane McQuillan also played well. Donal Hahessy, Conor Galligan, Ashley White and Shane Coyle led the Harps’ challenge.
The Harps got off to a flying start, hitting four unanswered points in the first eight minutes. Donal Hahessy opened the scoring from a 30-metre free after a foul on Conor Galligan and Paul Rushe doubled the visitors’ lead after good work by Peter and Shane Coyle. Donal Hahessy curled over a fine score with the outside of his boot before turning provider for an Emmett McArdle point. A well-taken point by Shane McGuinness got Ballybay off the mark in the 15th minute and Paul Finlay then converted a 30-metre free for a foul on James Kerr.
Donal Hahessy replied with his second point from play, but Ballybay drew level on 20 minutes when James Garraghan fired home the only goal of the game from close-range after a Christopher McGuinness shot had been blocked. Ballybay took the lead for the first time when Christopher McGuinness tapped over a 20-metre free after a foul on Finlay, but Ashley White booted over a well-struck free from distance after he had been fouled to level it up at half-time: Ballybay 1-3 Monaghan Harps 0-6.
Hahessy and Finlay both won and scored 30-metre frees in the opening minutes of the second half and they again swapped points from frees, following fouls on Christopher McGuinness and Shane Coyle. Finlay added another 20-metre free after a foul on Shane McQuillan, before the Harps had a goal disallowed when a marginal square-ball decision went against Stephen McAleer, who had punched a Hahessy cross to the net.
Hahessy kicked his sixth point from a 30-metre free after a foul on Pat Murphy, but Finlay restored Ballybay’s lead with a well-taken free from 45 metres after McQuillan had been fouled. Finlay dropped another scoreable free short and it almost caught Harps keeper Mark Hughes off guard, but he recovered to block the follow-up shot from Christopher McGuinness. Finlay hit the next two points, one from a free after a foul on Kerr and the other a right-footed effort from play, to open up a three-point gap, although White kept the Harps in touch when he converted a 30-metre free for a foul on Rushe.
Finlay took his tally for the game to eight when he kicked his seventh free and he set up the next point, which was well finished by Christopher McGuinness. White got a point back for the Harps after he had been well-placed by Shane Coyle, but James Kerr linked up with McGuinness to send over the insurance point for Ballybay in injury-time.
Ballybay: S Gorman; B Wylie, P Stuart, M McArdle; R Wylie, D Wylie (Capt.), K McEntee; P Finlay (0-8, 7f), S McQuillan; E Keenan, J Kerr (0-1), A Toner; S McGuinness (0-1), C McGuinness (0-2, 1f), J Garraghan (1-0).
Monaghan Harps: M Hughes; N McKenna, S Driver, C O’Hanlon; S Coyle, C Galligan, R Garvey; S McAleer (Capt.), P Coyle; P Murphy, P Rushe (0-1), P Kelly; D Hahessy (0-6, 4f), E McArdle (0-1), A White (0-3, 2f).
Sub: C Devlin for Garvey (55).
Referee: M McMahon (Aughnamullen).