SFC: Ballybay 2-15 Monaghan Harps 2-9
Gormley uPVC Senior Football Championship Preliminary Round
Ballybay 2-15 Monaghan Harps 2-9 24/7/11
Ballybay backed up their status as the county’s form team by beating Monaghan Harps in a high-scoring SFC preliminary-round game at Clontibret on Sunday. Ballybay have led the SFL all year and they brought that form into this game, racing into a 13-point lead by the 40-minute mark, helped by a brace of goals from Christopher McGuinness. The Harps belatedly got going in the last 20 minutes and they briefly threatened an unlikely comeback, but Ballybay were able to close the game out to win by six, despite some wasteful finishing in the second half when they kicked 12 wides.
Paul Stuart, McGuinness, Shane McQuillan, Thomas O’Neill and Fergal Smyth played key roles for Ballybay, while Conor Galligan, Neil McAdam, Shane Smyth and Stephen Driver led the Harps’ challenge.
Ballybay took just 15 seconds to open the scoring with a point from Hugh Malone, after a pass by Christopher McGuinness, but the Harps equalised when Donal Hahessy converted a 30-metre free for a foul on Neil McAdam. Thomas Kerr restored Ballybay’s lead with a 20-metre free after a foul on Christopher McGuinness and although the Harps hit back with a good point from Emmett McArdle, Paul Finlay benefited from good approach play by Shane McGuinness and Malone to kick a fine score. A 30-metre free by Kerr, after a foul on Malone, doubled Ballybay’s lead and they moved further clear when Christopher McGuinness latched onto a Finlay pass to score the game’s opening goal. Kerr added a point from a 40-metre free following a foul on Shane McQuillan, before Finlay split the posts after Kerr and Malone had combined well. McAdam and Hahessy converted frees after fouls on McArdle and Paul Rushe, but Paul Stuart raced forward to score a good point and McGuinness got his and Ballybay’s second goal when he finished clinically after taking a pass from Thomas O’Neill. A foul on McGuinness allowed Kerr to tap over a close-range free in injury-time, giving Ballybay a ten-point lead at half-time: 2-8 to 0-4.
A patient build-up involving Malone, McQuillan and Kerr created the first point of the second half for O’Neill and Ballybay moved 12 clear when Stuart kicked his second of the game. A 30-metre free by Finlay, after a late tackle on McQuillan, continued the league leaders’ dominance, but the Harps ended 16 minutes without a score when sub Nicholas Treanor tapped over after Shane Smyth had caught a McAdam ’45. Treanor tapped over a 20-metre free for a foul on McAdam, who then created a fine point for Smyth. The Harps got renewed hope with a goal on 17 minutes when Smyth got on the end of a Treanor pass and although he was denied by a good save by Seán Gorman, David Loughran tapped home from the rebound. McAdam made it 2-3 in a row for the Harps when he cracked in a powerful shot which found the net via the crossbar and a deflection, but Finlay replied from a 45-metre free after a foul on McQuillan. Malone linked up with O’Neill to kick a point and although Hahessy won and scored a 25-metre free, Malone got on the end of a Brian McCabe pass for his third point. Treanor blazed a shot over the bar after a quick free by McAdam, before Finlay sealed Ballybay’s victory with a 40-metre free after a foul on Christopher McGuinness. Ballybay will play Truagh in the first round, while the Harps head for the ‘back door’, where they will face Inniskeen.
Ballybay: S Gorman; R Wylie, F Smyth, M McArdle; P Stuart (0-2), B McCabe, T O’Neill (0-1); D Wylie (Capt.), S McQuillan; J Kerr, P Finlay (0-5, 3f), T Kerr (0-4f); S McGuinness, H Malone (0-3), C McGuinness (2-0).
Subs: E Rutledge for J Kerr (53 mins), A Toner for S McGuinness (60), K McEntee for Stuart (61).
Monaghan Harps: M Hughes; M McCaughey, S Driver, A Óg McAnespie; C Devlin, C Galligan, D Hughes; P Coyle, N McAdam (Capt., 1-1, 0-1f); P Rushe, S Smyth (0-1), P Drohan; D Hahessy (0-3f), E McArdle (0-1), A White.
Subs: R McGann for M Hughes (inj., 11), L Hahessy for Rushe, D Loughran (1-0) for Drohan (both H-T), N Treanor (0-3, 1f) for White (34), C O’Hanlon for Devlin (51).
Referee: S Gilsenan (Donaghmoyne).