BALLINORA outgunned Inniscarra to claim the MJK Oils JAHC final at Ovens.
After a sluggish start, Ballinora sealed the victory after he landed a great score to finally see off a dogged Inniscarra challenge. Ballinora will now face Dromra were always doing enough and a superb individual contribution of 0-5 from Alan O’Shea proved hugely significant. The victors also had their goalkeeper Barry Crowley to thank after he denied Dan O’Connell a goal with a top class save in the opening quarter.
Wind assisted, Inniscarra dominated the opening exchanges courtesy of two superb long-range frees from their outstanding free-taker Ardal O’Connell. Colin O’Leary followed up with a great score from play before O’Connell landed his third free of the afternoon.
Eventually, Ballinora found their rhythm and Alan O’Shea clipped over their opening score before Liam Lyons added another courtesy of a free to leave his side trailing by 0-4 to 0-2 at the first water break.
From the restart, Inniscarra received a significant boost when Mark Nagle put Colin O’Leary inside the cover for an excellent goal. There was almost a second goal but for Crowley’s top drawer save from Dan O’Connell. It certainly lifted his side as the hardworking Alan O’Shea clipped over before a magnificent point from Darragh Holmes reduced the gap to three. Further points from O’Shea and James Keohane left a single point between the sides, 1-4 to 0-6 at the break.
On resumption, Ballinora powered forward and landed three points without reply from Liam Lyons (free), Conor Quirke and Alan O’Shea. Both free takers were outstanding on the day and after landing a brace apiece there were two points between the sides. Conor Quirke landed his second point after another marauding run from Holmes.
But another monster effort from O’Connell left the game in the balance at the second water break, 0-12 to 1-7.
Again Ballinora seized the initiative and an inspirational point from Alan O’Shea was followed by a good point substitute Tommy Burns. But Inniscarra fought back again and two placed frees from the unerring Ardal O’Connell made for a dramatic conclusion. Ballinora’s Liam Lyons kept his composure to land a tricky free which looked like a crucial four-point lead with a few minutes remaining.
Credit to the Ballinora defence who also soaked up so much pressure as Inniscarra desperately tried to find a path to goal. Ardal O’Connell clipped over his ninth free of the afternoon which reduced the gap to a single score approaching injury time.
In the end, it was Ballinora’s James Keohane who sealed the victory after he landed a great score to finally see off a dogged Inniscarra challenge. Ballinora will now face Dromtarriffe in the County Championship.