Heartbreak for Blues in thrilling encounter

Heartbreak for Blues in thrilling encounter

9 September 2020

A PULSATING game which went to extra-time saw Ballyholland secure their place in the semi-finals of the Senior Football Championship for the second year in succession in Castlewellan on Saturday.

An incident-packed match – both on and off the pitch – coupled with excellent scores from both sides had the supporters on tenterhooks right until the final whistle. Seamus Loughran scored the winning point from a 35 metre free in the 78th minute to break Loughinisland hearts. 

The Blues started brightly and led by two points at the first water break, but Ballyholland were the more clinical side in the in the middle section of the game when they scored 0-9 and 

held the East Down outfit to just two points.

However, Loughinisland doggedly battled back from six points down in the final 20 minutes of normal time and Down’s Jonny Flynn was the coolest man on the pitch when he pointed in the 60th minute to send the game into extra-time.

The excitement continued when John McGovern put daylight between the sides with a superb goal shortly after the resumption of play as the Blues battled back level again.

Loughinisland had two chances in the dying embers of the game to send the match to penalties after Loughran’s point, but both went begging.

Rory Mason put the Blues in front in the second minute before team-mate Aaron McClements added a second five minutes later.

Ballyholland replied with points from full-forward Loughran and Jack Murtagh to even things in the ninth minute. 

Mason edged his side into the lead again and Paddy McKenny pointed following great interplay between the Loughinisland forwards before the water break.

Ruairi Campbell was finding plenty of space charging from deep for Ballyholland and his side scored five points in the second quarter to swing the game in their favour.

Harps’ Loughran was fouled in the 20th minute and Tiernan Rushe pointed the resultant free from wide right on the 20-metre line. 

Dean McLaughlin replied for the Blues in the 21st minute with Ballyholland in the ascendancy.

Loughran was again in the thick of things and hit a classy point from the outside of his boot from 40 metres to make it a one-point game. Paddy Megoran was fouled and Loughinisland captain McKenny scored from the free to leave the scores all level at five points apiece.

Ballyholland scored two unanswered points from McAleer and Billy Campbell to nudge the Newry outfit two points in front at the small whistle.

Blues forward Ben O’Reilly was in the referee’s book before Loughran put three between the sides. Ballyholland scored three-in-a-row from Robbie White, John McGovern and a free from Tiernan Rushe to leave the scores 0-11 to 0-5 after 40 minutes.

Substitute Stefan Mason then stepped up to point a free over the bar from 14 metres to leave five between the sides at the second water break.

Loughinisland found an extra gear in the final quarter with Dan Gordon in excellent form once again spraying passes around and setting up his side’s attacks.

Aaron McClements and Rory Mason scored two points in as many minutes to revive their side’s comeback before a free from McKenny.

Loughran pointed a 20 metre free for the Newry outfit before two points from Rory Mason left it a two point game with five minutes on the clock.

Mason scored his fifth point of game a minute later before Chris Turley raced out of the Loughinisland goals to snuff out a superb Ballyholland goal chance. 

Stefan Mason’s free found McKenny, he fed Jonny Flynn and levelled the scores as the referee blew his whistle for extra-time with the scores at 0-12 each.

In the 62nd minute John McGovern blasted to the back of the net and his team-mate Rushe put four between the sides in the 67th minute. Aaron McClements pulled one back for Loughinisland and Rory Mason put a free over the bar at the half-way stage of extra-time after a foul on Stefan Mason.

In a rollercoaster finish, Rory Mason threaded a 50-metre pass to McKenny. He produced a superb catch and pointed the mark to leave just one between the sides with eight minutes to go.

Rory Mason hit the ball over the bar for his eighth point of the game to level things in the 76th minute.

Seamus Loughran curled a free from 35 metres out to nudge Ballyholland in front once again with just two minutes remaining.

In the dying seconds Loughinisland missed two chances as Ballyholland held on to seal their place in the semi-finals.

Ballyholland: L Coulter; S Campbell, R Campbell, C Loughran; C Tinnelly, B Campbell (0-1), J Murphy; P Murphy, P McAteer (0-1); B McAteer, T Rushe (0-4 3f), M Walsh; R White, S Loughran (0-6 3f), J Murtagh (0-1). Subs: J McGovern (1-1) for B McAteer, S Grant for J Murtagh, T Brady for C Tinnelly, R Connolly for M Walsh, P Loughran for R White.

Loughinisland: C Turley; C O’Toole, P Megan, S Cochrane; R Mason (0-8 3f), D Gordon, D McLoughlin; J Flynn (0-1), D O’Toole; B O’Reilly, D McClements, J McCarthy; A McClements (0-3 1f), P McKenny (0-3), C Megoran. Subs: S Mason (0-1f) for D O’Toole, R Deegan for C Megoran, P Cochrane for B O’Reilly, D McDonald for D McLaughlin, D O’Toole for J McCarthy, B O’Reilly 

for P McKenny.

Referee: B Rice.

Ballyholland 1-14

Loughinisland 0-16