AFL DIV. 1 MATCH REPORT: BALLINTEER ST. JOHNS V ST. JUDES
ADULT FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
BALLINTEER ST JOHN’S 2-11
ST JUDE’S 1-12
By Daire Walsh
On a hot summer evening at Marley Park, the bench power of Ballinteer St John’s helped them to hold a decisive edge over St Jude’s in Division One of the Adult Football League.
With former county star Nicky Devereux and Dublin U20 panellist Eoghan Fitzpatrick making an impact, Ballinteer moved ahead of their southside rivals at the beginning of the final-quarter.
Jude’s then looked set to prevail after Niall Coakley finished a subsequent attack to the net, only for another pair of Ballinteer substitutes – Eoghan Joyce and Shane McCann – to guide last year’s AFL2 champions over the line.
After a difficult start to the season (where they failed to register a win in the opening four rounds), Ballinteer have now gathered some momentum with back-to-back league victories. While Jude’s began 2018 with impressive successes against Na Fianna and Naomh Maur, four defeats on the bounce have since followed.
Each of their reversals has been by slender margins and there was little to separate the sides during the opening moments of this contest. Despite conceding an early point to Ballinteer’s Sam Tully, Jude’s centre-forward Declan Donnelly levelled matters in swift fashion.
He curled another effort between the posts off his left-toot, before Ballinteer midfielder Robbie Gaughan also kicked over at the end of an elongated move. Though there could be no faulting the endeavour of both teams in humid conditions, a number of wides were clocked up in the opening-quarter of the action.
Former Laois footballer Billy Sheehan played a roving role for Jude’s in the middle sector, where nominal Ballinteer corner-forward Fearghal Duffy also popped up on a number of occasions. Following a coolly-converted free by Cork native Coakley, wing-back Tom Lahiff released Simon King for a fine score from play.
Tully responded with his second of the game, but Jude’s remained in control with another Coakley point. Yet, as the half developed, Ballinteer managed to get the measure of their Wellington Lane counterparts.
Another fine Gaughan strike on the run was supplemented by Aaron Bradshaw’s solo effort – restoring parity for the fourth time in the half. With their tails now up, the hosts regained the lead with a Luke Naughton point on 27 minutes.
Heading into first-half stoppage-time, Ballinteer were yet to register a score from a placed-ball. That all changed when the powerful Aodhan Clabby stepped forward to negotiate a 35-metre free – the full-forward splitting the posts to give his side a 0-7 to 0-5 interval advantage.
Donnelly and Tully were key performers in the respective attacks throughout the opening period, and they traded points in quick succession just after the restart. Coakley also brought his inter-county experience to bear on this fixture, as he heralded a strong purple patch for the visitors.
His long-distance point was followed by King and Tom Lahiff singles, offering Jude’s a slight cushion on the stroke of 40 minutes. This momentum was eventually broken by a Duffy point for Ballinteer, though – setting the tie up for a grandstand finale.
Just moments after his introduction, Devereux produced a penetrating run to force the Jude’s defence on the back-foot. He picked out Clabby in acres of space, and he then passed across goal for Naughton to palm home from close-range.
Swapped scores between Kieran Doherty and Naughton ensured Ballinteer’s three-point lead (1-10 to 0-10) remained intact, but a resilient Jude’s fired back with a major of their own. Excellent approach play by Neal Mangan put Coakley through on goal, and he brilliantly shot beyond the reach of opposition netminder Liam Mailey.
Centre-back Ciaran McLoughlin broke forward to register an outstanding point and Donnelly gave them breathing space with his fourth score on the hour mark. However, Ballinteer simply wouldn’t let their challenge fade out.
Joyce had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes when his flicked home a dangerous ball into the square.
Seamus Ryan and Ronan Joyce both had opportunities to potentially salvage a draw for Jude’s during a lengthy spell of injury-time, before Shane McCann profited from another surging Devereux run to secure the spoils for Ballinteer.
Scorers – Ballinteer St John’s: Luke Naughton 1-2, Sam Tully 0-3, Eoghan Joyce 1-0, Robbie Gaughan 0-2, Aaron Bradshaw, Aodhan Clabby, Fearghal Duffy, Shane McCann 0-1 each. St Jude’s: Niall Coakley 1-3 (0-1f), Declan Donnelly 0-4, Simon King 0-2, Tom Lahiff, Eoin McLoughlin, Kieran Doherty 0-1 each.
BALLINTEER ST JOHN’S: Colm O’Donnell; Sean Smith, Diarmuid Kennedy, Joe O’Connor; Simon O’Reilly, Michael Mitchell, David Devereux; Robbie Gaughan, Donal Gormley; Paul Farrell, Aaron Bradshaw, Sam Tully; Luke Naughton, Aodhan Clabby, Fearghal Duffy. Subs: Eoghan Fitzpatrick for Farrell (43), Nicky Devereux for Smith (46), Peter O’Curry for Gaughan (49), Shane McCann for Gormley (52), Eoghan Joyce for Naughton (54).
ST JUDE’S: Liam Mailey; Oisin Manning, Ciaran Fitzpatrick, Cillian O’Reilly; Tom Lahiff, Eoin McLoughlin, Ciaran McLoughlin; Simon King, Seamus Ryan; Tom Devlin, Declan Donnelly, Ronan Joyce; Niall Coakley, Billy Sheehan, Neal Mangan. Subs: Kieran Doherty for Sheehan (47), Barry Fitzgerald for Devlin (48), Ryan Wallace for C McLoughlin (52).
Referee: Tony Lambe (St Vincent’s).