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Tang withstand late Ballinagore rally

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 2nd September, 2009 11:00am

Tang will face Tubberclair in the semi-final of this year's Intermediate championship after a convincing win over Ballinagore in the first game of last Sunday's double-header at Cusack Park.

Although the final score will show that there were only four points between the sides, in truth Tang were full value for their victory. It was only two Michael Ennis goals in the final ten minutes that put a gloss on the scoreline.

Tang largely have the scoring prowess of both Aidan Burke and Paul Conway (who scored 2-10 between them) to thank, but goalkeeper Michael Galvin deserves a special mention for his superb last-minute save that prevented Michael Ennis from scoring a hat-trick of goals and stopping what was looking like an epic Ballinagore comeback.

Substitute Denis Bannon also had a fine game when introduced and although he was taken off again late on, his performance was one of the best on show in this quarter-final.

In a sometimes exciting but mostly dull encounter, it was Ballinagore who got off to a flyer when, after just 45 seconds, full-forward Thomas McDaniel fired the ball to the back of the net. McDaniel then added a point soon afterwards to give Ballinagore an early four-point lead.

Tang hit back with two quick frees from Aidan Burke to reduce Ballinagore's lead to two with six minutes played.

In a very scrappy game so far, Tang were enjoying the majority of possession as they would do throughout the entirety of the game. But it took until the 17th minute for the next score to come about when Aidan Burke tapped over a third free.

But such was the nature of the game that a further eight minutes passed without the umpires raising a flag. Numerous time-consuming injuries to players on both sides had slowed the game down, allowing for no discernible pattern of play to emerge.

On 25 minutes, however, the game sparked into some sort of life. First, substitute Denis Bannon floated a point over with his right boot to equalise, but Ballinagore quickly regained the lead when a McDaniel free from distance dropped short and Paul Robinson punched the ball over the bar.

A patient Tang move involving Denis Bannon, Niall Bannon and Trevor English afforded Niall Bannon the opportunity to register his first and only point of the day and draw the teams level.

It was announced, owing to the large number of stoppages throughout the half, that six minutes of injury-time would be played. And in the first minute of that added-on time Tang grabbed their first goal of the day when a Burke line-ball was fisted to the net by Paul Conway - a typical strike by the full-forward to give Tang the lead for the first time.

There was still time for Ballinagore to pull one back and they did so through James Durkan, who curled the ball sweetly over the bar with the right boot to leave the half-time score at 1-5 to 1-3 in favour of Tang.

So far the spectators had seen a dull and error-ridden encounter and although the second half would improve slightly, it was a half that, by and large, belonged to Tang.

They came flying out of the traps and, after 17 minutes of the second half, they had registered 1-5 without reply to all but kill the game off as a contest. Burke got them up and running with yet another free. This was followed in quick succession by another, plus a fisted effort from Conway after a Denis Bannon effort had come back off the post.

Then came Tang's second goal of the game - a fortuitous one. Aidan Burke lined up to take a free but his effort dropped short, through 'keeper Paddy Maloney's hands and into the back of the net. Such was Burke's form from the placed ball that even the one he missed ended up in the net.

Burke continued his fine display of free-taking by converting two more to leave the score at 2-10 1-3 with ten minutes remaining. Ballinagore looked beaten but, in the final ten minutes, Tang took the foot off the pedal and were almost made to pay.

On 50 minutes, a James Durkan shot for a point came back off the crossbar and fell to Michael Ennis who palmed the ball to the net to give Ballinagore some hope. Burke and Conway added Tang's final two scores to steady the ship and seemingly end the game as a contest.

But a James Durkan free with five to play was immediately followed up by another Michael Ennis goal when the ball was played across the box to the midfielder, who coolly palmed the ball home once again to leave five between them.

It still looked like too big of a task for Ballinagore but, in a dramatic finish, a clever hand-pass from Durkan amazingly found Ennis in the exact same position as he was for his previous goals. Ennis yet again palmed the ball goal-wards. The ball initially beat Michael Galvin and looked to be rolling over the line. But the Tang 'keeper stretched out an arm to pull the ball back from the line. An amazing piece of goalkeeping to prevent the Tang lead from slipping to just two.

Substitute Kieran Deegan got Ballinagore's last point of the day in injury-time but, although Tang were by far the better side, Ballinagore might well wonder what could have been had Ennis scored that third goal chance.

SCORERS - Tang: A Burke (1-8, 7f), P Conway (1-2), N Bannon (0-1), D Bannon (0-1).

Ballinagore: M Ennis (2-0), T McDaniel (1-1), J Durkan (0-2, 1f), P Robinson (0-1), K Deegan (0-1).

TANG: Michael Galvin, Damien Gill, Kieran Duncan, Chris Connor, Eamon Carey, Robert English, Alan Murray, Niall Bannon, Colm Conlon, Sean Egan, Alan Higgins, Joe Conlon, Aidan Burke, Paul Conway, Tommy McCormack. SUBS: Denis Bannon for S. Egan (17 mins), Trevor English for T. McCormack (21), James Tormey for J. Conlon (53), Colm Donoghue for A. Higgins (53), Sean Egan for D. Bannon (60).

BALLINAGORE: Paddy Maloney, Enda McCann, Marty Linnane, Louis Ennis, Dan Gavin, Pat Heduvan, James Sheerin, Owen Miller, Michael Ennis, Stuart Gavin, James Durkan, Cathal Ennis, Rory Tynan, Thomas McDaniel, Paul Robinson. SUBS: Kieran Deegan for E. McCann (17 mins), David Deegan for S. Gavin (HT), Jason Winfield for P. Robinson (42), Paul Maloney for R. Tynan (47), Shane Heraty for C. Ennis (53).

REFEREE: Niall Ward (Garrycastle).

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