Thursday, 28 October 2010 18:18
The perfectly manicured pitch at Athy provided an idyllic setting as Ballyhaunis and Four Roads went head-to-head in the Connaught club intermediate hurling semi-final. With confidence for both at an all time high following their county final victories, neither wished to be left wanting as they continued their march towards inter-county glory. Ballyhaunis were only too happy to welcome Keith Higgins back into their starting line-up, following a lay off due to injury, and he turned in a man of the match performance, contributing 1-7 (six frees) of his side's tally. For Four Roads, the silky skills and expert free-taking of Jamie Lawlor were evident, the Roscommon man notching up 0-8.
Four Roads hit the ground running, but poor shooting from distance meant they didn't take advantage of their bright start. Ballyhaunis opened the scoring, a mazing run from midfielder Pierce Higgins splitting the defence before he layed off the ball to Steven Hoban, who flicked it over the bar.
A brace of points from the hard working Johnny Coyne and one from Lawlor opened the Four Roads account, briefly sending them ahead, before Ballyhaunis got their first goal.
Veteran Pierce Higgins picked out Niall Murphy with an intelligent pass, Murphy made straight for goal and having drawn the defenders towards him, he flicked the sliotar to the unmarked Hoban at the back post, who whipped the ball past the out rushing 'keeper.
Ballyhaunis began to take control mid-way through the second half with the Higgins brothers registering another two points. Lawlor kept Roads within touching distance with two more frees, but with half time approaching their 'keeper found himself picking the ball out of the back of the net for the second time.
The Mayo men were presented with a 21-yard free following a foul on Niall Murphy. Donal O'Brian showed nerves of steal as he unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net. Ballyhaunis went in at the break firmly in control, leading 2-4 to 0-5.
Straight from the restart Ballyhaunis had the ball in the net once more when a mix up in the Roads defence between corner back and 'keeper meant Keith Higgings' speculative long-range effort evaded them both.
The second half belonged to Higgins, who pushed on with six more points.
Four Roads did attempt to stage a revival towards the close of the game, which led to a hectic finish. Michael Kelly drove two goals beyond Ballyhaunis goalie Michael Walsh, narrowing the score to within three points.
Despite the late salvage attempt, this was as close as they would come, leaving Ballyhaunis deserving victors.
Four Roads 2-13
Scorers for Ballyhaunis: K. Higgins 1-7, S. Hoban 1-2, D. O'Brian 1-0, T. Buckley 0-2, P. Higgins 0-1, N. Murphy 0-1.
Scorers for Four Roads: J. Lawlor 0-8, M. Kelly 2-1, J. Coyne 0-3, S. Curley 0-1.
Ballyhaunis: M. Walsh, A. Brennan, P. Healy, D. Keadin, P. McConn, D. McConn, H. McKermitt, P. Higgins, P. Lynch, L. McDermott, K. Higgins, T. Buckley, N. Murphy, D. O'Brien, S. Hoban.
Subs used: B. Hunt for McDermott, C. McCrudden for O'Brian.
Four Roads: D. Dowd, J. McDonnell, M. McLoughlin, N. Cunniffe, S. Curley, D. Lohan, B. Donnelly, T. Lennon, J. Moran, J. Lawlor, M. Kelly, C. Coyle, B. Kelly, R. Mulrey, J. Coyne.
Subs used: P. Kelly for Cunniffe, E. Rogerson for B. Kelly, D. Fallon for Lohan.
Referee: C. Browne (Galway).