The delayed opening round game in the county senior football championship took place in Cashel on Monday night last with Ballymahon eventually asserting their superiority - pulling right away to overcome Ardagh by the wide margin of 14 points in the finish.
A thunderstorm caused the postponement of the fixture on Friday evening last but the immaculately presented Pairc Chiaran pitch offered no obstacles to good football and it was a tight contest in the first half with St. Patrick’s only trailing by 1-8 to 1-5 at the break.
Ardagh were on the receiving end of a heavy hammering against the same opposition the previous week in the league and were it seemed on a hiding to nothing. Ballymahon had the major share of the possession in the first half but invariably their attacks broke down due to the hard work of the Ardagh midfield and backs.
Although facing a real uphill battle, Ardagh came out in a determined manner and for the entire first half, gave as much as they got, led by the hardworking Enda Ward who drove them forward at every opportunity from centre-half-back.
Ballymahon started off on a sparkling note when Thomas Lennon struck for a great goal immediately after the throw-in and from the kick out Colm Flynn landed a point, one of four he would score in the first half.
The early goal was the difference for most of the first half as both sides traded points but as the half was drawing to a close Ballymahon had opened up a 6 point lead.
However, the live wire that was Ardagh’s Finn Hartmann ran on to a long ball in and fired a shot that was brilliantly saved by Ballymahon’s goalkeeper Eddie Noonan but Hartmann was not to be denied as he volleyed the rebound to the net, leaving just three points between the teams at the break.
The second half began with Hartmann continuing where he left off, scoring the opening point which was followed by a pointed free from Shane Henry. At this stage it looked like a battle royal was going to develop but the physically stronger Ballymahon side were beginning to settle into their stride and in the 42nd minute a masterful overhead flick by Mark Connor into the path of John Nevin led to a great goal.
This crucial score seemed to break the spirit of the determined Ardagh side. Ballymahon were now in control in the midfield area and Cian Cooney and John Nevin were piling on the pressure on an overworked St. Patrick’s defence.
From there to the end, Ballymahon were in complete control although Ardagh kicked some bad wides when a few scores would have kept them in the game for a longer period. Between the 42nd minute and the 62nd minute, Ballymahon scored two goals and 8 points to Ardagh’s solitary point and have a nice balance to their side that could pose a threat in the further rounds.
On the other hand, Ardagh’s challenge is much greater and while they have some good players they look destined to be relegated from the senior championship.
BALLYMAHON: Eddie Noonan; Sean McMullen, Ken Lovell, Graham Forbes; Matthew Daly, James Kenny, Emmet Finn; Cian Cooney, John Nevin (1-0); Kevin Diffley, Kyle Fitzmaurice (0-3), Colm Flynn (1-8, 0-4 frees, 1-0 penalty); Mark Connor (0-3), Thomas Lennon (1-1), Thomas Mulvihill.
Subs:- John Reid (0-1) for T Mulvihill; T Mulvihill for S McMullen (injured).
ARDAGH ST. PATRICK’S: Brendan Noone; Seamus Shortt (0-1), Brian Farrell, Emmet Donlon; Gareth Dennigan, Enda Ward (0-1), Kryspin Phiszczynski; Shane Powell (0-1), Paddy Keenan (0-1); David Farrell (0-1), Danny Keenan, Edward Powell; Finn Hartmann (1-1), Shane Henry (0-2, frees), Enda Farrell.
Sub:- James McGoey for E Farrell.
Referee: Tony Gaffney (Mostrim).