Ballymahon Vocational School were crowned All-Ireland Senior ‘D’ Football champions when they cruised to a most emphatic victory over Tipperary opponents Ballingarry Presentation Secondary School in a disappointing one-sided final played at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise on Tuesday of last week.
With the exception of a rather shaky start when only a fine point-blank save from keeper Jack Fox denied James Burns a goal for Ballingarry SS in the 3rd minute, it must be said that the superior Ballymahon VS side were never in serious trouble and ended up winning by the wide margin of 12 points.
On top in most positions on the pitch and who were particularly strong in attack, the well drilled Leinster champions produced a far better brand of football (great credit is due to the joint managers Conan Casey and James Galvin) and from the moment corner-forward Conor Dillon fired home a cracking goal midway through the first half the writing was on the wall for the ragged Co Tipperary outfit.
Sean Kelly played the perfect pass into Dillon, who made no mistake in planting the ball in the back of the net to leave Ballymahon VS in a comfortable 1-5 to 0-2 lead, and they went close to scoring a second goal in the 20th minute when John Tumelty had his attempt blocked down.
The Munster title winners showed some promise in a tight first quarter and only trailed by the minimum of margins, 0-3 to 0-2, with 12 minutes gone on the clock. Padraic Hayes (free) and Dylan Walsh got the Ballingarry scores while Thomas McGann, defender Shane Farrell and Tumelty were on target for Ballymahon VS.
But the talented team with players drawn from a number of clubs in the south Longford area and neighbouring Westmeath gradually got on top and following a further point apiece from Tang lad Tumelty and Brendan Wallace, the crucial only goal of the game materialised in the 15th minute.
That proved to be a shattering blow which stunned Ballingarry Secondary and while they hit back with a brace of points through Dylan Walsh and Padraic Hayes, Ballymahon VS kept their momentum going with a couple of great points from Sean Kelly, who was always a threat at full-forward.
Despite squandering a few other chances in the first half, the eventual winners of the Brother Edmund Ignatius Rice Cup were still in a strong position at the break - leading by 1-7 to 0-4.
Early second half nerves were settled when the lively Conor Dillon weaved his way through to land a very good point in the 36th minute but Ballymahon VS had no reason to worry as Ballingarry SS failed to register a solitary score on the changeover.
Having said that, it took a timely interception by commanding full-back Michael Cahill to prevent the Tipperary outfit creating a goal opportunity in the 38th minute and moments later netminder Jack Fox was alert to the danger in advancing off the line to beat James Burns to the ball.
But Ballymahon VS quickly regained the upper hand with points from Kenagh duo Thomas McGann and Brendan Wallace in the space of a minute and a further couple of scores followed from Shane McGoey (a free and a fine strike from play) to establish a very cushy 1-12 to 0-4 advantage with ten minutes of normal time remaining.
Prominent centre-half-back Conor Farrell, much to the fore in the winners defence along with Michael Cahill, then averted the danger as Ballingarry went in search of a consolation score and both teams were reduced to 14 players in the 57th minute after a brief fracas which resulted in straight red cards for Shane McGoey (BVS) and his opponent Joedy Sheehan.
It mattered little at this late stage and just for good measure Sean Kelly landed a mighty long range point for Ballymahon VS in the final minute of normal time.
Inspired by captain Enda Farrell at centrefield, and vital contributions also from wing forwards Thomas McGann and John Tumelty, this was a complete performance from a fine team who won the All-Ireland title in some style.
BALLYMAHON VOCATIONAL SCHOOL: Jack Fox (Ballymahon/Forgney Gaels); James Higgins (Kenagh St Dominic’s), Michael Cahill (Carrick Sarsfields), Karl Farrell (St Dominic’s); Sean Doherty (Carrick Sarsfields), Conor Farrell (Southern Gaels), Shane Farrell (St. Dominic’s, 0-1); Brendan Wallace (St Dominic’s, 0-2), Enda Farrell (Carrick Sarsfields, captain); John Tumelty (Tang/Maryland, 0-2), Shane McGoey (Carrick Sarsfields, 0-2, one free), Thomas McGann (Kenagh St Dominic’s, 0-2); Conor Dillon (Millmore Gaels, Westmeath, 1-1), Sean Kelly (Carrick Sarsfields, 0-3), Justin McCormack (Carrick Sarsfields).
Subs:- Thomas Lennon (Tang/Maryland) for J McCormack (44 mins); Niall Casey (Southern Gaels) for S Doherty (47 mins).
PRESENTATION SECONDARY SCHOOL BALLINGARRY: Adam Kealy; John Walsh, Thomas Pollard, Keith Cleere; Joedy Sheehan, Ciaran Mockler, Cillian Tuohy; Aidan Buckley, Darren Prout; Niall Keane, Dylan Walsh (0-2), Jamie Walsh; Padraic Hayes (0-2, one free), Cathal Mahoney, James Burns.
Subs:- Darren Boland for P Hayes (half-time); Bobby Prout for J Burns (40 mins); Jack Pollard and Michael Cody for N Keane and J Walsh (44 mins); P Hayes for C Mahoney (51 mins).
Referee: John Hickey (Carlow).