After showing a lot of character in coming from behind twice to survive in the drawn encounter that remained all square after extra-time, Granard/Ballymore won the Minor 'B' Football Championship title at the second attempt when getting the better of Carrick Sarsfields by the comfortable margin of five points in the final replay at Lynch Park.
Carrick Sarsfields 0-4
The 2010 fixture was postponed on a few occasions due to the bad weather but it eventually went ahead at the Abbeylara grounds on Sunday last despite the frosty conditions and while Carrick Sarsfields got the opening score when Michael O'Neill landed a terrific point from a tight angle in the 2nd minute, Granard/Ballymore were in control for the remainder of the first half.
Darren Gallagher, a member of the Longford minor team that won the Leinster title in 2010, led the charge in attack and he received fine support from Ciaran Mallon with the prominent duo scoring five points between them as the north Longford amalgamation ended up leading by 0-6 to 0-1 at the break.
Midfielder Timmy Jackson was also on target in the first half for Granard/Ballymore, who went into the game minus the services of injured players Stephen Gorman, Vinny Nally and Kevin Duffy while Carrick Sarsfields were forced to field without county minors Oisin Farrell (injured) and Ian Moran (unavailable).
After losing out to Ballymahon/Forgney after a replay in the 2009 Minor 'B' decider, Granard/Ballymore were determined to make amends and particularly impressive on this occasion were rock solid defenders Edmund Kelly and Liam Sullivan who inspired their team to a well deserved success.
The winners clocked up six points on the trot between the 4th and 21st minutes, three from Darren Gallagher (two frees) and a brace from Ciaran Mallon (free and play) and after Timmy Jackson shot over the bar to extend the advantage Carrick Sarsfields were fortunate not to fall even further behind when Mel Creegan had a close range goal attempt blocked.
While Mallon connected with the rebound, he drove his shot wide in the 23rd minute and Granard/Ballymore had to wait until the early stages of the second half for their next score when Jackson set up Gallagher for a well struck point.
That was really putting it up to Carrick Sarsfields who were finding the going extremely tough but they came a lot more into the contest on the changeover and managed to close the gap with a point apiece from David Quinn (35 mins) and Ollie Hogan (38 mins), the latter landing a cracking long range strike.
There was still a glimmer of hope for the south Longford club but the pressure was eased on Granard/Ballymore when the so influential Darren Gallagher fired over his fifth point in the 47th minute after linking up with Mel Creegan.
Back came Carrick Sarsfields with a fine point from John Burns in the 51st minute but the winners had the last say when Ian Small cut in from the left to shoot over the bar in the 54th minute.
The losers tale of woe was complete when Michael O'Neill was sent-off in the closing stages of the game after receiving a second yellow card in quick succession and then Mattie Gorman was denied a stoppage time goal for Granard/Ballymore when his point-blank shot was well saved by opposing keeper Gareth Higgins.
Carrick Sarsfields, to their credit, battled it out to the bitter end and almost scored a last gasp consolation goal when Ollie Hogan's free was stopped on the line by the Granard/Ballymore netminder Jason Cumiskey and then Darragh Flynn shot wide in his attempt to close the gap.
GRANARD/BALLYMORE: Jason Cumiskey; Liam Sullivan, Declan Murphy; Peter Walker, Charlie Martin, Edmund Kelly; Mel Creegan, Timmy Jackson (0-1); Padraig Devaney, Ciaran Mallon (0-2, one free), Ian Small (0-1); Darren Gallagher (0-5, two frees), Mattie Gorman.
CARRICK SARSFIELDS: Gareth Higgins; Paul Keenan, Kevin Moran; Paddy Farrell, Mel Yorke, Ollie Hogan (0-1); John Burns (0-1), Barry O'Farrell; David Quinn (0-1), Gerald Maloney, Darragh Flynn; Michael O'Neill (0-1), Peter Egan.
Sub used:- Tyrone Nulty for P Egan (half-time).
Referee: Tony Gaffney (Mostrim).