Ballymore Eustace 0-11
Pittman Traffic & Safety IFC Group D round one
Andrew Behan’s haul of 2-5 was the catalyst for a superb Nurney win as they opened their group stage campaign in the Intermediate Championship with a hard fought win over Ballymore Eustace.
Their victory was built on a superb defence that remained solid despite wave after wave of Ballymore Eustace attacks in the second half, and it was clear to see at full-time that this win means a lot to Gavin Holligan’s men. Missing former county star Mickey Conway, Nurney went into this game as underdogs against last year’s Kildare Junior Championship winners, but they built up a good lead before half-time and, despite scoring just two points in the second half, they held firm for the win.
Ballymore Eustace finished with 13 men after late sending offs for Aaron Deegan and Tadgh Grace, but those dismissals were irrelevant in the overall scheme of things as Nurney had their work done by that stage.
The first 20 minutes of the game was a see-saw affair in which both sides traded blows in an enthralling opening third, with the sides level at 0-4 apiece 10 minutes before the break. Ballymore Eustace never managed to edge into the lead in those stages, but they did at least respond to every score that Nurney could muster.
A free from Behan opened the scoring after a couple of minutes, but Niall Murphy responded with one of his own to open his account for the day. A good move was finished by Brian Reilly at the other end, but Murphy restored parity again for Ballymore Eustace before Behan and Stephen Dwyer traded scores.
Darren Byrne’s 18th minute score swung Nurney back into the lead, and though Kildare U20 star Murphy replied with an excellent point, Ballymore Eustace slipped up badly afterwards as the men in white took control. They gained the upperhand by registering the first goal of the evening on 21 minutes as Reilly’s attempt at a shot dropped well short and into the arms of Behan, who turned in the square and found the net.
Again, it was Murphy who carried the fight to the leaders as he knocked over a free before running at the Nurney defence and fisting over a fine score as they cut the gap to one.
That was as close as Ballymore Eustace would come before the end of the half however, as a five minute burst before the break saw Nurney assume complete control. Their second goal was entirely fortuitous as Behan’s 40-metre free dropped short and bounced into the net past the despairing Patrick Murphy, and Ciaran Callan followed up a minute later with a wonderful score to enhance his side’s lead.
Behan was superb before the end of the half as he fisted over his first point from play before battling hard to win a ball and then splitting the posts from close range. Those scores put Nurney into a 2-7 to 0-6 lead at the break, and it left Ballymore Eustace in need of a big turnaround in the second half.
The second half proved to be just as exciting as the first, though not quite as high scoring. Every Nurney score was celebrated with gusto as it edged them closer to victory, while each Ballymore Eustace effort was cheered as it gave hope of a comeback.
Brian Cahill got Nurney off to the perfect start with a tidy point, but Murphy continued his fine evening by dispatching another free and then curling over a sumptuous effort off his left from the left wing to draw his side to within six points. A good score from Aaron Deegan pulled them closer, but Behan offered the perfect tonic at the other end when he split the posts from the right wing.
Ballymore Eustace came back strongly with another big push as Dwyer smacked over a point from a long range free and Shane Barrett nailed one from close range, leaving just four between the teams with eight minutes left to play.
As time went on it became clear that last year’s Junior Championship winners were in need of a goal, but their discipline let them down badly in the final stages. Aaron Deegan and Tadgh Grace were both sent off late on after receiving second yellow cards as tensions simmered, but their goose was cooked by that point and Nurney were showing good resolve in defence close the game out.
Scorers for Ballymore Eustace: N Murphy 0-7(4f), S Dwyer 0-2(1f), A Deegan and S Barrett(1f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Nurney: A Behan 2-5(1-2f), D Byrne, B Reilly, C Callan and B Cahill 0-1 each.
Patrick Murphy; Enda Stewart Byrne, Mark Barrett, Tom Murphy; Callum McClintock, John Doyle, Michael Stewart Byrne; Shane Barrett, Tadgh Grace; Aaron Deegan, Stephen Dwyer, Mark Slevin; Niall Murphy, Caolan Halpin, Joe Broderick.
Subs used: Evan Keogh for McClintock 48mins, Ronan O’Malley for E Stewart Byrne 53mins.
Shaun Conway; Brian Reilly, Darren Byrne, Darragh Conway; John Merrins, Sean Merrins; Ciaran Callan, Niall Whelan, Stephen Conway; Kevin Conway, Peter Sunderland; Niall Donnelly, Eoghan Fitzpatrick; Brian Cahill, Andrew Behan.
Subs used: Brian Behan for Byrne HT, Cathal Hagney for Donnelly 52mins.
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