By Kieran Murphy
THREE first-half goals were the difference between these two sides in the senior football league Division 1 game in Ballinabranna on Friday. The home side gave as good as they got all around the field. They could very well have stolen at least a draw but Palatine’s self-confidence and superior know-how, combined with their first-half strikes, sealed the win.
Early on Ballinabranna’s Darren Lunney and Robert Sansom scored a point each and Shane O’Neill replied for Palatine. The first goal arrived on 11 minutes when Conor Reynolds executed a little one-two with Conor Lawler and the former easily found the net from close range. A minute later a high ball wasn’t dealt with by the home defence and Lawler finger-tipped to the net.
Sansom had a glorious chance to find the net but after dummying in front of goal and sending keeper Craig Kearney the other direction, the full-forward saw his rocket balloon off the crossbar.
Heads didn’t drop and Lunney posted two points for Ballinabranna. Jason Kane and Sansom swopped points and coming to half-time the Palatine 2-3 to 0-6 lead was manageable from Ballinabranna’s point of view.
Then disaster struck as another high ball fell nicely into the bread basket of Darren Reid. The corner forward must have been surprised to find the ball in his hands but he made no mistake from the edge of the small square.
Last year’s intermediate champions hit the second-half running. Gary Dunne pointed within two minutes. Sansom added two frees and suddenly that late Palatine goal was cancelled out. Jamie Lunney and Colin Byrne also raised white flags.
Eleven minutes into the second half Reynolds staunched Palatine’s bleeding and Shane O’Neill also pointed. Jamie Lunney replied once more before Kane and O’Neill posted points which put the eventual winners four clear.
With eight minutes to go Sansom stood over a Ballinabranna penalty and brilliantly sent Kearney the wrong way as he found the top right-hand corner of the net at the clubhouse end of the ground.
There was drama immediately after the strike when an umpire called referee Patrick Murphy and he gave Palatine full-back Jack Brennan a straight red.
There were only eight minutes to go but Shane O’Neill landed a fabulous long-range free to give his side a two-point lead. Ballinabranna lost Eric Robinson to a straight red too for his tackle when he came through on Shane O’Neill. Ballinabranna chased the game with everything they had left but they were caught going forward as Andrew Kehoe’s point in injury time ensured Palatine wouldn’t lose.
They did better than that as they easily repulsed Ballinabranna’s late efforts.
Palatine: Craig Kearney; Darragh Fitzpatrick, Jack Brennan, Chris Parle; Stephen Reilly, Lorcan Carroll, David Reid; Shane O’Neill (0-4, 0-1 free), Jason Kane (0-2); Jamie Kenny, Tomás Kenny, Cathal O’Neill; Conor Reynolds (1-2), Conor Lawler (1-0), Darren Reid (1-0). Subs: Paul Reid for Darren Reid, Gavin Healy for S Reilly (both 45 mins), Andrew Kehoe (0-1) for C O’Neill (49 mins).
Ballinabranna: Adrian Brennan; Bobby Comerford, Bobby Daly, Jimmy Cahill; Jamie Lunney (0-2), Gary Dunne (0-1), Graham Amond; Ben Dorgan, Jakub Mikolasczsk; Eric Robinson, Colin Byrne (0-1), Kealan Brennan; Darren Lunney (0-3, 0-2 frees), Robert Sansom (1-5, 1-0 pen, 0-5 frees), Jack Malone. Subs: Michael Jackson for K. Brennan (40 mins), David Cox for Amond (46 mins), Jim Dunne for Malone (61 mins)
Referee: Pat Murphy (Ballinkillen)