Ballinode……………….2 St. Joseph’s…………………1
A very entertaining first outing for the St. Joseph’s ended in defeat at Sligo IT on Tuesday, but only just as they were within minutes sharing the spoils in a well contested game that had a high level of skill throughout and two very good goalkeepers that kept what could have been a 6-6 draw so tight until the very last minute of ordinary time when the Sligo school pounced for a winner with a free kick good enough to win any game, this time it did just that!.
The early saves of Declan Forkan were invaluable as his team failed to get a foothold in the game. The custodian has come a long way in the past few years and his confidence is quite high at the moment as he continues to learn his trade. The home side went in front with a well taken effort when their striker raided down the touchline and stole in with a well place shot that hit the Joes net diagonally along the ground. It did not help matters that Niall Drudy was trying to shake off an injury around this time. Unfortunately, he had to be replaced with an ankle problem.
Charlestown grew into the game and with Ben Conway grafting at centre back alongside the composed Jack Brennan things started to improve. Eoin Goldrick made a long-awaited return at left back and it was great to see him add much needed weight to the attack. Ciarán Honeyman had a fine game when moved to midfield while Martin McCormack tirelessly attacked and defended at will. Dillon Curry worked his socks off in the middle of the park, visions of older brother Kiefer emerging again and again from a by- gone era!
The “go to” man in many situations is Paddy Goldrick and it was no different on this occasion as the mercurial talisman showed his many tricks but it was rather difficult to get through the home rear-guard. Darragh Casey nearly did it a few times but came up against an inspired ‘keeper. David Doherty also got glimpses of the promised land but to no avail. The equaliser did eventually come after 26 minutes when St.Joes won a corner and Goldrick’s ball was planted firmly in the net by the head of Jack Brennan. St. Joes should have hit the front soon after but Goldrick and Casey were wasteful. The home side had a mini flourish before half time but found Alan Brennan in great form, stopping them numerous times. Parity at half time was about right as far as this contest was concerned.
The second period was only 3 minutes old when Goldrick, the elder, saw a rasper of a shot cannon off the post with the Ballinode ‘keeper beaten.
Ruairí Cullen joined the fray after 10 minutes of the second half and really asked questions going forward giving a torrid time to the opposing defence. Good persistence from Martin McCormack paid off when he won a corner after chasing a somewhat lost cause but Ballinode stood still. Ben Crean then entered the game and his neat touches looked as if an opening could be found. He did win a free kick immediately but again there was no way past a resolute Ballinode defence. The great thing about this contest was that both teams thought they could win it and would not settle for a draw at any price. The referee played his part in letting the game flow from one end to the other without any undue interference.
The winner, and what a screamer it was, came when a somewhat silly foul by St. Joes, right at the death, saw the ball fly into the top corner to let the home side win by the narrowest of margins. It keeps alive their hope of progressing while St. Joes have to battle both Ballymote and Grange if they are to make any advances to the knockout stages. The game was played in a great atmosphere with both sets of players a credit to their schools.