Donegal champions Setanta into Ulster club semi-final after win over Ballela

Tom Comack


Tom Comack

Donegal champions Setanta into Ulster club semi-final after win over Ballela

Action from Setanta's Ulster club quarter-final win. Photo Geraldine Diver

Setanta are looking forward to the Ulster Junior Hurling semi-final following a comfortable first round win over Down champions, Ballela, at a windy O’Donnell Park.

Setanta 1-18

Ballela (Down)         2-9

The Donegal champions  got off to a good start firing three points after Malachy Magee hit the game’s opening score.

Kevin Campbell, with two frees, either side of a delightful strike from Declan Coulter, posted the points with seven minutes on the clock.

But a Malachy Magee goal on eight minutes undone all of Setanta’s good work and the Down men were ahead once again.

The setback was only temporary and with Danny Cullen orchestrating around the middle Setanta pulled ahead again.

Campbell from a free and play knocked over two and Colm Melaugh struck a beauty for a 0-6 to 1-1 lead towards the end of the first quarter.

The Donegal champions continued to dominate but they did not score again for ten minutes as they dropped at least five strikes into the Ballela ‘keeper and also were guilty of posting a number of poor wides.

And due to this and points from Gary McMullan. Jonathan McCusker and dangerman Magee, Ballela were back to one coming up to the break.

But the Donegal side had breathing space at half-time  thanks to a point from Bernard Lafferty and two long frees from Coulter which saw them go in four in front, 0-10 to 1-3.

The first of Coulter’s frees was from inside the Setanta ‘65’ and the second was just outside the Ballela ‘65’.

Any fears that Setanta hadn’t done enough with the strong wind in the opening half were quickly dispelled on the resumption.

Kevin Campbell and Danny Cullen quickly added points and the margin was out to six.

And despite the loss of ‘keeper Ciaran Bellew to a straight red card on 39 minutes, Setanta remained in the groove.

Bernard Lafferty skinned his marker out along the sideline and raced in on goal before rattling the rigging for a 1-12 to 1-3 lead.

And thanks to further strikes from Coulter and Brendan Tourish, Setanta were in the box seats as they led 1-17 to 1-4, with a just over seven minutes to full time.

Magee struck a late goal for the Down men but their cause was lost and  Setanta were looking forward to an Ulster semi-final.

Ciaran Bellew got his marching orders for a clash with Ryan McCusker.

Setanta will now face Gort Na Mona from Antrim next Sunday in the Ulster semi-final.

SETANTA: Ciaran Browne; Brendan Tourish (0-1), Simon McMenamin, Mark Callaghan; Alan McConnell, Martin Bonner, Niall Cleary; Richie Kee (0-1), Danny Cullen (0-1); Bernard Lafferty (1-0), Colm Melaugh (0-1), Mark Kane (0-1); Jonathan Carlin, Declan Coulter (0-6,2,f), Kevin Campbell (0-7,5f). Subs: Dylan Lynton for A McConnell35; Conor Gallen for D Coulter 59

BALLELA: Gary McMullan; Peter Doyle, Daniel McCusker; Niall Burns, Jonathan McCusker (0-4,3f), Michael Doyle; Kevin Close, Adam Harrison; Mark Toner, Michael Turley, Rory McPolin; Ryan McCusker, Malachy Magee (2-4,1f), Mark Cosgrave. Subs: Ryan Cunningham for A Harrison; 39; Niall Savage (0-1) for R McPolin 45;  Ryan Harrison for R McCusker 48; Gareth Burns for M Toner 50.

REFEREE: Martin McGann (Antrim)