BALLYVARLEY’S senior hurlers were in brilliant form as they recorded their second league win of the season against previously unbeaten Bredagh at Cherryvale.
New manager Conor Grew saw his side produce a great all-round team performance to master a strong breeze and a talented Bredagh side and maintain their unbeaten start to the new league campaign.
It was the proverbial game of two halves and, with a strong wind at their backs, Bredagh surged forward straight from the throw-in to tap over two quick points in the opening minute as they threatened to run up a healthy first half lead. A further goal and four points followed before Paul O’Neill got the Reds off the mark with two long range points to rally the troops and sow the seeds of a spirited fight-back.
In this period the Ballyvarley defence began to get a grip with their pacey opponents and with goalkeeper David Lavery and defenders Niall Higgins, Ciaran Connolly and Sean Kennedy showing great leadership, the Bredagh scoring spree dried up to a trickle. With Paul O’Neill, Patrick Mackin and Niall Savage now winning a lot of possession in the midfield area, Ballyvarley began to get the ball forward against the gale and in the sixteenth minute the Reds turned the tide with two well taken goals.
Full forward James McGrath was the architect of both scores as he came deep to collect the ball before feeding it through, first to Tony Hegarty and then to Johnny Lennon, and the two young strikers kept their nerve to lash the ball past the advancing keeper and reduce the deficit to a single point.
The two goals proved to be the turning point of the game and with the Reds now competing for every ball in every sector of the field, Bredagh struggled in adding just two more points to their tally in the remainder of the half.
Lively corner forward Johnny Lennon further reduced the effect of those scores when he sent over a cracking point from play on the right wing and set the scene for Ballyvarley’s expected resurgence in the second half.
With wind advantage, a rejuvenated Ballyvarley team dominated the second half but they had to produce a great team performance to keep this talented Bredagh team under their heel. With James McConville, Stephen Daly, Gavin McGreevey and Conor McClorey finding their form, the Reds now produced a great team effort to firmly cement their second successive victory of the season.
The Ballyvarley front line always looked menacing and Bredagh found themselves in a fruitless rear-guard action to stem the Ballyvarley tide. Four great points from play by corner forward Colm O’Neill were the highlight of the Reds second half scoring spree and, with Paul O’Neill weighing in with another three, the Reds looked comfortable as they eased into a five point lead.
A Paul O’Neill side-line and a flick-on from Colm O’Neill saw the ball drop in front of James McGrath and the big full forward took it on the half volley to rifle home a well-deserved goal.
That should have been game over but Bredagh produced a spirited rally to score a further goal and two points to leave just a goal between the sides and in an exciting last five minutes both sides hit a succession of wides in the swirling breeze as Ballyvarley saw the game out for a well-earned victory.
Team: David Lavery; James McConville, Niall Higgins, Ciaran Connolly; Stephen Daly, Sean Kennedy, Gavin McGreevey; Paul O’Neill(0-5), Niall Savage; Tony Hegarty(1-0), Patrick Mackin, Conor McClorey; Colm O’Neill(0-4), James McGrath(1-0), Jonathan Lennon(1-1). Subs: Peter McConville, Chris Lennon, Ciaron Davies, Thomas Lennon, Rory McShane, Philip Jordan, Maurice McGrath, Michael Lennon.