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‘Blast from the Past’: Season 2009/10
Sport

‘Blast from the Past’: Season 2009/10

CCFL Division 4A
Ballyroan 1 (E. Merrifield 90′) Raheen FC 1 (K. Dwane 54′)
Ballyroan bounce off bottom

Pointless going into the latest round of league fixtures Ballyroan had a few of their regulars back to stiffen their challenge to get their first points of the new campaign. Onlookers may well assume that Ballyroan are dire given the seven-week wait for points. Nothing could be further from the truth. Manager Eamonn Merrifield bemoaned the fact that his Ballyroan side couldn’t buy themselves a goal at the moment. He wasn’t too downcast about their recent results and paid more attention to the good footballing performances his side were producing. This latest instalment showed again the homeside’s need for a clinical strikeforce.

Ballyroan began like a team desperate to get off the foot of the table. Christopher Lalor got on the ball and was fouled by his Raheen opponent for his trouble. The resulting free was played into Kevin Birkenshaw who burst through on goal. Just as he was about to pull the trigger Tommy Lanham pulled off a marvelous challenge to thwart the Ballyroan striker. Ray Phelan on ther Raheen goals was called on to pull off a marvellous save to stop Timmy Dunne’s shot. Rick Kelly had set up young Dunne with a lovely through ball. Kelly was lively throughout and his vision helped set up countless Ballyroan attacks. Timmy Dunne danced through the Raheen cover only to pull his shot wide. Raheen, very shaky at the back initially, raised the siege when they latched onto a poor pass from Gerard Campbell.

Ballyroan wasted no time to pour forward again. Chris Dent set up his striker Kevin Burtenshaw with a delicious pass but Burtenshaw’s thunderous shot was tipped over by Phelan in the Raheen goals. The Raheen response consisted of an Eddie Dunne snap shot. Then Anthony Dunne got outside of the Ballyroan cover only for Gerard Campbell to prove his defensive credentials with a great clearing challenge. Timmy Dunne then cleared a Raheen corner. Raheen’s John Stackpool then looked on in despair as his speculative lob went narrowly wide.

Ballyroan responded through a clever ball up from Barry Treacy that set up Timmy Dunne for a shot. An immensely brave Ray Phelan came steaming off his line to prevent Ballyroan’s opening goal. An alert Killian Fitzpatrick then stopped a goal at the other end of the field as Raheen threatened his side’s goals. Noel Concannon fired a missile of a kick out up into Raheen’s half. Kevin Burtenshaw got on the end of it and fed a delightful ball into Barry Treacy’s path. Young Treacy’s first touch though was too heavy and another chance for a Ballyroan goal went abegging. Then Ballyroan dug a hole for themselves with a poor defensive clearance but goalie Concannon pulled off a smart save. Burtenshaw threatened to score twice in quick succession but each shot was beaten away. Ray Phelan then too much out of a back pass and his half-blocked clearance fell to Burtenshaw but Phelan made up for his mistake with a good save.

Gerard Campbell blasted over a free kick won by Rick Kelly’s persistence. Raheen’s Enda Phelan gave away a silly free for pushing his man just twenty five yards out. The Ballyroan free broke back off the defensive wall to Christopher Lawlor but his shot was wayward. Mark Brennan was then called on to head the ball clear of the Raheen area as Ballyroan poured forward. Then Trevor Marum headed clear in his Ballyroan box to clear a sporadic Raheen counter thrust. Right on the call of half-time Ballyroan had a glorious chance to grab the opening goal their enterprising, skillful play deserved. A quick counterattack by the hosts saw Timmy Dunne in the clear with just Ray Phelan to beat. Dunne’s shot was much too close to the keeper and Phelan had an easy save to make.

The second half broke with Raheen’s attacking prowess much more on display. Twice in quick succession Burtenshaw had to track back and clear his lines. The home side replied with a corner won by clver interplay between Burtenshaw and Timmy Dunne. Shane O’ Connor got on the end of the corner at the backpost but he couldn’t get his shot away. O’ Connor then turned provider with a great ball up the wing to Burtenshaw. Again though all this lively play from Ballyroan always broke down in the final third. A sucession of Ballyroan attacks broke down with poor pass or shot selections.

Raheen then broke away and Shane O’ Connor saved a certain Raheen goal from the shot of Eddie Dunne. The visitors then won a corner due to poor communicvation at the back for Ballyroan. Two home players went to head the ball and the ball spun out for a corner. The setpiece was guided over onto Keith Dwane’s head and his free header nestled snugly in the Ballyroan netting. Then Brian McDermott had a long-range shot that threatened to produce the visitor’s second goal.

At the other end Barry Treacy burst through on goal. Unfortunately for the Ballyroan player he was crowded out before he could get his shot away. Ballyroan’s next move should have been capped off with a goal. Gerard Campbell gave a sublime pass to Timmy Dunne who squared it for Chris Dent. Dent, though, missed the proverbial sitter. Eddie Dunne then got away a snap volley that whistled just outside the Ballyroan upright. Then Christopher Lalor kept Raheen at bay with some neat defending. Raheen’s next attack saw Brian McDermott get away his shot but vigilant Ballyroan defenders blocked it away.

Ballyroan raised the siege with a Timmy Dunne volley that went close. Kevin Burtenshaw had a long-range shot that went wide as Ballyroan hinted at their opening goal. Steady Ray Phelan then had a poor kickout that poured more pressure on his beleaguered defence. Burtenshaw latched onto it wide out on the left and fired in a cross to the backpost. Not one but two onrushing Ballyroan players missed it as it flew across the face of goal. A wondrous first touch from Timmy Dunne set up a glorious chance for newly-introduced Eamon Merrifield but he had it saved from close range.

Just as Ballyroan edged toward their first goal Raheen came close to grabbing their second. First substitute Gearoid Parkinson fired over. Then Gerard Campbell had to clear a Raheen shot off his own goaline to keep his side in the tie. Eddie Dunne then fired wide as a complacent Ballyroan backline were guilty of overplaying the ball and losing it. Then Dunne had another chance to score but shot wide when a miscued Ballyroan header fell into his path. Eamon Delaney, not long on the field, had a gilt-edged chance to finish off the game but he couldn’t score after Anthony Dunne’s cross had reached him.

Ballyroan had one great burst in them. Rick Kelly went on a rampaging run through the heart of Raheen’s midfield then had the presence of mind to feed an accurate basll out to the waiting Timmy Dunne on the right wing. His pinpoint cross found Eamonn Merrifield unmarked at the backpost and he sidefooted his shot home from two yards in the game’s lat action.

Points shared will leave both sides reasonably happy. For Ballyroan their inexplicable goal drought is over. Getting that point will give them a huge boost running up to the Christmas break. Rick Kelly, Timmy Dunne and Kevin Burtenshaw all had lively games up front for Ballyroan. Gerard Campbell and Killian Fitzpatrick were superb at the back for Ballyroan. Their need for a strong, physical centre-forward was highlighted again in this game. They had enough possession and chances to win three games never mind one.

Raheen will be happy with the point. They’ll be less happy with the equaliser they gave away in the dying seconds of the game. A lack of concentration maybe or just a presumption of three points in the bag. Raheen, though, won’t begrudge Ballyroan. They’ll admit their hosts should have had the game wrapped up at half-time. Enda Phelan did well at the back for the visitors. Keith Dwane added the necessary steel in the Raheen engineroom. Substitute Gearoid Parkinson made a great impact when he came on.

Ballyroan: Noel Concannon; Trevor Marum, Shane O’ Connor, Gerard Campbell, Killian Fitzpatrick; Christopher Lalor, Timmy Dunne, Chris Dent, Barry Treacy; Rick Kelly, Kevin Burtenshaw Subs: Thomas Whelan, Eamon Merrifield, Peter O’ Reilly, Eamonn Bland, JJ Scully

Raheen FC: Ray Phelan; Clive Thompson, Shane Mullins, Tommy Lanham, Enda Phelan; Mark Brennan, Keith Dwane, Anthony Dunne, Eddie Dunne; Brian McDermott, John Stackpool Subs: Eamonn Delaney, Gearoid Parkinson, Jimmy Farrell, Paddy Brennan

Synopsis: Both sides’ football belied their Division Four status. Some of their neat footwork was a real delight.

Starman: Ballyroan’s Timmy Dunne was hard-pressed by Kevin Burtenshaw for the accolade but sneaked it at the end.

Goal of the Game: If any side deserved to break their scoring and points barren spell it was Ballyroan. Eamonn Merrifield’s late, late strike meant so much to this burgeoning club. With their dressing rooms coming on this is a club on the up and up.

Ref Watch: Paul Brown gave an assured display. An eight out of ten rating is richly deserved.