There is no doubt but plying their hurling prowess in the market place of Kilkenny has worked wonders for the players from Carlow clubs ever since they were invited to compete in the Junior Leagues and the All County Leagues.
Such an observation has been readily attested to by all of the Carlow teams, and the lads in Borris (Mount Leinster Rangers) would be the first in line to acknowledge the veracity of the statement. They went on to All-Ireland glory, and all credit is due in spades to them.
On Friday evening little Ballinkillen (on the road between Bagnalstown and Borris) faced Mullinavat in the South junior ‘A’ league final, and after a smashing encounter, they too got themselves on the winners rostrum to claim the South title, and they now go on to a county final against Graigue-Ballycallan.
It will take a good team to stop them, of that I am sure.
They are a progressive, young, well-disciplined, determined outfit, who expound tremendous energy all over the park. Their willingness to help out-anywhere- was one of their great strengths. No demand was too taxing. No effort was spared for the greater good.
The first half was a one-way street, with the Carlow men cutting large swathes of openness through the Mullinavat defence and midfield areas. Their defenders, make shift corner back, and captain, John Ryan, James Kinsella at fullback, Lauren Kinsella at number four were absolutely ruthlessly courageous all through, and when the fire was at its zenith, that trio were at their immaculate best. Outside of them, Dermot Foley, David English and Sean Murphy were no less inspirational. In English, whom we believe played with the Carlow intermediate team twenty four hours earlier, Ballinkillen had a man who stood metres above everyone else on the pitch.
Craig wall and Darren Dalton won the midfield honours, while all of the forwards were buzzing, brave and enterprising.
Missed two goals
A Paddy Raftice free in the second minute set Mullinavat on their way. The same player was to grab his side’s second point, again from a free 20 minutes later. In the interim, Ballinkillen, who missed two open goals in the 7th and 11th minutes got their account open with a Michael Murphy point in the 13th minute.
And then they took off!
Playing the better hurling by a distance, they fired over point with an admirable regularity from Dion Wall (2 frees), Craig Wall (2), two excellent ones by Peter Minchin, and singles by English, Daryl Roberts, and Derek Murphy. Leading by 0-8 to 0-2 at the 25-minute mark, a long delivery by Darren Dalton was guided to the Mullinavat net by Derek Murphy, and one sensed that it would need a Herculean Mullinavat effort to get out of jail.
The Carlow outfit were knocking all the trees.
At half time, Ballinkillen led by 1-12 to Mullinavat’s 0-2.
Mullinavat really knuckled down to gleaning respectability at least from the game. Ger Malone tried as hard as he could. So too did Andy McGovern. Ger Anthony and Simon Aylward put in a very creditable shift during the second half, but the horse had bolted and it proved a task beyond redemption for the Mullinavat lads to collar him. They grabbed a goal, and with it a glimmer of hope in the 40th minute, but that was all it was---- just a hopeful glimmer. As James English (Ballinkillen Manager) intimated afterwards, “ We won our game in the first half, but we knew that traditionally Kilkenny teams never die. We knew Mullinavat would come hard in the second half. We defended what we had, and hung on. It was great to win it. We are a very young developing team. Our hurling has come on a ton since we first got into the Kilkenny system”.
Scorers: Ballinkillen - Derek Murphy (1-1); Craig Wall (0-4); David English (0-3, two frees, one 65); Peter Minchin, Daryl Roberts, Michael Murphy (0-2 each); Dion Wall (0-2, frees); Sean Murphy, Marty Dalton (0-1 each). Mullinavat - Nicky Anthony (0-5, three frees); Paddy Raftice (0-4, frees); Ger Malone (1-0); Simon Aylward (0-2, frees); Andy McGovern, Tommy Holden (0-1 each).
Ballinkillen - Martin Minchin, John Ryan (capt), James Kinsella, Lauren Kinsella, Dermot Foley, David English, Sean Murphy, Craig Wall, Darren Dalton, Michael Murphy, Vincent Meaney, Peter Minchin, Dion Wall, Derek Murphy, Daryl Roberts. Subs - Marty Dalton, Sean Minchin.
Mullinavat - Paddy Jones, Mickey Jones, Derek Aylward, Darren Kenneally, Simon Aylward, Ger Anthony, Liam Murphy, Nicky Anthony, Paddy Raftice, Joe Gahan, Ger Malone, Tommy Holden, Eoin Maher, Andy McGovern, Brian Kenneally. Sub - Joe Wall.
Referee - Eoin Hayes.