Hurling and camogie

Ballycran overcome late scare against Ballygalget to reach Down Hurling Championship final

Diarmuid Pepper

Ballycran came out on top in a hard fought battle against Ballygalget in yesterday's Down Senior Hurling Championship semi-final.

The narrow three-point win secures Ballycran a place in the Championship final where they will face Portaferry.

Ballycran romped to a 29-point victory when they faced Liatroim last weekend, but they encountered a much sterner task against Ballygalget.

The opening minutes of the game were a rather cagey affair, with both teams registering their opening two points from frees.

In the 8th minute, the game had its first score from play as Ballycran's Christopher Egan placed the ball over the bar. Less than a minute later, Egan would strike again from open play to put his side two points up.

As the first half wore on, Ballycran started to develop a healthy looking lead.

Colum McManus scored five points in the first half and this helped Ballycran end the first period with a 0-15 to 0-9 lead.

Ballygalget's Daniel Toner opened the scoring in the second half with a free and minutes later Ballygalget had an opportunity to get themselves right back into the game when they were awarded a penalty on the 40th minute.

Ballygalget's goalkeeper, Gareth Thompson, overseen penalty-taking duties but his effort was saved by his Ballycran counterpart Stephen Keith.

However, Ballygalget weren't deterred by this penalty miss as Daniel Toney placed two successive frees between the stick as Ballygaget looked to stage a comeback.

Toner was a constant thorn in Ballycran's side and helped keep his team within touching distance.

Ballycran were able to re-establish their six-point lead in the latter stages of the second half, but Toner struck three points in quick succession to set up a grandstand finish.

With time quickly running out, and Ballycran leading by 0-20 to 0-17, Ballygalget's Gerard Roddy came agonizingly close to levelling the match.

Roddy fired the ball towards the Ballycran goals and looked to have claimed an equalizer but for the acrobatics of Ballycran keeper Stephen Keith.

Minutes later, and deep into injury time, Ballygalget's Cathal Coulter received his marching orders courtesy of a straight red card.

Soon after, the referee blew the final whistle as Ballycran survived a late scare to win by 0-20 to 0-17.

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