Down SHC: Ballygalget and Portaferry set up semi-final clash
TIM Prenter’s 47th-minute goal gave Ballygalget the space they needed to keep Liatroim Fontenoys where they couldn’t hurt them in their clash in Kilclief on Saturday.
The Mitchel’s ran out 2-16 to 2-11 winners despite pulling 10 shots wide of the target in the wind-assisted first half. The Fontenoys hit seven in the second into the same goals, but Ballygalget were still more economical with possession than their opponents.
Prenter though was on fire, setting up the opening score, a goal for John McManus, after just a minute of play and then tagging on four points from play as well as his second-half match-winning goal. Team-mate Danny Toner was also sharp with four from play at key points of the contest.
Pearse óg McCrickard also nailed four from play and, after that dreadful start, his team would have been happy enough trailing by 1-10 to 1-6 at the short whistle. It could have been even closer!
Conor McCrickard had two goal chances in quick succession. He blasted the first wide, but got inside with the second and tapped it over Aaron Crowe into an empty net. That made it 1-7 to 1-6. Ballygalget, however, finished the half stronger with Toner punishing sloppy defending with two frees and Prenter’s clipping over his third point.
Although Toner and Cathal Coulter (free) stretched the lead to six on the re-start, Eoin McCrickard set Tiarnán Murphy up for a second Liatroim goal three minutes in and Pearse óg whittled it down to a two points’ game, 1-13 to 2-8, just before the Liatroim defence got sucked into a ruck 30 metres from goal. When the sliotar came out Prenter had no-one near him and he raced through to tuck the shot away.
Ballygalget’s defence were then able to dictate the final quarter to see themselves over the line.
DEFENDING champions Portaferry will have home advantage over Ards rivals Ballygalget in their last-four clash after the final round of group games confirmed the standings.
Ballycran confirmed their place at the top of the group thanks to a 13-point victory over Newry Shamrocks in Páirc Esler and, as a result, will have home advantage against fourth placed Liatroim.
Ballycran went into Sunday afternoon’s game with a 100 per cent record and they maintained that form in their final group game at a comfortable canter. The Ards men were already 13 in front by half-time, 1-16 to 1-3, and the Newry side failed to make a dent in that lead in the second-half as they fell to their fifth defeat in five.
On Sunday evening, Portaferry confirmed second place in the group with a big win over Bredagh in Carryduff. By half-time in stormy conditions on the outskirts of Belfast, Portaferry had built up a 2-19 to 0-3 lead, although Bredagh managed to stem the tide slightly in the second-half.
Both semi-finals will be played on Sunday, October 8 with Portaferry and Ballygalget lining out at 2pm and Ballycran and Liatroim throwing in at 4pm.