St John’s avoid dreaded as Ballymartin are relegated

St John’s avoid dreaded as Ballymartin are relegated

7 November 2018

A MAGICAL strike in added time from Conor Braniff at St Patrick’s Park on Saturday helped St John’s secure their tenure in Division 2 and condemn Ballymartin to relegation.

St John’s held a 0-7 to 0-6 lead going into the 30th minute with Ballymartin seriously threatening to steal the Johnnies’ thunder with a late revival, but Braniff had other ideas and a goal on the counterattack finally broke the Lilywhites’ fierce resistance. 

Marty Keenan, who was in scintillating form, put the icing on the cake when he tagged on another point with practically the last kick of the game to give St John’s a five-point victory.

St John’s had the gusting wind and driving wind in their backs in the first half and made the most of the elements.

However, it took them a full 11 minutes before they registered the first score through a Conor Morgan free. Keenan quickly tagged on a 45’ with two Morgan frees stretching the lead to four points by the 18th minute.

Ballymartin were far from playing the role of bystanders, but they managed to shoot seven wides against the wind, misses that proved crucial at the finish.

With 19 minutes gone Chris McKay had a stinging shot crash off the crossbar following a stunning passage of play, but Keenan and Morgan ensured St John’s kept ticking over with points apiece.

Ballymartin continued to waste several good scoring opportunities before Michael Higgins picked up his side’s first score in added time at the end of the first half as St John’s went in with a 0-6 to 0-1 lead.

It took the protagonists a while to settle in after the break, but with 40 minutes gone Cathal Doyle reduced the arrears to four points with a score from play. St John’s then cruelly lost the services of the influential Eoin Moag to a black card and minutes later he was followed for an early bath by Darren Savage, who received a second yellow and then red.

St John’s backs were now to the wall and Ballymartin made sure they stayed there. However, another Morgan free stretched St John’s lead to 0-7 to 0-2 before the real Ballymartin fightback started.

Consecutive points from Michael Cunningham, Ryan O’Hare (2) and Ross Cunningham left a single point in it and Ballymartin were in  the right tack.

The Lilywhites pushed and probed for the equalising score, but with the game in added time St John’s broke free and a surging run from Conor Flanagan ended with him setting up Braniff for the match-winning score.

Just to rub salt into the wounds, Morgan added a point from play to leave St John’s with their Division 2 status intact.

St John’s: D Morgan, C Magorrian, A Morgan, J Addis, D Savage, R Flanagan, M Grant, A McMullan, E Moag, C Branniff (1-0), C Morgan (0-6, 5f), C McKay, M Keenan (0-2, 1x45’), J Clarke, C Flanagan. Subs: J Savage for Moag (black card), C Gilmore for McKay.

Ballymartin: C Trainor, S Harper, M Whelan, J Doran, A Crawford, A Doran, N Kerr, M Cunningham (0-1), J Caldwell, C Doyle (0-1), S Hughes, C Fitzpatrick, R Cunningham (0-1), P Fitzpatrick, R Phillips. Subs: M Higgins (0-1f) for Crawford, C Fitzpatrick for Caldwell, C O’Hare for M Cunningham, C O’Hare for Fitzpatrick, R 0’Hare (0-2, 1f) for Fitzpatrick, S Hughes for N Kerr.  

St John’s 1-8

Ballymartin 0-6