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Senior Hurlers Beat Kilclief In The Ulster League 13/03/10

15 March 2010

Ulster Senior Hurling League: 
Ballyvarley  0-14      Kilclief  1-9

An almost full strength Ballyvarley side got off the mark in the Ulster League with a battling, gritty performance that edged out a fast and physical Kilclief side by two points in Ballyvarley on Saturday. Home advantage was the key as Ballyvarley raised their game to meet the challenge of Down Division One hurling and in an exciting and close encounter James McDermott and Paul O’Neill eventually produced the fire-power to see off their competitive opponents.
Kilclief started the game at a frenetic pace with their centre-half forward bursting through the middle for the opening point in the first few seconds and within minutes they had two more on the board before the Reds had even got out of the starting blocks.  Gradually Ballyvarley settled but seven wides in a wasteful opening spell frustrated the home sides attempts to get off the mark. Then came a move of first division class when slick inter-passing play between James McGrath and Cathal McGrath opened the way for the overlapping James McDermott to fire over a brilliant point. That score lifted the Reds and soon Paul O’Neill found the range and two pointed frees brought the sides level midway through the half.
A great point from the wing restored Kilclief’s advantage but two further points from play through Paul O’Neill saw the Reds in the ascendancy and they looked to have weathered the Kilclief storm. However the Ballyvarley dominance was to count for nothing and they suffered a body-blow just before the interval when the visitors broke through the otherwise solid home defence to force home the only goal of the game and leave the Reds right back at square one and playing catch-up once again. A Kilclief point widened the gap to three but the Reds kept battling away and further points from James McDermott and Paul O’Neill left them trailing by just one point at the interval. 

Half time: 
Ballyvarley  0-7   Kilclief  1-5

A Kilclief point on the restart widened the gap but it was to be the last time that the visitors were to lead the charge. The Reds defence tightened their control of the game and with Colm O’Neill, Sean Kennedy and David Lavery feeding the ball forward to the creative play of Cathal McGrath, Paul O’Neill and James McDermott it was only a matter of time before the home side carved out a deserved victory. Three more points from Paul O’Neill, two from frees, and another penetrating run and point from James McDermott edged the Reds into a two point lead. Two great goaling chances were squandered as the Reds dominance grew and as a counter to the home sides wastefulness in front of goal, Kilclief slotted over two points of their own in the rare occasions that they broke the Ballyvarley stranglehold. The vital goal never came but Kilclief’s over-enthusiasm in trying to hold the Reds eager attack resulted in three further frees and by this stage Paul O’Neill was back in the groove and he slotted over the vital points that earned the Reds their first Ulster League victory and maintained their remarkable sequence of success on home soil. 
Final Score; 
Ballyvarley  0-14   Kilclief  1-9

Team; Cathal O’Neill; Stephen Daly, Eunan McConville, Jamie Murray; Sean Kennedy, Colm O’Neill, David Lavery; John O’Neill, Ciaran Connolly; James McDermott(0-3), Paul O’Neill(0-11), Cathal McGrath; Niall Savage, James McGrath, Colin O’Neill.
Subs: Conor McClorey, Patrick Mackin, Leigh McConville, Tony Hegarty, Stuart Cartmill, Martin Connolly, James McConville, Peter McConville, Shane McAreavey