SFC: Gowna power past Ballyhaise

August 12, 2016

Gowna's Mark McKeever

Gowna 1-14

Ballyhaise 1-10

A powerful second-half performance surged Gowna past Ballyhaise tonight at Kingspan Breffni Park as they put one foot into the quarter-finals of the senior championship.

Cian Bannon's 32nd minute goal, along with the solid shooting of Gerald Pearson (0-6) and TJ Fitzpatrick, proved the difference here for Liam Higgins' team as they scored their second win in five days in this competition, having upset Killygarry at the same venue last Sunday.

Ballyhaise, who lost to last year's beaten finalists Castlerhan last time out, ultimately fell flat in the second-half here and ended up chasing the game with a late goal from Padraig Moore only providing them consolation in the end.

Early points from Robbie Fitzpatrick and Pearson (free) ensured Gowna a sizzling start to this round two clash, as their counterparts were made to wait nine minutes for their opening score through a Stephen Smith free.

Kevin Tierney had the sides level in the 14th minute after some terrific work in the corner and Smith backed that up with a classy effort for the intermediate champions' first lead three minutes afterwards.

A brilliantly struck 50-metre free from David Brady looked to have John Brady's charges rolling but the men from the Longford border outfit weren't willing to let them get on top in anyway, rattling off the next three scores without response through Robbie Fitzpatrick (free), Mark McKeever and Pearson (free) to take back the initiative.

Raymond Keogh's black card offence saw an introduction for Bannon in the 22nd minute and the victors continued to tick over, with Pearson cancelling out Brady's '45' in the added minutes to leave it at 0-6 to 0-5 in his team's favour at the halfway stage.

Shane McKiernan took advantage of a lapse from Gowna's defence early on in the resumption to level it up 18 seconds after the ball was thrown in again.

Higgins' side responded in the best possible fashion however, with Bannon in the right place at the right time to rebound in TJ Fitzpatrick's saved effort to the back of Ballyhaise's net for all three points.

The goal didn't quite seal the deal for Gowna but their relentless conviction afterwards sure did, as Pearson (2 frees) and TJ Fitzpatrick (2) put their side seven to the good and practically out of sight with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Veteran Pearson had the opportunity to raise another green flag but, uncharacteristically, fluffed his lines at the crucial moment before gathering up and offloading for TJ Fitzpatrick for the diminutive forward's third point in the space of seven minutes.

A Smith free helped to stop the rot for Ballyhaise and they still held an outside chance after quick points from sub Martin Conaty and Tierney outweighed John Hyland's at the far end.

Crucially, Gowna worked the next score after fellow substitutes Shane Briody and Aaron Brady combined to punch a hole past their opponents' rear guard and the latter finished over to make sure of a massive seven-point margin heading into injury-time.

Moore pulled off some magic from 30 metres out to fire in the consolation goal for the men from Annalee Park and there was still some time for a gem from the evergreen Pearson in the fifth minute of added time to put the gloss on the victory for Gowna.

Gowna: Ronan Bannon; David Phillips, Ryan McGahern, Shane Harton; Mark McKeever (0-1), Willie Stephens, Andrew Dewart; Niall Madden, Raymond Keogh; Conor Madden, Robbie Fitzpatrick (0-2), David Hyland; James Madden, Gerald Pearson (0-6, 4f), TJ Fitzpatrick (0-3). Subs: Cian Bannon (1-0) for R Keogh (22mins, b/c), John Hyland (0-1) for D Hyland (43), Shane Briody for D Phillips (56), Aaron Brady (0-1) for C Madden (58), Conor Murray for M McKeever (60, inj).

Ballyhaise: Eamonn Brady; Mark Brennan, Fiachra McGoldrick, Shane Briody; Marcus Duffy (0-1), Conor Lyons, Francis McDonnell; Brendan Lyons, David Brady (0-2, 1f 1 45); Darren Reilly, Kevin Tierney (0-2), Shane McKiernan (0-1); Padraig Moore (1-0), Stephen Smith (0-3, 2f), Martin Conaty (0-1). Subs: Aidan Watters for F McConnell (33mins), Ronan McKiernan for B Lyons (40), Conor McEntee for C Lyons (41), Sean McCormack for D Reilly (47), David Duggan for S Briody (51), Stephen Kane for D Duggan (60).

Ref: Chris McCaffrey (Templeport)

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