O'Regan double fires Glynn-Barntown to title
Lodgewood Engineering Intermediate Football Final
Glynn-Barntown's determined five-year quest to regain dual Senior status came to a triumphant end at a packed Taghmon venue on Friday as they survived a first-half dismissal to overcome Bannow-Ballymitty in a tension-filled Lodgewood Engineering Intermediate football championship final.
Glynn-Barntown 2-7 Bannow-B'mitty 0-10
It was clear that the 2014 runners-up would have to do it the hard way after centre-back John Leacy received a straight red card for a high challenge on flying Bannow-Ballymitty forward, Niall Harney, in the 22nd minute.
Glynn-Barntown led by 2-3 to 0-3 at that stage after a powerful start which resulted in a brace of well-taken goals from targetman and man of the match Michael O'Regan. However, the loss of a key player presented them with a searching test of character, and it was evident that a tough second-half lay in store after Bannow-Ballymitty shaved three points off that deficit before the interval.
And although Glynn-Barntown ended a scoreless spell lasting more than 18 minutes early in the second-half, their rivals came surging back at them as another three unanswered points left the minimum in it entering the last ten minutes (2-4 to 0-9).
Significantly though, Glynn-Barntown didn't allow their eager opponents to get back on level terms. Such an occurrence would have given Bannow-Ballymitty impetus going down the home straight, but instead their Wexford District opponents dug deeper than ever before.
It was their turn to strike three decisive points without reply between the 54th and 56th minutes courtesy of Michael O'Regan (free), Robert Dempsey and substitute Ríoghan Crosbie. And though Bannow-Ballymitty pressed hard in added time, all they could muster was a pointed Ben Brosnan free after his earlier snapshot through a forest of bodies was expertly tipped away for a '45 by netminder Nigel Donohoe.
Ultimately the outcome boiled down to the goal chances created as, while Glynn-Barntown took theirs with aplomb, Bannow-Ballymitty came up short. Both sides placed huge emphasis on getting good-quality ball into their respective full-forward lines.
Glynn-Barntown wanted to exploit the considerable advantage in height and strength at their disposal in the presence of Michael O'Regan on the edge of the square, with direct opponent M.J. Doran conceding a lot in the physical stakes.
And they succeeded to a large extent, especially in the first 17 minutes when both goals were scored. Though wearing numbers 10 and 12 respectively, Bannow-Ballymitty's inter-county duo of Niall Harney and Ben Brosnan started in the corners, and the latter swiftly switched to the edge of the square as Wexford colleague Robert Tierney tried to keep him at bay.
And though eight of the losers' points came from this dangerous duo, three from play, both will harbour regrets over missed goalscoring chances in a game of such tight margins.
Glynn-Barntown captain Michael Doyle showed the way to his colleagues with a second-minute point from a Michael O'Regan pass before Bannow-Ballymitty lost wing-forward Aaron Diskin to an early facial injury.
Ben Brosnan brought them level from a sixth-minute free after a late tackle on Niall Murphy, but that was their one and only time being on a par to their rivals on the scoreboard.
County hurling goalkeeper Mark Fanning restored Glynn-Barntown's lead with a sweet point from a tight angle on the left, with Michael O'Regan off target from a free before making it 0-3 to 0-1 after being set up by Barry Doyle.
Glynn-Barntown were hoovering up most of the opposing kick-outs and were generally on top in the middle third. This left the Bannow-Ballymitty dangermen starved of the ball early on whereas O'Regan and company had ample opportunities.
However, before Glynn-Barntown grabbed those decisive goals, they were fortunate not to concede one.
For once Bannow-Ballymitty managed to create a clear opening as Art Sweetman swept a high ball from the right over the head of Robert Tierney and into the arms of Ben Brosnan whose shot drew an excellent save out of Nigel Donohoe.
The worth of that stop was underlined just 40 seconds later when John Leacy's pass found Mark Fanning who skipped away from Darragh Murphy before passing across the square to O'Regan who rattled Philip Murphy's net (1-3 to 0-1).
Bannow-Ballymitty - trained by former Duffry Rovers stalwart Tomás Kavanagh - responded well initially as Niall Harney converted a free before Brosnan got them off the mark from play after a Michael Murphy pass.
However, the Ross District side were punished for failing to clear their lines in the 17th minute when Michael Doyle picked out Michael O'Regan who shot low to the corner of the net for a 2-3 to 0-3 lead.
Two incidents then threatened to put a different complexion on the game. Firstly the goalscorer needed a few minutes to shake off an ankle injury but, more significantly, John Leacy saw red for his high tackle on Niall Harney as the forward hared through from the right.
It took Glynn-Barntown a while to get their bearings, with Craig Doyle moving to centre-back and Mark Fanning coming out to the '40, and by half-time Harney (free) and Brosnan (two, one free) had split the posts to leave three between them (2-3 to 0-6).
Glynn-Barntown missed a 20-metre free on the re-start (they had seven wides to their rivals' five) before Brendan Doyle fisted over from close to the endline in the 34th minute. Bannow-Ballymitty really had a go for it though for the rest of the third quarter and should have edged in front.
Points came from Niall Harney, early substitute Adam Diskin and team captain John Sinnott, the latter score after their best move featuring Brosnan, M.J. Doran and Harney.
However, the key moment had arrived in the 36th minute, with the score standing at 2-4 to 0-7, when Niall Murphy's fly kick found Harney in the clear, but he shot low and wide.
It was up for grabs entering the last ten minutes all the same, and Glynn-Barntown no doubt had the pain of last year to give them that extra incentive as they made a decisive drive for glory.
Michael O'Regan's pointed free was their first score in 20 minutes, and it released a lot of the pressure as it was quickly followed by a Robert Dempsey effort before two substitutes combined, with Ríoghan Crosbie finishing off his one-two with Matthew Joyce.
There was still late drama, with Nigel Donohoe denying Ben Brosnan before the ball was picked off the ground in the Glynn-Barntown square, but there was no hope of beating the sea of blue and green on the line as Bannow-Ballymitty's top scorer fired over.
This was Glynn-Barntown's third Intermediate championship title after the successes of 1988 and 2009, and now they will be aiming to last longer than the one year spent in Senior ranks in 2010.
For Bannow-Ballymitty, also relegated in the first of two consecutive three-team culls five years ago, their quest for a second Intermediate crown and first since 2003 must start all over again in 2016, but they weren't too far away on their first final appearance in twelve years.
Credit is due to referee Anthony Tobin for an excellent performance in his first major decider. Certainly the New Ross man deserves elevation to the elite panel to take charge of Senior games.
And a word of praise too for the Taghmon-Camross club as their army of stewards ensured that the biggest crowd I've ever seen at the venue entered and exited with the minimum of fuss.
Glynn-Barntown: Nigel Donohoe; Nigel Usher, Robert Tierney, Cian Neville; Eoin Raftery, John Leacy, Alan Cowman; Michael Doyle (capt., 0-1), Brendan Doyle (0-1); Barry Doyle, Craig Doyle, Seán Carmody; Robert Dempsey (0-1), Michael O'Regan (2-2, 0-1 free), Mark Fanning (0-1). Subs. - Ríoghan Crosbie (0-1) for Carmody (40), Matthew Joyce for Fanning, inj. (45), Ian Moran for Brendan Doyle (53), Rowan White for Raftery (60), Aaron Kehoe for Dempsey (60+3), also Luke Rafter, Calum O'Shea, David Farrell, Kevin Crean, Jack Fenlon, Fionn Cooney, Stephen Lyne, Matthew Doyle, James Stafford, Ciarán Joyce, Pádraig Donnelly.
Bannow-Ballymitty: Philip Murphy; Darragh Murphy, M.J. Doran, Jon Reville; Conor Neville, Niall Murphy, Nicky Doyle; Art Sweetman, John Sinnott (capt., 0-1); Aaron Diskin, Gary Morton, John Staples; Niall Harney (0-3, 2 frees), Michael Murphy, Ben Brosnan (0-5, 3 frees). Subs. - Adam Diskin (0-1) for Aaron Diskin, inj. (4), Mark Wallace for Morton (49), Conor Furlong for D. Murphy (54), Pat Fitzharris for Staples (57), David White for Furlong, inj. (60), also Jack Farragher, Conor Anglim, John Mernagh, Robbie Mageean, Gavin Sinnott, Fintan White, Joe Sinnott, Kevin Doyle, Michael Barry, David Currid.
Referee: Anthony Tobin (Geraldine O'Hanrahans).