The second round of the championship began with this encounter in Mayobridge last Thursday night. It was a must win match for both sides, victory for Bryansford would all but guarantee progress to the quarter finals before their final game against Burren while Ballyholland had to win to keep hopes of progression from the group alive. That showed throughout as Ballyholland battled valiantly throughout, ultimately coming up just short at the end of the hour.
Bryansford started the game well, leading by five points to one after twenty minutes However it could have been more as two goal chances were missed. Half a minute in Ciaran Brannigan had a goal chance but wildly flung his right foot at the ball, kicking air in the end instead of grasping possession then converting the chance, however he went a long way to making amends later in the match with two vital points.
Danny Savage converted the first two scores of the game and with nine minutes gone Chris Brannigan had Bryansford three to the good. Niall McKevitt opened the Ballyholland account with a 45 but Timmy Hanna and David McKibben extended the Bryansford advantage again. Danny Savage could have almost killed the game as a contest when he ended up one on one with Colm Keenan in the Ballyholland goal but the net minder produced a fine save to keep his side in touch. This gave the Harps a list and they scored four points in the final six minutes of the first half. Patrick Quinn registered three, two run of the mill frees and a sideline kick while Ronan Murtagh had a simple task in converting the other opportunity.
With the sides level at the end of a poor first half on a greasy surface that saw lots of players slipping and the ball bouncing off bodies with increasing regularity the second half was going to be a war of attrition.
Ballyholland began the better in the second half with two further points from frees giving them a nice cushion but for all their pressure the Harps couldn’t get the lead to three. A brace of Danny Savage points pulled a leg weary Bryansford level. A marvellous Aaron Somers point had them briefly infront but Quinn pulled Ballyholland back on terms within a minute.
Bryansford then strung together one of the few free flowing moves of the match with Stephen Toner, Conor Maginn and Chris Brannigan all involved in getting the ball to Timmy Hanna who provided the point to cap the attack off. Two score from Ciaran Brannigan followed and with a three point lead established Bryansford looked comfortable until a lapse of defensive focus and concentration allowed Kieran Murphy to cleverly poach an opportunistic goal to one more square things off with just eight minutes to go.
Bryansford did up the ante again for the last few minutes with Aaron Somers (2), and Chris Brannigan pointing along with a Stephen O Neill-esque score from Conor Gribben. There was time for a consolation score from James Patterson before the end but it didn’t affect the outcome as the Ford made it two from two and sealed qualification to the quarter finals.