Armagh Ladies Intermediate Championship

St Patrick’s 5-11 Ballyhegan 5-12

Cullyhanna welcomed Ballyhegan on Sunday evening for their Intermediate Championship quarter final clash. Ballyhegan came out of the right side of a 10 goal thriller to earn their spot in the semi final stage of the competition while Cullyhanna fell at the first hurdle and will be disappointed as they led by four points at the break.

St Pat’s won the toss and decided to play with the wind for the opening 30 minutes and opened the scoring straight from the throw in as midfielder Erin O’Reilly leaped to the air and gathered possession before taking off down the centre of the Ballyhegan defence to crash home the first goal of the day.

Erin O’Reilly begins another attack for Cullyhanna.

Ballyhegan almost levelled the score instantly but near misses meant that the home side remained in control of the contest. Blanaid Hendron did get the visitors up and running with a pointed free but it was at the other end of the field where Ballyhegan struggled as they conceded a further 1-1 with St Pat’s now six ahead.

A nice team build up ended with Ballyhegan pulling one back through a lovely Grace Ferguson effort but from the restart Cullyhanna again rattle the back of the Ballyhegan net. Ballyhegan answered in emphatic fashion this time however and it was an Eve Lavery goal that brought them back into the game.

Ballyhegan began to up the tempo and St Patrick’s could certainly feel the pressure with Aishling McGrane knocking over a superb score before a long range shot from Caitlin McCormack flew past the Cullyhanna net minder and nestled in the back of the net to continue the rip roaring action.

Eve Lavery holds onto the ball despite the attentions of her marker.

Cullyhanna went into the half time break on top however and began to deal with the issue presented to them by the opposition. St Pat’s played some lovely football while tagging on a few scores in the final minutes of the half to go in front on a score line of St Patrick’s 4-9 Ballyhegan 3-8 with 30 minutes left to play.

Ballyhegan won the throw up this time around and a point followed before St Pats replied instantly with a Maria Murphy free. The all out action continued in the second period and Eve Lavery again found the net for Ballyhegan and could have raised another green flag moments later but for Aine Murray who pushed the ball onto the crossbar.

Midway through the second period the ref called for a water break with St Pat’s leading by the minimum and Ballyhegan fought back bravely when play resumed, getting the levelling score. But St Pats were soon three clear once again when Maria Murphy found herself unmarked and she fired to the net to give Cullyhanna the advantage.

Caella Casey breaks through a Ballyhegan challenge.

Ballyhegan pressed hard and eventually got their reward when Blanaid Hendron blasted the ball past the Cullyhanna net minder to tie the game 5-11 each with the game heading towards injury time. Ballyhegan found themselves one point ahead with time almost up and although St Pats threw everything at their opponents the eventual winners held on to earn a hard fought one point victory after a pulsating finish.

Joining Ballyhegan in the semi final stages will be Mullabrack as they themselves played out a mighty battle with Killeavy on Saturday evening. The sides could not be separated after 60 minutes of action but Mullabrack saw the game out after extra time to steal a one point victory, winning 1-17 to 2-13.