The overnight rain was still hanging about and required a decision to be made over the wearing of gloves or not. Ever the generous hosts our boys allowed Fingallians to open the scoring and they went 2 points clear while we were still waking up to the environmental challenges.
A strong wind favoured the visitors in the opening half and Keith’s kick-outs didn’t travel far but the lads knuckled down and put together their running game with short handpasses allied to low punt kicks into the wind in order to move the ball upfield. Sam started with gloves on but had thrown them aside by the time he got on the end of a wonderfully timed handpass from Luke, fisting the ball in flight past the Fingalians keeper who thought he was coming off his line to make a tackle but was surprised by the dexterity and speed of the strike.
We sat back then, stood off our men and let them run back at us and it was only a minute or so before Fingallians had replied with a goal of their own. Once again we had to build carefully from deep and hold possession whilst progressing down the field. Peter Flanagan has always enjoyed playing up with these lads since the day he scored 2 goals in the Dublin Féile Peile Division 2 Final to help bring that trophy to Ballinteer in 2010. Once again he fielded beautifully, turned and struck past the Swords keeper with rapier-like precision to give the advantage back to the home side.
The sports psychologists say that the moment of greatest mental weakness is just after you’ve scored, ( unless you are the Irish soccer team in which case it is that time between the 90 minutes and the final whistle when you’re one goal up ). We seemed determined to prove the trick-cyclists right on Sunday, as once again we let our focus drift, didn’t mark up, waited for someone else to make the tackle and allowed Fingallians to solo the ball to our goal line before crashing it into an unguarded net. This proved to be the spur which made us pull out the stops however and everything finally clicked. Cillian made one of his customary runs down the right, trusted himself to finish and did so in style, giving the keeper no chance. Ballinteer closed the half strongly and led at the interval by 3-3 to 2-4.
The rain was coming and going but the wind was a constant and Fingallians struggled to make headway into it. When Peter won the sprint to stretch a soccer style toe to a long ball into the danger area to score our 4th goal there was a strong sense that the result was not going to be in doubt for much longer. The visitors’ heads dropped a little and while they never stopped playing they struggled to secure their own kick-outs and Ballinteer notched up a few points in quick succession. Cillian sliced through the defence once again and pulled the trigger on a blistering shot which just crept over the bar with only the keeper to beat. Tempers got a bit frayed midway through the second half but there were handshakes all round at the final whistle with the scoreline reading Ballinteer St Johns 4-17 2-10 Fingallians.
Check out Ballinteer St Johns on FB for more action photos from this match.