This match had all the ingredients of a Championship thriller. Faughs had won 2 from 2. Ballinteer had lost their opening match by a single point and a loss here would signal an early and unfulfilling end to Minor Hurling this year. For some . . . this could be the last time they would play together.
From the start it was clear that Ken had struck a rich seam of history, passion and ambition to motivate our lads for this match, to give it their best shot and leave nothing behind. We got off to a great start when Rob landed his first free into the wind. Iarlaith can take full credit for his effort at a point shortly afterwards which held up in the freshening wind. The Faughs goalkeeper failed to hold the difficult dropping sliotar which ended up in the net. We were ahead by 1-3 to no score with just 7 minutes gone before the referee gave Faughs their first free on half-way. Chris Bennett secured their first point with the aid of the strong breeze and Faughs were now in the game. The sides exchanged points before Faughs settled into a rhythm and clocked up 5 unanswered points. Their keeper had recovered from his earlier mishap and, with the strengthening wind behind him, was dropping his puc-outs just short of the Ballinteer 20M line. Bennett was the main threat, running at our defence from midfield, and he struck a number of shots for goal which went narrowly wide, over the bar or were saved, sometimes over the endline for a 65 duly converted. Our strong backline, commanded by Andy in goal, proved equal to everything Faughs could throw at them but, with the wind behind them, Faughs were clocking up the points. We managed another single point before half time but it was answered by a brace for the home side to leave us trailing by a point, Faughs 0-9 to 1-5 BSJ, at the half way mark.
Faughs were awarded a 20M free soon after the restart and Bennett rifled it to the roof of the net to put Faughs in the driving seat, four points clear, having scored 1-9 for only 2 in reply over 25 minutes of Hurling. The signs were ominous. This was a moment that called for leadership. The call was answered across the whole of the Ballinteer team. Our lads refused to lie down. Robert secured us a vital point. Though it was quickly cancelled out by another for Faughs it got us back in the scoring way and we landed the next 3 without reply. Bennett, struggling with a hamstring, was moved to Full Forward and Faughs tried to drop the sliotar in to him from a distance. But that is meat and drink to our Seanie who has a unique talent for standing firm under a dropping sliotar, plucking it from the sky like none other to send it back where it came from with interest. Faughs could only manage one more point. Robert, who had a wonderful game, was now causing Faughs all sorts of difficulty when he ran at them and was unfortunate to see his shot for goal touched over the bar after a trademark run. Robert was calmness personified as he slotted the final free and the match ended shortly thereafter. The joy was unconfined in the Ballinteer camp. And rightly so.
Our Quarter Final takes place in Marlay at 11.00 AM on Sunday 19th October when we face Setanta. This will be another superb match between fine Hurling teams who’ve known one another for years. Hoping for a huge Ballinteer turn-out on the day – bígí ann.