Carrigaline paid the price for having to field an understrength team without four regulars, Kevin Kavanagh and Rob O’Shea amongst them, but nothing should be taken from a dogged Ballymartle team that relished the physicality of an always intense and very sporting challenge.
Taking little heed of the pre-match prediction, Ballymartle recovered quickly from an opening salvo of Carrigaline points from Cian Barry and Killian McIntyre. They quickly drew level with points from Daniel O’Leary and Keith Fitzpatrick and each time they fell behind they managed to claw their way back into the contest.
Much of their ability to stay the distance lay in a hugely positive display from the full-back line of Joe Butler, TJ Murphy and John D O’Callaghan to restrict Carrigaline to points rather than any realistic goal opportunities.
Ballymartle then struck with a 28th minute goal — a brilliant effort in which Murphy and Jack Dwyer played important supporting roles before Anthony Daly smashed the ball past a helpless Robert Foster in the Carrigaline goal.
It was 1-7 to 0-8 for the winners at the break, but Carrigaline, inspired by captain David Drake, responded vigorously and Drake used the wind advantage to good effect as he knocked over three points from frees. A sixth minute long range effort produced even better results; with Paul Allen possibly blinded by a glaring sun, Drake’s 60m free dipped under the crossbar and into the net.
Ballymartle, with more scoring resources than the one man, had kept pace throughout the third quarter and at the midway point of the half the sides were on level terms at 1-11 apiece.
Unfortunately, Drake had given as much as he could and there was nobody to carry the scoring burden with him.
Cian Barry did knock over a 57th minute point, but Ballymartle’s pressure paid off and Keith Fitzpatrick gave them breathing space with three successive points, two of them from frees.
In injury time, with Carrigaline desperately seeking one last breakaway, Daniel O’Leary scored the point to put his side out of reach; Ballymartle celebrated with gusto and in the knowledge that all of the starting side are young enough to be available again for next year’s campaign.
Scorers for Ballymartle: K Fitzpatrick 0-6 (0-3 from frees), D O’Leary 0-5, A Daly 1-1, S O’Mahony 0-2 (0-1 frees), R Cahalane, J Dwyer 0-1 each.
Scorers for Carrigaline: D Drake 1-5 (1-3fs), K McIntyre 0-3, C Barry 0-2, P Mullane, S Maguire 0-1 each.
BALLYMARTLE: P Allen (captain); J Butler, TJ Murphy, JD O’Callaghan; L Corry, C Coleman, L Allen; R Cahalane, S O’Mahony; D O’Leary, K Fitzpatrick, K McCarthy; J Daly, A Daly, J Dwyer.
Subs: G Murphy for Dwyer (42), N Crowley for J Daly (43), J Daly for Cahalane (56, injured), J Dwyer for J Daly (58, injured).
CARRIGALINE: R Foster; C Malone, C McSweeney, A O’Reilly; C Barry, K O’Connell, S Conlon; D Drake (captain), K McIntyre; J DePuis, P Mullane, E Moynihan; S Maguire, S Duane, M Lynch.
Subs: B Lynch for Dwane (18), A Cotter for Lynch (55).
Referee: B Coniry (Crosshaven).