Ballybot come out on top at a rain-drenched Jennings Park

Ryan Fearon gets the ball down as Ballybot midfielder Barry Garvey closes in on Saturday. BM2405403Ryan Fearon gets the ball down as Ballybot midfielder Barry Garvey closes in on Saturday. BM2405403
Ryan Fearon gets the ball down as Ballybot midfielder Barry Garvey closes in on Saturday. BM2405403

The cold weather ​late in the week caused this fixture scheduled for Willie Davis Park to be moved to Jennings Park due to a frozen pitch.

Church Street were due to play Newry Rovers in the Bessbrook Cup on that pitch but the game was already postponed due to a bereavement. That fixture will be played this Saturday, with the winner taking on the Bot in the quarter-final.

The cold spell had given way to warmer temperatures on Saturday, but rain and wind made for a mucky pitch and tricky conditions that got progressively worse throughout the game.

Michael Rocks hangs onto Ballybot goal scorer Conor Garvey on Saturday at Jennings Park Pictures: Brendan Monaghan BM2405401Michael Rocks hangs onto Ballybot goal scorer Conor Garvey on Saturday at Jennings Park Pictures: Brendan Monaghan BM2405401
Michael Rocks hangs onto Ballybot goal scorer Conor Garvey on Saturday at Jennings Park Pictures: Brendan Monaghan BM2405401

That didn’t stop the Bot from hitting the target however, with three unanswered first half goals making for a nice head of steam as they headed into the second half.

A combination of Ballyholland upping their game after the break and the Bot taking their foot off the pedal, saw Deaglan Bradley’s men pull a goal back, but they couldn’t find any more and so the Bot progressed to the quarters.

Ballybot got off to a flying start as defender Chris Tierney scored the opening goal with a good long-range finish.

Ballybot continued to pile the pressure on the Ballyholland back line but their second goal stemmed from a corner delivered into the box from the left. The ball was played back to Barry Garvey at the edge of the box and he lofted it into the net past Ballyholland keeper Raymond Dunne.

Ballyholland's Christopher Havern holds off a challenge from Ballybot fullback David Muphy at Jennings Park. BM2405400Ballyholland's Christopher Havern holds off a challenge from Ballybot fullback David Muphy at Jennings Park. BM2405400
Ballyholland's Christopher Havern holds off a challenge from Ballybot fullback David Muphy at Jennings Park. BM2405400

That was on 14 minutes and less than 60 seconds later it was 3-0. Ballyholland won the ball from the restart and made their way forward, but a turnover saw Conor Garvey break through the middle with the ball at his feet and fire into the middle of the net past Dunne who was off his line.

The Bot came close to increasing their lead further just before the half-hour mark with an on-target free from the edge of the box which was lofted over the wall but Dunne snatched at it and made the save..

Ballyholland began to come into the game more as half-time approached with Frank McArdle through for goal but Bot keeper Kyle Mooney came out to meet him and smothered the ball on the floor.

Then sub Michael Maguire, who wasn’t long on the field, had a chance from a free which was dealt with by the Ballybot defence before another Ballyholland attack with a ball into the box, was cleared well by Ruairi McLoughlin.

Ballybot goal scorer Barry Garvey controls the ball in midfield against Ballyholland at Jennings Park. BM2405402Ballybot goal scorer Barry Garvey controls the ball in midfield against Ballyholland at Jennings Park. BM2405402
Ballybot goal scorer Barry Garvey controls the ball in midfield against Ballyholland at Jennings Park. BM2405402

Bradley’s men had one more chance of a goal before the break when Glenn Rice took a low punt from distance. The ball flew past the base of the post but Mooney had it covered in any case and it remained 3-0 at the half-time whistle.

The fine driving rain continued to sweep across the pitch in the second half and it was a mucky mess underfoot. Ballyholland improved greatly, with Conor Carlon also coming on as an impactful sub at half-time.

They had a decent opportunity early on when Jonah Osborne delivered a long cross to Mark Finnegan but he nodded over the top.

Carlon was then through for goal but Mooney came off his line and palmed the ball away. Carlon won a free minutes later that Maguire kicked over the bar.

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On 70 minutes at the other end, a throw-in from McLoughlin to David McCabe ended up being bundled out by a defender for another closer to goal. McLoughlin found McCabe again who this time played on to Liam Pentony who just missed the target.

On 75 minutes it was Ballyholland’s turn to have a go again, this time from a Brian Dillon free that was headed goalward by Carlon, finishing inches wide. Their goal eventually arrived on 80 minutes however when David Murphy missed a clearance and the loose ball was picked up by Osborne who hooked it into the net.

That was enough of a scare to settle Ballybot in the closing stages of the game. There were scant chances for Ballyholland to narrow the margin further, while at the other end, Glenn Park set up Conor Garvey whose glancing header sailed inches over the bar.

The Bot had a few more half-chances but while Dunne had them covered it kept the ball in Ballyholland’s half. That gave his side no more scoring opportunities and so Ballybot secured their Bessbrook Cup quarter-final spot with a 3-1 victory.