IT was simply a case of one game too far for Ballyvarley’s injury-ravaged senior side as they finally saw their proud unbeaten record disappear in the challenge of a talented Bredagh fifteen who possessed too much hurling know-how for the Reds youthful lineout.
With key players missing both at midfield and in attack, the Reds struggled throughout the game to turn good possession into scores and in the end the Belfast visitors were good value for their eight point victory.
Conor McClorey got the Reds off to a good start when he burst through for the opening point but once Malachy Scullin grabbed a goal and a point for Bredagh the writing was on the wall for the home side.
Tony Hegarty showed great endeavour up front and weighed in with a well-engineered point from play but after that it was almost a case of the Ballyvarley defence performing heroics to hold the Bredagh onslaught at bay.
Sean Kennedy and Kieran Maguire were simply outstanding with some thrilling stick-work and were ably supported by great performances from Adam Twohig, Thomas Lennon, Michael McKay and David Lavery.
However, Bredagh had talented hurlers all over the field and eventually added on a further goal and four points to establish a comfortable lead. Ballyvarley struggled to get the ball through to the scoring zone and their only scores came from two frees from Tony Hegarty and another point from play from the hard-working Conor McClorey.
Bredagh started the second half with a flourish of another goal and a point and a drubbing looked on the cards for the league leaders but with great credit the Reds stuck to their task and Bredagh were only able to muster two further points in the remainder of the game.
With Ciaran Connolly and Stephen Daly coming more into the game at midfield, Ballyvarley enjoyed their fair share of possession in the second half but each time the scoring opportunity presented itself they lacked the control and ability to put the ball between the posts.
A free from Tony Hegarty and a fine opportunist goal from Barry Armstrong raised the Reds hopes for a while but despite some spirited play the absence of an experienced score-getter proved too big a handicap on the night as too many simple scoring opportunities went a begging.
So overall for the home side it was a very disappointing night but on the plus side the game did provide all the younger players with some valuable game time.
TEAM: Cathal O’Neill; Adam Twohig, Thomas Lennon, Michael McKay; David Lavery, Sean Kennedy, Kieran Maguire; Ciaran Connolly, Stephen Daly; James McConville, Conor McClorey (0-2), Tony Hegarty (0-4); John O’Neill, Barry Armstrong (1-0), Ciaron Davis. Subs: Patrick Mackin, Richard Armstrong, Jonathan Lennon, Philip Jordan, Rory McShane.