Reds’ challenge takes another hit

BALLYVARLEY’S challenge at the top of the senior hurling league suffered another set-back on Monday night when they simply seemed to run out of steam in the closing minutes and succumbed to a late flurry of scores from a youthful Carryduff side.

The Reds had held the lead throughout the game and looked well on their way to another home victory but in the last twenty minutes they struggled to raise a flag as Carryduff staged a late comeback to snatch the points in injury time.

The Reds had looked comfortable in the opening half and two pointed frees from Tony Hegarty eased them into an early lead. Carryduff looked dangerous on the break and points from Moore and O’Callaghan brought the sides level again.

However, the Reds continued to dominate possession and although they were struggling to put their chances away there were few signs of panic especially with Tony Hegarty in such fine shooting form from placed balls.

Two more Hegarty frees edged the Reds ahead again but with limited chances Carryduff were soon level with points from Lavery and O’Callaghan. Four further frees from Hegarty and a great point from play by Barry Armstrong eased the Reds into a comfortable lead, with McConville adding a late reply for the visitors.

O’Calaghan pulled one back for Carryduff but the irrepressible Hegarty nullified that effort with another well-taken free and all looked good for the Ballyvarley cause. The home side were well on top and the ball kept going forward but the front line were really struggling to get the better of the visitors defence.

Chance after chance was squandered until midfielder Kieran Maguire joined the attack to send over a fine long-range point. That was to be only Ballyvarley’s second score from play and as the Reds dithered in front of goal Carryduff made the best of their opportunities and slowly hauled themselves back into the game.

Five unanswered points brought the sides level but with just three minutes remaining Hegarty give the Reds renewed hope as he pushed them into the lead again with his tenth point of the game.

In the last minute Conway drew the sides level and it looked as though the spoils would be shared but in injury time the Reds squandered two further goal-scoring opportunities before that late surge from Carryduff yielded a goal and a point to cruelly snatch the points right at the death.

It was a disappointing result for the Reds but they had outstanding performances from Sean Kennedy, Adam Twohig, Kieran Maguire, Barry Armstrong and Tony Hegarty with Thomas Lennon, Michael McKay, Stephen Daly, David Lavery and Ciaran Connolly giving them best support.

TEAM: Cathal O’Neill; Adam Twohig, Thomas Lennon, Michael McKay; Stephen Daly, Sean Kennedy, David Lavery; Ciaran Connolly, Kieran Maguire(0-1); Colm O’Neill, James McGrath, James McConville; Tony Hegarty(0-10), Barry Armstrong(0-1), Eunan McConville. Subs used : Richard Armstrong, Philip Jordan.