AN understrength Ballyvarley side paid the penalty for a slow start against league leaders Newry Shamrocks in Pairc Esler in the Down Senior Hurling League.
Not even a great second half revival could overhaul a 12 point first half deficit as the Reds went under by 0-11 to 1-17.
With a mini injury crisis threatening to derail the Reds league campaign, a reshuffled side took just too long to settle in a disappointing first half and they were left with just pride to play for in an encouraging second half performance.
For the first 20 minutes Shamrocks did pretty much as they pleased against the out-of-touch visitors, with Paul Sheehan(0-8), Kevin Fegan(0-2) and Nathan Murphy(0-2) doing much of the damage as the home side rattled up an effortless thirteen point lead.
The few opportunities the Reds had were blazed wide until finally Paul O’Neill pushed forward to strike over their only score of the half. Half time: Shamrocks 0-13 Ballyvarley 0-1
Thankfully the second half saw a different Ballyvarley team emerge from the dressing rooms and, after two early points from Sheehan, it was all Ballyvarley as they launched an overdue revival.
Sean Kennedy proved to be the star of the show with an imperious second half display and with Niall Higgins and Ciaran Connolly now prominent in defence, the Reds had the platform to push forward and dominate possession.
Paul O’Neill, Michael McKay and Niall Savage were now more prominent in the midfield area as the Reds set about hauling back the formidable deficit. Eight further points from the lethal stick of Paul O’Neill, a solo effort from Patrick Mackin and a stunning volley from Peter McConville saw the gap narrowed to just five points and then came the penalty that gave the Reds the chance to pull off the great escape.
However, O’Neill’s strike at goal was blocked on the line and within minutes the play had made its way to the other end of the field where Kevin Fegan burst through in dramatic style to blast home the only goal of the game that secured the points for Shamrocks and ended the Ballyvarley rally.
Team: David Lavery; Ciaran Connolly, Niall Higgins, James McConville; Gavin McGreevey, Sean Kennedy, Thomas Lennon; Michael McKay, Patrick Mackin (0-1); Tony Hegarty, Paul O’Neill (0-9), Niall Savage; Richard Armstrong, Peter McConville (0-1), Jonathan Lennon. Subs: Ciaron Davies.