Ballyvarley produced the first shock of the Junior Hurling Championship when they tumbled hot favourites Warrenpoint out of the competition.
The first goal came so quickly that many people, including hapless Warrenpoint, never saw it. Paul O’Neill won the ball from the throw-in and delivered a long ball to James McGrath who flicked it on to Chris Lennon who was on the spot to drive the ball past an isolated goalkeeper.
That goal wiped out all Ballyvarley’s pre-match nerves and with James McGrath adding a point just seconds later, the Reds ascendancy in this game was firmly established.
John O’Kane pulled two points back for Warrenpoint as they tried to recover from that early body blow but, once Niall Higgins put the shackles on the sea-siders danger-man, the writing was on the wall and they failed to score for the rest of the half.
Michael McKay fired over another point from wide on the left before Paul O’Neill converted three long-range frees and it really should have been so much more as Ballyvarley poured forward in that opening period.
Tony Hegarty(2) and Thomas Lennon eased Ballyvarley into a significant nine point interval lead with three great points from play.
Warrenpoint struck with a scrambled goal from Christopher Cole. Two further points from the opposition reduced Ballyvarley’s lead to just four points.
A free from Paul O’Neill gave the Reds some welcome respite from the Warrenpoint challenge but Patrick Mackin burst into life midway through the half with four telling runs and four well-taken points before turning provider and setting up another stunning point for Niall Savage.
Warrenpoint did tag on another goal and two points but with midfielder Paul O’Neill falling back to act as sweeper, the Reds victory was never in any danger and further scores from O’Neill and Conor McClorey reflected a strong finish by the locals to cement an excellent seven point championship victory.
The scene is now set for a mouth-watering quarter-final tie with championship favourites and unbeaten league leaders, Newry Shamrocks - possibly in Ballela.