DERRY GAA: Ballerin shock Drumsurn to make Intermediate last eight

Ballerins Damian Cassidy (left) bears down on Drumsurns Aaron Butcher in Celtic Park on Sunday afternoon last. DER3317GS010
Ballerins Damian Cassidy (left) bears down on Drumsurns Aaron Butcher in Celtic Park on Sunday afternoon last. DER3317GS010

Small & Hyland Intermediate Football Championship

Ballerin 2-08, Drumsurn 1-09

Drumsurns Pearse McNickle battles his way through Ballerins defence in Celtic Park on Sunday afternoon last. DER3317GS006

Drumsurns Pearse McNickle battles his way through Ballerins defence in Celtic Park on Sunday afternoon last. DER3317GS006

Ballerin burst into the Intermediate Championship Quarter-finals with an fast flowing display that had simply too much energy for a Drumsurn team who failed to build on a dream start in Celtic Park on Sunday.

There were only one minute and 31 seconds on the clock when Pearse McNickle out-muscled Antoin Bradley for the long ball in which he broke down. Ciaran Mullan was supporting and managed to poke it back toward the full forward who fired a low finish into the Ballerin net for the game's first score.

It was an ominous sign but Ballerin didn't blink.

Instead they settled into a running game that Drumsurn struggled to keep pace with as half-back Shane Ferris in particular excelled in the wide open spaces of the Celtic Park pitch.

Callum Bradley was the Sarsfields sweeper but the game-plan dictated he was never lonely as Mark Ferris and Stephen and Bobby Mullan joined in to act as the first line of defence but also - and more importantly - the springboard for almost every Ballerin defence.

Of course it helps when you have a forward as reliable as Gary Keane and the big No. 14 was on the end of more than a few of his team's lightning quick breaks to finish with a personal tally of 1-06.

A Keane free got Ballerin off and chasing that early McNickle goal but they didn't have long to wait to pass Drumsurn's tally and once in front they were never caught.

It was only eight minutes after that opening goal, and a sign of things to come, as Ballerin countered. Shane McIntyre got himself on the end of the move and picked out the deep run of Paul Ferris who produced a lovely low finish to put Ballerin one point up.

And it was about to get even better.

Drumsurn were struggling to stifle the Ballerin running game and two minutes later another swift attack ended with Keane slamming home his team's second goal in off the underside of the crossbar for a 2-01 to 1-00 lead with only 11 minutes gone.

Ciaran Mullan stemmed the flow with a fisted point and then a lovely point off the inside of the post but the plentiful service Keane was getting for Ballerin was in stark contrast to the scraps Mullan and McNickle was being made to fight for.

Another Keane point left a goal between them but Drumsurn's prospects were improved when Ballerin midfielder Jarlath Mooney was black carded for a 25th minute challenge on Cahir Mullan.

Yet one black card was quickly followed by another and this time it was Drumsurn's turn to suffer. Once again the problem stemmed from losing possession on the Ballerin 45m line.

Mark Ferris grabbed the loose ball and sprinted off into the wide open spaces, pursued by Ruairi Rafferty. Ferris was flying and when he stepped inside his pursuer, he was sent flying and the inevitable black card was produced, even if Ferris still felt it necessary to wave an imaginary card in the referee's face to secure it.

The excellent Christopher Harbinson and Ryan Deighan (free) swapped points as an eventful half finished with Ballerin leading 2-03 to 1-03.

The second half was as fast moving as the first and Ballerin deserve credit for managing the physical challenge posed by Drumsurn. Two early points from Keane gave them vital breathing space and they needed it.

That brace was answered by Ciaran Mullan and Harbinson but, again, Keane was able to respond and keep the lead at five points.

Both sides had goal chances and both keepers made excellent saves - Steven Harbinson from Paul Ferris and Paul Keane from Ciaran Mullan as Drumurn became increasingly desperate in the knowledge that only a goal was going to close the gap.

It never arrived and Ballerin deservedly progressed. If they produce this type energetic display no one will enjoy playing them in the last eight.

Drumsurn: Steven Harbinson; Dane Mullan, Eoin Ferris, Daniel McNicholl; Christopher Harbinson (0-3), Oran Rafferty, Anthony McLaughlin; Cahir Mullan (0-1), Michael Mullan; Ryan Mullan, Martin Mullan, Aaron Butcher; Ruairi Rafferty, Pearse McNickle (1-0), Ciaran Mullan (0-4).

(Subs) Daryl Mullan for A Butcher (inj), 16mins; Sean Butcher for R Rafferty (Black Card) 26mins; Ryan Twist (0-1) for S Butcher (inj), 30mins; Harry Foster for M Mullan, 50mins;

Ballerin: Paul Keane; Mark Ferris, Antoin Bradley, Shane Ferris; Bobby Mullan, Callum Bradley, Stephen Mullan; Jarlath Mooney, Jarlath Bradley; Paul Ferris (1-1, Liam Brown, Damian Cassidy; Ryan Deighan (0-1, 1f), Gary Keane (1-6, 2f), Shane McIntyre.

(Subs) Willie McGilligan for J Mooney (Black Card) 26mins; Shea Doherty for S Mullan, 55mins; Daniel Walton for A Bradley (inj), 56mins.; Shea Ferris for R Deighan, 60mins;

Referee: Sean McGuigan