Ringsend Rovers vs Ballybrack FC at Ringsend Park: Match Report

Ringsend in green and white, Ballybrack in yellow and black. For most of the game the ball seemed to hang in the air as both teams tried to judge where it would land.

Ringsend Rovers 2 Ballybrack FC 3

Leinster Senior League (LSL Saturday Major 1C)

Going into this game Ballybrack FC had been probably the most talked about team all season in all of Ireland, albeit for the wrong reasons. That’s not to say Ballybrack’s style of football is not worth talking about, but it was their antics off the pitch at the start of the season is what made headlines. In November of last year Ballybrack FC told LSL officials that they were unable to play Arklow Town because they were in mourning after their winger Fernando LaFeunte Saiz had been killed in a road accident. The statement was false, Fernando was alive and well and having the craic down in Galway where he had relocated a month ago. Ballybrack FC were deducted 6 points by LSL and their manager relieved of his duties. Which made today’s game all that more significant. Despite that setback Ballybrack FC were still in contention to win the league and so were Rovers. Rovers just needed a win over Ballybrack to claim the title but Ballybrack needed the Finglas v Ballyfermot game to be a draw or loss for Finglas as they were even on points but Finglas were ahead on goal difference.

With strong gusts of easterly blowing winds from what remained of Storm Hannah this game went ahead anyway; it was the last game of the season and a title contender. The last time these two met in Loughlinstown Ballybrack beat them 4-0 but today Rovers had the advantage of home support bunched up along the sidelines pushing and shoving for space. But Ballybrack’s fans travelled for this game and they were in high spirits laughing throughout the game and came across as more of a travelling comedy troupe than football enthusiasts.

The wind played a stormer for Rovers in the first half helping long balls down Ballybrack’s half and pushing back any of Ballybrack’s attempts to go forward. Defending looked easy for Rovers stalwart Bob Alwright at centre half standing at least a foot over any of Ballybrack’s player, Bob headed back anything Ballybrack threw at them.

Rovers took the lead by a clever move which saw Sean McCabe free on goal to score Rovers first and then it was Marc Murphy who scored their second from inside the box. Despite Ballybrack’s keeper being able to find a port in the storm for the ball to rise high up the field it would drop nicely for the Rovers defenders and it seemed Ballybrack were peeing against the wind for the first half.

Dillon Barnes for Rovers on the left wing was not letting anything past him and went gung-ho into a lot of the challenges coming out the better for most of them. But with a few minutes left in the first half Ballybrack had moved up the wing and Barnes pushed over their winger to give Ballybrack a free-kick. The free was whipped in giving Rovers Keeper Aaron Boyne trouble who collided with a Ballybrack player. The ball went loose for it only to end up at Paul Metcalfe’s feet for an easy tap-in to an empty goal. Rovers 2 Ballybrack 1.

The second half started just like the first, the wind wouldn’t let up and either would Ballybrack. They were awarded a penalty not long into this half and it was struck home by Shane Heffernan to make it level. Ringsend were struggling at the back and had men pushing forward but leaving it open if Ballybrack countered and which they did. They scored their 3rd goal from inside Rovers box executed clinically by Shane Heffernan. Rovers had calls for a penalty themselves when Marc Murphy was brought down by the Ballybrack’s keeper. It looked like a definite penalty from everyone on the sideline but not from the referee’s viewpoint.

With Ballybrack now in a one goal lead, shouts from the interim manager Keith Mahon urged another from them. But the messages weren’t getting across to the players who seemed to waste the ball. This allowed Rovers a couple of chances but the wind’s effect on the ball was twisting and turning the players not giving them a chance to shoot. It was Ballybrack who had the next chance to score when the ball fell to Jack Farrell facing an open goal no keeper to beat and blasted it over the bar. The crowd were in hysterics. Poor Jack. Not many get over that and if he does well more power to him but not so much in front of goal next time Jack.

The game finished 3-2 to Ballybrack. NewsFour caught up with Ballybrack’s coach Keith Mahon at the end and asked for his thoughts on the season.

“Lookit! As it is we could have had it wrapped up only for the point deduction but the spirit that we’ve shown coming from the deduction that we got at Christmas time to get back into this, I’m delighted with the work. Few of these lads could have jumped ship and went somewhere else with what had happened buy they didn’t they hung on” said Keith.

Asked on the change in management Keith said “I was the assistant manager at the time and the chap that was managing, I don’t want to give his name, but he is one of the reasons this team is together. I’m only standing in to help him out or to take it over to keep these lads going, but he is the main reason. He is with the club since they were kids, he is big part of us getting here”

NewsFour caught up with Director of Football at Ringsend Rovers Jasper White on his thoughts of today, the season and the road ahead, “Well the lads fell short today for the league title against a strong Ballybrack team. At the start of the season promotion was the aim and although that was confirmed two weeks ago with a great 2-1 win away to Francis the club feel dejected that we got so close to winning a league title for the first time in 12 years. Our manager Anthony Owens has committed himself to the club for the foreseeable future and we hope this fantastic squad of players will join us next season to go one better”, Jasper said.

Finglas beat Ballyfermot 12-0 in their game with a comfortable win which saw them top the league, Ballybrack second and Rovers third.

By Paul Carton

Online editor