A good start was half the battle for Ballinlough as they returned from their 10-week championship lay-off to score a narrow IFC quarter-final victory over Dunderry at Bohermeen on Saturday evening.
Peadar Byrne was the inspiration for the north Meath men and it was his early goal that stunned Dunderry after four minutes. Dunderry settled with TJ Garry in accurate form and by half-time the gap was 0-5 to 1-5.
Bob Doherty was denied a goal by a fine James Higgins save, but Garry did narrow the deficit. With Robbie Farrell, Benji Smith, Ronan McGuinness and Lorcan Maguire in fine form the Ballinlough defence was resolute.
Ballinlough"s lead fluctuated between two and three points with Anthony Lynch and Ken Rothwell ensuring efforts from Garry were cancelled.
Leading by two points as full-time approached Ballinlough looked nervous, but they held on and even the late dismissals of Dunderry"s Kevin Slattery and Ballinlough"s Derek Muldoon couldn"t dampen what had been an excellent game.
Ballinlough - J O"Higgins; B Smyth, P Muldoon, R Farrell; E O"Reilly, L Maguire, G Smyth; Cian Mallon, S Fagan; J O" Reilly, A Lynch (0-3), P Byrne (1-2); K Devine, K Rothwell (0-3), Colm Mallon. Subs - R McGuinness for G Smyth, D Muldoon for J O"Reilly, P Ryan for Fagan.
Dunderry - J Brady; Darren Callaghan, David Callaghan, K Slattery; C Harte, E Stephens, G Newman; TJ Garry (0-8), J Kelleher; A Coogan, M Garry, A Newman; T Conaty, D Clarke, S Harte. Subs - B Doherty (0-1) for M Garry, I McCormack for Coogan.
Gaeil Colmcille 1-12
Na Fianna 1-10
Na Fianna finally ran out of steam and exited the race for the IFC following a memorable quarter-final clash with Gaeil Colmcille at Athboy on Sunday afternoon.
A slow start and a tired finish were Na Fianna"s downfall, but in between they contributed brilliantly to an exciting game.
Gaeil Colmcille were already three points ahead when Meath minor Harrison Silke pointed for Na Fianna"s.
Gaeil Colmcille responded with a goal and despite an Ollie Lewis point Na Fianna trailed by 0-2 to 1-3 at the break with Justin Carry-Lynch netting for Gaeil Colmcille.
Na Fianna dominated the second-half when a Silke fisted goal reduced the arrears to the minimum.
Each time Na Fianna scored Gaeil Colmcille responded positively and with full-time approaching the Enfield men trailed by a point.
However, Silke forced extra-time with a well-struck free.
In the early stages of the added period Johnny Farrell and Declan Brennan pushed Na Fianna into an unfamiliar lead, but again the Kells men battled back, got their noses in front and managed to stay there as Na Fianna"s challenge faded in the second period of extra-time.
Gaeil Colmcille - D Drew; S Curran, R Flanagan, M Foley; S Reddy, H Barry, B Smith; M Fox, D O"Neill; G Arkins (0-4), M Barrett (0-1), K Reilly (0-1); B Hanlon (0-4), J Carry-Lynch (1-1), S McManus (0-1).
Na Fianna - S Geraghty; D Lyons, C Cosgrave, R Walsh; J Baldwin, D Henrick, J O"Lone; O Lewis (0-2), T Cosgrave; H Silke (1-4), D Bailey, S Griffin; J Hendrick, J Queeney (0-1), J Farrell (0-1). Subs - R McMahon (0-1) for Hendrick, D Brennan (0-1) for Griffin, E Regan for Walsh, D Killoran for O"Lone.
Gary Coyne and Ivor O"Halloran got the all-important goals as Cortown rallied from an 0-4 to 0-9 interval deficit to shade the verdict in this IFC quarter-final at Moynalty on Sunday evening.
Gordon Codd finished with seven points for the winners whose first goal arrived within minutes of the resumption when his penalty hit the post and Coyne finished the rebound to the Syddan net.
The second goal came in the 37th minute when Ivor O"Halloran pounced on a Syddan goalkeeping error and those two incidents were the difference between the sides.
Cortown ≠- J McFadden; P Waters, P Kerrigan, D Coyne; J Casserly, D O"Halloran, J McGearty; G Loughran, J Fagan; M Reilly, I O"Halloran (1-0), C Kerrigan; G Coyne (1-4), B Casserly, G Codd (0-7). Subs - J Reilly for M Reilly, M Casserly for Waters, R Flanagan for McGearty, I Coyne for C Kerrigan.
Syddan - D Sullivan; E Maguire, M Cassidy, S Malone; P Rafferty, T Dillon (0-1), L Halpenny (0-2); P Duff (0-1), S Dillon; I Curran, M Byrne, P Young; P Meade (0-4), C Rowe, T Gilsenan (0-6). Subs - N McGillic for Byrne, F Ross for Curran, G Farrelly (0-1) for Meade.