Ballycastle survived a late scare from Kilmeena to run out deserving five point winners over the west Mayo men and book their place in the Mayo Junior Football Championship Final on Saturday night.
Fergal Forde opened the scoring eight minutes in after a he was found 35 meters out from goal by a quick free by Micheal Forde. He doubled his sides lead from a placed ball five minutes later and the north Mayo men went three clear 30 seconds later when Shane Healy drove over a bomb from the resulting kick-out.
Darragh Keaveney got Kilmeena’s first score of the day on the quarter of an hour mark when he tapped over a close range free after Chris Heanue was fouled inside the D. Shane Healy pushed the north Mayo men three in front once more with a brilliantly taken free on 19 minutes and almost straight away they should have got a goal when Micheal Forde burst through, but Andrew Grealis pulled off a brilliant save getting down low to his left to keep it out.
Forde made amends three minutes later with a well taken score to leave it 0-5 to 0-1 after 22 minutes. Chris Heanue brought the gap back to three with a neatly taken score five minutes before the break. Three minutes later Niall Ryan hit the point of the half with a brilliantly taken left-footed effort on the run form the stand side of the field. Shane Healy kicked his third point for the north Mayo men with a nicely finished score from close range just as the clock slipped past 30 minutes and he followed that up before the short whistle with two more points from placed balls, his later one from just outside the 45m line was a very impressive score to send his team in leading by 0-8 to 0-3.
Two minutes after the restart, Kilmeena almost hit the back of the net when long range free dropped short and Niall Duffy got a leg to the ball only to see Paul Whelan clear it off the line. Disaster struck for the West Mayo men a minute later when a Healy free also dropped short and both Andrew Grealis and Liam Heanue went for the ball but could only spill into the path of Shane Forde who palmed it home from close range to put Ballycastle into a 1-8 to 0-3 lead and in a commanding position to see it home. Fergal Forde pushed the lead out to nine not long after tapping over on the run.
Sean Ryder who came in at the break for Kilmeena kicked their first score of the second half 11 minutes in to give his side some hope of pulling the lead back, but it was going to take something special for that to happen and quick. But it was Ballycastle who hit the next score five minutes later with Fergal Forde kicking his fourth point of the day from a placed ball. A minute later the same man launched one over from down-town to push is side ten clear with 12 to go. A minute later the pitch was illuminated in the literal sense when the floodlights were switched on as darkness along with the constant misty rain that had been falling since well before throw-in looked like it would engulf the ground.
Six minutes from time Darragh Keaveney kicked his second of the day with a well taken long range free and a minute later Conor Madden’s under hit shot was lost by Jason O’Neill in the Ballycastle goal and left the score 1-11 to 1-5 with five to go. Keaveney cut the gap back to five with a well taken score, then John Reilly clipped on over to leave just four between the sides and had the leaders nervous. With just 30 seconds left in normal time Stephen Staunton hammered one over the bar and the gap was just three points and Kilmeena’s miracle looked like it might be on. But it wasn’t to be as Fergal Forde and Micheal Forde kicked a point each within 30 seconds of each other and seal Ballycastle’s place in the semi-final against Kilmaine.
Ballycastle: F Forde (0-6, 3f ), S Forde (1-0 ), S Healy (0-5, 3f ), M Forde (0-2, 1f ), )
Kilmeena: C Madden (1-0 ) D Keaveney (0-3, 1f ), C Heanue (0-1 ), N Ryan (0-1 ), J Reilly (0-1 ), S Staunton (0-1 )
Ballycastle: J O’Neill; R Tighe, M Sweeney, P Whelan; I McNulty, J Carey, J Tige; M Forde, F Forde; K Healy, S Healy, S Kiely; M Hunt, S Forde, D McDonnell. Subs: D Kelly, D Breslin, S McHale.
Kilmeena: A Grealis; R Mullin, K Hastings, P Keane; J Ryan, N Feehan, D Stenson; S Staunton, L Heanue; C Madden, N Ryan, C Heanue; N Duffy, K Joyce, D Keane. Subs: S Ryder, J Smyth, J Reilly, A Ryan (BC )
Ref: M Daly