St Peters were knocked out of the Connacht Cup in the third round when Ballina Town grabbed a last gasp equaliser and then struck for the winner in extra time. The Saints had taken the lead in the first half through Mark Sherlock but the visitors levelled matters four minutes into stoppage time. Substitute Benny Lavelle then proved to be the Mayo team’s hero at DPD Park last Sunday when he raced onto a long ball to chip over goalkeeper Eoin Hardiman for the winner.
David Donohoe and Mick Lee returned for the hosts who were quickly on the attack against the reigning Mayo League champions. The Saints were on top for much of the opening half but worryingly had just one goal as reward for all their dominance. A second goal would have settled the tie but, with such a slender lead, Padraig Moran’s men were always vulnerable.
Daragh Concannon had the first chance after just three minutes firing over while two corner kicks kept up the home pressure. David O’Mahoney had the first Ballina chance shooting wide. Lee and Sherlock had further chances for the hosts but the deadlock was finally broken after 35 minutes. Donohoe sent in a right wing cross to the near post where Sherlock finished from close range.
Hardiman then ensured the lead would be carried to the break when pushing Jamie Cawley’s shot behind. Three further corner kicks were earned by the Saints with Sherlock and Gary Stephens coming close to increasing the lead. Ballina survived though and were a changed team when play resumed in the second half.
Now it was the visitors turn to be on the offensive as the Saints struggled to continue their good work. The warning signs were soon flashing when O’Mahoney headed a corner kick against the post. Hardiman kept the visitors at bay as he parried a free kick. The Saints last chance again fell to Sherlock but he headed over with 20 minutes remaining. The strikers earlier goal looked like proving sufficient though as full time approached.
Edwards had a couple of chances to equalise but Hardiman was proving difficult to beat. There was a late twist when Ballina finally levelled matters in the fourth minute of stoppage time. A free kick was conceded and the delivery from Edwards was headed to the net by Duane Helly. The home team’s failure to run down the clock proving costly with extra time now needed to settle the tie.
Having grabbed a late equaliser, the impetus was now with Ballina as the Saints struggled to respond. Jason Nugent had the only chance in the first period but the Saints sub fired over. The Mayo double winners then broke home hearts when they struck for the winning goal four minutes into the second period. Substitute Lavelle was the Town hero when flicking the ball over the advancing keeper to an unguarded net. There was no response from the Saints as another cup win was cruelly snatched from them.