Balla breeze into final with solid second half showing

GAA: Mayo JFC; Balla 0-17 Killala 0-9

A strong second half showing by Balla sent them back into the Mayo GAA Junior Football Championship final in a few weeks time.

Pat Fallon’s side came good in the final half-an-hour after being held to parity by Killala at the break, with the teams going in level at seven points each at the short whistle.

The first half was littered with wides with the two sides kicking 15 between them in the opening half an hour. Balla looked to get quick ball into their forward line, while Killala were slow an patient in their build up and used David Lowther as a target man on the edge for the square.

When it came to the crunch in the second half - Balla smothered the Killala game plan in the middle of the field and with having so many men back in defence it left the north Mayo men with little options - to do anything with it and Balla turned them numerous times.

Pointed frees from Colm Murphy and Val Roughneen had Pat Fallon’s men in front by two after five minutes, but Declan O’Dea’s men had the game level by the tenth minute through points from Lowther and Matthew Keane.

Keane edged his side in front for the first time 12 minutes in from play after some strong running by Brian Ferguson set him up.

That lead lasted less than three minutes with Murphy landing his second point fo the day from a placid ball before an quarter of an hour had elapsed.

The sides traded points again not long after with Keane landing one from play after a slow an patient build up along the Balla 45m line, before the Killala number 15 was found in space closer into goal.

Aaron Walsh got in on the act for Balla after a quick free set his side away in the middle of the park less than a minute later and it was levelled up at four points each.

Roughneen hammered over a point from play to put Balla one clear, but two well taken scores from Lowther and Alex Quinn gave Declan O’Dea’s men a 0-6 to 0-5 lead with ten minutes to go before the break.

Gary McHale and Lowther traded points over the next few minutes, before the final scoring act of the half fell to McHale who made no mistake with a neat finish to level it up at seven points each at the break.

Despite going toe-to-toe with their opponents in the first half, Killala needed to make sure that they didn’t let Balla get a run on them early in the second as their style of play was not exactly suited to having to chase a game.

But that is exactly what happed as Balla kicked four unanswered points early in the second half and outscored their opponents by 0-10 to 0-2 over the closing half an hour.

A brace of Connor Walsh scores got things moving, that was followed by points from Aaron Walsh and Roughneen before Killala registered their first white flag of the second half through a Keane free.

Balla added on four more unanswered points from with Roughneen kicking three of them and the other coming from McHale to lead 0-14 to 0-8 after 52 minutes.

Killala needed a goal to get back into the game and they almost got their chance when Keane looked to be winning the race between himself and Ben Freyne and Matthew Flanagan to the ball with the Balla goal there waiting to be shot at.

But his progress was halted illegally by Fryene who picked up a yellow card for his troubles and in the aftermath of the foul, Killala’s Kevin Walsh was shown a straight red card for an off the ball incident that left a Balla defender on the ground.

When all was said and done the initial free into Killala was converted by Keane, but their goose had now well and truly been cooked as they had to chase the game down to 14 players and with time against them.

Balla kept the pressure up down the home straight and tagged on two more points from McHale to see themselves home with nine points to spare.

But they knowing getting the final is one thing having been there before in recent years, but it will mean nothing if they do not get over Achill in the decider in MacHale Park in a few weeks.

Scores

Killala: M Keane (0-5, 3f ), D Lowther (0-2 ), A Quinn (0-2 )

Balla: V Roughneen (0-5, 3f ), A Walsh (0-4 ), G McHale (0-4, 1f ) C Walsh (0-2 ), C Murphy (0-2, 2f ),

Killala: D Walsh; J Maughan, K Dooher, R McGuire; M Barrett, K Walsh, A Murphy; D Lawlor, B Ferguson; C O’Dea, A Quinn, D Herbert; C Gilvarry, D Lowther, M Keane. Subs: K McLoughlin, N Maheady,

Balla: M Flanagan; S Burke, C Brennan, T Walsh; C Kilkenny, G Flanagan, T Reynods; S Conway, A Walsh; S Morrissey, B Freyne, V Roughneen; C Murphy, C Walsh, G McHale. Subs: J Harte, P McLoughlin, M Fitzpatrick, D Sweeney

Ref: C Burke

Achill see off Kilmeena to book their final spot

In the second semi-final which took place in MacHale Park on Sunday afternoon Achill booked their spot in the decider with a six point win over Kilmeena. 

The islanders led 1-9 to 0-6 at the break, before running out 2-14 to 0-14 winners in the end against their fellow West Mayo men. Johnathan Fadian and Michael D McNamara got the goals for the island men on their way to victory. 

Junior B and C finalists also confirmed

The semi-finals in the Mayo GAA Junior B and C championships also took place over the weekend. The B final will be contested between Kiltimagh and Westport after they saw off Moygownagh and Claremorris respectively in their semi-finals. In the C championship Louisburgh made it into the final after they beat Burrishoole 1-8 to 0-8 and they will take on Parke-Keelogues-Crimlin who beat Belmullet 2-8 to 0-12. 

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