Iorras Aontaithe 1
Ballymun United 2
(After Extra Time )
The dream finally died on Sunday after 97 minutes in Milebush for Iorras Aontaithe when David Keane headed the ball back across the face of Shane Nallen's goal into the path of his strike partner Barry Kavanagh who headed the ball downwards and past the disparaging dive of Shane Nallen. The adventure which had taken them from Carnenash to Limerick, Cork and back to Mayo through six nerve racking rounds of football came to it's zenith for the men from north Mayo in the form of the Dubliners from the north of the city.
There can be and will be no complaints from the Iorras men who defended heroically for long periods of the second half where the looked for long periods as they were going to be over run by the slick passing and movement of the Ballymun midfield and their strike pair of Kavanagh and Keane who were superb all day. Iorras gave their all in the home of Mayo football, but it just wasn't to be, they even had a chance to steal the win near the end of normal time. After soaking up 35 minutes of pressure from Ballymun, Shane Nallen launched a free from deep in his own half, the ball bounced around the penalty area before it fell to Pat Barrett at the edge of the area. The Iorras winger lined up the shot, which took a deflection on the way through, the ball spun into the path of Mick Togher who was following up up like any good striker would and he was able to control the ball and direct his shot under the body of Karl Donnelly in the Ballymun goal but the width of the post denied Togher writing his name into the history books. If the goal had gone in at that time, it would have taken the stuffing out of the Ballymun challenge, they had dominated the play for most of the second half, but failed to find the penetration they needed when it mattered with Richard O'Brien and Keith Murray marshaling the Iorras back-line expertly throughout.
The scene for the encounter was set before either side took to the field, with both sets of supporters adding plenty of colour and support before and during the game. Ballymun were first to threaten early on in the contest, Barry Kavanagh lined up a free just to the left of the penalty area, he lined up a shot which flew to the to the right corner of the goal only for Shane Nallen to get down to his left and parry the ball away. Both sides prodded and poked each other for the opening ten minutes with Iorras trying to get the ball quickly into the Ballymun danger area and try and pressurize their defense, while Ballymun tried to keep the ball moving quickly on the deck and looking to slip in the decisive pass. The first goal came on 11 minutes and from a piece of skill from Ballymun striker David Keane. Peter O'Reilly won the ball in midfield and played in Keane on the right hand edge of the penalty area, Keane skipped past one challenge and surprised Nallen in the Iorras goal by hitting it early with his left foot on the run, powering the shot high into the top corner of the net on the near side to the delight of the vocal Ballymun support who had made the trip down for the game.
Iorras took some time to get over going behind and Ballymun looked to kill off the game with a second goal, Barry Kavanagh lifted the ball into the penalty area over the Iorras rearguard where Keane was making a break into the Ballymun number nine allowed the ball to bounce before pulling the trigger but Nallen was equal to the effort and parried the ball before collecting it at the second time of asking. That chance snapped Iorras back into life and a Brendan Nallen cross to the back post had Donnelly scrambling across his line to claw the ball away for a corner, from the corner the ball feel to Nallen's feet but he could only pull his shot wide of the post on the near side. Seven minutes before the break, Iorras were pulled the game level in spectacular style. The north Mayo men won a free 40 yards out on the right hand side close to the touch line, Jonathan Donoghue lined up the ball and looked to fizz it into the area at pace for someone to attack, Donoghue let fly but the ball had too much pace for anyone to get on the end off and it fly straight into the top corner of the net, sending the huge Iorras support which made the trip to Castlebar into delirium.
Just after the turn around Ballymun came close to grabbing their second goal from a free, Paul Doolan who was dangerous from set plays all day long, lined the ball up 35 yards from goal. Doolan struck the ball with pace around the wall, the size five was making a beeline for the bottom left hand corner of the net, but Shane Nallen showed his class by throwing himself across the goal to put it around the post for a corner. It was back's against the wall time from now on until Togher's effort for Iorras, Ballymun kept trying to find the killer pass to break Iorras's resolve but the Iorras back four held firm.
Ballymun's goal in extra time, saw Iorras shift their shape to go 3-4-3 as they desperately tried to fined the equalizing score, right at the death right at the death a Brendan Nallen corner caused consternation in the Ballymun box where every player on the field had converged but Iorras failed to get a head on the ball and the game was up for the gallant men from the Barony.
Iorras Aontaithe: Shane Nallen; Liam Donoghue, Henry Gaughan, David Reilly, Niall Geraghty; Pat Barrett, Anthony Mills, Brendan Nallen, Jonathan Donoghue; Stephen Carolan, Mick Togher. Subs: Eric Reilly for Brendan Nallen (88 mins ), Gareth O'Malley for Liam Donoghue (100 mins ), Michael Meenaghan for Mick Togher (100 mins )
Ballymun United: Karl Donnelly; Paul Doolan, Christopher Sheridan, Keith Murray, Richard O'Brien; Peter O'Reilly, Liam Byrne, David McDonnell, Robert Keeley; Barry Kavanagh, David Keane. Subs: Jamie Gilbert for Liam Byrne (59 mins ), John Carroll for Robert Keeley (102 mins ), Darren Doyle for David Keane (108 mins )
Referee: Ray Flynn (Sligo )