Knockmore are back in the Mayo Senior Football Championship final after seeing off their nearest and dearest rivals Ballina Stephenites by four points in MacHale Park on Sunday afternoon.
A stunning start to the game saw Knockmore lay the foundations for this win, where the picked holes in the Ballina defence at their ease with a flowing brand of football, breaking from the back at pace and finding their men inside the cover.
Kevin McLoughlin kicked three first half points and was a constant pain in the side of Ballina - poking holes and breaking through their cover with regularity, while Peter Naughton was deadly from both play and placed balls.
Knockmore were four to the good inside the first seven minutes with Naughton kicking two of those one from play the other from a free, Pearse Ruttledge kicked one and Kevin McLoughlin got the other and he really could have got a goal having waltzed through the Ballina backline without a player putting a glove on him - but his effort whizzed over David Clarke’s bar.
Simon Leonard struck back with a point for Ballina on eight minutes, but that was quickly cancelled out by another Naughton point for Knockmore.
Sean Regan cut the gap to three points with a pointed mark on the ten minute mark - but the gap was back out to four thanks to another Naughton free a minute later.
Not long after Knockmore should have got in for a goal when Aiden Orme was played in by Naughton, but David Clarke did what has has been doing for years and spend himself big to make a fine save.
Orme did make up for it with a point not long after to send his side in leading 0-7 to 0-2 at the first water break, before that stoppage Ballina also lost full back Chris Hunt to injury.
We're heading to the final: Sean Ruttledge and Connell Dempsey celebrate after the full time whiste. Photo: Sportsfile
The gap was out to six points after the resumption thanks to another fine McLoughlin score after he cut through the middle and Naughton had a goal ruled out for a square ball that could have killed the game six minutes before the short whistle.
Ballina responded through a Simon Leonard point - but Knockmore kept the foot down and points from Naughton, McLoughlin and Conor Flynn had them 0-11 to 0-3 up with 29 minutes on the clock.
Ballina did get the las two scores of the half through a Evan Regan brace one from a free and the other from a 45 to cut the gap to six at half-time but it was going to be a long way back for Enda Gilvarry’s men.
That gap was pushed further out by a Naughton free just after the resumption and things were looking in serious bother for the Stephenites. Conor McStay and Luke Doherty hit quick fire points for their side to eat into the lead, but just as they looked to be getting some momentum Keith Ruttledge and Naughton replied in kind to keep it a seven point game.
Evan Regan cut the difference down to six with a free after Padraig O’Hora was fouled on the change close in - straight from the kick-out of that score Ballina had a great chance to hit the back of the net when Luke Doherty intercepted a short kick-out from Colm Reape but he pushed his effort the far side of the post.
Conor McStay pointed before the war break to cut the gap to five and leave his side still in with a shout heading into the final lap.
Jack Iriwn pointed from play, then Evan Regan tapped over a mark and it was a three point game, with ten minutes left and it looked like it was all to play-for - but Ballina were dealt a hammer blow when Mikey Murray was shown a black card on 51 minutes effectively ruling him out for the rest of the contest.
Aiden Orme pointed after some good build up play involving Conell Dempsey to put Knockmore 0-15 to 0-11 up, Frank Irwin responded for Ballina before Orme and McStay traded scores to leave just a goal in it, but the final word was left to Orme who sealed his sides victory with a well taken score from close range three minutes into injury time and send Knockmore into the final against Breaffy in two weeks time.
Ballina Stephenites: E Regan (0-4, 2f, 1 45, 1 m ), S Leonard (0-3, 1f ), C McStay (0-2 ), L Doherty (0-1 ), J Irwin (0-1 ), S Regan (0-1, 1m ), F Irwin (0-1 )
Knockmore: P Naughton (0-7, 5f ), A Orme (0-4, 1f ), K McLoughlin (0-3 ), K Ruttledge (0-1 ), P Ruttledge (0-1 ), C Flynn (0-1 )
Ballina Stephenites: D Clarke; S Mullins, C Hunt, T Doherty; D O’Mahony, P O’Hora, D Tighe; J Irwin, M Murray; L Doherty, K Tighe, S Regan; C McStay, E Regan, S Leonard.
Subs: J Doherty, K Newell, C Sweeney, F Irwin, C Tracey
Knockmore: C Reape; S Holmes, D McHale, A Stadler; N Armstrong, K King, C Flynn; K McLoughlin, S McHale; P Ruttledge, D McHale, C Dempsey; P Naughton, A Orme, K Ruttledge.
Subs: M Parke, K Langan, S Ruttledge