Coming off the back of a last gasp win over Westport United in the Elverys Sports Super League, Ballina Town were brought crashing back down to earth in Celtic Park on Wednesday night. Brendan Kenny’s men came to Castlebar looking to pick up their first trophy of the season against Salthill Devon, but within 10 seconds that plan had been ripped up by the Galway men. Before anyone could even settle into the game, the side from Drum had the ball in the back of Kieran O’Malley’s net. Chipran Straut swung the ball into Michael Gilmore who hit a snap shot from the right hand side of the penalty box. His effort stung the hands of O’Malley who was not able to hold on to the ball, it fell into the path of Victor Collins who finished it to the back of the net. Salthill were up and running and there was barely 10 seconds gone on the clock.
Whatever about the qualities of the Super League, Ballina Town were given a footballing lesson in Celtic Park on Wednesday night as Salthill ran riot from the first whistle until the last. Devon, who have a first division League of Ireland side, used the ball better than Ballina and kept the pressure up from start to finish.
For Ballina, Brendan Lavelle put in a tireless shift and was often the only out ball for his side as Salthill closed down the Ballina defence at speed with a high pressure performance that completely unsettled the Super League champions rearguard.
The eventual winners were three goals to the good at the break, with Victor Collins grabbing his second goal on 18 minutes when he connected with a diving header from close range. Ten minutes later Cian McBride finished the ball to the back of the net from close range after a Collins’ effort was half blocked.
The second half saw Kenny’s side put in a better performance and they held Devon attack at bay for 23 minutes in the second half, until Michael Gilmore was able to finish the ball past O’Malley from close range. With the game done and dusted Ballina kept plugging away looking for conciliation goal, which left them more exposed at the back and Devon ran in three more goals before the final whistle.
Kenny’s men will look to pick up the pieces on Sunday when they travel to Carnenash in their penultimate Super League game.
Ballina Town: K O’Malley; D Helly, D O’Hara, T O’Connor, M McCarron; B Giblin, J Mountney, R Kenny, E Gorman, B Lavelle, P Devers. Subs: D Gorman for J Mountney (80 mins ), C Giblin for E Gorman (80 mins ), D O’Connor for P Devers (80 mins )
Salthill Devon: A Flaherty; J Whelan, S Murphy, P Quinlin, B Geraghty; L McConnell, C Straut, C McBride, D Horgan; V Collins, M Gilmore. Subs: M Kennedy for D Horgan (58 mins ), G Burke for C McBride (68 mins ), M Manarek for M Gilmore.
Ref: J Darmody (Roscommon and District League ).