Ballina Stephenites 1-11
Both sides will have to do battle again next Saturday evening for the last remaining place in this years Treanlaur Mayo Senior Football Championship semi-finals after a last gasp point from Matthew Conroy saw Breaffy come out of the game with a deserved draw in McHale Park on Saturday night. Both sides will feel that they could have both won and lost this game over the 60 minutes of action.
The Stephintes have put together a side full of experience with some splashes of youth with both youngsters Austin O'Toole and Evan Regan to the fore for them in this contest, while Breaffy have been a coming team for the past few years and were hungry to get into the last four for the first time in the clubs history.
Ballina went in at the break leading by 1-7 to 0-6 and by the third minute of the second half they were six points clear and the game was there for the taking for them. But Breaffy to their credit battled back manufully and leveled the game up with eight minutes to go and even when Ballina pushed two points back in front with time almost up thanks to points from Regan and the vetran Paul McGarry who had come on as a sub, they held their nerve and found the two points they needed to give themselves a second bite at the cherry.
The opening quarter of an hour of the game was tit for tat affair with the Stephenites leading by 0-3 to 0-2. Evan Regan who gave Colm Jordan plenty of headaches over the hour kicked the first point inside four minutes, Liam Brady and Patrick McHale also added on scores with Aidan O'Shea and Alan Durcan respoding for Breaffy. Ballina pushed three points clear thanks to more scores from Regan and McHale, before David Gavin broke out defence and kicked Breaffy's third point on 19 minutes. With five minutes left in the half, Aidan O'Shea had to be replaced by blood sub Colum Lyons after an incident that left a bad gash under O'Shea's eye. The inter county man did come back on shortly afterwards and played a key role in Breaffy's fight back at the end. While O'Shea was off the field, Evan Regan really put his mark on the game. First he kicked his third point of the half from a free and only seconds later he hit the only goal of the game. Picking up the ball on the right hand side he broke away from cover and drove the ball low to the right hand corner, Robert Hennelly saved the ball well but could only push it into the path of Regan who kept his run going and he smashed it to the net. Regan then added another point to his total from a free to put Ballina up by 1-7 to 0-3 as the half ticked into injury time.
But Breaffy weren't going to give up easy, Alan Durcan pointed from a free then Matthew Conroy hit a great score from the wing and Colum Lyons who had at this stage come on as a full sub for Tommy Canavan kicked a point from a free to narrow the gap to four at the break.
Ballina were the first to draw blood in the second half with that man Regan again to the fore kicking the opening score of the half, it was quickly followed by an effort from Brian Ruane to put six between the sides as the game looked to be slipping from Breaffy. Colum Lyons had a goal chance for Breaffy six minutes into the half when he chased down a ball that was going wide, got in behind the cover and arrowed a shot for the net. Ballina manager John Healy who had to play in goal for the game because of an injury to David Clarke pulled off a smart save and when Lyons got a punch on the rebound, Ger Cafferkey was on hand on the line to stop it going in. It really looked like it wasn't going to be Breaffy's day. But they kept going and hit Ballina for six points in a row between the 37th and 52nd minute. Alan Durcan led the charge with three in arow, then Conor O'Shea hit a wonderful score after good work by his brother Aidan. That was followed by a big point from the eldest O'Shea brother Seamus who powered through to drive the ball over the bar only seconds after putting a similar effort wide. That left the gap at only one and it was the youngest of the O'Shea's who leveled the game up with eight minutes to go when he cut the ball over the bar with the outside of his boot from a difficult angle.
That score sparked some life back into a Ballina effort which had faded since the opening of the half. Regan pointed a free after he was hauled down by Colm Jordan just outside the penalty area as Regan was about to be clear on goal. Then with three miuntes on the clock a well worked move saw McGarry put the ball over the bar with what looked like the senisble option at that stage as he could have also taken on the goal chance.
But Breaffy weren't done yet, the experienced heads of Eddie Conroy and Declan Jennings were introduced into the action as they laid seige to the Ballina defence. Alan Durcan cut the gap to a single point as the clock ticked near injury time from close range. Then with time almost up, Breaffy worked the ball down the right wing, Declan Jennings waited until the perfectly exact moment to deliver a delightfully weighted pass into the path of Matthew Conroy. The wing forward could have gone for glory and tried to go for a goal, but he took the right option to just caresses the ball over the bar on the run, ensuring that both sides will have to do it all again this Saturday.
Ballina Stephenites: J Healy; S Melia, G Cafferkey, D O'Mahony; B Ruane (0-1 ), A Tighe, T Doherty; A O'Toole, R McGarrity; G Brady, P Harte, P McHale (0-2 ); E Regan (1-6,4f ), L Brady (0-1 ), S Hughes. Subs: P McGarry (0-1 ), S Kinnevan, E Casey, A Kelly, C Leonard
Breaffy: R Hennelly; K Scahill, D Gavin, C Jordan; G Jennings, B Jordan, M Jennings, S O'Shea, A O'Shea; R Martyn, C O'Shea, M Conroy; P Dravins, T Cannavan, A Durcan. Subs: C Lyons, R Conway, D Jennings, E Conroy