A minute into injury time, the unthinkable only a couple of minutes before nearly happened. With 13 minutes left when Brian Ruttledge kicked Knockmore's final score of the game and put his side nine points clear and the north Mayo men looked home and hosed. But, championship football is a strange animal and you can't afford to switch off as Knockmore nearly found out on Saturday evening. Somehow Ballaghaderreen had found a fight in them that looked to be long gone when Colm Donnellan crashed home Knockmore's second goal after a move that saw half a dozen Knockmore men stream through on goal from midfield with no one tracking them and the white flag of surrender all but raised.
But a goal can change a game in an instant as this contest proved. With 11 minutes left Andy Moran cracked home a goal to give his side hope, then a minute later he found space to hit another effort at goal which took a deflection before nesting in the corner to leave the score 2-9 to 2-6 in the north Mayo men's favour, but the game now firmly in the balance. David Kilcullen kicked over a 45 to cut the gap to two points with a minute left in normal time. Then Barry Regan saw an effort come off the post and drift wide, from the kick out Knockmore custodian Niall Canvan tried to find one of his men with a short kick out. Andy Moran nipped in claimed the ball and bore down on goal, his effort was on target but to close to a relieved Canavan who was able to save the ball and the game for Knockmore from an embracing collapse.
Up to the moment that Moran grabbed his first goal, Knockmore were looking very good, with Aidan Kilcoyne in fantastic form for his side. He had a hand in both goals and kicked five points for his side, three of them inside four minutes near the tail of the first half. The first goal of the game came nine minutes in when Kilcoyne cut along the end-line and fisted the ball across the face of the goal for Jarlath O'Hora to finish to the net. That score leveled the game up after Ballagh' had gone into an early three point lead with scores from Moran, Barry Solan and Regan.
Knockmore went in leading 1-4 to 0-5 at the break thanks to the three aforementioned Kilcoyne points and a Kieran Langan effort. Peter Kelly and Barry Kelly got the last two points for Ballagh' before the end of the half.
Gavin Conway and Kilcoyne swapped points early in the second half before Knockmore started to stretch their legs and and kicked 1-4 with out reply until the 19th minute. Kilcoyne hit his fifth point and Kevin O'Neill chipped in with a point and Ruttledge with two along with Donnelan's goal looked to have the outcome sealed. But there were plenty of twists and turns left in this game.
Knockmore: N Canavan; G Higgins, S McHale, K Langan (0-1 ), K McLoughlin, C Donnellan (1-0 ), T Howley; A Keane, S Sweeney; D Munnelly, J Brogan, J O'Hora (1-0 ); K O'Neill (0-1, 1f ), J Ruddy, A Kilcoyne (0-5, 2f ). Subs: B Ruttledge (0-2 ), B Gibbons, D Sweeney
Ballagh': O Flanagan; K Rodgers, P Rodgers, T Regan; D Drake, D Kilcullen (0-1, 1 45' ), S Drake; J Kilcullen, B Kelly (0-1 ); B Solan (0-1, 1f ), G Conway (0-1 ), A Moran (2-1 ); C Doohan, B Regan, (0-1, 1f ) P Kelly (0-1 ). Subs: G Conway, R McGrath,
Ref: K Connelly (Hollymount/ Carramore )