Ballina Town got their title defence off to a winning start in Attymass on Saturday night thanks to early goal from ace marksman Brendan Lavelle against a tough battling Moy Villa side. The champions made all the running early on in the contest, but were made to sweat at the end as Moy Villa threw everything at them to try and salvage an equaliser at the death.
Stephen Moyles served an early warning of Town's intent when when he was played in down the right after four minutes, but he pulled his effort wide of Patrick Keane's post four minutes in. The Moy Villa goal only survived two minutes more, before it was breached by Ballina.
Lavelle hung on the on the edge of the Moy Villa defensive line and broke through the offside trap down the left hand side and swept the ball under the body of Keane and had the champions off and running.
Ballina were in the ascendancy for the next ten minutes, but they failed to create another clearcut chance with Kevin Landgon, Daniel Moyles and Kevin McCarron standing firm against the red wall who tried to to break them down. Chris Moore had Moy Villa's first effort on the quarter-of-an-hour mark, but he scooped his effort high and over the bar. Ten minutes before the break, Ryan Helly drove the ball over the bar from the edge of the area after a knock-down by Daniel Gorman from a Ballina free crossed into the area. Gorman then pulled another chance wide a minute later. The same player looked to have an easy tap in to the back of the net shortly after. But to all but referee Martin Halligan it looked as if a Moy Villa defender got a last gasp foot on the ball to send it over the end line, with the referee signaling for a goal kick rather than corner.
From the kick-out Moy Villa worked the ball down the left flank and John Casey did well to stand the ball up at the back post towards Chris Moore who was lurking with intent, Ballina's Brendan Giblin was back covering and put the ball out for a corner, under serious pressure from Moore.
Ballina did get the ball in the back of the Moy Villa net once more before half time when a ball over the top by Ryan Helly was chased down by Jamie Cawley and Danny McGinty. In his efforts to get to the ball before the attacker McGinty clipped the ball over the head of his keeper to the net, but to his relief, assistant referee Damien McGrath flagged for offside.
The second half saw both teams have chances early on with Kevin McCarron going close for the hosts and Brendan Lavelle having two near misses, one that came back off the post. Ballina replacement Darragh O'Boyle had a swerving effort from the edge of the area tipped over by with the aid of the bar by Patrick Keane with 15 minutes left in the contest. The final 15 minutes saw the hosts pile on the pressure, but failed to created the clearcut chance that they needed to breach Mark Duffy's goal. Daniel Melia had their best chance when he cut in down the left wing, but his effort lacked the power to beat Mark Duffy in the Ballina goal.
Moy Villa: Patrick Keane; Danny McGinty, Kevin Langdon, Daniel Moyles, Lee Brown; Daniel Melia, Mark Moyles, Kevin McCarron, Chris Moore; Barry Molloy; John Casey. Subs: Shane Devers for Daniel Melia, Jason Gilmartin for Barry Molloy
Balloon Town: Mark Duffy; Dwayne Helly, Keith Duffy, Peter Duffy, Brendan Giblin; Ryan Helly, Daniel Gorman, Stephen Moyles, Jamie Cawley; Eugene Gorman, Brendan Lavelle. Subs: Darragh O'Boyle, Dean Fielding for Ryan Helly.
Ref: Martin Halligan.
Straide and Foxford get off to winning start
Newly promoted Straide and Foxford turned around a 2-1 half-time deficit against Manulla to record a 3-2 home win over their visitors on Saturday night, thanks to goals from Conor Sherry, Michael Costello and Paul Fitzpatrick. The Iorras Aontaithe and Fahy Rovers game was postponed
In the Premier A, Ballyglass beat Westport United B 3-1 in Ballyglass, while Castlebar Celtic B had a 4-0 win over Urlar United in Celtic Park. Glenhest Rovers had a comprehensive 7-0 win over Conn Rangers B in the Premier B, while Charlestown Athletic B and Sungboro United B drew 0-0.