Balla and Louisburgh booked their places in the final of the Mayo Junior Football Championship on Saturday evening in MacHale Park after a double header of semi-finals in the county grounds. The first game of the evening was the meeting of last years Junior B Champions Ballycastle and Balla in a contest that went right down to the wire.
With four minutes left in normal time, Balla’s Matthew Flanagan, whose better known to a lot of football followers as a goalkeeper following his exploits with the Mayo u21s this year, plays at number 14 for his club and he drove the ball to the back of the net to stretch out his sides narrow lead out to four points, but that was only a third of the drama that was about to unfold.
Ballycastle went straight down the field and Michael Forde was fouled as he looked to shoot for goal. Flanagan swapped jerseys with Michael O’Connor in the Balla goal for the spot kick, but was unable to stop Fergal Forde’s brilliantly placed effort from hitting the back of the net. Flanagan stayed in goal for the rest of the game, with O’Connor who now had the number 14 shirt on his back being replaced by Oisin Early right after the ball hit the net.
There was just one point in it again now and all to play for, Ballycastle’s chances were given a major blow a minute into injury time when Anthony Tighe was sent to the line after picking up a second yellow card, but all the needed was one chance to level things up. But it was Balla who also had on the field at this stage, a new recruit, but a veteran of the game former Knockmore man Declan Sweeney who got the chance when they were awarded a penalty themselves after Conor Walsh was fouled, Gary McHale stepped up and finished it past Jason O’Neill to seal the win and send Balla into the decider later this autumn on a score of 2-11 to 2-7.
The second game of the day was a much less exciting affair with Lousiburgh putting Kilmeena to the sword in impressive fashion.
The sea siders bossed this game from pillar to post leading 0-9 to 0-1 at the break with James Dowd hitting three points in the opening half and Padraig Prendergast kicking two for John Kelly’s side.
The second half was more of the same with Louisbrugh tacking on six more points over the final 30 minutes, Kilmeena did get something the cheer late on when Ryan Feehan hit the back of the net and a late rally for Mickey Feeney’s side saw them put a few scores on the board with the final score of 1-5 to 0-15 going for Black and amber men.
Balla 2-11 Ballycastle 2-7
Louisburgh 0-15 Kilmeena 1-5