Balla live the dream to claim intermediate title

GAA: Mayo IFC Final; Balla 1-8 Kiltimagh 0-7

The pressure came on and when it did Balla answered the questions that were posed to them by Kiltimagh to claim their first ever Mayo intermediate title, only two years after winning the junior championship.

The West Mayo men started the game at a ferocious pace with Aaron Walsh’s goal eight minutes in proving pivotal in their four point win in MacHale Park.

This wasn’t the prettiest game of football - but it was there to be won and that’s what Balla did, they soaked up the pressure from Kiltimagh and absorbed what they had to throw at them forcing the east Mayo men to try and drop the ball into the danger area late on and look for a break to get a goal to get them back into the game.

But at the three quarter mark it looked like the east Mayo side were the ones who had the momentum closing a four point half time gap to just a single point with the game heading for the final furlong.

However come it was Balla who found that bit extra in their legs with an inspirational score from joint captain Barry Duffy raising their first white flag of the second half with ten minutes to go, four minutes later Val Roughneen rose highest to win the ball and fist over to stretch the gap back out to three.

The sealing score came not long after when Gary McHale headed off on a rangy run before finishing cutting in from the left - from then on it was all about seeing it out and that is what they exactly did.

Their defence swamped Kiltimagh, hassling and harrying them with Conor Dunleavy, Patrick McLoughlin and Gerard Holian not giving their opponents a moment of peace and forcing turn over after turnover.

Both sides passing touch seemed to have left them in the second half for long periods, but that’ll matter little to Balla - who deservedly claimed the Sweeney cup and promotion to the senior ranks for next season.

Eoghan Lavin kicked the opening score of the day from a free two minutes in, but Gary McHale had it level the not long after landing a fine score under pressure from the left.

TJ Byrne won a mark close to goal and applied the requisite finish on the five minute mark to edge Kiltimagh back in front.

The next score of the game proved to be the vital one - Colm Murphy picked out Walsh in behind the cover and the Balla number 15 made no mistake calmly slipping the ball into the net past Jamie McNicholas.

A brace of Murphy frees and a Cillian Finn point before the first water break to send Balla in leading 1-3 to 0-3.

The west Mayo men kept the pressure up over the next quarter with Gary McHale and Jack Harte hitting points with just a free from Lavin in response to leave Balla four up at the short whistle.

The first period of the second half saw Kiltimagh get a grip of the contest and dominate possession, but they couldn’t turn it into scores - kicking a number of wides to go with the three points they got from David Lydon, Aiden Cosgrove and Lavin free to leave just one between the sides.

But this was Balla’s day and they used their bench wisely and this was their day and they can look forward to celebrating this day long into the winter nights and plot and plan for a crack at the senior championship next year.


Balla: G McHale (0-3 ), A Walsh (1-0 ), C Murphy (0-2, 2f ), B Duffy (0-1 ), J Harte (0-1 ), V Roughneen

Kiltimagh:E Lavin (0-3, 3f ), A Cosgrove (0-1 ), D Lydon (0-1 ), C Finn (0-1, 1m ), TJ Byrne (0-1, 1m )

Balla: M Flanagan; C Dunleavy, G Holian, S McNicholas; G Flanagan, S Morrisey, T Reynolds; B Duffy, JP Reilly; G McHale, C Murphy, P McLoughlin; J Harte, C Walsh, A Walsh. Subs: C Kilkenny, V Roughneen, R O’Connor, C Golding

Kiltimagh: J McNicholas; M Cummins, D Cosgrove, K Mulderrig; S Forkan, C Heneghan, B Gallagher; P Kelly, S Walsh; A Cosgrove, D Lydon, T Keegan; C Finn, TJ Byrne, E Lavin. Subs: L Kelly, C Mallee, J Forkan, C English, O Carroll.


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