19 September 2021
Mayo Senior League Division 4A
Ballintubber 2-8 Ballina 0-15
Our Juniors nearly conjured up a brave late comeback in the Clogher this afternoon, but ultimately fell just short.
Despite defying a six-point gap to come back and level the game in the second half, we are now left with a single league point from five games in this year’s competition.
To their credit, the men in the Red and White went down fighting in the second half as goals from David McHale and Alan McHale in the final ten minutes set the scene for a grandstand finish.
When Ballina were looking comfortable with a seven-point lead, good direct running allowed Alan McHale to feed his cousin David who fired home our first goal.
Over a minute later, the younger McHale found the net after being fed by Darragh McGovern, who was highly impressive a midfield during the second half.
However, Ballina remained plucky and found the winning score before we were able to add to our tally.
Indeed, the North Mayo men had looked the brighter of the two teams for most of the game.
On several occasions, the Stephenites made hay by forcing turnovers and took their scores with accuracy and composure.
Only for some impressive saves from Niall Staunton, our opponents could well have found the net. Had they done so, our fate could have been sealed long before the full-time whistle.
Playing out on a rain-soaked Clogher surface, it was ourselves that started the better.
Padraic O’Connor showed his class with three superb early points, but from the twelfth minute Ballina shook off the cobwebs and strung together 0-7 without reply.
During this period, the Stephenites played the better football, and the scoreboard showed it.
They also forced several saves from Niall Staunton, who effectively kept us in the game with his interventions.
We also had our share of goal chances in the first half, with Stephen Burke hitting the side net after a clever move involving himself, Noel Geraghty and Alan Larkin.
Trailing 0-5 to 0-10 at half-time, a huge improvement would be needed to turn this one around.
While Ballina did not set the game alight, they were still comfortably in front by the 50th minute.
They also spurned two genuine game-winning opportunities by sending two daisy-cutters wide of the mark.
Our best period of football came after the water break, where we buried 2-1 in ten minutes by running at our opponents with pace and purpose.
However, the Stephenites ensured the points would not be shared by hitting the winning score in injury time.
Ballintubber team that lined out: (1)Niall Staunton (2)Luke Murphy (3)Paul Early (4)Gavin Roache (5)Darragh Joyce (6)Cillian Redmond (7)John Kerrigan (8)Darragh McGovern (9)David McHale (1-1) (10)Aaron Lally (11)Noel Geraghty (0-3, 2f) (12)Stephen Burke (13)Alan Larkin (14)Padraic O’Connor (0-4, 2f) (15)Alan McHale (1-0)
Substitutions used: Adrian Murphy for Aaron Lally (43 min), Magnus Malone for Luke Murphy (2nd half water break), James McGing for Darragh Joyce (55 min)