Ballinrobe grab first win of league
Mayo GAA Senior League
GOALKEEPER Kenneth O’Malley came to Ballinrobe’s rescue with a goal from the penalty spot five minutes into injury-time to snatch victory against Westport on Saturday evening.
The dramatic late score gave Ballinrobe their first win of this Division 1A league campaign but there is still plenty of room for improvement after a very patchy performance.
For most of the first half, Westport completely dominated at midfield, and in most sectors, and deservedly led at half-time by six points (1-8 to 0-5).
Even allowing for the strong breeze that blew into their faces, Ballinrobe were extremely out of sorts in those first thirty minutes.
Far too many players didn’t seem to be ‘tuned in’ and around the middle of the field, in particular, a plethora of players were struggling to get into their groove.
Thankfully, Micheál Keane continued his recent good form and nailed three excellent points to go with two Sean Burke frees to keep Ballinrobe in contention at the change of ends.
Norman O’Brien, undoubtedly, had a few harsh words to say at half-time and his team produced a much-improved performance during the third quarter.
Four points without reply from Sean Burke (three frees) and Conor Keane meant that the gap was back to two points (0-9 to 1-8) after 43 minutes.
However, Westport’s top scorer Damien Keane kicked two frees to cancel out a fine score from Donal Vaughan to leave Ballinrobe trailing by three points on 48 minutes.
Remarkably, the visitors failed to score again.
Ballinrobe’s full-back line of Eugene O’Malley, Paul Finnerty and Ruairí Keane were outstanding when push came to shove in the last twenty minutes.
They locked down Westport’s forwards, and Sean Grimes, Ronan Macken, Sean Burke and Micheál Keane tried to get the comeback going.
However, scores were hard to come by and plenty of pressure yielded just one point from a Kenneth O’Malley free in the 59th minute.
Two Sean Burke frees also hit the post at different stages and it seemed as though Ballinrobe were destined to come up short yet again.
Instead, five minutes into injury-time, a Paul Finnerty interception as Westport played ‘keep ball’ in an effort to run down the clock, proved vital.
Ballinrobe swept the ball down the field and substitute Martin Burke was taken down in the square as he cut in on goal.
To his credit, Kenneth O’Malley stepped up to bury the resultant penalty.
Westport failed to dig out an equaliser in the final, frantic minutes of stoppage-time and Ballinrobe ‘got out of jail’ in dramatic fashion.
K O’Malley (1-1, 1-0 pen, 1f); E O’Malley, P Finnerty, R Keane; S Grimes, A Flannery, J O’Malley; D Vaughan (0-1), R Macken; K Murphy, C Killeen, S Burke (0-5, 5fs); C Keane (0-1), M Walkin, M Keane (0-3).
Subs used: M Burke for Walkin; D O’Connor for Flannery; D McDonnell for J O’Malley (inj); K McTigue for Murphy.
T Higgins; N Lally, Dessie Keane, E Horan; L Joyce, L Keegan, D Horan; K O’Malley (1-1), E O’Toole; R Cafferkey, J Gill (0-2), E Walsh; PJ Foy, S Broderick, Damien Keane (0-7, 4fs).
Subs used: L Kitterick for E Horan; D O’Connor for Cafferkey.
Referee: R Gurren (Aghamore)