Seniors lose opening league game

Seniors lose out to brilliant Ballagh’

Mayo Senior League Division 1A

Ballaghaderreen 2-17

Ballinrobe 0-9

Mike Finnerty

THE long journey to Ballaghaderreen proved a fruitless one for the Ballinrobe senior squad on Saturday evening as they crashed to a 14-points defeat in the opening round of the Mayo GAA Division 1A league.
Norman O’Brien will be disappointed that his team were unable to give the 2007 county champions a better game, but Ballinrobe were unable to cope with Ballagh’s pace and power, especially during a one-sided second half.
The winners outscored Ballinrobe by 1-11 to 0-3 after half-time with Cormac Doohan (a lively sub) scoring 1-3, and Andy Moran and Barry Regan causing plenty of problems for an over-worked backline.
The sides were level three times during the opening half but Ballinrobe trailed at the break by 0-4 to 1-6 after failing to score for the last sixteen minutes of the half.
Despite lining out without the injured duo Donal Vaughan and James O’Malley, and Seán Grimes (who was celebrating the birth of his new baby son earlier in the weekend!), Ballinrobe played some good football early on.
Two well-struck frees from Peter Staunton had them 0-2 to 0-1 up after five minutes but Ballagh’ rattled off three points without reply from Barry Regan, David Drake and Gary Conway to ease ahead after by the end of the first quarter.
Midfielder Ronan Macken had started well, mixing it with Mayo panellist James Kilcullen, but he was forced out of the game after 15 minutes with a leg injury and Ballinrobe started to take in water around the middle in his absence.
They held their own initially, and Macken’s replacement, Martin Burke, did some good things after coming in off the bench.
Playing in the half-forward line, Burke set up Peter Staunton and Michéal Keane for two excellent scores to level the match for the third time.
Remarkably, Keane’s point on 17 minutes was to be Ballinrobe’s last of the half as Ballagh’ took control around the middle and used their superior strength and fitness to open up the ‘Robe defence.
They hit 1-2 in the second quarter, Barry Regan scoring both of the points, and Andy Moran palming in the goal after Kenneth O’Malley had saved Moran’s initial shot brilliantly.
The second half was a disappointing one for the small group of travelling supporters as their team had no answer to Ballaghaderreen’s ability to move the ball out of defence, midfield superiority, and movement in attack.
Ballinrobe tried valiantly until the bitter end, but there was no disguising the gulf in class between the teams on the day.
For Ballinrobe, Kenneth O’Malley played well and his kick-outs were excellent; Colm Killeen, Ruairí Keane and David Killeen were the pick of the backs; Peter Staunton (who worked hard after moving into midfield) and David McDonnell did their best against two serious operators in James Kilcullen and Barry Kelly; and Conor Keane, Martin Burke and Michéal Keane were the pick of a forwardline who were living on scraps for long spells.

Kenneth O’Malley; Eugene O’Malley, Colm Killeen, Paul Finnerty; Ruairi Keane, Adrian Flannery, David Killeen (0-1); Ronan Macken, David McDonnell (0-1); Peter Staunton (0-5, 3fs), Sean Burke (0-1), Kevin Murphy; Conor Keane, Keith McTigue, Michéal Keane (0-1).
Subs used: Martin Burke for Macken (inj); Mark Walkin for McTigue; David O’Connor for Murphy.

O Flanagan; K Rogers, P Rogers, S Drake; D Drake (0-1), D Kilcullen, Gary Conway (0-1); B Kelly, J Kilcullen; P Kelly, B Solan (0-2, 1f), A Moran (1-3); Gavin Conway (0-1), R McGrath, B Regan (0-6, 2fs).
Subs used: C Doohan (1-3) for McGrath; S Finn for B Solan; J Dillon for P Kelly; T Regan for Gary Conway; D Keegan for D Drake.

Referee: M Roughneen (Swinford)