Ballinasloe edge home in thrilling showdownOctober 18, 2012 - 7:00am
JASON BYRNE at PEARSE STADIUM
BALLINASLOE captured the County Junior A football title at Pearse Stadium on Saturday in a simply marvellous game of football that had everything.
The pendulum swung on several occasions but eventually Clifden’s fate was sealed and the cup heads east, as a goal from Paul Whelehan five minutes from time for Sean Riddell’s side proved the major turning point in a series of thrilling twists.
Ballinasloe got off to a dream start by racing into a 1-3 to no-score lead inside the opening four minutes. Whelehan fed Paraic Cunningham after Liam Lynch’s point and he drove to the net with Gary Canavan and Whelehan added further scores to underline their early dominance.
Chris Holmes got Clifden underway and within two minutes they were right back in this replay when Tom O’Brien fed Eamon McCann, and he produced a super solo run to cut inside and find the net.
Midway through the half, the Connemara men drew level with a superb second goal when Gerry Gannon’s long ball was wonderfully caught by Holmes and he provided just as good a finish to make it 2-1 to 1-4.
Lynch popped over a free to put Ballinasloe back in the lead, just before Clifden went on a magnificent spell which saw them hit six points without reply thanks to doubles from O’Brien and Gannon and further scores from Holmes and Damien Joyce.
In the last five minutes of the half, Ballinasloe hit back with three of their own thanks to frees from Lynch and Keith Kelly along with another point from the brilliant Whelehan to narrow Clifden’s lead to two at the break.
At this stage, the game had gone into a life of its own and the second half produced one of the best 30 minutes of football any purist would dream of. Ballinsloe got off to a roaring start once more with four on the bounce from Whelehen, a brace from Darragh McCormack and Cunningham to give them the edge again.
It took Clifden almost 12 minutes to weather the early storm but after Ger Gibbons got them off the mark for the second-half, McCann fired in his second goal in a swift break to suddenly regain their two-point cushion.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.