Minor footballers show progress but go under in Ballina

Back 16/05/2022 @ 23:28 | mainnews | Minor footballers show progress but go under in Ballina

After a disappointing opening round clash against Galway in Sligo a week earlier, Sligo’s U17 footballers – the reigning Connacht champions - were under a bit of pressure when they travelled to Ballina on Friday last (May 6) to take on a Mayo side that would be many people’s fancy to take Sligo’s crown.

While the end result was another loss, this was an altogether more encouraging a performance with the visitors running up a 3-10 score line and showing a lot more positive intent and a much better shape to their game than was in evidence from the previous week.

Sligo played into the breeze and actually opened the scoring with a Cian Carty point and while Mayo quickly hit back with points from full forward Ronan Clark and wing forward Niall Hurley, it was a nip and tuck game for the first quarter after which Mayo led by two points, 1-5 to 1-3, with Sligo’s goal coming from corner forward Eli Rooney after good work by Aaron O’Hara and Dillon Walsh.

Mayo added another point to lead by three before Sligo drew level with a great goal from full back Tommy Ross who finished to the net after a marauding run up field.

The game continued in end-to-end fashion with Mayo again regaining the initiative through four unanswered point before Ronan Niland and Rooney again pegged them back with successive points but the home side finished the half with a flurry of scores including a goal from centre forward Zac Collins in added time to go in seven points up at Half Time – 2-12 to 2-5.

With three points apiece added, there was nothing between the teams in the third quarter but Sligo were bringing plenty of energy to the game with the addition of subs Shea O’Neill and Connor Flynn and they brought themselves right back into contention on the scoreboard when good work by Tom Bailey and Niland put Cian Carty in for a third Sligo goal. Niland added a point and a grandstand finished looked a possibility.

As they had done in the first half though, Mayo’s response to conceding the goal was to pick off four answered points to stretch the advantage out to eight with time running out.

There was time for goalkeeper Diarmuid Henry to convert a late 45 but Mayo held out with the eight point margin 2-23 to 3-10.

Mayo: Diarmuid Henry (0-1, 45); Ronan O’Hehir, Tommy Ross, Daniel King; Rian O’Callaghan, Robert O’Kelly Lynch, Aaron O’Hara; Ryan Gillespie, Dillon Walsh; Tom Bailey, Ronan Niland ©, Cian Carty; Gavin Lynch, Joe Campbell, Eli Rooney.

Subs: James Golden for Campbell (36m), Connor Flynn for Lynch (38 m)., Shea O’Neill for O’Hara (47m)