Balla are best in Junior decider

Photo: @MayoGAA

What’s rare is wonderful. Balla’s last county title was secured way back in 1980 but this afternoon at MacHale Park the current generation bridged that 38-year gap in fine style, beating Achill by 1-12 to 1-7 to claim the Junior football championship and, with it, possession of the Pete McDonnell Cup and promotion to Intermediate status for next year.

Balla came into today’s decider as strong favourites and they didn’t take long to justify that tag. Although Achill bagged two early scores to lead by two points to one after ten minutes, once Conor Walsh found the net for Balla they quickly took hold of this contest.

By half-time Pat Fallon’s charges led by four points – with the score standing at 1-5 to 0-4 then – and after ten minutes of the second half they’d added five further points without reply to stretch their lead to a commanding nine points.

From then until the end, Balla were able to keep Achill’s challenge well under control, trading points with them as the second half wore on. The Islanders did eventually manage to find the net themselves but that goal came in injury-time and it merely served to reduce the final margin between the sides to five points.

So, it’s a famous day for Balla, a day when this talented group of young players delivered on their promise and landed some long overdue silverware at adult level for their club. Congrats to them on today’s title win and the best of luck to them too as they now get set to embark on an assault for provincial honours.

Commiserations to Achill on today’s defeat. Losing out in a final – after all the excitement leading up to the big day – is never easy but they’ve enjoyed a great year, one that will surely stand them in good stead for 2019.

Photo: @MayoGAA

Finally, a quick word about today’s Minor A title decider, which took place earlier this afternoon at MacHale Park. In a high-scoring final it was Westport who came out on top in this one, beating off the brave challenge laid down by first-time finalists Parke/Keelogues/Crimlin. Westport’s young guns won this one by 2-16 to 3-9. Well done to them and hard luck to the lads from Parke.

31 thoughts on “Balla are best in Junior decider

  1. Willie joe, many thanks for ensuring the junior clubs got recognition on your wonderful blog. A benefit from mayos exit this year has been the higher level of attention devoted to the club game. We have to have our fix somewhere and I’d even say that county supporters who don’t normally follow the club game have started to do so this year. Easy today to see how Balla’s Val Roughneen and Achill ‘s Eddie Doran are all Ireland underage winners. Also Balla’s Conor Walsh who is a former minor u21 and junior mayo player.
    There seemed to be a great crowd in Castlebar today does anyone know if an attendance figure was available.

  2. Was at both games today some serious young players coming through in Westport and park. Plus balla have some serious young players deff going to be a serious team in the next year or two few lads there that James will have to have a look at.

  3. Fair play Willie Joe on giving the Junior teams a bit of coverage. Balla by all accounts a serious outfit. Very well drilled and attack and defend in numbers. Eddie Doran clearly carrying an injury after an early collision. Impressed with Conor Walsh for Balla and Ciaran Kilkenny the wing back. I saw James Horan was an interesting spectator.
    Special word of mention for the minor game. Very good standard Parke never gave in. Westport have some serious operators coming through Brickedon at full back. Rowley and Lambert in midfield and Mark Moran at centre forward were excellent.

  4. Balla deserved their win today ,were knocking at the door for the last few years, probably playing in division 2 league improved the team a lot,
    Val rougheen the stand out player ,very all round player ,might not be far off mayo development panel ,achil day would come in the future,fought hard but not to be their day,great minor final between Westport and Parke ,unreal that Westport had never won the minor final before.

  5. Enda Varley scored 3 points from play for St Vincents today against Ciaran Kilkennys Castleknock in a Dublin Senior quarter final, will James Horan give him a call back in the New year, playing the best football of his career!!

  6. Congrats to Balla and Westport and commiserations to Achill and Parke/Keelogues/Crimlin. For Achill they will have another chance next year and the minor losers will have a crack at it in U20/U21. Good luck to them both. Getting to the Minor A final was a great achievement for the Parke men. I recall being at the opening of their pitch several years ago. Still have the programme somewhere.

  7. I was at that game in Parnell Park yesterday, TH. Enda didn’t start – he was carrying some sort of a knock coming into it – but looked sharp when he came on and scored three second half points. The big talking point of the game was, though, the return to action of Diarmuid Connolly, who came on soon after Enda in the second half. Vinnies were already well on top by then and won comfortably. Star of the show, yet again, was the evergreen Mossy Quinn with 1-6. He just keeps doing it.

    AndyD – Was that pitch opening match in Parke against Cork back in the Eighties? If it was, I was there too and I think I also might have the programme for it somewhere.

  8. Was at the Junior County Final yesterday. Overall the standard of play was poor. Achill were a 1 trick pony and once Doran didnt function Achill offered little resistance. Hard to see how they got to a county final scoring only 4 points in the 1st half.
    Not quiet sure about Balla. They played a defensive structure with apparently some of the best young forwards in the county. Hard to see them do anything at intermediate as they will come across teams with far better attacking backs and left unmarked will easily disposed them

  9. I thought the best player on the pitch for the Junior final yesterday was the Achill no.2 James Gallagher. Tight marking, physical but clean, made a great block in the second half and sallied forward for the entire game making one last run that ended up with him at right corner forward! Gave, and took, some hard shoulders all day and defended by the old Paidi O’Shea mantra “touch tight”, never letting his man get more than an arms length away from him. He might lack some real top end speed but he would certainly be worth a look at for a Junior county team or development squad.
    I thought Grealis was lucky to see out the game as he spent the opening 45 mins hitting late and from behind, before he finally got his yellow card. He should have got a yellow 3 mins in for his late, cheap hit on Conway, and his tactic of kicking out and swinging his elbow back went unpunished for too long.
    I also feel that Achill may have been better served by playing in low ball to Sweeney (he won everything that came his way and always took 2 or 3 Balla lads with him as his strength and low centre of gravity made him very difficult to mark) as opposed to the obvious high ball in to Keane where he lost all but one ball.
    As for Balla? They had serious pace all over the pitch, both in man and movement of the ball. Ger Flanagan, Duffy and Roughneen controlled the middle third and McHale up top won a site of ball. Aaron Walsh eventually got in to the game but he had to move off Gallagher before he did so. Balla were streets ahead in almost every position and the final scoreline did not reflect the dominance on the field.

  10. Was at the both matches yesterday and agree that Balla were certainly on top in the Junior Final, Roughneen, Duffy done well and the corner back, Gallagher for Achill played well. Balla were always winning it though.

    Minor match was a cracking game though everyone were saying it was Westport all the way. Very impressed with Parke and have to say that the referee should be paying a visit to ‘Specsavers’ if he did not see the Parke player being upended in Westport square at the end..

  11. Achill will be dissapointed with their performance, too many guys just didnt get into it yesterday. That said It was always going to be a tall order for Achill as Balla showed what they were capable of.
    Balla were sharper around the middle third and won all the breaks in that first half where the game was effectively won. The first 10 mins of 2nd half Balla put it to bed.
    Balla had more pace in probably every line of the pitch whilst Achill’s build up play was slow and the ball inside was poor throughout. Roughneen and Ger Flanagan were impressive while Conor Walsh done alot of damage in the 1st half to put Balla in the driving seat. Balla can make an impact in Connacht and beyond..

  12. Was at both matches yesterday, Balla deserved to win Junior Final, should have won by more. Roughneen, Duffy and Flanagan very impressive , Corner back for Achill played very well.

    Minor match was a super game, Parke just ran out of road and probably would have won if match had last another 5 minutes, Westport a big strong team, full back very good, thought both Parke midfielders were excellent. Parke should have been awarded a ‘stonewall’ penalty at the end when their player was upended in the square, Westport cleared the ball and got a goal at other end to win the game.

  13. @Paddy in Dublin, did you feel also that more merited yellow cards in the first 40 mins would have loosened up Westports blanket? The occasion in the second half 30 yards out when a Westport defender jumped horizontal through the air rugby like and grappled the shoulders of an oncoming attacker for a free. The series of 4-5 frees in a row in the first half fouling Parke outside the scoring zone. The dangerous block in the second half (you can’t put yourself directly into the players kicking leg whether accidental or not, free in but no card).

  14. Just popped in to wish James Horan and Mayo good luck in 2019. It was a no-brainer decision really. I think James’ has the attribute of developing and preparing players mentally, by really putting it up to them – men or mice. One thing more, I think Mike Connelly and CB deserve great credit – it’s a very united county now. What about “Mayo United for Sam”. Sinead, do you think that might fly? And, Willie Joe, I hope you’re not thinking of retiring the blog just yet…

  15. JP, Not so sure as Westport very strong and physical side but Parke very impressive for such a small Club. Also heard that Westport and Parke are playing each other un U14 A Final next week , is this correct, how are Parke going so well at juvenile/underage, must be doing something right

  16. Westport already beat Breaffy in the U14A final.
    Parke are in lower divisions U14/15/16. However they topped Div 1A in U13.
    Ballyvarry National school retained the Cumann na Mbunscoil title recently so they would be feeding into the U13 team.

  17. Comhgairdeas do foireann Balla an foireann is fearr gan dabht. The Achill lads came strong in the second half but Balla were the best team in the day.. A huge support were present from both parishes. No doubt Achill will rebuild agus bheid la eile ag an bpiobaire! James Gallagher was magnificent for Achill and Balla have some fine players. A lot of talent in our junior clubs!
    Acaill abu!

  18. I was even at the opening of Park’s Pitch…. But definitely don’t still have the programme anywhere!.. . Cork hammered an experimental Mayo side,.. Anyone watching would not have wagered much on Mayo ending up as Connacht Champions later in the Summer, and even more surprisingly brought Dublin to a Replay, for the first time since the early 50’s Mayo were still involved in the Championship in early September which was when the Replay actually took place…. Michael Mullen scored a brace of Goals to ensure Mayo were All Ireland Minor champions, before September was over…Willie Joe ( the other less famous one) won his first All Star, as did Kevin McStay and Dermot Flanagan..The year was 1985… where did the year’s go!

  19. JP, Just heard from Westport contact that its a U13A Final next weekend between Westport and Park

  20. Kudos to you WJ for shining a light on the clubs this summer.

    Club before county every time!

    All those bores in the media bemoaning the ‘death of football’ would do well to follow the local county championships where they will see game is very much alive

  21. Leantimes and AndyD – we were all there together!

    9th June, 1985 was the date and my filing system for 1980s miscellaneous match-day stuff came up trumps. The programme produced for the event was certainly a handsome one (even if it did cost £1 – a bit less than the price of a pint back then), an image of the front cover is here. The line-up in the programme for the two teams is here. Forgive my scrawls over this, sadly my handwriting hasn’t improved with age either. Finally, I’ve dug out a match report on the game from the Connaught Telegraph (courtesy of Irish News Archive) – that’s here. Nothing like a trip down Memory Lane on a Monday!

  22. Thanks, Willie Joe. The result indicates a forgettable match from a Mayo viewpoint and I have to say I don’t remember a bit of it. But Mayo did recover to have a reasonably good summer. I do remember the fine setting of Parke’s grounds even though I haven’t been back there since. Incidentally I think I also recall being at an opening or reopening of Westport’s ground a good many years ago. A friend who was in Wesport for a weekend break told me he brought his teenage son and daughter to the ground early one morning for a kick around. He said it had all the looks of a well used ground. Which is good – a pristine pitch may be nice to look at but it’s purpose is not for looking at.

  23. I was there for that one too, AndyD! That was also in 1985 and we beat Dublin in it as I recall, on one of the few days the sun shone that particular summer.

  24. @Willie Joe, Andy D – I also remember being at the Parke pitch opening match that day as a young fella – remember very little, didn’t even recall it was Cork we played. Only thing I distinctly remember was that I thought Padraig Brogan was absolutely majestic that day from midfield – I see you have him scribbled out, maybe he came on then

  25. That wasn’t the same game, KL. As the match report I’ve linked confirms, Padraig Brogan didn’t feature in the Cork game due to injury. I think the match you might be remembering was the one the same summer in Westport against Dublin. Padraig Brogan played in that one and was superb at midfield, his high-fielding that day was a joy to watch.

  26. Pebblesmeller dunno what game you were at. Sweeney had been unreal all year but in the final was beaten for pace and any ball he did win he couldn’t turn his man and should have been called ashore at half time. Keane one of very few Achill players to actually perform on the day, the others being James gallagher, Stephen Grealis and you couldn’t fault Micky D’s efforts in an otherwise poorly performing forward line for achill. Balla were the better team on the day and very worthy winners.

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