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.
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.