A powerful display from Ballina overran a tiring Ballybacon Grange by 1-16 to 0-9 to book their place in the County Minor B Hurling Final on Sunday evening last in Gortnahoe.
This was Ballybacon’s third outing in four days and not surprisingly they looked deflated and tired in the closing stages. These young players are more than likely training for this campaign since February or March and to have the defining matches of their season compressed into one weekend is not badge of honour for those involved in setting the fixtures.
After Conor Maguire had opened the scoring for Ballina, Ballybacon responded with a wave of attacks that finally ended in Gavin Whelan floating over an equaliser from a tight angle.
The south men hit the front through a Michael Barlow free but Ben King’s goal, along with points from a James Murtagh free and Dan Finnerty, pushed Ballina in front and they never looked back.
Barlow did his best to keep his side in touch, scoring three frees and a tidy point under heavy pressure, but these were cancelled out by two frees from James Murtagh and two points from the towering Conor Maguire, one of which was a 65 to leave the half time score 1-7 to 0-6 in favour of the north side.
Ballina pulled further away in the second half and were full value for their victory, as they dominated the last 20 minutes and were only sporadically challenged in defence while their forwards sprayed the ball around with confidence.
Ballina: A. Power; P. O Donovan, E. Healy, D. Kelly; R. Bourke, A. Hanley (0-1), J. Collins; C. Maguire (0-6, 2-65), J. Brady (0-1); J. Murtagh (0-4,4F), D. Finnerty (0-1), B. Connolly; B. King (1-0), T. McGrath, P. O Hagan (0-1). Subs: B. Floyd (0-1) for T. McGrath (27), P. O Leary for B. Connolly (45), T. O Halloran (0-1) for B. King (49).
Ballybacon Grange: J. Burke; J. Shine, A.R. Lambert, E. O Brien; D. Boyle, T. Kirwan, P. Walsh; S. Nagle, J. Pickering; M. Hogan, G. Cronin, M. Barlow (0-7, 6F); G. Whelan (0-2), B. McHugh, D. Cunningham. Subs: C. O Gorman for D. Cunningham (42), E. Bourke for B. McHugh (53), S. Maher for J. Shine (57).
Referee: Paddy Ivors.