U-16s v Ballina–County ‘A’ Championship Final – Match Report
Davitts U-16 team’s attempt to win the County A Championship for the first time was stopped at the final hurdle by Ballina in McHale Park on Tuesday evening. A four goal blitz in the final ten minutes killed off a spirited comeback by the Davitts lads who had trailed by 1-7 to 0-2 at the break. The final scoreline of 5-9 to 1-9 was a little harsh on Davitts but there was no questioning Ballina’s superiority on the night. Davitts chances were dealt a severe blow before the game with a hip injury to midfielder Fionnan Gallagher, a recent Ted Webb Cup winner for Mayo North/South. He did line out but his movement was restricted and he operated at full forward in the first half. His physical presence around the middle was missed while star full forward Jack Devane had to play at midfield and while he did play very well, Davitts missed his drive in attack.
Ballina, wind assisted in the first half, got off to a perfect start with a 3rd minute goal. Jack Devane pointed for Davitts a minute later but Ballina dominated most of the first half. They shot a string of points, with Jack Devane getting Davitts sole reply in the 28th minute, to build up a 1-7 to 0-2 halftime lead. This lead could have been more but for some heroic defending by Sean Keadin, John Wallace, Tomas Ronayne, Micheal Hett, Brian Og McTigue, Brian Birmingham and keeper Tristan Diskin.
Davitts began the second half well and reeled of points in the 32nd, 34th and 36th minutes, all via the impressive Jack Devane, to narrow the gap. Ballina stemmed the tide with a point in the 42nd minute but this was cancelled out by Jack Devane with his sixth point of the game two minutes later. A Fenton Kelly point in the 47th minute had the gap back to four points but disaster struck for Davitts in the 50th minute as Ballina goaled against the run of play. They hit Davitts for another goal three minutes later and immediately followed that with a point. Fenton Kelly and Jack Devane pointed but Ballina struck again for goal number four in the 59th minute. Jack Devane scored Davitts only goal as the game went into injury time but Ballina had the last say with a goal in the final moments of injury time.
The wet and windy conditions certainly would not have helped Davitts against a much physically stronger Ballina team. It still is a fantastic achievement for a small club to go toe to toe with Ballina at U-16 level and the Davitts boys can hold their heads high. Joe Prendergast and Jack Devane were excellent in this game. Fenton Kelly and Fionnan Gallagher tried everything they could to turn the game around while Jack Melvin, Cathal Corless, Davey Hennessy, Dylan Gallagher, Bon Glynn and Mark Birmingham all worked tirelessly.
Davitts: Tristan Diskin, Brian Og McTigue, Micheal Hett, Sean Keadin, Brian Birmingham, Tomas Ronayne, John Wallace, Jack Devane (1-7), Fenton Kelly (0-2), Joe Prendergast, Cathal Corless, Jack Melvin, Davey Hennessy, Fionnan Gallagher, Dylan Gallagher. Subs used: Bon Glynn, Mark Birmingham.