Ballina's first half goals sink St. Brigid's
November 26, 2007
A first minute goal from Stephen Hughes sent Ballina Stephenites on their way to a two-point victory over holders St. Brigid's in an exciting Connacht club football final at Ballina.
Hughes handed Ballina the perfect start when he netted from close range inside the opening minute, and then Mayo star Pat Harte converted a penalty on the quarter-hour mark to put the home side in control, and leave St. Brigid's playing catch-up for the remaining of the game.
With the three Brady brothers to the fore - David, Ger and Liam - and Ronan McGarrity producing a man of the match performance, 2005 All-Ireland champions Ballina were full value for their win, although St. Brigid's never gave up and they almost snatched victory at the death when Mark O'Carroll's rasping shot rebounded back off the post and David Brady cleared the danger.
After Hughes' early goal, Ger Brady extended Ballina's lead before the Roscommon side rallied with scores from Cathal McHugh, John Tiernan and Senan Kilbride. Then St. Brigid's goalkeeper James Martin - who was deputising for the injured Shane Curran - was accused of hopping the ball twice and Harte expertly converted the spot kick to put Ballina back in the driving seat.
The Mayo champions led by 2-4 to 0-6 at half-time, but St. Brigid's reduced the gap to the minimum in the third quarter through points from midfielders O'Carroll and Mannion, and the impressive Kilbride.
The pressure continued to mount on Ballina when they had corner back David O'Mahony sent off, but they refused to panic and points from Ger and Liam Brady pushed out their lead to 2-8 to 0-9.
Two Frankie Dolan frees and a Padraig Kilcommins points ensured a nervous finish for the home crowd, but they held on for an All-Ireland semi-final date with either Nemo Rangers or Ballinacourty in February.
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