IN September, 1989 brothers Ronan and Gareth Golding starred for Balla as they defeated their neighbours Kiltimagh to win the club’s first ever Mayo Minor ‘A’ football championship title.
Both represented Mayo at underage level at the time, and the siblings lined out side-by-side in midfield that day as Balla ran out convincing 2-8 to 0-4 winners, and the Goldings were the stand-out performers through that historic campaign.
Last Sunday, some 27 years later, Balla claimed only their second ever county Minor ‘A’ championship, thanks in no small part to a dominant midfield display from Cillian Golding, a nephew of Gareth and Ronan.
The 2017 Mayo minor gave an exhibition of high-fielding throughout the contest, acting as the composer of a well-drilled band.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” the Balla teenager told The Mayo News, as the sound of ‘championies, championies’ echoed from the dressing room in MacHale Park.
“I’ve always been ‘the nephew’ of those two, so it’s nice to get something for my own legacy.”
Balla’s victory sparked emotional scenes from their supporers on the pitch in Castlebar afterwards. Only seven days earlier those same supporters left the venue feeling disappointed and dispirited after their Junior team were beaten by Lahardane in the county semi-final.
The striking contrast in emotions was impossible to ignore.
“It’s such a big boost for the club,” Golding, a student at St Colmans College, Claremorris admitted. “Considering that we’re such a small club, and a small town, to win the Minor ‘A’ championship is a huge honour.
“I’ve won Connacht Senior titles with school, Ted Webb Cups, but they’re absolutely nothing compared to this.”
Golding has also tasted his fair share of defeat and faced adversity this season too, like losing to Galway in the first round of the Connacht Minor championship back in April.
But he explained on Sunday how he has used that as a motivation tool.
“We were here six or seven months ago with the [Mayo] minors and the less said about that the better,” he smiled. “It’s always been in the back of my mind, every night just thinking about it. Then there was the loss [All-Ireland Senior ‘A’ colleges semi-final] with St Colman’s, the Under-17s [Mayo], and there has been lots of injuries too with knees and foot, so thank God we got over the line today.”
Golding labelled his team-mate Jack Harte’s performance as ‘savage’ and he had a special word of acknowledgment for his team-mate Luke McHale who played his part in the game despite burying his Grandfather in England just two days earlier.
Not many fancied the minnows of Balla to upset the odds and beat Westport, and Cillian Golding says a tactical masterclass from the sideline was a huge factor.
“In all fairness to Shaun [Burke], Conor [Walsh] and John [Conway], they had Westport down to a tee,” he said. “We’ve been working on them the last few weeks and thankfully our gameplan came off today. The good times are back in Balla!” he smiled.