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Ballyheane make their point again


CHASING THE TITLE Ballina Town’s Jamie Cawley tracks Ballyheane’s James Cunningham during Sunday’s Mayo Super League clash. Pic: John Corless

Ballina Town 2
Vysochan 90, Lavelle 90+5

Ballyheane 2
Edeh 25, Rochford, pen 45

John Corless

“IF you asked me before the match would we settle for a two-two draw, we certainly would,” Ballyheane assistant manager, Joe Redmond, told The Mayo News after the final whistle.
Yet for the champions, this must feel like a defeat.
They seemed to have the match won, going into stoppage time two-up, and when Oleg Vysochan got one back, a draw still seemed a highly unlikely result.
But Ballina Town, who started the game six points behind Ballyheane, were desperate to get something from this fixture, and driven by man of the match, Danny Gorman, they dominated the second half, and Benny Lavelle’s equaliser deep into added time was a just reward for their endeavour.
The title is Ballyheane’s now. All they have to do is keep going, as is their style.
With four games remaining, they would have to implode before second-placed Westport United could make up the five-point gap. Ballina Town are in third; their battle now lies with Westport for runners-up spot.
Ballyheane started the better; Ballina seeming nervous, as might be expected, given this was a must-win game for them, if they were to have any hope of catching the reigning champions. Ben Edeh had an excellent match until his withdrawal due to a slight injury near the end. He put Ballyheane in front on 25 minutes, after threatening twice in the preceding minutes.  When Jack Rochford slotted home a penalty on the break, it looked to be over.
Ballina were a different side in the second half and Danny Gorman was outstanding in the middle, sitting just in front of the defence. He won ball after ball and broke up attacks as Ballyheane, despite being pinned back, tried to counter.
Despite the home side’s dominance, they were unable to get the ball to their wide danger-man, Jamie Cawley, who was marked tightly by James Cunningham, with Cillian Redmond providing extra cover.  
Jack Tuffy in the centre was keeping a close eye on Benny Lavelle, and despite the home side threatening on a few occasions they found the Ballyheane defence hard to break down. Vysochan’s goal came from good work on the wing by Cawley, and the winger also had a hand in Lavelle’s equaliser.
“We were well on top in the first half,” Joe Redmond said.
“We knew they would come at us in the second half. They had to, or any chance of the league would slip away from them. So we told our lads at half-time to stay composed, not to panic even if they scored. The result is tough to take, given the circumstances, but away from home against such a good side, we’ll take it.”
Danny Gorman said Ballina were poor in the first half.
“We didn’t get the ball on the ground and pass it like we should,” he told The Mayo News. “In the second half we stepped up the intensity and we were a far better team. It was good to get two goals back, even in injury time. We’ve been doing that a bit this season – giving ourselves a mountain to climb, late in the game.”
The Ballina assistant manager, Aidan Cowan, said he was really pleased with his side’s second half performance.
“In the first half it didn’t look like the game was going to go our way,” he said.
“We struggled to get into it, Ballyheane are compact, hard to play through. We made a few positional changes at half-time and it worked, even if it was late on. Defeat would have been very harsh on us. Two goals at the end like that says a lot about our desire and character.”
Along with Gorman, Stephen Melvin, Vysochan, and Conor Gorman were best for Ballina, with Redmond, Cunningham and Darragh Duffy impressing for Ballyheane.

Ballina Town
E Peyton, S Melvin, J Moyles, C Moore, O Feeney, D Gorman, J Cawley, C Gorman, B Lavelle, R Moran, O Vysochan.
Subs: L Honan, N Casey, G Traynor, T Rowe, D Egan.

L Meldrum, J Cunningham, J Rockford, C Redmond, J Tuffy, S Kilcoyne, D Purcell, P Burke, R Martin, D Duffy, B Edeh.
Subs: R Meldrum, S Staunton, R Callaghan, A McHale, M Fahy, A Tuffy, N Reilly-Doyle.

Referee: D McGrath



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