Trailing by nine points at one stage in the first half, Westport's hopes looked forlorn to say the least, but the Coveys had Ballina on the run in the closing stages of this lively Division 1A encounter at sun-kissed Westport Park on Sunday.
However, it would have been a travesty had they pilfered the pocket of Ballina, who were the better team overall, but the encouraging signs for Tomás Tierney's side is their refusal to wilt, paring that nine-point lead down to two with three minutes remaining. But Ballina, too, deserve credit for toughing it out and refusing to panic when the pressure came on.
Westport hit the ground running with early points from Kevin O'Malley and Stephen Broderick in the opening five minutes but they managed just one more point for the half, Ryan Cafferkey with a fine effort just before the half-time whistle.
Meanwhile, Ballina were building up a head of steam. Their strong running half-back line, where Aiden Tighe caught the eye as a potential county candidate, had the pressure on Westport, while Eanna Casey looked solid at full-back and Ger Brady, Dave O'Mahoney and Levoy Tierney were posing problems for the Westport defence.
By the interval Ballina had gone five clear - 0-8 to 0-3. Two points from Tierney from a free and from play, Dave O'Mahoney, Tierney again, Adrian Kelly, Lorcan Healy and Aiden Tighe helped Ballina into that healthy lead as Westport struggled in so many departments.
Two minutes into the second half a terrible defensive blunder presented Tierney with a golden goal opportunity, and he didn't disappoint with a clinical finish to the net, and when Kelly added a point the gap had gone to nine and Westport looked in serious trouble.
However, they were not without hope. Tierney and Brady had to leave the scene with injuries but the catalyst for Westport's revival came from their hard working warhorse, Stephen Broderick.
Broderick and David Horan had shaved two points off that lead and it was down to four when Horan hit a second, followed by a free from Damien Keane.
Aiden Tighe and Rory Smith settled Ballina with back-to-back points and it looked as if the Westport challenge was about to fade, but their hopes were reignited yet again, Broderick somehow squeezing the ball on his left foot past David Clarke and it was game on once more with nine minutes remaining.
A fabulous effort from Ryan Cafferkey made it a two-point game, the point immediately afterwards from Doherty was crucial in keeping Ballina heads steady, and although Michael Gallagher made it a two-point game once more with three minutes remaining, Adrian Kelly's free just before the final whistle left Westport searching for a second goal, and they did come close to scoring it earlier when David Clarke saved twice.
Ballina Stephenites 1-13
Scorers for Ballina: L. Tierney 1-4 (2f), A. Kelly 0-3 (2f), A. Tighe 0-2, D. O'Mahoney, L. Healy, R. Smith and T. Doherty 0-1 each.
Scorers for Westport: S. Broderick 1-2, R. Cafferkey 0-3 (2f), D. Moran and D. Keane 0-2 each, K. O'Malley 0-1.
Ballina: D. Clarke, K. Golden, E. Casey, U. Crowe, L. Healy, A. Tighe, T. Doherty, C. Leonard, S. McGarry, R. Smith, G. Brady, D. O'Mahoney, A. Kelly, L. Tierney, P. McGarry.
Subs used: B. Ruane for Tierney (inj), S. Mullins for Brady (inj), D. Twomey for Crowe (inj).
Westport: T. Higgins, E. Horan, D. Keane, S. Scott, L. Joyce, N. Lally, D. Horan, E. O'Toole, L. Keegan, K. O'Malley, S. Broderick, R. Cafferkey, D. Gallagher, E. Walsh, D. Keane.
Subs used: P.J. Foy for K. O'Malley, S. Gallagher for Scott (inj), J. Walsh for K. Gallagher, M. Gallagher for D. Gallagher, M. Gill for E. Walsh.
Referee: J. Hughes (Kilmaine).