Tuesday, 15 March 2011 16:28
Managerless Ballina Town endured a miserable day in dreary conditions as Sligo hosts Carbury FC put four goals past them without reply in the fifth round of the Connaught Junior Cup. Town, the Mayo Super League champions, were up against it before kick-off with the unavailability due to injury of strikers
Michael Duffy, Benny Lavelle and Philip Devers.
Given that the three have been responsible for most of Ballina's goals in the past few seasons, it would come as little surprise that they were toothless up front against a side currently riding high in the Sligo-Leitrim League.
Carbury, bolstered by a number of ex-Sligo Rovers players, are vying for top honours with City United and showed their ability in terrible conditions at Forthill.
Ballina's stubborn resistance finally gave way after 26 minutes when Jason McCartney – one of those former Rovers players – skipped down the left wing and squared for Ross McLoughlin to apply a sweet finish from close-range past Town custodian Kieran O'Malley.
McCartney was proving very dangerous in front of goal. He forced O'Malley into a fine stop with a shot from distance and then improvised with a swerving volley against the wind when he saw the Town 'keeper in a wayward place, the ball screwing just wide of the right-hand upright.
But Ballina held out and it looked as though they would get to half time just one goal in arrears. However, the concession of a corner, a decision that angered centre half Derek Tansey, led to Carbury's second goal on the stroke of half time, McLoughlin the provider and Gary Hargadon the finisher this time.
Town's day went from bad to worse early in the second half when player-manager Declan O'Connor suffered a nasty injury to his leg in a collision with Carbury 'keeper Danny O'Leary, another ex-Rovers man who had a brief stint with Castlebar Celtic. #
O'Connor had to be removed by ambulance, which took an age to arrive given that Carbury play within a stone's throw of Sligo hospital. Not the club's fault, of course – and fair play to the Carbury players and officials who did what they could to help the stricken Ballina player.
The player-manager had been playing an advanced role alongside Eugene Gorman and Mark McDonnell, so Eamon Kenny – Town's only sub – took up that role.
Credit to Ballina, the period after the resumption was their best in the game. The only problem was a lack of penetration, which meant O'Leary only had to deal with long-range efforts, the best of which came from the boot of Tansey in a rare foray forward.
Carbury were slick on the break and exposed Town's defence on a number of occasions the longer the game went on.
Still, there was an element of fortune to their third goal. O'Malley, still suffering with a foot injury, tried to make room to kick out a back pass on his left rather than his right foot, but in his shuffling a Carbury attacked nicked the ball away. It broke for Niall McKenna, who hit a first-time shot of excellent accuracy to the bottom corner of the Ballina goal.
After shooting narrowly wide and hitting the crossbar, McCartney finally got his second and Carbury's fourth goal in the dying minutes, putting Ballina out of their misery – and out of the Connaught Cup for this year.
Carbury FC 4
Ballina Town 0
Carbury FC: D. O'Leary, P. Scanlon, A. McLoughlin, D. Shannon, J. Gaffney, K. Lynch, R. McLoughlin, C. Jinks, J. McCartney, N. McKenna, G. Hargadon.
Subs used: B. McLoughlin, K. Carty.
Ballina Town: K. O'Malley, T. O'Connor, B. Giblin, D. Tansey, M. McCarron, D. McCormack, D. Helly, R. Kenny, M. McDonnell, E. Gorman, D. O'Connor.
Sub used: E. Kenny.
Ref: P. Deering.
•Star rating: John Gaffney...solid as a rock.