Thursday, 24 March 2011 13:24
A spirited Ballyheane display proved in vain at Carramore on Sunday afternoon as Tommy Walsh's late winner in extra time secured for the hosts a ticket into the quarterfinals of the Connaught Junior Cup. The full time whistle sounded seconds after Walsh's late heroics, leaving Ballyheane to reflect on what might have been at the end of a pulsating clash.
The visitors coped well during the early exchanges of the first half, with Sean Kilcoyne almost capitalising on a decent chance after just five minutes.
The majority of the first half was evenly contested, with clear-cut chances at a premium. However, Ballyheane appeared the more likely to break the deadlock. They almost pinched the lead on 33 minutes but Padraig Munroe's effort was deflected behind for a corner kick.
At the other end, the busy Johnny Nolan posed problems for the visiting defence, his strike on 35 minutes forcing Ballyheane 'keeper Francis Walsh into action.
The game really livened up when Manulla took the lead on 38 minutes. Following an attacking foray, Mattie Nolan received possession on the edge of the area and his lightning strike flew past the beaten Walsh.
The hosts enjoyed the better of the early second half exchanges and Nolan almost added a second goal after 52 minutes, this time his effort going just marginally off target.
However, two minutes later a good delivery from Griffin found Nolan and from inside the area, the Manulla danger man this time finished with aplomb.
To their credit, Ballyheane responded impressively. Munroe pegged a goal back on 55 minutes after he was set-up by the hardworking Johnny Nolan.
Manulla were wary of an impending Ballyheane comeback and they were eager to end the game as a contest, but efforts from Nolan and Griffin were thwarted by the alert Walsh.
With the game in the balance, Manulla substitute Declan Tonra could well have sealed the win on 74 minutes, but from close-range his effort flew over the crossbar.
In one last-ditch attempt for an equaliser, Ballyheane pushed men forward for a last minute corner kick. Gerry Burke swung it in, the ball fell kindly for John Kelly, and his close-range strike nestled in the net, forcing extra time.
Ballyheane had the momentum and created the better of the chances during the first period of extra-time, with David Sheridan almost finding the target only for a superb point-blank save from James Jennings in the Manulla goal.
The hosts were awarded a penalty eight minutes into the second period of extra time after Tommy Walsh' header was handled on the goal line by Seamus Conroy, who was shown a red card by referee Michael McCay. However, Dessie Campbell's spot kick fizzed inches wide, and it looked as though a penalty shootout would be required to decide the issue.
But there was to be a dramatic late twist to this epic contest. In one last attempt on goal by Manulla, Malachy Byrne's free kick found Tommy Walsh and in a crowded goal area and he managed to guide the ball to the net and secure victory for his side.
Manulla: J. Jennings, D. Gallagher, C. McGlade, B. Cuffe, T. Walsh, D. Coleman, M. Byrne, J. Griffin, G. Durkan, R. Clarke, M. Nolan.
Subs used: D. Tonra, D. Campbell.
Ballyheane: F. Walsh, P. Munroe, M. Roche, S. Conroy, J. Kelly, A. Tuffy, M. Conroy, J. Nolan, D. Sheridan, G. Burke, S. Kilcoyne.
Subs used: B. Howley, N. Tuffy.
Ref: M. McCay.
Star rating: Mattie Nolan (Manulla)...two clinical strikes.