Late goal sees Ballinora win Féile Premier 2 football title

By Rory Noonan, The Echo

Ballinora 3-6
St Michael’s 2-8
(After extra time)
BALLINORA won the Premier 2 Féile football title dramatically after extra time at Bishopstown.
And hero of the day was Ben Hegarty, who scored a goal directly from a free to win the title for his side.
Trailing by two points, he knew that a white flag was no good and with literally the final kick of the game he found the top corner to see his side come out on top after a simply superb game.
Both sides deserve credit for the part they played in the decider, with Jack Punch, Darragh O’Flaherty, and Conor Stack leading by example for St Michael’s, who can’t be faulted for their efforts.
But huge credit must go to Ballinora as a team, for their resilience and never-say-die attitude when they went down to 14 late on.
They had outstanding displays all over the pitch, with Hegarty being one of them.
Others to impress for the winners included the likes of James O’Sullivan, Alex Lehane, and Billy Mehigan, to name a few.
Michael’s started the game the better of the two sides with early points from Punch and Stack putting them in front before O’Sullivan hit back for Ballinora.
With 10 minutes gone, Michael’s raised their first green flag when Darragh O’Flaherty scored a penalty, following a foul on Ronan O’Grady.
This put them 1-2 to 0-1 up, but it didn’t take Ballinora long to hit back, with Billy Mehigan finding the back of the net at the other end.
Stack pointed for Michael’s and just before half time, Punch was unlucky not to get another goal when his effort came back off the crossbar.
O’Sullivan pulled a point back for Ballinora at the start of the second half.
He then found the back of the net, after Lehane played him in, to make it 2-2 to 1-3. Hegarty added a point from a free to put three between the sides.
Oran Kingston made it 2-4 to 1-3 before Ballinora had Alex Lehane sent off for a second yellow card offence.
Michael’s made the most of the extra man, with Cian Coates scoring two frees to reduce the deficit.
Stack added another from a free before a late point from Punch had them level to take it to extra time, 1-7 to 2-4.
Michael’s got the perfect start to extra time when Punch scored a goal, with O’Sullivan replying at the other end.
Punch added a point and at half time in extra time, it was now 2-8 to 2-5 in Michael’s favour.
Denis O’Mahony pointed for Ballinora before we had that dramatic finish which saw Hegarty find the back of the net to secure the title for his side with a strike worthy of winning any final.
Scorers for Ballinora: J O’Sullivan 1-3 (1f), B Hegarty 1-1 (1-0 f), B Mehigan 1-0, O Kingston, D O’Mahony 0-1 each.
St Michael’s: J Punch 1-3, D O’Flaherty 1-0, C Stack 0-3 (3f), C Coates 0-2 (2f).
BALLINORA: D Fenton; L Gaffney, M Cremin, P Twohig: O Kingston, A Lehane, J O’Sullivan; B Hegarty, C Murphy; B Mehigan, C Murphy, F Murphy; P O’Mahony, D O’Mahony, D Conway.
Subs: O Murphy, P McCoy, T Mahon, T O’Reilly, H McCoy, P O’Regan, B Murphy, C Noonan, C Murphy.
St MICHAEL’S: A McEvoy; J Mahony, O Walsh, L Mackesy; J Gartland, D O’Flaherty, H Spratt; C Stack, O McCaffrey; B O’Callaghan, J Punch, K Stack; C O’Neill, R O’Grady, C Coates.
Subs: R O’Connell, J Toomey, C Hanna, R Walsh, F Butler, J Dwyer, R O’Donaile, J Kearney, T Mulconry, B O’Callaghan.
Referee: Luke Knight, Kilmurry.