Ballinode C.C……………. (1) 1 St. Josephs C.C………… (3) 6
The lovely Knocknarea Arena of I.T. Sligo played host to this school’s senior soccer encounter between local side Ballinode C.C and St. Josephs Charlestown on Wednesday afternoon on one of the best days weather- wise that we have witnessed this autumn. The soccer season has been curtailed in school due to the poor climatic conditions that have left pitches in their wettest state for years and a backlog of fixtures await.
Perhaps the only reference to weather should be Hurricane Luke, due to the dazzling display by midfield dynamo Luke Dunleavy, who put on such a skilful display in the way he toyed with the opposition, set up countless opportunities for his team mates and made it all look so easy against opposition that never lay down. In fact, the score line does not do justice to the part Ballinode played in this match as they fought to the very end but could not breach a defence that stopped everything. Throw in a few world class saves from the ever-dependable Declan Forkan and we realise that this was by no means a stroll in the park.
Charlestown got down to business from the kick off and when Dunleavy found Niall Drudy with a Wes Houlihan-like pass after 5 minutes the youngster teed up Jack Mahon for a deft chip that opened his account. Forkan was called on right away as the home side went down the other end and brought a full length save from the Saints custodian.
Dunleavy took total control of the middle of the park from then on, he seemed to have so much time and space to pick passes for his team pressing forward. The second goal came after 18 minutes when a cross from Ben Conway, who revelled in his midfield role, caused chaos in the box. Mahon pounced like a man possessed to divert the ball into the bottom corner of the net. Paddy Goldrick was now beginning to feed off the plentiful supply from midfield and he began asking questions of a hard working Ballinode rear-guard and was rewarded in the fullest with a lovely goal of his own on 26 minutes courtesy of another Dunleavy ball to give the visitors a 3-0 lead. Ballinode did hit back before the half time break and hit the net on 39 minutes. Forkan made a great stop but the rebound was bundled over the line for a much-deserved score for the Sligo school. Eoin Beirne had an opportunity to extend the lead but his shot flew wide after the ‘keeper made a great save from Dunleavy.
The second half started with the expected back lash from the Ballinode men and what a back lash it was. Five minutes in, Forkan made a fine tip over save which resulted in a corner, the first of six, yes six corners in a row. The young Charlestown defence stood still, Jack Brennan and Ciarán Honeyman cleared everything and then did it again and again. Niall Drudy and Eoin Goldrick looked as if they played senior for years and their outlets on either wing Luke O’Donohue and Eoin Beirne joined in to calm the storm. When you see Jack Mahon foraging back in his own defence you understand there is a war to be won and no better man to do it. Himself and Goldrick senior really dug in for this period and Ben Conway let his engine take the ball out of defence.
Ballinode truly deserved something from their 15-minute onslaught but it was that man Dunleavy again that broke their hearts when he unleashed another defence splitting ball, gathered by Mahon and after a bit of twisting this way and that Jack struck for his hat trick. This was really the game clenching goal.
Adrian Flatley joined the play and settled in seamlessly in centre of defence. There were also debuts for David Doherty who applied himself well, as did Dillon Curry. Dylan Marren and James Gallagher did similar when called on. Two late goals, inevitably, another, a powerful header this time a la Daryl Murphy from Mahon, his fourth! and a much-deserved goal via a deflection for Luke O’Donohue.
Dinner table talk must be quite interesting in the Mahon household these days. Jack scores 4 goals a few days after his sister Amy was chosen for the Connaught FAIS School Girls. Amy is an accomplished goalkeeper! (We wish her well in her new settings).
This game had everything good about school’s football, great skills, super refereeing, good honesty from both teams and not a bad tackle or harsh word from either side and Hurricane Luke! Both teams were a credit to their schools. Well done to all.
Next up for the Senior team is Glenamaddy on Monday November 6th.