Ballinode………….5     St.Joseph’s …………………..4

This was an absolute cracker of an u17 game played in I.T.Sligo on Monday. Credit must go to both teams who put on a wonderful spectacle on a chilly winters morning under the nose of scenic Benbulben.It could be billed as a ‘goal of the season contest also’, such was the  breath taking scores that were taken by both teams.

Declan Forkan, lining out in his u17 match was only seconds into his debut when his reflexes were tested by a Ballinode forward and while the Charlestown custodian was equal to the shot he was powerless in keeping the rebound out. St.Joes were a goal down.

How often does the team that has just scored fall to a quick equaliser? Luke Dunleavy strolled out of his defence and from inside the centre circle hit an outrageous shot goalward, it flew into the top corner and was applauded by both St.Joes and the opposition alike such was its beauty! Goal of the season, or was it!

This game flowed from end to end and was refereed very well by the Sligo whistleblower. With 15 minutes gone Matty Lenehan hit a thunderous shot that cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and it flew into the net. The lead was short-lived as Ballinode, to their credit, equalised immediately, a neat finish from the left side of the pitch. Such was the pace and accuracy of the game there were no wides in the first half and very few in the second either. Eoin Beirne was inspirational all through the game. Lenehan, leading well as captain hit a low powerful drive that flew into the bottom of the net to restore his sides lead on 25 minutes. Then it was time for the young lads to turn on the style. Alan Brennan was solid enough in his first game. Jack Mahon grew in confidence and punished the opposition at every opportunity with his clever reading of the game. Paddy Goldrick showed his ability in setting up Darragh Casey for the 4th goal, a well taken effort after the Ballinode ‘keeper batted away his first effort. Then, you guessed it; Ballinode went down the other end and sent a lovely chip to the roof of the St.Joes net to reduce the deficit. Credit to the fine defending of Forkan and Dunleavy for making goal line clearances to keep the Joes boys in front at half time. The second half had St.Joes well on top early on, Mahon with some nice play, as well as a couple of Brad Moran efforts. Add to that Pádraig Duffys shot over the ‘bar and a couple of Con O’Toole shots. But midway through the half the home side got on level terms with a close range finish. With the game petering out it looked like a draw was on the cards but to be fair to Ballinode they were the hungrier and got a breakaway winner 3 minutes from the end. Charlestown gave it their all, including the subs, Shekie Mitrovic, Adam Craig and James Gallagher .Thanks to Cathal and Keelan for their assistance.