While two goals came late on when the game was gone from Mayfield, Murphy’s first goal was the spark for the Muskerry side to pull away in the first half, opening up a 1-2 to 0-2 lead which would be 1-8 to 0-3 by half-time.
When Michael Murphy added another goal for Ballinora immediately after the restart, it served to deflate any Mayfield hopes of a second-half fightback, and the city side are now eliminated from the championship, awaiting the losers of the Macroom-Kinsale tie in the relegation play-off.
A big improvement will be needed in that tie, as they found themselves undoubtedly second-best here, unable to cope with Ballinora’s midfield dominance, as Michael Hodge and Alan O’Neill combined well to ensure a near-monopoly on the aerial exchanges.
That allowed the attack to prosper – all of their scores came from the starting six forwards – and ensured that Mayfield would never really challenge after a relatively close opening.
The first 10 minutes provided four equally-shared points and goal chances for Ballinora’s Pat Fitton and Nicky Kelly of Mayfield, but once Conor Murphy struck for Ballinora’s first green flag, after good work by his unrelated namesake Michael, they got firmly on top.
With more of a cutting edge in attack (Roy Scannell was the only Mayfield forward to score more than once), Ballinora set about strengthening their advantage and by half-time they were in a very strong position as they led 1-8 to 0-3.
Had even some of their eight wides also been converted, they would have been out of sight. But within two minutes of the restart they had more or less put the game beyond their opponents as Michael Murphy profited by a lovely Ian Wycherley threaded pass to deposit the ball to the Mayfield net.
Though Scannell and Ben Aherne exchanged frees in the minutes after that, the tempo had dropped considerably as the outcome was apparently cut and dried. After Conor Brosnan had extended Ballinora’s lead to 2-10 to 0-4, however, a pointed free from Scannell, closely followed by a goal from sub Andrew Lynskey, gave Mayfield some hope, though eight points still separated the teams.
The idea of a comeback was never given enough of a chance to germinate, as Conor Murphy got his second goal following a good Fitton pass, and in the final minute of normal time he completed the hat-trick, the beneficiary of unselfish play from sub Dara O’Neill.
Mayfield’s Scannell had the final score to bring his personal tally to four points, but now they find themselves in the final nobody wants to play in.
Scorers for Ballinora: C Murphy 3-2, M Murphy 1-2, I Wycherley, C Brosnan (2fs) 0-2 each, B Aherne, P Fitton 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayfield: R Scannell 0-4 (2fs), A Lynskey 1-0, B Hegarty, D Grainger (1f) 0-1 each.
BALLINORA: E Walsh; D O’Neill, G O’Halloran, N Collins; M Kelleher, C O’Connor, T McGrath; M Hodge, A O’Neill; I Wycherley, C Brosnan, B Aherne; M Murphy, C Murphy, P Fitton.
Subs: C Lucey for Hodge (50, injured), D Crotty for O’Connor, D O’Neill for M Murphy (both 54).
MAYFIELD: R Quaine; B O’Leary, S Hackett, P Fitzgerald, R O’Sullivan, K Brosnan, S O’Donovan; C Bond, S Fitzgerald; S O’Sullivan, N Kelly, R Scannell; S Kelly, B Hegarty, D Grainger.
Subs: D Lucey for O’Leary (ht), A Lynskey for Bond (46).
Referee: J Bermingham (Bride Rovers).