Sub keeper McDonnell is Knockmore hero

Substitute goalkeeper Ryan McDonnell saved a stoppage-time penalty from Mayo star Diarmuid O’Connor to deny Ballintubber a draw that would have sent their SFC quarter-final to extra-time.
Sub keeper McDonnell is Knockmore hero

Knockmore goalkeeper Ryan McDermott is congratulated by his team-mates after the Mayo SFC quarter-final win over Ballintubber in Bekan, Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

DEFENDING champions Knockmore squeezed into the Mayo SFC semi-finals with a dramatic 2-9 to 0-12 victory over Ballintubber at a windswept and rain lashed Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan this evening.

Substitute goalkeeper Ryan McDonnell was the Knockmore hero as he saved a stoppage-time penalty from Mayo star Diarmuid O’Connor to deny Ballintubber a draw that would have sent the game to extra-time.

O’Connor’s kick turned out to be the last of a hard-fought game.

The champions had led at half-time by 1-6 to 0-6 thanks to a well-taken goal from Aidan Orme.

A fortuitous goal early in the second half from Peter Naughton meant that Knockmore looked set to power on to victory.

But despite having influential midfielder Jason Gibbons sent off after being booked twice, Ballintubber battled back to set up a grandstand finish.

Meanwhile, Westport booked their place in the semi-finals for the second year in a row with a nerve-biting late victory over Ballina Stephenites in the first of today’s quarter-finals.

Mayo panellist Fionn McDonagh was the Westport hero, shooting the winning point in the fourth minute of stoppage-time to leave Martin Calvey’s side ahead by 0-13 to 1-9 when the final whistle sounded soon after.

Ballina had looked set to cause an upset in the early stages as they raced into a 1-4 to 0-0 lead while playing with the strong wind. Their goal was scored by another Mayo panellist, Luke Doherty.

However, despite losing key forward Kevin Keane to injury, Westport finally got going in the second quarter and a string of frees from Alan Kennedy, along with a well-taken score from Colm Moran, got them back into contention.

The Stephenites led by 1-5 to 0-5 at half-time and a rip-roaring second half unfolded, despite the difficult conditions.

Westport’s cause wasn’t helped when Rory Brickenden picked up a black card in the third quarter, but a few brilliant scores from Colm Moran at a crucial time kept them in touch.

And a late rally ended with McDonagh’s brilliant winner deep in additional time.

Tomorrow’s quarter-finals feature last year’s beaten finalists Breaffy against surprise packets Belmullet in Ballina at 1pm while Castlebar Mitchels will take on Garrymore in Claremorris at 4pm.

The semi-finals will be played in a fortnight.

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