County Final Match Report
October 19th 2019
Mayo Senior Football Championship County Final
Ballintubber 1-14 Ballaghaderreen 1-11
Another glorious chapter in our club’s 109-year history was written last night as our Seniors battled their way to a fifth Senior County Title in 10 years. Much like last year’s victory, this was as much a testament to the character of this team as to their footballing ability. No man could be faulted as Kevin Johnson’s men edged out Ballaghaderreen in what was an extremely tight contest. Every player played their part and stood up to the occasion as our experience and calmness under pressure extended our lead to three in the dying minutes.
Ballaghaderreen were gallant opponents throughout a game in which the teams were level ten times. However, our defence held out manfully in the last ten minutes as Keelan McDonnell and Cillian O’Connor kicked vital insurance scores. An excellent goal from Michael Plunkett before half-time, as well as a super second-half point from Diarmuid O’Connor, would also prove to be crucial scores.
Many had predicted this would be a close and cagey encounter, and that is how it panned out. For most of this game, neither the scoreboard nor the run of play gave an indication as to who would prevail. Ballagh’s forwards looked threatening early on, with the legendary Andy Moran kicking their opening two scores. At the other end, Cillian O’Connor kicked points from play off both feet either side of Moran’s points.
As Ballagh’s midfield put it up to Jason Gibbons and Diarmuid O’Connor, scores from Cormac Doohan, Luke O’Grady, Stephen O’Malley and Cillian brought the scores to 0-4 each.
We came within centimetres of a three-pointer at one stage when Cillian volleyed a long ball from Jason Gibbons, but his shot was cleared off the line.
A free from Ciaran Gavin was then cancelled out by a point from Owen Jordan before Ballagh’ manufactured their only goal. Corner-forward Cormac Doohan got on the end of a long ball over the ‘Tubber defence before rounding Brendan Walsh to finish from point-blank. Noel Geraghty saw a shot at goal smothered at one point before a close-range Andy Moran free put the East Mayo men four in front.
We clawed the gap back to one point in the final minutes of the second half when landed one of our most important scores. Centre-back Michael Plunkett drove past a few Ballaghadereen men, played a clever one-two with Jason Gibbons, and then went past Patrick Sharkey before tapping the ball into the net.
This score was no more than we deserved for the enormous shift we had put in all over the field. A Stephen O’Malley point right at the very end of the half levelled the scores, which read 1-6 apiece at the break.
The second half was a similar affair, with teams being level on four occasions. With David Drake constantly on his case, Cillian O’Connor got the scoring going from a free. Ballaghaderreen wing-back David McBrien drove forward fisted a score before Andy Moran pointed after seeing a goal shot saved by Brendan Walsh. The game was levelled yet again when Moran’s effort was cancelled out by a Stephen O’Malley effort.
With a light raining falling in fits and starts, there was still very little to separate the two sides. All of our backs made key interventions on several occasions and started to lock down Ballagh’s forwards. Indeed, Cian Hanley’s point mid-way through the half would prove to be the last score our backs would yield to them from play.
Substitute Keelan McDonnell announced his arrival by pointing shortly after being introduced, bringing the game to 1-9 each.
Diarmuid O’Connor then landed one of his specialities from way out the field to put us one point in front mid-way through the half. After Cillian O’Connor and Andy Moran traded frees, Alan Dillon was sprung from the bench. The Mayo veteran’s guile and experience stood to us enormously when he set up Keelan McDonnell to kick us two points ahead.
An Andy Moran free brought Ballagh back to within a point of us as we looked set for a grandstand finish. However, the East Mayo men were kept out by a warrior-like Ballintubber defence and failed to score in the final few minutes.
Our lads closed the game out like real champions as a pair of Cillian O’Connor scores gave us a more comfortable three-point lead. Following five long minutes of added time, the final whistle sounded and Ballintubber were deservedly crowned champions.
When Damien Coleman raised Paddy Moclair to the sky once again, this group cemented their legacy as one of the finest teams ever to wear the Red and White jersey.
Another Connacht campaign beckons, with Leitrim champions Glencar/Manorhamilton providing the opposition in two weeks time.
“We are Ballintubber!”
Ballintubber team that lined out: (1) Brendan Walsh (2)Gary Loftus (3)Brian Murphy (4)Ruaidhri O’Connor (5)Damien Coleman (6)Michael Plunkett (1-0) (7)Myles Kelly (8)Jason Gibbons (9)Diarmuid O’Connor (0-1) (10)Ciaran Gavin (0-1, 1f) (11)Cillian O’Connor (0-7, 4f) (12)Bryan Walsh (13)Noel Geraghty (20)Alan Plunkett (15)Stephen O’Malley (0-3)
Substitutions used: Alan Dillon for Alan Plunkett, Keelan McDonnell (0-2) for Noel Geraghty, Padraic O’Connor for Stephen O’Malley