October 20th 2018
Mayo Senior Championship Final
Ballintubber 0-12 Breaffy 1-8
A season which began with a three-point Kelly Cup win over Breaffy in Arctic conditions in Clogher on February 25th climaxed in McHale Park this evening as we clenched the Paddy Moclair Cup after a hard-fought but thoroughly deserved win over the same opposition. After a championship campaign which at times pushed the skills, fitness, character, and mental and physical strength of our senior team right to the very limit, victory was no more than this group of men deserved.
It may not have been pretty at times, but if Kevin Johnson’s men have proved anything this year it’s that they will never be found wanting in terms of heart and determination when donning the Red and White jersey. After a titanic 160-minute battle with the mighty Castlebar Mitchels and then claiming the scalp of a hugely talented Breaffy outfit this evening, this particular County Title will be remembered as a testament to the character as much as to the footballing ability of this special group.
In the face of a defensive Breaffy unit, our lads had that little bit extra in every area of the field. Jason Gibbons and Diarmuid O’Connor had the edge at midfield while Cathal Hallinan, Brian Murphy and Gary Loftus were rock solid in containing the threat of Conor and Aidan O’Shea in the full-forward line. Up front Alan Dillon was once again our main creative spark and never wasted a single ball while Cillian O’Connor was simply a class act, kicking the bulk of our scores including two monster second half frees.
We initially were dealt a sucker punch only two minutes into a slow-burning first half when Aidan O’Shea caught a high ball at full-forward before charging towards goal where he was fouled by Cathal Hallinan. Referee Vincent Neary awarded a penalty which midfielder Peter Dravins dispatched past Brendan Walsh for the opening score.
Undeterred we responded when corner-forward Stephen O’Malley kicked our opening point five minutes in before Cillian O’Connor added two frees. Breaffy’s Gareth Dunne then kicked their only point from open play of the entire first half before captain Damien Coleman pointed. Two more Cillian O’Connor frees were responded to by a single free from Conor O’Shea, leaving the score at 0-6 to 1-2 at half time.
With Breaffy often massing thirteen or fourteen men behind the ball, the free-taking of Cillian O’Connor proved more valuable than ever as the Cranmore man landed a brilliant dead ball from distance for the opening score of the half. The ever-dependable Alan Dillon got his name on the score sheet with a point in the fourth minute before Cillian landed another screamer of a point a minute later.
All the while, our neighbours kept pace with points from Tommie O’Reilly and Robbie Fadden. Robbie Hennelly also added a ’45 but kicked at least three other dead balls wide, a statistic which ultimately proved very decisive in such a relatively low-scoring contest.
Cillian O’Connor landed yet another free from way out the field which Robbie Hennelly could only tip over the bar, pushing us two points ahead midway through the half. Tommie O’Reilly then pointed his second for his side before Stephen O’Malley kicked our eleventh point, even though one more pass could well have seen Cillian O’Connor rattle the Breaffy net.
Two Conor O’Shea frees levelled matters with five minutes remaining as our third game in a row went right down to the wire. In team abundant with leaders, it was the irrepressible Diarmuid O’Connor who produced one his signature booming strikes to swing over a fabulous left-footed effort to bag what would prove to be the winning score in the fifty-eight minute.
The five minutes of additional time which followed must’ve felt like an eternity to the lads on the pitch, with Aidan O’Shea hitting what would’ve been the equalizing free wide from out near the sideline.
The chance to seal the deal went a begging when Stephen O’Malley fired a point attempt wide, setting up some nerve-shattering final moments. Peter Ford’s men mounted one last attack, eventually getting a shot away which Brendan Walsh parried into space. After a mad scramble among five or six bodies the ball eventually found its way into Ballintubber hands. The glorious shriek of the final whistle followed seconds later, sending Paddy Moclair to spend the winter in the Abbey for only the fourth time in our history.
Ballintubber team that lined out: (1)Brendan Walsh (2)Gary Loftus (3)Cathal Hallinan (4)Brian Murphy (5)Damien Coleman (C) (0-1) (6)Michael Plunkett (7)Ruaidhri O’Connor (8)Jason Gibbons (9)Diarmuid O’Connor (0-1) (10)Ciaran Gavin (11)Alan Dillon (0-1) (12)Alan Plunkett (13)Bryan Walsh (14)Cillian O’Connor (0-7, 6f) (15)Stephen O’Malley (0-2)
Substitutions used: Jamsie Finnerty for Alan Plunkett, Myles Kelly for Gary Loftus, Padraig O’Connor for Ciaran Gavin, Joe Geraghty for Ruaidhri O’Connor