Junior A Championship Q/Final

September 8th 2019
Mayo Junior Football Championship
Ballintubber 0-8 Ardagh 1-8
Despite a brave effort, it just wasn’t to be for our Juniors as we fell just short against Ardagh in Swinford today. With both teams finishing with 14 players each, this was a proper winner-take-all affair, played in a full-blooded and physical manner. In the end, we couldn’t cancel out Ardagh’s only goal which came when Mayo forward James Carr nearly burst the net with a penalty kick before half-time.
Regardless, this has undoubtedly been our Juniors’ best campaign for many years. A number of our younger players have come on leaps and bounds, with some lads almost certain to become staples of the Senior team in years to come. Similarly, our more experienced players rolled back the years on several occasions and provided enormous leadership throughout the league and championship campaign. In the white heat of championship, it was a day on which boys became men, with youngsters like Finian Bourke, Jack Walsh, Matthew Fox and Alan McHale all giving fine accounts of themselves. The experienced heads of Tom Earley, Stephen Broderick and Paul Earley certainly weren’t found wanting either and provided steadying hands throughout.
Having been arguably the better team in the first half, we let ourselves down somewhat in the second half with inaccuracy and poor decision-making at crucial moments. Were it not for some occasional mistakes and poor shot selection, we had the winning of this game throughout. We had started brightly with three successive scores from Alan McHale and Matthew Fox. Ardagh’s Kevin Moran had just pointed their opening score before their wing-back Declan Kelly was sent-off for receiving two yellow cards in the space of two minutes.
With the Red and White now a man up, we added a fourth point through a Matthew Fox free before Kevin Moran and James Carr shared a point each. The aforementioned Carr caused trouble with his direct running whenever he got possession, but a well-organised Ballintubber defence would hold him to two scores from play.
We went two ahead once more when Minor panellist Alan McHale converted a tidy ’45. However, disaster struck when Alan Larkin was black-carded and then subsequently red-carded for dissent three minutes before half-time. We were dealt a second blow when Ardagh’s Dean Martin was fouled in the box, with James Carr proceeding to blast the resulting penalty past Niall Staunton.
Now leading for the first time, the half-time score read 1-3 to 0-5 in Ardagh’s favour. The North Mayo men went two in front when the lively Kevin Moran pointed the first score of the second half with a free. As tough tackling was dealt and received by both teams, the Abbeysiders found scores hard to come by. Hugh Geraghty pointed what would be our only point from play in the second half as we begin to let ourselves down with some poor shooting.
While a number of yellow cards were flashed, Ballintubber’s Alan McHale was then black-carded quite harshly heading into the final quarter. Neither team managed to really throw off the shackles, but Ardagh kept their noses in front with a well-taken free from the ground by James Carr. Matthew Fox added two frees for us, but a free from Kevin Moran at the other end ensured that we remained a single point adrift.
With victory there for the taking, Ardagh punished us ruthlessly when a wayward hand-pass was intercepted by substitute Enda Flanagan, who proceeded to land a crucial score from the right-hand side. Brendan Carr then capped an excellent display with when he pointed the insurance score to send Ardagh through to the semi-finals with three to spare.
Ballintubber team that lined out: (1)Niall Staunton (2)Jack Walsh (3)Kevin Shannon (4)Finian Bourke (5)Jarlath Staunton (6)Paul Earley (7)John Kerrigan (8)David McHale (9)Tom Earley (10)Stephen Broderick (11)Hugh Geraghty (0-1) (12)Seanie Larkin (13)Matthew Fox (0-5, 3f) (14)Alan Larkin (15)Alan McHale (0-2, 1 ’45)
Substitutions used: Gavin Roache for Alan McHale (Black Card), Dean Loftus for Hugh Geraghty
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