May 18th 2019 - Mayo Junior Football Championship
Ballintubber 3-9 Tuar Mhic Éadaigh 1-7
Hopes of a tight, tenacious local derby weren’t quite realised on Saturday evening as our Juniors advanced comfortably to the quarter-finals of the Mayo Junior Championship. With both Tourmackeady and Killala both without a single point, ourselves and Kilmaine will now face off in a dead rubber with both having secured their places in the knockout stages.
Despite being well-matched in the physicality stakes and playing with fourteen (and eventually thirteen) men for half the game, we were simply a step above in this local derby. With most of our team no more than a few years either side of twenty, it was youth and experienced that seized the day yet again. Buttressed by seasoned campaigners such as Tom and Paul Earley and captain Kevin Shannon, this youthful Ballintubber team never looked like losing this one.
With two goals and a point bridging the gap between the sides at half time, the Gaeltacht men couldn’t make the extra man count. With Noel Geraghty having being given a straight red, we still maintained control. When Dean Loftus blasted home a third goal early in the second half, the game was all but killed as a contest. A late from Kevin Dolan proved no more than a minor consolation for the visitors.
With a cool, gentle breeze blowing behind their backs, it was Tourmackeady who had taken the lead through a Kevin Dolan free. Captain Darren Kelly and Stephen Staunton also showed well in the early stages as it appeared the visitors would make a game of it. However, we made an early statement of intent when wing-back John Kerrigan forced Lawrence Connellan to tip his goal attempt over the bar. The Abbeysiders goaled in the tenth minute when our big full-forward Dean Loftus set up Noel Geraghty to finish from point blank.
Kevin Dolan replied for Tourmackeady with two neat scores before Matthew Fox and David McHale cancelled them out with a point each. Stephen Staunton pointed for the visitors before Darren Kelly got a fist to a long-range free which forced a reflex save from Tubber’s Niall Staunton. A second point from David McHale put four between the teams before Ballintubber’s Noel Geraghty was sent off for a striking offence.
When it appeared as if the momentum would swing in Tourmackeady’s direction, the Abbeysiders made light of Geraghty’s dismissal when the lively Alan McHale set up Gavin Roache to palm in their second goal.
Leading 2-5 to 0-4 in the third quarter, we laughed off their opponent’s numerical advantage when Dean Loftus took a clever foot pass from Alan McHale before rifling home in an impressive manner. With both teams now seeming to accept their fate, the visitors seemed bereft of inspiration in the forwards. Our otherwise watertight full-back line was breached when veteran Kevin Dolan soccer-styled into the net after his initial shot was saved by Niall Staunton. In a game which saw its fair share of cards, a second straight red was shown to substitute Darragh McGovern late on. This helped the visitors plug a pair of points through Niall O Donnell and Jack Horan, but it made little difference to a game which had been settled long before.
Ballintubber team: (1)Niall Staunton (2)Jack Walsh (3)Kevin Shannon (4)Finian Burke (5)Jarlath Staunton (6)Paul Earley (7)John Kerrigan (8)Tom Earley (9)David McHale (0-2), (10)Noel Geraghty (1-1) (11)Dean Loftus (1-0) (22)Gavin Roache (1-0) (18)Matthew Fox (0-1, 1f) (14)Hugh Geraghty (0-3, 2f) (15)Alan McHale
Substitutions used: Aaron Lally for Gavin Roache, Darragh McGovern for Gavin Roache