Mayo Senior League Division 1
Ballintubber 2-15 Kiltimagh 1-3
Our seniors looked primed and ready for the Championship as we secure an emphatic League win over Kiltimagh yesterday evening. A first-half scoring blitz with the wind at our backs left us 2-11 to 1-1 ahead, with the scores spread across all six of our starting forwards. As a brief but nasty rain shower fell, goals from Ciarán Gavin and Cillian O’Connor left this fixture done and dusted at half-time. Despite our opponents’ unwavering work ethic, two points were all our miserly defence yielded to them in the second half.
Based on this performance, Kevin Johnson’s charges look to be in peak condition as we soon begin Phase 2 of the defence of our county title. The return of Brian Murphy from Canada and Michael Plunkett and Cillian and Diarmuid O’Connor from Mayo duties was a huge boost, but this was an excellent all-round team performance.
Fielding our strongest team in many months, we took the game to the opposition from the very beginning. We pointed three unanswered scores from Stephen O’Malley and Cillian and Diarmuid O’Connor before Kiltimagh had their best passage of play. Corner-forward Eoin Lavin pointed their opener from the left before stole in behind our defence to put a goal past Brendan Walsh. However, this was as good as it got for the East Mayo side as they failed to score again until the last ten minutes of the game.
In the meantime we sailed in front as our forwards reeled off numerous unanswered scores. Cillian O’Connor acted a menacing target man for our attacks, but a noble display from Kiltimagh’s Kevin Moran curtailed some of his influence. Nonetheless, Mayo’s all-time leading scorer was flawless on the dead balls, finishing with three pointed frees in both halves.
In spite of a heavy shower of rain, we netted two very similar goals in the last five minutes of the first half, leaving victory all but assured. The first came when Ciarán Gavin got a fist to a long ball from Alan Dillon before another high ball from Jason Gibbons man was turned in by Cillian O’Connor.
With us holding commanding sixteen-point lead, Kiltimagh retreated into a more defensive formation. However, our patient build-up play meant we conceded very few turnovers as we remained in total control. Our mean defending ensured that the visitors didn’t score until late in the second half when Eoin Lavin’s ‘Hail Mary’ was tipped over the cross-bar by Brendan Walsh.
Eyes were undoubtedly cast on next week’s Senior and Intermediate Championships, both teams ran their benches. Brian Murphy made a welcome return to the Red and White jersey for his first appearance since the Connacht final last Novemeber.
Kiltimagh’s Eoin Carroll and Cillian Finn showed well after being introduced while veteran Gary Mallee managed their only other score from an acute angle. The sum of our second-half scoring consisted of three Cillian O’Connor frees while the excellent Ciaran Gavin and Jason Gibbons shared a point each.
Ballintubber team that lined out: (1)Brendan Walsh (2) Gary Loftus (3)Joe Geraghty (4)Finian Bourke (5)Damien Coleman (6)Michael Plunkett (7)Myles Kelly (8)Jason Gibbons (0-1) (9)Ciarán Gavin (1-1) (10)Noel Geraghty (0-2) (11)Alan Dillon (0-1) (12)Diarmuid O’Connor (0-2) (13)Padraic O’Connor (0-1) (14)Cillian O’Connor (1-6, 6f) (15)Stephen O’Malley (0-1)
Substitutions used: Keelan McDonnell for Diarmuid O’Connor, Brian Murphy for Finian Bourke, Jarlath Staunton for Alan Dillon, Hugh Geraghty for Noel Geraghty, John Kerrigan for Damien Coleman,
Kiltimagh team: Michael Schlingermann, Conor Gallagher, Kevin Mulderrig, Sean Moran, Jason Forkan, Conor Heneghan, Liam Kelly, Paul Kelly, Sean Walsh, Sean Forkan, Tomás Keegan, Conor Mallee, Cian Gallagher, Rory Grogan, Eoin Lavin (1-2)
Substitutions used: Dylan Roache for Sean Forkan, Stephen McDonnell for Conor Heneghan, Ronan Mallee (0-1) for Rory Grogan, Cillian Finn for Liam Kelly, Eoin Carroll for Liam Kelly, Gary Regan for Sean Moran