August 7 2021
Mayo Senior League Division 1 Round 1
Westport 1-7 Ballintubber 1-12
Our first outing in the Mayo Senior League ended in defeat yesterday on a wet, dreary evening in Westport.
Played out in very wet and windy conditions, our seniors were desperately unlucky with some of the goal chances we missed in the first half.
In addition to two shots which came thundering back off the crossbar, we created a number of serious goal chances playing into an Atlantic gale.
This meant we found ourselves trailing by six points at half-time when we might otherwise have been level with Westport, who we are to face in this season’s senior championship.
This is not to take away from the home side, who looked impressive and assured on home soil despite the absence of their six county players plus former Mayo panellist Colm Moran.
The Lambert brothers, Killian Kilkelly and Alan Kennedy all performed well for the Covies. Full-forward Kevin Keane also engaged in a fascinating old-school battle with our own Finian Bourke.
Goal chances were not so plentiful in the second half unfortunately. While we managed to kick 0-6 in the second half, our opponents clocked up enough scores to keep more than a goal between the sides.
Some poor decision- making and shot selection in the final quarter also hampered our honest efforts.
The weather conditions made play very difficult for both sides, meaning dispossessions, errors and turnovers were frequent.
Jason Gibbons stood out once again in a fascinating match-up with big Shane Scott from Westport.
Likewise, Jack Walsh impressed in the half-backs in his first senior start of the season while Stephen O’Malley performed admirably at corner-forward given the difficult playing conditions.
After Westport kicked the opening two points, we put the ball in the net in the opening ten minutes when Jason Gibbons drove up the middle before feeding Noel Geraghty, who buried it home with a class finish.
The response from the Covies was clinical. Playing with an almighty breeze behind them, the hosts produced 1-3 through some slick team moves and lively forward play.
Pat Lambert beat Frank Walsh to put the hosts five ahead, but that was as good as it got for Westport in the first half in terms of goal chances.
There is no doubt, if we had had the rub of the green, we might well have levelled the game.
Instead, many began to wonder if a curse had been laid on Patrick O’Malley’s crossbar, which wobbled after goal attempts from both Aaron Lally and Ciarán Gavin.
However, it wasn’t to be, and by half-time, we had only put 1-1 on the scoreboard through Noel Geraghty.
Despite trailing by six points at half-time, we had the advantage of a powerful breeze heading into the third quarter.
This, however, did not translate into scores as we would have liked. Two stunning frees from Stephen O’Malley – including one from the sideline – were all that we managed before the water break, both of which were nullified by three points from Westport’s Kevin Keane and Alan Kennedy.
The introduction of Alan Dillon added some spark to our play, but the former Mayo captain didn’t find the posts until the last minute of normal time.
It was an effort that only reduced Westport’s lead to five, and Jerome Henry’s final whistle put the seal on a deserved win for the Covies.
Ballintubber team that lined out: (1)Frank Walsh (2)Gary Loftus (3)Finian Bourke (4)Myles Kelly (5)Jack Walsh (6)Joe Geraghty (7)Keelan McDonnell (8)Jason Gibbons (9)Hugh Geraghty (10)Alan Plunkett (11)Noel Geraghty (1-2, 1f) (12)Aaron Lally (13)Ciaran Gavin (14)Stephen O’Malley (0-3, 3f) (15)Damien Coleman (0-1)
Substitutions used: Brian Murphy for Joe Geraghty (half-time), Stephen Burke for Aaron Lally (half-time), Alan Dillon (0-1) for Alan Plunkett (43 min), Darragh McGovern for Ciarán Gavin (59 min), Robbie Finnerty for Damien Coleman (60 min, inj)