July 17 2022
Mayo Senior Football League Division 1B
Ballintubber 2-11 Ballinrobe 2-7
Our seniors took their first league win from five games as we overcame Intermediate side Ballinrobe in sweltering conditions on Sunday.
Diarmuid O’Connor’s return to the red and white jersey could not have come at a better time, for he was instrumental in us snatching two valuable league points.
Coming in on the back of a 20-point hammering against Westport, Ballinrobe were well in contention for most of this encounter.
The South Mayo men hit a goal in each half, but a much improved second half steered the ship home for our men with four points to spare.
At the helm was Diarmuid O’Connor, who consistently reminded us of just how much we missed him through two well-taken points and his influence on general play.
Likewise, Alan Plunkett played like a man of far less than 37 summers and continues to age like an old fiddle.
Similarly, Ciaran Gavin really came into game in the second half and was a genuine threat at full-forward.
Lining out without several key players, we got off to a fairly decent start in the 25-degree heat.
We showed well early on, with Diarmuid O’Connor and Alan Plunkett striking three times in the first ten minutes.
However, things went badly wrong when Ballinrobe midfielder Ewan Duffy caught a kick-out before sprinting and then teeing up Liam Burke for Ballinrobe’s first goal.
An easy Ciaran Gavin free levelled the game mid-way though the first half, but Ballinrobe continued to win a fair bit of ball around with middle and really tested out defence.
Before the half was over Hugh Geraghty drove over a point while Gary Loftus drove up the field to hit a badly needed leveller with a minute ‘till half-time.
The first half ended 1-3 to 0-6, shortly after Jason Gibbons limped off with a hamstring injury.
The heat may well have exacerbated the slow tempo, as both teams continued to make basic errors in the second half.
But ‘Tubber ignited after ten minutes or so when Ciaran Gavin set up young Josh Mahon for a goal in the 42nd minute.
From then on, we played far more like the team that won five county titles in a decade.
One man who was there for every one of them, Alan Plunkett, was simply superb.
Time and again, Pudsy’s game intelligence complimented a Ballintubber attack that made hay off quick, direct ball.
When Pudsy and Diarmuid later combined to set up Ciaran Gavin for the goal that ultimately sealed the game.
Another Plunkett point followed by a scorcher from Noel Geraghty had us sailing eight points ahead.
Ballinrobe clawed back a goal when Ryan Corcoran sent a daisy cutter passed Brendan Wlash, but it wasn’t enough to put them back in contention
Enda Gilvarry’s men face another absolute must-win league game against Mayo Gaels this weekend.
Ballintubber team that lined out: (1)Brendan Walsh (2)Gary Loftus (0-1) (3)John Kerrigan (4)Finian Bourke (5)Myles Kelly (6)Joe Geraghty (7)Stephen Burke (8)Jason Gibbons (9)Hugh Geraghty (0-1) (10)Keelan McDonnell (11)Noel Geraghty (0-3, 1f) (12)Diarmuid O’Connor (0-2, 1 ’45) (13)Josh Mahon (1-0) (14)Ciaran Gavin (1-2, 1f) (15)Alan Plunkett (0-2)
Substitutions used: David McHale for Jason Gibbons (30, inj.); Gavin Roache for Gary Loftus (35, inj.), Matthew Fox for Stephen Burke (45), Nathan Gibbons for Alan Plunkett (58), James McGing for Josh Mahon (62 mins)
Referee: Kieran Barnicle (Breaffy)
Report by Oisin McGovern
Photos by Tom Quinn