July 11 2021
West Mayo B Junior Football Championship Final
Ballintubber 1-11 Louisburgh 1-11 AET
**Louisburgh win 4-3 on penalties
History was made in West Mayo as ourselves and Louisburgh had to be separated by penalty kicks in this West Mayo ‘B’ Junior Football Championship Final.
With Croagh Patrick fast fading from view as the night drew closer, Louisburgh’s Ed Ball was the kingmaker when he buried his side’s sixth spot kick after Jason Corrigan denied Padraic O’Connor in sudden death.
They say penalties are a cruel and unfair way to decide a game, a sentiment echoed by many when the scores were deadlocked at 1-11 apiece after 80 minutes.
However, with daylight rapidly fading, there simply was no other way to settle this.
Throughout the entire game, there had barely been a kick between these teams.
Both sides had equal amounts of possession, skills, errors and ultimately, scores.
As usual, our lads weren’t found wanting for heart, effort or determination in a game that was played in beautiful but breezy conditions on an immaculate Kilmeena sod.
Louisburgh may have been a tad more wasteful, kicking more wides and missing more goal chances.
Veterans like Ray Geraghty and Padraic O’Connor led the way in the scoring for the Abbeysiders while Jack Walsh and Finian Bourke gave superb defensive displays.
The game’s only goals came in the first half, with Louisburgh hitting the net after a ball was delivered into the unmarked Diarmaid Lally who slotted it home.
The Abbeysiders responded when Padraic O’Connor played a cute pass over to Ray Geraghty, who sent a missile into the bottom corner from 15 yards out.
With the sides deadlocked at 1-5 each at half-time, Louisburg had their best spell with three unanswered scores in the second half.
The introduction of club legend Austin O’Malley added impetus, with the former Mayo footballer engaging in an interesting battle with our full-back Kevin Shannon.
‘Tubber chipped away at the deficit, with youngsters Robbie Finnerty, Alan McHale and Matthew Redmond all making inroads after being introduced as substitutes.
With the likes of Jack Walsh and Finian Bourke putting in stellar performances in defence, the young guns in Gary Walsh’s team impressed for the occasion.
A point from Hugh Geraghty reduced the gap to a point after the water break before a fine score from the speedy Alan McHale levelled the game.
Patience was a virtue in the final ten minutes, as both sides traded scores before our captainJohn Kerrigan sailed up to kick what looked like the winner.
However, Louisburgh’s Michael Gibbons held his nerve to nail a free that sent the game to extra time.
After inspirational roars of encouragement from management and senior Ballintubber players, the two additional periods only yielded 0-1 apiece, with Seanie Larkin hitting our only score of the twenty minutes.
Both sides went in frantic search of a winner as daylight faded by the minute, but neither blinked.
In the end, it had to come down to penalties, the first such occasion they would be used to decide a game of adult club football in Mayo.
Learning from Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 folly, a blend of youth and experience stepped up to face the whites of Jason Corrigan’s eyes.
First was Robbie Finnerty, who unfortunately sent his shot wide of the mark.
Louisburgh then converted their first, before Ray Geraghty slotted the ball home calmly.
The Clew Bay men added Penalty Number 2, before the experienced Padraic O’Connor sent his shot thundering into the net.
Ballintubber goalie Niall Staunton pulled off a heroic save to deny Louisburgh a third, but we were unable to capitalise as Aaron Lally saw his shot blocked.
Staunton got a hand to Austin O’Malley’s effort but couldn’t keep out his piledriver.
Cillian Redmond’s soccer experience with Ballyheane stood to him when he sent his effort straight into the top corner to keep us in contention.
Louisburgh might have clinched it had James Dowd not sent his effort up and over the bar, forcing the contest to ‘sudden death’.
Having converted his first spot-kick, Padraic O’Connor went low for his second but was denied by Jason Corrigan.
The men from Clew Bay clinched the silverware when Ed Ball held his nerve to make it 4-3, thus bringing the curtain down on a historic day for Mayo club football.
Ballintubber team: Niall Staunton; Jarlath Staunton, Kevin Shannon, Finian Bourke; Jack Walsh, Paul Early, John Kerrigan (0-1); Darragh McGovern, Hugh Geraghty (0-1); Aaron Lally, Padraic O’Connor (0-2, 2f), Seanie Larkin (0-1); Adrian Murphy, Ray Geraghty (1-4, 4f), Alan Larkin (0-1)
Substitutions used: Robbie Finnerty for Murphy (26 min), Alan McHale (0-1) for Alan Larkin (45 min), Darragh Fahey for Jarlath Staunton (50 min), Matthew Redmond for Aaron Lally (54 min), Aaron Lally for John Kerrigan (68 min)
Referee: Paddy Chambers