Wonderful Westport win it in extra-time

Photo: @AIB_GAA

Marketing campaigns, by their nature, tend towards vacuous twaddle but the one about the club championships being the toughest is more accurate than most. This was illustrated down at Cusack Park, Ennis, this afternoon when unfancied Westport slugged it out in the rain with Kenmare, eventually winning their All-Ireland IFC club semi-final after extra-time by 1-10 to 0-11.

Kenmare started this tie far stronger, justifying those 1/6 pre-match odds by racing into a four-point lead early on. It took Westport a full fifteen minutes to register their first score, though by then they’d shot a few bad wides and had fluffed at least one good goal chance.

At half-time, the Mayo lads were just a point in arrears. I think it was then that Mickey Ned O’Sullivan first said on the Local Streaming broadcast that the longer this battle went on, the more the odds would favour Westport. His logic – prescient as it transpired – was that Kenmare had no experience of extricating themselves from a proper battle and he reckoned that if it became a real tussle, then the battling Coveys could have the edge.

When the Kerry lads moved three clear with less than ten minutes to go, though, it looked like they’d done enough to seal the deal. All the more so when Westport passed up on yet another goal chance, with Kenmare’s possession game getting ever more confident with every passing minute.

Then, however, came the moment that altered the course of this contest. With time running out, Westport were awarded a hotly-disputed penalty (I was watching the action on Local Streaming and I’ve no idea, I’m afraid, what it was for), which was dispatched to the net to bring the match level. The Mayo lads then went in front, only for Kenmare to secure extra-time with a late, late leveller.

Kenmare were a point to the good at half-time in extra-time but coming down the closing stretch it was Westport who found the extra-gear. With five minutes to go and the teams level, Lee Keegan won a stirring turnover in the Kenmare half to set up the lead score.

Kenmare threw everything at Westport from there to the end but they kept getting snared in the Westerners’ well-organised blanket. Then, when a Kenmare attack broke down with just seconds left, a swift counter-attack ended up with a 3 v 2 at the other end. Westport opted to take the point, with the final whistle sounding once the ball was kicked out again.

This was a massive win for Westport. Kenmare were huge favourites to win today – with only eight senior clubs in Kerry, the Intermediate champions in the Kingdom are always serious contenders for All-Ireland glory, as a quick look at the honours list for the club IFC title shows.

By felling such illustrious opposition, Westport will now head to Croke Park with justified confidence in their ability to finish the job. In that decider in three weeks time, they’ll face St Colmcille’s of Meath, who overcome Tyrone’s Pomeroy by 3-11 to 2-13 in today’s other semi-final.

In today’s curtain-raiser at Cusack Park, Louisburgh enjoyed a great start against Glenbeigh-Glencar in their All-Ireland JFC club semi-final, leading by 0-8 to 0-2 at one stage. The Kerry side reeled them in, however, and their ability to find the net repeatedly (Darran O’Sullivan’s wonder-goal is here) saw them run out winners by 4-14 to 0-13.

Hard luck to Louisburgh, who clearly gave it everything and who did so well to go so far in this competition. They can be justifiably proud of their achievement in doing as well as they did.

In ladies football, meanwhile, Mayo were narrowly beaten by Galway in today’s opening round League meeting at Swinford. Galway won by 2-8 to 0-10, all but two of the Mayo scores coming from, you’ve guessed it, Cora Staunton. A round-up of of today’s LGFA action is here and photos by Michael Maye of today’s match are here.

Finally, Galway came out on top in today’s FBD League final, beating Roscommon by 2-14 to 0-15 at Kiltoom this afternoon. That’s two defeats in a week for the Rossies, who now have to prepare for a tough League opener up in Healy Park against Tyrone. The Tribesmen, meanwhile, start their Division Two campaign next weekend with a tasty fixture against Cork at Pearse Stadium.

Today, though, belonged to those wonderful Westport lads. The photo below sums up the magic of club football and what it means when you realise that it’s you and your teammates who are able to show that you’re the toughest:

Photo: @Sportsfile/Diarmuid Greene

39 thoughts on “Wonderful Westport win it in extra-time

  1. A Mayo team beating a Kerry team has not happened that often in recent years in club football at these grades (intermediate and junior), especially due to the way that the Kerry club championship is structured. So a win like this has to be really applauded. Best of luck to them in the final against their Meath opponents!

  2. Well done Westport. A real tooth and nail ending. It’s great to dig out one like that and its not their first time doing it in that style so it’ll stand to them and all this without their top scorer. Looking good.

  3. Fair play to Westport..Will be great excitement there tonight no doubt..Belated congrats on the new swish blog WJ..

  4. Well done to Westport I’m delighted for them I hope Lee Keegan and the lads get their all Ireland medal am going to Croker with god’s help to cheer them
    On

  5. Well done Westport but the job isn’t done yet. Go now and win the bloody thing. Best of luck in the final.

  6. Well done Westport. A victory made of sheer guts and determination. Thank God for the local Streaming service !!

  7. That game really was a cracker!
    Very well done to Westport, what a battle! It’s always nice to get one over a Kerry team to boot.

    Best of luck to ye in the final now.

    Commiserations to Louisburg, what a journey.

    I hope this experience brings on both clubs further a strong south-west GAA scene is just what Mayo needs.

  8. Brilliant win by Wesport today. Their physicality really helped them and they fought almost every ball. Thought their forward line did a great job. Well done to their supporters. Really got behind them all the way. Their mini hill 16 army of school kids going from one end of the pitch to the other were mighty.

  9. Fantastic win by Westport. Great performances all round but some of the young Westport players need a special mention. Colm Moran put in an exceptional shift.Hard luck to Louisburg.

  10. Edge of the seat stuff today. Great heart and determination saw the Westport lads through. The defense was superb in the extra time sessions, keeping it within reach. Would have been easy let in a few more points, but the never say die attitude was evident, even when some of the boys seemed knackered. Onward to Croker and a really good chance for winners medals. Well done!

    BTW, love the new website WJ.

  11. Well done to Westport, brilliant performance in tough conditions today. When you look at the talent, athleticism and age profile of that team they really are a frightening prospect in the senior championship for the next few years!

  12. Congraats to Westport and hard luck to Louisburgh. It really was hard luck to come up against a player of Darren O’Sullivan”s ability.
    I presume Lewis Cawley is still out with the injury he sustained in the Connacht Final. But does anyboddy know what ruled out Liam Kitterick? Has he any chance of being back fit for the final?
    Between St Patrick, Michael Ring and the Babes of Babestation they will surely ensure that the cup makes it back to the shores of Clew Bay.

  13. Is Colm Moran minor this year? It was mentioned he was minor but thought maybe it was a reference back to the 2016 minors of which he was a part. If he is minor this year again he is one to watch. He was winning some scrappy ball and holding his ground even when marked closely with two defenders.

  14. Congrats Damien Loftus and his astute management on having the Westport Team so well prepared and conditioned to display great mental strenght, resolve, fitness and sheer will to win to overcome the odds.. Overcoming a club from the Kingdom makes it all the sweeter. One more major Hurdle needs to be overcome to be crowned All Ireland Intermediate Champions…. A nice ring ti it eh, Michael !

  15. Great to see a Mayo club get one bet Kerry. Their defence was well organised but the forward line needs to improve a bit. They’ll be down as favourites now… but remember Cbar last year against Bboden.
    Did anyone notice that LKeegan was very effective in the centre half forward role when he moved there.
    The local streaming is a good idea but mine buffered continuously.

  16. How does one access the local streaming service? It is clearly very popular with all local GAA followers.

  17. Wow – what a day for Mayo football across the spectrum! Nice to see the Mayo ladies back in action, there is more good to come for them, we all KNOW that! All the best to Louisburgh – lads you left it all on the pitch and showed true #MayoProud – thank you for your determination! Westport, wonderful Westport, what a way to celebrate your town’s 250th birthday! The conditions were tough, but lads you were the #Toughest ! Once again a Mayo team is heading to Crocker and God willing, the All Ireland medals will cross the line to Mayo yet again (like our wonderful U21s this year). To all those that gave everything today, thanks for making the Mayo football ride so exciting for your fans! Your dedication to constant training and playing is such conditions sets a high standard that makes us all proud. To the supporters to traveled for hours round trip to watch games in the cold rain – you are the ones that keep the dream alive and show the depth of the pride in Mayo! It all comes down to that pride – even the best wishes sent to the team today from all the various clubs in Mayo, we may play each other on the pitch, but we support our winners on their next game. THIS IS MAYO, we are one family and bound together in our love of football and pride for our county. Thank you all! With this said…I’m feeling 2017 is our year – February 19 in Crocker for Westport and lets all be there September 17th as well – what say you all? Willie Joe-great article as well, thanks for capturing the spirit of all the matches. Maigh Eo Abu”

  18. Yesterday has given me a very positive outlook on Mayo football. A nice way to starting the week, more positive than if the Mayo seniors had for example won a League game really well.
    Louisburgh despite the scoreline were competitive. With such a young team they will improve massively. You factor then that they just about got past Balla another very young team. Then factor that they are effectively playing a much higher placed team in Kerry. The Louisburgh forwards were at times quite good when attacking. In terms of prospects for senior, Kevin Gibbons was very much in the Cormac Costelloe mold. He can jink left or right and can shoot with either foot. Has loads of skill, pace and is hard to disposess. Padraig Prendergast has great driving force when he’s up and running. Could maybe run straighter lines, I think he doesn’t know his own strength. Padraig OMalley was clearly not himself yesterday. He’s normally a driving runner. But he showed some of his excellent passing. He could be a lad has a big 2017 at Intermediate.
    Then you have Westport who scraped past Moy Davitts and Shrule Glencorrib. Again an exceptionally young team. They must be the youngest team to make the Intermediate final. Their players are very athletic, have good teamwork but probably need another season or two to bring on their shooting /attacking.
    Numerous future prospects in this team. Their underage teams are now very strong. I could see a really strong senior team forming in Westport.
    The five player college bursary they have started shows just how motivated this club is.
    It was a few short years ago they had to concede a minor match. Now five of their players each year will get support in College. Keeping that link to the club after secondary school.
    Brilliant stuff all round.

  19. Who will they play in the final?
    I know a few Kenmare lads, they are bleating on about the penalty. Thankfully I still have their quotes from the 2014 all Ireland senior semi final replay regarding how the best team usually wins and you cant blame the ref to throw back at them. Sweet.

  20. Couldn’t understand how Westport were such long odds. They would certainly give a lot of teams in the Mayo SFC a helluva game, more than likely beating the weaker teams in it.

  21. Brilliant. Great start to 2017 for Mayo football. Only 3 weeks til the final too so not an unbearable wait. And means we will have Lee back by March =D

  22. On a sidenote, will the croke park season ticket get us into croker to support Westport in the final.

  23. That win is worth a season of football to West port and it’s great to see the covies coming with a strong GAA team, a town that has always had great soccer teams.

    We need football to be strong all over the county if we are to be successful at senior inter county level and a young successful Westport team is a major addition. The college bursary for 5 players sounds like a brilliant idea as a way to keep young talented players involved with a club. Others like Ballina should take note !

    Anyway congrats to the covies but go all the way now ! And hard luck on Louisburgh who still had a season to be proud of and have plenty to look forward to.

  24. By the way I thought the mark worked very well yesterday. There were clean usable posessions off the kickouts. When a player decided to run the ball defenders are now giving that bit more space so as not to concede 1 further 13 to a free. Between taking the mark or simply running it, it all worked. There were no rucks forming around the man taking posession. I got my fill of nice high catches anyways, some for Westport and several for Kenmare.

  25. I thought the same thing about the mark myself, JP, from what I saw of it in Kiltoom last week. I know there’s been huge scepticism around its introduction but, you know, it could well have a significant positive impact. It’ll be interesting to see how teams use it over the coming weeks.

  26. Personally i think with all the great fielders we have we should be capitalising on the mark and I hope that this is concentrated upon in training.

    We should also make sure that our goalkeeper takes his kickouts in a way that suits our fielders of the ball and this should be the main criteria for goalkeeper selection , ah jaysis , i’m sorry i opened my mouth now 😉

  27. Congrats Westport!
    Really enjoyed that game. Great performances from Mcmenamon McDermott Scott and Moran. Three 18 year olds on the full forward line and I though they ahownes why all 3 were mayo minors in 2015 and 2016. Yes they were guilty of shot selection at times and had a couple of misses but they work rate and endeavor was of the highest quality. Moran won at least 3 frees with 2 or 3 men around him and still held onto the ball. Seven of the players under 19. County champs at 16, won the minor league this year. Future holds well. Great idea with the college fund.

    Wouldn’t be easy in the final. As we know none ever are. but on that display yesterday they have nothing to fear.
    Mike Solan will be glad to get a few of these lads into the U21 setup.

  28. @MayoMessi, were you in Sligo at the NW Cup final? Your summaries are top reading.
    Finally, any idea what age Brian McDermott is? I had thought he was over 21. Figured you would know.

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