Ballintubber and Belmullet land the silverware

A crowd of around 8,000 turned up at MacHale Park this evening to see the Senior and Intermediate club football finals, which were played out in incredibly mild late October weather under the lights in Castlebar. When the dust had settled on the two deciders it was the players and supporters of Belmullet and Ballintubber who went off into the near balmy night in high spirits, leaving those of Burrishoole and Breaffy disconsolate and defeated. Such is sport, folks.

At this late hour of the night, having spent the last number of hours on podcasting duties at MacHale Park, I’m not going to dwell at length on the two deciders but will instead sketch out briefly the essentials of what happened in each. Let’s take them in chronological order, starting with the curtain-raiser, the Intermediate final between Belmullet and Burrishoole.

This match – and the James Sweeney Cup – was won in the first half. Having started the game the brighter, Belmullet moved in for the kill swiftly when the chance presented itself midway through the half.

Johnny Donoghue had just landed a cracking point off his left when Burrishoole’s ‘keeper Paraic Holmes miscued his restart, ceding possession close to goal to the opposition. The ball was quickly transferred to Johnny Donoghue who found the net with ease. Just after that, captain Ryan O’Donoghue pointed to send his side seven clear.

The fatal blow came soon after when Johnny Donoghue was once again played in and, one-on-one with Paraic Walsh, was fouled by the ‘keeper in the square as he tried to round him. The ref played advantage, Donoghue wriggled clear and planted the ball into the corner of the net.

Burrishoole had only a solitary point on the board – which came from a Jason Doherty free – at half-time, by which time Belmullet had posted 2-6. The bonfires would surely have started blazing when news of that half-time scoreline filtered back to the Erris peninsula.

The real fear then was that Burrishoole were going to ship an almighty tanking. To their credit, though, they battled on bravely right throughout the second half and while they never got the gap down to the kind of margin that might make victory possible, they did at least manage to bring it back down to respectable levels.

Belmullet’s final point of the game came from James Kelly with a full twenty minutes left to play. By then Burrishoole had only scored three points but by the finish they added a further six, to cut the losing margin to seven points.

Belmullet won in the finish by 2-10 to 0-9. It’s a title win they’ll no doubt celebrate to the full and sure why wouldn’t they? The last time they won the IFC was way back in 1974 so this trophy is a long overdue one for them. Fair play to them.

The main event, by contrast, was a contest that went right down to the wire. There was little between Ballintubber and Breaffy all evening but the Abbeysiders always looked that bit more in control and, in the end, their greater experience and know-how saw them home by a single point, 0-12 to 1-8, in the tightest of finishes.

Breaffy got the dream start. Aidan O’Shea went in full-forward where he plucked a magnificent ball out of the night sky but was dragged down by Cathal Hallinan as he bore down on goal. The Ballintubber full-back was lucky to escape with just a yellow card – it could easily have been black – but Peter Dravins’ expertly converted penalty meant that Breaffy extracted full punishment on the scoreboard for the infraction.

Breaffy, though, failed to build on this early lead. Less than ten minutes later Ballintubber were back on terms, with Cillian O’Connor slotting over two frees, while Steven O’Malley and captain Damien Coleman bagged points from play.

Two further frees from Cillian pushed Ballintubber two clear but over the course of the second quarter all urgency seemed to vanish from the contest as both sides enjoyed long periods of possession with little or nothing to show for their efforts.

When Conor O’Shea landed a free from thirty yards – after Robbie Hennelly had earlier missed three long-range placed ball efforts – it was the first score for ten minutes and Breaffy’s first for twenty. It was also the final score of the first half, with Ballintubber retiring to the dressing room a point in front.

The game opened up a bit more after the break and the scores began to come with a bit more regularity. But such was the underlying caginess of the contest it wasn’t surprising that the first two second half scores came from placed balls. The first was a super long-range effort from Cillian while the next was an expertly converted ’45 from Robbie.

Alan Dillon – who put in a real virtuoso performance tonight – rolled back the years by posting a lovely point on the run. Then, after Tommy O’Reilly had responded for Breaffy, Cillian arrowed over an outrageously good point from play, as he twisted into a shooting position and let fly with venom from distance.

When the same player landed his seventh point of the evening – from another free, his sixth – with fifteen minutes to go, Ballintubber were once more two in front and starting to look like champions-elect. When Steven O’Malley restored that two-point cushion once again, with ten minutes now left on the clock, that feeling grew ever stronger.

But then two Conor O’Shea frees brought this match back level. Could Breaffy now push on and do it?

Five frantic minutes then passed, during which neither side were able to make further progress. In a game of such tight margins, it was going to take something special for one of them to claim the spoils.

That piece of magic came from Diarmuid O’Connor. He was a more subdued figure throughout this evening but when the chance fell to him thirty yards out, on the left, with normal time all but up, he swivelled and then shot off his left to land what proved to be a stunning title-winning point.

Breaffy attacked after that with increasing desperation as the five minutes of injury time ticked down. Deep in stoppage time Conor O’Shea undercooked an attempt at a point and as the ball dropped in the square Aidan O’Shea attempted to connect with it with his fist. Had he done so the ball would surely have ended in the net and it would have been the winning score but ‘keeper Brendan Walsh intercepted to clear his lines. Seconds later it was all over.

You’d need to have a heart of stone not to feel for Breaffy. That’s three finals they’ve now lost since 2013 and this one, in which they came so close, will surely hurt the most. It really is hard to lose.

Ballintubber, by contrast, will feel on top of the world tonight. Down and almost out both nights against Castlebar Mitchels, they battled back first to draw with and then, a week later, to dethrone the champions before grinding out the win tonight by the smallest of margins to claim the Moclair Cup.

Tonight’s win for them is the fourth Senior championship success in the club’s history, not bad going when you consider they only won their first one as recently as 2010. This one means that, like Mitchels, they now have four title wins this decade and tonight they are once more top dogs within the county. Huge congrats to them on their championship victory tonight.

26 thoughts on “Ballintubber and Belmullet land the silverware

  1. Congrats to both winning sides. Didn’t see the intermediate game but was up very early here in Australia to watch the senior match live on mayogaatv. The first half – let’s just say the biggest challenge was to actually stay awake. Awful, turgid stuff. Not a fan of all the proposed new rules but Jesus they can’t come quick enough after watching that.
    Second half came to life for a little bit with a few nice scores and raised intensity levels. Hennellys missed frees cost breaffy big time. Disappointed by breaffy. Matthew Ruane would be eaten alive at intercounty level based on that performance. Gibbons looks a much better player than him to be honest. Diarmuid and Cillian were the men who brought tubber home in the end, alongside my MOTM Alan Dillon. What a class act. It’s pretty depressing from a Mayo county perspective though that the standout player in the county final was a guy who retired 2 years ago.

  2. Agreed, Larry Duff, that first half was pretty uninspiring. Equally uninspiring was the obvious lack of potential fresh talent for Mayo on view this evening. Perhaps Stephen O’Malley and Ciaran Gavin may make it in a few years but for 2019, nothing. I would, however like to see Jason Gibbons given another chance with Mayo. With Tom Parsons probably not fully back until laate summer at best we could need him.
    Breaffy’s biggest problem as I saw it was their slowness in getting the ball up to their forwards and their lack of willingness to go for scores. I always say that the first chance of a point in an attack is the best. Did Shakespeare not say something on that line about opportunity “taken at the flood leads on to fortune”? Certainly looking for a man in a better position when the opportunity of a score presents itself does nothing for your chances in Gaelic football.
    What was Breaffy’s weakness was compounded many times over by Burrishoole in their first half added to by misfortune with the short kickout. Again I say the short kickout is asking for trouble as if forwards are half awake they have to intercept at least a few when defensive cover is at its weakest. So it was today in the intermediate final.

  3. Was there tonight again, a few pubs later back home….. Congrats to Ballintubber, some team , the last 3 match’s were so close, had any of them being a Boxing match we would be looking at ‘count back’s’. .. Tough on Breaffy, but Ballintubber are the type of them that you to be a lot better than to Beat… Definitely will be my last GAA match this year . .. Good Luck to all the Mayo teams in Connacht and hopefully further afield…2019 is another year!

  4. One crazy issue with Breaffy freetaking. Watch it again, Robbie Hennelly deliberately takes the ball 5 yards backwards from the awarding spot.
    One free dropped 2 yards short after Breaffy chose to bring it 5 yards backwards.
    Breaffy missed the majority of their frees and Tubber missed only two. That proved to be the difference in the end.
    Agree that new rules are needed, the match was slow and predictable.
    Breaffy continuously took too much out of the ball. Tubber moved it snappier.
    I don’t know what program Matthew Ruane has been on but against Ballaghadereen he was overpowered at one stage by Sharoize.
    Yesterday he did not look strong enough even for senior club level midfield. He couldn’t break tackles.
    It’s hard to know based on that now Seamus OShea will be for 2019, ill disciplined in the tackle, not able to stamp any authority on the game, can’t recall him catching or calling a kick out on himself.
    Dillon was good, but the clear Motm was Cillian. Great score from play, made many good passes/tackles and was very good on frees overall.
    In the Intermediate Belmullet really showed they can be a future force at senior. Their finishing 15 was surely the youngest team to win the Intermediate title?
    Michael Keane is incredibly the cut of Cillian in his build and gait moving or taking frees.
    Ryan O’Donoghue doing it on the big stage yet again. What an advantage then to have two senior county defenders. James Kelly showed he has potential for senior county.

  5. Congratulations to Ballintubber. The better team overall last night and deserved champions for 2018. Cillian and Alan were a class apart last night which made all the difference. Diarmuid’s winner was a sublime kick from a difficult angle. Thought the ‘Tubber defense was superbly organised again last night. Breaffy had very few leaders and even fewer scoring forwards. Not for the first time Conor O’Shea’s lack of impact would have many question his inclusion in the Mayo senior panel. Agree that Matthew Ruane would still appear to be a good way off Senior County standard at this early stage in his development. Surely Jason Gibbons and Michael Plunkett will be high on James Horan’s radar heading into next weekend’s trials.

  6. Wasn’t able to get there and it’s killing me.

    Interesting stuff there JP, both on the match and on future prospects.

    Focusing on what you are saying:
    Ryan O’Donoghue – could he step up?
    Matty Ruane – just not ready?
    Michael Keane – another prospect?
    James Kelly – more than ready?

    Wouldn’t be too concerned about Seamie. If he’s fit he’ll be fine – though maybe not for the full 70 minutes. In the last county final in which Breaffy contested, Seamie and Aidan were terrible and I wondered about our prospects with them, but I needn’t have worried.

  7. @Catcol, I don’t know is the truth.
    Ryan O’Donoghue has the most composure of those and the ability to step a defender.
    Michael Keane still u19 could become a big physical forward yet, composure will improve.
    James Kelly, really starting to find his confidence. He had the pass of the club championship in the semi final, almost soccer style cutting through the defence with a very creative low pass across the square to setup the goal. Hard to coach that kind of inventive play and the composure to pull it off.
    Kelly has pace and he’s versatile. Could be a centre back also.

  8. Whilst there was great quality on display last night I found the whole game to be, as a neutral, a complete bore and towards the end of the first half I seriously considered going home. Both teams approach was that they were not going to lose. Ball being passed from the half way line going straight back to the goalie, out again and back again. What a joke. The game has stolen an hour of my life that I will never get back. Whilst there was a great crowd I thought the atmosphere was more like a rugby game than a GAA match. Many around me were merry if not intoxicated. Seriously the senior final should be played on Sunday afternoon. On the pitch there was a serious amount of diving and feigning injury. Alan Dillon whilst having played a great game did his utmost to influence the ref on numerous occasions. One stage he ran straight into a Breaffy man, lay on the ground and amazingly was awarded a free. In the first half Breaffy fouled a lot which is seriously not a good idea when you have COC taking the frees.

  9. Well guys I know belmullet beat them twice and deserved too beat them but from what I can see in the intermediate final kiltimagh have the most likely county standard players in Donovan Cosgrove eoghan lavin Young mulderrig don’t know there names because I’m not from there but they’ve some very good footballers, wouldn’t worry too much horan will be remembered from his second spell now not his first so there must be a lot of talent in the county from what he can see If anyone agrees or disagrees please share

  10. Mick – Why was Donovan Cosgrove not playing for U20s this year? Was he injured. He was named as a sub in most games but i don’t recall him getting any time

  11. @JP, I taught SOS was by far the best Breaffy Player on view…. Perhaps going back as far as the Newbridge or Nowhere Match, 2, Club Semifinal”s with extra time and yesterday sublime winner Diarmuid O C, is the best player in Mayo…. Cillian was immense, scored some huge bombs from long range, again and again. Looking like the Cillian place kicking is back to where it was his first few years on the Mayo Senior team..And again Jason Gibbons was very good…All that being said, …It was only the very minimum that Breaffy were beaten by… and Castlebar were leading by 2 points both days going into injury time in normal time…. The first half, was poor stuff, conservative and boring…. The Ref was very poor, bought everything that was being sold, and plenty was being sold…. Didn’t look fit enough,or Young enough to be reffing an over 40 Match….. The first match was a very different affair, no Issue’s with the Ref or which team was the best… I’m sure that celebration”s are still on in Belmullet…James Kelly, Ryan O Donaghue and Boylan looked the business, hope James Horan was talking notice!

  12. @JP. I noticed that as well with Robbie Hennelly’s frees. I have seen lads trying to steal yards but not give up yards! And it wasn’t like he was doing it to improve the angle as they were all pretty central. I felt overall Ballintubber were the better team. The main difference being having forwards that could kick a score and a reliable free taker in Cillian. Breaffy really struggled up front and then had Aidan taking that free out near the sideline at the end which really made very little sense which seemed a bit bizaare.

  13. Done deal he has been struggling for fitness over the last few years but he has serious ability and I feel he’s in the top 6 backs under 20 in the county just my opinion if fully fit of course

  14. True, for you, Mayo All Star…Part of any very good Manager’s arsenal is to know the strength’s and weakness of his team.. Kevin Johnson certainly has his finger on the Pulse…. Mind you, he needs to be on his game, managing a team from that neck of the Wood’s…. The Carnacon’ Ladies won their own County Final versus Knockmore…an amazing score.9.10-0.04….Hope they go on Now and win the Connacht and All Ireland!
    ..

  15. Well done Ballintubber and Bellmullet both very deserving winners. Bellmullet with few lads who should have earned a look in at senior. More worryingly was lack of new contenders in senior final.
    Carnacon also very impressive earlier and should be serious contenders for retaining all Ireland. Out muscled a much younger much lighter knockmore team who should be happy to have reached their second final in row. And are doing well underage.
    One element that disappointed me with Carnacon was despite been 30 points up at time do not think they made sub till near 5 minutes to go. And at that only made 2 or 3. Not sure how I’d feel if was sitting on bench.

  16. Gizmobobs – It might be one of reasons Carnacon are not liked by other clubs in the county. They seem to have the attitude of hammering teams by as much as possible. Have done that for a lot of years now – beating teams by huge margins and not even using their full compliment of subs.

  17. You gotta admire ruthlessness in a team. You can understand at kids level but from 17’s up…go and win and keep the foot down.

  18. Great minds clearly think alike on that point about where Robbie places the ball for long-range frees! John Casey and I discuss this very issue in the new podcast episode reviewing last night’s club finals which has just gone online.

  19. Re the Hennelly frees thing, the first time i noticed it was in the 2014 replay in Limerick, the last minute free to win it he took the free a few yards back from where the free was from and of course that was the difference. i have looked at it since then and he regularly does it, cant imagine why

  20. Hopefully James Kelly will shine at Mayo trials he has power pace and versatility – I think Ryan O;Donoghue is probably already in the plan – Michael Keane and Marty boylan are both still 19 they are longer term but should get a trial just to see

  21. @belmay will any belmullet, Balla or Ballintubber players play in the trial games and risk injury for the upcoming connaght campaigns?

  22. Belmay I was very impressed by those lads you mentioned. Kelly is a fine athlete, has pace & power & some of his kick passing was excellent too. And those lads are only 19?? Future is bright for Belmullet.

    I was very impressed with Belmullet for such a young side. They could cause senior teams all sorts of bother.

  23. Marty is 20 and Mikey is 21, but still very young average age of the team! Very exciting for the club.. Do any of the Galway people on here know much about An Spideal or Michael Breathnach? The best thing about youth is the pure lack of fear these lads play with.. will be interested to see how we go on Connacht.. would hope we can have a good cut at it! The pace and intensity is very hard for any team to deal with!

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