It was one-way traffic for the lads in Ballinamore this afternoon, where a 1-11 to 0-2 win booked us our place in this year’s FBD final. The decider takes place under the lights at McHale Park on Friday, 11th February (throw-in 7.30 pm), where NUIG – who are, don’t forget, managed by a certain J Maughan and feature a number of Mayo lads in their ranks – provide the opposition.
Yesterday I mentioned the Mickey Moran connection when talking about this fixture but, not for the first time in the FBD this year, it was Mark Ronaldson who grabbed all the headlines today. The diminutive Shrule/Glencorrib forward was a late replacement on the starting fifteen for Brian Benson (that’s two no-shows out of three for the Crossmolina man – what’s the crack, like?) and he wasted no time in making his presence felt. He weighed in with six points in the first half and two more from Aidan Campbell put us 0-8 to 0-1 up at the break. By then, the match was as good as over.
According to Mike Finnerty on Midwest, the pace dropped waaaaaaay down low in the second half (a contrast to our first two FBD games, where we failed to get moving properly in the first half before taking over in the second on each occasion) and with Leitrim showing no signs of adding to their solitary opening half point, our lads didn’t bust themselves by adding too much to their tally either.
By now, James Horan was busily emptying his bench, with Ciaran Naughton coming on in goals for Kenneth O’Malley at half-time while Kevin McLoughlin and Tom Cunniffe came on for James Burke and Alan Feeney respectively. Later on, Kilcommon’s James McAndrew came on for Austin O’Malley and Mike Nestor replaced Chris Barrett.
The punters in Ballinamore must have been close to nodding off in the second half because twenty-five minutes passed with only one point – one for us by Andy Moran – altering the half-time situation. That sounds a bit like waiting for the 123 of a Sunday but then – also a bit like the buses – we added a fair bit more to our total in short order.
Aidan Kilcoyne will go down in the history books (well, the results archive at least) as the man who bagged our goal but according to Mike all he did was swing his toe at the ball as it was about to cross the line. Alan Freeman made the goal, by all accounts, fetching a high ball in and feeding Ronnie who must have been certain that he’d bagged another FBD goal before the loitering Knockmore man applied the coup de grâce.
Andy Moran then got his second point of the half before Leitrim ended a 48 minute lacuna by bagging their second and final score of the game. Ronaldson, fittingly, rounded off the day’s scoring with his seventh point of the afternoon to complete a facile 12-point victory.
There’s little else that can be said about the match or, to be more precise, there’s little more I can say about it seeing as I wasn’t there and have only been able to embroider together the above account based on the nuggets of information I picked up on Twitter (thank you @ColmGannon, @LeitrimGAA, @edmcgreal and @ClubMayo in this respect) and on Midwest (where I see that Angelina’s taste in music hasn’t got any better since I tuned in last). No doubt Colm will have his usual quick-fire match report online in the Mayo Advertiser before the evening is much older. (He has – here it is).
So another FBD final now awaits and another evening under the lights at McHale Park on Friday week. In the meantime, though, a much more high profile outing awaits at the same venue, in the form of our opening match in Division 1 of the 2011 NFL where we face last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists Down. That’ll be the first time that James Horan and his management team will come under the glare of national scrutiny and regardless how they get on there, they can’t but be pleased about how they’ve fared out over the course of the warm-up phase of their first season in charge.
Mayo: Kenneth O’Malley; Cathal Hallinan, Alan Feeney, Richie Feeney; Chris Barrett, Ger Cafferkey, James Burke; Jason Gibbons, James Moran; Aidan Campbell (0-2, one free), Austin O’Malley, Andy Moran (0-2); Aidan Kilcoyne (1-0), Alan Freeman, Mark Ronaldson (0-7, two frees). Subs: Ciaran Naughton (for Kenneth O’Malley), Tom Cunniffe (for Alan Feeney), K McLoughlin (for Burke), James McAndrew (for Austin O’Malley), Mike Nestor (for Barrett).