County final night under the MacHale Park lights didn’t disappoint, with two tightly contested deciders played out in front of a big attendance at the Castlebar venue. In the end it was Ballintubber who emerged victorious in the Senior final to claim back-to-back Moclair Cup successes while in the Intermediate final The Neale enjoyed a first ever Sweeney Cup victory.
I watched both games on Mayo GAA TV but unfortunately I don’t have time right now, due to Dad Taxi commitments, to dwell on either contest in the detail that they merit. So it’ll have to be just a few quick details on both of them.
The Intermediate final between The Neale and Ballyhaunis was a real see-saw affair. Ballyhaunis looked well set for victory at half-time, when they led by four points with John Cunnane’s goal midway through the half instrumental in this.
With the gap stretched to five soon after the resumption, The Neale were now faced with an uphill battle but, to their great credit, it was a fight they were ready for.
Over the course of the next ten minutes they whittled the deficit back down to just a single point. Then Tommy Conroy showed why he trades under the Goals moniker when he finishes coolly and calmly to the net as The Neale hit the front.
It was a lead that they increased to four points soon after but then back came Ballyhaunis. Twice the East Mayo side levelled in the dying minutes but twice The Neale poked their noses back in front.
The final time they did so – Seán Cosgrove hooking the ball over – it proved to be the winner. The Neale claimed the IFC title and coveted Senior status for 2020 on a 1-12 to 1-11 scoreline. Huge congrats to them.
The Senior decider was a tight, tactical tussle between two very well matched teams. In the end, Ballintubber’s greater experience, as well as their superior efficiency in front of the posts got them over the line.
At half-time, with the contest tied at 1-6 apiece, it looked anyone’s title. Ballaghaderreen has done what they needed to do by taking the game to the champions in the first half, Cormac Doohan lighting up MacHale Park with a superbly taken goal from a tight angle close in five minutes before the break.
Had they taken that advantage into half-time who knows how this contest might subsequently have played out. Instead, Ballintubber broke through for a goal at the other end, Jason Gibbons spotting Michael Plunkett’s run and the centre-back dummied the ‘keeper before rolling the ball into the net.
There was no more than a point in it for large stretches of the second half, with both teams taking turns to edge in front. Then, with seven or so minutes to go, Ballintubber moved two ahead. We didn’t know it then but they had by now already posted a total that was sufficient for the win.
Ballagh cut the gap back to one but they never subsequently managed to get back on terms. Instead, two injury time points sealed a 1-14 to 1-11 win for Ballintubber, to claim their second Senior title in a row and their fifth this decade. Well done to them.