Meat Loaf reckoned that two out of three should never be considered a bad return. So it was this weekend with Mayo teams involved in Connacht club finals, as Kilmaine and Tooreen claimed provincial titles while The Neale came up short in their Connacht decider.
Kilmaine’s match – the Connacht Junior club final against Sligo’s St Michael’s – was the first of three Connacht finals played this weekend. It was also the opening fixture in a MacHale Park double-header yesterday and it was a match that was over as a contest well before most of those who heading to the Castlebar venue for the evening’s action were in their seats.
Seven points without reply for Kilmaine put them in control of this contest and when Michael Hession banged in their opening goal that lead reached double digits. By half-time, Kilmaine had 1-10 on the board, all but a point of that from play, while their opponents had still to get off the mark.
The contest became even more one-sided after the break, especially when Kilmaine began to convert the goal chances that were now being presented with regularity. Jarleth Mullin twice found the net before Brian Maloney rolled back the years to crack home Kilmaine’s fourth major of the afternoon. Cathal Murphy added the grace note as Kilmaine ran out winners by 5-17 to 0-3.
The main event at MacHale Park yesterday evening, the Connacht Intermediate club final between The Neale and Oughterard of Galway, was a much more keenly contested affair.
This one was all-square at the break, at seven points apiece, with the lead changing hands repeatedly over the course of an evenly fought first half. It looked then like it was a contest that would go right down to the wire.
That’s not, though, what happened. Tommy Conroy edged The Neale back in front on the resumption but then the Galway lads tacked on four points on the spin, following which Matthew Tierney bagged the game’s only goal. There was no way back for The Neale from there, with Oughterard running out deserved 1-16 to 0-11 winners.
This afternoon at Athleague, meanwhile, Tooreen squared up to Galway’s Kinvara in the Connacht Intermediate club hurling final, with the East Mayo lads seeking to claim the provincial crown at this level for the second time in three years.
Tooreen always had the edge in what proved to be a pulsating decider this afternoon. They rattled off five points in quick succession to get themselves settled, though Kinvara’s first score – a goal from Conor Whelan – put a halt to that particular gallop.
Five further points for Tooreen, with Kinvara only adding a point themselves, saw the lead widen to six points after 20 minutes. The gap between the teams was five points at the break.
A second goal for Kinvara early in the second half brought them right back into it and, with twenty minutes left on the clock, the sides were level.
Three points without reply by Tooreen – two frees from Shane Boland and one from play by Kenny Feeney – proved the perfect riposte and it put the Mayo lads right back into the driving seat.
Kinvara cut the gap back to one but then Brian Morley finished a great run with a point. Shane Boland added two frees to give Tooreen a bit of breathing space as the end of normal time beckoned.
Fergal Boland pushed the lead out to five with a point from play but the margin was back down to three points as the game went into injury time. As the last seconds played out Tooreen had the final say with points from Shane Boland and captain Kenny Feeney sealing a 0-21 to 2-10 win and, with it, the Connacht IHC title.
Finally, off the field it was LGFA All-Stars night at City West last night. All-Ireland champions Dublin were, of course, the big winners on the night – with seven players on the team – but Rachel Kearns struck a blow for the Green and Red by claiming the All-Star award at full-forward.
Rachel’s football year isn’t over yet either, with that small matter of an All-Ireland JFC club final to come for her and her MacHale Rovers teammates next Sunday.
Two other Mayo winners from that awards ceremony last night, by the way, were Niamh Kelly for score of the year – and what a score that goal against Galway was – and Christina Heffernan, who was inducted into the LGFA Hall of Fame.
Well done to all from the county on their various exploits over the weekend.