For a game that looked to be going only one way eight minutes in when Achill lead Killala by four points to no score and they looked like they could do what they wanted in possession of the ball, this junior championship semi-final sure had a dramatic ending.
With six minutes left on the clock, Killala trailed by three points and looked to be on the verge of leaving the junior championship. Corner forward Conor Gilvarry looked to burrow his way towards goal and was upended by an Achill defender and referee John Glavey spread his arms and gave the north Mayo men a penalty. The Achill defenders and their vocal support were less than convinced of the merits of the spot kick, but it looked to have been the right call. Up stepped wing back David Loather who took a text book penalty, driving with power past Sean Cafferkey in the Achill goal. That score levelled the game up at 1-7 to 0-10 and it was anybodies once again, after Achill looked to have done enough to wrestle control of the game back into their own hands in the previous 15 minutes.
Minutes before the penalty, Killala replaced starting goal keeper Darren Walshe with sub Rory O’Hara in what looked like a strange decision as Walshe hadn’t put a foot wrong all day and didn't look to be injured. As the clock ticked down, Killala earned a 45 and O’Hara was gesticulating at the sideline for him to come forward to take the kick, but it was left to ace marksman Andrew Farrell whose effort from a similar position in injury time in their last eight clash had sent them through to the semi-final. This time however Farrell’s effort dropped short.
With just over a minute of normal time left, Achill came looking for a score that would win the game. An Achill attacker was fouled 45 meters out. Referee John Glavey singled for a free and put his hand up for advantage, when the move eventually broke down he gave the free five meters further in than where he had signalled the initial free being from. The Killala defence reacted with anger to his decision and the ball was brought in a further ten meters. Surprisingly Pee Sweeney dropped his effort short and one of the Killala defenders burst out with the ball to safety. Then it looked as if the Killala defender who broke clear had been tripped by Sweeney as tried to burst clear, but after consulting with his umpires Glavey gave the free the opposite way for what could only be a dive. Up stepped Brian Lavelle to have a crack at a point from the controversial free and he pulled his effort wide. An enraged Killala team, erupted with anger at the referee with Andrew Farrell being shown a black card before the kick-out from the wide was taken and bringing veteran Noel Ryan into the game for the closing seconds.
Glavey blew the full time whistle shortly afterwards and the sides must do it again, but in no uncertain terms a number of players expressed their displeasure with some of his decisions as he left the field.
Achill had started the game like a house on fire and found themselves four points to good after only eight minutes with Eddie Doran, Jonathan Fadian, Stephen Grealis and Finbar Gallagher all raising the white flag. Andrew Farrell kicked a point in response for his side in the ninth minute, but when Brian Lavelle kicked Achill’s fifth point ten minutes later it looked like business as usual for his team. But over the closing 11 minutes of the half, Killala reeled off four unanswered points of their own with Martin Maheady, Darragh Herbert, Alex Quinn and Farrell all getting points before the break leaving the contest tied at 0-5 to 0-5.
Farrell opened the scoring in the second half with his third point of the game two minutes in, but it was all level five minutes later when Finbar Gallagher scored his third point of the game. With 42 minutes on the clock, Kevin White put the north Mayo men back in front, but for the next 14 minutes it was all Achill as Pee Sweeney (twice ), Oisin Cooney and Brian Lavelle all managed to hit the target and put Achill three points clear and looking to be on the way home with a place in the final. But that all changed over a hectic and controversial final few minutes, both sides will have to do it all over again next weekend in what promises to be an epic encounter.
Achill: F Gallagher (0-2, ) P Sweeney (0-2, 1f ), B Lavelle (0-2, 1f ), E Doran (0-1 ), J Fadian (0-1 ), S Grealis (0-1 )
Killala: A Farrell (0-3,3f ), D Lowther (1-0, 1pen ), A Quinn (0-1 ), D Herbert (0-1, 1f ), M Maheady (0-1, 1f ), K Whyte (0-1 )
Achill: S Cafferkey; C Boylan, C Cafferkey, D McNamara; F Gallagher, G Cafferkey, T Dever; S Grealis, MD McNamara; P Gallagher, E Doran, J Fadian; P Sweeney, F McNamara, B Lavelle. Subs: B Gallagher for MD McNamara; T Cooney for D McNamara, O Cooney for F McNamara, R McNamara for P Gallagher.
Killala: D Walshe; M Barrett, M Dooher, K McLoughlin; M Mahedy, K Dooher, D Lowther; B Garvin, A Farrell; A Murphy, A Quinn, S Maheady; D Herbert, K Walsh, C Gilvarry. Subs: K Whyte for A Quinn, S Ryan for S Maheady, N Maheady for A Murphy, R O’Hara for D Walshe, N Ryan for A Farrell (BC )
Ref: J Glavey (Aghamore )