While Garrymore would have prepared for all eventualities as best they could going into this game, the prospect of Aidan O’Shea loitering behind his midfielders and closing things up at the back is probably one of the last things they would have expected to face on Saturday afternoon. O’Shea who was deployed as a target man full forward for Mayo all summer and was posted in a similar position in Breaffy’s last league game against Kilmaine a fortnight ago and his positioning would have caught plenty of people off guard who were in the county grounds for this game.
Garrymore were always going to be a tricky task for Breaffy to overcome at this stage of the competition, they south Mayo men were unlucky not to top their group, going down to a late Kiltane flourish in Bangor back in round two of the competition and ending up in the unseeded half of the draw and they gave as good as they got for the vast majority of this game.
Tony Corcoran and Fintan Forde haver their side well drilled and they worked to a set plan and system, where they dropped back in numbers and hit hard at pace on the break and early on they found themselves 0-3 to 0-1 up and playing some good stuff. Shane Nally opened the scoring with a fine point from well out the park on a day when the vast majority of the scores were taken with exceptional style and grace from both sides. But while the scores that went over the bar were all of the highest class, the wides that were hit were some terrible efforts. Nally’s point was followed by ones from Michael Connolly and Mark Tierney with the live-wire Tommy O’Reilly responding for Breaffy.
With six minutes gone not he clock it was three points each on the scoreboard with O’Reilly tacking on two more points one from a free and the other a snap shot from play. Former Mayo minor captain Nally responded with another monster of a score from out the field to push Garry’ back in front before Gareth Dunne and Conor O’Shea edged Breaffy in front for the first time after 14 minutes. But O’Shea’s point was the last score his side would get for 15 minutes as Garrymore took control of the game.
A trio of pointed frees one from Jimmy Killeen and two from Mark Tierney along with another Tierney point from play and scores from David Dolan and Trevor Nally had Garrymore 0-9 to 0-5 up with two minutes to go before the break and looking like they were going to cause an upset. The South Mayo outfit could have been further in the lead if it wasn’t for some wayward shooting and some excellent defending by Breaffy’s number four Colm Jordan who cut out a number of promising Garrymore attacks.
Robbie Fadden hoisted the ball over the bar from 45 meters out to register Breaffy’s first point in a long time and cut the gap back to three points as the half time break approached. But the big midfielder wasn’t done yet in the half. Fadden picked the ball up 35 meters out and broke for goal, he looked to have gotten a little push in the back on the way through and appeared to hop the ball twice on route. But Fadden played to the whistle and ended up clean through before driving the ball past Morvyen Connolly to send the sides in level at 1-6 to 0-9 at the turnaround.
The second half opened with both sides swapping points side the opening three minutes with Conor O’Shea scoring for the victors and Jimmy Killeen for the vanquished. Another nine minutes of sloppy play and bad misses elapsed before the next score arrived 12 minutes into the half when Killeen slotted a point over the bar after a well worked quick free kick routine with Caolan Crowe.
Two minutes later the decisive moment of the contest arrived. Breaffy slung a wide past the far side of the post. Garrymore tried to take a short kick out that got lost in translation between goalkeeper and defender, Matthew Ruane stopped the ball with his foot and laid it into the path of Conor O’Shea, not having time to pick it off the deck, O’Shea lashed at the ball on the ground and to the back of the net for his sides second major of the game. Not long after Robbie Hennelly came up from goal and drove over a 45 to put his side 2-8 to 0-11 into the lead.
Garrymore did have their own goal chance not long after when Killeen pounced on another miscued short kick out from a point he had just posted to cut the gap back to two 17 minutes into the half, but his effort crashed back off the bar and to safety.
With eight minutes left on the clock a bout of handbags broke out in front of the Garrymore goal, referee Liam Devenny let the perpetrators tire themselves out and watched from the end line, before dismissing Garrymore’s Jarlath Varley and Breaffy’s Matthew Ruane for their part in the dust-up with Liam Irwin also getting a yellow card for his troubles.
Garrymore did tack on a few more scores before the end but never really came close to breaching the Breaffy goal as they needed to with Breaffy responding with points of their own through Liam Irwin, Robbie Fadden and Gary Walsh to keep the gap at four for most of the closing stages. Even when Garrymore did look like they were going to maybe sneak in for a goal chance, Breaffy’s Tommy O’Reilly took a black card for the team to stop the potential attack.
All in all, Breaffy will be happy with their win, but they will know they’ll have to improve if they are to make it back to their second county final in three years when the meet the winners of the Ballintubber and Ballina semi-final in a fortnights time.
Breaffy: C O’Shea (1-2 ), R Fadden (1-2 ), T Reilly (0-4, 1f ), G Dunne (0-1 ), R Hennelly (0-1, 1 45 ), L Irwin (0-1 ), G Walsh (0-1 )
Garrymore: J Killeen (0-5,3f ), M Tierney (0-3, 2f ), S Nally (0-2 ), E Varley (0-1 ), T Nally (0-1 ), D Dolan (0-1 ), M Connolly (0-1 )
Breaffy: R Hennelly; D Morrin, M Jennings, C Jordan; R Martyn, C Kelly, D Gavin; R Fadden, S O’Shea; C O’Shea, A O’Shea, M Ruane; G Dunne, G Jennings, T Reilly. Subs: G Walsh for G Jennings, L Iriwn for G Dunne, D Cannon for D Morrin, K Curry for T Reilly (BC )
Garrymore: Morvyen Connolly; J Kings, K Cunningham, J Varley; T Nally, A O’Reilly, D Henry; S Nally, D Dolan; J Killeen, C Crowe, B Walsh; Micheal Connolly, E Varley, M Tierney. Subs: M Fallon for B Walsh, B Cunningham for Michael Connolly,
Ref: L Devenny (Ballina )