For the first time since 1996, the Frank Fox Cup is heading west after Moycullen produced a spectacular second-half performance to overcome a favoured Mountbellew-Moylough side.
Conditions in Pearse Stadium on Sunday were difficult with wind and swirling rain, but it did not stop the players from producing a wonderful spectacle with scores and performances of the highest quality.
The man of the moment, and without doubt the best player on the pitch, was Moycullen corner forward and team captain Dessie Conneely. He finished the game with an astonishing 1-9 from Moycullen’s total of 2-12.
The game was nip and tuck in the beginning as both sides trading score for score. Dessie Conneely notched Moycullen’s first three scores, two sweet strikes off his left, the other a free, while Eoin Finnerty caused havoc up front for Val Daly’s side with his direct running style.
The battle on the edge of the square between Finnerty and Sean Kelly was a hotly anticipated one. Finnerty had the better of the opening exchanges before Kelly began to start making more forward runs as the game progressed, putting his counterpart on the backfoot.
Mountbellew-Moylough burst three points ahead with Colin Ryan to the fore as Moycullen could not contain his runs from wing back. However, with Conneely on song, Moycullen pulled it back and the sides went into half-time at seven points apiece. The Moycullen captain accounted for 0-06 of this total - his last score from play in the first half was as good as it gets from an inside forward as he sold Gary Sweeney a dummy before slotting the ball over coolly.
Conor Bohan goal
One might have thought the second half would play out with Mountbellew-Moylough taking control with the wind at their backs, and players, such as Michael Daly, Paul Donnellan and Eoin Finnerty, using their experience to get them over the line. However, Moycullen and Conneely had different ideas.
Barry McHugh kicked the opening score of the first half to put his side one to the good again. Step up Dessie Conneely. The corner forward found himself 15 metres from goal and unleashed a vicious strike past Stephen Boyle in the Mountbellew-Moylough net, which was soon followed by a placed ball to bring his personal tally to 1-07.
Val Daly’s team soon hit back as Gary Sweeney found a hole in the Moycullen defence and was hauled down by Moycullen full back Seán Kelly inside the ’14. Captain Eoin Finnerty hammered the ball home to restore parity.
But Mountbellew were unable to kick on from here as they were outscored by 1-04 to 0-03 in the final quarter - a Conor Bohan goal being the crucial play in this period. And, in that final quarter, the Mountbellew-Moylough defence could not contain the running power of Owen Gallagher.
It left Mountbellew-Moylough devastated that they failed to get over the line after finally overcoming Corofin this year, but their character is unquestionable and without doubt they will be back.
However, it was Moycullen's day - one that will live long in the memory as they brought home their first senior title. One to inspire a generation of younger players in the community.
Moycullen: S Friel; S Kelly, D Wynne, N Mulcahy; G Bradshaw (0-1 ), A Claffey, G Bohan; T Clarke, M Lydon; P Kelly, C Bohan (1-0 ), J McLoughlin; O Gallagher (0-2 ), N Walsh, D Conneely (1-9, 0-5 frees, 0-1’45 ). Subs: E Kelly for G Bohan (43m ), D Cox for Walsh (47m ).
Mountbellew/Moylough: D Boyle; G Sweeney, J Foley, M Mannion; S Moran, C Murray, C Ryan (0-1 ); M Daly (0-1 ), M Barrett; P Donnellan (0-1 ), G Doneoghue, L Donnellan; E Finnerty (1-2, 1-0 pen, 0-1 mark ), P Kelly, B McHugh (0-6, 0-4 frees ). Subs: S Miland for L Donnellan (47m ), B Mannion for Donoghue (60m ).
Referee: Austin O'Connell.