We were not at all surprised last Saturday evening when it took extra-time to separate these two near neighbours in a keenly-fought and exciting county semi-final.
There is rarely much between the sides and it was just the extra bit of jizz, class and fire-power that Nicky and Padraic Joyce bring to the Killererin outfit that saw the 2007 county champions ease into the 2010 decider where they will face Corofin. The final is fixed for October 17 in Pearse Stadium.
Nicky Joyce’s boot accounted for eight points, five frees, and three-times All-Star Padraic Joyce knocked over 0-5 (2fs ), as Killererin did just enough to get past the black and amber men.
Their only other scorer on the day was the evergreen Tommie Wilson who has been a magnificent and loyal servant to his club.
At the end of normal time it had looked as if Cyril Ryan’s Mountbellew outfit had done just enough to reach their second final in succession until Nicky Joyce forced extra-time with a late free.
They did not look back after escaping the hangman’s noose again and the men from Barnadearg took immediate control in extra-time with four unanswered points and looked to be coasting to victory until Mountbellew’s ‘goalador’ Sean Sweeney did what he does best to keep his team in with a sniff of a replay.
However Padraic Joyce (what’s new ) was on hand to seal Killererin's place in the decider with a late score.
A major plus for player/manager Tommie Joyce was that young Micheal Boyle was very impressive up front and his pace and vision will be something the Corofin rearguard will have to neutralize.
“Boyler” was involved with teams I coached in St Jarlath’s College a few years ago and he has always been a very talented player with tremendous awareness of the players around him. He has grown tall and strong in the past few years and is improving all the time. He could be a very influential player for his side in the county final.
It was also good to see Galway senior panellist Tomás Fahy coming back to good form. The 2007 All-Ireland minor winning wing-back has a truck load of potential if he decides to harvest it over the coming few years.
Captain Declan Kelly is a fine player too and Jonathan Keane will relish the big spaces of Pearse Stadium in three weeks’ time.
For Mountbellew it was the same story as the county final last year. Lots of huff and puff, but a lack of one or two top-class scoring forwards.
Joe Bergin kicked 0-3, Cathal Kenny 0-2 from frees, Brian Donnellan, their goalkeeper, kicked two long-range frees, Sean Sweeney got the goal, but they really struggled to score from play with any constancy.
I’ll put it another way, if either Padraic or Nicky Joyce were on their team, they would be in the county final.
Instead Killererin and Corofin, the two most consistent sides in the county by far in the past 15 years, will face off in three weeks time.
Killererin won three county finals in that time-frame, 1999, 2004 and in 2007, while Corofin have collected five titles in the past ten years, ’00, ‘02, ‘06, ‘08 and ‘09.
Who collects in 2010 remains to be seen. While it is unlikely to be as free flowing and high-scoring as the Meath county final last Sunday (Skryne 0-21, Seneschalstown 4-08 ), it is a game to which one really can look forward.