Ballinasloe are worthy All Ireland champions

"A management team is always looking and striving for the perfect performance from a team, where the 15 players all play to their potential and you get the dream display. That is what we got last Sunday in Croke Park. The lads fully deserved the victory and they were a pleasure to watch." - Sean Riddle. Ballinasloe team manager

Deserving winners and a deserving captain: Keith Kelly of Ballinasloe lifts the cup after winning the  AIB GAA Football All Ireland Junior Club Championship for the first time when overcoming Kerry side Kenmare Shamrocks at  Croke Park, Dublin.

Deserving winners and a deserving captain: Keith Kelly of Ballinasloe lifts the cup after winning the AIB GAA Football All Ireland Junior Club Championship for the first time when overcoming Kerry side Kenmare Shamrocks at Croke Park, Dublin.

Any All Ireland is a good one. And when a Galway football team at any level defeats a Kerry team in an All Ireland final at Croke Park, it is a good day.

Last Sunday was a brilliant one for the Ballinasloe GAA Club. Beaten by Nemo Rangers in the All Ireland senior final more than 30 years ago, they now have fresher and better memories of an All Ireland weekend.

The team may have gone to Croke Park without their club jersies, nevertheless they came home with the glory and the silverware which is all that matters after beating Kerry and Munster champions Kenmare by 0-14 to 0-10.

The club's historic day had started ominously, requiring a call to a Croke Park official a half-hour before throw-in to tell him that they had no jerseys. In the excitement of hitting the motorway last Sunday morning, they had somehow left them in Duggan Park where the panel had met.

Necessity is the mother of all invention and after donning the jerseys of Na Fianna (who came good at short notice ), they went on to produce a humdinger of a performance and follow Clonbur's example last season to annex the All-Ireland Junior title in style.

Team manager Séan Riddell said: “We just left them behind us. It is as simple as that. It was unfortunate but we used it as a bit of banter before the game.

“ We said ‘This is probably lucky’. Lads were having a joke saying, ‘What Dublin team won the All-Ireland and never played in it?’

“The lads didn’t care. If we had to go out in pink jerseys last weekend, it didn’t matter. We had a mission and that was to win the game. That was all that mattered. Plus, we had fantastic support again last weekend, as we have had right through the provincial and All Ireland campaign and our supporters were like a 16th man for us.”

Darragh McCormack had a very fine game up front and he settled the team when he scored with Ballinasloe’s first attack. They were dominant at midfield and Galway u-21 star Pádraic Cunningham was on his game too, hoovering up breaks to give the Galway champions a real foothold in the tie.

Ballinasloe led by 0-7 to 0-4 at half-time and it was one-way traffic in the second period too as they increased the margin to seven points when Paul Whelehan landed their ninth successive score in the 41st minute.

Kenmare battled back though and Nathan King, who had made a stunning finger-tip save from Paul O’Connor in the first half, was alert in the second too, enhancing his growing reputation as a top keeper.

Team captain Keith Kelly also excelled at the back, but, as Sean Riddle said, there were 15 star displays all over the field.

"Everyone stepped up and we had a superb team performance. You don't get too many chances to win an All Ireland and we are delighted we took our opportunity last Sunday.

"It has been a great boost for the town of Ballinasloe. We had terrific support from all the local businesses and the people in the area over the past few weeks and we were delighted to be able to repay their support with the win. GAA is about family and the Ballinsloe GAA Club is like a tightly-knit family. We celebrated the win and hopefully the win last Sunday will give the lads the impetus to go on and do well in intermediate this year in Galway too."

Scorers for Ballinasloe: D McCormack, P Whelehan, K Kelly (2fs ) 0-3 each, P Cunningham 0-2, D Burke, J Shaughnessy, L Lynch (f ) 0-1 each.

Ballinasloe: N King, E Fenton, D Nevin, J Shaughnessy, N Hynes, K Kelly (cpt ), S Kenny, L Lynch, L Tierney, D Burke, P Cunningham, G Canavan; D McCormack, M Colohan, P Whelehan. Subs used: C Casey for Kenny (53 ); S Cogavin for Colohan (56 ).

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