Knockmore claimed their tenth Mayo senior football championship and second in a row after a hard fought win over a brave and battling Belmullet side in Ballina on Sunday afternoon.
The defending county champions were put to the pin of their collar for long periods by their fellow north Mayo men, but a strong surge in the final quarter saw them drive home to pick up the Moclair cup.
It was a low scoring affair and both sides took their time to get going in the first half, with Peter Naughton pulling a free wide two minutes in. He found his range two minutes later from another placed ball - but two efforts from his colleague Aiden Orme failed to reach the target, before Pearse Ruttledge got their second point of the day from a mark 30 meters out to send his side in leading 0-2 to 0-0 at the first water break.
Belmullet were finding it hard to get the ball moving into their inside forward line, with Ryan O’Donoghue being well marshalled by David McHale and Kieran King in the Knockmore defence. O’Donoghue did get the scoreboard moving for his side with a free three minutes before the break
He also worked himself in for a goal chance, but Shane McHale did brilliantly to get a block in on his effort and two minutes later the big score of the game came when James Ruddy rattled the ball to the back of the net.
Ruddy rose high to claim a ball in from Aiden Orme and he beat Conan O’Connor on the turn and fired it low past Shane Nallen to push his side into a 1-2 to 0-1 lead at the half time break.
On the march: The teams parade before the final. Photo: Sportsfile
The second half saw the tension ratchet up and O’Donoghue had a free that trailed to the right and wide two minutes in, and Peter Naughton not long after arced over a fine effort from play to pushed his side five clear and not long after they were six to the good after Conor Flynn fired over a great point.
Belmullet though weren’t going to bend the knee that easy and they came right back at Knockmore, Eamon McAndrew kicked a point to bring it back to five points game. O’Donoghue kicked a free and Shea O’Donoghue got in on the act to leave just three between them at the second water break.
That gap got even closer just after the restart when Owen McHale hit an excellent point to leave it at 0-5 to 1-4, but Knockmore showed themselves the champions that they are and drove for home with a stunning drive to the finish line.
Brothers in arms: Peter Naughton and Pearse Ruttlege celebrate at the full time whsitle. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor Flynn hit his second point of the day from a tight angle down the right hand side of the park, Naughton kicked three more frees and Connell Dempsey drove over a excellent score on the run after calming the kick-out -with an O’Donoghue free the only score Belmullet could get in response for his side.
Belmullet have had an amazing year this year, they’ll hurt after this one but they have shown that they are a side who are sure to have a serious say in the senior championship again next year and they will have learned loads from this year.
As for Knockmore on to the the Connacht championship they march, having not been able to have a crack at it last year following their win and they will have eyes on claiming that title too.
Knockmore: Peter Naughton (0-5, 4f ), James Ruddy (1-0 ), Conor Flynn (0-2 ), Pearse Ruttledge (0-1, 1m ) Connell Demspey (0-1 )
Belmullet: Ryan O’Donoghue (0-3, 3f ), Shea O’Donoghue (0-1 ), Owen McHale (0-1 ), Eamon McAndrew (0-1 )
Knockmore: Colm Reape; Marcus Park, David McHale, Sean Holmes; Nathan Armstrong, Kieran King, Conor Flynn; Kevin McLoughlin, Shane McHale; Pearse Ruttledge, Adam Naughton, Connell Dempsey; James Ruddy, Aiden Orme, Peter Naughton. Subs: Charlie Bourke for Adam Naughton, Keith Ruttledge for Nathan Armstrong, Darren McHale for James Ruddy, Liam Durcan for Charlie Bourke.
Belmlullet: Shane Nallen; Mikey Barrett, Colin Barrett, Conon Connor; James Kelly, Eoin O’Donoghue, Shea O’Donoghue; Owen Healy, Evan Ivors; Owen McHale, Dathaí Cosgrove, Fionan Ryan; Ciaran Conway, Ryan O’Donoghue, Jason Boylan. Subs: Marty Boylan for Evan Ivors, Eamon McAndrew for Jason Boylan, James O’Donnel for Dathaí Cosgrove, Cathal Barrett for Marty Boylan, Leo Howard for Mikey Barrett
Ref: Jerome Henry (Castlebar Mitchels )