Belmullet and Tooreen contested the Junior Hurling Championship final in perfect conditions at Ballyvary on Saturday last. Both these teams contested the final last year and supporters were expecting a close contest again this year. Tooreen were first off the mark scoring 1-3 without reply in the first seven minutes, with points from Sean Ganley and David Kenny, and 1-1 coming from the live wire Shane Boland. Belmullet's only response was a pointed 65 from Ger McDonnell. Throughout the first half Tooreen played fast pacy hurling and Belmullet just could not get to the pitch of the game during this period. Tooreen led by 2-11 to 0-3 at half-time with Ciaran Finn (0-4 ), Dylan Lynskey (1-1 ), Joey Ganley, and Pat Freyne powering them into an unassailable lead, with Belmullet's only response coming from a Ger McDonnell free and full-forward Andy Howard from play.
Belmullet manager Sean O Coisdealbha reshuffled his team at half-time intoducing substitutes John Birrane and Jonathan Sweeney to try to stem the blue Tooreen tide. However Tooreen were first out of the blocks again in the second half with points from Dylan Lynskey (3 ), Shane Boland, and David Kenny. Belmullet finally came to life in the final quarter and tagged on points from Ger McDonnell (4 ) and Derek McDonnell. They put intense pressure on the Tooreen goal during this period but Tooreen custodian Adrian Hession produced a series of superb saves to ensure that the Earley Cup would reside in the east Mayo village on Saturday night. Final score Tooreen 2-21 Belmullet 0-8.
Best for the winners were Ciaran Finn, Dylan Lynskey, Shane Boland, David Kenny, Adrian Hession, Paul Hunt, and the evergreen Brian Delaney. Ger McDonnell, Andy Howard, Derek McDonnell, and Paddy Barrett tried hardest for the Erris men
After the game Mayo Hurling Committe chairman John Hopkins thanked both teams for their efforts and also Ballyvary Hurling Club for use of the excellent facilities. The Earley family then presented the Tom Earley Memorial Cup to Tooreen captain Pat Freyne. Tooreen senior and junior teams have won all titles contested this year and will be in strong contention for the Senior Championship as well this year.
Belmullet: L Donoghue, D Donoghue, D Sweeney, N Carolan, B McGrath, P Barrett, H Cronin, R Gallagher, D McDonnell (0-1 ), B Murphy, G McDonnell (0-6 2f ), J McAndrew, S Kilkerr, A Howard (0-1 ), K Barrett. Subs: J Sweeney, J Birrane, D McLoughlin, and P Togher.
Tooreen: A Hession, N Freyne, P Hunt, B Delaney, C Henry, C English, A Judge, S Ganley (0-3 ), P Freyne (0-1 ), D Lynskey (1-4 ), C Finn (0-7 4f ), S Commons, S Boland (1-2 ), J Ganley (0-1 ), D Kenny (0-3 ). Subs: S Muldoon, R Byrne, S Maloney and J Judge.