Kiltane booked their place in the final four of the Connacht Intermediate Football Championship with an impressive display in MacHale Park on Sunday afternoon. The north Mayo men ran out six point winners over the Galway champions Menlough, thank in no small part to Mikey Sweeney's goal 12 minutes into the first half.
Sweeney swept the ball to the net after Jason Healy intercepted a poor clearance from Jason O'Neill in the Menlough goal and fed the ball to Sweeney who made no mistake from close range. The goal put Kiltane into a 1-2 to 0-2 lead and got their tails up, after an even-steven opening ten minutes of the game. It was the Galway side who opened the scoring with a pointed free from close range less than a minute in from the boot of midfielder Robert Hughes. His opposite number John Reilly leveled the game up seven minutes later also kicking a free into the Bacon Factory end of the ground. The north Mayo men pushed themselves into the lead a minute later, when Martin Gallagher, galloped up the pitch from his wing-back berth, before driving the ball over the bar from distance. Hughes responded again from a placed ball to tie the contest up just after the ten minute mark, but the next time a flag was raised by a umpire it was a green one for Sweeney's major. Hughes did kick his third point of the game shortly after Sweeney's goal, but Martin Barrett's side swiftly went through the gears and pushed home for victory early on and kicked six unanswered points before the break. Sweeney, who picked up the official man-of-the-match award followed up his goal with a close in effort after the ball was worked across the 21 yard line. Nine minutes before the break John Reilly powered the ball over the bar from out on the right to register his first score from play. Then Ultan Corrigan got in on the act, with a arcing effort that went over the with aid of the inside of the post , before Pat Joe Gaughan cut across the ball with the outside of his boot to put his side six points to the good, three minutes before the break. Kiltane kept the foot down for the final few minutes of the half with Sweeney's hard work resulting in another fine score. The Kiltane number 12 chased down a ball that looked to be going wide, kept it in play and from a tight angle swung the ball over the bar expertly. The final word on the half was left to Edmund Barrett who pointed a free to send his team in at the break leading by 1-8 to 0-3.
The Galway champions came out for the second half with a lot more bite in them than they showed in the opening 30 minutes and twice in the opening ten minutes Michael John Reilly was called on to pull off top drawer saves to keep the ball out of his sides net. The first time he was called into action after four minutes, Menlough centre-half forward Kevin Reilly found space for a shot close in and Reilly saved well with his foot. The Menlough attacker could possibly have been better off passing to his full-forward Hugh Keeley who was in a better position unmarked. Nine minutes into the half, Reilly was forced to pull off a diving save to stop an effort from Mark Costello after the Menlough wing-back had cut in from the wing.
The Galway champions kept chipping away at the Kiltane lead during the early stages of the second half, but only ever brought it as close as six points at any stage and Kiltane were able to hold them away at distance. Dara Carey from a 45', John Reilly from a free, Mikey Sweeney, Shane Lindsay, Pat Joe Gaughan, Martin Gallagher and Barry McAndrew all kicked second half points for the victors with, Thomas Mannion, Joey Glynn, Robert Hughes and hat-trick of efforts from Colm O'Brien registering scores for the defeated Galway men.
It was a comfortable afternoon in MacHale Park for the Bangor Erris based club who now go on to the Connacht semi-final against the Sligo champions Drumcliffe Rosses Point on Sunday, November 3.
Kiltane: MJ Reilly; D Carey (0-1,1 45 ), R Corrigan, S Sweeney; M Gallagher (0-2 ), S Gaughan, T Gaughan; J Reilly (0-3,2f ), J Healy; PJ Gaughan (0-2 ), S Carey, M Sweeney (1-3 ); U Corrigan (0-1 ), T Conroy, E Barrett (0-1 ,1f ). Subs: S Lindsay (0-1 ) for S Carey, S Gallagher for E Barrett, D Conroy for D Carey, B McAndrew (0-1 ) for T Conroy, J Scanlon for U Corrigan.
Menlough: J O'Neill; Con Lucey, S Lawless, B Laheen; M Costello, T Mannion (0-1 ), J Glynn (0-1 ) ; R Hughes (0-4,4f ), D Reilly; C O'Brien (0-3 ), K Reilly, J Craughwell; B Costello, H Keeley, D Costello. Subs: P Kelly for J Craughwell, P Quirke for H Keeley, C Kenny for S Lawless,
Ref: M Duffy (Sligo )