Castlebar Mitchels 1-11
There were more subplots going into Sunday's game in MacHale park than you'd find in most novels, but the last line of this contest was that Castlebar Mitchels brought the Paddy Moclair cup home for the first time in 20 years and their vanquished opponents, Breaffy were left to wonder what might have been.
The county town men after coming so close so often in recent years they had to wonder would they ever break the 20 year gap that had built up between titles. But they were made work for it, by a Breaffy team that left all they had on the field and with three minutes to go had the gap closed back to just a goal and they were very much still in this fight.
In conditions that would have reminded all involved of the long and torturous nights spent on the training fields at the start of the year, Castlebar dug deep at the very end and reeled off three scores in the dying stages to kill off Breaffy's hopes, and the introduction of Kevin Filan for the final few seconds after he soldiered for two decades with the the Mitchels, without getting his hand on the old trophy was a fitting full stop to the battle.
Castlebar opted to play with the wind in the first period and it proved to be an inspired choice as they went in at the turnaround leading by 1-6 to 0-4. It was Breaffy who first got on the scoreboard with Alan Durcan kicking a close range free after Liam Irwin was upended by Eoghan O'Reilly. Drama was to follow almost straight from the restart as a move involving Alan Feeney, Tom King and Neil Lydon ended up with Kevin Scahill upending Neil Douglas and referee Liam Devenney awarding a penalty kick. Douglas dusted himself off and took the one-on-one kick against Robert Hennelly but skewed his effort wide and high to the right. Nine minutes in Castlebar delivered the only and crucial goal, through the boot of Danny Kirby. A Castlebar 45' dropped short and the ball was scrambled across the face of Hennelly's goal and Kirby was on hand to pull on the ball on the ground and raise the green flag.
Breaffy took it on the chin and responded straight back through a Seamus O'Shea point to cut the gap back to one, but Castlebar were starting to get to grips with the game and Tom King kicked back with pointed free. Barry Moran then stepped up to the plate and kicked two beauties of scores one from either side of the field to stretch out his sides lead before Liam Irwin slotted over a free to narrow the gap back to two after 17 minutes as Breaffy continued to take advantage of the chances they made while Mitchels started to tick up wide count. That was followed in the 23rd minute by a score from James Durcan. The young Castlebar forward raced out the field won a tough ball and fought to find space to drive it over the bar. Alan Durcan kicked his first point of the afternoon from a free to make the score 1-4 to 0-4 with five minutes left in the half and keep Breaffy well within touch heading towards the break, but it was Castlebar who pushed on before the median whistle, with Tom King kicking over another free and Neil Lydon fisted over the final score of the half to send Pat Holmes' men in leading by 1-6 to 0-4.
Breaffy came out strong early after the intermission, and Liam Irwin pinged over arguably the score of the game under pressure from under the stand to get things moving three minutes in, but it would be another 12 minutes before Breaffy troubled the score takers again, not that Mitchels were to hot on that front either in the opening stages of the half with Tom King's point their only score of the period until there was less than ten minutes remaining in the game. Mitchels had a power of ball but couldn't convert their chances as they kicked wide after wide. With a quarter of an hour left, Durcan kicked another free which was followed by another great point from Irwin this time from the McHale Road side of the ground to keep the game on a knife edge with only a major between them. With nine minutes left Neil Douglas stretched the gap out to four after a powerful run down the pitch by Patrick Durcan created the space for him score. Breaffy weren't going away thought and with three minutes left on the clock Alan Durcan pointed a free from distance to bring the gap back to just a goal.
Castlebar could sense the game may be slipping from them and they took it back by the scruff of the neck and three points in three minutes from Shane Hopkins, Tom King and Neil Lydon put stretched the gap out to six points and put a gloss on the victory.
For Castlebar this win has been a long time coming, while for Breaffy getting so close and falling just short will give them plenty fuel over the winter to come back next year and mount another serious challenge to win their first ever Moclair cup.
Breaffy: R Hennelly; K Schaill, C Kelly, D Gavin; M Hall, M Jennings, B Howley; A O'Shea, S O'Shea (0-1 ); G Jennings, T O'Reilly, R Martyn; L Irwin (0-3,1f ), A Durcan (0-4 ), M McNichoals. Subs: B Jordan for C Kelly, C O'Shea for T O'Reilly, E Conroy for M McNicholas, P Collins for B Howley, C Jordan for K Scahill
Castlebar: C Naughton; A Feeney, T Cunniffe, E O'Reilly; P Durcan, D Newcombe, R Feeney; A Walsh, B Moran (0-2 ); T King (0-4,2f ), N Douglas (0-1 ), G McDonagh; J Durcan (0-1 ), D Kirby (1-0 ), N Lydon (0-2 ). Subs: S Hopkins (0-1 ) for G McDonagh, D Joyce for D Newcombe, F Durcan for J Durcan, R O'Malley for A Feeney, K Filan for N Lydon
Ref: L Devenney (Ballina Stephenites )