What can anyone say about this game, apart from praising Ballintubber for the demolition job they did on Knockmore in MacHale Park on Sunday afternoon. Of the two semi-finals down for decision on the day, this was expected to be the closest game. Last year Knockmore put Ballintubber out at the quarter-final stage, but this was a totally different game. The Ballintubber management duo of Peter Ford and Tony Duffy had their homework done on their opponents and their charges hit the ground running and in some style.
Nine goals in a senior county semi-final is something you don't expect to see and having four brothers all finding the back of the net inside the opening 40 minutes is something that will be talked about for decades to come around the county. It will have been an especially proud day for the O'Connor clan as Cillian bagged three goals, Diarmuid a brace and Padraic and Ruaidhri one each in the game. For Knockmore, it'll take a while for them to pick up the pieces, but they are a proud people and they'll be back next year and going for glory again, they know no other way.
Diarmuid was the first to find the back of the net five minutes in with a powerful finish after Cillian played him in on the overlap. Then it was Cillian's turn to strike six minutes later finishing off a move invloving Padraic and Alan Plunkett. Padraic then found the net after Diarmuid set him up sixty seconds later and Cillian had his second goal flicking the the net from close range and there wasn't 15 minutes gone on the stopwatch. Former Westport man Stephen Broderick who put in a good shift in the middle of the park grabbed Ballintubber's fifth goal on the 23 minute mark and it just kept getting worse for Knockmore as Alan Plunkett was able to add two more goals for Ballintubber before the break, where they went in leading by 7-7 to 1-6. The north Mayo men managed to get their own goal before the break with Darren McHale grabbing what could be easily argued being the goal of the day just before the turn around.
Knockmore kicked the first two points of the second half, but the goals just kept coming for Ballintubber with wing-back Ruaidhri O'Connor completing the family foursome in the 39th minute, less than 60 seconds later goal number nine arrived as Cillian O'Connor wrapped up his hat-trick after Alan Dillon set him up.
Credit must be given to Knockmore who kept plugging away with Andrew Keane, Kieran Langan and Kevin McLoughlin keeping up the fight. Keane managed to grab a second goal for Knockmore midway through the second half as the game petered out to a conclusion that had been decided a long time before the final whistle.
Next up for Ballintubber is a meeting with Castlebar Mitchels in the final, a third meeting of the sides at this stage of the competition in the last five years, with the 'Tubber men winning both of those finals. If they come into that game in three weeks time in the sort of form they showed in MacHale Park on Sunday, Castlebar will be in very serious bother.
Ballintubber: C O'Connor (3-3, 1f ), A Plunkett (2-1 ), P O'Connor (1-2 ), D O'Connor (1-1 ), S Broderick (1-1 ), R O'Connor (0-1 ), A Dillon (0-1 ), R Geraghty (0-1 ), B Walsh (0-1 )
Knockmore: K Langan (0-6, 4f ), K McLoughlin (0-4,2f ), D McHale (1-0 ), A Keane (1-0 ), C Reape (0-1, 1 45' ), G Gaughan (0-1 )
Ballintubber: B Walsh; M Plunkett, C Hallinan, P Early; M Kelly, G Loftus, R O'Connor; J Gibbons, S Broderick; A Plunkett, D O'Connor, D Coleman; A Dillon, C O'Connor, P O'Connor. Subs: D Summerville for D O'Connor, B Murphy for P Early, R Geraghty for P O'Connor, D Geraghty for J Gibbons, J Geraghty for R O'Connor, B Walsh for C O'Connor
Knockmore:C Reape; J Clarke, B Gibbons, J Rice; K Langan, G Higgins, T Hanley; T Clarke, A Keane; D McHale, S Sweeney, D McHale; K Ruttledge, G Gaughan, K McLoughlin. Subs: A Loftus for G Higgins, F O'Neill fro T Clarke; A Steadler for T Hanley, C Canning for S Sweeney, J Langan for D McHale, J O'Hora for D McHale
Ref: K Connelly (Hollymount-Carramore )