From winning just two games of football last year and losing their opening championship game this season, Ballyhaunis have torn up the script this summer and gone on to become deserving Mayo intermediate champions. This was a victory not just for the team and the club of today, but for all the teams and players that tried to get there over the years and fell just short, according to Liam Lyons in his acceptance speech after the full time whistle. The red and black me from east Mayo are back in the big time next year and they did so playing an exciting brand of football doing so.
Kiltimagh man Thomas Morley came in this year as the manager and he's managed to oversee as an impressive turn around as you could imagine and while he have enjoyed this victory, he'll be planning in his mind for other challenges ahead in the next few weeks.
The contest came down to the narrowest of margins, with Ballyhaunis holding out for a single point victory in a game that could have gone either way. Had Darren Coen's free from 48m out in injury time just crept inside the post, it would have been his ninth point of the game and surly we'd have come back for another day. The game while keenly battled allover the field, on the scoreboard it was a shoot-out between Coen and Niall Prenty, with the Ballyhaunis man finishing up with seven points to his name, while the vanquished Coen racked up eight scores.
Ballyhaunis played with the aid of a strong breeze in the first half and they hit the ground running, with Kevin Nestor putting them into the lead two minutes in. But Hollymount-Carramore were about to hit an early purple patch and they reeled off the next three scores on the trot, with Stephen Coen opening their account with a fine score from play, before Darren Coen and Conor Keane got in on the act. Niall Prenty cut the gap back to a single point nine minutes in with a well struck free kick and he leveled the contest up four minutes later with a great score from play. Moments before that score, Hollymount Carramore had a great chance to grab a goal, but Clifford Connolly snatched at his effort and blazed it high and wide. Both Prenty and Darren Coen exchanged points, just before the quarter-of-an-hour mark as the sides were locked together neck and neck.
Ten minutes before the turn around, Eoghan Collins and Prenty both kicked points from frees to put Ballyhaunis two clear. Darren Coen cut the gap back to a single point with a fine score from play, before Morgan Lyons and Prenty tacked on two more before the break to send Ballyhaunis in leading by 0-8 to 0-5 at the break.
Ballyhaunis came out of the traps early in the second half and added on two more quick points through Morgan Lyons and Prenty to push the gap out as far as five points. Morgan Lyons was another man who put up his hand as a man-of-the-match contender, scoring two points over the hour and getting through an ocean of ball. But Hollymount-Carramore weren't going to throw in the towel just yet and Darren Coen brought them right back into it with three points on the bounce between the 35th and 37thminute. The south-Mayo men had taken control of the contest at this stage, but they couldn't convert it into scores on the board and they reeled off three bad wides on the trot and let Ballyhaunis back into the game. With 43 minutes gone, Prenty stretched the lead back out to three points, but their opponents kept swinging back at them with Darren Coen kicking two point points to leave the score at 0-11 to 0-10. Ballyhaunis had a glorious chance to put four between the sides, when Prenty, Eoghan Collins and sub Jarlath Carney combined to leave Liam Lyons with what looked as the most straight forward task of finishing the ball to an empty net, but under pressure from Dermot Costello he somehow was unable to apply the finish. Both men landed awkwardly after the incident and had to be replaced shortly afterwards.
With eight minutes left on the clock, Prenty kicked his seventh and his sides final score of the game with a crucial strike when he was under a serious amount of pressure. Darren Coen cut the gap back to the bare minimum with three minutes left on the clock, but try as they might, Hollymount-Carramore just couldn't find the little bit of luck that they would have needed to level up the contest once more before the death. Ballyhaunis go marching on into the senior championship next year and more pressingly the Connacht championship in a couple of weeks time. For the fallen Hollymount-Carramore team, they know for next year, they're not that far off what's required and will be back again.
Ballyhaunis: N Prenty (0-7, 3f ), M Lyons (0-3 ), K Nestor (0-1 ), E Collins (0-1 )
Hollymount-Carramore: D Coen (0-8, 5f ), S Coen (0-1 ), B Sheridan (0-1 ), C Keane (0-1 )
Ballyhaunis: P Jordan; B Hunt, D Doyle, C Freeley; E Collins, K Higgins, K Nestor; L Lyons, S Shanaghy; K Gallagher, M Lyons, I Carroll; K Byrne, F Kelly, N Prenty. Subs: J Carney for I Carroll; S Hoban for K Gallagher, S Hunt for F Kelly, C Griffin for L Lyons.
Hollymount-Carramore: N Campbell; S Coen, D McHugh, F Conroy; D Costello, R Connelly, B Sheridan; P Ferrick A Fahy; R Molloy, K Costello, D Kelly; C Keane, C Connolly, D Coen. Subs: F Owens for B Sheridan, R Bell for D Costello, E Maloney for C Connolly, D Ferrick for R Molloy.
Ref: D Corcoran (Islandeady )
*Teams listed as per starting positions by number, not necessarily as they lined out on the field.