It looked like it was going to be a big year for Jason Gibbons on the inter-county scene in the early months of the year. The Ballintubber midfielder had taken his chance in the middle of the park for Mayo and looked to have nailed down a starting spot for the team for the rest of the year. Then disaster struck when he injured his ankle in training in May ruling him out for a long period of time. It was hard to come back from, he admitted to the Mayo Advertiser. “I suppose it was disappointing, when it happened I heard the snap and I knew I was in serious bother. Look it the medical team did all they could, but it took me longer than I thought. I was hoping to get back for Roscommon but I didn’t. I suppose I never really got going again with the county as I’d have liked.” He continued: “When your sitting on the sideline and you’ve had what was a good league and it’s all been taken away from you and you know the competition is very fierce on the panel; it’s very hard to get back in again. I didn’t get to start a game until the All Ireland semi-final. I had no doubts that I was training well and it didn’t just go for me in Croke Park against Kerry. You’d lose a bit of confidence when you get that badly injured, it takes a lot to get back, but happily I feel myself that I’m back going well again and looking forward to the county final.”
The county final on Sunday is going to be a huge occasion for both clubs, but especially Gibbons who’ll skipper Ballintubber in the final, something he’s delighted to have been given the chance to do. “It’s massive honour for me, looking back through the years when I started off playing football. I never imagined be captain of Ballintubber, a lot of great lads went before me, so I’ve big shoes to fill even the recent ones like Tom Early and John Feeney. I’m delighted to have it and I’d hope to be lifting the Moclair on Sunday.”
Big effort put in this year
While they have won two county titles in the past four years and reached a third final two years ago, the last couple of seasons have been disappointing for Ballintubber from their own point of view and that’s something that Gibbons is looking to address. “We’re looking forward to it, we’ve put in a lot of work this year. I suppose the last two years were very disappointing with the club. We put a big effort in this year. It was disappointing last year, Knockmore beat us well, we knew ourselves when we reviewed last year we didn’t perform as well as we could. It was a big thing for us to step back up this year. Tony Duffy came on board with Peter, with others like Jim Twohig back involved and we’ve really pushed the boat out.” The effort of the pervious few years seemed to catch up with Ballintubber last year and the may have got a bit complacent, something Jason recognises. “It was tough going you know, when you’re getting to county finals you can become a bit complacent and it kinda caught us on the hop and they took the game from us and beat us fair and square on the day, you can’t take anything from them.”
In the semi-final, Ballintubber got redemption or revenge against Knockmore for the 2013 quarter-final, whichever way you look at it, but it’s a game that was like no other that Gibbons had played in. “Ever since I started playing football, you might have got that score at underage, but never in adult football. We started the game well, got a few goals and set the tone for the game and drove on. It wasn’t down to Knockmore being bad, it was that we clicked and things went well for us. We know ourselves that’s just one game and it’s not going to happen on Sunday, you’re not going to get that score. Any team that gets a goal the next day, it’ll be a big step for them.”
Familiar foes on Sunday
As for Sunday’s opponents, they’ve already met in the championship in the group stages, but that was so long ago you can’t really take much from it according to Gibbons, but he did admit their defeat in that game refocused their efforts this year. “The Castlebar game we’d a few injuries, they put it up to us, the pace of their game was way ahead of where we were at that time of the year, they beat us well. It opened our eyes on the sideline. I missed that game due to injury. Castlebar were miles ahead of us and we had to change ourselves and get back to the drawing board and push ourselves on. We knew ourselves we’d a lot of work to do.” There’s a nice rivalry between the two sides over the past few years, but it’s all about the 60 minutes on Sunday, according to Jason, and what’s gone in the past won’t count for anything. “We beat them in two county finals, we might have had a bit of luck going for us that day. In the first county final, we got the luck of the draw a bit. There was never anything in it, it wasn’t a game of the year kind of match, but it’s always a close game.” Come Sunday evening, the only thing that Gibbons will care about is lifting the Moclair Cup.