Goals win games and there was no recovering from the two goals they shipped inside the opening ten minutes for Castlebar Mitchels on Sunday in MacHale Park.
Ballintubber blitzed their way to the final with a nine goal demolition of Knockmore at the semi-final stage and by the time they’d bagged their two goals inside the opening ten minutes, there would have been justified fears amongst the Mitchels faithful that another rout could be unfolding. But Castlebar stuck to their task and did manage to keep themselves in the game and at one stage in the second half after they grabbed their own major, they pulled level with the eventual champions. But Ballintubber showed what they were made off down the home stretch as they saw off the Castlebar challenge and picked up their third Mayo senior title in five years. All of them claimed against Castlebar in the final!
It was the county town side who started the brightest with Barry Moran pointing after being played in from a quick free kick involving the tireless Neil Douglas and Niall Lydon after just two minutes. A minute later Mitchels were two clear when Eoghan Reilly pointed from a free close in after captain Donal Newcombe was upended as he tried to break for goal. But that was as good as it got for Castlebar as Ballintubber were about to hit them with a goal blitz.
First to find the back of the net was Padraic O’Connor who finished high past Ciaran Naughton after he was played in by his brother Cillian. The provider of the first goal then kicked his sides first point from a free after Alan Plunkett had been fouled near the goal. With eight minutes on the clock the decisive score arrived. Jason Gibbons drove the ball in long towards Cillian O’Connor. His Mayo team-mate Tom Cunniffe looked to have the cut out the ball, but it slipped through his hands into the path of the unmarked O’Connor who made no mistake on the run lashing the ball to the net with a powerful drive.
The second goal really rocked the defending champions, but they did get to grips with the Ballintubber attack after that goal and kept them scoreless for the next 22 minutes. Their own attack started to get into the game and Richie Feeney pointed after a well worked move involving Neil Douglas and Cian Costello. Douglas then looked to have had a good shout for a penalty turned down by referee Eamon McAndrew just before the 20 minute mark. Neil Lydon pointed from out on the win to bring the gap back to three points 27 minutes in, with Fergal Durkin putting just two between the sides less than a minute later.
Ballintubber finally broke their own scoring drought on the 30 minute mark when Alan Dillon kicked a calming score after some great work by Diarmuid O’Connor on the wing. Castlebar had the last score of the half with Reilly kicking his second point from a free just before the whistle to leave the score at the break Ballintubber 2-2 Castlebar 0-6.
Stepehen Broderick who won his first senior county championship after making the short move from Westport to Ballintubber this year got the opening score of the second half after he was played in by Padraic O’Connor. But a minute later the game was levelled up when Barry Moran palmed to the net after he connected with an inch perfect ball across the box from Aidan Walsh after Danny Kirby and Neil Lydon had done the graft further out the field. The game was level and it looked like it could be Mitchels time to push on. However, Cillian O’Connor responded for the victors with a pointed close range free. Then Diarmuid O’Connor scored two vital points to keep Ballintubber’s noses in front the first coming after he left Eoghan Reilly for dead down the flank, before he fisted over and the second a great strike after he was played in by Dillon. His brace of points was interrupted by a pointed free from Aidan Walsh who scored after Cian Costello was brought down as he tried to burrow his way towards goal.
Stephen Broderick got his second point of the day in the 47th minute to push Ballintubber three clear again, but the Mitchels kept coming back for more with Danny Kirby and Richie Feeney pointing in quick succession, to leave them just one behind with 11 minutes to go. But that was the last time that Mitchels managed to register a score and Ballintubber ensure the win when Padraic O’Connor tapped over his second point and the final word was left to his brother Cillian who drove over a monster of a free from the MacHale Road side of the ground to round off the victory.
Three senior titles in five years, from four final appearances is some record for the west Mayo men. Next up for them, just the small task of Roscommon champions St Brigid’s in the Connacht semi-final in three weeks time.
Ballintubber: C O’Connor (1-3, 3f ), P O’Connor (1-1 ), S Broderick (0-2 ), D O’Connor (0-2 )
Castlebar: B Moran (1-1 ), E Reilly (0-2,2f ), R Feeney (0-2 ), N Lydon (0-1 ), F Durkin (0-1 ), A Walsh(0-1 ), D Kirby (0-1 )
Ballintubber: B Walsh; P Early, B Murphy, C Hallinan; R O’Connor, M Plunkett, M Kelly; J Gibbons, S Broderick; D Coleman, D O’Connor, A Plunkett; P O’Connor, A Dillon, C O’Connor. Subs: J Geraghty for P Early, D Summerville for A Plunkett, R Geraghty for P O’Connor.
Castlebar Mitchels: C Naughton; P Durcan, A Feeney, T Cunniffe; D Newcombe, E Reilly, R O’Malley; B Moran, R Feeney; N Lydon, D Kirby, F Durkin; C Costello, A Walsh, N Douglas. Subs: J Durcan for F Durkin, S Keane for C Costello, S Conlon for R O’Malley, R Byrne for N Douglas.
Ref: E McAndrew (Claremorris )