It took just two games and two rounds of extra time for the gladiators from Claremorris and Ballina Stephenites in the Mayo GAA u21 final. On Sunday afternoon, it was the men from south Mayo who emerged victorious and claimed their first A championship at this grade.
Claremorris were able to finally put a full stop on the football scene in Mayo for the year thanks to being able to kick four points without reply in extra time after the sides were pegged level at 0-10 each at the final whistle. The game was a nip and tuck affair throughout, with neither side willing to cede any advantage to the opposition.
Ballina’s Evan Regan opened the scoring early on, but Claremorris full forward Brendan Walsh levelled the game up shortly after from a free. The Claremorris sharpshooter James Shaughnessy put his side in front for the first time on the day with a fine score, with the first of his half dozen points from the day. Sean Diskin put two points between the sides. Rory Upton and Evan Regan added on points for the north Mayo men and both forced Claremorris keeper Keith Saunders into good saves. Ballina found their feet in the middle period of the first half and Ciaran Tracey swapped scores with James Shaughnessy to leave the sides level after 20 minutes. It was the north Mayo men who finished stronger in the closing stages of the half with Evan Regan and Mickey Murray pointing to send Ballina in leading by 0-7 to 0-5 at the break.
Claremorris were not going to throw in the towel and James Shaughnessy opened the second half with two great scores inside the opening few minutes to level the game up a 0-7 each. It was blow for blow over the next few minutes with Keith Tighe putting the Stephenites in front before Sean Diskin levelled the game up for the fifth time in the game, then Shaughnessy put the south Mayo side back in front again, before Ballina went back down the field and Brendan Murray levelled the game up at 0-9 to 0-9 with two minutes left in normal time. Ballina thought they had the game won when Diarmuid Durkin fired over a point with seconds to spare, however Claremorris had other ideas and Sean Diskin levelled the game up in injury time and sent the game to extra time for the second time in as many weeks.
Claremorris: K Saunders; C Finn, A Butler, S Brennan; R Finn, J Commins, J Stretton; R Quirke (0-1 ), D O’Reilly; C
Gill, J McCormack, I Stagg (0-1 ); J Shaughnessy (0-6, 1s, 2f ), B Walsh (0-2, 2f ), S Diskin (0-4 ). Subs: C Brennan for I Stagg, I Stagg for C Brennan, S McGuinness for B Walsh.
Ballina Stephenites: D Devine; R Geraghty, A Stutt, P O’Hora; M Murray, S Regan, P McGarry; J
Irwin, R Upton, K Tighe (0- 1 ), C Tracey (0-2 ); R Keane; E Regan (0-4, 3fs ), B Murray (0-1 ), R Tighe. Subs: B Walkin for P O’Hora, P O’Hora for B Walkin, D Durkan for Upton (0-1 ), J Moylett for Keane, P Judge for R Tighe.
Ref: J Henry (Castlebar )