Just three years on from claiming their first ever adult county title in their then 110 year history when they won a dramatic junior final, after extra time and in a replay. The Neale who have a pyramid on their club crest, took another step on the Mayo GAA pyramid when they booked their place in this years intermediate championship final.
This was no smash and grab raid against a much more vaunted side, this was a victory won in swashbuckling style with their full forward line of Paddy Hopkins, Sean Cosgrove and Aidan O’Sullivan tormenting the Moy Davitts rearguard all day long. That trio were well backed by the likes of the Steven Conroy whose all action running display, cut through the heart of the Moy Davitts defence with clockwork regularity, while Simon Ryan and Robert Holian were both equally impressive.
Moy Davitts were facing into their third championship game in as many weeks, having had to go to a replay to see off Kiltimagh in the last eight and they never really got to the pitch of this game as The Neale rocked and rolled their way to a victory that will be taken about for years to come in the villages of Cross, Cong and The Neale.
Both sides exchanged a couple of early points each but the first vital score came when Holian and Conroy combined well to play in Cosgrove who drove the ball to the back of James Burke’s net nine minutes in. That score put The Neale 1-2 to 0-3 up and off and running. Scores from Cosgrove, Ryan and Killian McHugh had the south Mayo men six points clear 22 minutes in. Moy
Davitts did close the gap a small bit over the next few minutes with Mark Regan and Simon Jordan pointing.
Their cause wasn’t helped just before the break when full forward Brian Heneghan was shown a black card for a needless challenge, and then in injury time the real fatal blow to their chances arrived. Holian drove the ball in long, Aidan O’Sullivan got his paw to the ball and diverted it past James Burke after the Moy Davitts keeper got caught in no-mans-land when he tried to come for a ball he’d no business going for. Both sides added a point each before the turn around which left The Neale leading by 2-7 to 0-6 at the break.
Antony Jordan who was introduced at the interval got things moving with a fine point after only a few seconds of the half for Moy Davitts. But rather than spur Moy Davitts back into the game it was the south Mayo men who roared back into life as they reeled off four points on the bounce without reply.
Jimmy Byrne did crash one effort for a goal off the post in the middle of that run, but it wasn’t Moy Davitts day. Even when they were awarded a penalty, Conor Byrne saw his effort well saved by Keith Hennelly, The Neale custodian also blocked the effort on the rebound from veteran Gary Ruane who’d been thrown into the fray to try and save the game.
As the game wound down, The Neale kept piling on the scores and eventually ran out 11 point winners with Brian Reape finally breaking The Neale’s goal line with a late, late three pointer, but by that stage the race had well and truly been won.
The Neale: S Cosgrove (1-5, 2f ), A O’Sullivan (1-5 ), S Ryan (0-2, 1f ), P Hopkins (0-2 ), K McHugh (0-1 ), R Holian (0-1 )
Moy Davitts: B Reape (1-1 ), S Kelly (0-2 ), S Jordan (0-1 ), E Regan (0-1 ), M Regan (0-1 ), A Jordan (0-1 )
The Neale: K Kennelly; D Morrin, D McGrath, S Morrin; P Casey, K McHugh, J Duffy; R Holian, J Biggins; P Walsh, S Ryan, S Conroy; P Hopkins. Subs: E Hughes for J Duffy, J O’Donnell for P Hopkins, A Varley for E Highes (BC ), D Moran for P Walsh.
Moy Davitts: J Burke; C Quinn, D Ruane, L Jordan; J Gilmore, O Quinn, B Gilmartin; E Regan, J Mulderrig; B Reape, A Bourke, S Jordan’ P Ruane, B Heneghan, S Kelly. Subs: M Regan for A Bourke, J Byrne for B Heneghan (BC ), A Jordan for E Regan, G Ruane for J Gilmore, C Byrne for S Jordan, O McHugh for L Jordan.
Ref: D Corcoran (Islandeady )