Wonderful day for Westport in Croker

The men of the moment: Westport celebrate their historic victory in Croke Park last Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

The men of the moment: Westport celebrate their historic victory in Croke Park last Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

Westport are the All-Ireland intermediate football champions after a pulsating win over St Colmcille's of Meath. It was hearts in mouths stuff at the bitter end as a Colmcille's player lofted a ball towards the Westport goal mouth only for stand in keeper Aaron Dunne to calmly clear his lines. The final whistle was blown immediately afterwards.

That ball could so easily have ended up in the net and won the game for Colmcille's. It would have been robbery. The scoreline suggests it was a tight encounter but Westport were full value for their win and should have cruised home, some wayward Westport shooting and the awarding of a controversial penalty in the second half contributing to Colmcille's getting back in the game.

Patrick O'Malley the Westport custodian had a rush of blood to the head when coming off his line to collide with a Colmcille's forward in the box, a dangerous thing to do, it reminded me of something I would have done myself in the heat of the moment. Referee Niall Cullen allowed play to go on and the kick out to be taken only for another official to get in his earpiece to explain there was contact in the box. I do not ever remember a penalty being given in such circumstances (after allowing the kick out to be taken ). When you are from Mayo you do not do things the easy way. I could only but feel for O'Malley as he sat on the Hogan Stand steps watching the final moments unfold. It is an amazing statistic that Westport had five Leaving Certs in their starting 15, three of whom play in the full forward line and ran their respective markers ragged. The quality of scores by Westport were befitting of any final, be it at inter-county level or club. Colm Moran had a brilliant game scoring four points from play and was voted this week's GAA Player of the week, while Shane Scott scored two with the outside of his left foot from 45 metres or more. Had a seasoned county player done what Scott did, it would have made the highlights on the Sunday Game.

What more can be said of Oisin McLoughlin's first goal, you would never get sick of looking at it. It took four pieces of individual brilliance. Firstly to win an almost impossible ball when you had two defenders for company, secondly to spin on a sixpence and leave them for dead, thirdly to carry the ball at blistering pace for up to 70 metres, and lastly to have the composure to tuck the ball in off the upright after carrying the ball that distance. You are unlikely to see a better goal in Croker for the rest of the year. It was a fitting end for Kevin Keane (who sadly had to leave the field early with a knee injury that has ruled him out for the rest of the year ) and footballer of the year Lee Keegan to finally have that winning feeling on All-Ireland final day after being involved with so many near misses with Mayo. The ecstatic scenes at the end were something to behold. Congrats Westport. The whole county was rooting for you.

The neighbours come calling

Round three of the National Football League will prove a crucial fixture in the grand scheme of things as Mayo take on Roscommon in Castlebar tomorrow evening. Mayo will need to follow on from their impressive win away to Kerry to give their home support something to shout about. If Mayo want to have any chance of making the league final they must win this game. A win for Stephen Rochford's charges will also alleviate the threat of relegation for the time being. A win for the Rossies, and Mayo are right back in a dogfight to retain division one status. Roscommon have not been going well and word of disharmony and players leaving the panel seems to be weekly news. Two losses from their first two games against Tyrone and Donegal last time out has heaped pressure on Kevin McStay. The Donegal game was there for the taking but they lacked composure in the last five minutes and Donegal stole the points.

With Tom Parsons suspended and the O'Shea brothers not yet match fit it leaves us light around the middle of the field although I am reliably informed Jason Gibbons is going well at training. Parson's red card appeal failed on the basis he was the third man in and contributed to starting a brawl, which is pretty pathetic considering he shoved Donnacha Walsh out of the way to simply protect his injured team mate who was lying on the ground. With Andy Moran and Cillian O'Connor on fire in Tralee and Fergal Boland (whose work rate is immense ) improving all the time I still feel Mayo will have too much for this Roscommon outfit.

Great fun at the Sigerson in Bekan

St Mary's of Belfast won the final of the Sigerson cup against holders and raging hot favourites UCD in the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence. It was a bizarre final where Castlebar Mitchels' nemesis Colm Basquel (Ballyboden ) netted two early goals for UCD. Amazingly St Mary’s scored the next nine points as UCD lost all shape and structure. In a typical Ulster performance they frustrated UCD, however a terrible refereeing decision by Mayo's favourite ref Conor Lane of Cork deprived UCD of a free to level matters when a UCD player was clearly dragged to the ground. To the amazement of Stephen Coen and co, Lane gave a free out for overcarrying. It was a dreadful decision that ultimately decided where the Sigerson would reside for the next 12 months.


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