Mayo Intermediate Football Championship Semi-Final

November 7, 2018

Ballinrobe 0-10

Lahardane 0-9

Report by Billy Horan



ON AN ugly day in McHale Park, Castlebar, Ballinrobe claimed a place in the

Intermediate final, triumphing in a game which lacked as much beauty as the

conditions did. Calling this game hard-fought is about as generous as one

could be in their description. While it did produce some wonderful scores,

these struggled for recognition amongst some of the sloppy, scrappy play

which surrounded them.

This will not bother Ballinrobe too much, as they prepare for the final,

but what could perturb them is the difficulty they had in achieving the

victory, especially so given that Lahardane played the last fifteen minutes

with fourteen men, after influential midfielder James Gillespie was

dismissed for a second yellow card.

The first ten minutes of the meeting saw the eventual victors playing all

the tunes, as they raced to a four point lead. Three Tony Walkin frees were

the base of their advantage, as Lahardane defenders persisted in

ridiculous, needless fouling within pointing distance of their own posts.

Walkin duly obliged. One of their four points came from open play, a fine

score involving the combination of Walkin and Adrian Flannery, with the

latter converting.

Lahardane were left reeling after such an opening. During this period, not

only were their backs stretched under pressure from attack after attack,

but they found it difficult to prise free the stranglehold with  which Sean

Grimes and Fergal O’Loughlin held the centre of the pitch. However, they

eventually raised a flag when Cormac Rowland – the man who was to prove the

conduit for much of what was good in the Lahardane attack – belted over a

free-kick.  This gave the trailing side a visible lift, as Rowland swung

over a brace of frees, before James Gillespie and Rowland combined to slip

the ball to Declan Leonard, who tapped home a neat equaliser. In the space

of ten minutes, Lahardane were scoring with the ease that Ballinrobe did in

the game’s opening periods. This turnaround in Lahardane’s fortunes was

grounded in Gillespie and Damian Kelly beginning to have a more influential

say in things at midfield, thus facilitating better ball into a Lahardane

full-forward line where Leonard and Rowland always looked capable of

discomfiting the Ballinrobe defence.

Rowland nailed another brace – one an absolutely wonderful conversion from

a John McDonnell pass – before the heretofore quiet Shane Blake showed what

he had in the tank with a sweeping score. The ball was a virtual stranger

in the Lahardane half of the pitch for this period of the contest, but

Ballinrobe could have goaled late in the half, when Pat Malone’s shot was

blocked by Padraig Crean. From the resultant Sean Grimes ’50’, another

chance presented itself, as Walkin’s initial shot was blocked, before he

gathered the rebound and pointed.

Peter Ford will have realised that his charges needed a smart performance

on the resumption to get back into the rhythm of the opening minutes.

However, Lahardane enjoyed an extended half-time break, leaving Ballinrobe

out on their own for over five minutes. When Padraic Barrett did restart

the contest, one almost wished he hadn’t. The first twelve minutes of the

second half were woeful, with pulling and dragging prominent. A flurry of

Lahardane wides were one of the features of this section of the game, as

was an indication of the confusion of the Ballinrobe sideline, as Kieran

Sheridan, substituted before half-time, re-entered the fray as a

replacement for Donal Costello. Eventually, a score arrived, another

Ballinrobe sub, Maurice Horan, belting over to reduce the deficit to a

point. Then came Gillespie’s dismissal, and one feared for the Lahardane

challenge. However, Cormac Rowland scored from a free to suggest defiance

in the leaders, before repeating the dose to put McHales three ahead with

just over ten minutes remaining.

Ballinrobe, though, realised that matters were now grave, and responded

accordingly. Centre-half forward Aidan Golden, quiet up to this, hit a

couple of scores in five minutes and, allied to another Horan free, brought

Ballinrobe parity with a couple of minutes still to contest. Horan needed

only a couple of seconds, however, to swing over a free from twenty yards,

out on the left sideline, to hand Ballinrobe their final place. A

hard-earned one.

Ballinrobe: P. Tiernan; C. Jennings, P. Finnerty, R. Keane; D. Costello, F.

Costello, K. Sheridan; S. Grimes, F. O’Loughlin; Adrian Flannery (0-1), A.

Golden (0-2), P. Malone; K. McTigue, T. Walkin (0-4, 3f), M. Keane. Subs:

H. Murphy for Sheridan; K. Sheridan for D. Costello; M. Horan (0-3, 2f) for

McTigue; Alan Flannery for Malone.

Lahardane McHales: P. Crean; M. Marley, J.J. Leonard, R. McDermott; T.

Marley, A. McDermott, B. Rowland; D. Kelly, J. Gillespie; V. Cawley, J.

McDonnell, J. Rowland; D. Leonard (0-1), S. Blake (0-1), C. Rowland

(0-7,6f). Subs: G. Burke for Kelly.

Referee: P. Barrett (Belmullet).