Mayo U-21 'A' Football Championship Final 2000

November 7, 2018

Ballinrobe 0-12

Kilmaine 1-7

Report by Mike Finnerty


Southern Comfort

THE romance of sport will mean precious little in the village of Kilmaine

this week after last Sunday’s County U-21 Final.

At St. Coman’s Park, Hollymount, having led for fifty-eight minutes,

Kilmaine suddenly found themselves behind as the match ticked into

injury-time. Then it was over and Ballinrobe were champions.

Just like that.

In stifling heat this was a match of intrigue. There were spectacular

scores, a missed penalty, mistakes, plenty of honest effort and some

wonderous individual performances. Michéal Keane, Ballinrobe’s

spring-heeled full-forward, was a popular choice for the man-of-the match

but this was a game and a title that was not won by individuals. It was won

by sheer character, determination and belief.

As the game ticked towards its 53rd minute, Kilmaine’s assured full-forward

Andrew Casey strolled away from a long-range free that he had just dropped

over the black-spot. Kilmaine led by 1-7 to 0-8 and the Gods seemed to be

willing them home.

Then they lost their way.

Ballinrobe had been clinging to their neighbours coat-tails for so long

that their knuckles must have been grazed. From the moment the ball was

thrown-in, Kilmaine looked sure-footed and powerful. Nobody epitomised this

more than Andrew Casey. He had gunned 1-3 by half-time, the goal a

wonderfully taken effort from close range after the ball spilled into his

lap. He was kicking for flags irrespective of angles and distance. He

looked sharp.

Outside him, Pat Kelly and Alan Burke constituted a midfield partnership as

mobile as they were informed. Hardly a ball was wasted in the quest for


When Casey’s shot rippled the net on 17 minutes Kilmaine had opened up a

1-4 to 0-2 lead. Up on the terraces, 2,000 souls moved a little uneasily.

Ballinrobe’s Keith McTigue had already seen his penalty-kick saved in the

10th minute. The finely-balanced final was unfolding into a procession.

Sensing the trend, Ballinrobe threw Alan Murphy into the fray and they

suddenly found their stride. The impish corner-forward took some of the

attention away from Michéal Keane and the attack spread its wings.

Murphy arced over two points from 35 yards in the space of two minutes and

Ballinrobe were buzzing. With Michéal Keane enjoying the game of his life,

Kilmaine’s defence creaked and swung open. Just enough time for their

tormentor to muscle his way through and pop over another score. At

half-time: 1-4 to 0-5 and the move was on.

Andrew Casey needed just three minutes of the second half before he

shrugged his shoulders and drilled another point after Alan Burke, who was

outstanding, had been the provider. At the other end, Alan Murphy and

Michéal Keane combined for the latter to spin away from his man and reply


Keane found freedom again four minutes later and the gap had been sliced to

the minimum. Now it was Ballinrobe that were attacking in waves. Anthony

O’Toole, David Colleran, Sean Grimes and Harry Murphy were all pouring

forward as Padraig Costello, Paul Finnerty and Ruairí Keane endeavoured to

mind the house. Keane’s marking job on Brian Maloney was suffocating.

His brother was enjoying himself at the other end also.

Fittingly, Alan Murphy, straining every muscle and sinew in the process,

levelled the match in the 47th minute. The crowd roared their approval as

the teams swung for home. Murphy punched the air – after he had got his

breath back.

Then Paul Doherty fired over an inspirational point for Kilmaine before

Casey’s free, after a string of misses, looked like settling the issue once

and for all. Two points between them.

A minute later, another substitute Ronan Macken, stepped into the breach.

He will never kick a more important point in his life and the fact that it

clipped the post served to heighten the drama. It kick-started the


Michéal Keane levelled the match once more after 57 minutes and then, for

only the second time in the game, Ballinrobe got their noses in front. Mark

Walkin stabbing over a free after Alan Murphy had been fouled.

In injury-time things became blurred. Kilmaine’s Joey Maloney shot wide

from a narrow angle as the goalmouth beckoned; Michéal Keane ran the ball

into the corner before it reappeared in front of the posts and Sean Grimes

hammered over the final point three minutes into stoppage-time.

The final whistle came soon after.

Ballinrobe: P. Tiernan; P. Costello, P. Finnerty, A. O’Toole; C. Killeen,

R. Keane, D. Colleran; S. Grimes (0-1), H. Murphy (0-1); L. Butler, A.

Golden, M. Walkin; K. Feerick, M. Keane (0-3), K. McTigue. Subs: A. Murphy

(0-3) for Feerick; R. Macken for Killeen.

Kilmaine: E. O’Loughlin; J. Donnellan, J. McDonagh, D. McDonagh; K. Coyne,

M. O’Brien, D. Murphy; P. Kelly, A. Burke; C. Maloney, B. Maloney, D. Kyne;

D. Heneghan, A. Casey (1-5), P. Doherty (0-1). Subs: D. O’Dea for Murphy;

J. Maloney for Kyne.

Referee: V. Neary (Bonniconlon)