Mayo U-21 'A' Football Championship Semi-Final 2000

November 7, 2018

Ballinrobe 2-11

Ballintubber 0-7

Fortune favours Ballinrobe


IGNORE that scoreline. Ballinrobe may have booked their place in the final

of this coveted competition but Ballintubber are done little justice by the

magnitude of a ten point margin. This was a lot tougher and closer than the

outline of that scoreline suggests.

Against that, Ballinrobe fully deserved to win this sun-drenched semi-final

which unwrapped itself in the shadow of the Partry mountains last Monday.

They had a number of elements which swung the outcome in their favour: Paul

Tiernan, their goalkeeper, who pulled off three wonderful second half

saves; Sean Grimes and Harry Murphy whose second half display was a mix of

style and substance; and Michéal Keane with whom the term ‘match-winner’

seems to sit easily.

They had also enjoyed the greater slice of good fortune. This manifested

itself in goals at the beginning of either half which will give

Ballintubber ‘keeper Declan Dillon sleepless nights aplenty.

His team had a day to forget all-round. Three of their first fifteen did

not start because of injury; they conceded a goal from sixty yards after

four minutes; they lost influential forward Gary Dillon to a serious head

injury after eight minutes; they conceded a second freakish goal three

minutes into the second half and their wides tally was simply appalling. It

does not make pretty reading.

With a blazing sun beating down on a firm pitch, the scene was set for an

afternoon of distinction and, after twenty seconds, Ballinrobe’s Michéal

Keane scampered away to rifle over the opening score.

On four minutes, bullish midfielder Sean Grimes arrowed a shot from sixty

yards which Declan Dillon spilled into the net. Ballintubber were four

points down before the crowd had adjusted their sun-glasses.

By the eighth minute Gary Dillon had popped over two frees with menacing

ease and the margin had been reduced to three points (1-2 to 0-2). Then

Dillon received a nasty cut to his head in an accidental collision with

Paul Tiernan and he left the field on a stretcher after a seven minute

stoppage. His loss was enormous.

Fifteen scoreless minutes followed as the ball pinged around the field in

the warm air. Ballinrobe, in dire straits at midfield, were playing second

fiddle to Niall Munroe, John Kelly, Brian Feeney and Pat Coonan in the

quest to win breaking ball.

Only points from Shane McDonagh and Alan Staunton were Ballintubber’s

meagre reward however. The kicking of terrible wides was their greatest


At the other end, while living on scraps, Ballinrobe had two exquisite

points from Mark Walkin and Michéal Keane. The latter’s duel with Paul

Earley was proving fascinating and was one of many talking-points at the

interval as Ballinrobe led by 1-5 to 0-4.

The dynamism of Keane was infectious and he drilled over another point

twenty seconds after the restart to stretch the lead. Three minutes later

came a defining moment when a long searching ball from Mark Walkin was

dropped into the net by half-time substitute Keith McTigue.

Ballintubber goalkeeper Declan Dillon was left flailing in the breeze as

the ball dribbled into the net. 2-6 to 0-4 and looking bleak.

Paul Tiernan then produced a string of superb saves to deny Kieran Lally

and Tommy Kilcoyne what seemed certain goals but two frees in succession

from Shane McDonagh kept Ballintubber within touching distance.

Ballinrobe though had moved to steady the ship at half-time and there had

been a marked improvement. Paul Finnerty, Anthony O’Toole, Rory Keane and

the midfield pairing were the greatest examples of this.

It was their diligence which allowed Mark Walkin to arc over two long range

frees and keep an eight point margin secure: 2-8 to 0-6. In fact,

Ballintubber failed to score for the final eleven minutes while Ballinrobe

hit three unanswered points. Kevin Feerick, Keith McTigue and Mark Walkin

all delivering insurance scores with Feerick’s earning the biggest cheer of

the day.

They will need many more like it next Sunday.

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

R. Keane, D. Colleran; S. Grimes (1-0), H. Murphy; R. Macken, A. Golden, M.

Walkin (0-6, 5fs); K. Feerick (0-1), M. Keane (0-3), L. Butler. Subs: K.

McTigue (1-1) for Macken; J. O’Malley for Killeen; A. Murphy for Feerick.

Ballintubber: D. Dillon; C. Feeney, P. Earley, J. Nestor; N. Munroe, T.

Earley, J. Kelly; B. Feeney, P. Coonan; Kieran J.C. Lally, A. Dillon, K.

Lally; S. McDonagh (0-4, 3fs), G. Dillon (0-2fs), A. Staunton (0-1). Subs:

T. Kilcoyne for G. Dillon (inj); C. Lydon for Kieran J.C. Lally; D. Hayes

for P. Earley.

Referee: M. Daly (Ballyhaunis)