There was a real sense of occasion at James Stephens Park today, where a packed attendance saw Knockmore claim back-to-back Senior county Championships as they beat Belmullet by 1-9 to 0-6.
On a heavy pitch in a contest where the exchanges were frantic and often fairly fierce, this was never going to be a high quality encounter. With the stakes so high, it was understandable that mistakes abounded but, for all that, it was an old-fashioned, hard-fought title decider, which, in the end, was won by Knockmore for the simple fact that they had more match winners within their ranks than their opponents had.
Leading by two points to one as half-time approached, Knockmore were coming under a bit of pressure. Ryan O’Donoghue, from a free, had opened the Erris lads’ account with close to 30 minutes played and that score seemed to spur them into life.
They came hunting for more, with Ryan squirming to get clear for a goal chance, that Shane McHale did well to block. But Knockmore’s next attack was turned over and Belmullet came on the attack again.
Shane McHale turned this attack over and, quick as a flash, the ball was in the Belmullet net. Shane fed Aiden Orme who wasted no time in playing it into James Ruddy, who caught the ball, turned for goal and lashed it to the net.
In a low-scoring encounter, that was a big, big score. In truth, Knockmore never looked like they’d lose it after that.
Two further points from the champions hoisted their lead to six shortly after the resumption. It was then, though, that the challengers enjoyed their best spell, shooting four scores without reply to pare the gap back to two.
But, even then, the champions didn’t look too flustered. Belmullet could only add a single point more to their tally befire the finish as Knockmore, the gaps now opening up in their opponents’ rearguard, put on five more points to win it by six.
While they’ll no doubt celebrate this latest Moclair Cup success – their tenth Senior county title in all – Knockmore already have one eye on the next hurdle, as captain David McHale alluded to in his victory speech. They’re back in action in the Connacht semi-final in two weeks time and, with the county title now in their possession, provincial honours are the next target for Ray Dempsey’s upwardly mobile warriors.
Congrats to Knockmore on their latest title success and commiserations to a brave Belmullet side.