Scores may have been as rare as proverbial hen’s teeth in the county final at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park a fortnight ago but newly-crowned county champions had no problems running up a big tally tonight. London champions Fulham Irish were no match for the Stephenites, who swept to a fifteen-point win under the lights at Castlebar.
As Mike had alluded to on our match preview episode of the Mayo Football Podcast the other day, the Moclair Cup holders were missing a few key players for this one, with Padraig O’Hora, Dylan Thornton and Evan Regan all absent from the starting fifteen. It was, perhaps, understandable that they didn’t get motoring all that well in a low-scoring opening quarter.
The Exiles needed a good start to make a contest of this game but the fact that Ballina bagged the opening three points hinted at what might be to come. The teams then traded two points apiece before the Stephenites made their first big breakthrough. Joint-captain Mikey Murray was the man on the end of a move that resulted in their opening goal of the night.
Fulham were now in bother and needed to reach the dressing room at half-time without falling further in arrears. However, a sixth Ballina point followed by their second goal, swept soccer-style to the net by Niall Feeney, meant the game was over as a contest at the break, with ten between the sides at that stage.
From Ballina’s point of view, all the remained was to see out the win in the least bothersome fashion, while rotating to the maximum, with a weather-eye fixed ahead to next weekend’s meeting with Corofin.
They did this without any trouble, their final winning tally boosted by Conor McStay’s 1-2 contribution in the second half. Stephenites came away at the finish with a decisive 3-11 to 0-5 win. For sure, they won’t find the going as easy when they tackle the Galway champions next weekend.
Hear all about the match in our Mayo Football Podcast Final Whistle episode, recorded at MacHale Park tonight. Mike gets match analysis from Martin Carney and there’s post-match reaction from Stephenites manager Niall Heffernan. The pod is up now on Patreon. To hear this and other top quality Mayo GAA-related content, join the club here.