We’ve had a month’s rain and more up here in the capital this weekend but down in the west it was a glut of football that was on the agenda, with penultimate round clashes at Senior, Intermediate and Junior levels.
First to the Seniors where defending champions Ballintubber this afternoon qualified for their second county final on the trot when they overcame Ballina Stephenites by five points on a 1-15 to 1-10 scoreline. Tubber trailed by three points at the break, with the Stephenites’ cause aided by a first half goal from Patrick McHale, but the champs fairly floored the pedal in the second half and a 1-2 blast in a two-minute spell – the goal palmed home by Alan Plunkett – combined with an excellent second half return of six points from Cillian O’Connor saw the 2010 Moclair Cup holders make it back to this year’s decider.
A year ago Ballintubber got the better of Castlebar Mitchels in the final and they’ll have to do the same again on the 23rd of this month if they’re to record back-to-back titles as the Mitchels got the better of Knockmore in yesterday’s other semi-final. Like Ballintubber, Castlebar won their semi by five points but their winning total of eleven points yesterday afternoon was lower than the losing tally posted today by Ballina. I know that there’s more to it than this but you’d have to think that Pat Holmes’ lads will need to up the ante a fair bit if they’re to have any hope of knocking the Abbeysiders off their perch in three weeks time.
Right now, Tony McGarry’s side look like they’re the real power in club football within the county but the outcome of this afternoon’s senior relegation play-off might give them some pause for thought. Just two years ago Charlestown were crowned senior club champions for the third time in their history but today they fell through the trapdoor to Intermediate level when they lost out by a single point to Tourmakeady in the senior relegation play-off decider at Claremorris on a 0-12 to 1-8 scoreline. That’s a fairly vertiginous collapse in fortunes for the Sarsfields and it shows just how ephemeral sporting success can often be.
In the Intermediate championship, meanwhile, it’ll be a Davitts v Burrishoole final. Davitts had a hard battle this afternoon against last year’s Junior champions Parke, winning in the end by 1-12 to 0-12 in a match where Michael Conroy’s goal after just five minutes was ultimately the difference between the sides. By contrast, Burrishoole won pulling up in their semi yesterday, where they got the better of Ballyhaunis by 2-12 to 0-7.
At Junior level, Islandeady and Ardnaree both qualified at the second attempt for the decider. Islandeady’s replay with The Neale was the first match on the card at McHale Park today and it was a close affair with just two points separating the sides at the end, Islandeady winning out by 2-10 to 2-8. Ardnaree had the same margin of victory over Lahardane this afternoon in Knockmore, where they prevailed on a 2-6 to 0-10 scoreline.