On an evening when the stakes were high at MacHale Park, it was Breaffy’s greater experience that won out. They started well, had established a firm hold on the contest at half-time and then, when Westport came back at them after the break, did enough to get over the line.
The Senior club Championship this year has featured some cracking contests. On a dull and damp evening in Castlebar, however, this wasn’t one of them. The first half was dour and fairly error-ridden, with Westport the biggest culprits in the latter department. Time and again they created good scoring chances only to miss them, with handling errors and misplaced passes repeatedly seeing them lose possession as well.
Breaffy went in at the break three points to the good but they were far from home at that stage. They extended that lead to four points on the resumption but Westport soon cut the gap back to just a single point as they finally began to convert the chances they were creating with a greater degree of efficiency.
At least that’s what sounded like was happening, as the Mayo GAA TV service failed to reappear for the second half. This meant that those of us who had been watching the live stream had to switch to the audio commentary on Midwest, which was fine but it was still a shame that the video packed in when it did. It was definitely a night to forget for the service.
UPDATE: the entire game is now available to watch on YouTube – here.
Westport’s inability to push on from there, combined with Breaffy’s better game management down the closing stretch, seems to have been the difference between the two teams. Westport, aiming for a first Senior final appearance since 1991, found themselves chasing the game against a team that have been around the block a few times and refused to panic as the closing line approached. Breaffy held their nerve and saw out a two-point win, on a scoreline of 0-15 to 0-13.
The evening’s opening match turned out to be a far more entertaining contest. Hollymount/Carramore came into this evening’s IFC semi-final against Kiltimagh as very strong favourites, having laid waste to every team they’d met so far this summer. They left MacHale Park, though, well beaten by a lively, determined Kiltimagh team who took the game to their opponents from the start and upped the ante to effect when they needed to in the last quarter.
Kiltimagh served notice of their intent early on, posting the game’s first two points. When Darren Coen dispatched a penalty to the net on ten minutes to put his team in front, however, that looked to be a momentum changer.
But it wasn’t. Holly/Carra kept their noses in front, just about, until the half-hour but they failed to take that advantage into the break. Instead, the East Mayo lads hit two points on the spin to lead by one at the short whistle.
The contest really hit top gear in an increasingly compelling second half. Kiltimagh stretched their lead to four but just after the water break that gap was back to two.
It always felt as if Hollymount/Carramore’s greater strength and recent Senior experience would prove decisive and, guarding that two-point lead, Kiltimagh’s position was now looking perilous. All the more so when, soon after, it was reduced to just one with ten minutes of normal time to go.
But that’s when Kiltimagh got motoring again, three points on the spin giving them a precious buffer as the seconds ticked down towards the end. They didn’t panic either when the favourites got back within two points of them again but instead went hunting for more scores themselves.
They got them too, pointing three more times without reply in injury time. The grace note was supplied by full-back Donovan Cosgrave who galloped forward and punched over to complete a five-point win for his team. Kiltimagh won in the end by 0-20 to 1-12.
Elsewhere today, Swinford won the IFC relegation final in dramatic fashion. Trailing Islandeady by five points at Parke with the game entering injury time, Swinford bagged two goals to win by a point, 2-8 to 0-13.
In the first of the JFC semi-finals, meanwhile, Kilmaine beat Cill Chomain by 3-10 to 0-11.