Semi-finals, so the saying goes, are for winning.
Well, Kilmeena did that and more in this afternoon’s All-Ireland JFC semi-final against Clonbullogue of Offaly at Pearse Park in Longford where they romped away to a massive 1-18 to 0-6 win. They now head for Croke Park tomorrow week to contest the All-Ireland final against Kerry’s Gneeveguilla.
The Mayo lads were in control of this contest right from the throw-in. Playing with the advantage of a strong wind in the first half, they settled into their stride quickly, clipping over three unanswered points. Clear daylight between the teams was then established when Darragh Keaveney, who was unmarkable in the first half, was fed by Jack Carney and he slipped the ball to the net.
The lads on Midwest – I listened to the match on the earphones while out at Omni doing the food shopping: how’s that for multi-tasking? – were of the opinion that Clonbullogue simply weren’t at Kilmeena’s level. The one-way nature of the exchanges in the opening half – where Kilmeena brought power, pace and sheer hard work to the table – certainly seemed to bear that out.
Score of the half for the Mayo lads came in the form of their tenth point of the day. One of the Clonbullogue players got caught in possession, with four Kilmeena players converging on him to strip the ball away. Within seconds Darragh Keaveney had the ball over the bar.
Kilmeena led by thirteen points, 1-12 to 0-2, at half-time. Any worries that fortunes might change after the break, with the wind now in their opponents’ favour, were put to bed immediately, in the form of the opening two points of the half, stretching Kilmeena’s lead to a yawning fifteen points.
That was the margin at the finish too, as the game fizzled out tamely in the second half. Already well beaten, Clonbullogue’s misery was completed when they were reduced to fourteen men midway through, midfielder Jack McEvoy picking up a second yellow from ref Maggie Farrelly, who,incidentally, is a very welcome addition to the refereeing roster for this year’s National League.
Kilmeena won by 1-18 to 0-6 at the finish, a huge tally to run up in an 60-minute game at this time of year, let alone in an All-Ireland semi-final. I recall Ger Flanagan saying on the podcast when Kilmeena won the county title that this was a special group, a team that could really go places.
Well, next weekend they’re off to the wide open spaces at GAA HQ where hopefully they can cap this great run with All-Ireland honours. Huge congrats to them on today’s win and the best of luck to them in next weekend’s final.
Match report by Colm Gannon for the Irish Examiner is here.