The dust is settling on the weekend’s county final action, one which saw Westport finally seal a historic first ever Moclair Cup title success, while Ballyhaunis and Islandeady claimed county titles at Intermediate and Junior respectively and, with that, progression back to higher level Championship football next year.
The only place to start is, of course, Westport’s breakthrough win over Ballina Stephenites in this afternoon’s Senior Championship final at MacHale Park. While there could never be any doubts about the talent within the Covies’ ranks, until they actually went out and won a Senior title all manner of questions could reasonably be posed about their temperament and their ability to get the job done.
Until today. In a low-scoring match against an up-and-coming, youthful Ballina Stephenites side – the club aiming for its 37th county title – they kept their heads well throughout. When Westport pushed a goal ahead midway in the second half, following Killian Kilkelly’s penalty, it looked as if this could be the decisive blow but, just five minutes later, Padraig O’Hora bundled home a goal at the other end to level the game.
It’s at this point, surely, that you’d expect a team vying for their first title to get a dose of the wobbles. Not a bit of it, as Westport bagged the next four points on the spin to put the tie beyond Ballina’s reach. Sub Alan Kennedy got two of those, one from play, while ‘keeper Paddy O’Malley (a free) and new Mayo recruit Niall McManamon got the others.
Evan Regan, who’d been black carded for Stephenites shortly before half-time, had the final say on the scoreboard but it was Westport’s day, as they won out by 1-9 to 1-6 to take their place on the county Senior title roll of honour for the very first time. Hearty congrats to them.
Yesterday, it was the turn of Ballyhaunis to celebrate, as they held off Kilmeena in the Intermediate final, winning by 0-13 to 0-10. Intermediate has been a real bear-pit this year, with any one of six or seven clubs well capable of winning it out. Heading into yesterday’s decider, though, Ballyhaunis had shown real battling qualities and it was those characteristics that stood to them yesterday as they saw off Kilmeena’s gritty challenge by three points.
At Junior level, meanwhile, Islandeady beat Cill Chomáin today in the Junior A final. They won that one convincingly enough, on a scoreline of 2-11 to 1-7. Yesterday, Achill beat Moygownagh by 2-12 to 1-6 in the Junior B decider.
Two other results from today – both involving Mayo teams in provincial Championship action – are also worth noting. First, Tooreen beat Four Roads of Roscommon by 2-23 to 0-14 in the Connacht Intermediate hurling Championship quarter-final. Charlestown’s women footballers also got the better of Roscommon opposition, as they saw off Boyle by 3-7 to 0-6 in the LGFA Connacht Intermediate semi-final.