I wasn’t there to see it – opting instead to follow proceedings live on TG4 – but, by all accounts, the celebrations at the end of today’s county final at McHale Park were a sight to behold, as this photo taken by Colm Gannon shows. Proper order too, as James Horan’s Ballintubber – who only recently were plying their trade at intermediate level – had just completed a meteoric rise to claim their first ever senior county title.
Colm wasn’t just taking pictures at McHale Park – here’s his match report for the Mayo Advertiser. As Colm says, it wasn’t a vintage performance but needless to say, the Tubbermen won’t be complaining tonight as they savour their first ever Moclair Cup success.
The recent tragic deaths of Ger Feeney and Donal McEllin provided a very sombre backdrop to the day and The Brother was telling me that the minute’s silence before throw-in was impeccably well observed, which is only what you’d expect. There was always a question about what impact that emotional tribute might have on the contest and although it’s debatable whether or not it had any impact, what is unarguable is that the standard of football in the first half was pretty poor and that the second wasn’t much better.
Both sides shot some truly wretched wides in the first half, with Alan Dillon and Neil Douglas (twice) the worst culprits in this respect, booting close-in frees wildly off the mark. That opening half was close and tense, with both sets of backs well on top, but it was the Ballintubber lads who went in a point in front and they pulled gradually clear over the course of the second half to win in the end by a reasonably comfortable three points.
Ballintubber’s win was fashioned by a complete team performance over the course of that second half. Their backs kept the Castlebar attack well under wraps – as they’d done against Shrule/Glencorrib in the semi-final a few weeks back – while their forwards created and converted sufficient chances to get them over the line. On a day of heroic performances, Ruaraidh and Cillian O’Connor and MOTM Alan Dillon stood out for the winners.
The Tubbermen will obviously celebrate this breakthrough win in a fitting manner but, as well as looking back over today’s historic success, they’ll also no doubt be looking forward to the next date on this footballing odyssey. Next up for them will be the Galway champions, Killererin, in the Connacht club championship semi-final and that’s likely to be a significant step up from today. Whether or not they make it past that test is one for another day but regardless of how they get on, 2010 is set to go down as a vintage one for this upwardly mobile club.