On the day that the Connacht senior football championship got going properly, the junior equivalent finished up this afternoon with the provincial decider on the undercard at Hyde Park. While this one didn’t turn out to be as lopsided as the senior clash between Galway and a hugely disappointing Roscommon proved to be, it was still one that was won decisively, with John Kelly’s charges claiming the county’s first Connacht junior title since 2007 by dint of a handsome eight-point victory.
With fifteen minutes played, however, such an outcome didn’t appear to be on the cards as the Tribesmen led by four points, with our lads at that stage having failing to register a single score. It wasn’t that they were being outplayed either as they had numerous chances to get off the mark but poor shooting repeatedly let them down. Indeed, wayward shooting was a feature of our performance all day today, as we ended up with a whopping sixteen wides to our (mis)credit.
We had six wides chalked up before Alan Egan opened our account with a point but then we got right back into the contest with a goal from Colin Dempsey. Then, after Galway had nudged a point ahead again, two scores in a row – from Aidan McTigue and Enda McManamon (a free) – pushed us ahead at the break.
Galway also started the second half better, with three unanswered points soon after the break putting them back in the driving seat. That was as good as it got for the junior Tribesmen, however, as we then hit them with a barrage of scores to claim the spoils in decisive fashion.
Points from Alan Egan and Enda McManamon pulled us level and while Galway did manage to claim one at the other end to go back in front for one final time, Aidan McTigue squared it up again with his second of the day from play. The Davitts man followed this up almost straight away afterwards with a fine goal and then his clubmate Ronan McNamara banged over a free to send us four clear with a bit over ten minutes left on the clock.
From there, the lads coasted to victory, with points from play by Simon Cloherty, Alan Egan and Michael Walsh and two more frees from Ronan McNamara as we closed out an impressive 2-12 to 0-10 victory. Ronan McNamara was named Man of the Match and it was also he who accepted the Paddy Brett Cup.
According to @MayoGAA – who provided great score updates throughout the afternoon and from where I also got the photos which accompany this report – next on the agenda for the victorious juniors will be a trip to Blighty to face the winners of the London (or should that be the UK, I wonder?) junior championship.
Mayo: Paul Mannion; Liam O’Malley, Niall McCormack, Barry Leonard; Shane McDermott, Ollie Feeney, Michael Walsh (0-1); Ronan McNamara (0-3, frees), Padraic McManamon; Alan Egan (0-3), Enda McManamon (0-2), Simon Cloherty (0-1); Michael Moran, Colin Dempsey (1-0), Aidan McTigue (1-2). Subs: Joe Kelly for Moran, Peter Collins for Enda McManamon, Sean Kelly for McTigue.