A shower of hailstones greeted the Cork and Mayo combatants as they warmed up before their All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. Another trip to Croke park was on the line for Tommy Conroy , Mikie Sweeney and Tony Gaughan of Kiltane just as it was for Ray Carey and Paudie Kissane of Clyde Rovers.
Two wides were exchanged before Kiltane made the wind at their backs pay, with John Reilly knocking over a free. Kiltane then hit three wides in succession before Ultan Corrigan converted a tricky free from the right-hand side which hit the post on its way over.
Clyda then had a period of pressure, Kiltane weathering it by conceding just the one score from three Clyda chances. Jason Healey then scored a long range point for Kiltane and he was beginning to dominate midfield. Clyda were to score on the break before Shane Lindsay took a low kick pass from Edmund Barrett and lofted it over from far out at the right half-forward position. The score now stood at 4 points to 2.
No more hail or rail had fallen but the wind was a massive factor. Kiltane made it pay when a Mikie Sweeney effort fell into a packed Clyda box and Ultan Corrigan was the man to steer it into the net after a scramble where five other players at least must have got a touch.
Although Kiltane immediately conceded a point, Darragh Carey came up from the backs to point a forty-five shortly after and then Shane Lindsay won possession in midfield , soloed into the Clyda box and let a daisy cutter shot go which found the corner of the net. 2-5 to 0-3. Edmond Barrett and then Tony Vaughan added points to make the halftime score 2-7 to 0-3.
The second half for Clyda would have to be about making the hefty wind advantage pay but it was Kiltane who scored first. After four misses in succession Clyda punched a point over the bar when the forward would have been better served to go for goal.
Tommy ‘Goals’ Conroy then broke free from midfield and bore down on goal with three Clyda men in hot pursuit. He looked set to further embellish his nickname but was pulled down. The referee missed the foul completely, allowed Clyda to clear the danger and then after consulting with the umpires booked the offending Clyda player. Too little , too late as a Conroy goal would have sealed the game then for the Erris team.
Clyda then scored a point to bring the score to 2-8 to 0-6. Tommy Conroy’s next possession was to lead to a free which Ultan Corrigan converted. Clyda were squandering their possession and Kiltane making use of theirs in the middle stage of the half. The introduction of stalwart Sean Carey raised massive cheers from the Kiltane faithful and he was to be instrumental in Kiltane’s possession game for the rest of the half.
It was at this crucial stage that Clyda won a penalty. Michael John Reilly in the Kiltane goal was not needed to deflect the shot. That job fell to the black spot on the crossbar as the two thousand strong crowd witnessed that rare event of supporters cheering an opposition point. It was Kiltane’s day now as the score stood at 2-9 to 0-7 points.
Clyda fought to the end and tacked on two points but ref Damien Brazil blew up after a long five minutes of injury time to send Kiltane into the final and their supporters into ecstasy. The Mayo standard bearers advance to the citadel of Croke Park and this reporter to the hostelries of Bangor, Geesala and Doohoma.
Man of the Match: Shane Lindsay. Dangerous on every possession.
Honourable mention to Tony Gaughan but in truth the win was so comprehensive that honours could have been handed to most of the Kiltane men.
(All photos as well as the words in this report are courtesy of Roger Milla).