Knockmore seal back-to-back title success

There was a real sense of occasion at James Stephens Park today, where a packed attendance saw Knockmore claim back-to-back Senior county Championships as they beat Belmullet by 1-9 to 0-6.

On a heavy pitch in a contest where the exchanges were frantic and often fairly fierce, this was never going to be a high quality encounter. With the stakes so high, it was understandable that mistakes abounded but, for all that, it was an old-fashioned, hard-fought title decider, which, in the end, was won by Knockmore for the simple fact that they had more match winners within their ranks than their opponents had.

Leading by two points to one as half-time approached, Knockmore were coming under a bit of pressure. Ryan O’Donoghue, from a free, had opened the Erris lads’ account with close to 30 minutes played and that score seemed to spur them into life.

They came hunting for more, with Ryan squirming to get clear for a goal chance, that Shane McHale did well to block. But Knockmore’s next attack was turned over and Belmullet came on the attack again.

Shane McHale turned this attack over and, quick as a flash, the ball was in the Belmullet net. Shane fed Aiden Orme who wasted no time in playing it into James Ruddy, who caught the ball, turned for goal and lashed it to the net.

In a low-scoring encounter, that was a big, big score. In truth, Knockmore never looked like they’d lose it after that.

Two further points from the champions hoisted their lead to six shortly after the resumption. It was then, though, that the challengers enjoyed their best spell, shooting four scores without reply to pare the gap back to two.

But, even then, the champions didn’t look too flustered. Belmullet could only add a single point more to their tally befire the finish as Knockmore, the gaps now opening up in their opponents’ rearguard, put on five more points to win it by six.

While they’ll no doubt celebrate this latest Moclair Cup success – their tenth Senior county title in all – Knockmore already have one eye on the next hurdle, as captain David McHale alluded to in his victory speech. They’re back in action in the Connacht semi-final in two weeks  time and, with the county title now in their possession, provincial honours are the next target for Ray Dempsey’s upwardly mobile warriors.

Congrats to Knockmore on their latest title success and commiserations to a brave Belmullet side. 

49 thoughts on “Knockmore seal back-to-back title success

  1. Knockmore the better team. But does anyone know where you can get stats for the game? I.e foul count for both teams and cards. I’d says Belmullet got around 9 yellow cards and one black. And knockmore probably one black and one yellow. Couldn’t really say the ref was objective…. Lads the knockmore lads faking injuries is coming beyond a joke at the stage… Interesting to see how they get on in Connacht now. They have a very strong squad.

  2. A hard fought encounter. Fair play to Ryan O’Donoghue, signing autographs moments after a heartbreaking loss. Leads from the front on the field too. A future Mayo captain of that I have no doubt. Hopefully Knockmore’s injuries will clear sufficiently to give them a shot at the Connacht title. Well done Ray, Pat, Alan and all involved with the team. They leave no stone unturned.

  3. Terrible final. In fairness, it’s another example (along with the Dublin final) in a long list for having all football played in summer. The pitches and weather just encourage managers to stick 15 behind the ball resulting in low scoring, foul ridden, matches.

    One other suggestion. If anyone is looking for a motion to bring forward with their club then I’d plead for them to propose a 70 minute club game. 60 minutes is just too short. Totally agree as well that the authorities have to look at all the feigning injury in the game now. It’s so similar to soccer and that’s not good!

    I said before the game that if Knockmore win well that Dempsey will be in with a serious shout to take over from Horan. He seems football mad and is tactically very astute (which Westport and Breaffy management were not). Hopefully Knockmore will beat Mountbellew in the final.

  4. Both teams- especially Belmullet- went out with the attitude of stopping the opposition from playing football. 14 players behind the ball, constant pulling and dragging, fouling, feigning injury – especially Knockmore – etc.
    If Belmullet are ever going to win a county title – they will really have to start playing more football in their games and try to create and get more scores.
    Disappointed with the performance of Aidan Orme today- didn’t lay down any marker in termso of been a future county player. Kevin Mac showed his class again today.

  5. Well done to them. Congrats. I `m from the other end of the county (the other More with an (Augha)

    Watching those young fellas running around you would have to be hopeful. Even at my age I still am really !!

    Go on lads. Your county needs you. But for today – – – well done to all ,,,,, losers on the day included.

  6. Dreadful match. Westport and Breaffy really have to do some soul searching on how they lost to Belmullet.

  7. John Fogarty has an article in the examiner saying Oisín Mullin to Geelong is not a done deal.

  8. Driveitlong&hard – Knockmore got far more cards than that in fairness. I don’t think Belmullet can complain about the referee to be honest, they were well off the pace today. The time wasting from Knockmore was annoying but that’s not Jerome Henry’s fault.

  9. Apologies,this is totally unrelated. But can anyone out there try explain the complexity of club football in Kerry to me.
    Crokes lost the senior semi final v Kerins O’ Rahillys today. They now face a relagation playoff v Legion to see who drops to Intermediate .
    I’ve absolutely no idea why that is.

    Answers on a postcard please.

  10. Overheard a few Belmullet supporters at the match today consoling themselves with “ah you have to lose one to win one” such complete and utter rubbish the year to win the final is the year your in the final just ask Knockmore they won last years final too.

  11. Belmullet have a very young athletic squad and it was great to see them reaching the final. They’ll need to improve their forward play to have any chance of a senior county title. Too much expected off Ryan O’Donoghue who can only do so much. Eoin O’Donoghue was very impressive again today I felt.

  12. Stephen Cowley, Kerry have two championships – one for club teams only, and one (the one currently being played) which includes the divisional teams also

    That Mullin article is very strange, no specifics mentioned and not a peep of it anywhere else.

    And very poor county final today, fine achievement for Belmullet to get there all things said, but in all honesty they rode a bit of a wave all season and it’ll be hard to get that momentum going again. I think this was their one and only chance really for the forseeable

    All in all, a fairly sub-standard championship overall if i’m honest, the quality just isn’t up to standard really at present. No-one would hold a candle to Crossmolina at the turn of the century, the Ballina All Ireland winning side, or Castlebar of a few years ago. Westport really need to get their act together they have the talent in abundance to be pushing on and dominating at this stage

    I don’t agree with the poster above who thinks Knockmore can win Connacht, theyre what i’d class as a decent, solid rather than overly spectacular side (and by the way congrats to them on the 2 in a row), but from what I’ve seen I think Mbellew will beat them fairly comfortably – but sure we’ll see. I wouldn’t read into today’s result too much for MM (which from what I’ve heard the 2 point deficit fairly flattered the opposition in any case), they were always going to be hungover after the highs of last week – I’d expect them to get back to the grind this week and be fully fit and ready to go to try and push on for possible All Ireland honours

    The Dublin final was poor fare also, agree with the posters above – however in fairness there was some drama at the end. For their dominance at inter county level Dublin really don’t produce top club sides all that much. I could easily see the likes of a Naas turn Crokes over in Leinster.

  13. I can’t understand anyone coming on here and critizing the quality of the final. Finals are for winning, and knockmore went about their business today in a very professional manner. They had obviously done their homework on Belmullet, and putting the shackles on Ryan O’ Donoghue was key to their success.
    Today was not the time for fancy football, with a heavy pitch and a very defence minded Belmullet team, scores were always going to be hard to come by and full marks to knockmore for finding a way to win.
    Belmullet will have learned a lot from this final, and I’ve no doubt we’ll see a lot more from this team over the next couple of years….

  14. Anecdotal, but don’t our club teams seem smaller than the Cross, Knockmore, Ballina teams of yore? They were packed with six foot and broad shouldered.

  15. Ciaran – I think Knockmore at their best could give Connacht a real crack. Might be a strange thing to say after winning, but they haven’t played consistently well during the championship. Needed 2 soft goals against Ballintubber for example. Also were second best for a lot of the Garrymore game.

    To be fair, Darren McHale is their best forward and he missed almost all of the knockout games with injury. Keith Ruttledge is another very good club forward who had injury trouble. If the 2 of them get back on the team in top form it will make a huge difference.

  16. I think there is a lot more in this Knockmore team – if they went out and expressed themselves a bit more.
    We saw in the second half against Garrymore when they were under pressure – Knockmore came out and played some great football.

  17. Congrats to Knoxkmore, got the scores when needed. Belmullet made bad decisions at crucial times and that cost them. Ryan should have given an easy hand pass for a certain goal in the first half. That score would have made a massive difference.
    Jerome Henry applied different interpretations of the rules to both teams, which benighted Knockmore imho and for supposedly one of our top refs, I think he’s on the IC panel, was very poor. He also should have given Knockmore a black card towards the end for a clear trip when Belmullet were breaking up the field.
    The feigning serious injuries out of both teams was a disgrace. Any contact at all around the face resulted in soccer style levels of reactions.

  18. Just out of interest – was anyone at the match today? I was and while I’d agree the quality wasn’t hectic it was still a great, full-throated contest, with a fantastic atmosphere. I can only speak for myself but it was a match well worth getting to.

  19. Willie Joe – I was at the game myself. One thing of note. This was meant to be a sell out! There was loads of space around me in the stand, there was also loads of space behind the far goal. They could have easily fitted in another 2k.

  20. You’re right, Driveitlong&hard – there was plenty of room around the ground to fit more in. I was happy enough that the the stand – where I was too – wasn’t any more packed, in light of current Covid numbers.

  21. Willie Joe, I was there too today, brought my 6 year old to his very first match. He loved it and was full of questions. Quality wise it was not great for sure, particularly in the first half knockmore kicked a good 6 or 7 shots into their goalies hands, which was very frustrating. Knockmore were able to create those chances easier than belmullet throughout. Defensively both teams were decent, particularly knockmore. An awful lot of off the ball stuff and hard hits. Knockmore I feel will take stopping in connaught as they are very good defensively, decent in midfield with Kevin mc pulling the strings. Their forwards will have to up their game considerably. Can definitely see the influence of Terry Kennedy, the basketball coach. I’ve spoken to Terry quite a bit this year through work and must say I find his outlook of football very interesting and the way he uses his basketball background to good effect on football team setups.

  22. Driveitlongandhard how many times were the Bellmullet Drs (and selectors) on the pitch??
    I think credit has go to Knockmore management they learned from their game with Bellmullet and sort of out Bellmulleted, Bellmullet. Slowing the play etc.
    Paul Jennings on twitter has some video analysis on players and teams, worth a look. Everything from tactical fouling patterns to player roles.
    Bellmullet have had an exceptional year but they weren’t it seems able to adapt to a plan B and got away with plan A all year.
    Knockmore in games seen have changed style and tact in different games as required. And have done so without Alan stadtler all year and Darren for the knockout stages and Peter Naughton carrying an injury.
    They introduced two 18 year olds in the semifinal and final and reaped the rewards.

  23. Awful stop start game with lads falling to the floor very easy. Disappointed in both teams but it does look like Knockmore just were a better team. Good luck to them.

  24. What a championship. Belmullet can be immensely proud of their season. Great sign for North Mayo GAA given they had both finalists and a Ballina team who in truth should have put Westport away (with multiple injuries in their squad).

    Knockmore thoroughly deserved this year’s title. Stung in Belmullet, but woke up and beat 3 of Mayo’s best teams in Charlestown, Ballintubber and Garrymore on route to a final where many fancied an upset. An underrated run to a final missing 2 key players for the majority of the season and by all accounts an multitude of injuries throughout. Their ability to adapt game on game is commendable.

    The comments about Knockmore faking injuries are very strange. The first half was dominated by Belmullet stoppages with a strong breeze in Knockmore’s favour. There was a lot of pulling and dragging all over the pitch, symptomatic of winter football too given the conditions. Ballina, however, in tremendous shape and a credit to the Stephenites.

    C.Demspey, King, Ruttledge, Flynn, Shane McHale, Eoin O’D and Kelly all worth a look for Mayo.

    Best of Luck to Knockmore in Connacht. If they can replicate their form of last year coupled with the winning instinct they seem to have developed this year they will be an excellent representative for this county.

    Ray Dempsey has built something special.

  25. @Mandarin,
    There were players faking injuries at a high rate.
    Nothing strange about it being mentioned then.
    It was at a level that interfered with the flow and enjoyment of the game.
    If you get fouled and you don’t get hit in the face and go down clutching your face you are faking.
    If you get a light push on the ground and proceed onto a Magyver role you are faking.
    If you do that ridiculous lie out flat like shot with added lifting of the foot whilst lying down, you are faking. It was an absolute pattern.

  26. Driveitlong&hard

    GAA Statsman has it level on cards for both teams. 1 Black and 6 Yellows a piece.

  27. @jp all sorts of patterns in Gaelic.
    Systematic fouling of opponents in their own half of the pitch to allow defense set.
    Forwards diving repeatedly to win frees.
    Players changing jersey numbers mid game for no reason.
    Maor foirne running across pitch in same colour bib as their team when opponents taking kick off to look like another opponent player in far side pitch.
    I’m sure players on both teams could have got up a bit quicker. But in their defense finals are for winning. If as a county we took on a more Machavellian approach we may have few more All Irelands.

  28. Shane McHale had a great game but he must have spent 3 mins of game time in the second half alone putting in his contact lenses and holding up play.
    Hate that kind of crap. If your contact lenses keep coming out that’s your own problem. Head straight to the nearest sideline and let your team play on with 14 men. He wouldn’t be long putting them back in then.

  29. Gizmo hits on an interesting culture in our sport.
    I often say to my American cousins how come the lack of sendings off doesn’t result in carnage In their sports. It does seem in Gaelic football we push the limits of every ruling.
    It’s only recently they are shocked in soccer with taking someone deliberate out when through on goal. Pretty standard in Gaelic football.
    To speak positively, it was a few of the very young players in the senior and intermediate championship I think have county potential.
    In junior Justin Healy I like as an impact sub. Darragh Keaveney I like as an impact sub.
    It’s a trick I think we miss in Mayo.
    Would we have spoiled Kevin McManamon trying to slim him down into a 75 min greyhound?
    Sometimes I like the idea of the pure impact sub, the kind of player with legs like tree trunks and of looks at a rasher sandwich he puts on weight. Pure power weapon.
    These are typically inside line players.
    The likes o a Justin Healy at county level with 65 mins on the clock running at a corner back, or a Darragh Keaveney. They have that agility and power in the hips to cut into you and shrug you off.
    Now, I don’t think this works with players like that starting. With their build can you see them doing much on the famed 10*100m stamina time trial. Our best come in well under 3mins in that test (bear in mind turns at each end).
    Put it like this. How often do we are a Mayo sub come in and yet thinkng “Have a bit o that now for ye”. Tends to be hopeful for impact rather than near guaranteed.
    Btw well done Knockmore and Belmullet on maximising their resources these years. Kudos.

  30. Was at the game yesterday as a neutral and I must say it was a real championship match. Great intensity throughout but a lot of unforced errors on both sides. You could see nerves were playing a large part.
    One thing I can’t understand is how knockmore are painted as the villains in this, wasting time going down etc. From what I could see both teams were at it and in fairness Belmullet have been at it all year. I think they got a taste of their own medicine yesterday and didn’t like it.

  31. Was at the game too WJ in a completely neutral capacity. Had seen knockmore twice this year but hadn’t seen belmullet. The question I was repeatedly asking myself from midway in the first half was how did belmullet get to the final. When knockmore got the ball they were always looking up trying to play it forward, belmullet on the other hand were always looking to play it across the pitch or backwards. Part of knockmores game plan was to stop Ryan, they did and that was that. Belmullet didn’t have any other forward to go to. Can’t understand how breaffy and westport couldn’t execute a similar tactic. Although knockmores forwards didn’t have their best day, they were always out in front and made a lot of smart runs. This gave options for long balls in throughout the game and had the belmullet defence scrambling to get back. Belmullet were far more laboured getting forward and the impressive knockmore defence easily kept them at bay.
    It was a poor enough game and as a neutral was hoping belmullet would get some sort of a lucky break towards the end to keep the game alive. But in truth knockmore were by far the better team, had the better players and had the better tactics.

  32. now that the Club Championship is over in all grades , did any new player stand out as a genuine County player. Please dont mention players from your own club or family.

  33. Both teams had a lot more in them than what was on display yesterday. Truly believe knockmore will be able to go on and express themselves in Connacht and perhaps even the All Ireland.
    Kieran King and Eoghan O’Donoghue two of the best man markers in the county, even if unspectacular.
    Knockmore teenagers Connell Dempsey and Conor Flynn were excellent.
    Eoghan McHale from Belmullet also had a nice appearance, don’t believe he is 20 yet.

  34. Culmore

    Knockmore – King, P. Ruttledge, S. McHale, Dempsey
    Westport – Hard know who’s not in there already to be honest it has turned into a Westport S&C camp.
    Belmullet – E O’D, McHale
    Garrymore – Slattery
    Ballyhaunis – Coyne (already in) but needs game time now in the league.
    Mayo Gaels – Fallon
    Kilcommin – J. Healy
    Charlestown – Paddy Goldrick
    Aghamore – Boland (play the man!)
    Ballina – Callinan, Regan, Doherty looks improved.
    Ballintubber – O’Malley, Gavin

  35. Culmore, i think Slattery deserves a few FBD games, Eoin O’Donohue also. Is it to soon probably to get Paddy Heneghan involved another year in under 20 probably needed and full season with Mitchels seniors. Callinan from Ballina also.

  36. TG4. Wasn’t at the match. When I heard it was sold out and at a small capacity venue, I felt going there might be elbowing actual Belmullet/Knockmore supporters out of the way. Obviously that did not turn out to be the case..

    Take your point Willie Joe (and others) about the feel of things from being there. But on TV it did look awful, and I don’t take an awful lot of encouragement from the whole championship from the point of view of county talent coming through. The best footballing teams got their comeuppance, and they have to ask themselves questions about why they didn’t make the cut.

    Good point JP about our subs. Yes, I have rarely felt, ah here comes so and so, that’ll rattle them, when I see one of our subs coming on. Aido as an impact sub would change that. Remember when he came on in a vital league match against Donegal a few years ago in McHale Park? What an impact that was!

  37. @Catcol, two subs that won us two important games.
    Aidan OShea v Donegal in a relegation decider.
    Kevin McLoughlin v Armagh in the championship.
    I posted here before, springing players from the bench If they have the temperament and talent is like having an almost computer control ability to increase their effective fitness level in the game.
    This of course only works when temperament and talent are in place.
    Anecdotally but I’m quite confident second half are higher scoring than first halfs as a rule. So which half do you want to dominate?
    It’s hard pull match winning clear in a first half. It’s rare Mayo are down a big margin at half time. But I would say our final quarters have been a scoreboard disaster in our final game of each championship. We end up tired, real tired, punched out and nothing coming in that looks like it can make any difference.
    Absolutely convinced Aidan OShea should be a huge impact sub for us and Kevin McLoughlin.
    Start the game with legs. Finish the game with talent and brains.

  38. I was at the match. You can only play what is in front of you and in fairness to both teams they fought hard. One thing I would like to comment on is booing – really was never part of our game and its lovely that all fans can still be together. Maybe it would be no harm to let our kids know at an early age that booing other teams and players is not on and not our culture.

  39. JP – you could chalk down Kevin McLoughlin for two other decisive contributions from the bench: against Meath in the league in early 2020 and in this year’s Connacht final.

    Craggy Boglands – you could add Kieran King and Conor Flynn from Knockmore and James Kelly from Belmullet to that list. They all put in big shifts yesterday.

  40. In my opinion Kevin McLoughlin is the best decision maker with the possession of the ball we have ever seen in the Green and Red of Mayo, can’t think of anyone else who makes the right decision almost without exception, and has the skill to execute the right, foot pass, hand pass, run or score, virtually all the of the time..I actually can’t recall a time he lost the ball in possession.. Overall Lee Keegan is still or greatest player, but Kevin McLaughlin definitely our most underrated!

  41. In a lot of those bench impacts Kevin needed fresh legs to be that 2-3 feet further down the field for when he shot for goal. Against Armagh it was less than a foot to shoot for goal or getting contact from the defender. Showing the difference being fresh makes.
    Aidan has 90% of the fitness for inter county. The game is measured as being more than 10% less intense in the last quarter. It declines a staggering % per quarter. Moneyball thinkng levels of decline in running intensity.
    Also not even taking into account players are on yellow and black cards in the second half.

  42. It looks like Kevin Mcloughlin will be one of the best players ever to retire without winning an all star.
    His two county medals will mean a lot more to him I suspect

  43. McLoughlin’s best position is on the halfback line and I have no doubt that he would have won 4 or 5 all stars if he was played there by Mayo. Keegan is a class act in every way, but you wouldn’t get too many in Knockmore that would swap McLoughlin for him.

  44. Fascinating stuff JP – Jim Gavin had final quarters sorted for sure. Was it Philly who said they used to love hearing hearing announcements about added time because they knew they had the resources to outlast opponents.

    Yes Aido against Donegal. They were destroying us, he comes on and his first contribution is to strip the ball off Murphy, start a move that led to a point. Donegal began to focus on him completely, got bookings and maybe a red; our points kept on coming. Relegation avoided.

    But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Keith Duggan’s classic assessment of a classic:

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