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It was only in 2010 that Ballintubber finally made the breakthrough to win their first ever Mayo SFC title but this afternoon at MacHale Park they claimed the Moclair Cup for the third time in five years when they dethroned defending champions Castlebar Mitchels on a 2-9 to 1-9 scoreline.
It was Castlebar that the Tubber lads bested on each of the two previous times they’d won the title and once Cillian O’Connor had blasted home their second goal with only ten minutes played in today’s decider they always looked the likelier to prevail in this one too. They went in two points to the good and looked well in control until Barry Moran’s palmed goal for Mitchels, which briefly got the defending champions back on level terms.
But it was the Abbeysiders who regained the advantage with a free from Cillian and although Aidan Walsh got Mitchels back to parity, two points from Diarmuid O’Connor and one from Stephen Broderick gave Tubber a three-point cushion. It was always going to be a hard ask for Mitchels to break down the challengers’ well-worked defensive system but points from Danny Kirby and Richie Feeney left just a point between them with less than ten minutes to go.
The O’Connors have been central to Ballintubber’s push for county honours this year and it was late points from Padraic and Cillian – the latter a monstrous free – that saw them home.
The new county champions won’t have too much time to celebrate today’s success, as they now go on to face the formidable Roscommon champions St Brigid’s in the Connacht club championship on November 9th. Last year’s All-Ireland club champions thrashed St Faithleach’s by 3-12 to 0-7 in the Roscommon club final this afternoon and they’ll be a tough nut for the Tubber lads to crack in three weeks time.