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County Junior A Championship Group 3 June 11th

                                                      Kilmeena 2-8 2-10 Ballintubber B

Our Junior team began their 2016 Championship campaign with a cracking win in Kilmeena on Saturday evening when a tremendous second half comeback was rewarded. The Abbeysiders were 1-6 to 0-4 down at the break and also lost captain Eoghan Vahey who was black carded.  On an almost perfect evening near the coast where in cloudy, calm conditions, the crowd seen some of the best of Mayo Junior football as both teams gave it everything. The hosts began in impressive fashion as it only took 20 seconds for them to open the scoring. The visitors however had other ideas and the accurate Conor Finnerty levelled the game shortly after from the right wing with his left peg.  Further pressure from the ‘tubber yielded a free where Stephen O’Malley kicked his first of the evening. Kilmeena however looked menacing as their fast movement  at times had Ballintubber defenders catching air and it was no surprise that they levelled shortly after. In fact this pressure was to result in further dividends as Kilmeena were awarded a penalty which was well converted and another swift point followed. Suddenly the boys of the ‘tubber were in further trouble when captain Eoghan Vahey was black carded with Dean Loftus coming in to replace. Fortunately indiscipline in the Kilmeena defence saw Stephen O’Malley point from distance this time from the ground. Unfortunately further attacks from the homeside saw their full-forward score twice while the number 11 also got on the scoreboard although another Stephen O’Malley free kept the Abbeysiders in touch at the break with halftime score Kilmeena 1-6 0-4 Ballintubber B.

The second half saw a rejuvenated  Ballintubber side take to the field although Kilmeena scored yet again in the opening minute to push their lead further out in front. However with the influential Ray Geraghty who was brought out to the ’40, Ballintubber’s game began to develop. It was the prompting of Conor Finnerty that started the comeback as he pointed from the right wing with Ray Geraghty next to score. With the impressive John Kerrigan, Seamus Thomas, Gavin Roache and centre-half-back Kevin Shannon keeping things tighter in defence along with selfless work from midfielder Daire Summerville, the momentum was with the visitors. Another excellent point from Conor Finnerty reduced the deficit to just 3 points when the key Kilmeena player wearing 15 was sent off for an off the ball incident with Stephen O’Malley . This added to the visitors drive and when the afore mentioned Stephen O’Malley kicked his only point from play following an accurate pass from Ray Geraghty there were suddenly just 2 scores in the game. A brief attack from the homeside saw their number 6 push his side 3 points out in front again. Again this was a temporary blip and Stephen O’Malley pointed from another free and when the same player benefitted from a Dean Loftus pass it saw Ballintubber get its first goal and the lead for only the second time. With panic in the Kilmeena ranks it saw them loose possession easily in the next play with Ray Geraghty scoring his sides second goal with Ballintubber now 4 points ahead at 2-9 to 1-8. With time running out Kilmeena had to dig deep and in fairness they bagged their second goal to keep the game alive. Thankfully a fine point from the experienced John Duffy saw Ballintubber get a second big win in a week and really kick-start their season. Next up in the Championship is their only home game when Ballycastle come again to Clogher with fixture details to be confirmed. Others to catch the eye included Eoin Heneghan who worked hard and made one of the catches of the day in the second half while Dave Clarke was providing extra cover in defence before suffering from injury. While his replacement Jarleth Staunton calmly acted as the extra player in defence particularly during the hectic final moments.

Ballintubber team that lined out : Frank Walsh, John Kerrigan, Declan Larkin, Seamus Thomas, Gavin Roache, Kevin Shannon, Dave Clarke, Eoghan Vahey (Capt), Daire Summerville, Eoghan Heneghan, John Duffy (0-1), David McHale, Stephen O’Malley (1-5, 4f), Ray Geraghty (1-1), Conor Finnerty (0-3). Subs used : Dean Loftus for Eoghan Vahey, Jarleth Staunton for Dave Clarke (inj), Daire McGovern for Eoin Heneghan      

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