West Mayo Under 14B Championship Final Thursday July 14th
Kilmeena 5-18 8-8 Ballintubber
If ever those who subscribe to the notion that Gaelic football is gone all defensive and negative should have been in a murky,damp Westport on Thursday evening when a game as open as you could ever see was witnessed. Two very determined Under 14 teams took to the field and gave all those present a game that will stick in the memory for a long time. Such a high scoring game resulted in reporters and officials totting up records from the game before Kilmeena were deemed winners after referee Mel Kenny verified his records. It was heartbreak for the Abbeysiders who deserved at least another evening out but the occasion may indeed stand to them in the future. Ballintubber started brightly with star full-forward Robbie Finnerty bagging the first of the games many goals. A fine pointed free from midfielder Caobhlin Flately saw the boys in red push further out in front before a purple patch for the coastal side who racked up 1-3 in the space of 3 minutes to suddenly lead 1-4 to 1-1. Ballintubber captain and ‘keeper Diarmuid Heneghan had to be smart to prevent a second goal before Robbie Finnerty at the other end hammered a rocket off the Kilmeena crossbar although he eventually got the ball back to point. The speedy full-forward then kicked a long range point before he scored his second goal of the evening this time from a penalty with one of the shortest run-ups to convert. Back came Kilmeena to reduce the deficit to just one point at 2-3 to 1-5 before the boys of the ‘tubber played their best football of the match. Midfielder Bobby Reilly came into his own as he carried the ball from deep to blast the ball to the roof of the net and the same player only minutes later had a rasper saved before he calmly left-footed his second goal to the net. It suddenly saw the score at 4-4 to 1-6 and try as they might Kilmeena could not stop the Ballintubber momentum. A shrewd move saw left-corner-back Damien Jennings moved into the opposite end of the field to top of the right and within minutes the switch reaped dividends as he added 2 more goals to the Abbeysiders remarkable goal haul to push his side 6-5 to 1-7 ahead at the interval.
The second half saw Kilmeena play with the wind and they kept tapping over the points although a Caobhlin Flately pointed free along with a third goal from Damien Jennings still had the boys in red well ahead at 7-6 to 1-9. But the tide was turning as point after point followed and when Kilmeena scored their second goal it gave massive belief to the side and its large support. Remarkably the dominance continued with a third goal this time from the penalty spot and the game was still alive as Ballintubber still led at 7-7 to 3-12. Further pressure yielded a fourth goal although a point from Robbie Finnerty still gave advantage to the Abbeysiders at 7-8 to 4-13 but wave after wave of Kilmeena attacks continued. They added a further 1-1 to suddenly level the game as their understandably vocal support realised the game was level where another attack saw them go ahead. Despite been outplayed for long periods of the second half, the Ballintubber boys gave one last massive effort and managed to get the games last goal thanks to persistence from Robbie Finnerty with the score now 8-8 to 5-15. But credit to the victors as they pointed 3 more times to break the hearts of a very game Ballintubber side who will have better days. Best for Ballintubber were goalkeeper and captain Diarmuid Heneghan who kept Ballintubber in the game with a string of fine saves. Josh Mahon at full-back is another to watch out for while Ciaran Heneghan played well before been harshly black-carded towards the end of the game. Darragh and Cillian Joyce in the half-back line also showed well while centre-half-back Sean McEvilly was another to impress. The midfield partnership of Caobhlin Flately and Bobby Reilly put in a huge effort throughout the hour with a combined return of 2-4 between them. The half-forward line of Matthew Coyne, James King and Stephen Burke may not have gotten on the scoreboard but they contributed to the many scoring chances during the match and will get their chance again. While Robbie Finnerty was the only star man in the attack with a total return of 3-4 including a penalty with Nathan Gibbons and Dean O’Malley giving their all. A special mention also to Damien Jennings who proved that corner-backs can be as dangerous in the opposite position where his hat-trick of goals was another highlight. A special mention that the enjoyable evening was some what hampered by the lack of a scoreboard as surely Divisional finals should not be played at a venue unless something as basic as that is available.
Ballintubber team that lined out : Diarmuid Heneghan (Capt), Ciaran Heneghan, Josh Mahon, Damien Jennings (3-0), Darragh Joyce, Sean McEvilly, Cillian Joyce, Caobhlin Flately (0-3,3f), Bobby Reilly (2-1,f), Matthew Coyne, James King, Stephen Burke, Nathan Gibbons, Robbie Finnerty (3-4,pen), Dean O’Malley. Subs used – Luke Biggins, James Lally, Noah Corbett, Colm Larkin.