Ballinrobe share the spoils with Charlestown
Mayo GAA Senior League
A SUPERB second half display of craft and graft carried the Ballinrobe senior footballers to their first point of this season’s Mayo GAA senior league on Saturday evening.
Despite playing for 40 minutes of a helter-skelter match with only 14 men, Ballinrobe fully deserved to take something from the game after putting in an encouraging shift in front of their small band of loyal supporters.
Some outstanding individual performances, and an excellent collective team display, were crucial to holding Charlestown at bay in the closing stages; but the 2009 county champions did score the last two points of the game to salvage a draw.
Norman O’Brien will find plenty of reasons to be cheerful after this result though as, even without the injured Donal Vaughan, James O’Malley and David McDonnell, his team still managed to play plenty of smart, positive football.
The displays of Sean Grimes, Sean Burke and Micheál Keane deserve special mention.
This trio epitomised Ballinrobe’s spirit, determination and positive attitude from start to finish. Grimes rolled back the years with a powerful display at midfield, Burke showed great maturity at centre-forward and landed some outrageous points, while Keane was also back to his best.
The corner-forward ran at Charlestown every time he got the chance and, on this evidence, the ‘twinkle’ is most definitely back in his eye again.
Despite being reduced to fourteen men after 22 minutes when Peter Staunton was sent off, Ballinrobe led at half-time by 0-5 to 0-2.
The platform for that interval advantage was built on the midfield dominance of Sean Grimes and David Killeen; the duo used possession wisely, broke the ball cleverly, and worked well together.
Micheál Keane fired over two superb long-range points, Sean Burke drilled over a couple too (one from a free) and Peter Staunton also swung over a sweet score from the left wing shortly before he was dismissed.
Ballinrobe’s defence, especially the full-back line of Eugene O’Malley, Paul Finnerty and Ruairí Keane, were outstanding in the opening period and held Charlestown scoreless from open play.
In fact, the visitor’s only scores in that first half came from two Colm Maye frees on 12 minutes and 31 minutes as they struggled to break down Ballinrobe’s well-organised and tough-tackling defensive unit.
The pace of the game quickened noticeably after the restart as Charlestown tried to make their numerical advantage count. However, Ballinrobe matched them stride-for-stride.
The teams traded points three times as scores from David Killeen, Sean Burke (free) and Kevin Murphy were cancelled out by Richard Haran (2) and Tony Mulligan.
Ballinrobe then hit a real purple patch with inspirational points from Micheál Keane and Kenneth O’Malley (a long-range free) on 42 and 44 minutes to ease ahead by 0-10 to 0-6.
Charlestown rolled up their sleeves impressively though, using the extra man wisely, and reeling off three points without reply from Colm Maye (free), Martin Mulvaney and Dermot Higgins to leave just one score between the teams with 53 minutes on the clock.
Ballinrobe’s backs were to the wall at this stage (with only two players inside the Charlestown half at times) but Sean Burke managed to make, and take, an incredible point after a swashbuckling run to put two between the teams again.
That score came on 54 minutes and was to be Ballinrobe’s last.
Charlestown threw everything into attack in the closing stages and points from Colm Maye (free) and Tony Mulligan proved enough to earn a share of the spoils.
They could have stolen a win at the death were it not for a smart save from Kenneth O’Malley to deny Joe McBrien.
However, that would have been very rough justice on Ballinrobe who left nothing in the dressing-room and can rightly feel proud of their efforts.
There were good performances too from the ‘young guns’ of Eugene O’Malley, David O’Connor and Martin Burke, all of whom looked comfortable mixing it with the ‘big lads’.
Conor Keane, Mark Walkin and Kevin Murphy also worked hard on, and off, the ball while Adrian Flannery used his experience wisely at centre-half back.
All in all, it was a very encouraging performance ahead of a trip to Clogher to take on the county champions, Ballintubber, in round three of the senior league next weekend.
THE cute corner-forward just shades it for his leadership, decision-making, scores, and all-round effort.
Kenneth O’Malley (0-1, 1f); Eugene O’Malley, Paul Finnerty, Ruairí Keane; Conor Keane, Adrian Flannery, David O’Connor; David Killeen (0-1), Sean Grimes; Peter Staunton (0-1), Sean Burke (0-4, 2fs), Kevin Murphy (0-1); Martin Burke, Mark Walkin, Micheál Keane (0-3).
Subs used: Keith McTigue for Martin Burke.
D Sloyane; E McLoughlin, D McMeel, K Deignan; D Warde, P Walsh, D Higgins (0-1); S Morris, A Higgins; R Haran (0-2, 1f), M Divilly, M Mulvaney (0-1); J McBrien, A Mulligan (0-2), C Maye (0-4, 4fs).
Subs used: E Gallagher for McBrien.
Referee: R Gurren (Aghamore)