Ballinrobe still in need of points
Castlebar Mitchels 1-8
Report courtesy of Seán Rice of The Mayo News
IT was no day for football. But Castlebar and Ballinrobe managed to defy the gale at Gerry McDonald Park on Sunday to etch out a decent enough league tussle.
Yet neither side was able to take full advantage of the strong wind. Both played their best football against it. Before the opening minute had ticked over Ballinrobe defied the gale with a shock goal. And by half-time were trailing only by three points.
You would not have put your shirt on a Castlebar win at that stage. All they could muster with the help of the elements in the first half was a paltry 1-5 . . . and a bag of near misses.
They had dominated possession but dwelt too much on short passing when bombing the Ballinrobe defence might have been the more profitable option.
As things stood, whatever ball the Mitchels hoofed in was capably dealt with by the visiting defence, well marshalled by Seán Grimes with spirited help from Colm Killeen, Paul Finnerty, Ray McGreal, Eugene O’Malley and David McDonnell.
It took Castlebar a full ten minutes to recover from the shock of Ballinrobe’s goal, scored by corner-forward Alan Murphy after the ball, caught by the wind, bounced capriciously in the rectangle.
Neil Douglas and Mark Walkin had exchanged points before Douglas grabbed the equalising goal as the 10th minute ticked over, after Tom Cunniffe had split the defence with a dash through the centre.
You would have expected the Mitchels to move on from there. But they were having trouble at midfield where Ballinrobe’s David Killeen and Ronan Macken were providing plenty of encouragement for their supporters.
Douglas, their most productive forward, had Castlebar in front by two points by the 24th minute. But when David Killeen stormed through the defence to cut the deficit with a well-earned score, Ballinrobe looked the more determined side.
Two late points by Aidan Walsh and Patrick Durkan provided the Mitchels with a rather tenuous half-time cushion — 1-5 to 1-2 — with which to face the wind.
But like Ballinrobe they, too, had a better handle on the wind when against it.
Not, however, before Alan Murphy shocked them for the second time when he stole inside the defence to win a long, sensible, ball from Ray McGreal and stuff it in the Castlebar net. It left a point between them, Richie Feeney, having reeled in a minor for the Mitchels just after the restart.
But Castlebar battened down the hatches almost immediately.
Superb work by Niall Lydon, their outstanding player, together with the gruelling efficiency of the Feeney brothers, Shane Irwin, Tom Cunniffe, Ronan Burke and Paul Fitzmaurice not only had all corners of the defence sealed off, but forced Ballinrobe themselves to defend defiantly against the continuous short-ball tactics employed by the Mitchels.
Only once, however, did that painstaking work of the home side create a goal chance — when Neil Douglas for once got inside the defence. But goalkeeper Kenneth O’Malley was well placed to stop the snap-shot from the Castlebar man.
Under such pressure, though, it was no surprise that the defence conceded a couple of frees from which Douglas earned the winning points to keep Castlebar’s league winning chances alive, despite a last-minute point by Alan Murphy.
C Naughton; P Fitzmaurice, A Feeney, R Burke; R Feeney (0-1), T Cunniffe, S Irwin; S Fitzmaurice, F Durkan; N Lydon, P Durkan (0-1), D Newcombe; N Douglas (1-5), D Kirby, A Walsh (0-1).
Subs used: C Costello for Newcombe; K Filan for Douglas.
K O’Malley; P Finnerty, C Killeen, E O’Malley; D McDonnell, S Grimes, R McGreal; D Killeen (0-1), R Macken; D O’Connor, P Staunton, M Keane; C Keane, M Walkin (0-1), A Murphy (2-1).
Subs used: A Flannery for D O’Connor; J Quinn for Walkin.
Referee: M Daly (Ballyhaunis)