Third time lucky for seniors
SFC GROUP 2
The Mayo News
KILTANE’S hopes of a quarter-final spot crumbled on their home ground on Sunday in the wake of a rare Ballinrobe tornado.
And the initial impulse of every ‘Robe man, as they review their championship form today, must be to ask himself why did they wait until the final game of the group to produce a stormer.
No sooner than the fifth minute when Donal Vaughan scooped their first point, at the end of a four-pronged attack, did it become clear that the winners meant business.
And, taken aback by its ferocity, nothing Kiltane did could quell the advance of the South Mayo hurricane.
It was not for want of trying that they failed.
But at every turn their search for a breakthrough was stymied by a resolute defence . . . together with the fine goalkeeping qualities of Kenneth O’Malley. On at least four occasions, one a penalty, O’Malley denied Kiltane with breathtaking saves, anyone of which might have inspired a home recovery.
The keeper was not the only star to sparkle for the winners, however.
At centre-back Seán Grimes was in superb form, orchestrating almost every move from that pivotal position, while up front Donal Vaughan at left corner forward was the target man, proving that he is equally at home in an attacking role as he is in defence for his county.
Even so, Ballinrobe¹s top scorer was none other than wing-back Ray McGreal who accounted for 1-4 of their total, the goal coming ten minutes from the end as a final stamp of authority on a match of which they never lost control.
But it wasn’t always as easy as the scoreline might suggest. Although Vaughan, Mark Walkin and Conor Keane were ever threatening, there was no easy way of getting round the likes of Robert Carey, Pat Joe Gaughan and Rory Corrigan.
Every point of their six in the first half — three by Vaughan and one each by goalkeeper O¹Malley from a free, Walkin, and McGreal — was hard earned. And there were also signs of a latent recovery by Mikey Sweeney, Jason Healy and Ultan Corrigan.
Trouble was that the Kiltane forwards had no real font of supply. Midfield was unfruitful with Ballinrobe’s David Killeen superb, and Ronan Macken always searching for openings.
The best chance came Macken’s way in the first half, when the ball fell at his toe in front of the goal, but he was off balance and with only the keeper to beat, the ball sliced wide.
Sweeney and Edmond Barrett got Kiltane’s two first-half points and, trailing by 0-6 to 0-2, commenced the second half strongly, Barrett tapping over his second free.
But Grimes continued to sprinkle his forwards with clever distribution, and James O’Malley, Eugene O’Malley, Colm Killeen and Paul Finnerty tackled fiercely. And in no time at all Walkin with a brace of points had regained the initiative for the visitors.
As if that was not enough, Kiltane were reduced to fourteen men when sub Packie Sweeney, barely a minute on the field, was sidelined for a foul on Walkin.
But they battled on bravely, prompted by the efforts of PJ and Sean Gaughan, Carey and Healy, and were it not for the intervention of O’Malley with two spectacular saves from Healy and Sweeney, and later a penalty by Sweeney, the finish might have been much closer.
After that, the fight left Kiltane.
McGreal then rattled in a goal and three points in succession, and such was their control that Ballinrobe barely missed Conor Keane who was also red-carded by referee Jerome Henry ten minutes from the end.
K O’Malley (0-1f); E O’Malley, C Killeen, P Finnerty; J O’Malley, S Grimes, R McGreal (1-4,2fs); D Killeen, R Macken; D McDonnell, S Burke, D Vaughan (0-4); C Keane (0-1), M Walkin (0-3,1f), M Keane.
Sub used: K Murphy for McDonnell.
C Carey; R Carey (0-1), P Deane, S Sweeney; M Gallagher, PJ Gaughan, R Corrigan; S Gaughan, P Coyle; J Healy, E Barrett (0-2 fs), M Doherty; U Corrigan, M Sweeney (0-1), J Reilly.
Subs used: P Sweeney for Deane; D Cuffe for Doherty; K Ginty for S Sweeney; O Munnelly for R Corrigan.
Referee: J Henry (Castlebar)