Sweet success for our U-16s
DIVISION 3 FINAL
SEVERELY challenged Ballinrobe held on bravely in the face of sustained Swinford pressure, to prevail by two points, at McHale Park, Castlebar on Tuesday evening.
It was a particularly satisfying occasion for Edward Sweeney and Matthew Burke as they were also members of the Ballinrobe U-14 side, winners of a county title at the same venue, the previous Sunday.
Pulsating exchanges marked the second half, as wind-assisted Swinford strove might and main to redress an interval disadvantage of six points.
Progress was slow and Ballinrobe were still four points clear, moving into the last quarter.
The Swinford quest for badly-needed scores intensified, as the end loomed, and the excitement mounted. Effective outfield work was not always matched by accurate finishing, and last-gasp defensive interventions took Ballinrobe out of more than one extremely menacing corner.
Crucially important from a Ballinrobe perspective was Thomas Lawrence’s enterprising point in the 54th minute.
It was a welcome respite at the height of the Swinford onslaught, and restored Ballinrobe’s lead to four points, though the remaining minutes were still very anxious ones for supporters of the victors.
The respective takers of frees, Swinford’s Jonathan Burke and Rory Malone, exchanged points in the opening five minutes, and the first-named was on target again in the 6th minute.
Thomas Lawrence balanced matters from play, two minutes later, and Darren McDonnell’s pointed free gave Ballinrobe the lead for the first time, in the 10th minute.
Midfielder Matthew Kelly lost no time in countering with a magnificent point from out on the left wing, but Ballinrobe, with the strong wind to their backs, gradually began to bestir themselves outfield.
Points materialised from James Murphy, Rory Malone (free), and Joseph Burke, placed by Thomas Lawrence, leaving Swinford four points in arrears, 0-7 to 0-3, after 20 minutes.
There was also some erratic kicking when scores beckoned, before the elusive Thomas Lawrence executed a superb goal from the right corner, in the 21st minute.
Jason McLoughlin responded with a Swinford point in the 23rd minute and the half’s activities concluded with Ballinrobe’s Darren McDonnell, from a free, and Johnny Pidgeon exchanging points.
Enjoying that six point lead, 1-8 to 0-5, at the outset of the second half, gave Ballinrobe no false sense of security, and what followed confirmed the reason why Swinford, boosted by the backing of the elements, were on the offensive immediately, and Eoin Maughan supplied the pass for Jason McLoughlin’s 31st minute point.
Wides followed in its wake from Johnny Pidgeon and Jonathan Burke, and Thomas Lawrence, in receipt of an outfield delivery from Rory Malone, kicked a Ballinrobe point, in the 34th minute.
Swinford continued to surge forward, and Sean Shaughnessy, the Ballinrobe goalkeeper, foiled Matthew Kelly’s bid for a goal in the 38th minute.
Points from Jason McLoughlin, in the 40th and 45th minutes, edged the East Mayo side closer, and the margin was reduced to a goal, 1-9 to 0-9, through a 50th minute point from half-back Andrew Lenehan, after inter-play with Matthew Kelly.
A rare Ballinrobe sally upfield saw Thomas Lawrence, using his speed to telling effect, score an invaluable point in the 54th minute.
Swinford redoubled their efforts in the dying minutes, and inaccuracy did not help their cause on a few occasions.
There was also some heroic defending by Ballinrobe, with Philip McGreal managing to get his boot to a ball heading goalwards, and goalkeeper Sean Shaughnessy effecting a spectacular save from Kevin Hastings.
Eoin Monaghan did register two Swinford points in the 59th and 61st minutes, but Ballinrobe were still clinging on when Mel Kenny terminated matters.
S Shaughnessy; E Sweeney, D Joyce, P McGreal; M Burke, R O’Reilly, D McDonnell (0-2, 2fs); P Daly, J Murphy (0-1); M Biggins, R Malone (0-2, 2fs), J Burke (0-1); J Lawrence, S Burke, T Lawrence (1-4).
Sub used: J Costello for M Biggins.
A Kinsella; P O’Donnell, J Moore, J Lavin; C O’Donnell, S McDonnell, A Lenehan (0-1); K Hastings, M Kelly (0-1); J Pidgeon (0-1), J Burke (0-2, 2fs), C McLoughlin; J McLoughlin (0-4, 1f), E Maughan (0-2), S Julian.
Subs used: D McIntyre for Hastings; K Hastings for C McLoughlin.
Referee: M Kenny (Westport)