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Mayo club Galway in Connacht final

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

That devastating burst of scoring left Killererin scratching their heads. Ballina were so fast on the break and so accurate close to goal that when the scoreboard read 1-12 to 1-3 with a quarter of an hour remaining, it seemed as if the Galway club was about to be humiliated.
Even though Killererin managed some class of a comeback with Padraic Joyce to the fore, there was little doubt at that stage as to the destiny of the title. In fact, the losers were overly dependent on the Joyce trio of Padraic, Tommie and Nicky, whereas Ballina had influential performers spread throughout their line-up.
None was more so than wing-back Enda Devenney, who must have impressed the watching Mayo manager John Maughan. Apart from defending with intelligence and aggression, Devenney stormed forward at every opportunity to put pressure on the Killererin rearguard and the only surprise was that he didn’t manage more than two points from play.
Although Ballina’s anticipated control of the midfield area took some time to come to fruition, Ronan McGarrity and David Brady eventually paved the way for success. Early on, their impact was not so marked as Killererin’s short-passing tactics led to a defensive mix-up and a Padraic Joyce goal, but leading by 1-3 to 0-2 after 20 minutes, it was hard to fathom that the Galway champions would fail to score for the next half hour.
With David Brady beginning to dominate, Ger Brady scored the winners? first goal when he shot over Alan Keane. From then on the points came at regular intervals as Liam Brady capitalised on the promptings of Brian Ruane and the impressive Devenney. Thomas Flynn managed a late goal for Killerein, but their chance had long gone.
Ballina, who lost in the 1999 All Ireland final to Crossmaglen Rangers of Armagh, now await the winners of the drawn Munster decider in the next year’s semi-final.
Neither club had anything to complain about in that Munster showdown with Kilmurry-Ibrickane of Clare and Waterford champions Stradbally scheduled to meet again following last Sunday’s 0-9 apiece draw in Thurles.
While the leading lights of Clare and Waterford wouldn’t normally be expected to quicken the pulses of football’s cognoscenti in Munster, this turned out to be an excellent game. If some of the elegance that a Kerry or a Cork representative might have brought to the table was missing, the two teams served up a riveting contest.
Stradbally had trailed by five points early in the second half, however, they fought back to lead by one going into the closing minutes only for substitute Paul O’Dwyer to equalise. Kilmurry could then have snatched the title, but Odran O’Dwyer’s free from 50 yards dropped agonisingly short, and the Clare side were pressing when referee Michael Collins blew th whistle for full-time.
“I thought it was a fair result,” said Stradbally manager, Sean Ahearne. “We could have sat down and given up after missing those chances and kicking all those first-half wides, but we didn’t and we showed tremendous resolve.”
Ahearne was referring to no fewer than 10 wides by his charges before the interval, and at least two of those were also clear goal opportunities. Michael O’Dwyer with three points from play, and Johnny Daly with four including three frees, were at the heart of Kilmurry’s attack, but later in the game they were starved of possession as Stradbally started their revival.
Niall Curran and Ger Power closed the gap with some accurate shooting, but there was to be no trophy presentation in the end, and both teams are heading for Kilmallock and this Sunday’s replay.
Meanwhile, Portlaoise’s Leinster final victory over Skryne of Meath by 1-11 to 2-4 in Newbridge was deceptive. In truth, Portlaoise had booked their place against Crossmaglen in the All Ireland semi-final long before the end, and it took two late goals by the Meath side to give them a semblance of respectability.
This was a crushing success by Colm Parkinson and his players. They led by 0-8 to 0-1 at the break, and by then were well on their way to sixth provincial title. Early in the second half, Parkinson and Brian McCormack created a goal for Martin Delaney, and that was that.
“Yes, you would have to say we were always struggling to match the standard set by Portlaoise, and we were just swamped in the first half,” said Skryne selector Ray Mooney. “I think their game against Crossmaglen is going to be one worth travelling a long way to see.”
The Meath champions, who suffered a blow before the start when John McDermott was forced out due to illness, managed to cut the gap with a penalty from Trevor Giles and a second goal by substitute Ken O?Connell. “They came back at us like all Meath teams do,” said Portlaoise manager Tommy Conroy. “But we played some super football. Crossmaglen is a long way away, but they’re the past masters so we know how tough it?s going to be.”
There was one hurling game of note last week with Connacht capturing the Interprovincial title with a 1-15 to 0-9 win over Munster at Pearse Stadium. Mark Kerins top-scored for the winners with six points, while Dave Donoghue scored the only goal.

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