Drake in dreamland as Ballaghaderreen claim third crown

Ballaghaderreen 1-09 Ballintubber 0-04
There was no fairytale ending to Ballintubber’s quest for three-in-a-row of Mayo SFC titles at Elverys McHale Park, Castlebar yesterday.

Ballaghaderreen spoiled the party for the defending champions with an assured performance as they captured the Moclair Cup for just the third time in the club’s history, and the first since 2008.

“Over the last few years seeing what Ballintubber did drove us on to where we are today,” said Ballagh’ captain, Stephen Drake. “They’ve been fantastic ambassadors for Mayo club football.

“But what this group of Ballaghaderreen players has done over the last 12 months has been nothing short of remarkable. Everyone that was asked of them, they did it. It was an absolute honour to captain them.”

Mark Dowd’s team led from gun to tape and a 60th minute goal from impressive midfielder, Barry Kelly, put the seal on a victory that was as deserved as it was emphatic.

Ballintubber badly missed the services of injured Mayo star, Cillian O’Connor, while county talisman, Alan Dillon, was forced to retire with a head injury midway through the second half. Without their marquee forwards, Peter Ford’s side were lacking guile and leadership up front, and they only managed one point in the entire second half.

Ballagh, who were in top at midfield through the aforementioned Kelly and James Kilcullen, led at half-time, 0-6 to 0-3.

The championship’s leading scorer, Barry Regan, nailed five points from frees and dashing centre-back Keith Rogers also got on the scoresheet.

An out-of-sorts Ballintubber could only manage points from Jason Gibbons, Damien McGing and Alan Dillon as they struggled to get going.

Despite paring the deficit back to just two points after the restart, courtesy of a white flag from Dillon, the holders never looked comfortable.

They missed a string of chances and, remarkably, failed to score for the final 30 minutes.

The Drake and Rogers brothers, along with Peter Kelly, ran a tight ship in the Ballagh defence but it was only in the closing stages that the East Mayo side made the game safe.

They reeled off 1-2 in the last 10 minutes; Barry Kelly’s goal sandwiched between points from Rory Conway and David Kilcullen (45).

“I’ve played a lot of senior football in the last 10 or 12 years but that game today was so energy-sapping,” remarked Barry Regan.

“Ballintubber work so hard, they make it very difficult for you, but we’re confident in ourselves as footballers and we’re delighted that we cut loose a bit and got the goal at the end to finish it.

“There are a lot of very good teams in Mayo and these titles are very hard won,” he added.

“We celebrated our win in 2008 but we’ve worked really hard to get back here and it’s been worth all the sacrifices.”

BALLAGHADERREEN: O Flanagan; S Drake, P Rogers, T Regan; P Kelly, K Rogers (0-1), D Drake; B Kelly (1-0), J Kilcullen; D Kilcullen (0-1, ‘45) A Hanley, S Finn; O Jordan, B Regan (0-5, 5fs), J Dillon (0-1).

Subs: C Doohan for Jordan; R Conway (0-1) for Dillon; B Solan for Finn (inj).

BALLINTUBBER: B Walsh; L Tunney, C Hallinan, P Earley; M Kelly, T Earley, D Geraghty; M Hoban, J Gibbons (0-1); R O’Connor, A Dillon (0-2), D O’Connor; D McGing (0-1), P O’Connor, D Coleman.

Subs: J Duffy for Hoban; D Summerville for P O’Connor.

Referee: K Connelly (Hollymount/Carramore).

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