All over for Castlebar in 15 minutes

There are key elements that build belief and confidence once an All-Ireland final gets underway. It could be a block, a free, a moment of high fielding, a surging run — something that boosts a team’s morale and makes them feel invincible. All the talk of winning big starts to become a reality in front of your eyes.

All over for Castlebar in 15 minutes

And then there are others — the concession of score after score without reply — that make those hopes and dreams dissolve in the most painful of fashions.

Once the flow starts — it is incredibly difficult to stem the bleed and Castlebar were leaking from the get-go yesterday in a horrifically one-sided game.

They will regret the fact that they never got one ounce of momentum going in the entire hour and looked a beaten team after only 15 minutes.

But credit must go to Ballyboden for squeezing the life from the Connacht champions with a devastating start. An early goal is like pouring petrol on a fire for most sides, moreso for a Dublin team playing in Croke Park.

After only 90 seconds, the highly impressive Colm Basquel who had too much pace for Eoghan O’Reilly all through the joust, roared through the Castlebar defence to rifle home a stunning goal past Rory Byrne.

Then raiding corner-back Bob Dwan, who had a terrific game, hit the first of his three points and they had a few tremendous blockdowns from the likes of Shane Clayton and captain Darragh Nelson. Few in Ballyboden could have imagined or dreamed of such a start. And they would not be stopped after that.

At the other end, it was a catalogue of woes for the Mitchels. Their wide tally was far too high and their main players had little influence on the game. Paddy Durcan who was tremendous in their victory over Corofin and Crossmaglen ballooned a bad wide and that was quickly followed by other poor efforts from Neil Lydon, Richie Feeney, and Stephen Keane along with a poor effort from Eoghan O’Reilly’s free.

Far too quickly, the Dublin team were 2-3 to 0-0 and a rout looked likely.

In terms of tactics and work-rate, Ballyboden were far superior, from keeper to corner-forward Andrew Kerin who had a fine game and took his penalty with aplomb.

Donegal star Paul Durcan was tremendous on restarts and produced a magnificent save to deny Neil Lydon a goal that Castlebar so badly needed midway through the first half. Indeed, Durcan has been an integral part of their first All-Ireland success. Both cornerbacks Boby Dwan and Shane Clayton caught the eye and Aran Waters put in a good shift around the middle in the absence of the suspended Declan O’ Mahony.

The Ballyboden forwards ran Castlebar ragged, with wing-forward Darren O’Reilly getting onto a huge amount of ball and both Ryan and Colm Basquel did serious damage when in possession. Their two older warhorses, Colm Keaney and full-back Stephen Hiney, both led from their respective positions. To have their experience and calmness in key positions was a big plus for Andy McEntee’s team.

If this is a foundation for future Ballyboden success, one wonders will it be a wrecking ball to Castlebar’s hopes?

Barry Moran, Danny Kirby, Tom Cunniffe, Richie Feeney, and Paddy Durcan will be all disgusted with how their days panned out. Beaten by St Vincents two years ago in the final, this massive set-back will be hard to stomach. For Feeney, it most be especially painful. He was black carded two years ago in the final and he was taken off yesterday. They are two bitter pills to swallow after making a massive effort for the club cause. It is trite to say that they will be back because getting back to an All-Ireland club final is a challenge at the best of times. Imagine what it must be like after this kind of capitulation.

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