They had spent much of the day in Kenmare’s shadow; falling four behind in the opening quarter and trailing by three with the clock reading 54 minutes. That there was even need for extra-time was testament to their resilience and ability to remain with the Kerry and Munster champions, without ever threatening to beat them.
Behind 0-9 to 0-6 with time against them, Westport realised a goal was required to prolong their All-Ireland campaign. On 55 minutes, they should have been celebrating the opening green flag of this dogged clash where none of the big names on either side managed to leave their mark. Corner-back Niall McManamon had travelled the direct route through the Kenmare defence and with Phil Keegan unmarked inside, all that was required was a half-decent ball over the head of the final defender. The pass, though, was overcooked and possession dribbled over the end line, much to the frustration of the Mayo contingent in the 3,909 strong crowd.
Undeterred, Westport ploughed on. Lee Keegan, having won a free 45 metres from goal, had no interest in allowing one of his team-mates try their luck from a tight angle and so delivered the ball into the opposition danger area. Shane Scott took down possession and while referee Martin McNally initially ignored the foul on the Westport midfielder, he was prompted into awarding a penalty by one of his umpires.
Scott dispatched the penalty to level matters for only the second time. Kenmare forward Paul O’Connor had a chance to win it thereafter, but his ’45 didn’t have the distance. Dara O’Shea, with a monstrous kick from distance, drew first blood for the Kerry champions in extra-time. It was cancelled out by the lively Colm Moran, but again, Westport were unable to find a lead score. Paul O’Connor’s fifth free had Kenmare 0-11 to 1-7 in front at the turnaround and while the hamstring-troubled Stephen O’Brien was introduced for the second period, they would fail to add to their tally.
Brian McDermott secured parity on 75 minutes, with Scott pushing them into pole position two minutes from time. Dara Crowley had kicked wide at the other end in between these two scores and their best chance to draw level fell to O’Connor in the dying embers. His free, however, drifted right and wide. There was also a hefty challenge on Stephen O’Brien directly in front of goal that was waved away by the referee.
In searching for an equaliser during the three additional minutes awarded, gaps opened up at the back and Westport sub Colm Geraghty fired over the insurance score to set up a final date with St Colmcille’s on February 19.
S Scott (1-1, 1-0 pen); L Staunton (0-2 frees), F McDonagh (0-1 free), C Moran (0-2 each); C Geraghty, B McDermott, P Lambert (0-1 each).
P O’Connor (0-7, 0-5 frees); D O’Shea, P O’Shea, S O’Leary, S O’Shea (0-1 each).
P O’Malley; B McDermott, K Keane, N McManamon; K Dever, L Keegan, J Walsh; B O’Malley, S Scott; P Keegan, F McDonagh, L Staunton; C Moran, P Lambert, O McLoughlin.
R Geraghty for McLoughlin (39 mins); D Horan for Staunton (48); C Geraghty for McDonagh (60); F McDonagh for B O’Malley (70); O McLoughlin for Lambert (78).
K Fitzgibbon; S O’Shea, T O’Sullivan, D Crowley; S O’Sullivan, D O’Shea, M Crowley; JM Foley, D Hallissey; S O’Leary, K O’Sullivan, A O’Leary; P O’Shea, S O’Shea, P O’Connor.
B O’Sullivan for P O’Shea (41 mins); S Dalton for Hallissey (58); C O’Sullivan for T O’Sullivan (69); S O’Brien for O’Leary (73); D Hallissey for for Dalton (73, bc).
M McNally (Monaghan).