Just how far can Mayo’s Ballintubber go based on this resilient performance? That debate is for another day after they dug out a one-point win against Tourlestrane, the Sligo champions, in this low-scoring yet thoroughly absorbing Connacht GAA Club SFC quarter-final.
In a game that produced just 11 scores, the Mayo champions secured a provincial semi-final date with Leitrim’s Aughawillan on Sunday by just scoring three times in each half at the breezy west Sligo venue of Quigabar.
Full-forward Cillian O’Connor, inevitably, was Ballintubber’s main scorer — the Mayo star converted five frees here, three of these in the second-half, and was the winners’ only scoring forward.
Another O’Connor, midfielder Diarmuid, contributed Ballintubber’s sole point from play and did enough in the hustle and bustle to be presented with the man of the match award.
Tourlestrane, without star forward Liam Gaughan in their starting side, although the injury-hampered attacker thrown on as a second-half substitute, were a subdued attacking force — their only first-half score was Cathal Henry’s point in time added on.
They were also dealt an early blow when Gary Gaughan, one of their better attackers, was forced off inside the opening 10 minutes due to injury.
While Tourlestrane’s work-rate was admirable, the Mayo outfit should have been more than 0-3 to 0-1 up at half-time — after a wind-assisted first-half — but they kicked five first-half wides.
Tourlestrane, who cut the margin to a point at three different stages of the second-half, appeared to have found their groove after impressive points from play by Oisin Kennedy and Shane Dunne.
But Shane Dunne’s red card — following a 46th-minute challenge on Ruaidhri O’Connor — gave Tourlestrane a mountain to climb for the remainder.
Ballintubber’s sixth and final score — Cillian O’Connor’s fifth point of the afternoon — came with 50 minutes played and put them 0-6 to 0-4 in front. They didn’t score again but Tourlestrane only added one further point, a fine effort from their best forward, Cathal Henry, with two minutes of normal time left. There was further woe for Tourlestrane who lost Adrian McIntyre to a second booking in time added on.
Scorers for Tourlestrane: Cathal Henry (0-3, 1f), Shane Dunne (0-1), Oisin Kennedy (0-1).
Scorers for Ballintubber: Cillian O’Connor (0-5, 5f), Diarmuid O’Connor (0-1).
TOURLESTRANE: A Broe, C Neary, B Walsh, B Kennedy, O Kennedy, A McIntyre, J Leonard, S Henry, P Harte, A Dunne, C Henry, S Dunne, G Gaughan, J Marren, J Kelly
Subs: John Quinn for G Gaughan, 8; C Surlis for J Marren, 45; L Gaughan for J Quinn, 54; C Marren for S Henry, 56.
BALLINTUBBER: B Walsh, G Loftus, C Hallinan, B Murphy, D Coleman, M Plunkett, R O’Connor, J Gibbons, D O’Connor, C Gavin, A Dillon, A Plunkett, B Walsh, C O’Connor, S O’Malley
Subs: J Finnerty for S O’Malley, 51; P O’Connor for C Gavin, 58; M Kelly for G Loftus, 60.
Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)