Darkhorses Ballaghderreen upset the odds yesterday to book their place in a first Mayo SFC final since 2012 when they beat Castlebar Mitchels at MacHale Park.
Mitchels, who were lining out in their 10th successive county semi-final, were never allowed to get into their stride by Ballagh’s powerful and pacy team.
Around the middle of the field, in particular, Castlebar came off second best as Owen Jordan, Sharoize Akram, Darragh Kelly, Cian Hanley and the outstanding Ryan Lynch took control from the early stages.
Lynch shot four superb long-range points from play in the opening half to help Ballaghaderreen build up a lead of 0-10 to 0-4 by half-time.
Nine of those ten scores came from open play as they created space and picked off points from all angles.
Last year’s TG4 Underdogs contestant, Cormac Doohan, played a big part in Ballagh’s impressive first-half performance as he chipped in with two points.
Andy Moran (2), Kuba Callaghan and Dylan Feeney also hit the target as Mitchels found themselves under the cosh for long spells.
It also took some fine goalkeeping by Rory Byrne to stop Ballaghaderreen hitting the net in that opening period, and he made a string of good stops in the second half too.
Mitchels found scores very hard to come by all afternoon and their only first-half efforts were registered by Neil Douglas (2) and James Durcan (2) as Ballagh’s backline, which was marshalled superbly by David Drake and Seamus Cunniffe, snuffed out any threats.
However, Castlebar were thrown a lifeline just ten minutes into the second half when substitute Barry Moran — who had only been introduced — was brought down in the square by Ballaghaderreen goalkeeper, Patrick Sharkey.
Sharkey redeemed himself with a flying save to push Neil Douglas’ resultant penalty out for a ‘45.
And while Douglas did manage to convert that effort for a point, Castlebar never looked like scoring the goal that needed to make a game of it.
Ballagh’ kept the pre-match favourites at arm’s length in the last quarter with points from Kuba Callaghan, Cormac Doohan and Thomas Carmody booking their place in the final.
Scorers for Ballaghaderreen: R Lynch, C Doohan (0-4 each); A Moran (0-3, 1 free); K Callaghan (0-2); T Carmody, D Feeney (0-1 each)
Scorers for Castlebar Mitchels: N Douglas (0-4, 1f, ‘45); J Durcan (0-3); G Durcan (0-1 free).
BALLAGHADERREEN: P Sharkey; D Drake, S Cunniffe, P Kelly; D McBrien, O Jordan, S Akram; D Kelly, R Lynch; D Feeney, C Hanley, L O’Grady; C Doohan, A Moran, K Callaghan
Subs used: T Carmody, A Lynch, D Forrest, C O’Donnell
CASTLEBAR MITCHELS: R Byrne; J Maughan, D Newcombe, R O’Malley; G McDonagh, R O’Reilly, S Conlon; D Vaughan, P Durcan; S Hopkins, N Douglas, J Durcan; C Costello, G Durcan, B Walsh.
Subs used: N Lydon, B Moran, F Durcan, D Kirby, P Ruddy.
Referee: V Neary (Bonniconlon)