Alan Plunkett’s goal less than a minute into the second half proved the decisive score as Ballintubber set up a mouthwatering clash with All-Ireland champions Corofin in Sunday’s Connacht club football championship semi-final.
But the Mayo champions were made to grind out this four-point victory against their Leitrim opponents, and they had to call on all their experience in the last quarter to keep Glencar/Manorhamilton at a safe distance.
Lining out without their injured talisman, Cillian O’Connor, Kevin Johnson’s charges had still been expected to come out on top in this rain-soaked quarter-final in Castlebar.
But Glencar/Manorhamilton proved stubborn and very capable opponents, and they gave as good as they got for long spells in the testing conditions.
However, the Leitrim side were far too reliant on their captain, Conor Dolan, for scores and his six points made up the bulk of his side’s final tally.
Ballintubber managed to spread things around a little better with Stephen O’Malley’s frees and some crucial second-half scores from Alan Plunkett, Jason Gibbons and the veteran Alan Dillon proving vital in the end.
The Mayo standard-bearers did just enough in the opening half to lead at the interval by 0-6 to 0-5, as they struggled in the face of an organised and well-drilled Glencar/Manor’ defence.
The eventual winners had come flying out of the blocks and raced into a three-point lead after seven minutes, but their performance level gradually tapered off as the half went on.
In the absence of Mayo’s all-time leading scorer, Cillian O’Connor, Ciaran Gavin landed four of the West Mayo side’s scores in that first period with Stephen O’Malley tagging on two frees for good measure.
Down at the other end, Glencar/Manorhamilton captain Conor Dolan landed all but one of the visitor’s scores with his three pointed frees underlining the pressure that Ballintubber’s defence were feeling. Experienced centre-forward, James Glancy, had opened their account in the 11th minute.
Alan Plunkett’s goal early in the second gave Ballintubber the breathing space they needed, and they stayed out in front to set up a repeat of last year’s provincial final against Corofin at Tuam Stadium on Sunday.
A Plunkett (1-1), C Gavin (0-4, 1f), S O’Malley (0-4, 4fs), J Gibbons (0-1), A Dillon (0-1),
C Dolan (0-6, 4fs), J Glancy (0-2, 1f), E Sweeney (0-1).
B Walsh; G Loftus, B Murphy, R O’Connor; D Coleman, M Plunkett, M Kelly; J Gibbons, D O’Connor; C Gavin, A Plunkett, B Walsh; N Geraghty, A Dillon, S O’Malley.
K McDonnell for N Geraghty (inj); P O’Connor for A Plunkett; J Finnerty for Wash; J Geraghty for Kelly.
A McDonald; T McDonald, F Rooney, T Coyle; K McGriskin, B McDonald, P Gilmartin; D Sweeney, P Maguire; A Croal, J Glancy, J Rooney; N Brady, E Sweeney, C Dolan.
G Hickey for McGriskin; P Poniard for T McDonald (black card); R Flynn for Glancy; D Byrne for Brady.
B Judge (Sligo)