Castlebar Mitchels 3-13 Knockmore 0-10: Their failure to perform in the All-Ireland club final last March was a major driving force for Castlebar Mitchels as they retained their Mayo SFC title on Saturday night at MacHale Park.
Second half goals from man-of-the-match Paddy Durcan, Neil Douglas, and Barry Moran propelled the champions to their first back-to-back county championships since 1970. And according to Mitchels joint manager Declan Shaw, Castlebar’s lacklustre display against Ballyboden St Enda’s more than seven months ago was a major factor.
“We were bitterly disappointed with our performance at Croke Park and that was something that was in our heads coming here,” he admitted.
“We wanted to put on a display and make up for that poor performance in the All-Ireland. Thankfully we did that.”
Castlebar put on an exhibition in the second half in front of a big crowd of 5,375 people and Knockmore had no answer to the winners pace and power. Mitchels only led at half-time by 0-6 to 0-4 but they upped the tempo after the break. Goals in the 36th, 51st, and 53rd minutes meant they freewheeled to a comfortable victory.
“We had a very good second half,” said Declan Shaw. “We’d have been a bit disappointed at half-time that we didn’t take a few more chances, and so only found ourselves two up at that stage. But the second half was much better and I’m delighted for these lads. They dedicate their lives to football and to Castlebar Mitchels.”
Mayo defender Paddy Durcan helped himself to 1-3 from play as he eclipsed his county team-mate Kevin McLoughlin while top scorer Neil Douglas hit 1-6 as he ran Knockmore’s defence ragged.
Rank outsiders Knockmore had started well and led by 0-3 to 0-1 with Seán Ruttledge, Peter Naughton, and Colm Reape all on target.
Castlebar gradually got into their rhythm and reeled off five points without reply from Neil Douglas (3), Paddy Durcan, and Aidan Walsh. Mitchels blitzed their opponents during the third quarter and were leading by 15 points with less than minutes to go.
A late rally from Knockmore yielded a couple of points each from Peter Naughton (two frees) and Keith Ruttledge but by that stage the damage was done, and there was certainly food for thought for the watching Tourlestrane management team of Gerry McGowan and Eamonn O’Hara.
The Sligo champions will take on Castlebar Mitchels in the Connacht club quarter-final at Markievicz Park next Saturday.
“It’s the usual cliche but we haven’t thought about outside of Mayo,” said Shaw. “Putting back-to-back county titles together is massive for us. We’ll take a look at the Sligo champions in the next day or two, but right now we’re over the moon with what we’ve done.”
R Byrne; S Irwin, G McDonagh, D Newcombe; R O’Malley, E O’Reilly, P Durcan (1-3); B Moran (1-0), A Walsh (0-2); F Durkan, C Costello, J Durcan; N Lydon, N Douglas (1-6, 4fs), S Hopkins.
D Stenson (0-2, 1f) for J Durcan; R Burke for P Durcan (inj); D Kirby for Lydon; J Gannon for Costello; C Kyne for Douglas; J Maughan for Newcombe.
A Kilcoyne; M Park, S McHale, D Walsh; J Rice, K McLoughlin (0-1), N Hardy; T Clarke, A Keane; D McHale, C Reape (0-1), K Ruttledge (0-2, 1f); S Ruttledge (0-1), K Langan, P Naughton (0-5, 4fs).
B Gibbons for Clarke; F O’Neill for D McHale; J Brogan for Park; A Loftus for Reape; C Canning for Walsh.
J Glavey (Aghamore)
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