Ballintubber 3-9 St Brigid’s 1-13
The goal-scoring sensations of the Mayo championship, Ballintubber, were up to their tricks again yesterday as they dumped 2013 All-Ireland club winners, St Brigid’s, out of the Connacht Championship at the semi-final stage in Castlebar.
The Mayo champions, who had scored 17 goals en route to the county title, had never won a game before in the provincial series.
However, goals from Alan Plunkett, and the O’Connor brothers, Padraic and Cillian, propelled them into an historic Connacht Club final against Galway standard-bearers Corofin in two weeks’ time.
First half strikes from Padraic O’Connor and Plunkett set Ballintubber on their way to victory, while All Star Cillian O’Connor fired in a wonderful goal on 51 minutes to finally break St Brigid’s resistance.
“It was the toughest game of the year,” gasped Ballintubber skipper Jason Gibbons afterwards. “We were always expecting it to be tough, we did a lot of analysis on Brigid’s, but we never expected that sort of pace and intensity from them. It took a lot out of us but goals win games, and that’s what happened today.”
The winners led at half-time 2-4 to 0-7 as they restricted St Brigid’s danger man Frankie Dolan to just one score while Senan Kilbride only managed four points from frees.
However, the Roscommon representatives came roaring back into contention after the restart and were soon level, thanks to a hat-trick of points from 36 year-old Dolan.
Ballintubber replied with a couple of inspirational scores from their own veteran Alan Dillon, before Karol Mannion goaled for St Brigid’s to put them ahead on 44 minutes.
The last quarter was a blur as both teams went all-out in pursuit of a ticket to the Connacht final. The excellent Padraic O’Connor tied the game up less than a minute after Mannion’s goal, and Ballintubber then made their decisive break.
A glorious solo-dummy and point from man of the match Stephen Broderick was followed by a neat score from Alan Plunkett, and Cillian O’Connor then stepped up to beat Brigid’s ’keeper Shane Curran with a piledriver from 20 metres.
Five points up when the dust settled, Ballintubber were not to be denied.
St Brigid’s gave chase again with a string of late scores from Frankie Dolan (2) and Adrian Gleeson, but the Mayo men had the last word with a well-struck free from Cillian O’Connor.
“We know what Corofin are like, we played them in 2011,” recalled Jason Gibbons. “They’re a serious club team, and we have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks. That wasn’t the perfect performance out there.
“This makes my year, captaining my club to a Connacht Club final,” added the Mayo midfielder. “It’s never been done before in Ballintubber, and I can’t wait.”
BALLINTUBBER: B Walsh; M Plunkett, C Hallinan, D Larkin; M Kelly, B Murphy, R O’Connor; J Gibbons, S Broderick (0-1); D Coleman, A Dillon (0-2), D O’Connor; A Plunkett (1-2), C O’Connor (1-3, 2fs), P O’Connor (1-2, ‘45).
Subs: J Geraghty for Kelly (51m); D Summerville for Coleman (53m); P Earley for A Plunkett (57m); R Geraghty for P O’Connor (61m).
ST BRIGID’S: S Curran; R Kelly, D Donnelly, N McInerney; R Stack, I Kilbride, N Grehan; K Mannion (1-0), P Kelly; G Dolan, F Dolan (0-6, 3fs), E Egan; C McHugh, S Kilbride (0-4, 4fs), P Mulvihill (0-1).
Subs: G Cunniffe for Mulvihill (half-time); D Sheehy for Kelly (half-time); A Gleeson (0-1) for McHugh (47); P Mulvihill for Egan (47); D Dolan for G Dolan (59).
Referee: R McBrien (Leitrim)
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