Castlebar Mitchels 4-10 Breaffy 0-9: Three-goal hero Neil Douglas shone for Castlebar as they hammered neighbours Breaffy in the Mayo SFC final but Mitchels’ manager Declan Shaw was most pleased by his side’s airtight defensive display.
A hat-trick for Douglas and excellent performances from Danny Kirby and Richie Feeney saw them past their rivals from the same parish, but it was determined outings at the back from the likes of Ger McDonagh, who curbed the influence of Aidan O’Shea, that proved crucial to yesterday’s victory at Elverys MacHale Park.
“Ger is a massive leader in the club. He is a real good footballer as well, there was only going to be one man to do that job and it was him,” said Shaw.
“Alan Feeney was massive today for us at full-back, the whole defence was solid as well. Bar a goal chance or two in the second half, we were very solid throughout.”
Barry Moran was the recipient of a black card early in the second half for a trip on Aidan O’Shea, but instead of igniting the Breaffy challenge, that propelled Mitchels to finish off the game, as Douglas fired goals in the 42nd and 56th minutes to claim the title.
After a typically tight opening quarter Breaffy led by 0-3 to 0-2 thanks to frees from Tommy O’Reilly, Conor O’Shea and goalkeeper Robbie Hennelly, but they never really took advantage of the strong wind that was at their back in the first half.
Their biggest conundrum was where to deploy Aidan O’Shea. He was named at centre-forward, started at midfield and spent short spells in the full-forward line as Breaffy tried best to utilise his talents.
But wherever he went, his shadow McDonagh followed, keeping the county star scoreless over the hour.
After the tight opening, the game swung massively in Mitchels’ favour eight minutes from half-time, when Kirby showed a cool head to finish to the roof of the net.
Four minutes later Richie Feeney sent Douglas charging in on goal and the former Mayo inter-county man hit the first of his three goals for a 2-6 to 0-5 half-time lead.
It looked as if there was no way back for Breaffy at that juncture, and after goal chances for O’Reilly and Matthew Ruane went unclaimed, Douglas wrapped up the win in the closing stages.
He rounded the keeper for his second goal 12 minutes after the restart and four minutes from time the celebrations started when he rattled his third past Hennelly. It was as ruthless and convincing as the scoreline suggests.
“It was a special occasion,” said Shaw. “We were expecting a real tough battle today. We got the lucky, fortunate goal early on and that settled us down and we pushed on from there. You need the bit of luck too on days and we had it today.”
Scorers for Castlebar Mitchels:
N Douglas 3-1; D Kirby 1-3; A Walsh 0-3 (0-3 frees); E O’Reilly, R Feeney & J Durcan 0-1 each.
Scores for Breaffy:
C O’Shea 0-4 (0-2 frees); R Hennelly & T O’Reilly 0-1 (0-1 frees) each, S O’Shea, G Walsh & P Dravins 0-1 each.
R Byrne (capt); A Feeney, R O’Malley, D Newcombe; P Durcan, E O’Reilly, G McDonagh; A Walsh, B Moran; S Hopkins, N Lydon, N Douglas; T Cunniffe, R Feeney, D Kirby.
J Durcan for R Feeney (24-26 mins, blood), J Durcan for Moran (36 mins, BC), C Costello for Hopkins (43 mins), F Durkin for Lydon (45 mins), R Burke for O’Malley (48 mins), S Conlon for Newcombe (57 mins), M Towey for R Feeney (61 mins).
R Hennelly; C Jordan, M Jennings, M Hall; R Martyn, C Kelly, D Gavin; R Fadden, S O’Shea; C O’Shea, A O’Shea (capt), K Mulchrone; G Dunne, G Walsh, T O’Reilly.
M Ruane for Dunne (27 mins), D Cannon for Kelly (38 mins), L Irwin for Walsh (43 mins), G Jennings for Mulchrone (43 mins), P Dravins for Fadden (50 mins), D Morrin for Martyn (56 mins).
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