U14 Boys Gaelic Football – West Mayo ‘B’ Final
Thursday, 14th July, 2016.
St Patrick’s GAA Park, Westport was the venue for this West Mayo B Final, between Kilmeena and Ballintubber.
Throw-in was set for 8pm and as is typical for the West of Ireland in mid-July (otherwise referred to as summer-time…….), the weather was overcast with light rain and drizzle.
However, not even the weather could detract from the spectacle that unfolded over the next hour and a quarter, in front of the large contingent of supporters present, for both teams. The (GAA) slogan says ‘To Be There…..’ and yes, to appreciate the wildly fluctuating fortunes of each team during the hour long contest, you just had ‘to be there……’
As soon as Mel Kenny threw the ball in (8.10pm), the game took on a blistering pace. Kilmeena dominated the first 10 minutes, scoring 1 – 2 to a goal for Ballintubber.
However, Ballintubber steadied the ship, started wining primary possession and the lion’s share of breaking ball, which allowed them to run at Kilmeena and score at will. Whilst Kilmeena battled on and scored some hard earned points, the Ballintubber dominance continued for the remainder of the first half; a period in which they put a further 5 goals in the back of the Kilmeena net.
The Ref blew for half time and with a scoreline of 6 – 5 to 1 – 7 in favour of Ballintubber, it looked like ‘game over’, with Kilmeena resigned to play out the remainder of this contest ‘for pride of the jersey’…………. As the Kilmeena lads headed to the dugout (on the opposite side to the stand), the Ballintubber lads (with a pep in their step…….) headed to the comforts of the dressing rooms. Perhaps (in hindsight) this was a defining moment – who knows….???
What I do know is that every Kilmeena player and squad member present at that sideline dugout resolved to go back out onto the pitch and play to their potential - as we (management) knew they could…………..
Right from the second half throw-in, Kilmeena got down to business, wining primary possession and breaks in the middle third and driving at Ballintubber. After ten minutes of play, Kilmeena had scored 4 points - Ballintubber had netted their 7th Goal of the game plus a point in this opening period of the second half.
However, with Kilmeena now dominating possession and driving at the opposition, the ladscould sense the change of momentum in their favour and driven on by the relentless workrate of Mikey Hastings (midfield) and the runs from wing back of Ian Murphy, feeding ball to Kian Moore (up front), the scores began to clock up – 4 Goals and two points in this 10 minute spell. The more the second half wore on the greater the intensity of the play – the gap now down to a few points with less than 10 minutes to go………… Then in one of their rare forays into Kilmeena territory in the second half, Ballintubber netted their eight goal of the game. Game over…??? Not on your life……….
Back down the pitch and another superb point from Kilmeena. From the Ballintubber kickouts, Kilmeena won possession again and again and drove on scoring another goal (5th of evening) and 3 points. In between Ballintubber responded with points. The contest was frantic…….
With time almost up and the contest tied (although nobody quite knew the exact tally at this juncture…………) Chris McGlynn (now operating in the forwards) won possession and kicked a fine point – and ultimately the wining point.
The final whistle and everyone wondered…………..who the victor was. Mel Kenny (Ref) requested a few minutes to double check his scoresheet and the result………………………
Kilmeena: 5 – 18 (33 points) Ballintubber: 8 – 8 (32 points)
The celebrations began……………………
As Managers/Coaches to this bunch of young men, we (Padraig Moore, Michael O’Grady and James Prenty) would like to take this opportunity to say that we are very proud of what the lads have achieved over the past 5 months, culminating in this fantastic victory – West Mayo U14 B Title.
These lads have been a pleasure to work with – skilful, determined, and committed, a hard-working bunch and full of character.
What they have achieved is a just reward for all their efforts and what they have learned will serve them well in their future sporting and personal lives.
(Images courtesy of Angela Campbell)