Cillian O’Connor applies finishing touch as Ballintubber move into Connacht final

Mayo champions see off St Brigid’s of Roscommon in entertaining semi-final

St Brigid’s goalkeeper Shane Curran with Cillian O’Connor of Ballintubber. Photograph: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

St Brigid’s goalkeeper Shane Curran with Cillian O’Connor of Ballintubber. Photograph: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

 

All Star Cillian O’Connor buried the hopes of St Brigid’s, Roscommon with a stunning goal, nine minutes from time, to put Mayo champions Ballintubber into their first ever senior provincial final.

In a lively and entertaining semi-final at MacHale Park, Castlebar, yesterday, it looked at one stage as if the Roscommon champions would atone for last year’s final defeat to Castlebar Mitchels.

They had started poorly. Defensive frailties proved costly for St Brigid’s as they were twice opened up by Ballintubber early on. Padraic O’Connor netted on 14 minutes and Alan Plunkett did the same just 10 minutes later.

The second was a cracking finish that rounded off a sweeping move. It was a significant score as St Brigid’s had closed to within point, having trailed by three at one stage.

Massive point

Frankie DolanKarol Mannion

But St Brigid’s wiped out that three-point deficit in as many minutes early in the second half, with all three scores coming from Dolan, including two from frees.

Mayo footballer Alan Dillon responded for Ballintubber with back-to-back points, but a superb move from St Brigid’s set this game on fire 14 minutes into the second half, Mannion finishing to the net to put St Brigid’s one point ahead (2-6 to 1-10).

Padraic O’Connor, one of four from the O’Connor family on duty, found the target to equalise for Ballintubber, and they kicked on to lead by two thanks to Stephen Broderick and Plunkett.

Cillian O’Connor then stuck again, finding the net with a rocket to extend the gap to five.

Known for their battling qualities, St Brigid’s never relented and in fact had it back to two points before Cillian O’Connor’s injury-time free finally put the seal on a win for the Mayo champions.

It was their first in the Connaught series having twice been beaten in the first round in their last two attempts.

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