Mayo SFC: Breaffy and Knockmore set up final encounter
Kevin McLoughlin inspires from the back as Knockmore see off Ballina
Westport’s Lee Keegan and Brian O’Malley battle for the ball with Aidan O’Shea of Breaffy during the Mayo SFC semi-final at Elvery’s MacHale Park in Castlebar on Saturday night. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Breaffy and Knockmore will contest the Mayo senior football championship final following two exciting semi-finals played at Elvery’s MacHale Park, Castlebar at the weekend.
Knockmore defeated Ballina by 0-17 to 0-13, while on Saturday Breaffy edged past Westport by 0-15 to 0-13.
Driven by Kevin McLoughlin at the back, Knockmore placed an iron curtain in front of Ballina during the opening half of Sunday’s semi-final.
Knockmore were leading by 0-10 to 0-3 at one stage with McLoughlin and Peter Naughton, who finished with 0-7, very much the dominant players in that opening 20 minutes.
The other problem for Ballina was Evan Regan’s curtailment as he was well marked by Alan Stadler. Ballina did hit two late points thanks to Evan Regan (free and a ’45) while Seán Regan and Simon Leonard (two) hit the target earlier but Ballina were in trouble and fortunate to be only trailing by six at the break- 0-11 to 0-5. David Clarke also came to the rescue on one occasion, while Peter Naughton was adjudged to be in the square when he found the net.
Ballina battled back gamely and had the margin back to three points when they lost midfielder Mike Murray on a black card for the last 10 minutes of the game but Aiden Orme, who a had a superb second half nailing four points, landed the insurance point in injury time.
In the other semi-final played on Saturday a magnificent seven from Longford man Colm Flynn was the key to Breaffy’s conquest of Westport, a team they crashed to in the group stages of the championship.
Even without Séamus O’Shea (his wife Lorna went into labour on Saturday and gave birth to a baby girl) and with his brother Aidan being well policed by his county colleague, Lee Keegan, Breaffy still always had the edge, especially in the opening 10 minutes when they reeled off five points without reply.
Westport emerged from their slumber to reel off four of the own and trail by just three at the break – 0-8 to 0-5.
However, Flynn, who was imperious from play and from frees, picked off two more scores early in the second half, including one from play as Breaffy forged ahead again by four.
Colm Moran produced some superb scores to get Westport back within touching distance but Killian Kilkelly, who had been superb all season, had an off night on his free-taking and it was points from Tom O’Reilly, Pat Lambert and Gareth Ruane who put the seal on a fully deserved victory for Peter Ford’s charges who are now within touching distance of their first ever county senior title.