Ballintubber justify our faith

You heard it here first – Ballintubber for the Moclair Cup. We said it here a number of weeks back and their heavy defeat of Claremorris vindicates our judgement for now. So we’ll soak up the satisfying air of being right for a chance. Well, for now, they’ve won nothing yet.

But my sources tell me they were in a different league against an admittedly disappointing Claremorris side. They even managed to play more than a half without Alan Dillon who was harshly sent off, it would seem.

Certainly James Horan seems to have his team playing with chuthpaz this year and Ballintubber have the talent to do damage. Jason Gibbons looks like the man at midfield and, apart from Dillon, Padraig O’Connor, Damien Coleman and Damien McGing are marquee forwards.

 But what of Claremorris? If there was one thing we got wrong it was that the Ballintubber v Claremorris game would be close. Claremorris blew up completely on the night. Gary Mullins was a loss while his brother Mickey picked up an early injury.

But they appear to have been bettered all over the field. We’ll really see what they’re made of in how they bounce back from this.

As for other results well Breaffy matched or even surpassed Claremorris with their abject display against Ballaghaderreen. A 4-12 to 1-3 defeat caught everyone by surprise. Breaffy may have lost their first five league games but they drew with Ballagh’ in championship last year and were only narrowly beaten by Crossmolina in the quarter-final.

Presumably they  would be able to lift it for championship. Apparently not. Even with the O’Shea brothers, Aidan and Seamus, Marty McNicholas and Alan Durcan in their ranks, they were destroyed.

TIALTNGO picked the north Mayo derby between Knockmore and Crossmolina for his championship entertainment and while there might be better games of football all year, the excitement and drama was there by the bucketful.

Crossmolina went into the game without their talisman Ciaran McDonald with a knee injury. But the talking point afterwards was the loss of Knockmore’s talisman for altogether different reasons.

Kevin O’Neill’s return to the Knockmore colours was a massive boost but they lost him in the first half to a red card which owed as much to ‘simulation’ on Crossmolina’s behalf as any wrongdoing on O’Neill’s behalf. In fact it owed most to Crossmolina ‘simulation’ with Mark Leonard making a meal of the challenge from O’Neill. Apparent use of the elbow was the reason but we had a good view of the incident and there was very minimal contact.

Not that Crossmolina were the only team guilty of ‘simulation’. Trevor Howley is known as a tough man but we didn’t like the way he went down after a light slap to the face. It was remarkably similar to Aidan O’Mahony’s action after Donncha O’Connor’s ‘contact’ in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final between Kerry and Cork.

But back to the football. There was a great intensity to the game. James Nallen and Aidan Kilcoyne had a great duel and it was a night when Kilcoyne could have scored 12 points if his radar was tuned to the right frequency. But he was off target as often as on target but when Knockmore, with only 14 men, needed him late on he kicked two crucial points and Peter Clarke came up trumps with the equaliser.

We can’t leave without applauding Kevin McLoughlin’s first half goal. Running forty yards with the ball, McLoughlin jinked around Tom Nallen and sent a wonderful effort to the top-corner of Colm Reilly’s goal.

We were not able to preview all of the Intermediate championship due to time constraints and also we have not been able to follow the fortunes of every Intermediate team but ahead of the next round we’ll have a more detailed look.

An interesting championship awaits but we’ve a sneaking suspicion for Achill. What odds Ballintubber, Achill and Parke bringing the three adult titles to West Mayo? We think it’s a good possibility.

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