CLONBUR, comforted by two goals in the opening quarter, sailed past Ballivor of Meath in the All-Ireland junior football club semi final at Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday. It was a day to remember for the North Connemara club that straddles the Mayo border and now all eyes are on Croke Park and a showdown with Derrytresk from Tyrone on Sunday, February 12.
A large contingent of supporters made their way through the winding roads to Carrick to support the boys in blue and white. On a crisp and dry January day in lovely Leitrim, they banked memories to treasure on this memorable journey.
Both sides created some early chances before Clonbur got the crucial break seven minutes into the game. A well-worked move featuring Liam Diskin, Alan Kyne, Pat Lambe and Brian Keane was finished to the net by Keane, a nice finish after a sublime attack.
It had an immediate bearing on the trend of the game. Eoin Joyce, son of former Galway star, Stephen Joyce, the current manager of Clonbur, posted a terrific point from out the field. And the dance got even better for Clonbur.
Pat Lambe, bearing down on goal, blasted for the net but Ballivor goalie Kevin McKeown was equal to the challenge, pulling off a terrific save. Trevor Lydon swivelled on the rebound but again there was no way through. The ball broke free to Walter Holleran and he booted it low and hard to the net. Clonbur were on the high ground now and in no mood to concede territory.
Only two further scores were recorded in the first half, pointed frees at either end by Adam Gannon for Ballivor and Eoin Joyce for Clonbur leaving the Connacht men ahead by 2-2 to 0-1 at the interval.
Clonbur had good reason to be content with their first half display. Trevor Lydon, a Mayo man on the team (he comes from Finney), was lording it in the defence where Declan Kyne and Gerry Kyne, who lined out in the No 13 jersey, but was deployed to rearguard duty, were doing serious work along with their colleagues in cutting off the Ballivor approaches.
The work-rate of Eamon Ó Cuív and Alan Kyne was highly significant too.
Ballivor needed an early score to lift morale on the resumption. But they received a killer-blow after just two minutes when Ó Cuív ran on to a pass from Pat Lambe and raced through to shoot a terrific goal just under the Ballivor crossbar. This was the goal of the game and moved Clonbur ten clear. Eoin Joyce tagged on a point from a free.
The Meath side somehow managed to dig deep and, for the first time in the encounter, began to enjoy a period of dominance. Defender Killian Canavan rounded off a fine move when popping over a neat point and Joe McLoughlin landed another a minute later. But some poor shooting was to cost them dearly.
Pat Lambe fisted a point for Clonbur midway through the half.
The final quarter yielded not a single score for either side even though, it must be said, the bulk of the chances fell to Ballivor as they came forward in waves, twice hitting the crossbar and having a few other near misses.
However, there was no denying the right of Clonbur to progress to the final. Under the guidance of Stephen Joyce, Padraig Carney and Micheal Philbin, they had prepared diligently for this showdown, having narrowly survived the strong challenge of Islandeady in the Connacht final.
Goalkeeper Paraic Walsh exuded confidence and did not put a foot wrong from start to finish. Trevor Lydon, Liam Diskin, Declan Kyne, David Wallace and the roving Gerry Kyne excelled in defence. Eamon Ó Cuív and Alan Kyne dominated centre-field with Ó Cuív rounding off a fine display with a class goal.
Pat Lambe brought his experience to bear on the attack with some lovely inter-linking play and distribution. Eoin Joyce, Brian Keane, Liam Kearney and Walter Holleran all did their part in steering Clonbur to a historic final.
They and Davitts now carry the western hopes to Croke Park in February. Hopes are high that they can make it a double. The talent is certainly there to bring it all back home.
P Walsh; L Diskin, D Kyne, S Holleran; D Wallace, T Lydon, F Kinneavy; A Kyne, E O Cuiv (1-0); L Kearney, P Lambe (0-1), W Holleran (1-0); G Kyne, B Keane (1-0), E Joyce (0-3, 2f).
Sub: S O’Donnell for S Holleran (56”), D O’Donnell for L Kearney (59”).
K McKeown; D Raleigh, T Fox, B McLoughlin; K Canavan (0-1), S Heavey, S Corrigan; N Kirby, B Perry; P Geoghegan, J McLoughlin (0-1), C Keegan; F McMahon, M Doran, A Gannon (0-1f).
Subs: R Sherrock for F McMahon, K Keoghan for A Gannon, P Kelly for J McLoughlin, T Raleigh for S Corrigan.
Referee: S McLoughlin (Donegal)