THE final whistle gave full confirmation to something we were fairly certain of fifteen minutes earlier. Killala’s dream of winning an All-Ireland Junior title this year is over.
They had led by three points at half-time; Lorcan Brennan’s sixth minute goal the difference at the short whistle. But it was Greencastle who progressed on the resumption while Killala literally stalled, failing to score at all in the second period.
Their opponents were superb after the restart and three points in as many minutes around the three quarter mark pushed them from one behind to two in front. The sense that Killala were spent proved accurate.
The final analysis will centre on this inability to score in the second half and what Killala will realise is that time after time they ran up cul de sacs. Granted, Greencastle got men behind the ball, but all too often the Killala man ran into the tackle rather than trying to find a man in space. Lack of movement was also an issue.
Greencastle were the antithesis of this in the second half. The bare stats will show that eight of their scores can from frees but few were poorly conceded; most of the fouls committed for these frees would have resulted in a point or even a goal from play regardless as they frequently had Killala on the run. They were physically stronger than the Mayo representatives and exercised superb control defensively.
They identified Killala’s key men fairly quickly and Martin Farrell and the Hannicks were unable to thrive as they would have liked. Unfortunately, nobody else was able to pick up the slack in attack.
It had looked very good early on as Killala played with the aid of the fresh breeze sweeping towards the town goal. The near flawless Terry McDermott had Greencastle in front from a free after two minutes but a fine long range strike from Marcus Hannick settled Killala and they got an even better tonic on six minutes with the game’s only goal.
Rory Hannick’s left-footed strike from distance was ambitious but it carried enough to present Greencastle ‘keeper Collie Tuohey with a problem. The ball rebounded off the bar where vigilant wing-back Lorcan Brennan had been cute enough to chase after the shot and he fisted to the net.
Killala struggled in the early stages at midfield where the gigantic midfield duo of Enda Clarke and Patrick Keenan had Noel Ryan and Marcus Hannick in bother. Slowly though the Killala lads literally rose to the challenge and spoiled the aerial duels to notable effect.
Keenan and McDermott (free) both pointed after the goal but Killala, undaunted, scored three in a row themselves courtesy of Marcus Hannick (free) and two fine efforts from his brother Rory.
A fine long-range free from McDermott and a good score from Kevin Ferrity reduced the gap to two and they had brought centre-half-back Conor Carson back to limit Rory Hannick’s influence. However, he escaped from the shackles on 30 minutes to point and give his side a three point lead at the break.
An early score might have settled Killala in the second half but the longer they went without one, the more they suffered. Greencastle prospered. Terry McDermott pointed a superb free from 50 metres to bring the gap to two after which Killala had their best chance of the half.
Martin Farrell got in on goal from the left side and while hindsight might suggest a safe point would have been the best option, he saw a chance to put Killala out of sight. Goalkeeper Collie Tuohey was equal to his effort however, producing a fine save.
While the midfield duo of Clarke and Keenan had been limited in the first half, they were immense in the second period. Barry Tracey left one between the sides on 39 minutes before the Tyrone champions hit those key three points in as many minutes. McDermott hit the equaliser from the right side and the lead score was a dagger through Killala hearts. Vinny McGuire didn’t appear to have fouled in a scoreable position when he was penalised on the left sideline 40 metres from the endline.
But Tracey’s aim was in and he hoisted over a magnificent free. He pointed again within sixty seconds and Killala were now playing catch-up. Rory and Marcus Hannick switched in a bid to restore parity around midfield, where Noel Ryan was working himself to a standstill.
Greencastle were dominating too many positions though and, despite the heroics of their best players, full-back Karl Dooher and centre-half back Jerome Farrell, they failed to realistically threaten. Marcus Hannick was unfortunate to see a free taken off the crossbar by Enda Clarke while at the other end influential substitute Plunkett McAleer and Tracey pointed to leave four in it.
It could have been more had Darren Walsh not smartly blocked a goal chance from Emmett Clarke. The final whistle signalled despair for Killala but if there is one silver lining from this year it is that their defeat in the Mayo final means they are Junior again for the coming season. Don’t rule out another assault on the All-Ireland.
D Walsh; D McGuire, K Dooher, M Dooher; G Ferguson, J Farrell, L Brennan (1-0); M Hannick (0-2, 1f), N Ryan; D Lowther, M Farrell, V McGuire; B Garvan, R Hannick (0-3), K White. Subs: P Bilbow for Lowther; E Clarke for Garvan.
C Tuohey; R McDermott, M Conway, D O’Hagan; M Conway, C Carson, R Conway; Enda Clarke, P Keenan (0-1); K Ferrity (0-1), G McCullagh, B McNulty; B Devlin, T McDermott (0-5, 5fs), B Tracey (0-4, 3fs).
Subs: P McAleer (0-1) for McCullagh; Emmett Clarke for Ferrity; B McGarvey for O’Hagan; Edan Clarke for Devlin.
Referee: D Fahy (Longford).