SFC GROUP 1
THE most dramatic of endings in second half injury time earned a last-gasp win for Westport to secure their senior championship status for 2012 and consign Garrymore to a play-off to avoid the drop.
With only seconds remaining the visitors trailed by a point. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and up stepped the imperious Lee Keegan.
Westport’s wing-back cut in along the end line and unleashed a right-footed effort from an impossible angle which somehow looped over Garrymore goalkeeper Morven Connolly and nestled in the far top corner of the net.
This crucial affair was evenly balanced throughout; Garrymore were on top during the opening quarter but their visitors hit back in the second quarter, outscoring Garry’ by 1-4 to 0-2.
Tomás Tierney’s new-look team (which included Kevin Keane after his return from the USA) continued that dominance after the interval.
However, in the final quarter Garrymore rallied, went up a couple of gears, and rattled off five unanswered points as they made their break for the line.
One moment of lapsed concentration at the back though cost them dearly.
The West Mayo side also scored first with the tireless Eugene O’Toole winning the throw-in and powering forward to set up Damien Keane for a point.
Garrymore hit back immediately as Enda Varley was fouled and chipped over the free himself to level matters. Minutes later the same player won another high centre, turned brilliantly, and popped over Garry’s first point from play.
Varley, who looked very dangerous early on, then turned supplier as Shane Nally scored his first of the evening and a Jimmy Killeen free edged the locals ahead by 0-4 to 0-1.
Westport, inspired by Keegan in the half back line, finally got going.
The Mayo panellist popped over a point, before Eugene O’Toole, after a lung-bursting run, added the second. From the resulting kick-out, the experienced PJ Foy levelled matters on 27 minutes.
Shane Nally and Damien Keane (from a placed ball) swapped scores before a Varley free gave Garrymore the lead once more.
It was short-lived, however as Foy fed Shane Geraghty and the half-forward galloped through the centre before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the corner of Connolly’s net. That score meant the visitors led by 1-5 to 0-6 at the interval.
Jimmy Killeen and Damien Keane (who had a fine second half) swapped frees at the start of the second half.
Westport’s free-taker then added another free, from the sideline, before Lee Keegan powered forward once more for his second point, from way out on the right sideline.
The visitors were now ahead by 1-8 to 0-7.
But, credit to Garrymore, they didn’t panic. Substitutes David Dolan and Myles Fallon made an impact and they chipped away at the deficit.
Shane Nally added his third score after a patient build-up and Enda Varley finished off a fine team score which involved Dolan, Martin Maloney and Trevor Nally.
Corner back Maloney also chipped over a point himself and Mark Tierney and Killeen added frees to put Garrymore ahead by one with only minutes remaining.
However, instead of closing the game out, John Nally’s side were very lacklustre in defence and a moment of weariness saw the ball turned over.
Lee Keegan finished brilliantly to put Westport two points clear and, while Garrymore had one last attack, Enda Varley’s goalbound effort was bravely blocked.
And that was that.
M Connolly; M Maloney (0-1), A Reilly, J Varley; D Henry, T Corcoran, K Cunningham; B Cunningham, C Crowe, J Killeen (0-3, 3fs), A Cunningham, M Hyland; S Nally (0-3), E Varley (0-4, 2f), M Tierney (0-1, 1f).
Subs used: T Nally for Henry; D Dolan for Cunningham; M Fallon for Hyland.
T Higgins; D Keane, K Keane, L Ketterick; L Joyce, J McHale, L Keegan (1-2); E O’Toole (0-1), S Scott; PJ Foy (0-1), S Geraghty (1-0), D Horan; B Mullen, S Broderick, D Keane (0-4, 3fs).
Subs used: R Connolly for Mullen (inj); G Keane for Geraghty.
Referee: R Gurren (Aghamore)