SFC GROUP 2
KNOCKMORE catapulted themselves to the top of Group 2 with a storming comeback on Sunday. Ray Dempsey’s men outscored their West Mayo opposition by 1-7 to 1-1 in the last third of the game, and in the process denied Jim O'Shea’s team top spot.
A tempestuous affair ended with three players being sent off in injury time, Aidan O’Shea and Andrew Keane went for second yellows and Michéal Jennings initially got a straight red.
However, referee John Hughes confirmed to The Mayo News yesterday that Jennings’ red card was rescinded to a yellow after he received further information from his officials which suggested Jennings pushed his opponent rather than striking him.
Breaffy were dominant for long stretches but they didn’t make it count on the scoreboard. In the final quarter, Damien Munnelly, Kevin McLoughlin and substitute Kevin O’Neill clicked into gear as Knockmore hit 1-4 without reply in an eight-minute spell.
And although Breaffy drew level through a brilliant Rory Martyn goal in the 55th minute, points from Munnelly and Colm Donnellan clinched victory for the locals.
The opening quarter was forgettable and it took 13 minutes for a white flag to be raised, when Damien Munnelly pointed from a free after David Gavin fouled Colm Donnellan. Peter Dravins opening Breaffy’s account after 17 minutes.
Aidan O’Shea then picked up his first booking for a late challenge on Stephen Sweeney, who earlier had been yellowed for a similar offence on O’Shea.
However, the Mayo star didn’t let the yellow card stifle his game and Breaffy dominated the next 10 minutes. Alan Durcan fired over a free before Matthew Conroy raced on to a lovely Dravins pass to point with his right foot. Dravins then left Gerry Higgins for dead but fired over the bar with the goal gaping.
Knockmore kicked two scores late in the first half, an Aidan Kilcoyne free and a fine Munnelly effort, to leave them 4-3 down at the break.
Strangely, Ray Dempsey decided to deploy Kevin McLoughlin in the full-back line in the first half, but he moved Mayo’s recent goalscoring hero into the forward line after the restart. He also introduced Kevin O’Neill.
However, it was Breaffy that dominated the early second-half exchanges, kicking three points without reply from Conor O’Shea, Matthew Conroy and Alan Durcan.
The two best forwards on view, Munnelly and Conroy, then swapped points, leaving Breaffy 0-8 to 0-4 up with 16 minutes remaining.
However, Trevor Howley was becoming more of an influence, picking up several breaks around the middle and driving Knockmore forward.
Aidan Kilcoyne pointed on 45 minutes and the hosts then bridged the gap with a superb goal from Munnelly, who read Howley’s long ball to perfection and slotted underneath the advancing Robbie Hennelly.
The goal changed the momentum of the game and Knockmore looked the fresher, with points from subs Brian Ruttledge and Kevin O’Neill (two trademark frees) giving them a three-point cushion.
A game full of surprises then took another twist as Aidan O’Shea burst upfield and laid the ball on to Conroy. He fed Rory Martyn, who rifled the ball into the top corner.
However, Knockmore came back down the pitch with Howley feeding O’Neill, who set up Munnelly for another sweet point.
Breaffy had chances to equalise but Durcan and Conroy kicked bad wides and after 62 minutes Colm Donnellan kicked the last score of the game. There was still time for three sendings-off — a hectic end to a hectic hour.
N Canavan; G Higgins, S McHale, K McLoughlin; K Langan, D Sweeney, T Howley; A Keane, S Sweeney; D Munnelly (1-4, 0-1f), J Brogan, B Timlin; C Donnellan (0-1), J Ruddy, A Kilcoyne (0-2, 1f).
Subs used: K O'Neill (0-2, 2f) for Timlin; B Ruttledge (0-1) for S Sweeney; A Stadler for Ruddy.
R Hennelly; K Scahill, D Gavin, C Jordan; G Jennings, M Jennings, B Jordan; S O’Shea, A O’Shea; R Martyn (1-0), C Lyons, M Conroy (0-3); C O’Shea (0-1), P Dravins (0-2), A Durcan (0-2, 1f).
Subs used: R Conway for C O'Shea; P Curry for Lyons.
Referee: J Hughes (Kilmaine)