HITTING THE HEIGHTS Shrule/ Glencorrib’s Kieran Conroy takes to the air during the County Divisional Cup Final last Sunday while Ballintubber’s Alan Dillon awaits developments. Pic: Michael Donnelly
Great gael honoured by cup final
IT came late but Shrule/Glencorrib will be no less grateful. With a swagger that has been missing from much of their season, the border men made a bit of history by capturing the Dr Billy Kenny Cup at McHale Park on Sunday.
It is a new competition for a new trophy played among the holders of the O’Mara Cup, Kelly Cup, North Mayo Division Cup and AIB Centenary Cup, and from the semi-finals, Shrule and Ballintubber emerged to contest the final.
It was a contest that will have adorned the memory of the man after whom the Cup is named. Billy Kenny was one of the brightest stars of the 1950s squad that won the Sam Maguire for Mayo. Playing at centre half-forward, Billy broke his leg in the early minutes of the All-Ireland final against Louth and while Mayo went on to win, his loss made it much more difficult.
The late Eamonn Mongey was close to Kenny when the accident happened and said in an interview afterwards that as he left the pitch, Kenny rose from the stretcher with his fist clinched. “We interpreted that as ‘no surrender’ and I suppose it was for him as much for ourselves that we won that match afterwards.”
Sean Flanagan, the captain of the team who died some years ago, said Billy Kenny’s gesture proved his courage and selflessness. “But nothing could compensate for his loss that day. We were all very downcast and depressed to see him go and after that the entire attack failed to function as a line. We made frequent switches but the smoothness and understanding we had shown in our opening spell was lost and we did not score again for thirty-five minutes.”
According to Mayo’s full-back Paddy Prendergast, Billy Kenny was a medical student at the time, and the injury delayed his graduation for a year. After qualifying, Billy and his wife Kay emigrated to Canada where he practised for some years before returning to Ireland where he fell ill and died some years ago. They had four daughters.
Prendergast said Billy Kenny was an outstanding centre half-forward, and as a student at UCG played a leading role in the revival of the Sigerson Cup competition. The injury he received in the All-Ireland cut short a career that had so much more to offer Mayo football.
The Dr Billy Kenny Cup was donated by the Kenny family and presented to Pat Hyland, the captain of the victorious Shrule team on Sunday, by Dr Kenny’s daughter, Roseanne Traynor.
Meanwhile, it was not as easy as the scoreline might tend to suggest, but Islandeady were fully deserving of their promotion play-off victory over Kiltimagh at McHale Park on Sunday. It made up for the disappointment of their defeat by Achill the previous week in the county junior final.
Ten minutes from the end they were locked together at six points apiece and although Islandeady were always the better side, it was still anyone’s game.
The turnaround came when Islandeady were awarded a penalty which Martin Feeney sweetly and professionally tucked away, and from that moment on the winners gave vent to the superiority that had been struggling to achieve all through the match.
Now they have earned a place among the elite teams of the county in Division 1 of the senior league even though they are still tied to junior championship competition. It’s a strange mix, but the experience of the league should stand to them for the championship. It has been a good season for Islandeady.
KEITH HIGGINS is one of those incomparable talents to emerge in Mayo from time to time. Equally adept at football and hurling, the reputation of the young Ballyhaunis man continues to grow.
Having excelled at corner back for Mayo for the past couple of years, his ability was recognised by the Connacht football selectors at left-half back, a position he occupied with distinction, in the Railway Cup semi-final which they lost narrowly to Ulster at Ballybofey.
Last Saturday his hurling skills were given a broader stage when Galway and Connacht manager Ger Loughnane called on Higgins for the second half of the televised Railway Cup final at Croke Park.
He made a big impact under the Croke Park lights, scoring a legitimate goal for the province that was disallowed by the referee for some mysterious reason. The goal would have sent the game into extra time.