BUSY DAY David Hoban
Westport Utd 3
D Hoban 58, D Scahill 61, J Lawless 85
“ARE we Champions League?”
It’s one of the greatest Mayo League one-liners, and was uttered by Ballyglass coach Ryan Connolly in 2013 after a referee insisted that only one person could patrol the technical area at any one time. That phrase came to mind on Saturday evening in Westport, as those who came to the Sports Park had to forego the second half of the Pro 12 final and the first half of the Madrid derby in Milan.
Though it kicked off 45 minutes before the Champions League final, Sergio Ramos had scored before there was a goal in Westport. But we would see three before Yannick Carrasco’s equaliser forced extra-time in in the San Siro. Ultimately, the honours rested with the pre-match favourites in Horkan’s Hill ... but not before they had a scare or two.
The first half failed to produce a goal, thanks in particular to the excellence of Niall Gallagher. The Ballyglass goalkeeper saved with feet and hands to deny Martin Geraghty, Mark MacNally and David Hoban (twice). At the other end, Conor Heneghan volleyed over, JP O’Gorman shot wide at the back post, and Gary Cunningham stopped shots from Heneghan and Liam Hughes.
When play resumed for the second half, Tom Connolly was fuming about the lack of lights in the dressing-room, but the Ballyglass manager had reason to believe the immediate future would be bright for his side. The visitors flew out of the blocks on the restart, and Liam Hughes looked certain to score inside two minutes, but was denied by Gary Cunningham. The United captain also kept out a shot from his former team-mate JP O’Gorman, while Joe Lawless headed against the crossbar at the other end.
The sun over Cunningham’s goal was getting ever more glaring when the Covies hit the front. Westport forced a succession of corners, and from one, David Hoban blasted in the opener after the ball bobbled around the Ballyglass danger area like a pinball.
Three minutes later, Westport had their second goal, as the outstanding Danny Scahill whipped in an effort from the edge of the area, out on the right, which went over Gallagher and into the net. It was a sweet strike, and severely lessened the chance of a Candystriped comeback.
Ballyglass – who beat Westport in the Westaro Cup in April – appealed in vain for a penalty after Liam Hughes tumbled following a tangle with Joe Lawless, while Darren Browne shot over when a third Westport goal looked to be on the cards. Ballyglass sub Seán Fahy went close in a one-on-one situation, but United landed the clincher five minutes from time. It came after a move started and finished by Joe Lawless, and involved contributions from Jack Murphy and Dave Cameron in between. “You not playing offside, Kevin?” Tom Connolly asked assistant referee Kevin Cox, who ruled there had been no infringement.
G Cunningham, J Lawless, J O’Donnell, C Keane, M Geraghty, D Cameron, P Fitzgerald, D Scahill, D Hoban, M MacNally, D Browne.
Subs used: A Mulchrone for D Hoban (61 mins); P Moran for M MacNally (69 mins); J Murphy for D Browne (81 mins).
N Gallagher, D Reilly, P Quinn, K Keane, J Mockus, A Killeen, C Heneghan, K McDonnell, JP O’Gorman, L Hughes, D Broderick.
Subs used: D Murray for A Killeen (65 mins); S Fahy for D Broderick (74 mins); Z Coyne for C Heneghan (90 mins).
Referee: B Blake