Mayo Intermediate Championship
IF they’re to win the Mayo Intermediate Football Championship, they’ll do it after playing three games in seven days. But Westport have given themselves a shot at winning the James Sweeney Cup, seeing off Shrule/Glencorrib at the second attempt in the semi-final replay at MacHale Park, Castlebar on Wednesday evening.
The South Mayo side introduced Conor Mortimer as a second-half substitute, but ultimately a first-half goal from midfielder Shane Scott proved crucial as Westport recovered from a terrible start.
“So far, job done,” Westport full-back Kevin Keane told The Mayo News. “That’s the way we’re looking at it ... Obviously, two games in four days is hard going. There’s a lot of tired bodies out there at the minute. But look, it’s just about getting over the line here. It’s one more step.”
Mortimer didn’t start for Shrule/Glencorrib, but the border boys flew out of the blocks and led by 0-5 to 0-0 after 14 minutes. Stephen Mullin kicked two decent points from play – the first a long-range effort, the second after a pass from David ‘Roundy’ Geraghty, who started at midfield. Mark Ronaldson weighed in with three frees and Jarlath Jennings’s side were flying.
Westport needed something special to get back into contention, and it came with a 16th minute goal from Shane Scott. The Covies turned the ball over, and Keelan Dever and James Walsh both played their part before the midfielder slammed the ball low into the right-hand corner of the net.
That was the kick-start Damien Loftus’s side needed. Lewis Cawley fired over a decent point from play, and then converted three frees to leave the West Mayo side two ahead at the break, 1-4 to 0-5.
Two early second-half points from Cawley (free) and Pat Lambert gave Westport a four-point cushion before Mortimer’s introduction prompted a huge roar. The former county player, whose transfer from Parnells was sanctioned last Saturday, kicked a fine point from play seven minutes after his introduction, and another Ronaldson free cut the gap to two.
Westport had goal chances in the space of a minute, but neither Fionn McDonagh nor Lewis Cawley were able to find the net. Cawley ended an 18-minute scoring drought, swapping frees with Ronaldson, who added another after Westport sub Liam Staunton landed a monster. Another replacement, Oisín McLaughlin, got what proved to the game’s final score, and the West Mayo men now take on Kiltimagh at 5pm next Saturday in MacHale Park, Castlebar. Winning the title is, Kevin Keane agrees, ‘a big ask’ given their congested schedule, but he promises they’ll give the final one hell of a shot.
“We’re looking for games all year as club players, and we’re waiting a long time, so we shouldn’t be complaining,” he said. “But at the same time ... three games in seven days takes a lot out of the body. So at this stage, it’s about getting the recovery in, prepare ourselves for Saturday. And look, we’ve a young squad there, well able to go at it again, and no doubt, we won’t be found wanting anyway.”
P O’Malley; L Ketterick, K Keane, N McManamon; K Dever, L Keegan, J Walsh; B McDermott, S Scott (1-0); F McDonagh, P Keegan, C Higgins; C Moran, P Lambert (0-1), L Cawley (0-6, 5f).
Subs used: L Staunton (0-1) for C Higgins (18 mins); D Horan for P Lambert (53 mins); R Geraghty for C Moran (57 mins); O McLaughlin (0-1) for F McDonagh (61 mins); B O’Malley for B McDermott (61 mins).
G Hennelly; D McTigue, J O’Dowd, R Walsh; N Sheridan, J Naughton, C O’Dowd; D Geraghty, A Moran; C Hoverty, M Ronaldson (0-6, 6f), S Mellett; N McGhee, K Walsh, S Mullin (0-2).
Subs used: C Bohan for S Mellett (h-t, inj); C Mortimer (0-1) for N McGhee (35 mins); B Ryan for K Walsh (35 mins); E Cawley for C Hoverty (53 mins); E Hennelly for S Mullin (58 mins).
Referee: R Gurren (Aghamore)