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A big day worth waiting for

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FROM THE ARCHIVES Billy Joe Padden is pictured in action for Belmullet against Ballaghadereen in the 2004 Mayo Intermediate Championship quarter-final at MacHale Park in Castlebar. Pic: Michael Donnelly

Column
Billy Joe Padden

I’VE heard plenty of stories about Belmullet’s last County Senior Final in 1981 (the year I was born), and how, unfortunately, they just weren’t able to get the job done that day.
Throughout my own career with Belmullet, the goal always was to get back to senior football, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that.
That’s why I’m extremely proud of what this team has achieved since they won the Intermediate title three years ago. They’ve shown tremendous growth throughout that whole period.
I’m living up in Newry now so I get to see very few Belmullet games. But from what I have seen this year, if Belmullet are going to beat Knockmore next Sunday it will be from the same template they’ve used so far; they’re going to have to defend well as a unit, play with a lot of physicality and aggression, and a sense of trying to dominate their opponents.
Dominating for Belmullet is being defensively solid, holding on to the ball and having a lot of possession, maybe not necessarily hurting the opposition at all times, but holding on to the ball.
They did it very well against Westport.
That’s something they will need to do against Knockmore, considering the cohesion they have in their forward unit, and players like Kevin McLoughlin who are really good at circulating the ball. Belmullet will have to try and stymie that, and the easiest way to is by holding possession themselves.
By being physical, winning those battles around the middle of the field, and maybe using the ball-playing ability of Shane Nallen as a help in retaining possession in defence.
But a lot of it is going to come down to whether or not Belmullet get a few extra scores out of a few of their forwards. They got a score from Eamon McAndrew off the bench the last day, Owen McHale got a great score, they’re going to need interventions like that at all times.
Obviously, a lot will depend on Ryan O’Donoghue. Everyone knows that, including Knockmore so they are going to put a lot of pressure on him.
I’ve written a lot about Ryan in columns over the last couple of years, and the things I felt he needed to do in order to improve. Watching him in this club championship, I didn’t expect him, at this stage of his career, to show the leadership and the confidence that he has.
What he’s shown for Belmullet suggests that he is going to go on to do it for club and county in the years ahead. He’s shown that he can be relied upon to lead and to perform, and he will need to do it again on Sunday.
So it’s going to be vitally important for Belmullet to get the ball in his hands as often as possible next weekend, and that means he will need to spend as long as possible in the full-forwardline. Although he can make a big impact out he field as well.
Knockmore have experience, cohesion and an all-round team ability that means they will look to play the game at as fast a pace as possible.
In Ballina, on a slower pitch at this time of year, that won’t be as easy as they would like it to be.
It’s set up to be a fascinating tactical battle and I expect Belmullet to leave it all on the field.
That’s all any of us from Belmullet can ask for. I wish them all the best.

3011 MPU

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