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Knockmore used experience wisely


UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL Belmullet's Ryan O Donoghue and Knockmore's David McHale face off during the Mayo SFC Final. Pic: Conor McKeown

Billy Joe Padden

ON the long drive home from Ballina last Sunday evening I thought a lot about where the two clubs that contested last Sunday’s County Senior Final have come from and where they will want to go from here.
Firstly, congratulations to Knockmore, they were worthy winners on the day. Belmullet will have regrets and be disappointed about how they played in the first half, but they never threw in the towel and played some good football to make a game of it midway through the second half. But Knockmore’s experience proved vital in the last quarter and they made it count.
Knockmore have the qualities that most really good club sides have had over the last number of years. They might not have lots of stand-out stars and inter-county players, but they have a good panel, and a clear system of playing that suits 23 or 24 players.
Plus, Kevin McLoughlin, their most prominent inter-county player, his greatest attribute is facilitating other players. That is something that’s a key part of their success.
Knockmore will be delighted and relieved to retain the title. And you can be sure that they’re already thinking about a run in the Connacht club championship. With Corofin being beaten in Galway, they can now really focus on that.
I think it’s important for them to go as deep into the provincial championship as they can in order to continue to develop. Because if they want to continue to be a powerhouse of Mayo football they have to keep improving and raising the bar.
From a Belmullet point of view, they’ve had a season to remember.
The work that Damien Mulligan, Anthony Mills and Eamon Dixon have put in over the last four years has been brilliant, and Peadar Gardiner was a huge addition to the management team this year.
It changed the culture of the team and the perception of Belmullet as a club, and a huge amount of that is down to Damien and Eamon, in particular.
I think this young team has the potential to improve and get better; lads like James Kelly, Owen McHale, Shea O’Donoghue are young and have a huge amount to contribute.
I just hope that they can see more growth in this team and that they continue on with it.
I know from experience that a lot of lads have to travel huge distances to play football with Belmullet so it’s vital that the management team. and the players, ensure that they continue to strive to get better.
In terms of the game itself, everybody knew that Belmullet needed Ryan O’Donoghue to have a big game if they were going to win, and I felt some sympathy for him on Sunday.
Knockmore had obviously done their homework and I thought that their approach in terms of the sweeper, Kieran King, and the pressure they put on the ball-carriers out the field, the lads trying to deliver ball into Ryan, was very, very good. So I felt sorry for him.
He was fouled for a few frees, I thought he was unlucky not to get a few more, and he didn’t get the sort of goal opportunities that he thrives on.
I thought he forced the one he had in the first half a little, maybe if he had that chance back again he’d have tapped it over the bar.
I’m sure he felt frustrated himself last Sunday that he didn’t get more ball in his hands inside the ‘45 and inside the danger area. But he continued to work and make runs and try all day, and that’s testament to his character.
I’ve no doubt though that Belmullet supporters will feel sympathy for how things went for him because of the way that Knockmore set up. All of us in Belmullet are very proud of what he’s achieved for club and county in the last few years, and he’s going to be a big force for both of those teams in the years to come.


3011 MPU

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