Mayo Club Championship
Ballina Stephenites 1-6
THERE were great scenes of celebration as Westport captured their first ever Mayo SFC title after overcoming Ballina Stephenites in an absorbing final at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park in Castlebar on Sunday.
Inspired by a man of the match display from the outstanding Killian Kilkelly, the West Mayo side marked their first appearance in the senior decider since 1991 with a deserved victory.
Kilkelly’s nerveless finish from a penalty in the 43rd minute set Westport on their way to glory and, despite Mayo defender Padraig O’Hora grabbing an equalising goal just seven minutes later, the Stephenites were never able to get ahead again in the closing stages.
Instead it was Westport who powered over the finish line in front with a string of unanswered points from goalkeeper Paddy O’Malley (free), joint captain Niall McManamon and impact substitute Alan Kennedy (2) sealing the deal.
A crowd of 7,187 people turned up to watch a senior final that never opened up and got going but was fiercely competitive and closely-fought.
The contest was also dominated by two well-organised defences.
The teams were level four times in the opening half before Conor McStay nudged Ballina ahead on the stroke of half-time to leave them up by 0-5 to 0-4 at the break.
Killian Kilkelly had been Westport’s main marksman at that stage with three points while Mikey Murray, Evan Regan (2) and Sam Callinan were all on target for the Stephenites.
The game finally came to life midway through the second half when the aforementioned Killian Kilkelly rifled a penalty past two-time All Star winner, David Clarke.
That put Westport 1-5 to 0-5 ahead.
Their lead only lasted seven minutes though as Ballina’s Padraig O’Hora pounced on a loose ball in the Westport square and poked it to the net to level the match for the sixth time.
At that stage a replay looked to be on the cards, but instead Westport got their second wind.
A 55m free from goalkeeper Paddy O’Malley got the ball rolling on 52 minutes before Niall McManamon came raiding from defence to double the Westport lead moments later.
Alan Kennedy then converted a free before the same player fired over an inspirational score in the 61st minute to push the West Mayo lads ahead by 1-9 to 1-5.
There was no way back for Ballina from there, and Westport ended the afternoon with joint captains Oisin McLaughlin and Niall McManamon lifting the Moclair Cup together.
P O’Malley (0-1, 1f); L Tunney, R Brickenden, N McManamon (0-1); L Shevlin, B McDermott, Paul Lambert; L Keegan, B O’Malley; C Dawson, F McDonagh, O McLaughlin; K Keane (0-1), M Moran, K Kilkelly (1-4, 3fs).
Subs used: Pat Lambert for Dawson; A Kennedy (0-2, 1f) for Keane; S Scott for Shevlin; R Geraghty for Kilkelly (inj).
D Clarke; R Tighe, D Tighe, J Doherty; C Boland, P O’Hora (1-0), K Tighe; S Callinan (0-1), F Irwin; D Thornton, C McStay (0-1), J Irwin; M Murray (0-1), E Regan (0-3, 1f), M Birrane.
Subs used: L Doherty for Thornton (inj); N Feeney for Birrane; B Collins for Boland; C Treacy for Murray; Rory Morrin for J Irwin.
Referee: P Lydon (Kiltimagh)