ALL roads lead to McHale Park, Castlebar next Sunday for the replay of the Mayo Senior Football Championship Final after Peadar Gardiner’s injury-time goal last Sunday earned Crossmolina a dramatic reprieve.
Ballaghaderreen – the 2/1 outsiders before the drawn game – were within touching distance of winning their first Moclair Cup since 1972 when Gardiner flicked in an equalising goal after Ciaran McDonald’s 30m free had been hit like a thunderbolt.
Speaking exclusively to The Mayo News last night, Gardiner admitted that it was just a question of being in the right place at the right time.
“The game was ending and you’re just hoping,” said the Crossmolina captain. “You just get in there around the goal and hope for the best. I was saying to MacD to lob it in but only Ciaran Mac could have a hit a ball like that. I just saw it coming and decided to stick my hand out. I was actually worried that I’d stop it. It was pure luck. The power of the shot took the ball in and I just saw the net shaking.
“We’re relieved to still be in the competition. We should be out, we played poorly. Jimmy [Nallen] and Joe Keane played well but the rest of us were poor to be honest. We just didn’t perform. But we didn’t give up and showed great character.
“You have to give credit to Ballaghaderreen though, they played superbly. They’re all excellent footballers and they have great power and pace. They’re well-organised too.”
MEANWHILE, Ballagh’ trainer, John O’Mahony explained that there were mixed emotions after his team surrendered a three point lead (1-11 to 1-8) at the death. “We’re still in the championship and people will always plump for the experienced team to be in the driving seat now but that’s the way it goes,” he said. “It was a cruel way for the game to finish but it was a cruelness mixed with admiration for Crossmolina’s comeback. We met Monday and we’ll be training on Wednesday and moving from there.”
Next Sunday’s replay will throw in at 1pm with Declan Corcoran appointed as the referee. PW Racing have made Crossmolina the 4/7 favourites with Ballagh’ installed at 6/4. The draw is available at 7/1.
Peadar Gardiner believes that things will be just as close again next weekend. “It could come down to who gets a goal maybe. Both teams are going to go for it, that’s for sure. The rest of the week is about recovery and getting the mind and the body right.”
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