Gary Loftus stays a step ahead. Photo: M. Donnelly.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010 09:12
Claremorris walked into an ambush in Clogher on Sunday evening where Ballintubber gave them the red carpet treatment and then mugged them midway through the first half of this final round.
The victory sends Ballintubber into the quarterfinals as group winners but manager James Horan will wonder was it all as good as the final scoreline suggests.
As a neutral scribe, I think not, Claremorris not doing themselves any favours by some poor finishing and atrocious defending.
However, the winners were a mile ahead of their opponents in a game that changed dramatically in an amazing three-minute spell in the first half when Ballintubber scored three goals, two coming from defenders John Feeney and Gary Loftus as a few of the Claremorris sentries went missing from their posts.
Sandwiched between both was a fine effort from Padraig O'Connor and this game was put to bed by half time as Ballintubber took a commanding 3-4 to 0-2 lead with them to the dressingroom.
It was Ballintubber who dictated terms from the very start, Cillian O'Connor picking up Declan Larkin's effort that came off the post and then sending Ballintubber two points clear after seven minutes,
Liam Feeley, always playing with his heart on his sleeve, got Claremorris off the mark on 10 minutes with a terrific point but it really all ended there for the south Mayo side, which was getting no change from Ballintubber's well-organised defence.
Jason Gibbons had Ballintubber's third point before the first of three rapid goals arrived between the 17th and 20th minutes.
It was created by Cathal Hallinan who raided down the middle only to spot John Feeney unmarked on the edge of the square and Feeney, with time and space, finished in style.
Two minutes later Cillian O'Connor found his older brother Padraig on the edge of the square and he bagged Ballintubber's second goal,
A minute later Alan Dillon linked up with Gary Loftus and the corner back ran like an express train unimpeded. As the space opened up in front of him so too did an inviting goalmouth, and a third goal was scored much to the delight of the large home support.
Alvin McCallig retrieved a morsel from a '45 for Claremorris but the home side finished with fine points from Padraig O'Connor to lead 3-4 to 0-2 at the break
An early point from Alan Healy proved to be a false dawn for Claremorris as the quality of the football deteriorated, Ballintubber perhaps losing interest.
However, one man who never put down his shovel was Alan Dillon, two rapid points removing any doubt, not that there was every any, about the outcome as we entered a 15-minute barren spell.
Claremorris did have their chance of a badly needed goal when Shane Prendergast ran onto a superb pass from Thomas Griffin but his goal-bound effort was cleared off the line by a Ballintubber defence who hassled and harried their opponents al day.
Shane Meehan's free was the only other return for Claremorris in that second half as back-to-back points from Alan Dillon and a goal from the same player just on the 60-minute mark sent the 'Tubber into the quarterfinals as serious contenders for honours this season.
Scorers for Ballintubber: A. Dillon 1-5, P. O'Connor 1-2, J. Feeney and G. Loftus 1-0 each, C. O'Connor 0-2, D. Geraghty and D. Coleman 0-1 each.
Scorers for Claremorris: L. Feeley, A. Healy, A. McCallig and S. Meehan 0-1 each.
Ballintubber: N. Gibbons, G. Loftus, C. Hallinan, P. Earley, D. Loftus, J. Feeney, R. O'Connor, D. Geraghty, J. Gibbons, G. Dillon, A. Dillon, D. Coleman, M. Nestor, P. O'Connor, C. O'Connor.
Subs used: K. McGuinness for C. O'Connor, J. Duffy for P. O'Connor.
Claremorris: A. McCallig, B. Fahy, P. Nevin, J. Griffith, S. Walsh, J. Boyle, A. Feeley, B. Gallagher, D. Egan, L. Feeley, S. Prendergast, T. Griffin, C. Griffith, A. Healy, (?).
Subs used: P. Ring for P. Nevin, S. Meehan for S. Prendergast, D. Feeley for T. Griffin.
Referee: V. Neary (Bonniconlon).
Man of the match: Alan Dillon...still a class act and the man who pulls the strings for Ballintubber.