St. Colmcille's, Meath 3-08
THE players and management of Westport GAA Club are being feted in the town tonight after capturing the All-Ireland intermediate football championship title following a thrilling victory over Meath and Leinster champions St. Colmcille's at Croke Park.
While the scoreline might suggest there was little or nothing between the sides, this was not the case as Westport were by far the better team, and should have won more easily.
It was truly a magnificent all round team victory as every member of the Westport team played a vital part in this historic victory.
Indeed, it was an historic victory on two fronts, Westport's first ever All-Ireland club championship title, and the first Mayo club ever to win the intermediate title.
Played in front of over 9,000, both teams took time to settle. The Meath side were first to score, a point from their star forward Graham Reilly. It was seven minutes before Westport registered their opening, an unbelievable effort from midfielder Shane Scott.
However, three minutes later Westport were hit a huge body blow when their full-back Kevin Keane had to be carried off the field with a leg injury.
But almost immediately it looked the rest of the Westport team said to themselves we are going to go all out and win this for Kevin, as they just simply took control for the remainder of the half.
With the inside forward line of Colm Moran, Paul Lambert and Oisin McLoughlin playing havoc and causing the Colmcille's defence all sort of problems, Westport scored seven unanswered points to lead by 0-8 to 0-1 after 26 minutes.
However, a goal for the Meath side a minute later, which was completely against the run of play, did put a halt to Westport's dominance but only momentarily as Westport hit back with a goal of their own 60 seconds later.
To say this goal was a real gem would be an understatement as it was all Oisin McLoughlin's doing.
After he won the ball way out on the left touchline, 60 yards from goal, he set off on a magnificent run where he several defenders behind him before cracking a low shot to the bottom corner of the net. It was a goal that would have done any game justice and a score that gave Westport a six-point lead at the interval, 1-9 to 1-3.
In the opening six minutes of the second half the meath champions had narrowed the gap by scoring two points from as many chances. Westport on the other hand failed to add to their tally during this period despite some good chances. Indeed, they recorded five wides in this six-minute period.
Although Shane Scott fired over their opening point of the half, just like he did in the first half, Westport received another massive body blow when their opponents scored a second lucky goal to reduce their lead to two points.
However, Westport replied in great fashion and when McLoughlin scored his second goal of the game in the 51st minute after receiving an inch perfect pass from Colm Moran, it looked as if they were home and dry as they now lead by six points again.
But any Meath dosn't know when they are beaten and in the closing stages they fought back once again.
They got a third goal from the penalty spot after the Westport goalkeeper was adjudged to have tripped an opposing forward which to most seemed very harsh and led to Patrick O'Malley getting a black card.
However, despite the Meath team getting two further points, Westport held on for a fully deserved one-point victory
Westport: P O'Malley (0-1), K. Dever, K. Keane, N. McManamon, B. McDermott, L. Keegan, J Walsh, B. O'Malley, S. Scott (0-3), F. McDonagh (0-3), P. Keegan (0-1), L. Staunton, C. Moran (0-4), P. Lambert, O. McLoughlin (2-0).
Subs used: D. Horan, R. Geraghty, A. Dunne.
St. Colmcilles: J. Brown, A. Lynch, C. Ward, J. McDonnell, E. Woods (0-1), I. Mullen, J. Sweeney, D. Sheeran, R. McCloskey, C. Hillard (0-1), B. Brennan (1-2), D. O'Byrne, G. Reilly (0-3), N. Ronan, J. Conlon (1-0).
Subs used: J. Reynolds (1-0), C. O'Byrne, C. Kelly (0-1), J. Kavanagh.
Referee: N. Cullen (Fermanagh).