Tooreen players celebrate at the final whistle after they defeated Ballyhaunis in the Mayo senior hurling championship final in Ballyhaunis this afternoon. Photo: David Farrell

Tooreen regain Mayo hurling crown with narrow victory over Ballyhaunis

Tooreen regained the Mayo senior hurling championship title which they lost to Ballyhaunis last year with narrow one-point win over their great rivals at the home turf of Ballyhaunis this afternoon. It finished 0-15 to 1-11 in favour of the visitors, writes John Melvin.

It may not have been a classic but it was certainly exciting and pretty physical at times, the sides trading points in a match which saw Ballyhaunis take a three-point lead at one stage only to be overtaken by Tooreen and then responding to tie the match at the break, 1-5 to 0-8.

That Ballyhaunis goal came from Adrian Phillips from a speculative effort which somehow ended up in the back of the Tooreen net and when Stephen Hoban followed up with a point, Ballyhaunis looked to be in the driving seat leading by 1-2 to 0-2 after 10 minutes.

However, the contribution of Shane Boland was to prove significant in this win as four unanswered points, three from Boland and one from Cathal Freeman, helped Tooreen into a two-point lead, a free from Keith Higgins and a fine score from Adrian Phillips leaving the game tied at the break at 1-5 to 0-8.

It was literally blow for blow in the second half but the turning point of this game was the sending-off of Jason Coyle on second yellow card, reducing Ballyhaunis to 14 players with 15 minutes still on the clock.

Ballyhaunis still managed to come back having fallen two behind again thanks to the two frees from Keith Higgins, who hit eight for the day, but ultimately the final say came from Shane Boland, who landed a long-range free as the clock turned to the red.

Higgins did have a chance to send the game to extra-time but his effort from all of 70 yards and from close to the sideline with a tricky wind to contend with was always going to be difficult.

There was some controversy at the final whistle with Ballyhaunis protesting to the referee that not all of the six minutes of injury time indicated were played but the name of Tooreen will be on the on the T.J. Tyrell Cup for 2021 – and deservedly so too – at the end of what was a pretty frenetic battle between these two great rivals.

*See Tuesday's print edition for a full report on the match