King and Moffatt Junior ‘A’ Football Championship Final
St. Brigid’s 0-11
Playing some wonderful football, Ballinameen came to Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday and swept to the 2019 junior title in superb style. Charlie Ward’s team were in command from the opening exchanges and they withstood a late mini-rally from Brigid’s to land a title that they last won in 2010.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Ballinameen captain Peter Keane lifted the cup after he had struggled with illness earlier in the year and even the most ardent Brigid’s supporter would wish him the very best of luck as he continues his recovery. The manner of this victory will surely be a big help!
On a perfect day for football, Brigid’s came into the game as the favourites having impressed during the campaign, but inspired by Dessie Carlos, it was Ballinameen who grew into the game much better as it progressed. Goals either side of half-time saw them pull away from the Kiltoom men.
Indeed apart from Carlos, inspirational captain Peter Keane played a major part as did midfielder Eoghan Keaveney, and corner forward Liam Kelly who scored both goals. When the Ballinameen celebrations turn to reflections on a great day for their club they will also be thankful to former Roscommon player and goalkeeper Gary Hanly who made at least three outstanding saves and was an inspirational presence in the Ballinemeen defence throughout.
The first quarter was evenly contested, and by the 17th minute it was 0-3 apiece, Carlos scoring two frees for Ballinameen added to a fine effort from Peter Flanagan. Brigid’s had points from Kealan Byrne, Ciaran O’Reilly and John Cunningham (a free).
In the 17th minute Hanly made the first of his spectacular saves when he palmed away a piledriver from Conor Quinn, and although Byrne was on target with another point to put Brigid’s into the lead in the 20th minute, Ballinameen struck for their first goal two minutes later. Finbar McDermot made a searing run through the centre and while his shot for goal was brilliantly saved by Cormac Sheehy, Liam Kelly was following up to net the rebound.
Ballinameen tails were up now, and Carlos and Eoghan Keaveney added to their total with superb points from play. In the 29th minute Brigid’s midfielder Billy McDonnell was the latest to have a go at beating Gary Hanley but once again he was equal to the shot, and when Keaveney grabbed another fine point in injury-time, Ballinameen led by five. A late pointed free from distance from Brigid’s’ best player Jack McDonnell, saw the teams go in at half-time with the score at Ballinameen 1-6 St. Brigid’s 0-5.
Ballinemeen began the new half where they left off, and their second goal arrived in the 34th minute. Liam Kelly won possession and he seemed to have lost his footing but recovered to blast to the net. When James Tansey and Dessie Carlos followed up with points from play by the 38th minute Ballinameen were nine points ahead with 38 minutes gone.
Jack McDonnell pointed for struggling Brigid’s in the 40th minute before Hanly was called upon once again to save from Kealan Byrne. McDonnell once again pointed for Brigid’s but two further points from Man of the Match Carlos (frees) saw the nine-point margin restored by the 48th minute.
In the final fourteen minutes of playing time Brigid’s outscored Ballinameen by 0-4 to 0-1 but the mountain had already been climbed and Ballinameen had the title in the bag.
The final whistle brought scenes of wild celebration as the people of the Ballinameen area raced onto the field to celebrate their heroes. Charlie Ward, who has been involved in Roscommon GAA for decades, smiled broadly as he accepted the congratulations of the red and white clad supporters. He has done a superb job along with his management team.
But the real heart-warming story of the day was the sight of Peter Keane lifting the cup. The man who had an almighty heath scare earlier in the year was back where he wanted to be.
For Brigid’s it was just not to be on the day. They have a fine young team and they will surely be back again. Cormac Sheehy, Niall Grehan, Jack McDonnell, Kealan Byrne and sub Eamon Flanagan were prominent but they just had no answer to a super Ballinameen outfit on the day.