Senior Championship vs Ballyhaunis
SFC Group 1
ON the longest day, this fixture started early. But as a contest it was over long before the end. And was it played under the governing of another code, the towel would have been tossed in long before it reached its inevitable conclusion.
Even as early as the 15th minute, Breaffy had this one bagged and tagged. Six minutes of to-ing and fro-ing and going through the preamble had elapsed before Keith Higgins came up from defence to send over a lovely point for Ballyhaunis. For a fleeting moment, there was the briefest of hints the visitors might make a fist of it.
For the next nine minutes, Breaffy ran riot. Matthew Ruane kicked things off with a point after Aidan O’Shea did the hod-carrying, and then Conor O’Shea came in to the coal-face of the Ballyhaunis goalmouth to flick over another. Up the ante went when Aidan O’Shea ran through the Ballyhaunis cover, played a one-two with Tommy Reilly and finished the return to the net.
Ballyhaunis were reeling from that blow and attempting to come out of defence when Aidan O’Shea pick-pocketed them and, after a dainty flick-up, found the in-running Gareth Dunne for Breaffy’s second. A reprieve – albeit a temporary one – for Ballyhaunis minutes came later after Tommy O’Reilly shot wide when a goal looked a less difficult option. The man on green flag duty was busy again when Gareth Dunne thieved a Ballyhaunis defender’s clearance and popped it to Aidan of the O’Sheas to bury Breaffy’s third.
Things were going from worse to awful for the visitors and they became authors of their own misfortune. Goalkeeper Adrian Phillips took a short kick-out to a defender who referee Charlie Collins deemed wasn’t the required distance away. A debate ensued, but Collins was adamant. He threw the ball skywards and hardly had it began its downward dip when Aidan O’Shea grabbed it. He took a few strides forward and dispatched it with the minimum of fuss to the Ballyhaunis rigging to record his hat-trick.
There was more to come. Tommy O’Reilly turned provider and Gareth Dunne met his cross perfectly to plant his second and Breaffy’s fifth goal. A pointed long-range free from Ballyhaunis goalkeeper and a similar posting from nearer the target by Niall Prenty completed Ballyhaunis’s first-half tally, leaving them retiring at the break trailing on a 5-6 to 0-3 scoreline.
Even Lazurus wouldn’t stir himself from that, but in fairness to the visitors, they kept plugging away. Rory Martyn, Conor and Aidan O’Shea (after the latter was set up with a perfectly measured centre from Michael Hall), Tommy O’Reilly and Gareth Dunne kept the Breaffy engine ticking over.
Ballyhaunis outscored them 0-8 to 0-6 in act two through Niall Prenty frees and points from Keith Higgins and Jarlath Carney. But by that stage Breaffy were so far out of sight it mattered not a jot.
They’d seized the day long before it ended.
R Hennelly; M Hall, D Gavin, C Jordan; C Kelly, M Jennings, R Martyn (0-1); S O’Shea, G Walsh; M Ruane (0-1), A O’Shea (3-2), P Dravins; G Dunne (2-2), C O’Shea (0-5, 1f), T Reilly (0-1).Subs used: D Morrin for Gavin; G Jennings for Reilly; K Curry for Ruane.
A Phillips (0-1, 1f); B Hunt, P Kiely, C Freeley; E Collins, K Higgins (0-2), J Cunnane; R Worden, S Shanaghy; B Mulrennan, M Lyons, K Gallagher; J Carney (0-1), A Fitzmaurice, N Prenty (0-6, 5f).Subs used: S Hoban (0-1) for Shanaghy; J Cribbin for Mulrennan; J Coyne for Lyons; A Shanaghy for Freeley.
Referee: C Collins (Lacken)
Originally printed in the Mayo News by Willie McHugh