After being dramatically hauled back in the dying seconds of six minutes of added time, Mohill recovered their composure to claim a deserved Under 16 Championship A title against a valiant and battling Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s last Sunday morning in Carrigallen.
From the moment Jamie Cosgrove goaled after just four minutes, Mohill were in control of this intriguing encounter but they couldn’t quite shake off the challenge of a dogged Ballinamore outfit who never stopped pushing back at their better balanced opponents who had some great options all over the field.
It was those options that proved the difference – even without Keith Beirne, Mohill nevertheless spread the ball well and used all of their players to great effect with Ronan Gordon leading the way in attack, his clever positioning and ball winning allied with some lovely point scoring.
Keith Keegan and Michael Bohan were very impressive in the middle of the park while Mohill’s defence, superbly led by Oisin Madden, all came up with big moments to prevent what appeared to be a more physically powerful Ballinamore from causing them huge damage.
Ballinamore looked to the exciting Luke Murphy and the long ball to Dean McGovern to make progress but as Mohill made defensive switches, they relied more on hard running in the closing stages of normal time and it almost came off.
Ballinamore camped in Mohill’s half, despite being a man down after Luke Murphy was sent off for a second yellow card offence, but missed three great chances before Kevin Mullen curled over a point to send the game to extra-time.
That extra-time featured another twist as Murphy was allowed rejoin the contest, after consulting with Coiste na nOg officials, as it was considered a new game and he had received just two yellow cards.
Ballinamore incredibly twice took the lead in the first period of added time after trailing throughout the game but after the immense effort to get level took its toll, Mohill’s impressive fitness and team-work started to tell its inevitable tale.
Sub Fiachra McGuinness made a big impact as Bohan and Keegan started to win almost every ball in the middle of the park, allied with storming catches and interceptions from Kevin Flynn, James Mitchell and Paul Foy and a masterful display from Oisin Madden.
Mohill got off to a great start as Jason Farry made a good save to deny Dean McGovern before Oisin Madden’s long pass found Jamie Cosgrove for a fine finish on four minutes. Shane McGowan added two more points with Dean McGovern replying but Mohill hit back with points from Jamie Stenson and Alan Tuthill.
Luke Murphy hit back with a free but Mohill seemed in control when Michael Bohan fisted Madden’s fifty to the Ballinamore net on 14 minutes. However, Ballinamore hit back in the best possible fashion when a surging run from Paddy Connaughton saw him release Dean McGovern for a blistering goal less than a minute later.
Ballinamore missed a few good chances with Murphy and Ronan Gordon swapping frees before McGovern got his second goal, fisting a Murphy free to the net. A lovely Barry McGovern score narrowed the gap to a point but a point either side of halftime from McGowan and Gordon put Mohill three clear.
Dean McGovern put over another point but was clean through on goal when a great tackle dispossessed him. Murphy replied with a brilliant point on nine minutes and Peter Reynolds added a score but Ballinamore were dealt a blow when Murphy received a second yellow card with seven minutes left.
Ronan Gordon converted the free but Paddy Connaughton scored a lovely point with three minutes left to keep the Ballinamore challenge alive. Ballinamore put on immense pressure but missed four great chances before Kevin Mullen put over an equalising point over six minutes into added time.
Mullen immediately resumed where he had left off, sending over a great point after 20 seconds to take the lead for the first time. Ronan Gordon put over a lovely point but another Murphy free put Ballinamore back in front.
Ballinamore keeper Darren Maxwell made a great save from Jamie Stenson but Michael Bohan ensured that the first half of extra-time would end level with a great point, leaving it at 2-11 apiece.
The second period of extra-time told a tale as Mohill started to move the ball around with more confidence as Ballinamore’s legs seemed to give out. Sub Fiachra McGuinness was clever to fist over from a tight angle after 30 seconds.
Ronan Gordon put over a free before Keith Keegan capped off a fine game with a brilliant point to seal a hard fought and deserved victory.
Jason Farry, Paul Foy, Darren Keegan, Kevin Flynn, Oisin Madden, James Mitchell, Keith Keegan (0-1), Michael Bohan (1-1), Jamie Stenson (0-1), Alan Tuthill (0-1), Shane McGowan (0-3), Jamie Cosgrove (1-0), Ronan Gordon (0-5). Subs: Fiachra McGuinness (0-1) for Cosgrove (58 mins).
Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s
Darren Maxwell, Brian Leydon, James Hamill, Paddy Connaughton (0-1), Peter Reynolds (0-1), Daire Murphy, Niall McGovern, Kevin Mullen (0-2), Oisin McCaffrey, Luke Murphy (0-4), Donal Feely, Barry McGovern (0-1), Dean McGovern (2-2). Subs: Conor Maxwell for D. Murphy (15 mins), D. Murphy for C. Maxwell (55 mins), Maxwell for D. Murphy (64 mins).
Referee: Cyril McKeon.