The meeting of Melvin Gaels and Mohill on Ballinamore on Saturday evening last was billed as a clash of two teams with serious aspirations of claiming the Connacht Gold Senior Championship but after 60 minutes of action it was the men from Kinlough who emerged with their reputation enhanced.
Mohill more than contributed to an excellent opening half but when they were asked questions by Melvin Gaels in the opening quarter of the second half they were found wanting.
When they established a lead in the second half Melvin Gaels defended in numbers and broke with real intensity. Paul Brennan was instrumental for his side but the stand out player was Peter McGowan who at times was leading the Melvin Gaels full-forward line on his own but the ball came his way he was a real handful for the Mohill defence.
In the first half McGowan was fouled resulting in the penalty that ultimately separated the sides and eight minutes into the second half he scored an excellent goal.
When Mohill are analysing the game one aspect they will be disappointed with is the manner in which they started both halfs. In the first half Melvin Gales raced into a five point lead inside the opening 12 minutes and it looked as though Mohill were doomed before the contest had really started.
Two Emlyn Mulligan frees along with points from David McSharry, Peter McGowan and Conor Sheridan put Melvin Gaels in the driving seat and it was looking ominous from a Mohill point of view.
However, Mohill composed themselves and responded brilliantly. Colm Beirne was one of those who led the fight back and his 13th minute free saw Mohill register their opening score and moments later Alan McLoughlin pointed to further restore belief to the Mohill supporters.
Further points from Colm Beirne and Shane Quinn meant there was just a point separating the sides after 17 minutes and after Emlyn Mulligan and Colm Beirne (free) exchanged points Melvin Gaels struck for the first goal of the game.
Peter McGowan cleverly exchanged passes with Emlyn Mulligan but as McGowan was attempting to get clear of Alan Armstrong the Mohill goalkeeper hauled him to the ground leaving Finbarr Keaney with no option other than to award a penalty. The resulting penalty was dispatched to the corner of the goal by Mulligan.
The final stages of the half proved to be very competitive with Colm Beirne’s converted free leaving just the goal between the sides and in points from Paul Brennan and Peter McGowan were cancelled out by two Colm Beirne frees meaning Melvin Gaels enjoyed a 1-8 to 0-8 lead at the interval.
Hopes were high that the second half would prove to be a real edge of the seat of the affair but that never materialised as Melvin Gaels upped the intensity in their performance considerably when the game resumed and Mohill were left with no answer.
After a series of early wides Melvin Gaels made their pressure count as two of their best performers combined. Paul Brennan rampaged through the heart of the Mohill defence and delivered a perfectly timed pass to Peter McGowan. Again McGowan opted to go around Alan Armstrong but this time there was nothing the Mohill keeper could do and McGowan dispatched his shot to the empty net.
Over the next 12 minutes Melvin Gaels were happy to defend in numbers and counter-attack quickly. Although Mohill enjoyed plenty of possession they were unable to penetrate the Mohill defence and Melvin Gaels extended their lead with points coming from Peter McGowan, Jessie McGuinness and Emlyn Mulligan.
Stephen McGurrin may have been wearing 14 on his back but his deep lying role meant it was very difficult for Mohill to penetrate the Melvin Gaels but just when the game seemed to be getting away from them but with just four minutes later they got a slice of luck that brought them back in contention.
Alan McLoughlin delivered a powerful shot from distance that probably would have been saved by Gareth Phelan but Jessie McGuinness’ attempted block diverted the ball away from Phelan and into the Melvin Gaels goal.
That score, understandably, gave the Mohill players a huge lift and two Colm Beirne frees and a Daniel Beck 45 reduced the deficit to just three points.
Ultimately there was to be no spectacular comeback for Mohill and it was Melvin Gaels who completed the scoring with a Paul Brennan point deep in injury time.
Gareth Phelan, Stephen Clancy, Fabian McMorrow, Shane Ryan, Paul Brennan (0-2), Paul McGurrin, Donal Clancy, Conor Sheridan (0-1), BB Brennan, David McSharry (0-1), Emlyn Mulligan (1-4), Peter McGowan (1-3), Colm McGowan, Stephen McGurrin, James Bredin. Subs: James Phelan for Bredin (25 mins), Jessie McGuinness (0-1) for S. Clancy (42 mins), Blaine Mulligan for McSharry (51 mins), Tom Lipsett for C. McGowan (52 mins), Jonathan Connolly for P. McGowan (58 mins).
Alan Armstrong, Paul Bannon, Michael McGuinness, Daniel Beck (0-1), Johnny Mulligan, Paul Earley, Ciaran Kennedy, Shane Quinn (0-1), Stephen Conaty, Colm Beirne (0-8), Donal Flynn, Stephen Flynn, Alan McLoughlin (1-1), Gavin Kelly, John McGuinness. Subs: Padraig Tighe for Kelly ((39 mins), Shane Canning for D. Flynn (48 mins).
Referee: Finbarr Keaney.