Ballyhaunis 1-15 Tooreen 1-12
Dual star Keith Higgins produced an outstanding display to lead Ballyhaunis to their first Mayo senior hurling championship title since 2016.
Higgins, a four-time All-Star winning footballer, shot nine points to help dethrone reigning champions Tooreen on their home ground at Adrian Freeman Memorial Park.
The holders were bidding to win the TJ Tyrell Cup for the fourth year in a row but Ballyhaunis had other ideas, and they produced a barnstorming second-half display to run our deserving three point winners.
The winner's joint managers Tadhg Buckley and Pierce Higgins (brother of Keith) produced their team in prime condition and their players executed the game-plan with aplomb.
On a difficult evening for hurling, with a strong wind and showers of rain making for testing conditions, the two most successful senior clubs in Mayo served up a thrilling contest.
Tooreen, last season's Connacht Intermediate champions, played with the aid of the breeze in the first half and they led at the interval by 1-7 to 0-7.
Shane Boland scored the home side’s goal in the 26th minute after he had been picked out by the impressive Eoin Delaney, with Mayo footballer Fergal Boland, Seán Kenny and Michael Morley also scoring points.
Ballyhaunis had made life difficult for the defending champions right from the first whistle, with early points from Adrian Philips and man of the match Damien Keadin serving notice of their intent.
The aforementioned Keith Higgins shot four points (three from frees) in that opening period while pacy corner-forward Jason Coyne also got on the scoresheet.
Tooreen were unable to get into their flow all evening as the outsiders hunted in packs and applied huge pressure on opposition players in possession.
???????? pic.twitter.com/KO3l08otvY— Ballyhaunis GAA (@BallyhaunisGAA) September 12, 2020
Ballyhaunis came flying out of the blocks at the start of the second half again, and they outscored the shell-shocked locals by 1-5 to 0-2 during the third quarter.
Three frees from the flawless Higgins got the ball rolling with Stephen Hoban and Calum Gardiner landing inspirational points from long-range.
The all-important goal arrived in the 41st minute when Damien Keadin and Higgins combined to put Jason Coyne through, and the speedy forward finished clinically past Stephen Leneghan.
Ballyhaunis were 1-12 to 1-9 ahead by the time the second water-break arrived, but Tooreen showed their mettle down the home stretch when they rallied and closed the gap to the bare minimum as Eoin Delaney, Fergal Boland and Shane Boland all dug out crucial scores.
The tension was palpable as the match ticked into its final minutes but Ballyhaunis held their nerve as goalkeeper Donal O’Brien (free) and Keith Higgins both shot points inside sixty seconds.
These scores finally broke Tooreen’s brave resistance and, despite their best efforts, Paul Hunt’s charges were unable to add to their tally of 30 county senior championship.
Instead it was Ballyhaunis who notched up title number 13, with Keith Higgins an ever-present on every single one of their county title-winning squads.
Ballyhaunis: D O’Brien (0-1, 1f); A Brennan, Jack Coyne, B Hunt; C Gardiner (0-1), E Collins, D Keadin (0-1); K Kiely, A Lyons; K McDermott, K Higgins (0-9, 7fs), E Roe; S Hoban (0-1), A Philips (0-1), Jason Coyne (1-1).
Subs used: C Philips, M Philips, S Griffin, J Lyons.
Tooreen: S Leneghan; G Nolan, S Coyne, J Cassidy; C Henry, D Kenny, M Morley (0-1); D Huane, C Freeman; S Kenny (0-3, 2fs), F Boland (0-4), S Boland (1-3, 2fs); L Lavin, E Delaney (0-1), L Hurley.
Subs used: S Regan, A Henry, P Lyons, B Douglas.
Referee: E Shaughnessy (Castlebar Mitchels)