Knockmore 1-12 Breaffy 0-13
Outsiders Knockmore ended a 23-year wait for the Mayo senior football championship title when they powered to victory over Breaffy at a sun-splashed Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar on Sunday afternoon.
A goal from man-of-the-match Darren McHale in the seventh minute set the winners on their way and, despite trailing at half-time a point, Knockmore got their running game going in the second half to kick on and win a ninth Moclair Cup.
The winners found their best form after the restart, outscoring a Breaffy side — who are still chasing their first senior title — by 0-10 to 0-6 in the second period.The aforementioned Darren McHale shot four points during that time, with Peter Naughton (2), Aidan Orme, Keith Ruttledge and Kieran Langan also landing crucial scores.
Breaffy found themselves behind by a goal heading into additional time, and tried everything to rescue the situation but all they could manage during six minutes of additional time was a pointed free from Conor O'Shea.
An early point from playmaker Keith Ruttledge got the ball rolling for Knockmore, before the pacy Darren McHale palmed the ball past Rob Hennelly in the Breaffy goal after Peter Naughton’s penetrating run through the defence.
By the time the first water break arrived, Knockmore led by 1-2 to 0-3 with Colm Flynn, Matthew Ruane and Tommy O’Reilly (free) pulling back scores for Breaffy.
The West Mayo side played their best football of the day in the second quarter. In total they shot six points without reply during their spell on top, with four of them coming after the resumption of play as Tommy O’Reilly (2, one free), Conor O’Shea and Ruane all hit the target.
Knockmore also lost key forward Aidan Orme to a black card in the 29th minute so when the half-time whistle blew, with Breaffy ahead by 0-7 to 1-2, it looked like it might finally be their day. A point from Aidan O’Shea (who was double-teamed for most of the match by David McHale and Kieran King) just 46 seconds after the restart strengthened Breaffy’s resolve and their position.
However, it also seemed to snap Knockmore into life with Kevin McLoughlin becoming much more influential as he and his team-mates started to play the game on their terms. Six quick-fire points in nine minutes from Darren McHale (4), Peter Naughton and Keith Ruttledge propelled the winners into a lead midway through the second half they neversurrendered.
They were now ahead by 1-8 to 0-9 and had Breaffy right where they wanted them. Peter Ford and Shane Conway got a chance to rally their troops during the second half water break and, to their credit, they kept pushing right to the bitter end.
But all they mustered up in the last 20 minutes were three points, two of them coming from frees, as Knockmore’s well-drilled defence frustrated Breaffy repeatedly.
Down at the other end, Aidan Orme (2), Kieran Langan and Peter Naughton kept the scoreboard ticking over and was more than enough to keep Breaffy at arm’s length.
Knockmore: C Reape; S Holmes, David McHale, A Stadler; N Armstrong, K King, C Flynn; K McLoughlin, S McHale; P Ruttledge, Darren McHale (1-4), C Dempsey; P Naughton (0-3), A Orme (0-2, 1f), K Ruttledge (0-2).
Subs used: K Langan (0-1) for Flynn; S Ruttledge for P Ruttledge; M Parke for Armstrong; C Hopkins for Ruttledge.
Breaffy: R Hennelly (0-1, 1f); D Cannon, J Minogue, K Mulchrone; D Morrin, M Hall, R Martyn; M Ruane (0-2), S O’Shea; R Fadden, C O’Shea (0-3, 1f), T O’Reilly (0-5, 3fs); G Dunne, A O’Shea (0-1), C Flynn (0-1).
Subs used: B Murphy for Dunne; S McDermott for Flynn; M Dervan for Mulchrone; C Kelly for Cannon.
Referee: J Glavey (Aghamore)