Westport GAA

Junior B Final

No junior high after draw
Westport 1-12 (WITH JERSEY)
Swinford 1-12 (WITH JERSEY)

BRAZIL’S draw with Switzerland during the 1950 World Cup son enraged soccer fans in Rio that, in what journalist David McKechnie calls ‘a comical case of mistaken identity’, it is said they attacked the Swedish embassy.
There’s no suggestion that people from Swinford, Sweden or Switzerland were attacked in Westport after last Sunday’s Junior ‘B’ final. But the East Mayo side were undoubtedly happier with the outcome – a draw – than their Covie counterparts.
Alan Kennedy’s side earned their second day out thanks to a 72nd-minute goal from midfielder Fergal Loftus, who found the net after Kevin McDonagh’s high ball was batted into his path. It represented quite the turnaround considering Westport led by five with three minutes of normal time remaining, and explained why there was one side celebrating come the end. Mind you, such was the momentum Swinford had in the closing stages that had a few more minutes been played, they were the more likely winners.
There were only a handful of nods to the ramshackle reputation of the GAA’s most maligned grade – a team listing which, by one local man’s estimation, included three Swinford subs who are no longer in the country; a linesman who appeared to be on the phone early in the second half, and a tête-à-tête between opposing players that concluded with a move last seen on ‘Mortal Kombat’ … and without a card of any colour.
But if we were thus occasionally reminded of the level we were watching, the excitement which the game generated would put many bigger occasions to shame. A tit-for-tat opening period ended as it begun, with the sides locked together.
Westport finished their first attack with a score from corner forward Pat Conway before Darren Campbell got Swinford off the mark, ending a nice move with a point. The team managed by Pádraic Heraty and Peadar Sammon countred with two on the trot – a right-footed effort from wing forward Seán Brogan, and an easy Conway free. JP Broderick responded with two placed balls of his own, and then centre forward Michael Prendergast swung over a beauty to put Swinford in front.
Westport nudged back into the ascendancy thanks to a neat Brogan point and another Conway free (following a delay as the umpires considered its accuracy). Shane McDonagh, wearing number 25, landed another equaliser to make it five points apiece at the break.
Another Prendergast special put Swinford ahead three minutes after the restart, but what looked like a match-winning goal for Westport arrived 60 seconds later. Diarmuid McGreal beat Aaron Kinsella with a soccer-style effort that went in off the post, and the West Mayo side rattled off four points in its wake. Two were beauties from Conway – a long-range free and a splendid score from near the 45-metre line – while Brogan pointed on the turn and Liam Sammon shot over a nice dinky effort.
Six points clear, Westport looked home and hosed, as a fine Gerry Callaghan score for Swinford, the culmination of a move begun by corner back Aiden McLoughlin (double-jobbing on the day also as Mayo GAA PRO) was cancelled out by a characteristic Brogan reply. But then Swinford got into their stride. Broderick converted another free, Prendergast added another. Two Westport players escaped black cards. And no fewer than three goal chances went a-begging.
Mick Walsh almost clawed Paddy Ward’s centre into the net, but was denied by Aaron Dunne, who also kept out Peter Quinn’s low shot, while Eoin Gallagher’s free struck the post. Sub Liam Staunton looked to have steadied the Westport ship with two well-taken points on either side of another Callaghan score.
But Swinford weren’t done yet. Sub Kevin McDonagh, sporting Willie Joe Padden-like headgear (the result of a collision with a post at Thursday’s training session) won a free which Broderick converted, added a sweet score of his own, and then fired in a Hail Mary which ended with Loftus answering Swinford’s prayers.

WESTPORT:A Dunne; J Groden, E Horan, N Tierney; S Galagher, B Fleming, D McGreal (1-0); M McCaffrey, C Moran; L Sammon (0-1), K O’Malley, S Brogan (0-4); F McDonagh, M Harrison, P Conway (0-5, 3f).
Subs used: L Staunton (0-2) for L Sammon; S McCaughey for K O’Malley (56 mins).