MOUNTBELLEW/Moylough retained their U21 A North Board football title thanks to a narrow, one point victory over Claregalway. Extra-time was needed to separate the teams but it was Tom Moran’s side who progressed, thanks in large part to a stellar performance from Eoin Finnerty.
The chamopions had started at a disadvantage with both Michael and John Daly missing through injury, but Finnerty did his part to fill the void, landing eight points from frees and making a number of vital plays in midfield.
It was Finnerty’s partner at centrefield, Shane Moran, who started the brighter of the pair and his direct running opened the way for full-forward Colin Ryan to put Mountbellew/Moylough ahead early on. Claregalway were off the mark soon after thanks to the hard-running of their own midfielder, Damien Dolan, who made good ground through the middle before tapping over.
It was tit-for-tat in the early stages, Mountbellew/Moylough enjoying most of the possession but with their opponents posing a threat on the counter-attack. Colin Ryan and Billy Mannion added points either side of a Barry Goldrick score to leave Mountbellew/Moylough ahead, 0-3 to 0-2 by the 10th minute.
Claregalway’s direct style was exhibited well soon after. Starting from their own 45m line, three quick, accurate kickpasses from Damien Dolan, Barry Goldrick and Keelan Grainger left Mark Rohan in possession 14m out and the full-forward worked himself half a yard of space before firing the ball over the bar.
The pace of the game slowed a little in the following minutes as defences began to get on top. Eoin Finnerty edged Mountbellew/Moylough ahead in the 19th minute when he converted a 35m free, but Claregalway hit back with the game’s only goal.
Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.