Ballyhaunis bubble up at the right time

Good things come to those who wait, the saying goes. For Ballyhaunis the wait is now over, at the third time of asking in recent years they have managed to win the Mayo Intermediate Football title.

There were times last Saturday when they would have felt this game could have slipped away from them, as Kilmeena put in a stubborn and sticky resistance and had any one of the goal chances they created gone their way - it could very easily have been the Clew Bay boys who were celebrating back-to-back championship titles.

Ballyhaunis had heroes all over the park, but one player stood head and shoulders above the rest. That player was Jack Coyne who was outstanding from the word go, he landed a point, made a goal line intervention at the other end and did an excellent job on Kilmeena's most influential man Jack Carney.

It was also another afternoon where Keith Higgins rolled back the years at times. His patented zip of speed past an opponent in the tightest of space was rolled out from his bag of tricks a number of times and his composure and calmness was key to his sides win.

It was a run of scores late on where this game was won, with Jason Coyne landing a brace, Kevin Byrne also hitting a double and Morgan Lyons adding one more that broke the Kilmeena resistance - but credit to John Reilly's men they never gave in and there was just three between them at the full time whistle.

Kilmeena did lead at the break, by the narrowest of margins on a score of 0-6 to 0-5 - but they also left a number of chances behind them which came back to hurt them at the end - along with a period in the second half where Paul Jordan's men outscored them by 0-6 to 0-1.

In that run Kilmeena failed to take three gilt edged goal chances, Joey Smyth was pinged for picking the ball off the ground before finishing to the net. Jack Carney looked to have planted the ball home after a flowing move - but Jack Coyne was there on the line to block it and Darragh Keaveny saw an effort crash off the crossbar.

You need the breaks to go for you in these games if you are going to win them and they did go to Ballyhaunis, but the were still well deserving victors.

The likes of Eoghan Collins, James Lyons, Jason Coyne, Johnny Cunnane all stepped up when needed alongside the likes of Higgins, Morgan Lyons and Jack Coyne when they were needed by their side. The experience of seeing the title slip from their grasp late on last year also added extra fuel to their desire.

For Ballyhaunis it is back to where they feel they belong in the senior ranks next year. For Kilmeena, it brings the curtain down on a year they'll never forget - they may be down now, but having tasted All Ireland glory in the junior championship earlier this year and allied with going so close in the intermediate championship they'll be ready to have another right swing at it next season.


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