Westport edge thrilling AIB All Ireland Intermediate Final
AIB All Ireland Intermediate Football Final
Westport (Mayo) 2-12 St Colmcille's (Meath) 3-8
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
Lee Keegan and Westport clung on in tense circumstances at Croke Park to claim the AIB All-Ireland Intermediate club title, a first for both the club and their county.
Reigning Footballer of the Year Keegan returned to the venue where he and Mayo were denied by Dublin in last October's All-Ireland final replay and finally claimed silverware.
But Westport had to do it the hard way with two goals from Oisin McLoughlin helping them to the narrowest of wins in front of an appreciative 9,075 crowd.
East Meath outfit St Colmcille's, led by Royal County ace Graham Reilly, trailed by seven points at one stage in the first-half and were still six down with 57 minutes on the clock.
But a 1-2 scoring blitz from Colm Nally's men left just a point in it and they had a goal chance moments before full-time sounded, but came up just short.
Reilly, the new Meath captain, continued his fine form with three points overall and turned in a strong performance which included the game's opening score after four minutes.
But it was one-way traffic for the next 20 minutes or so as Westport took over and opened up a seven-point lead that would go a long way towards winning the tie.
Shane Scott levelled the game at 0-1 apiece and begun a spree of scoring for the westerners that saw them boot eight points in a row.
Free-taker Fionn McDonagh and Colm Moran were also on the mark as Westport opened up with some exciting football and cut the east Meath men apart.
Westport lost Kevin Keane, a former All-Ireland finalist with Mayo, to an early injury and their progress was halted by a James Conlon goal in the 28th minute.
Reilly set it up with a great run and lay off to the corner-forward though Westport's response was emphatic with a McLoughlin goal 90 seconds later.
Colmcilles closed out the half with points from Cathal Hillard and Reilly to trail 1-9 to 1-3 and felt they were still alive and kicking.
A strong third quarter then saw them reduce the deficit to just two points following points from Ben Brennan and Reilly before Brennan netted in the 43rd minute.
Reilly, again, was the creator though he was also fortunate as his free-kick cannoned off the post for Brennan to claim possession and rifle home from close range.
Westport pulled decisively clear again with points from Phil Keegan and goalkeeper Patrick O'Malley and looked to be in the clear when McLoughlin netted his and the team's second goal after 52 minutes.
He flicked in from close range after a great run and pass from Moran and Westport led 2-12 to 2-6.
But the concession of a third goal, a Jack Reynolds penalty conversion for Colmcilles, allied to several bad wides from Westport left just three in it entering injury-time, 2-12 to 3-6.
The margin was down to the minimum following injury-time Colmcilles points from Eoin Woods and Brennan, but Westport showed all their character to cling on for a famous win.
Scorers for Westport: Colm Moran 0-4, Oisin McLoughlin 2-0, Fionn McDonagh 0-3, Shane Scott 0-3, Phil Keegan 0-1, Patrick O'Malley 0-1 (f).
Scorers for St Colmcilles: Ben Brennan 1-2, Jack Reynolds 1-0 (1-0 pen), James Conlon 1-0, Graham Reilly 0-3 (1f), Cathal Hillard 0-1, Ciaran Kelly 0-1 (f), Eoin Woods 0-1.
WESTPORT: Patrick O'Malley; Keelan Dever, Kevin Keane, Niall McManamon; Brian McDermott, Lee Keegan, James Walsh; Brian O'Malley, Shane Scott; Fionn McDonagh, Phil Keegan, Liam Staunton; Colm Moran, Paul Lambert, Oisin McLoughlin.
Subs: David Horan for Keane (11), Ronan Geraghty for Staunton (h/t), Aaron Dunne for P O'Malley (56, black card).
ST COLMCILLES: Jordan Brown; Adam Lynch, Ciaran Ward, Jamie McDonnell; Eoin Woods, Ian Mullen, Joe Sweeney; David Sheeran, Robbie McCloskey; Cathal Hillard, Ben Brennan, David O'Byrne; Graham Reilly, Niall Ronan, James Conlon.
Subs: Jack Reynolds for D O'Byrne (41), Conor O'Byrne for Sweeney (41), Ciaran Kelly for Ronan 45, Jeff Kavanagh for McDonnell (53), Ronan for Hillard (64).
REFEREE: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh).