Mike Finnerty reports from Carrick-on-Shannon
THREE SECOND-HALF goals propelled Ballintubber into their first Connacht senior club football championship final since 2014 this afternoon.
Substitute Jamesie Finnerty hit the net twice with Alan Plunkett also raising a green flag as the Mayo champions proved too good for Leitrim’s Aughawillan.
Playing with the wind behind them, the winners led at the end of a free-flowing first half by 0-8 to 0-5.
Cillian O’Connor shot four of those scores from frees, and the Mayo star was also unlucky to see a goalbound shot come back off the crossbar in the ninth minute.
Alan Plunkett chipped in with a couple of points from play for the Mayo representatives with Ballintubber captain Damien Coleman and Bryan Walsh also on target.
Aughawillan were very slow to get started but points from the Plunketts, Gary and Michael, had them level by the end of the first quarter. Ballintubber then kicked on again to lead by 0-8 to 0-4 by the 26th minute, but big Pearce Dolan brought the half’s scoring to a close with an inspirational effort for the Leitrim champions.
However, the game ran away from them during the third quarter as Ballintubber struck 1-3 to open up an unassailable lead, the goal coming after Jamesie Finnerty toe-poked the ball to the Aughawillan net on 43 minutes.
Finnerty struck again eight minutes later and Alan Plunkett also beat Colin Maguire less than 60 seconds later to leave Ballintubber thirteen points ahead.
To their credit, Aughawillan kept plugging away with Gary Plunkett shooting three points and a late goal from Ciarán Gilheany helped to gloss the final scoreline.
But Ballintubber ran out comprehensive winners to set up a Connacht final date with reigning All-Ireland club champions, Corofin, in two weeks’ time at MacHale Park, Castlebar.
Scorers for Ballintubber: C O’Connor 0-6 (0-6f), J Finnerty 2-0, A Plunkett 1-3, D Coleman, B Walsh 0-1 each.
Scorers for Aughawillan: G Plunkett 0-5 (0-1f), C Gilheany 1-1, P Dolan, M Plunkett 0-1 each.
B Walsh; G Loftus, C Hallinan, B Murphy; D Coleman, M Plunkett, M Kelly; J Gibbons, D O’Connor; C Gavin, A Dillon, A Plunkett; B Walsh, C O’Connor, S O’Malley.
Subs: J Geraghty for Loftus (42); J Finnerty for O’Malley (42); D Larkin for Kelly (55); P O’Connor for C O’Connor (60); J
Kerrigan for Dillon (60).
C Maguire; D McGovern, F McTague, Michael Quinn; S Quinn, R McTague, B Prior; G Plunkett, M Plunkett; S Gilleany, P Dolan, Morgan Quinn; N Beirne, N Plunkett, C Gilheany.
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Subs: S Flanagan for S Gilheany (34); G McGovern for Beirne (57); F Quinn for McTague (61).
Referee: J Molloy (Galway)
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