Davitts Day of Glory (1981 Intermediate Championship Final – Match Report)
Davitts are Mayo intermediate champions! After years of despair and near misses, the gods smiled in their favour on Sunday and they edged out a gallant Tourmakeady team by the narrowest of margins. It was by no means a classic game. But the final quarter was tension packed as both sides went all out for victory. And in the end Davitts snatched a deserved win.
The fact that Davitts had tasted bitter disappointment in the past made this win all the more sweeter. Yet, once again, as they had done in the semi-final against Balla, they almost succeeded in giving their supporters heart attacks. And I’m sure that the jinx that seems to have haunted them must have sent fear rushing through their followers in case they would be ‘robbed again’.
No doubt at all as to who was the man of the match. Young Seamus Butler will never qualify for the heavyweight division. Neither will he be an international basketball player because he hasn’t got the height. But on Sunday he showed more guts and skill than many a seasoned campaigner.
Tourmakeady were favoured by a slight breeze in the first half and Adrian Gavin floated over an early point from a free. Joe Gavin extended the lead with a point from play. Davitts opened their scoring with a point from a Martin Connolly free. And Martin Kearns shot the equaliser when he collected a lose ball near the Tourmakeady post.
In the 15th minute Adrian Gavin sent in a long ball that appeared to be going harmlessly wide. But somehow Eugene Heneghan managed to keep it in play and he punched it across the goalmouth. Eoin Mulrooney was on hand to punch it to the net for a surprise goal.
Even after that goal the game failed to come to life as both defences were well marshalled. But Ger Kirrane was beginning to exert control in the middle and Martin Connolly and Lawrence Daly were in superb form in the Davitts defence.
But the Tourmakeady defence were also functioning nicely. And this is borne out by the fact that Martin Connolly who is a defender managed to score more than the combined total of the Davitts forwards.
Finbar Conroy had a great point for Davitts but just before the break, Joe Gavin lobbed a fine effort from 40 yards between the posts to leave Tourmakeady in front by 1-3 to 0-3. On the resumption, Davitts had an early point from a free by Martin Connolly. And when Michael Joe McLoughlin’s effort was deflected out for a ‘fifty’, Connolly again reduced the lead with a fine kick. Taking advantage of a defensive blunder, Paul Gavin restored Tourmakeady’s two point lead in the 11th minute.
It was fitting that Seamus Butler should have got his name on the score sheet. After good ground work by Norman McCarthy, Butler flung over a magnificent point from out near the sideline. And when McCarthy was fouled following a move between Kirrane and Fahy, Martin Connolly popped over the equaliser.
Davitts went ahead for the first time in the 20th minute when a long clearance by Sean Connolly was picked up by Pat Ronayne and placed between the posts. A speculative lob by Michael Molloy almost went to the net as Cyril Hyland dropped the ball but he was quick to recover and avert danger.
Three minutes from time Joe Gavin landed the equaliser and the game seemed to be deadlocked when Seamus Butler collected the ball and soloed towards the Tourmakeady posts. He kicked high into the goalmouth and a Davitts forward was fouled with just a minute to go. Martin Connolly calmly tapped over the winning score. And Davitts had finally come good.
Michael Joe McLoughlin’s comment to me just after the whistle sounded summed it all up: “I can’t believe we have done it at last.”
Team captain, Frank Fahey accepted the Sean Shiel Shield from Paddy Muldoon, chairman Mayo GAA. Frank thanked Pa Kirrane, Frank Hyland, John Halligan, Martin Connolly and all who made it possible to win the title.
Davitts: C. Hyland, J. Kearns, E. McLoughlin, L. Daly, P. Butler, M. Connolly (0-5), S. Connolly, F. Fahy, G. Kirrane, P. Ronayne (0-1), F. Conroy (0-1), S. Butler (0-1), M.J. McLoughlin, N. McCarthy, M. Kearns (0-1). Sub: T. Griffin for F. Fahy
Tourmakeady: G. Mulrooney, M. Morrin, V. Hennelly, J.J. Joyce, F. Lally, P. Naughton, T. Heneghan, S. Lydon, E. Mulrooney (1-0), A. Gavin (0-1), P. Gavin (0-1), J. Gavin (0-3), E. Heneghan.
Subs: W. Feely for E. Mulrooney, M. Molloy for S. Lydon, B. Hennelly for J. Gavin.
Ref: T. McNicholas, Kiltimagh.