The Growth of Davitts… from Junior to Senior
In 1976 Davitts made the welcome transition from junior to intermediate after their success at winning the South Mayo junior title in 1975. Our first outing was against Ballintubber in Ballinrobe where inexperience proved to be a telling factor against us and we were defeated by 4-7 to 2-10.
In the league final of the same year however we had more success and reached the county final only to lose to Lacken. We commenced the 1977 championship with a resounding win against Louisburgh on the scoreline of 1-16 to 1-7. This gave rise to much optimism but this was dispelled in the second round where we fell to the power of Kilmaine for whom the McGrath brother Joe and Des played leading roles.
The panel to represent Davitts that year was: C. Hyland, J. Stephens, E. McLoughlin, A. O’Malley, F. McGrath, G. Kirrane, S. Connolly, M. Connolly, F. Fahey, MI. Griffin, L. Prendergast, E. Griffin, L. Daly, F. Conroy, J.P. Rattigan, M.J. McLoughlin, B. McGrath, N. Hennelly, T. Waldron.
The experience gained in the previous two years began to show in 1978 when we accounted for Ballinrobe rather easily in the county semi-final showdown with Kiltimagh. In that final at Castlebar, Davitts dominated the play but failed to translate our outfield dominance on the scoreboard and lady luck turned her back on us so we went down by the narrowest of margins 0-6 to 0-5.
Following our defeat of 1978 we faced Ballinrobe the following year full of hope and confidence. However, we were sadly disappointed as we were well beaten in a hard game, 2-5 to 0-3. Ballinrobe went on from here to take the county title.
Davitts bounced back again in 1980 however and had a most emphatic win over Bonniconlon in the county semi-final. Surely we could erase memories of the previous years final disappointments as we faced Crossmolina in the decider. Once again however our aspirations were dealt a bitter blow and we went under by 1-7 to 0-6. Many Davitts’ supporters must by now have been wondering would we ever win an intermediate title.
The year 1981 however was to make up for all those previous years’ disappointments. We entered the senior league for the first time and got our first taste of senior football against Ballaghadereen in Ballindine where we lost 3-9 to 1-8. However, we followed this defeat with wins over Hollymount (1-9 to 0-9), Kiltimagh (2-11 to 1-10) and Ballinrobe (2-11 to 1-10). By the half way mark of the league we were joint second with Garrymore on 10 points.
Meanwhile the intermediate championship had commenced and Davitts kept up the winning sequence with a 3-8 to 1-2 victory over Glencorrib at Ballinrobe. We were strong favourites to account for Balla in the county semi-final but we were very lucky to snatch a draw with a late point from a free by Martin Connolly. The replay at Kiltimagh however turned out to be something of an anti-climax with Davitts completely on top and running out convincing winners 2-9 to 0-4.
And so we faced our third intermediate final with a certain amount of trepidation and caution as a result of our two previous final appearances. This time, however, it was to be third time lucky as we took our first intermediate final by the narrowest of margins over Tourmakeady 0-9 to 1-5.