In taking on Breaffy in last Tuesday’s Division 2 final of the County U16 Football League, Moy Davitts knew they were encountering the only team to have beaten them in the six previous rounds of matches, the Blues having shaded a goal-fest by two points. The margins were even tighter this time around, with just one point dividing the teams. But this time, after an absolutely thrilling spectacle, it was to Moy Davitts who went the victory spoils on a scoreline 1-15 to 1-14.
Making the very most of home advantage, and the fact that Breaffy had two players sent off in the second half, Moy Davitts had edged themselves into a three points lead in the final minutes of what was a tit-for-tat encounter. But before the celebrations came one final fierce rally by the Breaffy boys who ultimately died bravely on their sword.
Breaffy had every reason to feel confident coming into the match; not only had they that previous win over the Moysiders under their belt but they had visited Belmullet in the semi-final where they came away with a very impressive victory. But here, both teams were to begin in a cagey manner, determined not to be as leaky as when eight goals adorned their previous meeting.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring with a fine point from influential midfielder Gavyn McManamon. Moy Davitts full-forward Colm Reape then traded points with Shane Burns as the pace began to quicken with no little skill displayed by either side.
Reape was to have an excellent battle with Breaffy fully-back Oisin O’Connell throughout, and the Moy Davitts attacker was to play a major part in creating the game’s opening goal on the quarter hour mark. The full-forward cut along the end-line and off-loaded to the Seán Ruane who had made an excellent diagonal run to rifle the ball past Breaffy stopper John Vahey. It was tough on Vahey who had produced a brilliant save minutes earlier to deny Reape.
Moy Davitts, who had come into this game on the back of a strong semi-final win at home to Ballinrobe, were well boosted by their breakthrough, as they looked to exact revenge on Breaffy for their earlier loss. But any notion that they were now going to have things all their own way was quickly dismissed when they lost the ball in an attacking position from which Breaffy swiftly moved the ball into full-forward Ravis Pavlios who found the corner of the net. They could have had a second goal moments later but Moy Davitts goalkeeper Liam Carroll made a tremendous save from Luke Kelly’s goal-bound shot.
Wing-forward Luke Comerford linked up with corner-forward Conor Golden which led to another good point, and McManamon, Burns and Kelly were also to raise white flags for the West Mayo challengers, however, Moy Davitts were matching them like for like, so after two pointed frees by the excellent Cian McHale and points apiece by Cathal Clarke, Fiachra Cruise and Colm Reape, the sides were deadlocked at 1-7 apiece by the time the whistle was blown on an entertaining first half which could’ve, and perhaps should’ve, brought more scores for both sides.
Both teams came out with a point to prove in the second half. If Breaffy seemed to possess better fielders of the ball around the middle, then that was counteracted by the hard-running of Cian McHale, who was a real driving force for the winners throughout, and Fiachra Cruise, who were both proving hard to catch. That said, Breaffy began the half brightly courtesy of fine points by Luke Kelly and Davitt Neary but the teams were soon level again when McHale fired over from play ahead of a long-range free by the same player
Moy Davitts, thanks to a single by substitute Ronan Clarke, had just returned themselves to the front, when came a big turning point in the form of a second yellow card to Breaffy midfielder Davitt Neary.
With the title now in the melting pot, this game was quickly becoming about which team could make their scoring run last the longest. With space more and more at a premium, both sides fought tooth and nail, and fouls were conceded at either end. Free-taking was of a high standard with McHale and Cruise landing long-distance efforts for Moy Davitts and McManamon and Pierce Deane replying for Breaffy.
However, with Cruise and Colm Reape also landing scores from play, the home side had manoeuvred themselves into a three points lead, so when Breaffy were dealt a further blow with the sending off of Ravis Pavilos with just under ten minutes left, it looked as though their fate had been sealed. But they never gave up and threw everything at the Moysiders, scoring two points to leave just the minimum between them deep into injury time.
Heroic defending, however, by the Moy Davitts defence in the last few minutes, led to scenes of joy at the final whistle as captain Cian McHale accepted the trophy on behalf of the newly crowned Division 2 champions.