1965 Achill vs Kilmaine


Achill, 4-6 Kilmaine, 2-4

Achill, our doughty island heroes, won a lot more than the County Junior Football Championship at McHale Park, Castlebar, on Sunday last. In defeating Kilmaine, the invincibles of junior football, they not only won a title which had eluded them for over a quarter of a century but also won back some priceless prestige they had allowed trickle away in their semi-final game against Bangor the previous week.
Make no mistake about it, this Achill side meant business. A record attendance, gate receipts, £193, saw them take an early lead, lose it minutes later, but coming back in the second half to clinch the issue. And so after many years of fruitless endeavour, they bring the coveted cup back to the island.
Achill had eight points to spare at the final whistle and they deserved every one of them. They were the complete masters right through the second half, and their play at times was delightful. Indeed I found it hard to believe that this was the same team I had seen labour against a very poor Bangor the previous Sunday in the semi-final.
The game was exciting, and I don’t believe I heard more vocal encouragement in any championship game than during the course of this contest. Kilmaine, hot favourites to bring another title back to South Mayo, travelled in style. Their many supporters sported coloured hats etc., and McHale Park looked more like Croke Park on All-Ireland final day. And they were not found lacking when it came to urging their heroes.
Achill, with slight wind advantage, got off to a dream start. Before Kilmaine had time to get the “feel” of the field, the men from the West had scored two goals and a point. Now, to any opposition this dream start would have brought about immediate downfall. But not Kilmaine. They fought back gallantly and by the twenty-third minute they were back on level terms. It was during this period that football was at its best. Play swung from end to end, and it was obvious that the large attendance was enjoying every minute of it.
Achill’s opening scores were well taken. First Seán Murray scored a goal from a Moran centre. A minute later it was Moran scoring a goal from Murray’s centre. And for five minutes after this score, the Kilmaine goal had a charmed life. The winners should have scored a third goal but the ball hit a defender’s leg and was cleared.
But just when it seemed as if the Kilmaine side was in for a right dubbing, the veterans of their side came to their rescue. In the twelfth minute Brendan Keane gained possession far out and after making some headway his path was blocked. But he scrambled the ball away to Larry O’Dea who went on a dashing solo run before shooting the ball to the Achill net for the finest goal of the game.
Ruddy had an Achill point but there was no stopping of Kilmaine. Three minutes later John Joe Gibbons grabbed the ball in the centre of the field and started off on one of his many fine solo efforts. He parted to Larry O’Dea and after the red-haired school teacher had made some further headway in the general direction of the Achill goal he parted to an unmarked Brendan Keane who promptly sent it to the net for his side’s second goal.
O’Dea and Keane scored two long range points in as many minutes to leave the sides level with six minutes of the first half still to go.
With time running out, Kilmaine took the lead for the first and only time when Brendan Keane sent over from close range. But their lead was short lived as Seán Murray was on hand to send over the bar following a free.
There was much speculation during the interval as to who would gain the upper hand during the second half.
It was not long before the answer became painfully obvious. Three minutes after the resumption Murray had an Achill point. Two minutes Ruddy scored their third goal from a Pat Kilbane centre. Almost immediately the long kicking Tom Cafferkey sent over for yet another Achill point. This left five points between the sides, and although Tom O’Malley reduced the lead with a point from a free, the winners hit back in the closing quarter and James Kilbane was on the mark to score a goal and a point. Kilmaine failed to reply.
As I said, there were passages of brilliant football during the first half when both teams were seen at their best. Play swung from end to end in delightful fashion and it was a pleasant change from what we were accustomed to see during the past few months.
But a smooth running Achill team came out on top in the second half. They were much too crafty for their opponents and used the open spaces of McHale Park to better advantage. They appeared to be a fitter side and stuck to their task with dogged determination right up to the end.
It was a thoroughly deserving victory, but all praise to Kilmaine who also put up a creditable performance. They were unfortunate to have met Achill when the Island men were at their destructive best.
This was strictly a team victory but the displays of many Achill men stand out in my memory. Big Pat Kilbane cleared often at full back and when he thought the wiles of Brendan Keane were too much for him he switched with goalie Eamon Kelly. But Kilbane was at full back again when they lined up for the second half.
Murray and Kelly were solid wing backs while Eamon Kelly in goal had many fine saves to his credit.
Tom Cafferkey was not the commanding figure I had expected him to be but he nevertheless put in a lot of hard work. His wing men Molloy and English, played some delightful football throughout the hour.
Pat Corrigan played his heart out at midfield and was like a human dynamo throughout. His partner Joe McNulty displayed his craft and talent on several occasions during the course of the game.
The attack moved like a well-oiled machine. Pat Kilbane on the forty was the vital cog and played some delightful football. Murray, James Kilbane, Ruddy and Moran were also particularly effective.
Jackie McHugh, making a return after a long absence, tried hard but was lacking match practice and was replaced by McFadden in the second half. McFadden proved dangerous when in possession.
Scorers for Achill were: S. Murray, 1-2; M.J. Ruddy, 1-1; J. Kilbane, 1-1; J. Moran, 1-0; P. Kilbane and T. Cafferkey, 0-1 each.
Achill: E. Kelly, B. Murray, P. Kilbane, P. Kelly, S. Mulloy, T. Cafferkey, M. English, P. Corrigan, J. McNulty, J. Kilbane, P. Kilbane, J. McHugh, S. Murray, M.J. Ruddy and J. Moran. Subs: J. McFadden for McHugh.
For the record, Achill had five wides during the game, three in the second half.