1983 Achill vs The Neale


Achill 1-9; The Neale 0-8

Not since 1965, when Achill captured three titles, the county junior championship, the minor league and a Vocational School award, was there as much celebration in the many villages on the island than last Sunday night when the local footballing heroes and their many flag-waving followers returned home with the Pete McDonnell Memorial Cup after carving out a four points victory over favourites, The Neale, in the Mayo junior championship final replay at McHale Park, Castlebar.
In what was a rip-roaring replay, but slightly less in goal-mouth thrills than in the drawn clash on the October Bank Holiday Monday, Achill’s dreams of victory appeared to be washed up on the rocks when they trailed by three points against a South Mayo side destined to make history by winning their first title at this grade. But as they did in the first meeting, the Islanders came storming back in the final quarter in incredible fashion to scuttle The Neale’s ambitions of making their sixth appearance in the decider a lucky one.
When the victory is discussed over the Winter nights against the sound of the lashing waves of the Atlantic, many names will crop up for special mention, but for me, half forward, Tommy Moran, was the engineer behind the Islanders’ great recovery. It was his goal – a lucky one – seven minutes from the end that really blasted the Neale out of contention. He floated a speculative kick into the goal-mouth which appeared to be under full control of John Gerard Moran but, somehow, the ball deflected off his reaching arms and into the net under the crossbar at the far upright.
The Neale, who had Eddie Gibbons back on the team after being forced to miss out the original game due to a two weeks’ suspension, could hardly have expected to have the carpet pulled from under their feet at such a late stage as, up to then, they had been the dominant force concerned but they failed to hammer home fully the control they enjoyed.
It was this failure in the end that possibly cost them the title but it can also be claimed with equal justification that the Neale, after Tony Walsh lifted them into a 0-7 to 0-3 advantage, lowered their guard enough to allow Achill slip into the control tower and remain there until the end. Indeed, The Neale were given ample warnings early in the first half, of Achill’s defence-splitting powers but obviously the warning went unheeded and they paid the price for their lack of concentration.
When Sean Luskin put The Neale on level terms thirty seconds after Gerry Hassett’s opening minute score the South Mayo champions took a solid grip on the trend as they had done in the drawn encounter. Yet, the failure of the attack to turn good midfield possession gained by Tony Walsh and Eddie Gibbons over Achill’s Joey Moran and Tony Lavelle-Gaughan left them scoreless until Tommy Morrin guided over the lead score in the 11th minute. In between, Gibbons had other opportunities to improve his side’s scoring rate but he was well wide of the target on at least two occasions.
To their credit, though, the Achill defence, particularly the half-back line of team captain Terry Madden, flanked by Patrick Coyle and Seán Grealis, turned in some solid work and kept a tight rein on the ever-dangerous Sean Luskin and Tom Morrin on The Neale half forward line. Pat Flynn, who had a great first game and Pat McGrath on the full forward line, were not as effective and this all contributed to The Neale’s failure to reflect the outfield superiority on the score-board.
Coming up to the interval, at which stage The Neale led 0-4 to 0-2, Achill introduced a replacement Michael Gallagher for Patrick Gallagher – which later proved to be a capital move by the mentors in the dug-out, for it was Gallagher, son of Dáil Deputy, Denis, former chairman of the Mayo G.A.A. Board, who lifted the Islanders back in front again with a gallant point eight minutes from time, when he gained possession form a Tommy Moran centre about twenty-five yards out from The Neale goal.
It was eight minutes earlier that Achill started their match-winning recovery when Lavelle-Gaughan narrowed the gap down to three points in the 44th minute. It was from then on that the game began to slip away from the South Mayo side. By the 46th minute only two points separated the teams when Lavelle-Gaughan and substitute, Michael Gallagher, combined to set up Pádraic McHugh for another point, and two minutes later the sides were deadlocked. It was Gerry Hassett who cut the margin down to one point and it was Michael Gielty, after a well-placed centre by corner-back, John A. Cafferkey, who left the sides level.
The agony for The Neale continued less than two minutes later when Moran, from out near the right wing, fired in his shot which outfoxed The Neale’s keeper. The Neale did manage to break a scoreless spell of ten minutes when Luskin pointed, but it turned out to be a brief break in the Achill gallant come-back for just before the end Gielty gave the Islanders a four point victory margin.
Along with Tommy Moran, Terry Madden, Tony-Lavelle Gaughan, Seán Grealis and Patrick McHugh, the winners had other heroes in Pat Burke, Michael Gallagher, John A. Cafferkey, Enda Lavelle and Gerry Hassett.
Scorers for Achill:- T. Moran (1-0); G. Hassett (0-3); P. McHugh, M. Gielty (0-2 each); T. Lavelle-Gaughan and M. Gallagher (0-1 each).
Achill: M. Hasset, E. Lavelle, J.J. Gallagher, J.A. Cafferkey, P. Coyle, T. Madden (capt.), S. Grealis, J. Moran, T. Lavelle-Gaughan, T. Moran, P. McHugh, P. Burke, P. Gallagher, M. Gielty, G. Hassett. Subs: M. Gallagher (for P. Gallagher); P. Moran (for J. Moran).