1991 Achill vs Kilmaine


Achill, 1-13; Kilmaine, 1-7

A tremendous second half display by Achill gave the islanders their first county title in eight years. When the half time whistle went they trailed Kilmaine by six points and the signs looked anything but good for them. But no one could have predicted the manner in which Achill dominated the second period. In that thirty minutes they restricted Kilmaine to one point, a free, and they helped themselves to a goal and ten points. It was a fabulous display by Achill whose football was of an extremely high quality. 

Central to the Achill victory was the display of Michael Darren Gallagher. Without doubt Michael Darren was the most accomplished player on view. While five points is an indication of his accuracy it could hide an all-round display which had him helping out in defence one minute and up in attack in the next. I am sure however that Michael Darren would be the first to admit that this victory for Achill was all about team-work. They let nothing upset them, not even losing their goalkeeper and captain Edward John Grealis before the game, right-half back James McNamara within 30 seconds of the throw-in or the concession of a goal just prior to the half-time break. Problems like those would have ruined a lesser team but not this Achill side. They were going to do things their way.
Achill got off to the worst possible start and with the game barely started James McNamara had to leave the field with an injury picked up in the game’s first piece of action. He was replaced by the youthful Adrian McLoughlin who took up a half forward position with Seán Kilbane moving to the half back line.
Ollie Walsh put Kilmaine ahead in the second minute when he pointed a free from thirty yards. Moments later Marty Mangan replied for Achill to level the scores but the status quo did not last too long as Walsh again was on target from a free to put ahead in the sixth minute. In the eighth minute Mike Bourke put Kilmaine further ahead with a fine point from play. There followed a period of Kilmaine pressure and points from Ollie Walsh and Joe McGrath in the eleventh and fourteenth minute put the South Mayo side four points ahead.
But Achill, despite playing into a strong breeze, did manage some attacks of their own and from two such attacks Michael Darren Gallagher and Pádraic Molloy scores two fine points to leave just three points in it and seven minutes remaining in the first period. Molloy’s point was particularly a good one being the product of a fine move involving Gerry Hasset and Michael Darren Gallagher.
Ollie Walsh with a delightfully pointed free put Kilmaine three points ahead again and it looked like three points would be the Kilmaine lead as the game entered injury time. But not for the first time a man called Joe McGrath entered the scenario. Swivelling a long ball from Colm Walsh and having to contend with an Achill defender hanging out of his jersey he crashed the ball to the Achill net past the despairing dive of Terry Gallagher. It was just what Kilmaine needed and gave them a six point cushion for the second half.
The concession of a goal just before the half time break is deemed to be the worst time of all to concede. There is however the odd occasion when the team that concedes comes out the stronger. For example Achill. In this campaign to date Achill have proved that they can come from behind. Charlestown in the semi-final is the most recent example. Well it was: up until last Sunday. Last Sunday’s second half display by Achill was as good and as constructive a display of football as one could wish to see. Throughout the field Achill dominated. Their determination to succeed and the character right through the team was exemplary. Substitute Adrian McLoughlin had them off to a flier with a point before the first minute had ticked away.
It was the ideal start and two minutes later the goal that all Achill craved arrived. Alan English collected a high ball from Michael Darren Gallagher and turned his man to fire past the diving Padraig Hyland. Now there was only two points in it and only three minutes played in the second half.
Two great pointed frees, taken from his hand, by Michael Darren Gallagher had Achill level after six minutes. Kilmaine lifted themselves from the siege and Ollie Walsh pointed a free after twelve minutes to put them back into the lead. However that was when the Kilmaine challenge ended. Achill took over at midfield where Paul McNamara and Pádraic Molloy were superb. Brendan Keane, Joe Gallagher and Seán Kilbane made up a dominant half back line and behind them Michael Duggan, Noel English and Rory Lavelle cleaned up anything that came their way.
Their great work was not wasted by their colleagues in the forward line and once Michael Darren Gallagher levelled proceedings in the fourtheenth minute there was only going to be one winner. The same player put them ahead from play and Gerry Hasset punched over a point to put Achill two points ahead. The point of the game, and probably the season, came from Peter Lavelle in the twentieth minute, when he sent the ball out on the wing and nearly fifty yards from goal. It was a score that deserved to win an All-Ireland final. The same player made it 1-11 to 1-7 after taking a pass from Michael Darren Gallagher and the final two points came from the young and immensley talented Adrian McLoughlin to leave Achill champions by 1-13 to 1-7.
This was a tremendous performance by Achill. While their courage, determination and character was first class there was an awful lot more to this victory. There was a lot of style about it too. A lot of class. Achill were absolutely superb in that second half and no more worthy county champions could there be. What a boost this should prove to be to the game on the island where emigration is the biggest and hardest opponent. Hopefully this Achill team can be kept together and allowed mature together. They could achieve great things.
Particularly outstanding were Michael Duggan, Noel English, Rory Lavelle, Joe Gallagher, Brendan Keane, Pádraic Molloy, Paul McNamara, Michael Darren Gallagher, Alan English and Gerry Hasset. Kilmaine will want to forget this game quickly. Apart from Ollie Walsh, P.J. Hughes, Mike Murphy, M.J. Mullen and David Loughlin they were fairly anonymous. Not so Achill who had heroes right throughout the team.
Achill: Terry Gallagher, Michael Duggan, Noel English, Rory Lavelle, Joe Gallagher, Brendan Keane, James McNamara, Pádraic Molloy, Paul McNamara, Seán Kilbane, Marty Mangan, Peter Lavelle, Michael Darren Gallagher, Alan English and Gerry Hasset. Subs: Adrian McLoughlin for James McNamara.