Some articles from the Connaught Telegraph from 1996 to 1999
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8 October 1997
Knockmore 1-11 - - - Kiltimagh 0-9
Match Report by John Melvin
KNOCKMORE, the great survivors, once again dug deep into their vast reservoir of craft and experience and found that there is still plenty left in the tank, as they survived a first half Kiltimagh tornado to retain their title and collect their eight championship in all.
In an invigorating and well contested county final, which attracted around 5,000 to McHale Park on Sunday, Kiltimagh powered by sheer grit and iron will, made it very clear from the word go that they had not come to their first final for a mere sight-seeing tour.
In fact, had their industry and determination been matched with scores, they would have been a lot more ahead than just three points at the interval 0-6 to 0-3.
Those six points came in a devastating thirteen minutes spell and I have no doubt, had they been able to maintain that early momentum, a new name would be appearing on the Moclair Cup.
They rattled off those scores as they literally tossed Knockmore to the wind. Kiltimagh's defence, particularly the half-back line, played out of their skins. John Finn and Ger McNicholas had stamped their authority on midfield breaking a lot of ball which was snapped up by the half forward line while full-forward Martin Byrne was knocking down every high ball that was being pumped in his direction.
Shane Gilmartin, one of the many outstanding defenders on the day, kicked Kiltimagh into the lead inside a minute and Adrian Forkan (free), Brendan Mooney, Forkan with another free, and from Peter McNicholas saw Kiltimagh go clear.
It was good football from the side who had been rank outsiders before the start of the championship and it was a transformed side that emerged onto McHale Park on Sunday.
It took Knockmore a long time to realise, that not only were they in danger of losing their crown, but they were looking at a serious beating.
And, as has been the situation in the past, when Knockmore are in trouble, invariably it is the experienced heads that come to the rescue.
And so it was. And the main man' who kept them in this game until they could regroup at half-time was Padraig Brogan. He stroked over two frees, the first in the 23rd minute for his sides opening score, and a added magnificent fifty into the wind just on the stroke of half-time.
And had luck favoured him even a half-an inch lower, he would have pulled out one of those magnificent goals on which his reputation was built during his glorious reign as a county footballer.
Mayo keeper Peter Burke hardly saw the bullet that went over his forehead as Brogan's thunderous drive crashed off the crossbar and was cleared away.
But he was to find the net at a critical period. Kiltimagh tossed away three early second half chance of pulling further away and then in the 37th minute, Thomas Morley, who had vigilantly shadowed Ray Dempsey all afternoon, was unfortunate to slip on a greasy surface just as a high ball was pumped into his area.
Dempsey, alert as always, read the situation perfect, and showed the value of his craft and experience gained over the years by providing the neatest of touches into the path of Padraig Brogan. Peter Burke advanced in and effort to deny the space, but Brogan managed to round him and squeeze the ball home despite desperate attempts by the Kiltimagh defence to get to it in time.
In a flash Knockmore had puled level and in another flash they went into the lead for the first time, Kevin Staunton kicking a magnificent point.
Within another three minutes Knockmore had come from a goal down to go a goal up- 1-6 to 0-6.
Kiltimagh were stunned, a and not without good reason. They had worked so hard as a team to build up that lead and in a space of five minutes it had all been blown away.
But the heads didn't drop. But now it was Knockmore who were getting the breaks. Kevin Staunton and Declan Dempsey, who were well out of it in the first half, were getting on top.
Ray Dempsey was a constant thorn up front, while Joe Davis and Peter Cawley, anonymous figures in the first half, were now being carried on the Knockmore tide which was rising higher and higher.
John Finn did provide Kiltimagh with a momentary reprieve, his point reducing the gap to just two, fifteen minutes from the end. However, in typical Knockmore fashion they struck back straight away, Staunton the provider and Peter Cawley finishing well, while Shane Sweeney added another, as Knockmore began to find acres of space in a Kiltimagh defence which decided to throw everything into attack.
Adrian Forkan did keep them in touch, but Peter Cawley, availing of another intelligent flick from Dempsey, found himself face to face with only Peter Burke in his path, but he wisely passed up the opportunity of perhaps the glory of a goal, to punch over the bar. It was the point that settled the argument and pushed the gap to four with five minutes remaining.
Dempsey and Davis added further points but we knew the ending of this script from once the Bomber' had declared that this was another day when he was willing to answer the call, when his club was in trouble, and believe me they were in trouble.
But it wasn't by any means a Lone Ranger job. Declan Sweeney, having been troubled by Martin Byrne for the first quarter, had an excellent game at full back. Fergus Sweeney also had a bad start but grew in stature as they game progressed, while Liam Armstrong completed a full back line which eventually got on top.
Peter Butler did not exert his usual influence but still managed a lot of important covering while both Graham O'Hora and Liam McHale emerged a central figures for Knockmore in the second half while Pat Reape, despite one or two scary moments, was a commanding figure between the post.
Kevin Staunton left a major imprint on the game, his work and deliveries proving crucial in the second half, while his partner, Declan Dempsey, very much out of sorts in the first half, came good in the end.
Up front Knockmore's full forward line of Brogan, Dempsey and Sweeney were all in line for the man of the match awards', but on my vote it would have to go to the Bomber'.
Joe Davis, Peter Cawley and Tomas Bourke also produced when Knockmore needed it most.
Kiltimagh can't be too disheartened, despite losing. They played some tremendous football and in the end just couldn't match Knockmore in craft and experience.
Kevin Foley and Shane Gilmartin were two players who shone in a defence which had some tremendous displays from Thomas Morley, Seamus and Sean Cosgrove and Greg Mulhern. Peter Burke couldn't be faulted for the goal and a feature of his game was those tremendous kick-outs.
Ger McNicholas and John Finn couldn't be faulted for their efforts at midfield while Adrian Forkan, Brendan Mooney, Peter McNicholas and Martin Byrne gave it all they could. It was never going to be enough against a team like Knockmore, still the team to beat in Mayo, but I sense Kiltimagh will be back if they can keep this committed bunch together.