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Some of the great modern GAA breakthroughs

24 October 2010; John Feeney, Ballintubber captain, celebrates at the end of the game with manager James Horan. Mayo County Senior Football Championship Final, Castlebar Mitchels v Ballintubber, McHale Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

Words by Shane Stapleton

Simonstownwon their firstMeathsenior county title in 2016 in what was Seamus Kenny’s 19th season in the team.TheNavanoutfit aren’t the only team to break their duck in recent times, withCarberyRangers doing likewise in Cork this year.

Below is a selection of sides who have made history in this millennium.

2002 —Ballymahon1-11Clonguish0-12


Ballymahonis the second-biggest town inLongfordbut they won their first and only county title in 2002. FrankieDolan, ofRoscommonfame, was drafted in on a transfer after falling out with native club St Brigid’s. It helped smooth the changeover that his uncleDessiewas manager of theLongfordside. Paul Barden’sClonguishwere on the wrong side in the final and the crucial goal came from county teammate TrevorSmullenfive minutes after the interval.Dolanended up being the difference, nailing 1-8 from play, before moving back to Brigid’s in 2004.



2007 —BallybodenSt Enda’s 2-13 St Vincent’s 1-5


The omens weren’t great forBallyboden, facing into a sixth final without yet tasting success. Even more so when three of their players — MartinO'Sullivan, JamesDoodyand James Duffy — were involved in a car crash inTempleogueon the way to the match. It was a bad enough collision that both cars were written off. With O’Sullivan andDoodydown to start, manager Liam Hogan had a decision to make and he accepted his players’ insistence that they were good to go; how right they were.ConalKeaneyandEndaKinsellafound the net asBodeneventually ran away with this one, and indeed the county title for five years unbroken.

2008 — De LaSalle0-11Abbeyside0-9


It seems amazing now to think that De LaSalleonly won a first county in 2008. JohnMullane, one of the county’s finest ever players, scored a couple of points in atrocious conditions on a wretched day inFraherField. Three years earlier,DLShad lost toBallygunnerby a point but they started like a house on fire againstAbbeyside— going 0-7 to 0-0 ahead during the first half. The deficit was brought back to two but De LaSalleheld on before winning a maiden Munster crown.

mullane

2010 —Ballintubber0-8CastlebarMitchels0-5


Jason Gibbons, Alan Dillon andCillianO’Connor ran the show asBallintubberended their long wait. JamesHoranhad just been installed as new Mayo boss and these three stars would be important players for him with the green over red. In the county final of 2010, they were very much the underdog but Dillon pulled the strings, helping then county minor captain O’Connor on his way to three points.


2011 —Glenswilly1-8 St Michael’s 0-9


In what was just their second ever finalGlenswillyfound glory in front of 6,500 supporters atBallybofey. Michael Murphy was the star, kicking 1-7 of 1-8 againstChristyToye’s Michael’s. Murphy’s goal early in the second half was a thing of beauty, fielding a high ball before smashing it in on the turn.

2012 — St Thomas’ 3-11Loughrea2-11


The club had been in and out of the senior ranks inGalwayfor a number of years but they finally made the big-time when they won their first county senior title in 2012. It was a crazy season though, because they lost the first-round game toGortand ended up playing a knock-out game for relegation against Liam Mellows. From seven points down at half-time, they came back to win and got into a group stage that gave them a route back to the final. There they metLoughreain what will always be remembered as the JohnnyMaherfinalwhere Thomas’ won by 3-11 to 2-11. They went on to win the All-Ireland clubSHCby beatingOffaly'sKilcormac-Killougheyon St Patrick's Day 2013, with six Burke brothers in the team (Éanna, David andCathal,Darragh, Kenneth andSeán).

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