CURRY 1-7 BALLAGHADERREEN (MAYO) 1-15
THEY SAY the best sports-writing steers clear of clichés but describing Curry's 1-15 to 1-7 loss to Ballaghaderreen in last Sunday's AIB Connacht Club Senior Football semi-final at MacHale Park, Castlebar without throwing in the ' Game of two halves' phrase is impossible.
The Sligo county champions dominated the firsthalf of this contest but should have had a much bigger lead than two points at the interval (1-5 to 0-6) ; eschewing three other green-flag chances before and after David Maye's terrific 7th minute goal as well as racking up six wides.
And, oh boy, how Curry were made to pay dearly for those missed opportunities after half-time - a re-energised Ballaghaderreen blitzing their opponents in the game's third quarter and surging into a eight point lead (1-13 to 1-5) by the 46th minute to put the result beyond any real doubt.
Moreover, the south Sligo men's shell-shock at the east Mayo side's rampant post interval response never really wore off either - with their only second-half contribution to the scoreboard two Adrian Marren efforts (51st minute free and 53rd minute point).
Yet, just how this game - and subsequent result - changed illustrates how victory and defeat can hinge on one or two factors.
Curry were simply irresistible in the first-half with crispness in their movement and thought, exemplified by Kenny Morley's clever forays forward to interlink their play and the fleet-footedness of Jason Marren and, especially, David Maye in attack.
Even more significant, though, was Sean Davey's timely salmon-like leaps and fetches in the middle - ably supported by centre-field partner, Brian McDonagh - which provided a platform for their side's pre-interval dominance.
However, when injury forced McDonagh to swap positions with namesake Niall McDonagh before half-time, it seemed to give Ballaghaderreen a pathway back into contention after the break.
With Davey's influence consequently diminishing also, the east Mayo side's No 8, Barry Kelly, pointed from distance on 34 minutes to leave just the bare minimum between the sides (1-5 to 0-7) before No 9 James Kilcullen cracked home their goal a minute later (1-7 to 1-5).
Furthermore, by the 40th minute, Ballaghaderreen had increased their lead to five points (1-10 to 1-5) and the warning signs were already flashing red for Curry.
It got progressively worse for the Sligo representatives shortly after when the next flash of red came from Leitrim referee Eamonn
O'Grady's pocket - Curry's John Feeney sent to the line in the 43rd minute.
Within three minutes the Mayo champions had added three further points and, with 14-man Curry unable to notch anything in return, (cliché time again !) the writing was on the wall for the south Sligo side (1-13 to 1-5).
A somewhat subdued, occasionally doublemarked, Adrian Marren belatedly lifted the siege with those aforementioned scores for Curry on 51 and 53 minutes but Ballaghaderreen replied with a Shane Rogers point and through the impressive Barry Regan (free) to maintain their eight point margin at the end (1-15 to 1-7).
Overall, although Curry aren't the type of side to clutch at straws, they'll doubtless look back on Ciaran Brennan's spurned goal chance in the very first minute and Brian McDonagh and Jason Marren's similarly unconverted opportunities on 12 and 30 minutes respectively and wonder - what if?
Similarly, what if Brian McDonagh had been able to stay in his midfield berth for the second-half ? The factors between victory and defeat perhaps.