Castlebar overcome battling Clann
Castlebar Mitchels 3-8 Clann Na Ngael 0-13
First-half goals from Richie Feeney, Barry Moran and Danny Kirby ensured that Castlebar Mitchels lived to their pre-match favourites tag at Dr Hyde Park. But it was far from straightforward against a young, gallant Clann na nGael side that gave as good as they got for long periods.
Clann, making their first appearance in the provincial club championship for 19 years, absorbed the shock of conceding two goals inside the first four minutes to remain in contention throughout. But despite the best efforts of Cathal Shine, Donal Shine and Ultan Harney, they couldn't manufacture the goal they needed to propel themselves back into the mix. Despite playing against a strong breeze, Feeney goaled inside the first minute and Moran raised a second green flag three minutes later following another flowing move involving Ray O'Malley, Shane Hopkins and Feeney.
In fairness to Clann, they responded with frees from Jamie Fahy and Donal Shine, but they were hit again by another sucker punch in the 20th minute when Kirby found the net after a quick free from Moran caught Clann off guard.
But a young Clann side, helped by the introduction of Cathal Callinan and Stephen Flynn, refused to throw in the towel. Cathal Shine landed a free from 50 metres, and two excellent points from play by Harney meant that the Roscommon champions only trailed by four points at the break, 3-3 to 0-8.
The margin was down to just two a few minutes into the second half when a brace of Shine frees hinted at an upset.
However, Castlebar called on their reserves of experience, despite making a plethora of uncharacteristic errors, as Neil Douglas (a free), Paddy Durcan and Hopkins gave the visitors some breathing space.
SCORERS - Castlebar Mitchels: D Kirby 1-1, R Feeney, B Moran 1-0 each, E O'Reilly (2f) 0-2, N Douglas (1f), P Durcan, S Hopkins, J Durkan, C Costello 0-1 each. Clann na nGael: D Shine (8f) 0-9, U Harney 0-2, J Fahy (1f), C Shine (1f) 0-1 each.
CASTLEBAR MITCHELS - R Byrne; T Cunniffe, A Feeney, D Newcombe; P Durcan, E O'Reilly, R O'Malley; G McDonagh, B Moran; S Hopkins, N Lydon, A Walsh; N Douglas, R Feeney, D Kirby. Subs: S Conlon for O'Malley (b/s), C Costello for Walsh (36, b/c), J Durkan for Hopkins (45), F Durkan for Lydon (50), S Keane for Douglas (58), R Burke for Kirby (60, b/c).
CLANN NA NGAEL - R O'Reilly; R Gavin, G Pettit, D Flynn; J Connaughton, S Pettit, F Lennon; C Shine, D Shine; E Kenny, J Dunning, M Scally; J Fahy, U Harney, R McManus. Subs: S Flynn for S Pettit (24), C Callinan for Scally (24), D Pettit for Kenny (h-t), D Connaughton for McManus (51), R Naughton for Fahy (51), A O'Reilly for Dunning (60).
REF - J Gilmartin (Sligo).