Four goal Kirby star of the show
GAA: FBD League
By Colm Gannon, Ballinrobe
With 28 minutes gone on the clock on Sunday, the competition for the man who would be making the headlines was well and truly over. It quite possibly was over less than sixty seconds earlier, when Danny Kirby crashed home his and Mayo's third goal of the game. But just to make sure of the accolades, the big Castlebar Mitchels full forward scored his fourth goal in eight truly astonishing minutes.
It's a second win on the bounce for Mayo, but in reality the paucity of the challenge put up by GMIT when the game was still down for decision, saw the second half of the contest played out with the feel of a training game on the eve of a big championship clash. Mayo were so far ahead at the break, that it's easy to understand how they switched off for long periods of the second half, a fact that manager James Horan touched on after the game and was not pleased with.
Conor Mortimer was the man of the moment last weekend when he made his return to the green and red, with his two point cameo. On Sunday he finished off with six points, he scored three in the opening four minutes and three in the closing three minutes of the game. It's not to often that someone will kick half-a-dozen points in a game and not score for 53 minutes of the 60 minute clash.
On a great day for football, with a clear blue sky and a little in the way of a breeze, Mayo kicked off right from the get go with Mortimer pointing a free after two minutes, he followed it up a couple of seconds later by twisting and turning Ballintubber's Myles Kelly who was one of a number of Mayo club men lining out for the college, before landing a great point from play. Mortimer looked like he was going to be the one everyone was talking about on their way home from the game early on. He showed an unselfish side in setting up Evan Regan for a point on his debut four minutes in, and a couple of seconds later he kicked his third point of the game from a free after Danny Kirby had been fouled close in. Mortimer on a number of occasions, during the 60 minutes looked to play the passing option from a free kick when in the past he might have just had a pot at the posts even if it was on the verge of his kicking distance. Regan was amongst a trio of debutants given their chance to impress by James Horan on Sunday, another of those was the youngest of the O'Shea brothers from Breaffy, Conor who capped his performance with a well struck point nine minutes in, to put Mayo five clear.
What GMIT were offering in the way of a counter threat to Mayo was nowhere to be seen early on and a hammering looked to be on the cards from the off. After O'Shea's point, Mayo took their foot off the gas a little and GMIT hit back with a couple of good scores, two pointed frees from Johnny Ryan and a huge effort under pressure from Patrick Sweeney. Peader Gardiner was the next man to put the ball between the posts, with score typical from the Crossmolina breaking down the wing to give an option to a colleague under pressure in a more central position.
It was all Mayo once again, but the next eight minutes it was about to become all about Kirby. He showed a poachers instinct to land his first goal, Lee Keegan took a pot for a point out on the right hand side of the field, but didn't connect properly. Kirby was the first man awake to the dropping ball in front of the goal and he stepped around his man to give himself enough room to get a fist on the ball and put it past Brendan Walsh in the GMIT goal. Three minutes later, Myles Kelly was what looked to be harshly blown up for over carrying the ball 45 meters out. The quick witted Evan Regan spotted Kirby making the run in between the only two defenders left and picked him out with a sublime pass and Kirby confidently stroked the ball under the advancing Walsh. The third came after Barry Moran made a storming run at the GMIT goal before layig it off to Regan who in turn found Kirby who rattled in his hat-tick inside the net. Kirby's fourth goal came with barely 28 minutes gone on the clock, it saw him using his size and strength to win the ball over the head of Aonghus Tierney, before slamming it past the helpless Ballintubber native Brendan Walsh in the GMIT goal for the fourth time in only a couple of minutes. The half was brought to a close with a GMIT point from Johnny Ryan, but the outcome of the contest was well and truly dead by that stage even.
The second half saw, Jason Gibbons given an opportunity to impress in the middle of the park when he replaced Pat Harte to partner Barry Moran for the second half. But impress in the second half is something that a lot of Mayo players didn't do. They weren't as hungry to the ball at the breaks, they turned over a number of balls in promising attacking positions, failed to clear their defence properly and left the half forward line as virtual by standers for a lot of the half, rather then use them as an attacking platform.
Credit must be given to the students, it could have been easy to just let the heads drop completely at the break, but they didn't and they kept plugging away. Cathal Sweeney and Diarmuid Cronin kicked early points for them in the second half. Kirby added a point to his total when he fisted over from close range. The form he was in going for goal, he would have been forgiven if he chanced his luck for goal number five in the position he found himself in. That score came in the 38th minute of the game, it would be another ten minutes before Darren Coen kicked Mayo's next score of the half and ten minutes after that again when Conor Mortimer would round off the Mayo scoring with three in the space of three minutes between the 28th and 31st minute of the half. In the intervening ten minutes spells between those points, Mayo were lack lusture on a number of occasions on and off the ball.
But they did the damage in the first half and have another win under their belts, the game also gave an opportunity for the likes of Evan Regan, Conor O'Shea and Michael Walsh to make their senior inter-county debuts. Next up is Roscommon in Ballinlough and after that, the FBD League final against NUIG in all probability in a couple of weeks.
Mayo: D Clarke; E Reilly, G Cafferkey, M Walsh; P Gardiner, K Higgins, L Keegan; B Moran, P Harte; C O'Shea, D Coen, K McLoughlin; E Regan, D Kirby, C Mortimer. Subs: E Varley, J Gibbons, A Feeney, S O'Shea.
GMIT: B Walsh; M Kelly, A Tierney, D Lee; C Sweeney, J Duane, J McLoughlin; A Walsh, S Boyle; D Durkan, J Ryan, N Prenty; D Cronin, P Sweeney, N Farragher. Subs:
Ref: TJ Keavney (Sligo)