It was back to the grindstone for our county players last weekend as most of them had to put the hurt of the previous week's All-Ireland replay loss behind them to help their clubs in their bid to make the play offs, maintain status, and for others to help their team try to avoid being in a relegation dogfight.
All the big guns made it through to the senior quarter finals as expected. Ballintubber were under a little pressure to get a result away to Aghamore after their first round loss to Hollymount/ Carramore. The permutations for group two were not simple. Keeping it local, Charlestown needed to beat Hollymount/Carramore while also relying on Ballintubber to beat Aghamore to maintain their senior status, which meant everything was at stake in Fr O'Hara Park, Charlestown. A win for the visitors could have put them in the 1/4 finals, a loss and they were in a relegation play off if Ballintubber won in Aughamore. It was enthralling being among supporters from both clubs as they were glued to Twitter seeing how the other game was going.
The encounter in Charlestown was a fascinating game dominated from start to finish by Mayo midfielder Tom Parsons who firmly left his disappointment behind him to turn in a man of the match display. Despite Charlestown dominating possession they still found themselves a point in arrears at the break thanks to two goals from Holly-Carra's Kevin Feerick. The first goal from a bad mix up in the Charlestown defence leaving Feerick for a simple tap in. It looked like the game was up for Charlestown on several occasions when they went five down midway through the first half and four down again after 10 minutes of the second half. But credit where it is due, they kept at it and went ahead after team captain Colm Maye scored a contender for goal of the season. His left footed shot had such venom it rifled back off the angled stanchion at the back off the goal and went back into play, leaving many onlookers thinking it had hit the post. It was a serious strike. Charlestown held firm at the end to the delight of the home crowd.
There were some uncalled for unsavoury scenes at the end in the stand but order was soon restored. Ballintubber and Aghamore qualify from group two for the quarter finals. Castlebar Mitchels are still the team to beat and were comfortable winners over Ballina despite having an under strength team, Neil Douglas hitting a very impressive 0-10 points for the reigning champs. Breaffy also made it three from three with a professional away win in Ballindine against Davitts. Liam the “Bear on the Square” Irwin helping his cause for a county call up scoring 0-7.
Games coming thick and fast
Games are coming thick and fast now, the clubs with the strongest panels are the ones likely to prevail. The All-Ireland final replay means clubs will be playing every weekend to find the winners of the Moclair Cup. The Connacht council's decision to move the Mayo champions Connacht Championship opener to Saturday November 5 is a welcome one as it was likely the county final would be played on a Friday evening with the winners having to play again against Sligo champions Tourlestrane on the Sunday had it not been put back. If any of the quarter-finals or semi-finals end in a draw, the replay will have to take place midweek to get the fixtures played, meaning a team would have to play three championship matches in seven days. A nightmare for club managers. The joys of your county getting to an All-Ireland final.
The national nod
The All-Star selection panel decided four of Mayo’s starting 15 did not merit a nomination. Cases could be made for Jason Doherty Seamie O'Shea, Tom Parsons and especially Donal Vaughan, but in reality it was very difficult to select this year's nominees as a lot of players throughout the country did not play with any great consistency. It is great to see Lee Keegan in the mix for the player of the year award, meaning he is a cert for an All-Star, however Brian Fenton is the unbackable favourite for that accolade.
Brolly takes it too far
It seems Joe Brolly cannot resist having a go at Mayo football, this time making it personal with a cut at Robbie Hennelly in his Independent column last Sunday. I know Robbie feels bad enough and so what if he wants to post a message to his followers, it is none of Brolly's business. I am very surprised a man of his intellect decided to kick someone while he was down considering it is a week for reflecting on someone’s health and wellbeing. This is the same Joe Brolly Mayo GAA had as a guest on the eve of the drawn All-Ireland in the City West. The morning after his appearance in the City West he had a scathing attack on the Mayo team calling them “celebrity losers”. I would choose my guests more carefully in future.
Keeping it local
Hard luck to Sarsfields Shamrocks who were on the wrong side of the result against raging hot favourites Castlebar Mitchels in the county minor A final. A measure of how unlucky they were was reflected in the fact that Castlebar net minder Mark Benson won the man of the match award. It was great to see a side amalgamated because of lack of numbers at the minor grade representing themselves with distinction. Well done to Castlebar.
A worthy cause
This Friday night Charlestown Athletic football club are giving their share of their 50/50 draw proceeds to the Gena Heraty Haiti fund which is a very generous gesture. Tickets can be bought at the usual outlets and the draw takes place in Howley's. Anyone wishing to donate just write Haiti on their envelopes.