Puke football and poor crowds

Fri, Aug 08, 2008

A well known former inter-county footballer, whose name escapes me at the time of writing, coined the phrase “puke football”! He was referring to the ugly defensive style of play that became de rigueur in Ulster counties in the early noughties. Regrettably that phrase was very much in my mind as I watched some appalling fare in Croke Park last weekend. Teams are just so reluctant to kick the ball these days for fear of giving it back to the opposition. We are consequently presented with a game of handball with practically no creativity and most teams packing their defences for fear of getting caught out by a long kick into a porous defence. Perhaps it is time to look at the “off side” rule in Gaelic football?!

I went to Dublin with so much expectation of a good display of football over two days. Sadly, with the exception of the second half of the Kerry v Monaghan game on Sunday it was poor fare. Saturday’s first game, involving Down and Wexford, was extremely poor. When both teams took to the field shortly after a downpour of heavy rain, I was slightly concerned that we might see a lot of slipping and sliding on what can become a treacherous surface in such conditions. I noticed Wexford’s best player, Mattie Ford, undergoing a late fitness test with the team physio as his colleagues carried on with a tidy warm up routine on the other side of the field. Mattie had his hamstring heavily bandaged. Things weren’t looking too good for the Wexford outfit. This prompted me to have a wager on Down minus two points at even money. I honestly thought Down would swagger through a team that got such a hiding from Dublin in the Leinster final. I couldn’t, therefore, believe how poor Down were in this, the first of four games over the weekend at HQ. Mattie, with his heavily bandaged hamstring, kicked a total of seven points over the 70 minutes, reinforcing just how good he really is. Losing my money so early wasn’t a good start for me either!

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All Ireland Minor Championship Quarter-final

Fri, Aug 08, 2008

With the senior side bowing out of the championship in Croke Park last weekend, Ray Dempsey’s minor side will be looking to build on their Connacht championship win over Roscommon when they take on Monaghan on Saturday in Longford in the All Ireland quarter-final. Dempsey was able to mastermind Mayo’s first Connacht minor title in seven years thanks to a narrow win over a battling Roscommon side in Castlebar back in July and this Sunday’s game against the runners up in the Ulster Championship could send Mayo back to Croke Park. While they rode their luck at times in the Connacht final especially in the first half when Roscommon kicked themselves out of the game with some poor shooting, Mayo never let their opponents superiority on the field during the opening half get to them and kept plugging away before they took off on in the second half. Dempsey knows it’s going to be a big ask on Saturday and there is a lot of pressure on his side. “It’s nice to be here but as each game goes by the pressure builds up on you and your team. But this is where we want to be and that’s what comes with it.”

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Yawl Fever Breaks out in Achill

Fri, Aug 01, 2008

The legendary Yellow Rose is the new frontrunner in the Cumann Badoiri Acla Yawl racing season which started two weeks ago in Clare Island. This weekend saw Michael the Shore-Patten from Bunnacurry, Achill skipper his late father Sean's famous 26 footer yawl to two great victories in Mulranny, winning both the Mulranny Old Great Southern Hotel Regatta Cup and the Park Inn Hotel Cup in great style. Weather conditions for yawl racing in both Clare Island and Mulranny were good, though the first race in Mulranny was confined to one lap due to the light breeze, which soon picked up for the second race. Michael The Shore in the Yellow Rose has been the one to watch this year. He started the yawl season in fine form with a number two placing in the Clare Island Yawl Race just two weeks ago. He was beaten to the post by a fine perfromance by the well experienced and celebrated Sean Patten Belfarsad and crew in San Telmo who had a stunning victory in Clare Island just the week before. But Michael TheShore was not to be outdone in Mulranny where he robbed Beagnach Neamh of silver in the first race, and then went on to storm ahead of San Telmo in the second Mulranny race. John Dara O'Malley in Beagnach Neamh had to settle for third place on this outing.

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Mayo athletes hit the road in Balla and Swinford

Fri, Aug 01, 2008

A warm welcome awaits in Swinford for all who make the trip for the fourth race in the 2008 Mayo AC Road Race series. Swinford AC host the Swinford 8km Road Race on Sunday, August 3 at 5pm and it promises to be a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Swinford AC are one of the most progressive, ambitious and successful juvenile athletics clubs in the west and undoubtedly this race will be run with the same level of enthusiasm and efficiency as all their club activities to date.

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Ballinrobe road race coming up

Fri, Aug 01, 2008

People living in the south Mayo and north Galway can look forward to a festival of cycling on local roads on Saturday, and Sunday, August 9 and 10. The two days of racing make up the annual Ballinrobe two-day road race which attracts cyclists from all over Ireland. “This will be a huge event with up to 120 riders, and in the past locals have been able to enjoy some great racing in the region,” said a spokesperson for organisers Western Lakes CC.

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Curtain falls on successful week off football

Fri, Aug 01, 2008

The week-long dizzying festival of football that embraced every corner of Mayo last week came to an end on Saturday afternoon, with the FAI AGM in Breaffy House Resort. The festival of football which was promised by the FAI when they first announced that Mayo would host the AGM was duly delivered upon and from Sunday to Saturday Mayo got football fever. From Killala to Partry and Ballina to Westport, the people of Mayo came out in their thousands to meet and greet the top brass of the FAI, including Ireland senior manager Giovanni Trapattoni whose “walkabout” in Westport was one of the highlights of the week.

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A few classics in championships past

Fri, Aug 01, 2008

And then there were 12, we’re just under three weeks out from the Connacht Final and a dozen sides are left in with a shout. While Armagh, Dublin, Cork and Galway are given another week to ready themselves for the elite eight phase of the competition, tomorrow (August 2) sees Mayo back in action. All eyes were on the draw drum on Sunday evening to see who would Mayo get of the quadruplet of sides who managed to make it through the previous two rounds of action. Each of the potential adversaries had there own pitfalls, Down a side who seemed to be on the up this year with Ross Carr moulding a side, Kildare who bombed so famously against Micko’s Wicklow in the long grass of early summer, but Kieran McGeeney is a man used to getting things done and has picked them up. Monaghan the new darlings of the football world with boundless enthusiasm and with Banty McEnneany patrolling the sideline and celebrating wildly at final whistles. But it wasn’t to be any of that trio, Tyrone were pulled from the hat and they pose their own series of questions that will have to be answered.

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Pressure on O’Mahony and Mayo to deliver

Fri, Aug 01, 2008

Inter-county management is a tough station. The facts speak for themselves this season.

John Maughan and Roscommon parted company after falling out of love in the spring and already this summer vacancy signs have been posted in the football HR departments of Cavan, Longford, Leitrim, Offaly and Meath. Lest we forget, the hurlers of Waterford weren’t long giving Justin McCarthy the heave-ho when things did not go according to plan in the Munster championship.

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Flying the colours from a height

Fri, Aug 01, 2008

The wearing of county jerseys has become extremely fashionable in recent times. It affords the wearer an opportunity to advertise his or her identity in a subtle way that often leads to a conversation about the chances of their team in an upcoming championship encounter. I was descending Croagh Patrick last Thursday morning when I noticed a family bedecked in their county colours. This Fermanagh family was heading for the summit to plant their county colours ahead of the Ulster final replay between Fermanagh and Armagh. Having stopped briefly to engage with them and to offer my best wishes I recognised a striking resemblance of the father of this particular family to that of Marty McGrath, the towering Fermanagh midfielder. He excitedly told me that he was indeed Marty’s brother and, as he would normally travel to climb on Reek Sunday, the clash of fixtures left him with no option but to travel west a few days in advance.

My few prayers and those of thousands of others for Fermanagh could do nothing to stop the juggernaut that is Armagh when they are in mean mode. They have the capacity to smother opposition with their physicality and industrious style of play. Of course they were assisted in this victory by a miss-firing Fermanagh forward line, particularly in the first half when easy scores went a-begging. The beauty of sport is the uncertainty of outcome and that is the reason we have such terrific summer Sundays every year. Fermanagh supporters arrived at Clones last weekend full of hope and expectation that this present crop of players were finally going to land an Ulster title that their efforts over the last four years so richly deserved. Unfortunately for them there was not going to be a fairy tale ending to this romantic journey. However, they have contributed wonderfully so far to this year’s championship campaign and I am sure their loyal supporters will not abandon them next weekend in Croke Park where I expect they can overcome Kildare.

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Mayo look to open the back door

Fri, Aug 01, 2008

With the front door closed by Galway after the Connacht final, Mayo go in search of squeezing themselves through the back door starting with Tyrone tomorrow afternoon. The two-time All Ireland champions, who were kicked to touch at the quarter-final stage of the Ulster championship by Down and have come through the first two rounds of the qualifiers, seeing off Louth and a 13-man Westmeath side last weekend, to arrive in Croke Park with a bit of steam built up.

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Braves gear up for new basketball season

Fri, Aug 01, 2008

The recently reconstituted Ballina Braves Basketball Club is already gearing up for the new basketball season which gets under way in early October. Season tickets for the 2008/09 season will be on sale in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the club’s Division 1 team will play a tough pre-season challenge game against Scranton University, USA, in Ballina Sport and Leisure Centre on Saturday 9 August at 8pm. This should be an entertaining game and all basketball followers are asked to come along and support the home team which will feature a number of the club’s younger players. Pre-season training is now taking place each Wednesday at 8pm and each Friday at 7pm in the Sport and Leisure Centre and new players are always welcome.

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