“Let there be no question, we were very lucky against Galway. Having played a championship game stood to Galway.” Said Mayo minor manager Enda Gilvarry ahead of his side’s Connacht Minor Football Championship final against Roscommon on Sunday at noon. The manager who guided Mayo to All Ireland success in his first year in charge of the team almost saw this year’s crop of minors dumped out of the championship at the very first hurdle against Galway a few weeks ago, but the battling characteristics that defined last year’s charge to All Ireland glory were on show when they battled back to eke out a single point win in Tuam Stadium.
Mayo only led their semi-final once, when team captain Cian Hanley kicked the late winning point from a free. Hanley, who missed out on taking to the field in last year’s final after a nasty shoulder injury in the semi-final ended his season early, is looking forward to leading his side on to the field on Sunday against Roscommon. “After what happened last year with the shoulder injury and losing out in terms of playing in the All Ireland final it’s great to be back and to be captain of this team.”
Hanley, like his counterpart in the Mayo senior team Andy Moran, hails from Ballaghaderreen so there will be plenty of talk around the town ahead of the game. “We know that we’ll be up against a very good Roscommon team. Being from Ballaghaderreen, I know a good few of their team and have played with some of the panel for St Nathy’s. There’ll be good banter around the town, with some supporting Roscommon and some Mayo.”
Gilvarry hopes that his team can take a similar path as last year’s team and with a place in the All Ireland quarter-final now assured, he hopes they can grow with each game. “Last year it was something similar with the team improving with each outing going on to win the All Ireland, the more games you get to play in the championship the better.”
Since the Galway game all energies have been on Sunday’s match and he knows it is going to be a tough task. “All of our concentration is on the game against Roscommon, they had a very good win over Leitrim and they’ll be coming to MacHale Park in confident mood. However we won’t be worrying about them and all our work will be on our own game and trying to improve on our last day out.”
Gilvarry went on to say that he hoped that the Mayo supporters would come out early on Sunday and get behind the team. “I’d say one thing, I’d hope the supporters come out early and give this minor team the support. They came in time for the All Ireland final last year and it helped drive the boys on to succeed.”
The game itself promises to be an exciting encounter, Mayo showed the heart and fight that champions have to come back from behind against Galway in their semi-final, while Roscommon created a bit of a stir by seeing off what was a very well regarded Leitrim minor team in their semi-final. The Roscommon manager Fergal O’Donnell knows a thing or two about winning All Ireland titles with this grade, having been in charge of the Roscommon team that won the All Ireland in 2006, and he has put together another well drilled, hard working, outfit this year. Hubert Darcy and Noel Gately along with Shane Mannion and Luke Carty are all good young players and will put it up to the Mayo boys.
Mayo are expected to be without midfielder Matthew Ruane who injured his ankle in club action recently, Hanley will be ably assisted by the impressive TJ Byrne, Barry Duff, and the livewire that is Sharoize Akram on Sunday. There is not expected to be to much between these sides, so get in early for what should be a cracker.