Mayo claimed a crucial away win in a hard fought 2-10 to 1-11 contest against Monaghan in Clones to set them up nicely in the division one table after two rounds.
Any win in division one is welcomed. An away win is all the more impressive and despite this being Mayo's third victory in six years against Monaghan in St Tiernachs Park, you never get anything easy against the Farney men up there as they have claimed some big scalps down the years on their home patch.
Mayo and Monaghan found themselves level at times during the first half last Sunday. This game looked like it had a draw written all over it, but for a 54th minute Jason Doherty goal, that put his side in front, a lead that they never surrendered; a last gasp block on the goal line by Paddy Durcan from a Ryan McAnespie effort insuring Mayo left with the spoils.
Durcan and Lee Keegan, who made his 130th (league and championship ) appearance, marshalled their defence brilliantly, only conceding a point from a free for the last 25 minutes of the contest. Up front, Ryan O'Donoghue led the charge, helping himself to 1-06. He took his goal splendidly and looked every bit the All-star that he is.
The college football conundrum
This was Mayo's first time lining out since the news broke about Tommy Conroy's unfortunate ACL injury sustained while playing for his College, NUI Galway, who are managed by Maurice Sheridan. Conroy's injury will leave James Horan without The Neale speedster for the rest of the campaign, which is a major blow.
A lot has been made lately about the amount of football being played by our elite players and whether county players should be omitted from Sigerson cup duties or vice versa because of the excessive demands and matches they have to play.
This argument has been further brought to light on the back of Eoghan McLaughlin having to leave the field on a stretcher in Clones last Sunday, resulting in him missing his College's Sigerson cup semi final this week. The bottom line is - players love playing in the Sigerson cup and anyone that wins one will certainly tell you of how much they cherish that medal.
The other scenario to take into consideration is that most colleges now offer scholarships to elite sports people to attend their college with the aim of them being successful academically and in whatever sport they excel. It can be a very valuable package for the student to avail of such a scholarship and help relieve some of the financial burden of achieving third level qualifications.
In the University of Limerick's case, who have this year's “Dream Team”, they have up to seven GAA players on scholarships with the sole intention of winning the Sigerson cup. Imagine telling them or the College that has offered you significant financial benefits, that they are not allowed to play in the competition they were brought in to win because your county manager wants to save you for next weekend's league game. It simply isn't feasible.
It would cause nothing but unnecessary flak for the player, who should never be in such a predicament to make such a call. Eoghan McLoughlin is one of those players on a scholarship in UL. Imagine his college manager listening to the radio last Sunday hearing one of his key men is leaving the field on a stretcher and will surely miss a Sigerson semi final and a final if they get to it. Tommy Conroy is also on a Scholarship with NUI Galway and obviously missed their semi final with MTU Kerry this week.
I can only imagine how the Mayo management reacted as he picked up his season-ending injury playing for his college last week. The congested season hasn't helped matters in that regards but the Sigerson cup needs to be recognised. It's prestigious and the players love it.
Back in the day the semi finals and final were played over a weekend at the same venue where the cream of college footballers went on show. If you were in college and a footballer, it's where you wanted to be. Your county set-up took a back seat and grace was granted for you to flourish for your college.
Just when we are hearing on the grapevine about a possible return of Cillian O'Connor who was sorely missed last year, Eoghan McLaughlin joined Tommy Conroy on the injured list - although we hear they are not as bad as originally feared. Will the football Gods ever look favourably on us and give us a full squad to choose from?
Kings from Kilmeena
Massive congratulations to Kilmeena who were crowned Mayo's first ever All Ireland junior champions, beating Kerry champions Gneeveguilla in the final. Despite conceding a last gasp equalising goal in normal time, the Mayo champions rallied brilliantly in extra time to win by 0-11 to 1-06 . The euphoric scenes at the end were a sight to behold. Is there any chance ye can give Jack Carney back to Mayo asap? I wouldn't mind seeing how he fares up against Brian Fenton next week in Croker.