Another poor weekend for Mayo sides in Connacht

It was another miserable weekend for Mayo GAA clubs against Galway opposition as both Ballyhaunis and Islandeady succumbed to Dunmore and Clifden respectively in the Connacht Intermediate and Junior semi finals.

This of course follows on from Moycullen's 13 point demolition of Westport in the senior quarter final two weeks ago meaning three defeats from three for adult mens Mayo teams against their Galway counterparts. It is a worrying trend no matter what way you look it.

It's 2015 since Mayo's last winners- Castlebar Mitchels won the Shane McGettigan cup and represented Mayo at senior level in the All-Ireland series. Amazingly none of our intermediate winners have even won a single game in the Connacht club championship since Westport claimed provincial glory in 2016.

That's another damning statistic and concerning for the quality of what we are producing at club level in Mayo. There was once a time that the winners of the Mayo senior championship were automatically installed as first or second favourites to claim All-Ireland honours, such was the quality of the teams that won the Moclair Cup. Galway clubs have turned that ideology on its head and are now most definitely the ones to beat.

Charlestown LGFA remain the last Mayo football club team standing as they travel to Longford to take on Longford slashers in the All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday at 1pm. Charlestown have had to dig deep in the all their games to emerge victorious stretching as far back as the Mayo semi-final where they needed extra time to defeat Swinford.

Now they are just one win away from a historic All-Ireland intermediate final and a competitive game on the hallowed turf of Croke Park. They have really captured the imagination and support of the local community with their roller coaster journey to Sunday's semi-final.

Charlestown are entering the unknown against Longford Slashers who defeated Skryne of Meath by 3-10 to 3-06 in the Leinster final. With the strength of ladies football in the Royal County at the moment, it was no mean achievement for Longford to defeat the Meath representatives. It's important to note that Longford Slashers won the Longford senior final and regraded themselves from senior to intermediate to remain competitive within their province as some club teams do in the so called weaker counties.

In fact Longford Slashers have won the last four Longford senior titles in a row, which in turn gives you an indication of what Charlestown are up against. Charlestown will again need to call on all their reserves to win this one and will need strong defensive displays from former Mayo players Ella Brennan and Nicola Meehan along with the three O’Donnell’s, Jennifer, Lauren and Elaine who have put in heroic performances to date. Behind that defence 16-year-old Julia Gawalkiewicz has been in splendid form in goals.

The work rate of Cailin Durkin and Katie Gavin at midfield is unquestionable as both players literally cover every blade of grass. Their defensive tracking and ability to get important tackles in has been a feature of Charlestown's success to date. There is no doubt Longford will be aware of the threat of ace markswoman Deirdre Doherty who has scored 5-19 in her last three games.

Her sister and team captain Chelsea works tirelessly on the forty and carries the ball to great effect to set up scores for her elder sibling. Charlestown will need big contributions from the other forwards who are all more than capable of raising green and white flags on their day.

Let's hope the girls continue on their winning ways. Something a little unique to mention that not many are aware of. If a point is scored in LGFA from a 45 then the score counts as two points. The reason I'm making you aware of this is that Kiltubrid's Michelle Guckian kicked two 45's narrowly wide against Charlestown in the Connacht final and had they gone over the bar the result could have been so different, and not many in the stands would have known why or what happened. Here’s hoping Longford don't have a player with the same belt of a ball as Guckian.

You know something is going down within Mayo GAA when some of the national media are trying to make contact with you as was the case last Monday as word spread that Lee Keegan's retirement was imminent and that Oisin Mullin was going to join the Geelong Cats, a team he was supposed to join earlier this year only for a last ditch change of mind.

As of now Lee Keegan still hasn't decided on his future as he realises with a young family, there are more things to life than football. There is still no official word on Mullin but failure to make an official statement dismissing the rumours on either player is a bit worrying. Losing one would be bad enough, losing two would leave a gaping hole in the Mayo defence and not what Kevin McStay would have bargained for when he took the Mayo post.


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