I know what it feels like to lose, having been there on several occasions throughout my sporting career. It never gets any easier and you just cannot prepare for it. I was in the losers’ enclosure with the Crossmolina football team again last Sunday, having come up short against Knockmore for the second year running. It is standard practice that the manager of a team would say a few words on such occasions and it is not an easy thing to do. I tell them that the hurt they are feeling can help to push them on for next season. The ugly feeling can propel them to greater heights if channelled in the right direction, and there is no point in apportioning blame on anyone or anything just now. It is not a time to be feeling sorry for themselves, but I can and do fully understand why they look so weary and broken-hearted. I tell them how proud I am of their efforts and in my eyes they are not losers. These lads prepared as professionally as any inter-county team. They are ordinary lads with ordinary jobs who made an extraordinary effort over the past eight months. Many postponed holidays, left building sites hours ahead of schedule to train with the club. I acknowledge that enormous effort, but at the same time I tell them that there are no guarantees in sport. Winning a county title does not come easy, irrespective of what people might think. I mention the enormous effort and sacrifices men made decades earlier just to get to see a football match never mind play in them. There is no point lamenting what might have been, but the preparation for next year must start now. It is important that young footballers continue to grow and develop and equally important that they do not give up after a defeat. Crossmolina are top of the league table with four games left and we will be doing our best to win that title. It is important that we do not throw away the opportunity to continue to progress.
Knockmore stand out at the moment
I watched all games last weekend and if I were to put my neck on the block as to who I think will win the county title, I would have to say Knockmore. They are strong and competitive and they play with a manliness that makes them hard to beat. Aidan Kilcoyne is injury free and looks like he is coming back to his best after a long battle with injury. Kevin O’Neill, despite the mileage on the clock, is still a huge threat from free kicks. They will be hard to beat.
Ballintubber just about got the better of Ballina last Saturday evening. It was a very poor game and James Horan does not need me to tell him that improvement is necessary if they are to have any chance of winning the title. Alan Dillon proved the hero with the winning score close to the finish. Ballina still had a number of chances to equalise but just did not have the fire power up front. Castlebar just about got the better of local rivals Breaffy. I expected this game to be easier for the Mitchels, but they would be the first to admit that they just did not sparkle on the day. Breaffy, failing to score in the first half against a strong wind, left themselves with an uphill battle. They did manage to reduce the margin to a single point, but just were not good enough to win it. It was not easy on the eye, but Castlebar are into the semi finals and I would gladly swap places with them today. Shrule/Glencorrib pulled off the shock of the weekend. Kenneth Mortimer had his team well prepared and despite conceding two comical goals to the county champions, Charlestown, they dug deep and deserve great credit for their big win.
I believe the draw for the semi-finals has not been made by the County Board yet and probably will not be made for at least another week. Apparently the County Board has justified not making the draw as it does not want any shadow boxing in the league games before the semi-finals. I think this is both wrong and unfair to the clubs involved.
I did not get to see the Down v Kildare match because of the matches in McHale Park, (the decision to put on games that clashed with this attractive game perplexed many ). I did see the highlights and it had many talking points. Down are in the final and on the balance of play, I think they deserve to be there.