It's been a rollercoaster ride though this year’s National Football League for Mayo so far and last Sunday was no different. The game saw Mayo lead Kerry by eight points at one stage in the first half, but ended with them clinging on manfully to hold out against the Kerry challenge as long as possible when they were forced to play the last 25 or so minutes with only 14 men – following Lee Keegan’s dispatch for an early shower after he was suckered into a sloppy foul resulting in a second yellow flashed in his general direction.
Mayo laid down the marker early on in Tralee and satisfaction must have struck James Horan seeing his opposite number Jack O'Connor forced to empty the stars from the bench early in the second half. Paul Galvin, Darren O'Sullivan, Declan O'Sullivan and Marc Ó'Sé were all summoned from the bench to try and wrestle the game back from the men in red last Sunday. In contrast, Mayo's subs contained Evan Regan, Shane McHale and Kevin Keane, three inexperienced players who will have learned a lot from their time on the field.
Both sides will get to do it all over again on Sunday when they meet in Croke Park in the league semi-final. This game is a bonus prize for Mayo who had to stare relegation in the face and question marks over the direction they were going following some poor performances midway through the league campaign. But they pulled together and in the space of eight days ran riot against the All Ireland champions, refusing to bend the knee in defeat to the enemy that that has so often inflicted serious scars on the Mayo football psyche over the past decade and a half.
Their prize for such resilience is the chance to do it all again in Croke Park on Sunday as part of the league that has been fertile ground for Mayo over recent years, with league final appearances in 2007 and 2010, the 2007 appearance the last time that Mayo had to jump through the semi-final hoop to make the league final.
The 15 that James Horan picks for Sunday's game will provide a talking point for Mayo GAA fans throughout today up to the unveiling of the team which is expected to be announced after training. Horan has run the changes consistently throughout the league so far and it will be interesting to see will he pick his considered best 15 or continue to chop and change to give all his squad valuable game time ahead of the start of the championship.
Mayo GAA in mourning
The Mayo GAA community was in mourning this week when popular Belmullet man Eddie Cuffe passed away on Tuesday. Eddie was a former Mayo GAA President, Assistant Treasurer and loyal supporter of the county and his club. He will be laid to rest today, Friday April 13 after funeral mass in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Belmullet at 12 noon.
Breaffy boys live the dream in Croke Park
The Breaffy u12 footballers will be looking forward to living out a dream when they take to the field in Croke Park today, Friday April 13, as part of the Connacht Activity Days. The squad will get a chance to play three games on the famous turf and will get a tour of the Croke Park museum. They will be led by the management team of Tom, Pat, Stephen and Gary who will be looking after the team on the trip to GAA headquarters.
Former Mayo senior team manager, John O’Mahony, has described the death of the former President of the Mayo GAA Board, Eddie Cuffe, as leaving a void in the world of both Belmullet and Mayo GAA that will be impossible to fill.
“Eddie was chairman during my term as Mayo manager when Mayo won the Connaught Championship in 2009 and it was an absolute pleasure to work alongside him. He was always so encouraging and supportive and we enjoyed a wonderful relationship.
“I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing. Eddie had that great, but rare, quality of endearing himself to everyone he came into contact with. He will be an enormous loss to the Mayo GAA community but especially to his wife Margaret and beloved family members in Belmullet,” he said