Wow, can you believe it, London are in the Connacht final after one of the most enthralling and entertaining games the province has produced in a long while. Game over at half time with London being an unassailable 14 points ahead, or so you thought.
The second half will go down in history, in London anyway, they hung on by the skin of their teeth. I was match hopping between the radio and the Dublin and Kildare game, and couldn’t believe what unfolded, the commentators got as carried away as anyone which made for great entertainment. London’s single score in the second half, enough to send them to the Promised Land. Tony Vaughan- the Bangor Erris native had a blinder and was many pundits’ man of the match. Special congratulations to Brian Collins, the former Curry in Sligo player who worked part-time for many years in our shop. It truly is a special time for them having taken two scalps in the Connacht Championship.
London seem to have been taken to everybody’s hearts, sorry for bursting the bubble so quickly, but they will get a football reality check in a few weeks against Mayo, and London will then be easy pickings for whatever county they get drawn against in the qualifiers. Mayo will blitz them in the Connacht final, although I hope they do not for everyone’s sake, but a figure of around 15 points keeps entering my mind. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Boris Johnson in McHale Park, but alas the colourful London mayor won’t be making the trip.
The Dublin juggernaut kept its momentum- the most impressive display of the year by far. This is the level Mayo have to compete at. Despite Kildare going 1-02 in front the Dubs steamrolled them for the next 62 minutes, they are very similar to Mayo. They attack with blistering pace from literally everywhere and they have the strongest panel in the game followed by Mayo. (Note to self before I get carried away, whoever beats the Dubs will win the All-Ireland, if anyone ).
It is somewhat alarming the amount of drubbings that are been dished out at senior inter-county level, very worrying for the teams on the receiving end I thought these days were over but when you see football proud counties with aspirations like Galway and Kildare taking hidings it leaves you a little bemused. It must be so demoralising for the losers after putting in as much effort as anyone. This brings me to my next issue, Friday night Championship matches should not take place, in my opinion it totally disregards the most important factor - the player. The preparation a player goes through to be at the peak of his powers for a championship match is immense; diet, stretching, psychology, hydration, and tactics, are to name but a few things in the inter-county players’ mindset the day of a game, very hard to concentrate on any of them if you are trying to tie down a job in these difficult times. Most of the players taking part last Friday from Carlow and Laois probably had to take the day off work to prime themselves for action.
The Mayo minors had an amazing win over old foes Galway in Roscommon last Sunday after extra time I’m delighted for Enda Gilvarry and all our underage stars as they get to perform on the big stage in front of a much bigger crowd in the Connacht final, it will get a lot more Mayo supporters in to McHale Park early to hopefully celebrate two Connacht Championships.
There are too many club championship matches to mention them all, the game between Westport and Knockmore the most appealing as the winners go through and the losers are out. Will Knockmore bounce back from their surprise home defeat to Charlestown or will Westport continue with their impressive form and reach the quarter finals?
The game between Garrymore and Aughamore is a toss up to see who qualifies, and if Aghamore keep Jimmy Killeen and Enda Varley quiet they might just sneak it. The quarter finals are where it gets interesting and although we know some teams have already qualified, here are the teams I expect to see in the last eight. (1 ) Castlebar, (2 ) Breaffy, (3 ) Ballina, (4 ) Ballintubber, (5 ) Charlestown, (6 ) Westport, (7 ) Ballaghaderreen, (8 ) Aghamore.
On a sadder note, on Monday morning last I was firstly informed of the sad passing of my former county minor and u21 colleague David Loughlin’s son Daithi after battling a long illness, and then the news that Peter Burke’s brother Sean had passed away after a tragic accident in London. I had the privilege of coaching Sean at summer camps and the school of excellence many moons ago, and what a lovely lad - who always had a big smile on his face. My deepest sympathies to the Loughlin and Burke families, it puts winning football matches into perspective.
If you'd like to get in touch with John, email [email protected]