The dust has just about settled on the group stages of the Mayo championship and there is never a weekend that goes by that you are not intrigued or partly shocked by some of the results. I’m not quite the expert tipster I thought I was- our east Mayo friends in Aughamore let me down (Jimmy Killeen- the lethal Garrymore forward bagging himself eight points ) along with Tomas Tierney’s Westport who failed to deliver on their promising victory in Tourmakeady.
I should have known the writing was on the wall when I met Declan Sweeney, the Knockmore stalwart and ever present for the last two decades and after I informed him I had tipped Westport to beat them, his reply “we’ll win it handy so”. I can only imagine what’s going through Ray Connelly’s head after Ballinrobe nearly dumped the reigning champions out in the group stages, what could have happened if Donal Vaughan didn’t damage his hamstring and Alan Murphy played- Ballagh’ would probably be out. It’s great to see Andy Moran in fine form for Ballagh and it can only mean a decision headache for James Horan. My own club Charlestown breezed into the quarter finals with a facile win over Tourmakeady. I didn’t look at bookies prices of teams for the Moclair cup but my gut tells me Ballintubber will be hard to beat again, as long as Cillian O’Connor returns. We will all have to anxiously wait for the quarter final draw. It was great to hear Michael Conroy got competitive action again for Davitts after a long lay off and he will be very anxious to get back into James Horan’s starting 15.
We have had a good look at Mayo’s potential opponents for the quarter finals and they have nothing to be fearful of (apologies for dismissing London’s chances ), Cork and Tyrone been the two teams the provincial winners would most like to avoid- but not fear. The Munster final was the only provincial decider where we really didn’t know the outcome before the game started and as impressive as Kerry were in the first half, Cork had their chances and Conor Counihan will be somewhat annoyed he finished with his strongest team and didn’t start with it. How about this for somewhat useless information to remind people of the enormous task facing the underdogs in the other three provincial finals. If we put €10 on Donegal, Mayo and Dublin to win their respective football finals you will get the very paltry sum of €12.41 returned (and that includes your €10 bet ). I don’t remember match odds ever been so favourable for one team in a final. Mayo- 1/500, Dublin 1/12 and Donegal 1/7. If you think any of their opponents have a chance, now is the time to win your holiday.
David Brady almost convinced me that Galway to start at -5 points against Waterford was the bet of last weekend, there must be something seriously wrong in the Galway camp — needing a late goal to beat Waterford whose only scalp in the qualifiers to date was against London a few years back. I could only imagine what the likes of Padraig Joyce and Ja Fallon are thinking of their current county team. We will only know if the easy victories Mayo have been having in Connacht will be a help or a hindrance when they come up against one of the so called “Big Guns”.
Changing codes — I’m not sure if I was the only one who lost a bit of interest in the Lions third test against Australia after the news that Brian O’Driscoll got the axe. I think a player (especially of his stature ) who had started both previous tests is at least entitled to a place on the bench. Imagine if Mayo got to an All-Ireland final and Alan Dillon or Andy Moran (for arguments sake ) weren’t even picked on the panel after performing poorly in the semi-final, I think they and us would be a little miffed. The way O’Driscoll conducted himself after the biggest disappointment of his career is an example to anyone in any sport. A true professional and a gentleman.
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