Now that the dust has settled on our fantastic victory over Donegal, it is time to brush it under the carpet and firmly set our sights on Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi final. The August Bank Holiday weekend was truly a brilliant weekend for Mayo football, with our minors also qualifying for the All-Ireland semi final with a rather facile victory over Leinster runners up Westmeath. It is a first minor and senior semi-final appearance at headquarters since 1999, the last time yours truly donned the green and red jersey when we lost to Munster champions Cork.
It is very hard to judge how good our minor team is as you cannot compare it to previous years or judge it over a national league campaign; however you can assess it on this basis. Roscommon are now the bookies’ favourites to win the All-Ireland ( Mayo are second ) after beating the favourites Kildare comprehensively in the quarter final, and we all know about Mayo’s great victory over Roscommon in the Connacht final. Mayo are pitted against Ulster champs Monaghan while ironically Roscommon square up against Ulster runners up Tyrone. We are in with a great chance and there is a real possibility that there may be in an all Connacht All-Ireland minor final, and at the very least our minors get to perform on the hallowed turf in Croke Park in front of a huge Mayo support.
Cynical fouling, referees, and Joe Brolly
After all the debate about black cards, bad refereeing, and Joe Brolly's meltdown it is time to voice my opinion on it. I want to take people back to a national league game in Castlebar this year that Mayo played against Tyrone. In the dying seconds, Stephen O’Neill had the ball on the sideline about 70 or so metres from goal in front of the media tower, Mayo were two points up. A very tired Aidan O’Shea came over to tackle him and after myself pleading with O’Shea live on radio to take O’Neill down, he subsequently rounded O’Shea, centred the ball into the Mayo square, a penalty was given, O’Neill scored it and Mayo lost the game by a point. If Aidan O’Shea fouled O’Neill it would have been cynical, it would have been a yellow card but who in Mayo would care, we would have won the game.
Tyrone have won three All-Irelands with a lot of cynical fouling. Peter Canavan wrestling the Gooch to the ground off the ball springs to mind in one All-Ireland victory, but the history books show that they were the All-Ireland champions. For me the ref has to be given more power, the number of people that said to me that Sean Cavanagh should have got a straight red card for his tackle on Conor McManus in the Tyrone/Monaghan game as he was the last man back and he prevented a certain goal, if I am not mistaken that is a rule in soccer.
The referee should in my opinion have the right to award the perpetrated team a penalty kick even though the foul was outside the large parallelogram. That tackle prevented a definite goal scoring chance, and awarding them a penalty gives the goal scoring chance back to that team that were denied the legitimate opportunity. This may open a whole new debate as to what is actually a goal scoring chance but the ref in that game had no power to do anything else other than what he did, and folks we better get used to cynical fouling because we are playing Tyrone next. If I see Sean Cavanagh bearing down on the Mayo goal in Croke Park on August 25 in the dying moments and Mayo are two points up, I fully expect him to be man handled to the ground by whoever and let a Mayo player take a yellow card for the team. You will not be remembered for being nice; you will be remembered for winning. If Donal Vaughan for example were to try to legitimately tackle Cavanagh and fail and Tyrone end up scoring a goal and beating Mayo in such an instance I do not think this time next year you will hear them down in Kerry or up in Donegal praising the sportsmanship of Vaughan, but more like how naive Mayo were not to foul him.
Joe Brolly’s rant was amusing to say the least, he really lost it. Michael Lyster did not know which way to turn and while I agree with a lot he said, I don’t agree with him saying that Sean Cavanagh is not a man (he’s one of the top five players for the last decade ) and I did not like him berating Mickey Harte’s joy at winning an All-Ireland quarter final, Mickey Harte has had enough trauma in his life and if winning a match brings a smile and a little happiness to him, let him enjoy it Joe. I wonder if two sets of brothers ever lined out against each other at midfield in an All-Ireland semi or final before like the O’Sheas and Cavanaghs will on the 25th, interesting chat in both their households.