Castlebar Mitchels county champions 2013 has a nice ring to it particularly if you are from the county town. The Mitchels won with a bit to spare, however they did their level best to keep us on the edge of our seats giving Breaffy a glimmer of hope with some wayward shooting, they did not put this game to bed until the 56th minute despite being so comfortable. When you are only a goal up there is always a chance your opponents could sneak in against the run of play. It is hard to believe it is 20 years since Castlebar won the Moclair Cup. Little did Tom Reilly know when he captained them back in 1993 he would have two sons playing against each other in a county final. I could still nearly name the Castlebar team that claimed that crown.
The horrible wintry conditions did not make for pretty football last Sunday and forced a lot of handling errors and wayward passing from both sides. One particular shower in the second half had supporters and players cowering for shelter and the dimming natural light forced the floodlights to be turned on. Bottom line is Pat Holmes will not care how his team performed, they achieved what they set out to do. I did find it strange while talking to “Holmesy” after the game that he did not realise his team were playing Corofin next in the Connacht Championship, obviously his focus was on one thing. He was out of breath when I rushed him up the media tower steps for an interview, leading me to think “Mobile Holmes” is not as mobile as he used to be (a private joke ). Breaffy will be wondering what might have been but when their two main weapons, Aidan and Seamus O’Shea, were engulfed every time they got the ball in the second half forcing them to lose it or simply over carry, the writing was on the wall. The conditions did no little to contribute to that and the brothers got frustrated time and time again.
Up front Breaffy needed big performances from four or five of their forwards but that did not materialise. Tom Cuniffe snuffed out the danger of Alan Durcan and it was left to county minor Liam Irwin to lead the charge. You simply cannot win big games only scoring three points from play. Castlebar’s defenders’ ability to start attacks from literally anywhere contributed greatly to winning this game, the retreating Breaffy forwards were simply out of position whenever they won the ball and there was very often only one target man left inside the Breaffy forward line forcing him to go sideways in the very testing conditions while waiting for support. Pat Holmes’ decision to play Tom King was of huge significance and he rightfully claimed the Man of the Match gong. I do not think his participation was ever in doubt as long as he came through a soccer match he played on Friday night unscathed. Barry Moran would have won the accolade for the first half and I was very impressed with wing back Patrick Durkin who attacks with real intent when he gets ahead of steam. Special mention has to go to Kevin Filan who has persevered for years to claim that elite medal, and at the tender age of 40 he deserves it. Well done ‘Filo’. It is six long years since a Mayo club won the Connacht Club Championship, Ballina in 2007, the Mitchels will have to be at the peak of their powers to get one over Stephen Rochford's Corofin, and if they do that a likely final against All-Ireland Champions St Brigids would ensue . I somehow think this will be beyond them but now they have the monkey off their backs who knows. Odds for the Connacht Club Championship are Corofin 10/11, St Brigids 5/4, and Castlebar 13/2.
The Compromise rules turned into a right fiasco with Ireland running out victors by a combined total of 101 points, which constitutes to been a bit of a joke. You would wonder which team were the professionals. I would hate to have been a paying punter and wasting my time going to watch that. It is not the Irish management or players’ fault but their counterparts who brought a bit part team. It is embarrassing for the Aussies getting a whipping like that, and I am sure it didn’t go down well in Oz. I’m sure the demolition job has cast a real doubt on the series being played in the future. Colm Boyle shipped a big hit that shook his whole body and head and left me fearing the worst but I was relieved to see him on camera at the end celebrating with his team mates, they’re made of tough stuff in Ballindine.