What a performance by Castlebar Mitchels against Corofin. Hands up, I didn’t see that coming. I was very unsure about the quality of club football in the county but at least now I know we have one team capable of competing. Pundits and bookmakers didn’t give Castlebar a chance (4/1 in some places ). Upon seeing Kieran Fitzgerald in the press box fully clothed before the game and hearing about a few other Corofin players being doubtful , I promptly got on the mobile and advised punters to get a piece of Castlebar to be ahead at half time and full time at 7/1. I have to admit it was very worrying when Corofin were leading by 1-03 to 0-1 after 12 minutes, Ian Burke was giving Tom Cuniffe the run around and Neil Douglas was losing crucial ball. Every single Castlebar player upped their performance inspired by Eoghan O’Reilly who set the tone with a big hit on a Corofin player. The Castlebar goals couldn’t have come at a better time, Richie Feeney’s palm into the net was a truly brilliant team goal and when Neil Lydon reacted faster to a rebound off the crossbar to net again for the Mitchels it was Corofin who were taking on water.
The second half was a somewhat dogged affair with some heroic defending by O’Reilly, Cunniffe and the very impressive Richie Feeney. Truth is Castlebar should have been much more comfortable than their one point winning margin but some strange refereeing decisions by Paddy Neilan gave Corofin a lifeline. It was a classic Galway v Mayo tie that had me on the edge of my seat for the entire 60 minutes. Castlebar are able to mix it aerially and physically with anyone and they have the composure and skill levels to compete, Pat Holmes has blended a lovely team. Next up St Brigid’s the All-Ireland champions, I doubt Castlebar will be 4/1 for that one.
Back on the road for next year
James Horan has decided to give it another go to land that elusive Sam Maguire that the county has been crying out for. It’s truly unbelievable that a football mad county like ourselves has been in the wilderness for so long. I do think that if we had beaten Meath in the 96’ final that we would have another two if not three All-Ireland titles in the bag by now. Getting the monkey off our back would have us going to Croke Park for final day confident and believing we would not be beaten. It will be tough for this team to go back for a third year in a row however the fact that we should glide through the Connaught Championship will give us renewed hope for 2014. It’s extremely important the conveyor belt is used and some of this years minors are blooded in the FBD and National league to see if they are up to the task. It’s quite simple at 19 years of age, if your good enough you’re old enough. Horan has a bit of housekeeping to attend to before his planned attack in 2014. The ever reliable James Nallen has decided there is more to life than football, what a brilliant service he has given to the county. His goal against Kerry in the 96’ semi final is a memory I will take to the grave. If you are to believe everything you hear sacked Donegal coach Rory Gallagher is/was in line to replace Nallen which I find to be hilarious to say the least. This is the same Gallagher that went behind Jim McGuinness back to tell the print media that Mayo and Monaghan had been colluding on how to get the better of Donegal. It’s also the same Gallagher that told the country that James Horan was incapable of a press conference and had all his press statements and interviews written by a psychologist, absurd to say the least. One question, If you were James Horan would you be bringing him into your set up? Another rumour doing the rounds is that Richie Feeney and Alan Freeman will no longer play under Horan because of last September’s final. Mayo need those players. I’m sure it will be explained to them the reason behind the decision to not play one and substitute the other and reassure them they are a vital part of the set up, if its not done already. Feeney’s performances for his club suggest the county needs him badly.
Well done to the four Mayo All-Stars selected on the team for 2013. This event will always cause debate and I’m sure Seamie O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor and Diarmuid Connolly are wondering like Kevin McLoughlin last year what more they could do to be selected. At the same time its hard to see any of the others been left out.