First things first, The Battle of Bellaghy white collar boxing event between Charlestown GAA and Curry GAA held in the CBD complex in Charlestown was another phenomenal success and I am sure the coffers of both clubs are well boosted after it. I have played in many a big game down the years and would consider myself reasonably calm and in control given a particular situation, but boxing is a different animal. I had a week from hell in the lead up to the event, I could not sleep properly and was extremely anxious and nervous for pretty much the entire week, none the less, I took part, took my beating, and have very sore ribs to prove it. I would suggest for anyone who thinks I am off my trolley, to sign up for an event to see what I am on about, as every fighter on the night were pretty much petrified, even the good boxers. The box is ticked and at least I am alive to tell the tale. Note to self; you are never doing it again.
Off the mark and off running
Mayo finally got off the mark in division one of the league last Sunday in McHale Park against Kerry in what was a very enjoyable game played in pristine conditions. If you are a Kerry supporter you have to be extremely worried for what may lie ahead. They huffed and puffed against Mayo for long periods, but when the game entered the crucial period, 15 minutes from the end, they had nothing left in the tank, and while Mayo were able to introduce players like Donal Vaughan, Enda Varley, and Seamie O’Shea to push the cart over the line, the Kerry subs had little or no impact and most of them we had never even heard of before. Without Colm Cooper Kerry are like the National Symphony Orchestra without a conductor to put everything in place. They simply do not have the quality players to replace Cooper, the two (Kerry ) O’Sheas Darragh and Tomas, and Paul Galvin, and quite frankly nobody will fear playing them right now, a lot like Manchester United in the Premier League.
Mayo had to rejig a little before the game bringing in Jason Doherty for Kevin Keane, and the general consensus was that everyone was delighted to see Keith Higgins return to his preferred corner back spot. Mayo hit the ground running and it did not take Doherty long to get involved either. After receiving a perfect pass from Andy Moran he set up Alan Freeman for Mayo’s first goal after only 26 seconds. Freeman still had a lot of work to do but stayed very composed when rolling the ball under the body of Kerry keeper Brendan Kealy. Mayo struggled with the long ball into the inside forward line and very often it came back as fast as it went in, but when they decided to run at the Kerry defence at pace they opened them up pretty much every time. Mickey Conroy’s first half point was a perfect example, Keegan and Higgins rampaging out of defence before laying off to Conroy who finished brilliantly. It was the best score of the game. Lee Keegan has built up a nice reputation for himself and can almost always guarantee us to get his name on the score sheet, his brilliant penetrating run where he finished with his left foot while pretty much at full tilt was another fine score. He left Mark O’Shea for dead, and maybe wondering whether he should join his elder brothers in their retirement. The build up play by Keith Higgins and then Mickey Conroy’s lay off was of the highest order. Mark Griffin, the Kerry full back, was having a nightmare. Firstly getting roasted by Alan Freeman, and then his pick up off the ground under no pressure resulting in an easily pointed free, and from the resulting kick out came Mayo’s second goal. Higgins again the catalyst, using Aiden O’Shea and then Shane McHale to rip through the Kerry defence again to off load to Jason Doherty who finished to the corner of the net. I am sure Eamon Fitzmaurice was boiling, coughing up a goal and point in first half injury time.
The game was still nip and tuck for long periods of the second half, and the sides were level eight times for the duration of the game, but when it was in the melting pot Mayo had the cavalry to call on and Kerry simply had no answer, Mayo outscoring their opponents by six points to zip over the last 15 minutes. Onwards and upwards for now. Beating Kerry has become a habit now; it would be nice to do it in the championship. Mayo will have a lot stiffer tests ahead but I do not think Sunday in Mullingar against Westmeath will be one of them. I expect us to win handsomely.