As I expected, Galway qualified for the Connacht final after a somewhat facile victory over Sligo in the semi-final in Markievicz Park last weekend.
It still took them until the 60th minute to put the game to bed to set up a July 13 final against Mayo in Castlebar.
Galway will be chewing iron for the next few weeks to avenge last year’s humiliation when their bitter rivals Mayo gave them a footballing lesson in their own patch in Salthill.
Galway looked very impressive at times, their u21s of yesteryear who claimed two All-Ireland titles in the last few years finally performing on the senior stage. However the quality of the opposition has to be scrutinised at the same time.
They seem to have a nice balance at midfield in Fintaoin O Currain and Thomas Flynn, a sledger and fetcher supported by an athlete who covers the ground and loves to rip through the heart of his opponent’s defence, very like myself and David Brady’s partnership at u21 level for Mayo back in 1995.
I will let you guess who was the enforcer and who was the runner on our team.
I have no doubt the Connacht final will be a lot closer than last year’s annihilation. Galway’s forwards look more capable this year, especially Shane Walsh at centre forward and Danny Cummins at corner forward, who both kicked some lovely scores.
They work really hard for each other but I feel this year has come too soon for them and Mayo’s know-how and superior strength will see them win a fourth title in a row in Castlebar.
The club championship had a few eyecatching results last weekend.
Castlebar’s demolition of the once great Crossmolina a signal of intent from the county champions. Upon seeing Claremorris had scored 3-13 against Breaffy, I presumed it would be enough to win any game. I thought my eyes had deceived me when I saw 4-17 after Breaffy’s name.
That must have been a real humdinger for the supporters.
Ballintubber, after a very impressive display against Shrule, will be very confident of beating a demoralised Crossmolina in the last game. It was good to see some heavy scoring from Cillian O Connor and Alan Dillon, who scored 3-08 between them.
The biggest surprise of the weekend for me had to be Charlestown’s win away to Davitts to keep the dream alive. I may sound biased here but I genuinely did not give my own club a prayer on the basis of them missing six key players, most notably Aiden Higgins, Tom Parsons, and Anto Mulligan.
It looked like the writing was on the wall after Charlestown conceded a goal in the first minute but full credit to them; they stuck at it and were credible winners.
Charlestown playing Kevin Deignan as an extra man to help David Caffrey nullify the threat of Mickey Conroy was a master stroke by the Charlestown management. It forced Conroy out on the field looking for the ball where he was no threat on goal.
Charlestown had many fine performers with Joe McBrien, Charlestown’s full forward, being my Man of the Match.
Charlestown’s final group game against Ballaghadeereen will be worth going to see. I still can not see past the west Mayo trio of Castlebar, Ballintubber, or Breaffy to lift the Moclair Cup in 2014.
Charlestown’s win in Davitts upset a lot of accumulators with many punters banking on the Ballindine men to put one over on the Sarsfields.
I am sure a lot of bookmakers were delighted.
On a somewhat interesting note, Keith Higgins had a belter of a game for Ballyhaunis in their win over Tourmakeady, at centre forward. Do not be one bit surprised if Chris Barrett finds himself match fit for the Connacht final or thereafter. James Horan will consider Keith Higgins for a half forward spot again, particularly after the ineffectiveness of that line against Roscommon. Remember you read it here first.
All the big hitters in the other provinces came through unscathed apart from Derry. I could see this coming as Derry were eight players light against Longford, and on the back of two dreadful performances against Dublin in the league final, and Donegal in the Ulster Championship.
We all know what it is like to bow out to Longford, let us hope we do not see those days for a while yet.
A special mention has to go to Cillian O Connor, who opened the new Gaelic pitch in St Attracta’s National School, Charlestown, on Wednesday last. He was very giving of his time and spoke individually to all the classes and really impressed principal Brian McDermott and the staff - such a wise head on young shoulders and a great role model for all the children.