Ballyhaunis GAA club are most certainly on cloud nine at the moment. I can only imagine how tough it is trying to keep the hurling and football teams fresh as they are playing every other week. In all, 10 or so players are representing both teams so some serious negotiating has to be going on between the managers to make sure that the players are fresh for whichever code is on the following weekend. Their hurlers had a fantastic win last Sunday in Athleague and this Sunday it’s the footballers’ turn against tournament favourites St Croan’s in Hyde Park at 2pm. Kiltane’s victory over Boyle last year in Castlebar means it’s an away game for Ballyhaunis. I don’t imagine club officers would have it any other way and love the predicament they are in. Any time you are training for championship matches after the October Bank Holiday weekend means you have at the very least secured a county title for your club, and with wins for both the footballers and hurlers already in the provincial series it can only mean there will be a real adrenaline rush attending training. I experienced it twice as a player; it brings such a feel-good factor around your town or parish to be involved in the championship when the evenings are short. Players are probably and deservedly getting a little spoilt now, gear bags, training tops and polo shirts are more than likely been sponsored and to top it off they are probably been treated to some grub after training, which is ideal for the bonding of the group, that never happens unless you at least win your county title. Ballyhaunis will need to be on top of their game to win in Roscommon.
It will be interesting to see if Achill can put the disappointment of their county junior final loss to Castlebar behind them when they take on Michael Glavey’s of Roscommon in Castlebar also on Sunday at 2pm. It won’t be easy as Michael Glavey’s were a senior team not so long ago and Achill will be a little deflated after their heartbreaking county final defeat. It’s a shame Ballyhaunis and Achill are both playing at the same time as I would have enjoyed watching both games.
All-Stars were more than deserved for Mayo men
I was almost 100 per cent correct with my All-Star predictions, and my player and young player of the year were spot on, although Diarmuid Connolly was the country’s top performer in 2014. As I said, they made it very obvious Kieran Donaghy and Michael Murphy were going to make the team nominating Murphy in the half forward line. The only one I got wrong was that I had Aidan O’Mahony in instead of James McCarthy. McCarthy is a fine player and had a great season for the Dubs but certainly not the influence O’Mahony had for Kerry in deciding where Sam Maguire would reside for the next 12 months. O’Mahony was immense in the latter stages of the championship. I was delighted for the three Mayo lads, Keith Higgins, Colm Boyle and Cillian O’Connor. What a year Keith Higgins is having, two county medals in hurling and football (and he’s not finished yet ) followed by his third All-Star in a row, that is some achievement for the Ballyhaunis corner back and leaves him out on his own for All-stars won by a Mayo man. If Mayo get a good run next year and make at least the semi-finals he won’t be far away again, as long as he stays injury free of course. Cillian O’Connor picked up his first award after top scoring in the championship again this year. If I’m honest he should have collected his second award last Friday, I was shocked he was overlooked last year. If ever there was a lesson in hard work paying off you have to look no further than Colm Boyle. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying he wasn’t blessed with the greatest skill set in the county and you won’t find him doing dummy solos or splitting the posts with the outside of his boot from 50 yards, but when it comes to work rate, bravery, guts and a never say die attitude he is second to no one in the whole country. Boyle wasn’t on James Horan’s panel in 2011 and it looked like his county career had gone up in smoke but a great run by Davitts all the way to All Ireland intermediate club final in 2012 got him back in the public eye and more importantly for Mayo and himself, back in the Mayo set up. He hasn’t looked back since and now has two All-Stars on his mantelpiece at home. He thoroughly deserves them. Paul Flynn of Dublin joined an elite club of Kerry greats winning his fourth award in a row. Jack O’Shea, Páidí Ó’Sé and Pat Spillane are the only other players to achieve that feat; it is some achievement and who knows Keith Higgins may join that elite club next year.
Charlestown ladies do us proud
On a personal note, hard luck to the Charlestown ladies who came up short in their bid to win the Connacht junior title last weekend in Ballinlough. They were beaten by a well drilled and physical side. A huge crowd turned up to support them and everyone was very proud of the great run they had.