I can only imagine that Ballintubber are devastated and disillusioned and as the week wears on the pain becomes more bearable. Ballintubber’s season has so many similarities to Charlestown’s year in ‘09. We went unbeaten in senior football that year in every competition and won the four available trophies within Mayo, similar to what Ballintubber achieved this year.
Castlebar did beat them in the first round of the championship this year and before any sharp minded statistician goes on the attack they still ended up with the Moclair Cup. The unfortunate end to their year, as was ours in ‘09, is that we both shipped a pasting from Corofin at home in a Connacht final. I’m afraid to look into the archives to see what the result was back in ‘09 but I imagine it was similar if not a lot worse than last Sunday.
Ballintubber can have no complaints and should not be ashamed to be defeated by such formidable opponents. Corofin are a class act and are now joint favourites to win the Andy Merrigan cup, along with St Vincent’s of Dublin, of course. I spoke to many Galway stalwarts before the game, including Frank Morris who is largely credited with having Corofin where they are today. Between us we were second guessing the managers to see what they might do to counteract their opponent’s much feared forward lines. We all agreed a fascinating contest was in store. Stephen Rochford of Crossmolina fame deserves a huge amount of credit. He went into the lions’ den to manage the biggest club in Galway football when outsiders are generally not accepted and he has done a marvellous job. He and we knew there were two areas where Ballintubber may hurt Corofin; Jason Gibbons and Stephen Broderick in particular have been revelations in the middle of the park this year creating the platform to let Ballintubber’s lethal forward division click into action and up front, if you eliminate the effect of Alan and Dillon and Cillian O’Connor you probably win the game. Kieran Fitzgerald was given the job on Cillian O’Connor and had a fantastic game holding O’Connor to a point from play while chipping in with one himself, and young Liam Silke (nephew of Ray ) marshalled Dillon very well, although Dillon had a lot more joy than O’Connor. Corofin scored two fantastic goals in which Mike Farragher and Gary Sice played pivotal roles. Farragher’s run through the middle and lay off to Sice to finish, while travelling at full tilt, was straight from the training ground. The second goal started in their own left corner, going back and over until they got the ball to Farragher in or around the midfield area, his pass to Sice was majestic. Sice in turn ran straight at the Ballintubber goal before lofting a pass to the lethal Ian Burke for a simple tap in to the net, game over. Ballintubber to their credit never gave up as Alan Dillon fired home a beautifully taken goal — only the second Corofin have conceded this year. Trust me when I say I know how Ballintubber feel, it would be a whole lot worse if they lost by a point and missed a chance to win it, they were beaten by a serious outfit.
Time off for all the clubs
It’s slightly frustrating that Mayo have no representative in any of the adult men’s football semi finals come next January/February. Achill’s conquerors in the junior, the Aran Islands, St Croan’s of course who defeated Ballyhaunis in the Intermediate and now Corofin who accounted for Ballintubber are serious contenders in their respective grades. Remember you read it hear first, don’t be one bit surprised if the three Connacht teams end up as All-Ireland champions in 2015. I may just have a little wager on it.
Aussies take it seriously
Apparently Australia’s decision to take the compromise rules seriously this year has increased the chances of prolonging the test series. Their striking of the round ball was very impressive, which can’t be said for all of the Irish players. Aidan O’Shea’s wayward attempt from in front of the goal prompted a somewhat hysterical tweet from Colm Parkinson. “Aidan O’Shea going for a scorable free with his left foot sums up Ireland’s attitude to the game.” Aidan’s big brother Seamus O’Shea in turn replied “pretty sure he’s left footed”. Parkinson erased his comment blaming a poor night’s sleep for his error in not knowing O’Shea was left footed. I know my Irish is not the best but I’m certain I heard the commentator call Aidan O’Shea – “Seamus” on several occasions. I can’t believe his co-commentator didn’t flag it with him.
Time for a breather
As this is my last column of 2014 may I wish a very happy Christmas to all the Mayo Advertiser readers and a very prosperous 2015, I hope it’s a good one for Mayo.