The three week break in the National league came at a good time for the Mayo footballers and for joint managers Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly. It will give them time to work on certain issues that were so badly exposed by the Tyrone blanket defence, however it still did not detract the doubters and the critics from expressing their obvious concerns.
For me it is no big deal as stated in last week’s column, it is only February and to quote the old cliché “no All-Irelands are won in February”. I had more supporters call into our shop to query what went wrong and how Mayo could have been so bad. The simple answer is Tyrone had a lot more work done than Mayo on the training ground and Mayo received the backlash of Tyrone’s embarrassing performance against Monaghan.
The main objective for the team is to maintain their proud record of staying put in division one. Two more wins will seal that objective. Let us not forget in 2013 after beating Kerry in the first round of the league Mayo went on a three game losing streak and still made the semi final. In 2014 Mayo lost their first two league games, comprehensively beaten by Tyrone in Omagh in round two, 12 months ago, and still made the semi-final before eventually losing to Derry. On both occasions nobody panicked with the early losses, nobody questioned James Horan as these league games were a means to an end, so the same leniency should be afforded to the current set up, it is in the summer time we want Mayo at their peak.
This year division one is so extremely competitive it is impossible to call the games and for that reason I am staying away from my accumulators in the bookmakers as form so far is counting for nothing. In round two Tyrone, Cork, and Kerry all won away from home which is extremely unusual, as you feel the place to pick up points is while playing at home. Mayo have three more games in McHale Park and will be hoping for at least two victories from those three games, as Derry will desperately need points when we travel to Celtic Park for our next away game and they will be difficult to beat up there.
Rochford shows his credentials
Heartiest congratulations to Crossmolina’s Stephen Rochford, the former Deel Rovers All-Ireland winner masterminded Corofin to a superb victory over current champions St Vincent’s in the semi final last weekend. Managing Corofin is like managing a county team within a county, such is the diversity of the villages that make up the club, and they are generally not to keen on an outsider coming in to take control so Rochford’s impact and success can only be admired. It was a brilliant game, fascinating from beginning to end.
There were three main talking points from the game. Corofin cracking their penalty off the crossbar in the first half, the resulting rebound went down the other end where referee Joe McQuillan made a dreadful decision (in my opinion ) giving St Vincent’s a penalty for an alleged foul by former Galway player Kieran Fitzgerald, to compound matters Fitzgerald received a yellow card and Tomas “Mossy” Quinn duly despatched the penalty. It was a six point swing in the space of a minute, instead of Corofin going five points up they were one down. The way they responded was indicative of a team that deserve to be All-Ireland champions. The other main talking point was how on earth Joe McQuillan missed Ciaran McGrath picking the ball off the ground preventing a certain St Vincent’s goal at a crucial period in the second half. It was the rub of the green Corofin deserved after McQuillan’s initial gift of a penalty for St Vincent’s in the first half. Rochford has to be applauded for his match ups all over the field and nearly all of the time any of his defenders were in trouble with their direct opponents there was back up not too far away, most particularly when Diarmuid Connolly and Tomas Quinn got the ball. I know Rochford had his name in the hat for jobs in the Mayo underage set up on a few occasions but was overlooked. If he becomes manager of an All-Ireland winning club team we may just have to go chasing him. I know there is a lot of football to be played yet when they face Slaughtneil of Derry in the final but I wonder has any player won an All Ireland club title as a player and then managed a different club to the same feat. Answers on a postcard?