And so it begins. The Football championship got underway last weekend as New York became the first team out of the Championship. I know they say as you get older time goes that little bit faster but still it’s extremely hard to get my head around that it’s over a year since Mayo played in New York. It was Galway’s turn this year and as expected they had little trouble in eliminating the emigrants from the Connacht Championship.
I was following the game on Twitter and have to say I got a false dawn when New York went two points up early on. Galway’s 16 point win just covered the handicap offered by the bookmakers which was set at -14. I fancied them to win by at least that margin and I also expect Roscommon to dispose of London by at least the seven points offered as the handicap bet. Damien Comer and Shane Walsh were the stars for Galway in Gaelic Park.
County players stand out
I got to watch my first club game last weekend when I travelled to Ballaghadeereen to see Eamon O’Hara’s team take on my own club Charlestown in an East Mayo Derby. It’s a little fall from grace to see two county senior champions from the not-too-distant past competing in Division 1 b. Charlestown had an excellent away win despite having an estimated 10 injured players and I know from all the hard pre season work they have done they want to be back in the top tier in the league next year.
It was a classic case of county players standing out, Andy Moran brilliant in the first half for Ballagh’ scoring at will, although I thought he was afforded way too much room and I felt sorry for Charlestown full back Patrick Walsh who more than made up for Moran’s scoring prowess by brilliantly clearing two goal bound attempts off the line in that first half. Tom Parsons ruled the roost for Charlestown in the second half and capped a fine performance with the winning goal. I hope for the club and Mayo’s sake Parsons stays injury free for the rest of the season. He will be a big plus for Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly and his fine performance against Cork in the league seems to have made Barry Moran raise his game as he duly responded with a man of the match performance against Donegal in Mayo’s last competitive outing.
Who’d have thought we’d see Kilmaine sitting at the top of Division 1a with Crossmolina after three rounds of the league. They certainly have hit the ground running winning three on the spin and any team thinking they would pick up easy points off the south Mayo side will think again. Pete Warren seems to be working his magic in another South Mayo club.
Tipperary came agonisingly close to claiming their first All-Ireland u21 title last weekend losing to Tyrone in controversial circumstances. I presume the entire country was shouting for Tipp who probably deserved to win the title but unfortunately didn’t. I felt if Tyrone went ahead we would see exactly what happened, pretty horrible tactics to close out the game. As soon as Tyrone midfielder Cathal McShane goaled with 10 minutes to go to put them two points up every Tyrone player grappled and goaded their direct opponent. You can’t deny that it was a brilliant goal at the same time.
It was like someone pressed a switch, every Tyrone player seemed aware of what was needed to win the game. One Tyrone forward got away with kneeing a Tipp player in the side of the head. Fergal Logan the Tyrone manager categorically denies coaching his team negative cynical tactics to close out a game, he may not have, but somebody did. I still for the life of me can’t figure out how the referee who issued a second yellow card to a Tyrone player in the bedlam at the end still let Tyrone take the free. Surely the free kick should have been overturned or at least a hop ball given.
Allegedly the Tyrone manager was refused entry to the Tipperary dressing room after the match, the fall out looks set to continue but when the dust settles it’s Tyrone’s name that goes down in history. They have a serious record when it comes to claiming silverware when they get to a final. Tipperary will rue some missed frees in that second half.
For anyone that thinks the romance of the National League is dead and gone, may I suggest they watch the euphoric scenes after the hurling final in Thurles last Sunday? Waterford players and supporters showed what it meant to them to win a national title. Compare that to the Dubs winning the football decider the previous week, there is no comparison. You need a team like Waterford that doesn’t win much at national level winning big games to keep the competition alive. I would imagine similar scenes if Mayo claimed the football title.