I thought I was hearing things when I tuned into Midwest radio last Saturday evening to see how our minors were getting on against our bitter rivals Galway. I did not make it to the game because of the lure of what was on TV as I wanted to see how Roscommon would respond after their embarrassing defeat at the hands of Sligo. Mayo’s defeat to Galway by a whopping 17 points has to go down as one of the darkest days in Mayo football at minor level. I do not recall any Mayo minor team taking a pasting of that magnitude.
It is slightly ironic that it is the same margin of victory as our seniors had in Salthill in 2013 when Galway football was well and truly embarrassed. What is probably even more bizarre is that prior to throw in this was viewed as a 50/50 game. Mayo have never lost a minor championship game by more than eight points before. Mayo were dealt a severe blow losing two key players before the start and their team captain midway through the first half but losing by 17 points is really inexplicable for a county with a proud football tradition which was going for three Connacht championships in a row. I have no doubt there will be an inquiry as to how such a poor performance occurred.
Credit where credit is due
I was the first person to criticise Roscommon after their defeat against Sligo so I had better look for a little reprieve and congratulate them after a convincing win away to Cavan. This was a potential banana skin for the Rossies whom I am sure had the critique of the nation ringing in their ears. Even RTE anchor/commentator Darragh Maloney was aware that they overlooked Sligo. You have to give Roscommon credit, they bounced back brilliantly and will fancy a good run in the qualifiers now after getting paired against Fermanagh, albeit away from home. A very telling stat from the weekend is that Roscommon had four players on the GAA team of the week, three of them in the forward line, and when you consider the quality of talent on show around the country, especially in Munster, that is a pretty impressive haul. Their manager John Evans is doing his best to create a siege mentality that it is us against the rest. I have no doubt he was the butt of a lot of abuse after the Sligo game, and his post match interview after defeating Cavan proved that. He started off calm but then became very vociferous nearly to the point I was expecting him to declare the race for Sam was well and truly on, he did pull up well short of that, but you just never knew what was going to come out. We may even hear in the coming weeks that losing to Sligo was part of the master plan to avoid meeting Dublin in the semi final. I had a real chuckle watching Cavan trying to substitute a player at half time who they knew was in line for a red card. The only problem was that the player in question was sitting on the bench. Charlestown had a similar scenario against Garrymore in the championship way back in 1995, the only difference is that we hid our player in the shower and it took a lot longer to find him. The Munster football final was the first match to take place of two of the so called heavyweights of Gaelic football and it certainly did not disappoint. Cork tore into Kerry casting reputations aside and went so close to causing a huge upset. I imagine they have missed the boat. The most controversial decision was of course referee Padraig Hughes' awarding of a penalty to Kerry when Cork had them on the ropes. It is quite simple, it should have been a free out if anything for Cork, not a penalty, and after making the decision Hughes realised his cock up by not issuing the alleged offender, Mark Collins, with a card. How many times will refs bail Kerry out? For those eagled eyed viewers who watched the game, I am sure you will agree Fionn Fitzgerald’s injury time equaliser was meant to be a pass into Kieran Donaghy who was on the edge of the square, but the wind carried it over the bar. Fitzgerald’s head was up and looking to his captain when he struck the ball. It is not Kerry that need a slice of luck. The losers of this game will potentially face Dublin in a quarter final, trying to avoid that match up is more of a carrot than winning the Provincial title.
No surprise in Gunners swoop for Barry
What an opportunity for current Mayo strength and conditioning coach Barry Solan from Ballaghadeereen, who has been employed by premiership giants Arsenal for the same role. For years I could not understand how he was been overlooked by Mayo, obviously having serious pedigree when the Polish national soccer team and Katie Taylor availed of his services. It will be some kick for him ruling the roost over seasoned international players and world cup winners at a top club. As a Man Utd fan I do hope the Gunners run out of steam at the business end of the season but of course that it is not Barry’s fault. Best of luck to him.