Between 1974 and 1982, Garrymore were Mayo's team. They picked up six senior county titles in those nine years and made an appearance in the All Ireland club final in 1981 going down to Nemo Rangers. Since their last victory 33 years ago the south Mayo hamlet have failed to make it back to the Mayo showpiece, last year they did reach the last four but were seen off by Castlebar Mitchels and tomorrow afternoon they are gunning to get back to the same stage again.
Standing in their way is a Breaffy team who are looking for their own piece of redemption, the boys in blue (now blue and white hoops, after a change back to hoops this year ) were tossed out of the competition at this stage last season by Knockmore and they are looking to make sure that their championship hopes does not come to an quick-fire end again at the last eight stage.
Garrymore's Fintan Forde who manages the team alongside Tony Corcoran spoke to the Mayo Advertiser this week ahead of the game. "It's a big test, there's no doubt about it a team like Breaffy are well balanced, well managed, and well organised, it's going to be a tough game for us, but we're looking forward to it. We had them in the league earlier this year and we shaded it by a point, it was a starred game, so it's hard to read a lot into us winning that one, without their county players."
Toughing it out
The championship groups stages saw Garry come out of a tough group in second place behind Kiltane but Forde was happy with how it panned out in the end for his side. "We were happy enough with how the group stages went, losing to Kiltane was a bit of a set back, but you know, we put in a good workmanlike performance that day and were just unlucky to come out on the wrong side of the result by a point on the day, so we were happy enough. The Charlestown game was a huge one, we put a big emphasis on that one to make sure we got it right. Charlestown are a fine team and we felt the home games were very important to us, and to get off to a winning start, before we went to Kiltane and had Shrule-Glencorrib at home in the last game. We felt if we got four points out of the two home games, which we did, it would put us in a good place."
After reaching the last four last year, there was only one aim this year when the championship threw in, and that was to get back to the knock-out stages and take it from there he went on to say. "No doubt about it, getting back here was the first aim. With every game we played, we took them very seriously and with a lot of respect for the opposition. The big aim was to get back to the quarter-finals and try and build on what we did last year and go on again. We've been looking to be consistent all year and we have been and it's got us back here again."
Forde expects to have a full complement of players to chose from come tomorrow afternoon, and some players who have returned to the fold this year have been a welcome addition in getting a settled side out in most games they have played. "We'd have a settled enough side, we'd a few lads who came back into the fray this year too who'd been out injured like Mark Tierney, who is a huge plus to us after being injured for a few years and he's back in the fray now for us, we've one or two other lads coming back into fittness and we'd hope that they will play some part in league and championship before the year is out. With the starred games it's hard to read fully some of the games and the results, espeically with some of the stronger teams having a number of lads missing because they are playing with Mayo, this is our first year we'd no one involved with the Mayo set up and we've got everyone to pick from, they've been able to give their all to the club."
Committed to the cause
Like most rural clubs, Garrymore have to deal with players living and working away from home, but the commitment that has been shown by his players over the last few years has been second to none said Forde. "It's a tough for rural clubs all right, but we've a panel of 25 to 30 and we've only got six of them away that can't make training all the time, but the rest of the lads who can drive down from Galway and the likes all the time do it. They've shown great commitment to the cause for the clubs. There's no doubt that the all give 100 per cent commitment to the team, they're a well focused and well balanced bunch of lads."
As for bringing Garry back to the glory days that is what they are working towards and Forde is looking forward to them having another crack at it tomorrow afternoon. "The aim is to get back there, that's what you're going for all the time. But it's tough every year, there's a lot of good teams every year trying to get there and there's nothing easy given at the top level in the senior championship. What makes it more special is trying to beat the teams that are seen as being better than you and making and impact and that's what we'll be trying to do."