It was a devastating loss for Castlebar Mitchels when they came up against a far superior and prepared Ballyboden St Enda’s yesterday. The comprehensive 13-point victory, wasn’t at all flattering on the Dublin men. Despite all the hype around Castlebar and through Mayo over the last few weeks, the huge support that came out to back them left Croke Park with heartbreak once again. From as early as the first minute when Colm Basquel burst through the Castlebar rearguard to finish in fantastic style, Castlebar were in trouble.
The Mitchels forwards looked nervous as the favourites’ tags looked to weigh heavy on them as they kicked numerous wides and had a number of chances blocked down as their decision making wasn’t up to pace with their opponents. The static nature of the Mitchels attack compared to the fluid and flowing approach that Ballyboden brought to the game set the tone for the contest.
Mitchels forward line misfired so badly that four of their starting six forwards were replaced during the hour and they registered one point from play over the hour. Ballyboden attacked in waves and found themselves in acres of spaces of all day, with corner back Bob Dwan finishing up with the man of the match award and three points from play as he joined in with the attack on numerous occasions and kicked some great scores.
Even after the restart when Castlebar needed a big play or a big score to kick some life into their challenge it was the Ballyboden men who hit the ground running and kicked the first four points of the half. Castlebar pride themselves on a having a great defence, but they were torn apart time and could have easily conceded another few goals.
In season where they have defeated All Ireland champions Corofin and the kingpins of the club game Crossmaglen Rangers this was a devastating defeat for Castlebar and this would have been a great lift to the football faithful in the county, but they can have no complaints because every single player played second fiddle to their direct opponents.
Mayo fall to the Kingdom
The weather was glorious, the conditions for football were perfect, the atmosphere was electric, the occasion was memorable but the result was disastrous. Mayo find themselves knee deep in relegation trouble after being humbled by a superior Kerry in Castlebar last Sunday. The defeat meaning Mayo have to win their last two games to survive in Division One, unless Monaghan lose both their games, beating Down would suffice for Stephen Rochford’s team, the other game left is away to a red-hot Roscommon next time out.
There were a few key talking points, a few controversial decisions but the be all and end all is that Mayo were completely outplayed in the second half and Kerry were comfortable victors at the final whistle despite playing most of the half with 14 men. In the first half Mayo were ultra competitive and looked really up for the game with Mayo lording the aerial battle in midfield as Mayo raced into a 0-7 to 0-3 lead.
However I feel Mayo should have had a stone wall penalty when Aidan O’Shea was pulled, dragged and then hauled to the ground by Kieran Donaghy in the Kerry square. Referee Rory Hickey electing to give O’Shea the advantage after he scooped the ball over the bar. For me when a player has the goal at his mercy and is fouled in the square, scoring a point is not to their advantage. Mayo should have had a spot kick and Donaghy should have been black carded. The advantage should only have stood had O’Shea buried the ball in the Kerry net. The pictures circulating of the incident tell the story. Going in at half time four points up would have been just reward given Mayo’s superiority but conceding a sucker punch goal in the 35th minute must have been soul destroying for Mayo and obviously uplifting for Kerry.
Second half let down
Kerry’s second half decisive goal from Donnacha Walsh was the direct result of a free kick given against Ger Cafferkey for a foul on Colm Cooper when it was plain to see that Cafferkey had shackled and harassed the “Gooch” well within the rules of the game.
Before anyone accuses me of been away with the fairies or wearing blinkers and blaming the referee for the result, I’m not, Mayo were comprehensively beaten and looked worryingly tired in the final ten minutes as Kerry attacked in waves. I’m just pointing out some key game changing facts. Mr Hickey didn’t endear himself to the Mayo faithful either when he incorrectly issued Diarmuid O’Connor a second yellow card for simply trying to retrieve the ball off Fionn Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald in turn man handled O’Connor to the ground for a foul for which the black card was introduced, only for Hickey to issue both players a yellow, meaning O’Connor had to walk as it was his second booking and Fitzgerald stayed on the pitch. Talk about the culprit getting away with it.
Like many Mayo folk in the huge crowd I was baffled, when Kieran Donaghy was red carded it looked like kerry had the extra man. The decision to play the extra man in front of our full back line when chasing the game was slightly peculiar if I’m honest. I’m sure I sound like a broken record at this stage but the free taking scenario really needs an urgent solution in the absence of Cillian O’Connor. Kevin McLoughlin and Jason Doherty don’t seem like they want the job and after his heroics in Clones, Robbie Hennelly had four wides at crucial stages of the game. Roscommon winning comprehensively in Donegal makes the Mayo result harder to take. Our game in Hyde Park has now huge significance, not just for the league.