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I was on duty for Radio One sport last Sunday, alongside Donegal’s Martin McHugh and host Darren Frehill.
It was a game that had it all and then some more, bar the desired result for Mayo as a late, late Brian Hurley goal saw Cork steal the two points from this national football league encounter in Pairc Ui Rinn. Mayo looked to be heading back up the road with a valuable win under their belts as the game ticked towards injury time. But the hosts had other ideas, Conor Dorman ghosted in behind the Mayo rear guard and flicked the ball across the face of the goal, where the Castlehaven man was arriving just at the right time to flick the ball to the back of the net and condemn Mayo to their third defeat of this years league.
I am not sure what the odds were back in 1951 or if odds on football matches even existed back then but I would be pretty sure when Mayo faced Kerry in '81, '96’, '97, '04, '06, and 2011, Kerry would have been the overwhelming favourites.
Last Sunday’s All-Ireland senior quarter final against Cork really had a bit of everything. The tone for the game was set up earlier in the week when Brian Cuthbert, the Cork manager, launched an attack on two of Mayo’s favourite sons, Kevin McLoughlin and Cillian O’Connor. This was then compounded by Cork selector Ronan McCarthy’s agreement with his manager when both players’ integrity was put into question and their ability to “foul tactically” and be very “streetwise” was used as a means of trying to give Cork an edge with the referee. McLoughlin and O’Connor are role models for youngsters all over the county and indeed country, and I feel the Cork management made a big mistake in naming them, particularly as they have a pretty much impeccable disciplinary record. The bottom line is you want your forwards tackling hard, and maybe if their own team were a little more “streetwise” against Kerry they would not have received such a hiding.
The first half of Sunday's All Ireland quarter final between Mayo and Cork, will have long faded into the memory bank by the time the Mayo's meeting with Kerry comes around, but the second half is one that the fat will be chewed over a lot in the next 21 days. The first half was a bitty and often ill tempered affair where Mayo struggled to break down, Cork's blanket defence and the sides went in level at eight points each. Mayo ran down closed off avenues and their foot passing into their full forward line was wasn't sticking as Cork smothered the Mayo attack like jam on a warm slice of bread.
As we expected Cork are our opponents for Sunday’s All-Ireland Quarter final which promises to be a great day out for Mayo Fans albeit a long day. The minors take centre stage at 12 noon followed by the seniors at 4pm. I have heard rumblings as to why the Mayo senior game couldn’t be on at 2pm, so Mayo fans wouldn’t have to spend the best part of six hours in Croke Parke. It would have been the correct course of action, imagine someone from Belmullet going to support the minors, leaving at 7am on Sunday morning and probably not getting home until the early hours. I don’t envy them, however beggars can’t be choosers and we should be delighted the minors are getting at least one game at headquarters. Last year the minor quarter final against Westmeath was played on bank holiday Monday in Tullamore, most Mayo fans won’t be present for the start of the minor game anyway as happened in Castlebar for the Connacht Final. I personally can’t wait and will watch every second of every game.
A good few of the Galway football community will head up the motorway to Croke Park this Saturday to support the county senior footballers when, for the first time since 2008, Alan Mulholland's team face Cork at 5pm.
The Galway minor footballers took themselves, their families, their management team and their supporters on a roller-coaster ride last Sunday afternoon in one of the most astonishing games of Gaelic football you will ever see at inter-county level.