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Claregalway and Corofin will meet again this Saturday (6.15pm) in the replay of their county senior quarter-final.
Following a hectic weekend of football action last Saturday and Sunday, three of the county football quarter-finals are down for decision this Sunday. There is a double header in Pearse Stadium with Carraroe taking on Milltown at 3.45pm and Salthill/Knocknacarra facing Moycullen at 5.30pm. Claregalway, who saw off NUIG last weekend, take on championship favourites Corofin in Tuam at 5.30pm. The outstanding quarter-final between Tuam Stars and either Cortoon Shamrocks or Mountbellew/Moylough and Micheal Breathnachs could not be fixed due to the ongoing shenanigans with Mountbellew/Moylough’s appeal.
While the post-mortem on Mayo’s inglorious exit from the Connacht championship went on over the week and will go into the future, it’s back to basics this weekend for the inter county football panel when they rejoin their club mates for the first round proper of action in the Royal Theatre senior and intermediate championships.
Ten championship games are down for decision this weekend in the Claregalway Hotel Senior Football Championship.
In just over six weeks time the real deal will get under way when Mayo head to Sligo in the Connacht championship. But on Sunday all roads lead to Croke Park and a second joust with Cork inside three weeks. But this time national honours are at stake. It has been an impressive league run so far by Mayo, picking up tough away wins against Tyrone, Derry, Kerry, and Cork along with home victories over Galway and Monaghan. The only black spot on the copybook so far this term was the single point defeat to Dublin in McHale Park, but in the grand scheme of things Mayo supporters can have nothing to complain about so far this term. When the league started back on the first Sunday of February, most people’s expectations and hopes were that Mayo did enough to survive in division one. But since their blitzkrieg start against Galway, John O’Mahony’s men have barely paused for breath, as the faced down nearly all comers, with the exception of Dublin, a game they should have won, kicking 18 wides over 70 minutes.
The last time Mayo made the trip to Cork in the National Football League, they came out of Páirc Uí Rinn with a slender one point win and one foot in a league semi-final and consigned the Rebels to division two football for the next season. A lot has changed in the past two seasons since then for Mayo. Only five of the team that lined out that night started for Mayo in their last National Football League game against Monaghan; Liam O’Malley, Keith Higgins, Conor Mortimer, Andy Moran, and Alan Dillon. Mark Ronaldson came on as a sub three years ago as he did against Monaghan. Kenneth O’Malley, who was between the posts that night, is still involved in the panel as is Pat Harte, and the injured duo of Peadar Gardiner and Aidan Kilcoyne who also made an appearance in that game, the likes of James Kilcullen, Enda Devenney, Ger Brady, and Aidan Campbell who all started have fallen by the wayside, along with Marty McNicholas who kicked 0-2 that day after coming off the bench. David Heaney and Kevin O’Neill have both retired from the game.
Mayo footballing star and former Swinford player David Heaney, who only announced his retirement from county football yesterday, has transferred to Claregalway for the coming season. His transfer was rubber-stamped by the Galway County Board last weekend.
Fresh from guiding a new look Mayo see off Joe Kernan's Galway side in McHale Park with ease, John O'Mahony wasn't getting carried away with his side's destruction of the near neighbors.
Time has ticked by very quickly since Mayo took their final bow in the championship for 2008 on a warm August Saturday in Croke Park, slipping out of the championship at the hands of the eventual winners, Tyrone, by a solitary point. And with Cormac Reilly’s final whistle that day attention turned to 2009 and the talk of the pubs and sidelines as to what went wrong over the past two years. Well one thing is for sure, John O’Mahony is still in the hot seat and will remain there for the next couple of years after being given a new deal in the autumn. Who will make up his side this Sunday and for the rest of the year will be talking points for the next few weeks as a side begins to take shape as the opening rounds of the National League slip by.
The wearing of county jerseys has become extremely fashionable in recent times. It affords the wearer an opportunity to advertise his or her identity in a subtle way that often leads to a conversation about the chances of their team in an upcoming championship encounter. I was descending Croagh Patrick last Thursday morning when I noticed a family bedecked in their county colours. This Fermanagh family was heading for the summit to plant their county colours ahead of the Ulster final replay between Fermanagh and Armagh. Having stopped briefly to engage with them and to offer my best wishes I recognised a striking resemblance of the father of this particular family to that of Marty McGrath, the towering Fermanagh midfielder. He excitedly told me that he was indeed Marty’s brother and, as he would normally travel to climb on Reek Sunday, the clash of fixtures left him with no option but to travel west a few days in advance.