Search Results for 'Noel Connelly'
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Since the end of the National League campaign, Noel Connelly has become the public face of the Mayo management team when it comes to engaging with the press. On Saturday evening, it was once again the former Mayo captain who came out to face the questions after Mayo booked their place in the final four of the championship with a comfortable win over Donegal in Croke Park.
The last time he was in action in Croke Park, Lee Keegan was sent off by referee David Coldrick just before the short-whistle. While Keegan was cleared to play in the replay of that semi-final against Kerry it is something that he does not look back on with anger, even if it did probably hamper his preparation for the replay the following week, as a number of days of will he or won't he be allowed to play had to be negotiated before he got the all clear. "Again no blame, that was something I had to take myself and again I'm not someone to point the finger, that was subsquently my own thing. It was mentally draining week, it was very tough leading into a big game. But I had a very strong group of players around me and the management had a good belief that I would be ready for the game on the Saturday, which was a great confidence booster."
Back when Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly took charge of the Mayo u21s for the first time in 2006, Keith Higgins was the man who they entrusted as their leader on the field. When the duo took the reins of the senior team this year it was the Ballyhaunis man they looked to again to be their battlefield commander. Higgins has been one of the finest defenders in the game over the best part of the last decade and he knows despite what others may say about the championship proper only beginning in August, it kicked off in earnest a long time ago. "If you're a Mayo player and you see the draw coming out and you see you've Galway in Salthill, that's where the championship starts no matter how good your record has been the last few years. That's championship stuff and that's what gets you going. You ask the Donegal boys and they'll say the same thing when they'd to play Tyrone in the first round at the end of May. They can't be thinking ahead to August. But August is where you want to be."
After blitzing their way through Connacht without much fuss the first test of Mayo's credentials from a side outside Connacht will come tomorrow when they square up against Donegal in Croke Park. Mayo joint managers, Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes, announced their starting 15 for the showdown on Tuesday this week, much earlier than they have done for their two other championship games, and the starting line-up showed no changes from the one that started against Sligo in the provincial decider.
With just a week to go before Mayo head into the All Ireland quarter-final in Croke Park their opponents are still unknown until this weekend's round of action in the qualifiers is completed on Saturday evening. Speaking ahead of the game, joint Mayo manager Noel Connelly said he hoped that Aidan O'Shea gets "fair play" from officials in the upcoming contest and they do award him frees when he is fouled and not let the infractions slide by just because of his size.
For a number of Mayo players it was their fifth Connacht title in a row on Sunday in Hyde Park, but for the Mayo management team of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes it was their first in the senior job. Speaking after the game Noel Connelly said that, “We were pleased with the performance, everybody worked hard and that’s all you can ask of them going out and they delivered in fairness to them and now it’s about moving on to three weeks time.”
An acquaintance of mine from Galway and his wife took a few nights away in lovely Westport last February to celebrate Valentine's Day. When he had a few jars taken one evening he went talking football with an older man in his sixties in a local tavern and proceeded to start slagging him about Mayo's defeats in All-Ireland finals since 1989.
While Mayo head into Sunday's Connacht final as favourites, joint Mayo manager Noel Connelly is not taking anything for granted and he is very keenly aware that Sligo will pose a serious threat to his side's ambitions of claiming a 46th Connacht title. Sligo's performance against Roscommon and particularly that of their inside forwards impressed the Hollymount-Carramore clubman. "They were the underdogs, Roscommon were the hot favourites after winning the division two league final. Sligo had won three and lost three in division three, but they were the highest scoring county team in all the leagues, also they used very few players outside the 17 or 18, so they are a very settled team, a very young team, and they played with great belief and no fear, and led from the off. Nobody could say they weren't deserving winners," he said.
It is not the Connacht final we expected to see but it certainly is one that has been widely anticipated after Sligo threw away the form book when comprehensively disposing of Roscommon in the semi final. It is slightly ironic that it is the 40th anniversary of Sligo’s famous win against Mayo in the final. The big question on everybody’s lips is will they be able to produce again against the current Connacht kingpins to prevent the green and red going for an unprecedented five in a row.
Half a decade ago, Mayo were bounced out of the Connacht championship by Sligo in the shadow of Benbulbin, it was one of those bad days for Mayo football where nothing went right.