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These are heady days indeed in Ballyhaunis GAA circles, the east Mayo outfit already have their hurling team in the Connacht Intermediate Championship final thanks to a 2-10 to 1-10 win over Roscommon champions Four Roads last Monday. This Sunday, their intermediate footballers have the chance to join them in the Connacht final when they take on Roscommon side St Croan’s in the home of Rossie football, Dr Hyde Park.
It is never easy to beat the same team twice, especially in a short space of time. No matter how much better one outfit is compared to the other, defeating them the second time around is hard work. Their dander is up, and they are well focused to take you down. They will also have learnt from the first defeat and will be better organised to nullify your strengths.
I am confused as to the real potential of this Mayo team. I can’t honestly say how good this team is, as I doubt they have ever played an easier inter-county match in their lives, nor will they play an easier one ever again. I suggested here in this paper last week that I fully expected Roscommon to put it up to Mayo for 40 minutes or so but that ultimately Mayo’s greater fitness, ability, and general know how, would surface and they would pull away from Roscommon in the last 30 minutes possibly winning by 5/6 points. As you now know we won by 20! I had alluded to Roscommon’s morale-boosting victory over Leitrim a few weeks earlier that would have seen them arrive in Castlebar full of hope and brimming with confidence. I met a few of their supporters before the match in the Sportlann who had the audacity to suggest that they were in fact well capable of beating this particular Mayo team, and for me not to be one bit surprised if they pulled off a famous victory. Oh how wrong they were. This was arguably the worst performance from a senior Roscommon team in a championship encounter that I or many others have ever witnessed. Fergal O’Donnell, the messiah who had guided the county to their historic minor All Ireland victory in 2006, was in charge and their supporters were giddy with excitement and expectancy. Eleven of that minor squad were involved in one way or another last Saturday and they appeared to be relaxed and in confident mood as I watched them go through their paces in the warm up on the back pitch a half hour before the game.