Search Results for 'Sam Maguire'

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It really starts here

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For me the championship proper starts tomorrow at Croke Park. What has gone on before is bordering on a joke. Apart from Kildare defeating Cork in a round three qualifier and Cork almost catching Kerry on the hop in the drawn Munster final the rest has been straightforward and in some cases embarrassing. The first year the quarter-finals were introduced the cumulative winning total of the four games was just 11 points, the first two this year yielded a 35 point winning margin for Kerry and Dublin. I have no doubt Kildare would have taken a respectable few points loss to Cork in that qualifier rather than trying to come to terms with that 27 point humiliation at the hands of Kerry last weekend. Who would ever have thought that Kildare footballers would suffer a 19 point and a 27 point hiding from Dublin and Kerry and in the same season knock Cork out? Football has gone crazy.

These are special times for Ballyhaunis

Ballyhaunis GAA club are most certainly on cloud nine at the moment. I can only imagine how tough it is trying to keep the hurling and football teams fresh as they are playing every other week. In all, 10 or so players are representing both teams so some serious negotiating has to be going on between the managers to make sure that the players are fresh for whichever code is on the following weekend. Their hurlers had a fantastic win last Sunday in Athleague and this Sunday it’s the footballers’ turn against tournament favourites St Croan’s in Hyde Park at 2pm. Kiltane’s victory over Boyle last year in Castlebar means it’s an away game for Ballyhaunis. I don’t imagine club officers would have it any other way and love the predicament they are in. Any time you are training for championship matches after the October Bank Holiday weekend means you have at the very least secured a county title for your club, and with wins for both the footballers and hurlers already in the provincial series it can only mean there will be a real adrenaline rush attending training. I experienced it twice as a player; it brings such a feel-good factor around your town or parish to be involved in the championship when the evenings are short. Players are probably and deservedly getting a little spoilt now, gear bags, training tops and polo shirts are more than likely been sponsored and to top it off they are probably been treated to some grub after training, which is ideal for the bonding of the group, that never happens unless you at least win your county title. Ballyhaunis will need to be on top of their game to win in Roscommon.

Christy Moore - Where he came from

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Christy Moore makes a welcome return visit to Galway next week when he plays two concerts in Leisureland, on Thursday May 15, and Friday 16 (the latter is already sold out). Ahead of his appearances here, he took some time to chat about his life-long love for music, his family and his current tour.

Magic Mitchels deliver on the big day

What a performance by Castlebar Mitchels against Corofin. Hands up, I didn’t see that coming. I was very unsure about the quality of club football in the county but at least now I know we have one team capable of competing. Pundits and bookmakers didn’t give Castlebar a chance (4/1 in some places). Upon seeing Kieran Fitzgerald in the press box fully clothed before the game and hearing about a few other Corofin players being doubtful , I promptly got on the mobile and advised punters to get a piece of Castlebar to be ahead at half time and full time at 7/1. I have to admit it was very worrying when Corofin were leading by 1-03 to 0-1 after 12 minutes, Ian Burke was giving Tom Cuniffe the run around and Neil Douglas was losing crucial ball. Every single Castlebar player upped their performance inspired by Eoghan O’Reilly who set the tone with a big hit on a Corofin player. The Castlebar goals couldn’t have come at a better time, Richie Feeney’s palm into the net was a truly brilliant team goal and when Neil Lydon reacted faster to a rebound off the crossbar to net again for the Mitchels it was Corofin who were taking on water.

Training, team-mates and the future

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They battled together for Mayo during the 1990s and tasted defeat in All Ireland finals together, Kevin Cahill and John Casey were two of the major men in John Maughan’s first great Mayo team that reached two All Ireland finals in a row in 1996 and 1997, with Kevin missing out on the second final through injury. Earlier this week they met up with this writer to shoot the breeze about their own memories from those days, some fit to print, plenty of others that we were probably better off not printing, and to cast their eye over this year’s Mayo team and their former team-mate whose now the man in the manager’s T-shirt and what they hope to see in the final

A job is there to be done and let’s do it

The time has arrived again, another trip to Croker, our third semi-final in a row under James Horan, and it is time for all the talking to stop. It is game five of six as Mayo take on Tyrone in Croke Park on Sunday for a place in the All- Ireland final on September 22. I have one small fear ahead of the game, I’m sure it is only among the supporters and not the players, but a lot of people are dismissing Tyrone’s chances and are already wondering who Mayo will play in the final, I have never seen as many Mayo flags bought and as many green and red flags on cars and houses for a semi-final, we normally wait for a final for this to happen and that is a very dangerous way to be thinking before taking on the Red Hand. Confidence is one thing but cockiness is another. Have people forgotten that Tyrone have won three All- Irelands in the last 10 years and they completely demoralised far more superior Kerry teams than themselves in the not too distant past in finals. In the 2008 final, Kerry’s Tommy Walsh and Kieran Donaghy, the twin towers, were considered un-markable but Mickey Harte and the McMahon brothers found a way to do the job. Tyrone have an unbelievable capacity to frustrate you and get in your face, so to speak. They will annoy you and remind you of their success and Mayo’s failures in All-Ireland finals.

It is time to be cautious but optimistic

Hunger was the difference between Mayo and Donegal last Sunday according to many pundits; it was more like starvation. What more can you say, the best ever performance by a Mayo team in Croke Park and I don’t say that lightly. Donegal didn’t know what hit them, the way they dismantled the All-Ireland champions was so impressive it scared the living daylights out of everybody watching including the remaining three teams left in the competition. I was on Highland Radio (Donegal’s local station) the Wednesday evening before the quarter final and after telling it as it was, that I thought this Mayo team were in a really good place because of their build up, the competition for places and their ability to ease and not rush players back from injury unlike Donegal, and that Mayo were in serious physical shape, only to be jibed somewhat by James McHugh and Paul McGonigle (two former Donegal players) that “according to John Casey Donegal shouldn’t bother turning up on Sunday”. Well, maybe they should have listened.

Mayo massacre the champions

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Mayo 4-17

Casey's Call

And then there were eight. Watching the qualifier between Tyrone and Meath and Ger Canning announcing that Donegal seem to be into the quarter final after a struggle against Laois, I promptly let my Donegal wife Rita know that Mayo could now get drawn against Donegal. I knew it would happen, it was written in the stars, a chance for this Mayo team to right what went wrong in last year’s All-Ireland final. They could have got an easier draw in the likes of Cavan but getting pitted against Donegal - the All-Ireland champions, the team that made us sick to the pit of our stomachs last September means there is little needed in the line of motivation and complacency is gone out the window. It also means not much chat in the Casey house this week. I hope and expect to have bragging rights at 5.30pm next Sunday.

Casey's Call

What a wonderful occasion last Sunday’s Connacht finals day was in McHale Park. I arrived in Castlebar at 11am and already could feel the buzz and anticipation as many supporters were parking miles out the Charlestown road at that early hour. The day was not as sunny as expected but it was very humid and extremely energy sapping for the players, and even the well prepared Mayo players who did not have to get out of second gear were down on all fours at the end gasping for air.

 

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