Search Results for 'Stephen Cluxton'
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If one incident defined how much more Dublin were up for this game that Mayo it was when early in the second half, Aidan O’Shea got in behind the Dublin defence. He stumbled but fed the ball to Mark Ronaldson, who pulled the trigger. But out of nowhere Denis Bastick got back to not only block the ball, but gather it and break clear. It was an outstanding feat of athleticism and brilliance by the Ballymun Kickhams man.
Mayo limped out of the national league in spectacular fashion last Sunday in Croke Park against a much livelier and hungrier Derry team. What has everyone worried is Mayo’s failure and inability to make a numerical advantage count for the second time in three weeks.
The good news first.
For those of you who decided to go to Croke Park last Saturday night, it was a good decision. It was a game that had pretty much everything, full of twists and turns, it certainly was not for the faint hearted and nothing beats being there to watch the action unfold and embrace the atmosphere. I was asked by someone tuned in to the radio if my wife has my life insurance policy updated as I apparently nearly had a heart attack live on air. I have no doubt Mayo will feel like they lost this game, being in such a commanding position in the second half and with a numerical advantage for 45 or so minutes, it looked like it was a case of by how much would they win, but their inability to kill of a team that was not playing well and had only 14 men will certainly worry James Horan.
Had Jack McCaffrey’s late effort made its way between the posts at the end of a crazy, madcap, frantic and frenetic clash between last season’s All Ireland finalists to hand Dublin victory, it is doubtful Mayo supporters could have left Croke Park feeling any more deflated on Saturday night.
Now that 2013 has almost gone to the history books it is time to reflect on the year that nearly was. The Mayo senior team played their first game against Leitrim in the FBD league on January 13. Little did we know back then what the year was about to unfold. Mayo’s National League campaign was not of the consistent variety and after a convincing win at home to Kerry on February 3 we became expectant again. That was followed by four consecutive losses to Tyrone, Dublin, Down, and Kildare. The Tyrone game was a crushing defeat, Stephen O’Neill’s last gasp penalty winning for the red hand. Mayo were given a taste of Stephen Cluxton’s ability in the league game in Croke Park in March, the Dubs convincing winners; Bernard Brogan was unmarkable the same night. Worrying for Mayo were the losses to Down and Kildare, two games they should have won. Mayo were now in real danger of being relegated and had to beat All- Ireland Champions Donegal in Castlebar and then travel away to Cork to try to complete a miraculous escape. What was of great concern was the lack of goal chances and goals, Keith Higgins’ goal against Tyrone the only attempt to hit the net in five matches. Michael Conroy bettered that stat with a soccer-style finish against Donegal in a game in which Barry Moran was in superb form. Mayo well and truly ground out a result in Cork, winning by the slimmest of Margins 0-11 to 0-10 to achieve their goal of staying in division one of the league. It was a complete bonus that they sneaked into a league semi-final and had another big game in Croker against the Dubs. Confidence may not have been too high after Dublin easily won the league semi-final by 2-16 to 0-16. Bernard Brogan was untouchable in the first league encounter, Paul Mannion the star of the semi-final scoring 1-04. It really was amazing Mayo got to a league semi final despite losing four games on the spin while staring relegation in the face. Two goals in eight matches had to be a very worrying stat for James Horan and his management.
I thought it impossible to see anything more bizarre than having to overtake an NYPD car on my way to MacHale Park last Sunday but just before the start of the Ballintubber/Knockmore county quarter final something else surpassed that. While I was watching the Ballintubber warm up to see if I could spot Cillian O’Connor ( to see if he was togged) I noticed a commotion in the middle of the field with all medical personnel running towards the place where Knockmore just had their team picture taken.
To win just once would be enough seems to be the overwhelming feeling in Mayo this week. To say I’m sick to the pit of my stomach is somewhat of an understatement. I fully know what the players, management and their families are feeling, there is no word to describe it, it is the closest feeling to losing a loved one. In time it will heal but now the game is being dissected by everyone, even people who know nothing about football, that is the nature of the beast. I have no doubt the players are dwelling on decisions they made during the game, the management are wondering whether they made the right calls even Joe McQuillan will be feeling a little dire and maybe he should.
Mayo will make the long round trip to Newry on Saturday night looking to take home two points from the second of their triple header of Saturday night games on the run. The two points will be vital in Mayo’s quest to keep their heads above the pack as the league turns into its final four game stand from Saturday night on.