Search Results for 'Trevor Howley'
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We are officially up and running now, with the championship opening in 16 days on another continent all that we were waiting for was the 30 names who would make up the championship panel for 2009. When the list was announced on Sunday evening there were no major surprises as John O’Mahony and his backroom team set out their stall for the summer. As was widely expected James Nallen, Keith Higgins, David Heany, and Trevor Howley were all included in the panel despite none of them taking part in the league campaign. In total 22 of those picked for last year’s squad at the same stage of the year were selected again this year, with the likes of Colm Boyle, James Gill, and Michael Mullins all not making the cut this time around. While the veterans Nallen and Heany were included Aidan Higgins, whom many thought might have got the nod, was not selected despite lining out in a recent challenge match against Offaly in Castlebar.
For what it’s worth, and irrespective of what you might have heard on the streets since, I didn’t meet a single person who believed that Mayo would beat Galway before last Sunday’s game in Tuam. That is why that one point victory had people giddy with excitement after the match. It was an incredible result. Let’s be honest here for a minute. The form shown in Ballina exactly one week earlier against a mediocre Dublin outfit was to say the least very ordinary. Yet here, a week later, 14 of that very same starting 15 are brimming with confidence after taking the scalp of the form team of 2009. It’s not too difficult to analyse the reasons for the victory. Put the maroon and white of Galway in front of a green and red jersey and you have a different attitude and approach to the whole occasion. Clearly it’s a mindset. There is no doubt that there would have been lots of smiles, not to mention a bounce in the step of all who participated in the morale boosting victory last weekend. Because the win is worth an awful lot more than the two points on offer that more or less saw Mayo scramble away from the relegation zone and into mid- table that will surely guarantee Mayo division one football next year. This victory reminded everyone that the age-old rivalry that exists between these two teams is very much alive and well. Long may it continue! Both sides just love having a go at one another, out on the pitch and extending into the terraces too.
The senior club championship kicks off this weekend and to be honest I am getting excited and a little nervous because of it. All the dreaming, planning, and orchestrating for a crack at winning the title will be put to its first big test on Sunday. The weather forecast is good and the fact that it is a long weekend should guarantee a bumper crowd at the games, which will surely bring a smile to the face of what is normally a very serious looking county treasurer! The real secret of the GAA's success is that it is so fervently supported at community level, and this weekend will see thousands turning out to support their respective clubs all over the county. You don't have to be interested in football — everyone goes to support their parish or their club. Gaelic is easy to watch. It is free flowing and robust with a lot of scores, and that's attractive for punters who are used to watching soccer where there is maybe one goal in the space of 90 minutes (Wednesday’s European cup final being an exception, when we could sit back and marvel at the flamboyant skills of Barcelona). There are very few things in life that create the excitement of a good club championship match and I personally love the build up to championship Sundays.
After the pre-season warm up session on the far side of the Atlantic it’s back to more traditional fare, albeit on a Saturday evening for Mayo. And with McHale Park getting the go ahead, it’s all systems go for the welcoming of Roscommon to Castlebar for the first time in five years, and four years after the sides last met in the Connacht Championship.
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.
I was delighted to hear on Saturday evening that Ronan McGarrity had participated in the A v B game in McHale Park, it was good news for all concerned and his inclusion in the Mayo team announced on Wednesday night gives the county and the player himself a great boost going into this weekend’s Connacht final. Normally before matches of this nature, I’m fairly confident in predicting in advance who will win, but this time I’m finding it difficult. Mayo’s performances in the championship to date have been hugely impressive albeit against weak opposition. And on the other hand Galway have been deteriorating since half time in the league game in Tuam, when Mayo came back in the second half in impressive style to win the game. Since half time in that game, every time Galway have togged out they have had question marks hanging over them. In Sligo they were very lucky and had to use six different combinations at midfield to see off the Yeats county men who, if they had a bit more conviction when goal chances were presented, could have sent Liam Sammon’s side into the qualifiers at that stage.
I paid a visit to Anthony Finnerty’s hostelry in lower Salthill before the game last Sunday. There was a great buzz about the place with plenty of Mayo supporters popping in for the crack and banter before the short hop over to Pearse Stadium. One of the first people I met on arrival was PJ Kelly from Moygownagh. He is a great passionate football man and was eagerly seeking everyone’s opinion as to who they thought would win the game. “Would we win it? Are we good enough to win it”? I got the impression that PJ was happy with the answers coming from the gathering and would have left for the stadium pretty confident that Mayo would win their first provincial title since 1967 at the city venue. If I am to be perfectly honest here I have to admit that I found it very difficult to predict the outcome in advance of Sunday’s game. I know from experience that Galway v Mayo encounters take on a life of their own and the form book goes out the window when these two sides meet. Irrespective of form coming into a championship encounter, there is rarely more than a point or two separating these two great rivals. Galway looked so ordinary against Sligo a few weeks ago that punters could have been forgiven for believing that this would be a relatively ‘handy’ match for the Mayo boys. Mayo, on the other hand, looking hugely impressive when carrying out a demolition job on Roscommon in the semi-final. I suggested, prior to the game, that our poor run of results in Pearse Stadium in recent decades would be a factor. Because of that I felt we would have to be five or six points a better team than Galway to beat them in a venue where we hadn’t won a provincial championship since 1967.
Thirteen years on from a bounce of a ball hopping over the bar and a one for all brawl in front of the Hill, Mayo will renew acquaintance with Meath in the championship looking for their first win over the Royal County since the heady summer of 1951. When the final whistle is blown on Sunday, the initial headlines will probably go to the forward who puts the ball over the bar for the winning score or kicks a handful of points over the 70 minutes. But no matter how good the front six are all victories have their foundation on those whose primary job is to stop the other side from putting the size five over the black spot or into the back of the net.
The news that Ronan McGarrity had been selected to play in Sunday’s Connacht Senior Football Final (subject to passing a fitness test on Sunday morning) against Galway in Pearse Stadium was a major boost for Mayo when John O’Mahony named his side on Wednesday evening. The Ballina midfielder looked to all intents and purposes to be out of the game after he picked up a fractured cheekbone in Ballina’s Mayo senior football club championship clash with Crossmolina almost a fortnight ago.
It’s like waiting for a bus, you wait for ages with none coming and then two come at once in the Mayo club championships. After last weekend’s fixture load of quarter finals at different grades, this weekend sees a patchwork affair of games across the levels. From a senior semi-final right down through senior and intermediate relegation play offs to action in the junior championship. There are 10 games of serious note this weekend to keep everyone entertained.