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I’m not sure if it’s the wisest thing I have ever done but I joined up with the 'Charlestown party bus' after Mayo’s drive for five became a reality last Sunday in Hyde Park. I felt it was important to celebrate such a milestone and such an emphatic victory in the Connacht final. I did suffer for it on Monday.
The Galway hurlers led Tipperary in the All-Ireland qualifier last Saturday in Semple Stadium by 4-12 to 1-15 after 52 minutes.
While most of the attention that is paid to the Mayo sideline is concentrated on what James Horan is doing and possibly thinking, one of his main lieutenants, Tom Prendergast, is as much an important cog in the Mayo wheel. Horan’s trusted ally since their days together with Ballintubber is another deep thinker on the game, but likes to keep things simple when talking about how Mayo have got to where they are. “It's like everything in life, you get out of it what you put into it,” he said last week.
I was driving home from Dublin last Sunday evening when my good friend Pat Holmes eventually managed to get through to me on the phone. He could barely talk as his voice was practically gone. Normally, when Pat’s voice is hoarse, things have not gone too well. We had spoken earlier in the morning and I gathered then that he was nervous about playing Crossmolina later in the afternoon. I’m not so sure he was any the better after having spoken with me earlier as all I told him to do was to relax as there was a huge number of Cross lads out injured.
I thought the Mayo team looked a little bit spooked last Sunday in Hyde Park and I really do not know why they appeared that way. Some might suggest that Conor Mortimer’s surprise departure from the squad placed a difficult burden on Mayo. I don’t believe it did. On the other hand I bumped into the Mayo manager in Castlebar last Saturday and could see he had the weary look of a man that had a belly-full of the Mortimer issue over the previous few days. I am sure he is sleeping a little more soundly since Sunday as his squad did just about enough to get over the line against a typically sticky Sligo challenge. As I stood to watch the presentation of the Nestor Cup, I engaged with a few Mayo supporters who were just as relieved that Mayo won the match. And I have to agree with their view which was that winning is the most important thing.
St Patrick’s Ballyragget will live the dream next Saturday evening as they walk out onto the hallowed turf of Croke Park in their bid for All-Ireland glory.
If ever there was a salient argument for playing senior club championship hurling in this county during July and August, it was made on Sunday in a rain-drenched Kenny Park.
All eyes will be on McHale Park on Sunday for the repeat of last year’s senior championship final, last year it was Ballintubber who were the last men left standing. While both groups of players are still more or less the same, on the sideline two new men will have been busy for the past few weeks plotting and planning each other’s downfall. When James Horan left Ballintubber to rejuvenate the standing of Mayo football on a national level, Anthony McGarry was the man left with the task of filling his boots. For the Mitchels, when Peter Ford stepped aside his banisteoir’s bib was handed to former Mayo senior and u21 manager Pat Holmes, and one target was given him, bring the Moclair cup back to the county town.
John Lockes (Callan) v Danesfort
Salthill/Knocknacarra have only won the Frank Fox Cup on two occasions, 1990 and 2005. However, based on the displays they have produced over the past few weeks, few could argue they are the team to beat this season in Galway football.