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The Mayo senior ladies' football team will be looking to pick up the pieces of their heartbreaking loss to Galway in the Connacht final a couple of weeks ago when they take on Tyrone tomorrow in the All Ireland qualifiers series with a place up for grabs in the All Ireland quarter-finals.
Rice a doubt for Carrickshock
Katie Power back running
I got a call last Thursday from a friend wondering if I could meet him for lunch. Upon arrival at the chosen venue I could see said friend was extremely agitated and frustrated and it became apparent he needed a sounding board to launch a tirade regarding a minor match fixture. Friend happens to be the manager of the minor team in question that had made it through to the county league semi final. It transpired that his annoyance and frustration concerned a break down in communication regarding the fixture. He had received an email the previous night (Wednesday) saying that the fixture was scheduled for the following Friday evening (48 hours notice). He told me that he had been informed on the Monday night that the game would definitely not be played during that week and the best information he got suggested that it would be a couple of weeks before it would take place. Consequently the club did not fulfil the fixture and the match was awarded to the opposition on a walk over. The county final at this particular grade is fixed for this weekend. Some of you may be aware that the Oxegen concert also takes place this weekend when thousands of youngsters of this particular age group travel to the music festival.
The draws have been made for the senior club quarter-finals and they have thrown up some novel pairings. Neighbours Castlebar and Breaffy come together in what should be a very interesting local derby, that should generate plenty of banter. However Castlebar are a better team at the moment and, in my opinion, should prevail. Ballina and Ballintubber go head to head and the outcome is a tougher one to predict. Pat Harte picked up what looked like a serious knee injury last Saturday playing for his club against Castlebar in the Michael Walsh tournament final and l would be surprised if he is fit to play next week. His loss would be significant, and for that reason I will opt for Ballintubber. Charlestown are wily old campaigners and probably too experienced to be toppled by Shrule/Glencorrib. That leaves Crossmolina v Knockmore. Now this is a tough one for me to call. What I do know is that both teams will go at it hammer and tongs as there are plenty of young aspiring footballers on each side to ensure we have a cracking game of football. Personally, I would not mind if it was a poor one, if we were guaranteed a safe passage into the semi-finals!
Westmeath welcome Derry to Mullingar for round two of the qualifiers on Saturday at 5pm. After the disappointment of the Louth defeat Pat Flanagan’s men will be hoping to get back to winning ways. Home advantage is an obvious plus but Derry will be a tough nut to crack and will deservedly wear the favourites tag.
Last Sunday’s clash between Cork and Kerry reminded me so much of Mayo’s All-Ireland final versus Meath in 1996. Mayo could and should have won in 1996. Cork could and should have won last Sunday. Cork were ahead by five points with 15 minutes remaining but were clinging on in those final minutes when Kerry came storming back into the game in typical bullish fashion. Cork have only themselves to blame as they should have been out of sight, notwithstanding the fact that referee Maurice Deegan stands accused of leaning very much in favour of Kerry in the closing stages of the match. He had indicated two minutes of additional time to be played in the second half, but left the clock running. Cork managed to edge in front with a converted 45 within those two minutes and appeared to have pulled off a sensational victory. But inexplicably Deegan managed to extend playing time by a further two minutes and, to add insult to injury, advanced the last free awarded to Kerry by 20 metres, giving Bryan Sheehan the easiest of chances to convert and level the game. The additional time played created a lot of debate after the game and Mick Curley, the chairman of the National Referees’ Association, was invited by RTÉ Radio 1 to discuss the matter. Curley, himself a former referee, understandably wasn’t ever going to land his former referee colleagues in the manure and went on to defend Deegan stoutly. I was on the same radio show and decided that I should come to the defence of both Deegan and Marty Duffy (Croke Park referee), reminding listeners that a young Pat McEneaney, who refereed the All Ireland in 1996, had a terrible game and we here in Mayo managed to forgive him for some of his bizarre decisions in both the drawn and replayed final of that year. Mick Curley did go on to suggest that he would be personally in favour of a countdown clock similar to that used so effectively in ladies football, rugby, and basketball, that would make life so much easier for referees. You know I’m not so sure about this at all. I never minded a draw in football, as long as I wasn’t involved in any way with a participating team. A drawn game creates great debate afterwards. Also I am delighted to have the opportunity to see these two teams have another go at progressing to a Munster final tomorrow evening. TV3 has again decided to televise the match at 5pm, and with a live Leinster championship encounter involving Kildare and Wexford also beamed into our living rooms at 7pm, we can have no complaints about our national broadcaster. If Cork do manage to prevail next Saturday evening, they will advance with great confidence and it will take a very good performance to beat them later in the year.
Of the four championship games that I saw last weekend the best game by far with the best standard of football and fitness from both teams was Tuam Stars against Micheal Beathnach’s.
Roscommon’s championship campaign came to an end on Saturday evening at the hands of Meath on a score line of 2-12 to 0-11. In the end, Meath’s experience, physical strength, belief, and greater scoring power were the main differences between the sides.