Ballina and Crossmolina players get to know each other during the ill-tempered Mayo SFC semi-final at McHale Park.
Club managers reflect
AS the dust settles after last Sunday’s tempestuous Mayo SFC semi-final between Crossmolina and Ballina, both managers were not mincing their words twenty-four hours after the final whistle.
Speaking to The Mayo News last night, Crossmolina manager Tommy Jordan said that while he was pleased that his team had progressed to the County Final on October 29, the game itself was not “a football classic”.
“We had to play the way we did, we weren’t allowed to play football,” said Jordan. “We would have preferred to go out there and play football but we simply weren’t let. After half-time they [Ballina] closed us down and I’ll let people who were there watching the match decide whether what they did was legal within the laws or not.
“There were a lot of lads who really stood up to the mark on Sunday,” he added. “We’d a lot of young players who wouldn’t have experienced a game like that before but they came through, stood up to the challenge and didn’t shy away. It would have been easy to hide but no one did. I couldn’t single out one player but all the players did what we asked, nobody stood back. From a team perspective that is a positive.
”It’s a positive to come out from a battle like that on top. It’s certainly not what we set out to do. We went out to try to play an open, attacking style of football. During the game though we had to adjust to what was going on around us.”
Ballina manager Tommy Lyons was also forthright in his analysis of a match that became more and more ragged as it went on. He was also anxious to point out that his team had the game almost won before Crossmolina’s injury-time heroics.
“It was gut wrenching to lose the game in the manner that we did. You talk about hard luck stories but to have went one point up in injury-time and then lose to a sucker punch of a goal is very hard to take.
”I’d have my views on a lot of what went on,“ continued Lyons. “Certainly the free that Crossmolina won from which they got the goal I would have to question. It’s only a free if a player draws on the ball and it’s dangerous play, that is if someone is on the ground or if someone is trying to pick up the ball. When David Brady drew on that ball there was no one else doing either. Everyone else was upright. The second thing, a lot of our defence were claiming it was a square ball, I don’t know myself from where I was. We probably should have dealt with the ball better anyway.”
Responding to Tommy Jordan’s comments about Ballina’s second half tactics, Tommy Lyons was unequivocal: “My team never is put out to do anything other than play football. How come it was one of their players who the referee saw fit to show a straight red card for the melee? I’d be disappointed if Crossmolina are saying those type of things.
“I went into their dressing room afterwards and that’s where it should be left. We’re a footballing team. We went all the way to the All-Ireland club title playing good football. We’ve six players in the county panel, it’s ludicrious that it should even be suggested that we would set out to do anything other than play football. There’s no need for us to do that. The club have always set out to play football, nothing else. I wouldn’t be associated with any team who sets out to do anything other than play football. I haven’t had the benefit of the video let but I’ll let people who were there make up their own minds.”
Looking ahead to the novel County Final against Ballaghaderreen at the end of the month, Tommy Jordan said that there was absolutely no question of the county champions underestimating the John O’Mahony trained East Mayo men.
“They are a very good footballing team with loads of pace and good footballers in their side,” offered the Deel Rovers manager. “They taught us a footballing lesson in Crossmolina earlier this year and they have us well warned. They came up to Crossmolina and showed what they were about.
”People who think that the Ballina game was our county final are talking nonsense really. In any county final I’ve been involved in with Crossmolina we’ve never won by more than two points and last year was no different. There is no such thing as an easy county final.
“Ballaghaderreen will definitely fancy themselves, they mightn’t admit to fancying themselves but you can be sure that they will.”