THE County GAA Board chairman hailed the ‘super performance’ that clinched Mayo’s place in the All-Ireland final, described the team’s supporters as ‘absolutely unbelievable’, and branded some of the media commentary about the decision to play Aidan O’Shea at full-back as ‘outrageous’.
Paying tribute to the Mayo players, Mike Connelly said: “You couldn’t find a finer bunch of young fellas – they keep coming back and coming back. And look it, I really hope they get their just reward ... There’s a lot of guys there that have soldiered right through, and [are] still there.”
Speaking to The Mayo News in Croke Park shortly after what he called a ‘super performance’ secured victory in Saturday’s All-Ireland final replay, the Hollymount/Carramore clubman reserved special praise for the Mayo supporters.
“I’m delighted for them,” he said. “You couldn’t find better. Absolutely unbelievable ... I really hope that our supporters get the reward that they deserve. We travelled up and down the country this year. We have had a marvellous championship. We were in the back door. We’d a number of draws. We were in Limerick, we were in Ennis, we’ve been in Croke Park on a number of occasions. And they’ve been with us through thick and then. So ... for them, I’d love to win just once!”
Connelly acknowledged that the frequency of Mayo’s recent All-Ireland final appearances means the organisational side of the preparation is no longer a step into the unknown. County Board officials are now facing a busy few weeks, but the chairman isn’t complaining.
“Three weeks of madness, but we’ll take it!” he said with a laugh. “It’s where we want to be at the end of the day. Super performance today. Three weeks to prepare ... Sure we’ve been there now so many times, it’s just a normality now for us at this stage. We know exactly what we have to do ... for the next two to three weeks ... It’ll be tickets and planning the All-Ireland weekend and the functions and one thing or another.”
Asked about the severe criticism aimed at manager Stephen Rochford for deploying Aidan O’Shea at full-back against Kerry to mark Kieran Donaghy, Connelly said: “Look it, some of the stuff that was on the media was outrageous; there’s no doubt about that ... The place to do the talking is on the field, as Stephen Rochford said, and that’s what we did today ... They can write all they like. But at the end of the day, we’ve won the game and we’ll be preparing for the next three weeks now – the Board, the team, and the back-room team – to be our best in the All-Ireland final.”