CHILD’S PLAY Donie Newcombe of Castlebar Mitchels celebrates with his three-month-old niece Grace Malone after Sunday's Mayo SFC Final. Pic: Sportsfile
CHANCES are if Antoine Ó Raifteirí was still roaming the land he’d have been inking his quill early in the second half of the Mayo Intermediate Championship Final on Sunday last.
Raifteirí relied on sound to compensate for sight loss and the roars acknowledging David Lydon’s superb goal resonated loud enough to suggest Kiltimagh were bound for glory.
He’d have been getting a head start in penning an ode honouring the footballers of his native Kiltimagh.
And, yes indeed, it also looked odds-on that Kiltimagh’s most renowned living bard — the eminent John Regan — would be giving umpteen rousing renditions of his celebrated composition ‘Devil A Town In Ireland Like The Town Of Kiltimagh’ in every hostelry and speakeasy in Cill Aodáin late into the early small hours.
Lydon’s major looked a score good enough to knock the stuffing out of Moy Davitts’ challenge. And more so when they forged a six point advantage after Stephen McDonnell stroked over two long-distance beauties, postings reminiscent of the great Ciaran McDonald back in the day.
Billed as the under-card in Sunday’s showpiece it was far superior in quality of the two offerings on show. A draw was a fair result and both sides merit another cut at it. But Kiltimagh will realise they should have tagged what they’d bagged on Sunday.
Through a Liam Lydon goal on the quarter hour they retired on halfway with a slender lead. It should have been more but for the shooting of some spectacular wides and they aided by the last puffs of Storm Brian in the opening act.
Midway through the second half they abandoned pedalling for freewheeling when they were on a home run. Spotting the door ajar, Moy Davitts came thundering upfield and Brian Reape latched on the coat tails of the move to rattle the Kiltimagh rigging. Suddenly the pendulum was swinging towards the Foxford-Bohola combination.
Then substitute Liam Byrne pointed the most obvious score of the contest only for the umpire to signal it wide. As referee Garryowen McMahon consulted his officials an independent observer within earshot suggested the flag man was blinded by the sun. There were calls for ‘Hawkeye’ and needless to add ‘Specsavers’ got a few mentions also.
But the point was awarded, as indeed it should have without any steward’s inquiry. So now the near-neighbours have to do it all over again and it’s a replay worthy of another viewing.
Castlebar Mitchels and Ballintubber met in the senior decider and this fixture is now almost becoming as regular as the Oxford and Cambridge boat race.
But if this is the blueprint for how modern-day football is enacted could we please have the old game back. Played at a ‘Stations of the Cross’ pace with more handpassing than foot passing, it never trespassed beyond mediocre.
Castlebar were narrow, but deserving winners. Another bit of mystification near the end here too when, after a bit of afters in the Castlebar goalmouth, Declan Corcoran and his umpires assembled in conclave.
As a result of their deliberations Corcoran set about speaking to a Castlebar defender who was merely an observer to the fracas. Then, on more mature reflection, he brandished a second yellow and then a red card instead to Ballintubber’s Cillian O’Connor, and the dye was cast thereafter.
So for the first time since the halcyon days of Garrymore back in 1976 — and the era of the Honda 50, Halls Pictorial Weekly, Bibi Baskin, Mattie Joe Connolly, Sally O’Brien and Green Shield stamps — another side have completed the three-in-a-row.
The road home journeyed us via Garrymore where people queued long into a shortening Mayo evening to sympathise with the Tierney clan on the passing of Peter.
Peter was the GAA club chairperson and was Garrymore in beating heart and lasting soul. Although waltzing on borrowed time, only last week Peter mustered resolve enough to attend Garrymore’s drawn county semi-final with Castlebar Mitchels.
He was afforded all the inimitable trappings of the traditional Garrymore send-off.