A FAST LEARNER Ballina Stephenites' Ciaran Treacy travelled from Dublin to line out with Mayo in the FBD Connacht League against Leitrim. Pic: Michael Donnelly
THERE was wind and rain, but at least this time there was no ice (or frost) as Mayo finally got their FBD League campaign up and running on Wednesday night with a draw against Leitrim in Castlebar.
After Sunday’s game against Galway was called off at the last-minute, motivation levels — combined with a hint of anger spilling over from the lack of a refund given to patrons last Sunday — were healthy.
The wild weather meant that most supporters made a hasty bee-line into the stand for cover with about 1,500 of the 1,696 paying punters based there.
The Connacht Council officials were probably the only ones relieved about the heavy rain; a few men in bibs reckoned it deterred angry fans giving them an earful!
Things didn’t appear to get off to a great start for Leitrim when their goalkeeper Diarmuid KcKiernan made his way to the wrong goal just before throw-up; maybe he was just trying to spook out young Paddy O’Malley.
Either way, it didn’t seem to work, as McKiernan made the embarrassing run back towards his own net as referee Shane Hehir waited to throw the ball in.
Westport debutant O’Malley made a super stop to deny Darragh Rooney inside the second minute.
As it transpired, McKiernan was clearly fond of that ‘Albany End’ goal as he saved a tame penalty from Alan Freeman in the second half.
If anyone had any doubts over the appetite for the FBD League, the roar from the crowd after Amhrán na bhFiann concluded indicated how happy some people were to have a Mayo team to watch again.
Young Ballina Stephenites corner-forward Ciaran Treacy showed his appetite to impress in a Mayo senior jersey too.
A student teacher in St Pat’s, Dublin, the debutant travelled from the capital earlier on Wednesday for his first start, despite his final college exam taking place today (Thursday).
That’s some commitment.
But it paid off too, with an encouraging performance and three points. (Hopefully the exam-correctors take that into consideration!)
Former Mayo, Leitrim and Galway senior manager John O’Mahony was back in MacHale Park too. The Ballaghaderreen native was back in the Leitrim colours as a team selector.
‘Johnno’ must have been happy to see his side take a two-point lead into the break against a an experimental Mayo XV.
One Leitrim reporter in the press box was wondering whether this was a ‘second or third string’ Mayo team, clearly impressed (or rather shocked) by the way the visitors had finished the half against last year’s All-Ireland finalists.
The local hacks were a little shocked too see Shane Nally replace Colm Boyle in the Mayo team before the start. We wondered if the steam he was blowing was from the cold air? Or maybe due to the team holiday in Malaysia that had only ended for him a few days earlier?
With the rest of the Mayo squad now back on Irish soil, we’ll probably see more of it on Friday night when Galway come to town. Again!