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Starting our own road towards Wembley

Sport

PLENTY TO PONDER Mayo manager Stephen Rochford looks on from the stand during Sunday’s Connacht FBD League match between Roscommon and Mayo at Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon. Pic: Sportsfile

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Mike Finnerty

THREE games down, one to go.
That’s probably the kindest thing that any Mayo supporter who has sat/stood through the FBD League matches against Leitrim, Galway and Roscommon can say at this stage.
Between last Wednesday’s turgid draw, followed by Friday night’s stormy defeat in Castlebar, and Sunday’s dark and dreary loss in The Hyde, there hasn’t been a whole pile to shout about this month yet for the Mayo die-hards.
Then again, it’s been so bitterly cold and miserable down in MacHale Park and up in Roscommon at those same games, that just concentrating on what’s going on can prove challenging at times, never mind shouting!
Not that Mayo haven’t unearthed some new talent over the last week or so.
No, there are reasons to be cheerful.
We think Stephen Rochford has found at least two good men who are going to play significant parts in Mayo’s 2018 story.
Step forward Joe Keane and Dessie Campbell, Mayo’s new selector and kitman respectively.
Because on the evidence of what we saw at times during the festival of football that was three FBD League games in five days (or was it four?), Joe and Dessie have hit the ground running.
With Donie Buckley not back yet from his annual trip to America, Joe Keane (complete with a very fashionable wooly hat) was running Mayo’s pre-match warm-up on the new €700,000 Prunty pitch in Roscommon on Sunday.
And an excellent job he did too, as you’d expect from a man who was one of the finest Crossmolina inside forwards to ever lace a pair of boots. (Johnny ‘Rep’ Leonard wasn’t bad either, to be fair).
Joe has no interest in the spotlight or getting his name in the paper (unlike a few of his former Deel Rovers’ team-mates who have become very active on social media in recent years — check out @Jonathan_OBoyle as a good example).
But his promotion to the management team by Stephen Rochford (they won an All-Ireland club title together back in 2001) this year shows that Keane made quite an impression in the background last season.
It also got us thinking: if Tony McEntee has the ski-mask and Peter Burke wears the ear-piece, what will Joe’s match-day accessory be?
A baseball cap maybe?
Or wraparound shades?
Not to be outdone, Dessie ‘Dezzie’ Campbell of Aghamore GAA, Manulla FC, Local Streaming, and Mayo GAA TV fame also caught our eye during the various warm-ups last week.
Dessie is being ‘trained in’ this month by the Mister Miyagi of Mayo GAA kitmen, Liam ‘Luds’ Ludden and we think he’s learning fast.
As you’d expect from a man who once played semi-professional soccer in Newry, Campbell doesn’t hang about with the cones, bollards, footballs or water bottles either.
Oh, and did we mention that Dessie was the first soccer player in the Mayo League to have a transfer fee paid for him?
A man of many talents, we think he’ll be at his best come championship-time in the summer.
Speaking of summer, we bumped into Roscommon stats man — Seán Finnegan from Claremorris — in the press box last Sunday.
Seán compared the FBD League to the early rounds of the FA Cup. “The road to Wembley has to start somewhere” he laughed as we pondered the meaning of ‘The FBD’ for a few moments.
That’s something for Mayo fans to bear in mind next Sunday as they drive towards Sligo.
Three down, one to go… 

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