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Crossmolina aim to bounce back up


FACING FACTS Crossmolina’s Fionán Duffy is hoping that the Deel Rovers can make a winning start to the Mayo Intermediate championship next weekend against Bonniconlon.

Ger Flanagan

FIONÁN Duffy was barely six years-old when Crossmolina Deel Rovers had their greatest ever day in winning the All-Ireland Senior Club Championship back in 2001.
He remembers playing football in the hallway of the City West Hotel the night before the game, shouting on from the Hogan Stand ‘with the whole of Crossmolina’ and being back in the team hotel for the banquet later that night.
“I wish I was a bit older back then so I could have enjoyed it more, but I did alright for a six year-old,” he laughed when talking to The Mayo News.
Fast forward 18 years and Duffy has collected two All-Ireland medals of his own (minor in 2013 and Under-21 in 2016), but the fortunes of Crossmolina have changed drastically after being relegated from the senior grade last season.
“It didn’t go down very well at all,” Duffy (22) admitted. “I wouldn’t say it was completely unexpected, but when it happened, it was like a kick in the ass that no-one seen coming.
“We were worried it might happen, but you’re always thinking ‘next game’, that you might wing it, but we never did.
“It [relegation] was feckin’ horrible. We thought we had it that day against Davitts [relegation play-off] too because we went in a couple of points up at half-time, but Mickey C[onroy] came on and killed us.”
So how does a club, who were competing at the business end of the Mayo SFC for more than two decades, end up getting relegated and not registering a single win in League or Championship in 2018?
“It’s hard to know because we were down a lot of players last year, through them moving away or injuries,” he said. “Last year we were having six, seven or eight lads at training during the week because there’s so many based all around the country. It’s no-one’s fault, that’s the way it is with rural clubs.
“That can be tough. It’s great when everyone comes home on a Friday, but it’s not great when there’s only seven or eight lads midweek and you’re running through muck!
“Even all the lads from the good days, the early 2000s… we were nearly relying on them the last few years and now they’ve retired. It started going down and down gradually as they were all retiring until we came to this point.”
But 2019 has seen the return of some of that famous team, this time to the sideline.
Enda Lavelle is the new manager, and has enlisted an impressive backroom team that includes Tommy Jordan (manager in 2001), Liam Moffat, Michael Hegarty, Barry Loftus and Colm Reilly as they intend to really ‘put the shoulder to the wheel’.
The evergreen Peadar Gardiner (39) is still togging out too.
“The club is nearly embarrassed to be in this situation and a lot of heads have come together now to try and fix it,” explained Duffy. “Enda is brilliant. He’s putting in a huge commitment and has a serious team in place. There’s help no matter where and when you want it, and no stone is being left unturned.
“I’m not saying relegation was a good thing, but it has given everyone a bit of a kick and has brought a lot of lads back and closer together to try and get back up, which is the most optimistic way of looking at it.
“It’s not going to be easy, because Intermediate and Division Two is a serious standard, we’ll do all we can. But that’s the main goal, to go back up.”

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