UP AND AT IT Mayo’s Colm Boyle leaps highest to win the ball against Galway in the FBD Connacht League semi-final last Sunday. Pic: Conor McKeown
WHERE else would you get entertainment like it for €10?
A 90 marathon match between Mayo and Galway that finished in a draw before a penalty shoot-out that was as dramatic as it gets on the second Sunday of January.
A chance for goalkeepers Rob Hennelly and Conor Gleeson to live out their boyhood fantasties of facing spot-kicks and being the hero; an opportunity for the likes of Shane Walsh, Damien Comer, Kevin McLoughlin and Liam Irwin to show us how it’s done.
As it transpired, Galway midfielder Tom Flynn was as near as we got to a ‘hero’ as his converted penalty proved the match-winner after Bryan Walsh saw his effort hit the post.
Certainly the 7,065 people who came through the turnstiles on Sunday couldn’t complain.
Well, not unless they were the person who lost their phone at one stage, according to Johnny Hopkins on the Public Address.
The good news was they had plenty of time to look for it.
Sunday was a long shift.
Spare a thought for the Mayo and Galway supporters who were in their seats more than hour before throw-in. Had they stayed for the last penalty to be taken they would have been sitting pretty for three hours solid. And frozen solid too probably.
The early arrivals did get to see new Mayo selector Ciaran McDonald setting out the cones for the team warm-up along with James Burke; the Crossmolina maestro certainly looked the part with the compression pants and retro Predator football boots showing he’s lost none of his ability to catch our attention.
McD also performed a few ‘keepy uppies’ with the O’Neills before resisting the temptation to ping it over the bar at the Bacon Factory End like it was 1999.
The absence of Martin Barrett’s name on the match programme seemed to confirm the news that had been circulating last week; the former Kiltane manager, who was a selector with James Horan last season, has left the management team with Martin Lally, Martin McIntyre and the aforementioned James Burke and Ciaran McDonald all listed as ‘selectors’ last Sunday.
We spotted the new Mayo nutritionist, Evan Regan, spraying a few nice passes to some of his former team-mates during the warm-up. It was quite surreal to see the Ballina Stephenites forward on duty in his role as part of James Horan’s backroom team considering he played in the FBD League last year and won a National League medal last March.
Speaking of nutrition, for those of us who divided our weekend between the Club Stars awards on Saturday night and MacHale Park on Sunday, a tonic or some multivitamins could be required this week.
In fairness, it didn’t seem to knock a stir out of the likes of Padraig O’Hora, Michael Plunkett, Paddy Durcan, Bryan Walsh or Diarmuid O’Connor who did both as well.
They were obviously all safely tucked up in bed long before the music started in Knockranny.
The upshot of Sunday’s defeat for Mayo is that unfortunately (or should that be fortunately) there will be no shadow boxing with the Rossies in an FBD League Final next weekend; James Horan and Anthony Cunningham will get to keep their powder dry ahead of a possible championship rematch in the summer.
For the record, it’s now eight years and counting since Mayo won the Connacht League.
It was around that time that the winners stopped going to New York for the ‘away final’. .
A coincidence? Probably.
So we’re left with the prospect of marking off the days until the trip to Ballybofey on Saturday week next as the National League carnival begins again.
And as for Mayo and the FBD — what’s another year?
Did you know?
MAYO’S last three games in the FBD League have ended with penalty shoot-outs.