By A Mayo Club Footballer
ON Monday evening last James Waldron, Chairman of the Mayo GAA Board, announced the appointment of John O’Mahony as manager of the senior inter-county team and although it was neither a secret that Johnno was mulling over the position or a surprise that he had taken over the reigns, the sigh of relief could be felt right across the county with the news that he had accepted the position.
Now just because the Ballagh’ man is back at the helm doesn’t mean that everyone should go out and book a hotel room in the Citywest for the last Sunday in September, nor provisionally book the following Monday off work. There is a lot of work to be done with the players once Johnno and his backroom team decide to pull a panel together.
He has started off well in appointing Tommy Lyons, a man that he has successfully worked with during Ballina’s All-Ireland campaign of 2005 and Kieran Gallagher, who will will offer continuity between the management team and the playing squad.
The appointment of Martin Carney is also a smart move as Martin’s knowledge of the game is undoubted, while his knowledge of opposing teams will be invaluable. For many years football people have been saying that with O’Mahony in charge Mayo would win an All-Ireland. Let’s hope that over the course of the next three years that hope will become fact.
OVER the course of the last 12 months football supporters in the county have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. This time last year M&M were sitting at the senior team management table and with them came plenty of talking points; some controversial ones.
But definitely over the course of the last 12 months no matter who you were talking to inside or outside the county, the topic of football matters in Mayo was never far from conversation. The year was been extremely eventful with greats win in the league for us against Kerry, Tyrone and Cork, but along with those highs came the depressing low of a league semi-final loss to arch rivals Galway.
Around the same time Pat Holmes and company were marching nicely towards an All-Ireland final victory over Cork at U21 level, the first national championship title in 21 years for the county. The summer was now upon us and after unimpressive performances against London and Leitrim, the Tribesmen came to Castlebar for a memorable Connacht final win for Mayo when Conor Mortimer slotted a sublime 21 yard free-kick from the right corner over the bar in the dying minutes of the game. So Mayo were back as Connacht champions and preparing for an All-Ireland quarter-final against Laois, but not before M&M walked out of a training session and had to be coerced back.
We then had the memorable win over Dublin which will live long in the memory of many GAA followers throughout the country. Unfortunately, when it comes to Mayo we always seem to have a high followed by a thundering low and the defeat to Kerry was a low point for everyone.
I do feel though that the year 2006 will, in years to come, be a defining point for Mayo GAA; the U21s victory and the defeat to Kerry, I believe, will ultimately bond the core of that team together to achieve success sooner rather than later. The return of Johnno to the senior manager position and the emergence of a young and vibrant Ballagh’ team will assist the health of the game in the county into the future.
SPEAKING of Ballaghaderreen, the Mayo News/O’Neills ‘Club Stars’ – for which Ballagh’ have eight nominees – will be announced next Friday night at an already sold out charity banquet at Breaffy House Hotel.
This is the second year of the awards which set about acknowledging the high performance levels that club players have put in over the course of the last championship year. Obviously the majority of nominees are from county finalists Crossmolina with six and Ballagh, but a novel idea this year has been the ‘wild card’ nominees, picked from the Intermediate Championship.
This columnist feels that at least two awards will be housed in Intermediate homes following the announcement of the team on Friday night. Also this year will be the announcement of the ‘Club Stars – Player of the Year’ which will be decided by votes cast on www.mayonews.ie/sport.
I believe it will be a tight contest between Peader Gardiner, Ciaran McDonald and Andy Moran. The night promises to be another very successful one and will be hosted by Mid West Radio’s Tommy Marren. The banquet will also see some very special guests in atteandance such as new Mayo manager John O’Mahony and Maurice Sheridan, captain of the All-Ireland club football champions, Salthill-Knocknacarra.
Club Spy will be there, soaking up the atmosphere, and doing his bit for charity. It will be a nice way to sign off for this season and pick up a few stories for next season’s columns. But, for now, the gear bag is being put to one side and we’ll talk again when the Kelly, O’Mara, Canon Henry and North Mayo Exclusive Cups get up and running.