AWARD WINNER Mayo manager John O’Mahony is pictured with Pat Gavin from Aghagower (who now resides in New York) last weekend after Pat was presented with an award by the Green and Red Trust at Breaffy House Hotel. Pic: John Moylette
Display puts win in perspective
A CONTEST dominated by Mayo in the first half became a bit of a dogfight after the break, and even though they had six points to spare in the end, it was a laboured victory . . . and somewhat flattering.
Limerick came with the reputation of having had an impressive win over Fermanagh, and of running Dublin to a single point. They showed none of that character in the first half.
Two points, from frees, may not have been a fair reflection of their performance in the first half, but in general they had little to recommend them as a team of the future. In comparison to Mayo they looked very ordinary.
Trailing by seven points at the interval, they retired to the dressing room visibly surprised at the form shown by Mayo. They re-emerged twenty minutes later in better shape, and with an earful of Mickey O’Sullivan’s wisdom obviously ringing in their ears.
Most certainly they played with greater effort, and on occasions came close to scoring the goal that would revive their hopes. They were tough, had big men in the vital places. They were cumbersome, awkward to handle, and difficult to check.
But whatever improvement they brought to their game was helped by a lowering of the standard Mayo had set in the first half. Inevitably, the selectors had once more experimented.
Kevin O’Neill, the captain, was at centre-half forward, flanked by Ger Brady and Trevor Mortimer. Alan Dillon led the attack with Aidan Campbell and Andy Moran on either side. Ronan McGarrity was back at midfield and Enda Devenney at right half-back.
As a unit they were zippy and sharp and smart. The wings were used to the full and the Limerick defence spread in all directions. Within eight minutes they had scored 1-2, should have had another goal or two in the bag, and finished the half with 1-6 to Limerick’s two points.
A change in the pattern of their play was perceptible in the final ten minutes of the half. They had lost David Brady at midfield and centre-half forward Kevin O’Neill through injury. Both had been influential, and Mayo were unable to regain the control they had exercised up to their departure.
While he played reasonably well, Pat Harte, who replaced Brady, did not wield the same power. The potential is there to establish himself as a quality player, and as the year progresses and he gains the required degree of fitness, the selectors will find it difficult to deny Harte a place on the first fifteen.
Although he appeared to be carrying an injury on Sunday, the Ballina man did manage to cut a few lanes in the Limerick defence before being eventually replaced by James Nallen.
Aidan Kilcoyne replaced O’Neill, but not to the same effect. The captain’s delivery to the corner men had been hugely profitable. Aidan Campbell and Andy Moran, in particular, thrived on that supply, but it dried up when O’Neill left the scene.
The two corner men had opened the scoring with a point apiece, just after Alan Dillon had drawn a commendable save from goalkeeper Sean Kiely. Mayo had just got the feel of the game and were beginning to impose their will.
A couple of minutes later they had their goal. Andy Moran, working tirelessly, had a big hand in its creation. Ronan McGarrity delivered the high ball. Moran won the fight for possession, and directed the pass to the inrushing Trevor Mortimer, low and accurate. It spilled away from the speeding Shrule man, but he managed at the second attempt to sweep the ball into the net.
That was in the seventh minute, and even then Limerick looked in danger of being over run. They did not have their first real chance until the 14th minute when Kenneth O’Malley denied Micheal Reidy who had wriggled through the defence.
Their best forward was James Ryan at centre-half. He came within striking distance of the goal on a couple of occasions and Billy Joe Padden has not had a more difficult opponent since he took over the post at the beginning of the FBD League.
When the visitors began to stir themselves they were hard to stop. Their raids demanded the fullest attention from the Mayo defence. And once again the backline was equal to it. Liam O’Malley, James Kilcullen and Keith Higgins snuffed out those attacks with rigorous and disciplined tackling.
The two corner men were wonderfully efficient, and between them James Kilcullen is fitting into the central position with certain conviction. The accuracy of his clearances was questionable on occasions, a fault that maturity will efface.
Enda Devenny is likely to make the right-half spot his own, and together with Peadar Gardiner cut deep into the Limerick defence with their speedy thrusts. In goal, Kenneth O’Malley, having his first serious outing with the county side, was confident and assured.
The success of the defence is reflected in the Limerick scoreline. All but two of their seven points came from corner forward Micheal Reidy, and four of those were from frees. The other two came from James Ryan and midfielder John Galvin who dominated the midfield play.
The big, strong Croom man outfielded McGarrity, although the Ballina man did play well besides, helping out in defence especially. In the first half when Brady did the defensive work, before retiring, McGarrity lent a vital hand to the attack.
In the forward line, Andy Moran and Trevor Mortimer were the hardest working. Aidan Campbell looks like holding down a place, but doubt surrounds the decision to provide Alan Dillon with the full-forward slot. The flair of the Ballintubber man appears to be cramped, even though he performed creditably.
No one will be getting too excited about Mayo’s performance in general. It was adequate for the occasion. But when you realise that Limerick kicked at least thirteen wides, some from easy range, and that when they had Mayo’s lead cut to four points they hit an upright on two occasions, it puts the home victory in perspective.
BIG WEEKEND FOR CROKE PARK AND THE GREEN And RED TRUST
NO windfall could have been more valuable than the world publicity the GAA has received for making Croke Park available for the rugby internationals. The deference observed for the two National Anthems was more striking than for our own All-Ireland finals, and I confess to having shed an emotional tear at the significance of the occasion.
Earth did not explode for God Save the Queen, no streaker fled his coop, and the lusty chants of ‘Ireland’ echoeing around the vast stadium sent shivers down the necks of the over eighty thousand attendance . . . and the millions watching on television. It was a unique sporting spectacle.
In conveying the history and significance of Croke Park and Hill 16 to its viewers, not alone in Great Britain but in New Zealand and Australia, the BBC has done justice to the history and the symbolism of Croke Park.
The BBC and Keith Wood - and perhaps Conor O’Shea also - achieved in a couple of hours what no amount of history lessons could have done in years. Across the world the accomplishments of the GAA and its amateur ethos have staggered audiences.
A further distinguishing mark has been added abroad to Ireland’s cultural attributes. Croke Park and the GAA will be on the itinerary of hosts of visitors from now on, thanks to the vision of those who made the decision to throw open up the gates to two other sporting organisations.
THEY turned out in force at Breaffy House on Friday night for the annual function of the Green and Red Trust at which presentations were made to Richard Cosgrove, (Kiltane) Peter Reynolds (Westport), Peter Geraghty (Swinford), Tom Duggan (Mayo Abbey) and Pat Gavin of New York, and formerly Aghagower. A full account of the proceedings will appear next week.
In the meantime a few snippets: “I was sick last week and was contacted by an undertaker. He (Tom Navin) is here tonight and behind him another undertaker (Seamus Moran). Well, they didn’t get me last week and they will not get me this week either”...Peter Reynolds after receiving his award.
“A good umpire is better than a bad corner forward”...Attributed to Peter Reynolds by Seamus Moran in his citation.
“It would be very easy to get a more worthy recipient of this award, but you’ll never find a more grateful one”...Pat Gavin on receiving his award.
“It’s just a shame you were forced into retirement from football at the tender age of 45”...Brian Cosgrove in an e-mail from Sydney to his father, Richard, who was honoured by the Green & Red.
“Even our wedding day turned into a GAA meeting”...Peter Geraghty.