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Ballintubber come off second best

Sean Rice

Sean Rice

Ballintubber come off second best


YOU wonder about the gulf between the two counties when Galway can produce a side this invincible. Corofin were miles ahead of Ballintubber, worth everyone of their nine points victory.
For Mayo supporters among the big attendance at MacHale Park on Sunday this systematic dismantling of the county’s premier club team will surely disperse the complacency already gathering about Mayo’s soft championship fixture in Salthill next June.
Ballintubber, unfortunately, were not at the races. In almost every section of the field Corofin were matchless. Their speed, their intense tackling, their accurate foot-passing and brilliant scores had the Mayo men stretched as they have never been stretched this season.
While this type of clinical performance was not new to Corofin ­ throughout Galway, and now Connacht, they have found no peers ­ you would be hoping this was not Ballintubber’s true form, that collectively they lost their touch simultaneously.
But let it be said, the Galway champions look every bit the standout favourites to capture their second national title. And those who remember Ray Silke leading them to that title in 1998, and later the same year backbone Galway’s All-Ireland senior win, are not ruling out the possibility of an imminent return of the maroon to the top.
While only four points separated them in the first half on Sunday, the truth is that Corofin were playing all the football. In comparison, the Mayo champions looked languorous and leg weary. They were yards behind their men, and their passing was laboured and untidy.
Daithi Burke and Ronan Steede dominated midfield and quite often the Ballintubber defence was engulfed in tidal waves of fast, slick deliveries.
While Gary Sice, Ian Burke and Michael Farragher were destabilising the home defence, Alan Dillon and the O’Connor brothers Diarmuid and Cillian were struggling to do a similar job at the other end without ever quite breaking down the Corofin resistance.
The support on which they could always depend from their half-back line and midfield did not materialise, and while Dillon and Diarmuid never relented throughout the hour, they were fighting a losing battle.
The crushing blow to their hopes was dealt by former Galway star Sice six minutes after the interval when he took advantage of the prodigious work rate of corner forward Ian Burke and Michael Farragher to billow the net.
It was a score that was always on the cards. Those three guys had been threatening to make the breakthrough from the beginning. And once the ramparts were breached they were back five minutes later for their second ­all three involved, but Burke this time the finisher.
You couldn’t blame Myles Kelly or Cathal Hallinan for the collapse. They shouldered most of the Corofin barrage, but the defence in general was beleaguered by the speed and ferocity of the Corofin tackling.
Dillon refused to quit. His unflagging commitment and the vigorous efforts of Diarmuid O’Connor sustained some pressure on the Corofin defence if not a lot of hope. And while it was no more than a consolation, Dillon did get their goal at the end of the third quarter when he took a pass from Damien Coleman.
An unfamiliar Ballintubber statistic sums it all up. Of their famed forward line only two players figured in the score sheet: Cillian O’Connor with six points, five from frees, and Dillon who accounted for 1-1.

Aussies are -on the up Down Under
THE GAA might consider sometime employing some of the Australian footballers to coach our teams in the art of scoring. The chasm they opened up against Ireland in the first half of their international at Perth on Saturday was embarrassing and put some of our stars to shame.
For some forty minutes the Australians played ducks and drakes with our heroes in a lesson that crystallised all that is wrong with our game.
As the shocked Irishmen strove to come to terms with the fast-moving opposition, they resembled not so much the cream of Gaelic footballers as a side of novices . . . slow to react, ponderous in passing and shockingly inaccurate. The Aussies, playing with the unfamiliar round ball, were so much better in every aspect of the game.
Eventually Ireland did come to life and redeemed the situation somewhat, the gap narrowing to an exciting ten-point finish. But, gosh, were they unprepared for the opening avalanche from the Aussies!
Although it was difficult to figure out who of the visiting side played well, Kevin McLoughlin, Colm Boyle and Lee Keegan were always prominent.

Curran issues call for McStay
READERS of this column will recall that in the aftermath of the debacle surrounding his interview for appointment as Mayo manager we suggested that Roscommon might call on Kevin McStay to guide them at the end of John Evan’s tenure.
Well, the first steps in that process have already begun with the call of former goalkeeper Shane Curran on the Roscommon County Board to have McStay replace the current manager.
Curran, who announced his retirement from club football at the age of 43 following the recent defeat of St Brigid’s by Ballintubber in the Connacht semi-final, said McStay would be the ideal candidate to take over the reins in his county.
While he complimented Evans on the work he had done to date, the Kerryman, he said, had made a number of mistakes and he did not think he was the right man for the long term.
“I don’t think it is sustainable to have a guy coming from Kerry the whole time to coach a team in Roscommon. Behind the stand in Hyde Park you have Kevin McStay sitting in his home doing nothing at the moment.”
McStay managed St Brigids to their first all-Ireland title last year and Curran feels he would reshape football in Roscommon from the ground up.
“I think he is a top class manager, a brilliant, brilliant man-to-­man manager,” he said.

Kilmeena take Mitchels’ Mickey
FORMER Mayo under 21 All-Ireland medallist and Castlebar Mitchels star Mickey Feeney has been appointed manager of the Kilmeena junior team for the coming season. John Doherty, a native of Tyrone, who is living in Castlebar, will assist him.
Both men have coached Castlebar Mitchels underage teams over the past few years.

 

 

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