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A wasted trip for Mayo manager?

Sean Rice
Sean Rice

A wasted trip for Horan?

NOTHING emanating from the standard produced by Shrule and Ballina, or the news about Ronan McGarrity — the most likely reason for his visit — will have made James Horan’s journey to Crossmolina on Sunday worthwhile.
Ballina’s McGarrity failed to make the subs bench for Sunday’s championship clash, and even if his injury clears up in the next two weeks lack of match practice will surely rule the midfielder out of Mayo’s showdown with Galway on Sunday week.
There was better news from Pat Harte, who togged out with Ballina on Sunday and showed welcome signs of a return to form.
Harte has been out of football all season with a serious knee injury, and was about to make his return a couple of weeks ago when he picked up a new, less serious injury in training.
His was a late addition to the bench for Sunday’s championship tie and, although with one of his knees heavily strapped, he was pressed into action early in place of the injured Rory Smith.
Having got the feel of the ball at full-forward where he was less than prominent, Ballina moved Harte to his customary midfield position for the second half and there the old flair and urgency were back on display.
It was not for lack of effort on his part that the Stephenites fell to Shrule/Glencorrib. Emigration, retirements and injury have curbed their hopes of a return to the glory days of All-Ireland club success.
Harte made it hard for the southsiders though, who were the better side, but could not find the scores to prove it. Having taken the lead for the first time five minutes into the second half with a goal by full-forward David Geraghty, they looked set to sail home.
But the control that James Lohan and Kieran Conroy enjoyed at midfield in the first half was eroded by Harte afterwards, and while Shrule/Glencorrib had most of the general possession they were never sufficiently far ahead to breathe easily.
Mark Ronaldson, in the first half, and Brian Murphy after the break were the most likely forwards to score. Full-back Eanna Casey handled David Geraghty well, but the full-forward needed only one glimpse of a chance and Sean Sweeney provided him with that. It was the crucial score.
The way Trevor Mortimer, Conor Dowd and Ronan Walsh defended their lead is a measure of their determination. With the return of Conor Mortimer, Shrule/Glencorrib will get better and should top their section.
But Ballina’s chances of success depend on how quickly Ronan McGarrity gets back into harness.
Even though the conditions were considerably better for the meeting of Claremorris and Tourmakeady on Saturday evening, the fare was no more impressive.
Physically stronger, and more direct, the Gaeltacht side still lacked the finesse of their opponents, and in the end those strands of skill were enough to separate them.
Claremorris were not exactly the finished product, and you gathered no comforting notes of hope for Mayo football, nothing you could recommend James Horan should rein in. Not yet, anyway.
Still you could not but notice the broad seam of skill in everything Brian Gallagher did at midfield. He was one of a number of Claremorris players who chiselled out their win. Padraic Ring, Alan Feeley, Paddy Navin and Ger Brady were others.
If John Heneghan had not been sent off, for a second yellow card, Tourmakeady’s fight might not have fizzled out. They were only three points behind and about to embark on one of their normal, late surges when they lost their midfielder . . . and lost heart.
But the battle-hardened West Mayo men will be a handful for Ballina and Shrule/Glencorrib when the championship resumes.

Down memory lane
Blowing early in ’48

JOHN Forde had led his new, animated Mayo through the uneasy stages of the 1948 Connacht campaign to a resounding victory over Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final. Mayo were back on the perimeter of greatness . . . and Forde a cock-step from lifting the Sam Maguire.
For a man who had threatened three years earlier never to play for Mayo, Forde’s rehabilitation was interesting.
He was a soldier in the Irish Army and based in Donegal with whom he played in 1944. News of his distinguished performances were conveyed to the Mayo authorities and the following year he travelled by train to play for Mayo. “I was refused the money to go back on the train after the match and I told them they would never see my face around here again.”
But the winds of change gusting through Mayo football in ‘48 swept the Ardnaree man back to his roots, and as captain he stood shoulder to shoulder with Flanagan and company as a new exciting Mayo reached out for the stars.
Their surge to the top had caught the imagination of the country. From all corners they came to Croke Park for the final . . . 78,645 people swaying in the wind and rain on the stands and on the terraces.
“It was a remarkable day,” said Joe Staunton. “The wind was unbelievable and it was quite dark. And Cavan, who won the All-Ireland the previous year, knew all the tricks.”
The car in which Dr Mick Loftus travelled got three punctures on the way up. He got onto the Railway end wall of Croke Park, but a guard put him off. He went back to Barry’s Hotel and told Fr Eddie O¹Hara on the steps what had happened. Fr Eddie put his hand in his pocket, took out a ticket and gave it to him.
Tommy Ainsworth and three friends, Alfie Keegan, Billy McLoughlin and Frank Scully, travelled by train from Castlebar, ate their sandwiches on the stand, and then got separated in the crush of the crowd.
Dr Mick recalled Cavan’s Mick Higgins standing illegally in front of a free being taken by Padraig Carney and blocking down the ball without the whistle blown. A point from the 14-yards free would have levelled the scores with a couple of minutes remaining.
Joe Gilvarry, who would star in other finals, said he was first into the dressing room after the match and in bad form having lost by a point. “Someone said full time had not been played, and I was about to light on him when Bonner, a writer for the Irish Press, came in and said the saddest thing about the outcome is that Mayo were denied the full hour. The game was three-and-a-half minutes short.”
Having wiped out a deficit of fourteen points, Mayo, inspired by the brilliance of Pat McAndrew at centre-back, were on the threshold of a stunning success. But the referee’s whistle denied them . . . denied them a re-take of Carney’s free, and the full sixty minutes to unfold their dream. The title was lost . . . but not the honour.
The ensuing outcry about the time forced officials to experiment with the Bogue Clock, used the previous year in New York. But it wasn’t the success they had hoped for.

Just a thought …
Roscommon’s performance in beating Leitrim at Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday was so confident, determined and comprehensive that Mayo or Galway fans will travel uneasily to Hyde Park for the Connacht Final.