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All signs point to Johnno

Kevin McStay
David Brady
THE NECK OF HIM Both Joe Sheridan (14) and John Doyle of Leinster apply illegal methods to attempt to stop Connacht’s David Brady in his tracks during Sunday’s M Donnelly Interprovincial football final in Canton, Boston.

All signals point to Johnno

Kevin McStayKevin McStay

AS predicted last week, the family broke up and the court will sit shortly to see who gets the kids. It was inevitable if a little unseemly and the next manager will know, if he did not already realise it, how difficult a job this Mayo gig is. If Paidi Ó Se reckoned the Kerry supporters were a “crowd of f***ing animals”, I can only hazard a guess what Mickey Moran thinks of the GAA brethren in the county.
Some have made it known already that John O’Mahony will be ‘offered’ the job and in one fell swoop, procedure will be circumnavigated once more. I know of at least one other man who is interested but will it be an open race? I guess public opinion is so weighted in favour of JOM, all other genuine candidates would be willing to step aside a lá the Galway hurling appointment of recent weeks. This is possibly the best way to proceed and the conclusion will be the appointment of the man the majority wanted years ago but could not get.
Getting a little confused for a second, my sense is that reading the tea leaves will not require much oil in the lamp. If JOM did not want it/need it he could have avoided the last week or so of will he/won’t he and settled into the inter-provincial series nice and handy. By stretching it out one must think that he has a genuine interest in having a lash. But then again, his strategy during the summer of 2005 was to allow his name be associated with any possible appointment post-John Maughan. And it was this strategy that disappointed most followers and the management team in place at the time.
Having made the point he wished to make in late 2005 and having hedged his bets to date he is unlikely to follow the same path. We feel sure it will be Johnno this time around. But I must add that very few former players or those who worked closely with him can ever say they know him well enough to easily predict his next move. Sometimes I’m not sure if John himself knows his next move but this much I do know: when he makes a decision it is almost always the correct one. It’s a story for the next week or so and football folk in Mayo will watch with great interest as it plays out before them.

Boston globetrotters
NO joy again for the footballers of Connacht as they went out to a last minute Leinster goal in the series final in Boston. The province had built up a certain momentum with the club, under 21 and minor titles finding a home in three different counties here in the west. This would have rounded off a superb year but alas, it was not to be.
The 2006 effort by all the provinces was very decent indeed with each of the three games hotly contested. This competition is worth keeping but the best players in each province must be available to play in it. A look back at some of the players ‘capped’ at provincial level this year will inform you many of the first choice lads must have been unavailable.
This must not be the case and I again outline a proposal mentioned here a few weeks ago. The football moves to Croke Park as the curtain-raiser to the club football on St Patrick’s Day – now it has a chance. Likewise the hurling equivalent goes to Semple Stadium and stick by those dates. The GAA calendar is out soon so it will be interesting to see what moves are made to help what is essentially a good idea. We can only hope but my information is most if not all of the provincial secretaries want this to continue. They form a powerful lobby so we are hopeful.

Ballagh’ to win
THE county final is upon us once again and Ballaghderreen will take a lot of comfort if they are scanning the sports pages of the last few Mondays. As the great festival in each county is enacted, we read of surprise after surprise, shock after shock. In Meath, Wolfe Tones went from junior to senior champions in three years with the intermediate thrown in for good measure. All-Ireland champions Portumna went out at the hands of Loughrea at the weekend after a huge interval lead. Final after final can be called in evidence: the underdog label is just a neat way of packaging a preview – nothing more and nothing less.
I think Ballagh’ will win this by virtue of the youth and enthusiasm levels they will bring to this game. It will take a massive effort on their behalf but what else would you expect in a final? Crossmolina will enter the game with all the pressure on them and the whole county will expect them to win handsomely. We know they are the best team in the county over the last decade but it must be fading glory now.
They have the experience, the know-how and the star turns. But have they the legs and the energy? When great teams go it can be with a loud crash and the last twelve months must feel like running on empty for some of these guys. But maybe not, for they are serious champions with savage warriors aboard. The bookmakers say it is a no-brainer so that should suit somebody like me. Still, I will not be in the least bit surprised if Monday comes and we are reading yet again about another underdog barking with delight having snatched a meaty bone.

Ignorance rules supreme
IMAGINE for a moment the type of preparation involved when a snooker player readies himself for a game at the highest level. He will practice in the lead up to the match, get plenty of rest and begin to focus on his opponent as the clock ticks down. His equipment will get a check over and the tip a very close inspection indeed.
Do you think he would know the rules or decide instead to go out into the arena ignorant of the regulations? It hardly merits the question for the audience and his fellow professionals would fall off their seats laughing. Yet year after year our elite Gaelic footballers will burst out the tunnel in Croke Park and play in front of full houses happy in the knowledge that they score 50 per cent at best when questioned on the rules of our game.
So in an attempt to better inform the reader (supporter) and the odd player out there that still reads newspapers, we will begin a new weekly teaser series on the rules. This week is an easy one to start with but the answer will not appear until next week. I thought for a moment to include it at the bottom of the column but that would make life too easy. My old teacher made us look up a word we did not understand and in doing so ensured we would remember its meaning. Same drill here folks.
An attacker is blatantly fouled in the large rectangle and the referee immediately awards a penalty kick and yellow cards the offending player. As the attacker places the ball on the penalty spot his team-mate exacts revenge by thumping the original fouler in the face. The referee spots the offence. What does he do?

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