Ladies ready for final frontier
WHILE their male counterparts slumber on, the ladies of Mayo have kept the colours flying high on the national scene. Their spectacular return to form has taken them to their first All-Ireland senior final in four years, and on Sunday they come face to face with Cork, the favourites to land their third in a row.
Only those deeply involved know the extent of Mayo’s preparation, the sacrifices, the hours of punishing practice, they have had to endure to secure their place in Croke Park. Their rigid adherence to the general training regime drawn up by coach Frank Browne has stood to them through each difficult stage of the journey. Now they stand poised for the final hurdle.
All-Ireland success is not new to many members of the present side. The likes of Helena Lohan, Yvonne Byrne, Nuala O’Shea, Claire Egan, the Heffernans, Diane O’Hora and the inimitable Cora Staunton have been to the summit before, and their experience has formed the basis of their return.
That alone is a magnificent achievement. To have motivated themselves for a return to national eminence in the face of stiffer competition than existed four or five years ago when they last dominated the competition is an indication of their commitment and determination.
Grit and resolve have been at the heart of their victories. I have not been to their games, and while television fails to convey the totality of their performances, I have seen enough to be convinced of the flinty nature of their mental condition. They were less than impressive in some encounters, but sailed through on waves of willpower.
Cora Staunton has been the key to their achievements, and their inspiration. Without her Mayo would have been mere onlookers. Her colleagues have entered every game knowing that she is the focus of close attention by the opposition and that no stratagem will be spared to stop her.
Yet she continues to outperform them, and in return draws from her team mates the kind of support and performance that is reserved only for idols. She is their strength, and they play for her as much as for themselves.
Cork on Sunday will have a plan specially drawn up to spoil this queen of Gaelic football. She will need their help more than ever if they are to clear the final hurdle of a truly amazing comeback.
WHEN will the GAA come to their senses about genuine scores being disallowed because of incorrect decisions made by umpires? Surely in this age of advanced technology a system ought to be put in place to discern what is and is not a score.
Not for the first time this season has a score been disallowed because umpires wrongly concluded that the ball had passed on the wrong side of the upright. Galway were victims on Sunday, denied a precious point in the All-Ireland minor final.
Fortunately a dramatic last-minute goal spared them the agony of losing the final by that lost point. But there must be a better way. If television replays could bring the result to viewers seconds after the event, is it not beyond the wit of the powers that be to have the outcome conveyed to the referee in charge of the game. Cameras strategically placed at goal ends could produce a similar effect.
All-Irelands are valued achievements, but unless a system is adopted to ensure that a genuine score is officially recorded, some day justice will be denied the victims of a decision such as occurred on Sunday.