THE THREE WISE MEN Mayo manager John O'Mahony watched the Mayo Junior FC Final in the company of Johnny McGing from Killawalla (left) and Willie Kelly from Kilmeena last Sunday. Pic: Michael Donnelly
Day of reckoning for clubs
ACHILL saved their best performance of the championship for the final. It was an Achill utterly changed from the indifferent form that had cast them in the role of outsiders.
Islandeady had been the form team, and maybe in the end they got caught up in the complacency that the tag of favourites often generates.
Yet, nobody watching Achill stagger through the semi-final could have envisaged the spirit and speed they brought to their final tussle on Sunday.
They ran like hares, took their scores well, played positively and with a conviction that had not been evident in their previous games.
All of them added his piece to the victory. But three men stood out: Colm Cafferkey at centre-half back caused serious damage with his speedy bursts breaching Islandeady’s defensive wall on several occasions; Donal Gallagher for his remarkable work-rate at midfield and Donal Corrigan, a classy and effective wing forward.
All three set the pattern for the remainder of the team, and the team responded with a fierce commitment.
Islandeady lost midfielder Johan Collins early in the first half through injury and it disrupted their plans. Yet, while they never played with the intensity that had them installed as favourites, they were not out of contention until Kevin Kilbane shot Achill’s second goal in the dying minutes.
They might have achieved more if instead of laboriously working the ball forward they hoofed it into the full-forward line where Stephen Staunton posed most danger.
The full-forward was unfortunate with a shot in the first half – having outfielded Michael Gallagher – that went over the bar when it might just as easily have gone under. Staunton did eventually grab a goal, but the potential was there for more if given enough ball.
Ollie Feeney did cause some problems when he moved outfield following the injury to Johan Collins, and while sub Brian McCormack did quite well, Achill supremacy was restored when Feeney returned to his fullback position.
Islandeady will have been disappointed with their performance, but they’ll be back. Urban values may batter its boundaries, but its identity is secure so long as GAA prospers in the parish.
Meanwhile, Castlebar Mitchels struggled to overcome Shrule/Glencorrib in their last match of Division 1B of the league on Sunday.
But their one-point win did not stop their slide towards Division 2 football next season. Survival now depends on the outcome of their play-off match with Louisburgh, who themselves are second from the bottom of Division 1A.
County victory at minor and U-21 level seems not to have inspired Castlebar’s premier side and their laboured efforts for a return to former glory continues, but their goal is still a long way off.
Having been reduced to intermediate football a few years back, you would have expected from a club with such a proud tradition greater endeavor to re-capture the limelight.
It is not for want of trying by the players that football is floundering at senior level in the club. Those in action last Sunday did not lack effort. But their reactions were slower, they lost almost every breaking ball, and their passing was too predictable.
Maybe now is the time for more members of the successful U-21 team to be drafted into the side. They will not learn a lot from Division 2 football if they are relegated.
Other league results, none more surprising than Kilmeena’s draw with leaders Ballaghaderreen, conspired to upset Shrule/Glencorrib’s hopes of Division 1 security at the weekend. Nobody would have backed Kilmeena to draw with the league leaders and county finalists. So Shrule must now beat Kiltane in a play-off to survive, a tall order for a team going through a period of difficulty.
The Kilmeena result apart, the South Mayo side might not have found themselves in such a precarious position if they had the services of Trevor Mortimer in last Sunday¹s encounter with Castlebar Mitchels