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Home comforts needed

Sean Rice
MEN AT WORK Umpire Padraic Costello calls the referee’s attention as St Colman’s physio, Brendan Fitzpatrick, works on one his players during last Saturday’s Connacht Colleges Senior A FC semi-final. Pic: Michael Donnelly

Time to enjoy home comforts

Sean RiceSean Rice
SO, can Mayo do better against Donegal in Castlebar on Sunday than in Derry’s dire conditions? No game is a soft game in Division 1, but it is from those at home Mayo will be hoping for the points to retain their league status.
In Celtic Park, they may have come as close as they have ever done to defeating any senior Derry team, but even greater application is demanded if they are to compensate for their defeat in last year’s Allianz League final by Sunday’s opponents.
Donegal come bolstered by their win over the All-Ireland champions at Ballybofey. In the dismissal of Tom O’Sullivan twenty minutes into the match, and Kerry’s concession of an o.g. in the dying seconds, Donegal benefited from a slice of the luck that Mayo were denied.
Nothing is served, however, by stressing that aspect of their Derry visit. Good teams make their own luck, and the same excuse for a similar result next Sunday might not meet with similar sympathy.
Still without their Ballina players, John O¹Mahony is unlikely to make drastic changes from the side that performed so well against Derry. He is building for the championship and once again the size of Mayo’s performance may be more important to him than the result.
He will have Trevor Mortimer available for selection and may give Tom Cunniffe a starting place at right corner back. If he has recovered from the injury that forced him to retire against Derry, Billy Joe Padden will retain his position at full-back, and on the strength of his debut performance, Chris Barrett will be at right half.
Otherwise, changes will be kept to a minimum. Keith Higgins will know that he was fortunate to escape censure for allowing Mark Lynch the room to cut through the defence for Derry’s second goal. The Ballyhaunis man has, however, the talent to make that position his own.
The selectors also have available to them the likes of David Heaney whose experience is vital, and Tom Parsons who made full use of the opportunity provided to him in the second half. Brian Benson, Barry Moran and Aidan Kilcoyne are also waiting on the wings.
The visitors have a lot of experience on their side. At 33 years of age Brian Roper is playing as well as ever. Karl Lacey likes to attack out of defence and Kevin Cassidy, Ryan Bradley, Colm McFadden and Pascal McDaid had an edge to their play against Kerry.
They will look on their visit to Castlebar as one of the less difficult challenges of the campaign, and it is up to Mayo to disabuse them of that notion. A reproduction of the quality, the grit and resolve they showed in Derry ought to go a long way.
President issues stark warning about state of our game
PERHAPS it has been overshadowed by the controversy in Cork and the equally contentious pay-for-play scheme adopted by the government, but the address of GAA president Nicky Brennan at the annual dinner of the Green & Red Trust contained warnings about an even greater threat to the long term health of the GAA.
Socio-economic policies adopted by the government could eventually sound the death knell of rural clubs throughout the country, the president, cautioned. The movement of people from rural areas to larger urban centres will eventually strip the countryside of its population, and the GAA of its traditional lifeblood.
Not many weeks ago some professed economist suggested that the government should concentrate on pouring its resources into the east of the country at the expense of other regions because of the movement of people in that direction.
A trickle has already begun and current government decisions and those of their agencies in discouraging the building of single houses in rural areas ­ even for family members on their own land ­ might indeed precipitate that movement.
Maybe that’s what the president had in mind when he said the GAA were already challenging some of the government’s rural policies. In dissuading people away from their roots the government, he said, was doing a disservice to a way of Irish life that would have an impact on the GAA.
At the same time he urged county boards to ensure they had plans in place to cater for the sporting demands of young people moving to bigger centres, including non-Irish nationals.
The growth of towns like Castlebar was posing challenges for the Association and he questioned whether there were sufficient clubs in those centres to cater for all the young people. If there were not they would play other games. Each county would have to plan accordingly to deal with a problem that would continue to grow in the years ahead.
How Castlebar Mitchels or Ballina Stephenites might re-act to any decision by the Mayo GAA Board to have new GAA clubs established in their towns is another matter.

3011 MPU

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