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Drama aplenty on and off the field


MEETING THEIR HERO Tommy Conroy of The Neale and Mayo is pictured signing jerseys for young supporters after Sunday’s Mayo Intermediate Championship match against Garrymore in Cong. Pic: Conor McKeown

Seán Rice

TRUTH has taken a bashing over the last few weeks. Someone sets an unfounded rumour in motion and like wildfire it spreads and develops into a national topic of gossip and hearsay. Someone wholly unaccountable.
When you haven’t the facts at your fingertips you can’t dismiss it. ‘There must be something in it, there is no smoke without fire, ‘Duirt bean liom go nduirt bean lei’. Suddenly, the rumour which is just that, a rumour, has taken on the whole aura of actuality.
And something suffers.
Mayo GAA Board was slow in scotching the rumour that some of the Mayo senior management had resigned following their defeat by Tyrone in the All-Ireland final. They have now however put the minds of discerning supporters at ease with their official announcement that there is no truth to the hearsay.
We can all sit back now and concentrate our minds on the club championships in progress.
“There is no truth in the rumour that anybody is stepping down,” said chairman Liam Moffatt at a board meeting during the week
“Questions have to be asked, where have these rumours come from?” added the chairman. “They certainly didn’t come from the County Board or the backroom team. I’m not sure where these rumours came from but we’re clarifying now, there’s no truth to that.”
Analysis of the team’s performance in the final is to be undertaken, as it ought, and clubs are to be given an opportunity to submit questions to manager James Horan at a review meeting with senior county board officials.
Clubs are asked to have their questions submitted by Friday evening next.
“A review will take place, within the next two weeks, between the senior officers of the board and all of the senior coaching team where aspects of preparation and performance will be reviewed.
“The timing is deliberate to give a break to all involved. It allows everyone involved to process and verbalise their thoughts, and we did not want to proceed with a review without hearing clubs’ thoughts on the matter,” said the chairman.
The review will consist of all aspects of the performance.

Club action continues
MEANWHILE, clubs got on with the business of championship fixtures at the weekend and the big surprise at Aghamore was the fall of the curtain on the championship hopes of the home side.
Not without a brave second half fight back, mind you, during which they cut back a seven-points deficit to take the lead briefly and, amid a downpour, turn the match into a thriller.
It seemed all over for them at half-time. Charlestown had lit up the place with their class in the first half. Fast, clever teamwork had them four points in front after nine minutes. The Leneghans, Jack Mahon, Jack Reilly and Paul Towey were flying. Aghamore in contrast were slow and pedestrian.
But their first score, a goal in the 14th minute, totally against the run of play, brought them to within a point of the visitors. Conor Byrne was their scorer, winning the ball from a high centre by Sean Óg Tighe.
It didn’t undermine Charlestown’s confidence. Back they came in sweeping movements. Two goals within three minutes by the brilliant Matt Leneghan and a profusion of points by Paul Towey, Gareth O’Donnell and Niall Murphy stretched their lead to ten points and, seemingly, they were home and hosed.
But Byrne was on the mark again just on the call of half-time with a goal conceded softly by the visitors’ defence. And it was the stimulus of their recovery in the second half when they were like a new team.
But Charlestown had only their own carelessness to blame for Aghamore’s lightning start. Barely a minute had passed when the kick out by their goalkeeper fell short and into the hands of Alan Freeman. And with the coolness of the great player he once was, the former Mayo star lobbed the ball over the head of the ‘keeper and into the net.
Five minutes later Aghamore had the ball in the net again when Boland took advantage of the jersey of goalkeeper Niall Fleming being pulled, undetected by the referee, and turned the ball into the net.
Making the difference for the home side was Mayo star Brendan Harrison, who moved from full-back and set up a series of movements which inspired his colleagues. Charlestown’s luck seemed to have run out when David Caffrey was sent off for double yellow card offences five minutes from the end. But some of their first-half excellence returned to help them retain their lead of two points to the end.
Once again Castlebar Mitchels have fallen to Westport, and now have to beat Ballaghaderreen at a neutral venue to qualify for the play-offs. That’s a formidable task, and the Mitchels, who are team-building, have some way to go before reaching the standard they set in their three-in-a row title wins between 2015/17.
With a much more practical approach than in their previous match, Westport adjusted to the conditions and won with a spurt of points to which the Mitchels had no answer.
They had to contend with a pitch that had been narrowed because of water problems, and a Mitchels side more defensive than they have ever been. Factor in the loss of their speedy corner forward Cillian Kilkelly eight minutes before the end of the first half and you can understand why they found it difficult to get into their normal stride.
But the accuracy of Alan Kennedy from frees and full-forward Kevin Keane kept their hopes alive even when the Mitchels looked stronger and more promising.
On level terms at the break, Keane and Kennedy again shot Westport into a three-point lead just after the resumption as their speed began to open up the Mitchels’ defence.
They kept their heads, too, after Barry Moran cut in from the wing and set up Ultan O’Reilly for the only goal of the game in the 35th minute. However, excellently that score was carved it didn’t do much for the Mitchels’ spirit. A brilliant point by Paddy Durcan four minutes later was their last score of the game.
Powered by the outstanding Niall McManamon, the inventiveness of Lee Keegan, the dominance of Shane Scott and Fionn McDonagh at midfield, and the accuracy of Keane and Kennedy, Westport tacked on three further points without replay and deserve their place in the play-offs.
The shock of the weekend was the 2-4 to 1-4 defeat of defending county champions Knockmore by a battling Belmullet. Daithi Cosgrove got the winners’ two goals. Charlestown now stand in the way of the champs and a place in the quarter-finals, and the performance on Friday evening of Martin Mulvaney’s men suggests the prospects of a thriller.
As the championship hots up Breaffy, Garrymore and Ballintubber have also qualified for the quarter-finals by virtue of their wins over Kiltane, The Neale and Davitts.
It promises an electrifying end to the season.


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