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Mitchels’ mean business


MEETING THEIR HERO Castlebar Mitchels captain Donie Newcombe is pictured with young fans Sean and Niall Philbin, Oisin Cronin and Conor Horkan after Sunday’s Mayo SFL Division 1 Final win. Pic: David Farrell Photography

Michael Gallagher

TEAM CAPTAIN Donal Newcombe accepted the David Gavin Memorial Cup and took a moment to remember a man very dear to the footballers wearing the red and yellow of Castlebar. On Sunday afternoon, the Division 1 league final had just ended and the boys from the county town were back in the big time – league champions and looking forward to the fast-approaching championship season.
“David was a good friend to all of us. We all knew him and his lovely family around Breaffy and Castlebar and we’re very proud to accept this cup bearing his name,” Newcombe explained. “David was a great competitor on the field, and we can all attest to that, but the one thing about him was he played the game with a smile on his face and that’s a lesson for all of us.”
Nearby, his team-mate, the match-winner Paddy Durcan was holding court. “We knew it would be a massive battle here today against Knockmore and it would go with us sometimes and against us at other times. We were in a good position at half-time, but knew the game was far from over,” he added, following a game where Castlebar were seven points up at one stage before coming from behind twice to win it at the death.
“We wanted to come here and win and put in a huge performance and it’s great for our confidence. It’s nice to win the league but championship is where it’s at. Knockmore are two-time champions and they’re the benchmark. There are 16 teams going into the championship and we’re one of them.
“It’s as simple as that.”
Victorious team manager Barry Moran was happy but realistic after the thrilling extra-time victory.
“Any day you beat Knockmore is a good day. They’re two-time county champions, going for three-in-a-row and we’re just delighted to have ground this out.
“Today’s win shows the character of this group – the character of the younger fellas and the older fellas who stood up and were counted. It’s perfect for us as we run in to championship now.
“We had a good first half, but knew that they were going to come out after half-time and go at us and go at us hard. We were expecting them to pull it back and while we could have notched a few scores to stretch the gap again, it shows what a good team Knockmore are.
“They were never going to step back.
“For us it’s about the character of our boys,” continued the former Mayo midfielder. “There were times there in the second half when they could have wilted.
“They went a point or two down, and gave up a seven-point lead, but they ground out a result and I think it’s great for the lads that they did that and they should enjoy today and tonight,” he added before being asked about the youthful talent in his team.
“There’s serious young talent. We’re in a rebuilding phase and we’re looking at the more experienced lads to get the younger lads together and build a team to compete.  Look at Seán Morahan kicking a point in the last seconds – 17-years-of-age and you have to have a lot of steel upstairs to do that and we trusted him to do it.
“Then you look at Conor Stenson, Anto (O’Boyle), Joe Tuohy, Paddy Heneghan and these guys have serious futures, but we’ve got to keep working every single day to be better and better.
“We keep saying, it’s no good having talent – you have to work at it. We’ll celebrate this and rightly so and then we’ll bring the boys back down and start to prepare for the championship.”


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