DELIGHTED James Shaughnessy. Pic: Conor McKeown
A WEEK may be a long time in politics, it’s even longer in Mayo club championship. On Sunday evening, Claremorris left Belmullet with a spring in their step and a precious victory. Seven days earlier they had been well beaten by Breaffy and their immediate future seemed uncertain.
Long-serving corner forward James Shaughnessy spoke with The Mayo News after their surprise away win in Tallagh and admitted it had been a week of soul-searching in the Claremorris camp.
“We didn’t do ourselves justice last weekend. We would liked to have a better battle against Breaffy. We didn’t really give them any game at all. There was a lot of questions asked among the group during the week, amongst ourselves. “Look, we got the response we wanted today.
We had to get two points to get back into the championship here and it gives us a fighting chance going into the last round now,” the 28 year-old explained before revealing what Kevin Beirne had asked his players to focus on against last year’s county finalists.
“It was to get contact. Get contact on Belmullet. We went to see Balla and Belmullet after our game last week and it was cracking stuff.
“It was intense, hard hitting and we had to get to the pitch of that. We didn’t get to the pitch of that against Breaffy. We needed that to have any chance here today. Last week we had 16 shots missed so we had to tighten up on that but the big thing was to get contact and bring intensity to the game.”
There were periods in Sunday’s game when Claremorris looked to be in bother and, at one stage, the visitors to Erris had slipped four points adrift, but they never panicked and it paid dividends in the end.
“I sound like Jim Gavin but we had a process and we had to stick to it,” explained ‘Shocks’. “Ogie, Brian McGuinness, our goalie, got the kick-outs off very early. It gave us a platform to get up the pitch.
“We got one or two scores to settle us. We were one point up at half time and it gave us the platform for the second half. Stevie Gill came off the bench and kicked two points. It was two between us in the end which is a dangerous lead in football, but thanks be to God we just hung on. I was called back the field in the closing stages and it was unknown territory for me back there, but everyone has to help the team out.”
That whole-team ethos was very evident from Claremorris on Sunday and their aforementioned goalkeeper, Brian McGuinness, emphasised this with a point from play at a crucial juncture.
However, his sweet left-footed effort didn’t surprise Shaughnessy.
“I do be giving the lads grief that he’s the best kick passer on the team but he’s playing in goal. Brian is a fantastic goalie and you can see out there today, he’s so comfortable on the ball. It’s the modern goalie I suppose.”
Claremorris must now their attention to their third round clash with Balla at a neutral venue the weekend after next. The winner of the local derby will be back in the mix for the quarter-finals.
“That’s going to be a tough game. I was down at Balla and Breaffy last night. “They put it up to Breaffy. I don’t think the scoreboard reflected the game at all to be honest. Balla had a lot of wides so it is going to be a humdinger of a game, probably in Mayo Abbey, so we have to get back to basics Wednesday night and just work hard for the next two weeks and get two points.”