Mon, Mar
21 New Articles

Club draw doesn’t disappoint


RENEWING RIVALRIES Balla’s Gary McHale (centre) reacts after scoring a goal against Mayo Gaels in the 2020 Mayo Intermediate club championship quarter-final. Pic: Conor McKeown

The Way I See It
Ger Flanagan

THE Mayo club championships draw is becoming a bit of a highlight in the calendar at this stage.
Ever since Mayo GAA started giving it the full ‘Sky Sports Deadline Day’ treatment it’s become a must-watch for club football players, managers and supporters.
It’s kind of like the Eurovision; you tell yourself every year that you’re not going to watch it because it’s the same every year and, you’re only going to be disappointed.
But you still just can’t resist the urge.
I can’t quite put my finger on why it’s so compelling, or why I still get nerves and some child-like butterflies in my stomach as we await the stream to go live.
Maybe it’s the slight possibility of seeing another live GAA broadcast train wreck before it goes viral. We’re thinking back to the Clan na nGael club in Meath and their legend ‘Seamus’ who failed to close the door on the lotto tumbler on two occasions during their live lotto draw last year.
We understand it was Seamus’ last ever guest appearance for the role!
Maybe it’s the captivating and enchanting sound of the balls being tumbled and rolled in the bowls which brings back happy memories of one’s childhood watching Winning Streak on a Saturday night.
Those were the days.
Maybe it’s the dulcet tones of CCC chairman, Con Moynihan, whose microphone made it sound like he was speaking into a pillow. Or the four Divisional Board reps staring into your soul before they open their mouth and seal your fate with one hard-hitting word.
It kind of reminds me of my days of approaching the bouncers in the Icon Nightclub in Limerick, trying to pull my sh*t together so I don’t get my enthusiasm snapped away in the blink of an eye before it even got a chance to get going at all.
There’s also great enjoyment in the shadow-boxing interviews on the night from the chosen stars of the club scene.
Spare a thought for the media handlers who no doubt stayed up the whole night devising the message for their respective players and managers to tell MC Angelina Nugent.
The club championship is five months away, a ball has barely been kicked, but we won’t give a single shred of information or emotion away that might be perceived as a weakness because you wouldn’t know who is watching.
I did miss the live Microsoft Excel demonstration that entertained and informed in equal measure in the past. I have no doubt Mayo GAA’s ‘Banksy’ has been since snapped up by Elon Musk in some Data Analyst role for Space-X, and what a massive loss to the County Board he or she will be.
But performances aside, we’re all there for the pièce de resistance – the actual draw – and it served up some absolute dingers this year as well.
Straight off the bat it set fires burning in the small villages of Balla and Mayo Abbey as we were drawn against our great friends and mortal enemies from a stone’s throw down the road.
We haven’t met the Gaels in league or championship since 2020 and, if that game is anything to go by, there will be thieves all around the country readying themselves to ransack the areas around both clubs the day of the match this summerr because there won’t be a sinner on the streets or at home.
I know a person who did a rough head count at half-time during our behind-closed-doors Intermediate quarter-final in 2020 and he stopped at 350 people!
The other stand-out fixture in the opening round of the senior championship is the meeting of Aghamore and their newly-promoted neighbours, Ballyhaunis.
Aghamore have been stumbling along in recent years, having gone close to breaking into a semi-final position not that long ago, but if they ever needed something to ignite the fire again it was this draw.
Ballyhaunis will have the enthusiasm of a spring-calf going out to grass for the first time after their promotion last year and that is sure to be a cracker.
The intermediate championship is like Pandora’s box – try as you might to predict how it will unfold, but be prepared for anything to happen.
The club championship loves an oul ‘Group of Death’ and fair play to the panel last Wednesday evening, they gave the blood-starved audience exactly what they wanted.
Ballinrobe, Kiltane and Burrishoole will re-sharpen their knives after being drawn together last year as well, while they will be joined in the dead-zone by an axe-wielding Hollymount/Carramore.
Louisburgh and Kiltimagh will re-kindle their rivalry having been drawn together again for what seems like the 100th year in a row.
I’m sure they, along with everyone else in the county, is hoping either might eventually go on and win the damn trophy as opposed to being predicted to do so every year.
And it would be remiss of me not to mention the junior championship.
The title challengers have even longer to wait given the serious stuff of that competition doesn’t really begin until the quarter-finals.
But it’s all a long way away yet. The trials and tribulations of the box-office inter-county season hasn’t got going yet and, until that is said and done, we can’t get excited about club football.
Instead, we have the Michael Walsh and the Divisional Cups to look forward to first.
Oh the glamour!

Latest Sport

Mayo ladies lose to Tribeswomen

FOOTBALL The Mayo ladies crashed to another narrow defeat on Sunday against league leaders Galway.

Read more ...

Unbeaten Mayo back in a League Final

FOOTBALL  Mayo recorded a first ever competitive win in Donegal to qualify for their second Division 1 League Final in succession.

Read more ...

Mayo chase elusive win in Donegal

FOOTBALL Next Sunday’s National League clash in Ballybofey is Mayo’s latest chance to get a victory away to the Tir Chonaill men.

Read more ...

Will change be a good thing for Mayo?

FOOTBALL Edwin McGreal looks at how the changes to the championship format might impact on Mayo’s ambitions this season.

Read more ...

Massive game for Mayo ladies

FOOTBALL Fiona McHale looks ahead to next Sunday’s derby between Mayo and Galway in the National League

Read more ...