By A Mayo Club Footballer
SO the curtain came down on the Mayo club championship scene last Sunday afternoon with the final game in this year’s competition (and the drawn game) being real humdingers.
While last Sunday’s game didn’t have quite the same dramatic ending as the previous week’s, the quality of football by both teams compensated for this. Ballaghaderreen will this week be contemplating the ‘what if’ theory from the drawn game, and they will realize that they missed a great opportunity to claim a precious county winner’s medal. Ballagh’ are a very good team, a team that I have a lot of time for and a team that I like to watch play football. They have players all over the field that can carry out the skills of the game at ease. The one thing they are lacking maybe is experience but over time this gap in their game will be erased and maybe the experience gained from losing this year will stand to them in the future. Time will tell.
Crossmolina, on the other hand, have years of experience gained and it was this more than anything else that stood to them in the drawn game. They never at any stage panicked, not when they were behind by five points or reduced to 14 men. They stuck to their game-plan and stole a last gasp draw.
Last Sunday though we saw Crossmolina not having to rely mainly on that experience but on their footballing skills. Unlike the drawn game they were out of the traps a lot quicker than their opponents and had three early points on the board playing into a breeze while Ballagh’ had kicked some wides from scoreable positions.
The midfield sector was an area that Crossmolina clearly targeted from the drawn game; the repositioning of Damian Syron to the middle third for the injured Gabriel Walsh worked very well as did the introduction of Liam Moffatt pay dividends for the North Mayo men.
Crossmolina crowded that middle third area. They closed down the opposition a lot quicker than the drawn game and didn’t allow for a continuous supply of good ball into the very dangerous Ballaghdereen full-forward line. All these were key to Crossmolina setting the tone for the game.
The Deel Rovers had big performances all over the field. The return of Tom Nallen to the defence was a huge confidence-booster for the team and up front Ciaran McDonald, Brian Benson and the ever-reliable Joe Keane were a constant threat to the Ballagh’ backline.
Frank Kelly’s team never gave up and showed great character, bringing the game level ten minutes into the second half after being behind by five points at half-time. The Kilcullens, Gary Conway, Barry Kelly, Andy Hanley, Andy Moran and Barry Regan all endeavoured to take the game to their opponents and they can be very proud of their displays this year.
The one thing that Ballagh’ must remember is that the experience gained this year will only be of benefit to them if they put in the same work and effort next season. For people to say that their day will come will be worthless unless the lads themselves make that happen. This column has no doubt that if they put in the same effort again in the future then their time will come. And that could be sooner rather than later.
WITH the county final now behind him, John O’Mahony will be in a position to sit down with James Waldron and discuss the small matter of taking over the reins of the inter-county team.
I have always wondered what actually happens at these ‘sit-downs’. Are these chats held over a cup of tea and a couple jaffa cakes? Or are they a more formal meeting? Hopefully John O’ is going to step into the vacant position. Having been a selector with Ballaghadereen this year he will have seen a lot of footballers around the county. He knows what it takes to win an All-Ireland and hopefully that can rub off onto the players. But if Club Spy could be Devil’s advocate for a moment, may I ask, what if John O’ doesn’t take the job? What other candidates are there waiting in the wings?
THE International Rules series has taken a battering (along with some Irish players and an unlucky hotel worker) over the last few days. Some ridiculous and disgraceful scenes have marred what is – if played in the right spirit – a very exciting and enjoyable game.
I have attended two of these games in the past and have seen at first hand the skills of both codes being advertised out on the field. I hope that the Series remains as this is the only way that our inter-county players can get international recognition.
NEXT Sunday the Intermediate showpiece is on in Castlebar with Parke playing Tourmakeady. This promises to be a tough, close game. I feel that Tourmakeady’s physical strength all over the field will be hard stop but if Parke can get enough supply of ball into their attack the trophy will be theirs.
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