Posts Tagged ‘#Over The Black Spot’

Ballaghderreen 1-9 Ballintubber 0-4


BALLAGHDERREEN put pay to Ballintubber’s bid for a historic three in a row with a comprehensive eight point win over the reigning champions. In truth it should’ve been so much more, Ballaghderreen setting the tone for their display in a first half where they dominated Ballintubber physically.

Five first half frees from Barry Regan, two of them monstrous kicks from over 50 yards, were pivotal in the end with Ballintubber struggling to find a free taker to replace the absent Cillian O’ Connor. In fact Ballintubber failed to convert any of their place kicks throughout the game with Padraig O’Connor, his replacement Darragh Sommerville and finally a semi concussed Alan Dillon failing to convert relatively simple chances.

Of all the forwards on show it was the aforementioned Regan who was the only one to catch the public and presumably James Horan’s, in an otherwise underwhelming game. Regan, who has had a brief flings with the county panel before, was a real physical presence in the inside line, while his ability to lick long-range frees gives him something few other players in Mayo possess.

Keith Rogers was a driving force from centre back for Ballagh’ and placed Alan Dillon on the back foot from the start. Dillon did score a trademark beauty in the first half but never fully got to grips with the game and his day ended early through an unfortunate clash of heads.

Midfield was an area that Ballintubber would have expected to dominate with county boys Gibbons and Geraghty. Things didn’t work out as planned though, with David Kilcullen and goal scorer Barry Kelly dominating the jaded pair and reminding everyone they too were once considered county class.

Once an early second half flourish by Ballintubber petered out with the withdrawal of Dillon, the Ballaghderreen pressure was relentless. Wing back Drake missed horribly of the post when he broke through the cover but it didn’t prove the turning point that it could have been.

After two historic county titles in a row, Ballintubber had nothing more to give. Kelly’s goal and two final points from Rory Conway and David Kilcullen sealed Ballaghderreen’s deserved third county final, moving them to 7th in the overall standings level with Hollymount, Ballycastle and their East Mayo rivals Charlestown.


Man of the Match: Barry Regan – This game more than any showed the importance of a good free taker. Regan hit some huge points in the first half that gave Ballagh’ the platform for their win.

BALLAGHADERREEN: O Flanagan; S Drake; P Rogers; T Regan; P Kelly; K Rogers (0-1); D Drake; B Kelly (1-0); J Kilcullen; D Kilcullen (0-1, 45); A Hanley; S Finn; O Jordan; B Regan (0-5, five frees), J Dillon (0-1). Subs: C Doohan for T Regan (39 mins); R Conway (0-1) for J Dillon (25); B Solan for Finn (59).

BALLINTUBBER: B Walsh; L Tunney; Hallinan; P Earley; M Kelly; E Earley; R O’Connor; D Geraghty; J Gibbons (0-1); D Coleman; A Dillon (0-1); M Hoban; D McGing (0-1); D O’Connor; P O’Connor. Subs: J Duffy for M Hoban (28 mins); D Sommerville for P O’Connor (h-t); A Plunkett (0-1) for Dillon (50); K McGuinness for D O’Connor (55).




KILTANE finally lost their fight to retain their senior status on Sunday afternoon with a 13 point defeat to Ballina in Knockmore. David Brady’s intervention clearly had the desired effect on the players for whom the fear of being first Stephenites team to be relegated from senior level in 114 years of club football should have been enough inspiration.

For Kiltane, it’s a sad end to a season that was looking so promising when they were unfortunate to lose out in the final of the Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta back in June. Cill Seadhna is as proud a club as there is and their achievement in remaining senior for so long against the odds, is a testament to the battling qualities of the Bangor men.

Yesterday’s result means that there will be no senior football played in Erris in 2013. It’s been a bad week all round for the barony with Cill Chomain returning to Junior after six years in the Intermediate ranks. Every club has been ravaged by emigration but it’s fair to say that clubs in the northern and western extremities of our county have been hurt the most. On the bright side, this could mean the revival of some tasty North Mayo derbies in the shape of Kiltane v Belmullet and Cill Chomain v Ballycastle, in Championship 2013. Oh and I suppose good news also for Shrule/Glencorrib; no more four hour round trips.



Donegal v Mayo, Croke Park, 3.30, M Deegan (Laois) * Live RTE


AT this stage rational and impartial thinking is a commodity that’s rare on the ground in Donegal and Mayo. As we move into the weekend that we’ll take to our graves, the line between logic and hope is becoming more blurred by the hour.

The game has been all consuming this week; analysis fatigue has set in.  The relentless stream of analysis, opinion and interviews have fed the unquenchable thirst for the game but would make you nostalgic for the days when your media consumption was one of the locals on a Monday or Tuesday and the paper on the morning of the game.

The importance of Sunday to both counties not just from a football perspective has been mentioned all week. There has never been and probably never will be an All – Ireland with as much deep rooted emotion attached.

Concerning ourselves with the overall context of this final and its importance to each of the counties is the prerogative of Journalists and bloggers, while we get all emotional into our laptops. It is hard not to get swept away by the importance of this game but I expect James Horan has avoided and will avoid talk of the past good or bad. It has no relation to this Mayo team. When it comes down to it, it’s the team who avoids been wrapped up in all this emotional baggage who have the best chance of success.

Mentally both sides could argue that they have the advantage. Donegal will argue that this Mayo team carry the burden of 61 years and a history of final day disaster. Mayo, perhaps more convincingly, can say that Donegal’s present of fan hysteria and favouritism far outweighs their inglorious failures.

Either way some players will underperform. Equally some will write their name into folklore. The systems that both Horan and McGuinness have created will allow for bad games and therefore will allow both teams to get a foothold in the game. There will be no capitulations this Sunday.

If Mayo can stay with Donegal for the first half and even build a lead, its then that any psychological advantage Mayo have will come into play. No matter how focused and task driven Jim McGuinness says his players are, finding themselves in this position will not be what they expected and not something they have faced this year.

Mayo can and must dominate midfield. Contrary to belief, clean ball can still be won in the modern game and Aidan O’Shea and Barry Moran are a better mid field pairing than Gallagher and Kavanagh. O’Shea is the figurehead of this Mayo team. As a footballing county, Mayo had a tradition of tough, ‘raw boned’ men that sadly has been lost in the last decade. O’Shea and others have given Mayo back this edge that’s vital to a team’s inner belief and how the opposition now perceives them.

Again Kevin McLoughlin will be Mayo’s most important player. The speed and accuracy of everything he does along with his work rate has seen him become one of the quiet leaders of the team. His performances have been as effective and more impressive in an attacking sense than that of the much loved McHugh.

The tactical question of this championship has been how to play McHugh. Pushing up on him as Cork did in the first half can be effective but we also have to have faith in what has brought us to this point. Not making exceptions for exceptional players might be naive but we also must trust that our system will match their’s and that in the end we will have the footballers to finish the job. I don’t have the answer; I trust that James Horan does.

Our full back line have been fantastic all year, I expect the same on Sunday. I relish seeing Kevin Keane mark Murphy and Cafferkey doing battle with McFadden. We should have no fear in that area, our full back line is equal to Donegal’s forward equivalent in quality, if not in praise.

A tough afternoon awaits the Mayo full forward line. They will have less space to operate in than they have ever experienced before. As in the semi final, little is expected of the likes of Varley, Conroy and Doherty and like the semi-final it is position that can provoke a defiant, proud reaction.

They will need to win ball inside for Mayo to gain some platform near goals. If the full forward line can get onto quick ball I expect our scores to come from our support play that has been Mayo’s trademark all year.

Victory on Sunday would mean everything. Pride in our County is always something that has come easy to us as Mayo people, probably more so than most. James Horan and his players have allowed us to carry that pride with a lot more ease.

Sentimentality is not going to have any bearing on Sunday but that line between logic and hope has truly evaporated in my mind.

‘The Kings of September’ by Michael Foley recounts the 1982 All – Ireland Final between Kerry and Offaly. In the days leading up to final, Sean Lowry of whom we claim some ownership attended a funeral of a neighbour. At that funeral he spoke to a stranger by the name of Declan Carolan who articulated  better than anyone the beauty and significance of an All – Ireland. His words inspired Lowry on that day when the impossible happened.

 Remember that, when you go out on Sunday, you’re going to be playing for people that you’ll never see. People you’ll never meet. You’ll have people in Australia and New Zealand who’ll have their chest out Monday morning if Ofally beat Kerry, but you’ll never see them or have the feelings they’re feeling. You’ll never realise the lift you give them if you beat Kerry on Sunday.

That is what it’s all about. On Monday morning I believe that every Mayo person will walk chests out, with a pride that hasn’t been felt in six long decades.  For the players it is an occasion that will define their lives. They are staring immortality in the face. Go on and take it boys.

Prediction: Mayo by 2

HAVE you in the last week called your uncle in Longford for the first time in six years, or facebooked that lad who was in your class in 1st year who coincidentally enough is now a manager in Ulster Bank? If so, then you are probably experiencing a wave of ticket frenzy, common to many other Mayo-ians at the moment.

Fair or unfair, we are all well aware of the reality of the distribution of All – Ireland final tickets to the wider GAA community. A breakdown of last year’s distribution, available here, shows why some of the unlikeliest of people can get their hands on these most precious pieces of paper.

All week rumour and counter rumour about the size of Mayo’s ticket allocation spread through the county and as a result what each of the already request burdened  clubs will receive. The  e-mail containing each Donegal clubs inflated looking ticket allocation, only added further to the rumour mill.

Yesterday the Mayo county Board met with Croke Park Officials and received an allocation believed to be between 8,000 and 10,000.

Over 70% of this allocation will be going to the clubs from Wednesday onwards. As explained to delegates at the County Board meeting last Friday, the allocation of tickets to clubs will not be based on the amount of members a club has but rather their grade. The distribuition is as follows:

  • Senior – 100 tickets (50 Stand, 50 Terrace)
  • Intermediate – 80 tickets (40 Stand, 40 Terrace)
  • Junior – 60 tickets (30 Stand, 30 Terrace)

On top of this basic allocation, club delegates were made aware at the county board meeting that each club will have the option of purchasing an extra 20 ticket’s with a contribution of €1,000 and another 20 tickets if they raise a further €1,000. Clubs who have representation on the county panel will receive an extra 10 tickets per player.

The five top performing clubs in the county board development draw will also receive an additional 25 tickets. The three main urban clubs Ballina, Castlebar and Westport (where demand will be particularly acute) will receive an additional 50 tickets each, as well as any surplus of tickets made available by clubs not availing of the additional 40 tickets

If clubs contribute €2,000 for the additional tickets, a Senior club without a county panellist will receive a minimum of 140 tickets, Intermediate clubs 120, while a standard Junior club will receive 100.

Chairde Maigh Eo members will of course be entitled to buy one ticket each but will be given the option to purchase a second if they pay in advance for next year’s season ticket.

In what is believed to be a first in Mayo, any player who has worn the green and red in championship football will be guaranteed a ticket. This fitting gesture will incorporate approximately 350 – 400 players who have played for Mayo as far back as 1945.

Mayo PRO, Aiden McLoughlin is confident that the County Board will be able to provide the clubs and supporters with enough tickets to satisfy demand;

“Through all their allocations clubs will get more tickets than ever before. I think the people that need to get a ticket and that need to be accommodated are going to get them through all the different ways.”

Club secretaries and chairman now have the unenviable task of playing God for the next week and a half, while the loyal and not so loyal disciples wait in GAA purgatory.

Could be time to start ringing the American cousins.

All-Ireland MFC Semi-Final: Meath 2-10 Mayo 1-11 


WITH five minutes of the second half gone, Michael Plunkett made a lung bursting run from corner back deep into the Meath half. As he drew the defence, Ballinrobe’s James Quinn moved inside the cover, took the pass from Plunkett and  blasted the ball over the bar.

The goal was on but at that stage a point seemed like a satisfactory result. It moved Mayo seven points clear and was an defiant response to losing two of their most influential forwards, Eoghan Lavin and Sean Regan, through a sickening clash of heads moments earlier.

In a game where Mayo rode their luck in the opening minutes to an alarming degree, that point and the loss of Lavin and Regan signalled the reversal of that good fortune. Inexplicably, Mayo failed to score for the next 28 minutes, by which stage Meath had plundered 2-4 and deservedly moved into a decisive lead.

The game was only a couple of seconds old when a long ball into the Mayo half was narrowly flicked wide of the post by James McEntee. This set the trend for the next ten minutes with first O’Sullivan and then full forward Stephen Coogan, foiled by the crossbar and goalkeeper Michael O’Malley.

It was an extraordinary ten minutes that should have seen Meath already home and dry but instead ended up with Mayo leading by three points thanks to some economical forward play, the pick of the points coming from the impressive Sean Regan.

It took Meath until the 17th minute to get on the board, but true to their opening form this was quickly followed by a bad wide from the otherwise brilliant Cillian O’Sullivan. Meath’s ineptitude in front of goal seemed to encourage Mayo and they began to establish themselves in the game.  After Eoghan Lavin did well at centre field, a move involving Adam Gallagher and James Quinn ended with Diarmuid O’Connor squeezing the ball over the line.

Patrick Durcan was pushing forward all day and he got his reward with a point to push Mayo ahead by seven points for the first time. Gallagher was Mayo’s driving force and inspiration, while the full back line, in particular Gerathy and Moran were showing a propensity and worryingly, a need for coming up with last-ditch tackles.

Meath had closed the gap to four at the break but by five minutes of the second half it was out to seven again thanks to two points from Gallagher. That was to be as good as it got for Mayo as Meath gradually began to peg them back, with Cillian O’Sullivan causing huge problems for the Mayo defence and Ward unerring from place balls.

On a perfect day for football, a deftness of touch evaded both sides. In the end it was Mayo who were the sloppier, in particular their lack of precision in working the ball out of defence, which proved fatal in the end. It was a turnover that allowed Cillian O’Sullivan to reduce the gap to three points with six minutes remaining, before the crucial score of the game moments later.

As the recovered Sean Regan went to collect a looping pass near the sideline, he was blatantly pushed out of play by Patrick Kelly. However, no whistle came and despite Mayo regaining possesion, another lose pass out of defence was severely punished by O’Sullivan who broke through, his low shot ricocheting of the diving Adam Gallagher’s legs. The foot/leg block lacked intent or malice but the penalty was awarded. Fiachra Ward’s spot kick was Mendieta–esque in its tame trajectory, but it deceived O’Malley and glanced of him into the corner to draw Meath level.

In the end when Meath’s winner came there was a sense of the inevitable about it. As the game moved into injury time, Pauric Harran, who was influential all day, drove through the middle and after a scramble, the ball fell into the path of substitute Paddy Kennelly who smashed it home. Stephen Coen pulled one back at the death; it was Mayo’s first score in 28 minutes. If ever a statistic told the story of a game.


Man of the Match: Cillian O’Sullivan – The man from Moynalvey was a constant thorn in the Mayo side and spearheaded Meath’s comeback. Scored two points but was involved in many more.

Meath Scorers: Fiachra Ward (1-3), Patrick Kennelly (1-0), Jason Daly (0-2), Cillian O’Sullivan (0-2), Pauric Harnan (0-1), James McEntee (0-1), Ruairi O Coileain (0-1)

Mayo Scorers: Diarmuid O’Connor (1-0), Adam Gallagher (0-3), Stephen Coen (0-2), Eoghan Lavin (0-2), Sean Regan (0-1), Shane Hennelly (0-1), Patrick Durcan (0-1), James Quinn (0-1)

MEATH: Robert Burlingham (Simonstown Gaels); Declan Smyth (Dunsany), Brian Power (Ratoath), Shane Gallagher (Simonstown Gaels); Conor Carton (Donaghmore/Ashbourne), Shane McEntee (St Peter’s Dunboyne/Kilbride), Seamus Lavin (St Peter’s Dunboyne/Kilbride); Pauric Harnan (Jenkinstown Gaels), Adam Flanagan (Clonard); Cillian O’Sullivan (Jenkinstown Gaels), Jason Daly (St Peter’s Dunboyne/Kilbride), James McEntee (St Vincent’s/Curraha); Barry Dardis (Summerhill), Stephen Coogan (Dunderry), Fiachra Ward (Wolfe Tones).

MAYO: Conor O’Malley (Westport); Joe Geraghty (Ballintubber), Sean Moran (Kiltimagh), Michael Plunkett (Ballintubber); Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels), Cian Burke (Ardnaree Sarsfields), Kevin Lynch (Mayo Gaels); Brian Mullen (Westport), Adam Gallagher (Mayo Gaels); Eoghan Lavin (Kiltimagh), Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore), Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber); James Quinn (Ballinrobe), Sean Regan (Ballina Stephenites), Shane Hennelly (Shrule/Glencorrib).

REFEREE: Fergal Barry