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Inside Track

Mayo refuse to surrender on the most trying of days

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Mayo attacker Jason Doherty takes on Dublin's James McCarthy during Sunday's All-Ireland Senior Football Final at Croke Park. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Any person who still doubts the mettle, heart and bravery of Mayo’s footballers should head for a dark room, throw away the key and hang their head in shame. Last Sunday at Croke Park, these heroic men in red and green were as resolute as any team we have even seen on a sports field.

In the context of so many hard luck stories and heartache for this Mayo squad, to still have the guts and character to salvage a result after the concession of two freakiest first-half goals, was the ultimate badge of honour. Regardless of the outcome in Saturday week’s replay, they can never be accused of a soft centre again.

Though the difficult wet conditions had a serious impact on the quality of football, it only added to the sheer physicality of a gripping and absorbing struggle for supremacy. Mayo simply weren’t prepared to take a backwards step and their manic hunger really rattled an out of sorts Dublin who, incredibly, didn’t register a score of their own until the 31st minute.

It was only one of the bizarre features of Gaelic football’s most celebrated day. Not a single Dublin player had raised a flag by that juncture, but they still led by two points after both Kevin McLoughin and Colm Boyle had the awful misfortune to deflect the ball into their own net. One would have been demoralising enough, but for it to happen twice against a background of Mayo’s repeated hard luck and bad luck, their players could have been forgiven for sinking to their knees in despair and finally accepting the sporting Gods are not in their corner.

Somehow, Stephen Rochford’s warriors had the fibre and mentality to recover from that outrageous catastrophe. It would have been easy for their dressing room to be left wallowing in self-pity at half time, but, instead, they admirably regrouped before reeling off the first five points of the second half. It was a show of defiance which must have electrified their supporters.

To be honest, most of us thought they were already a busted flush at the break. Mayo had done so much right in the opening half; had got their match ups right; had rattled Dublin with their intensity; and had nullified nearly all the opposition’s main threats; and still trailed by 2-4 to 0-5. It was a shocking injustice, but they didn’t flinch. Looking into their souls, the Mayo players refused to accept their plight and drove on like men possessed on the resumption.

Only for some careless use of possession, notably from hard-working midfielder Seamus O’Shea, Mayo would probably have pulled off one of the truly great sporting triumphs. Over the 77 plus minutes, they were the better team but when you are trailing by three points against a side of Dublin’s stature and the clock running against you, a draw still represents an excellent outcome after captain Cillian O’Connor came up with that priceless equaliser deep into added time.

Read John’s column in full in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Turlough’s thumping of title holders opens up the hurling championship

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St Thomas’ v Turloughmore Senior Hurling Championship game at Kenny Park, Athenry. Dara Whelan, Turloughmore and Victor Manso, St Thomas’

Inside Track with John McIntyre

TURLOUGHMORE blew the Galway senior hurling championship wide open with an unexpected thumping of title holders St Thomas’ at Kenny Park on Saturday. With questions to answer after fading badly in an earlier group tie against Clarinbridge, Franny Forde’s charges achieved a statement victory which must have sent shock waves throughout the county.

Having come up narrowly short in the 2020 decider against St Thomas’ in front of empty terraces in Athenry, Turlough looked like a team primed to exploit significant under-age success, but they had a blow-out in last year’s preliminary quarter-final when surrendering a 10-point lead to rank outsiders Kilnadeema/Leitrim.

That left the team with questions to answer heading into 2022, and that disappointing 0-24 to 0-17 loss to Clarinbridge in August appeared to confirm that Turloughmore were missing the level of substance and belief in their ranks which potential champions require. But all bets are off after last Saturday’s demolition job of St Thomas’.

Carrying the day by a scarcely believable 2-23 to 0-14 against an admittedly out-of-sorts champions must do wonders for the squad’s confidence, and with Seán Loftus continuing to hurl up a storm in the group stages – seven points of his 1-12 total came from play – Turloughmore are now serious contenders for title glory.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

McStay getting Mayo post means Galway must be wary about 2023

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Mountbellew-Moylough's Leo Donnellan and Mikey Culhane of Salthill Knocknacarra battling for possession during Sunday's Senior Football Champiomship tie at Tuam Stadium. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Those of us who were thinking that a protracted period of dominance in the province lay ahead of the Galway footballers are probably revising that opinion in the light of Kevin McStay taking over the unluckiest team of all-time. When it comes to bad breaks, Mayo are in a league of their own.

Losing six All-Ireland finals – including the 2016 replay against Dublin – over the past decade has been gut wrenching for both players and supporters. There is only so much big-day misery a county can take, but Mayo remain the eternal optimists; their spirits unbroken. Football is their lifeblood, the pulse of everyday life up there.

Yet, even their most optimistic fans must have thought that the All-Ireland dream is finally over for Leer Keegan, Rob Hennelly, the O’Connors, Kevin McLaughlin and Aidan O’Shea after a tame quarter-final exit to Kerry this summer. Coming on the back of last year’s demoralising final defeat to Tyrone, the general presumption was that Mayo faced a significant period of transition.

It was no surprise when James Horan stood down as manager in the wake of the Kerry loss, with four candidates interested in filling the vacancy – McStay being joined in the race by Ray Dempsey, Mike Solan and Declan Shaw who all put together strong backroom teams with the likes of Armagh’s Oisín McConville and Sligo’s Eamon O’Hara seemingly willing to throw in their lot with Mayo.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Donoghue and Kelly join the list of outsiders hoping to work the oracle

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Ardrahan team manager Syl Dolan supported by his grandchildren Jack, Shay, Leo and PJ against Portumna in the county hurling championship in Gort last Saturday.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

Why is it that a majority of hurling counties regularly shun homegrown local managerial talent in favour of high-profile outsiders? Sure, such a scenario remains an anathema to the traditional powers of Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary, but most of the rest regularly have their heads turned by non-natives.

The reality is that no county in nearly 25 years has lifted the McCarthy Cup with someone from beyond their borders in charge. Of course, Offaly are the one team which has benefited from having an outside influence, with Diarmuid Healy, Eamon Cregan and Galway’s own Michael Bond between them leading the Midlanders to All-Ireland glory on four different occasions.

But still the fad persists. Look at what’s ahead of us in 2023. A Galway man (Micheál Donoghue) taking over Dublin; another Galway man (Johnny Kelly) about to be installed as Offaly boss; a Tipperary man (Darragh Egan) in charge of Wexford; another Tipperary man (Darren Gleeson) still occupying the Antrim role; a Clare man (Davy Fitzgerald) back with Waterford, and the prospect of a Waterford man (Derek McGrath) filling the vacancy in Laois.

It has caught most Galway hurling observers by surprise that Donoghue is throwing in his lot with Dublin for a three-year term, especially as it’s only the Autumn of 2019 that he pulled the plug on his management of Galway, citing family reasons and a difficult working relationship with some local GAA officials.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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