Youthful Maree/Oranmore come undone against record-breaking Mayo side


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Youthful Maree/Oranmore come undone against record-breaking Mayo side Youthful Maree/Oranmore come undone against record-breaking Mayo side

Maree/Oranmore 1

Castlebar Celtic 2

Keith Kelly at Lecarrow

An incredibly emotional season for Maree/Oranmore ended in disappointment on Sunday afternoon, but when the proverbial dust settles on this provincial defeat, it might instead be viewed as the start of something big for a club that has all the hallmarks of being the coming force in local football.

Brendan O’Connor’s young side were massive underdogs heading into what was the club’s first-ever Connacht Junior Cup final, and while there can be no bickering with the eventual outcome, the baysiders never backed down as they slugged it out with a side that was winning the province’s top gong for a record 10th time in its history.

They soaked up some early pressure as a Mayo outfit that had dispatched both Athenry and Salthill Devon in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively tried to stamp their authority on the game.

Having found their feet, they grew in confidence and began to probe more and more, and were rewarded with a 34th minute goal, but the old adage that a side is never as vulnerable as when it scores proved to be true, with Celtic getting back on levels terms less than a minute later and then sneaking into the lead deep into first-half injury-time.

Maree/Oranmore, listed for the game as the ‘home’ team, needed to reset at half-time and come out on the front foot to try and get back into the game, but instead it was the ‘visitors’ in green and white hoops who set the tempo, and the fact that Maree/Oranmore didn’t have a single shot on target in the second-half tells its own story.

Castlebar Celtic went with the same XI that beat Salthill Devon in the semi-final, whereas Maree/Oranmore were forced into a couple of changes from their semi-final derby win over Colga FC, alterations inflicted on them due to the shambolic fallout from the other semi-final.

Celtic had beaten Devon 1-0, with the deciding goal having more than a stink of offside to it, and the Drom side objected to the result due to the fact the game was presided over by officials from Mayo.

That appointment was in contravention of Connacht FA rules that “the referee and assistants for semi-finals and finals shall be chosen by the association and shall not be form the same area from which competing teams are from, except for the two teams being from the same area”.

The referee in question with Damien McGraith, a UEFA-qualified referee who has officiates in the League of Ireland, and has also been involved in the Champions League, Europa League, Euro and World Cup qualifiers, and the Eure U-21 Championship finals, but the rules are the rules and the Connacht FA didn’t apply them as required.

Pictured: Maree/Oranmore’s Ethan McAuley wins this battle for possession with Castlebar Celtic captain, Ioseph O’Reilly.

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