The crowd in the stand at MacHale Park rose in unison in the dying moments of Saturday evening’s rollercoaster qualifier tie against Derry as Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan was helped off the field. He was hobbling badly at that stage, raising obvious concerns about whether or not he’d be okay to go back into battle once more just seven days later.
The Western People (digital and paper editions) reported yesterday that it was feared Lee’s injury was “worse than first thought” and that the player was being “monitored very closely” by the medics. The Mayo News today (report here) had, though, a more upbeat take on the injury – which they reported as a “bang on the shin” – stating that Lee is expected to be okay for the Clare match on Saturday evening. That’s what I’m hearing too.
That same piece, by the way, also reports that Paddy Durcan is expected to be hit with a one-match ban for the straight red he picked up during extra-time last Saturday. The sanction proposed – which the player can decide either to accept or request a hearing on – will depend on what’s stated in Maurice Deegan’s report but the infraction definitely looked like a one-match one. Ciaran Whelan’s assertion on The Sunday Game that the Mitchels man could be gone for a month was factually incorrect: time-based bans for such offences were done away with a few years ago.
That piece by Mike Finnerty also has a post-match quote from Stephen Rochford that’s worth repeating in full:
When we weren’t at our best on the field against Derry, and things were going against us, we were able to count on Mayo supporters to get behind us. Nobody should underestimate how important that is to this group of players and the management. There are no better supporters in the country and we really appreciate their support.
The atmosphere in the stand at MacHale Park the last evening was, for sure, something special. As wide after wide was racked up in the second half, the level of encouragement for the lads rose another notch. I’m convinced that the support drove the lads on as they battled to rescue the game and the dam burst of elation and emotion when that rocket from Conor Loftus hit the net was a moment to savour.
Oftentimes there’s talk on here about what supporters can and cannot do to help the cause. Stripped down to its bare essentials, though, the fan’s role is a simple one – to support the team, in particular when that backing is really needed.
It was a role that everyone (well, almost everyone – the most negative person on the planet, I won’t even call him a supporter, was seated behind me and I gave him a fair few dagger looks for the gloom-ridden, defeatist crap he kept coming out with) played to the full last Saturday evening. Well done to all of you for the part you played in this – the same again will be needed down at Cusack Park the next day.
Speaking of next Saturday, Tyrone’s Sean Hurson has been appointed as the ref for the game. We had the pleasure of his company as recently as the Connacht championship quarter-final against Sligo back in May. I can’t recall any details of his performance with the whistle that day, which I guess must be a good sign. Plus, he’s not Maurice Deegan.
Finally, congrats to Aidan O’Shea whose towering performance last Saturday earned him, by popular acclaim, the accolade of GAA Footballer of the Week. Well done, Big Lad. More of the same will be needed from him too in Ennis this weekend.