Today was a day when Gaelic football’s tectonic plates shifted more dramatically than they’ve done for years, with the game’s two dominant powers both bundled unceremoniously out of this year’s championship. I was at Croke Park with my little buck today to see history unfold and we had a whale of a time, especially during the afternoon’s second game where a hungry young Dublin side outworked and outfought a Tyrone team who, by the end, really looked like they had too many miles on the clock.
All of which meant that I wasn’t in Hyde Park today to see ours minors record a gritty 1-14 to 1-12 win over a resolute Offaly in their All-Ireland quarter-final meeting. Colm Gannon of the Mayo Advertiser was there, however, and here’s his match report.
Because I wasn’t in Roscommon, there’s little point in my attempting to say a whole load about today’s match but from what I could gather from listening to the action on Midwest, it was a win that we had to work hard to dig out as the beaten Leinster finalists really put it up to us.
We were on the back foot from the off, falling three points in arrears inside two minutes as the Offaly lads took immediate advantage of the wind at their backs. A scoring burst comprising two Cillian O’Connor points, a well-taken goal from Jack McDonnell and a point from Sean Kelly put us in the driving seat for a while but they reeled us back in and a goal by Noel Andrew Graham sent the Faithful in at the break two points clear of us.
With the wind behind us for the second half, that deficit didn’t look too ominous but Offaly were three up again early in the second half before points from Darren Coen, Cillian O’Connor (free) and Jack McDonnell hauled us back onto level terms. Points were then traded in rapid succession but with the spoils there to be grabbed, it was our top performer Cillian O’Connor who rose to the occasion, scoring our final four points of the day (and bagging nine over the course of the hour) to seal a narrow two-point win and book us a third successive All-Ireland minor semi-final appearance.
Next up for the lads is a daunting meeting with Ulster champions Tyrone, who demolished Kerry in their quarter-final meeting at Croke Park today. At least the Tyrone support should be well down for the semi-final because of their seniors’ shock exit today and with our game as the undercard for the Dubs’ semi-final against either Roscommon or Cork, I’ll need to work on the lads up here to make sure they shout for us the next day. After the way I was bellowing for them at Croker today, they surely owe us one.
MAYO: Paul Mannion; Brendan Harrison, Niall Freeman, Ciaran Twomey; Ryan Quirke, Conor Walsh, Conor Horan; Danny Kirby, Sean McGarry; Fergal Durkan, Mícheál Forde, Sean Kelly (0-2); Jack McDonnell (1-1), Darren Coen (0-2), Cillian O’Connor (0-9, four frees). Subs: Mark Regan for Horan; James Shaughnessy for Durkan, Conor O’Shea for McGarry, Cian Costello for McDonnell.