A major minor campaign would be good

The Connacht minor football championship gets underway in earnest at the weekend, with our U18s playing Roscommon, the 2006 All-Ireland champions at this grade on Saturday evening at McHale Park (throw-in 7pm).  On the other side of the draw, the current minor All-Ireland holders, Galway, clash with Sligo.  Unlike the U21s, the minor provincial championship structure is quite a convoluted one but, happily, those helpful people on the Club Mayo Dublin website have provided a very lucid  explanation of how it’s being run off.

Differences between minor and U21 don’t end there, of course, because although we’re enjoying a significant spell of provincial dominance in the latter grade – where this year’s Connacht title was our third in a row – it’s now 7 years since we last won the Connacht minor title.  Oddly enough, that 2001 win saw us complete a hat-trick of minor provincial crowns so I hope this isn’t some kind of harbinger for our future prospects at U21 level.  As the minor grade (unlike the U21) allows for a back door, we have managed to make some progress over the last few years, notably in 2005 where we made it to the final only to lose comprehensively to Down in that year’s decider.

When Mayo were beaten in last year’s Connacht semi-final, manager Ray Dempsey had a fair bit to say, and with some justification, about how the provincial championship was structured (with the then reigning All-Ireland champions Roscommon grouped with Sligo and Leitrim as a ‘weaker’ county and so getting to face Mayo with two championship matches already under their belt).  Interviewed in this week’s Mayo News, Ray seems happier with the team’s preparation in advance of this year’s campaign but he’s still promising nothing: “Mayo have no God-given right to win Connacht titles”, he says.  While that’s factually true, it’d still be nice to land the odd one all the same.  Starting this year, like.

12 thoughts on “A major minor campaign would be good

  1. Hi Willie Joe , good piece as always …. Its amazing to think that its 7 years since our last success at minor category and correspondingly i think its almost oxymoronical that we have dominated at u 21 level in the intervening period !!
    Just wondering wj if you would be able to tell me how many senior A colleges titles we have won at connacht level over the last 20 years …. not that many by my reckoning … I know geralds did win one in 97 / 98 ? correct me if Im wrong ….
    Bones of my argument being good college teams usually leads to good minor teams … I also think mayo won a vec all ireland in 1998 / 1999 captained by Alan Dillon … i think … ?

  2. It’s an odd one alright, isn’t it? Kevin McStay said in his Mayo New column after the minors were beaten last year that everything was okay at U16 and U21 but it was just minor where we were having no success.

    I couldn’t tell you what the story is with senior Colleges titles (this is where my Dublin domicile shows up my limitations in terms of detail!) but you could be onto something there. In the old days, of course, we used to gain as much as Galway did from perennial success enjoyed by St Jarlath’s but since the boarding finished there, not as many Mayo lads attend Jarlath’s anymore.

    It’s difficult to know why the Connacht minor titles have dried up and it has to be of concern. I was reading somewhere the other day that the gap to our last All-Ireland in 1985 is by far the longest gap between the All-Irelands we’ve won at this grade since it was instituted. If we can’t even manage a Connacht title, there’s no way we’re going to have too much chance (back door or not) of landing another minor All-Ireland anytime soon.

  3. For Perseus I have dug out the following. Geralds Castlebar won Connacht A in 1996 and 1997. That was it since 1989. Jarlaths have won 11 in that period, St Marys 3, Tuam C.B.S 3, and Ros C.B.S 1. I suppose we shared a lot of Mayo players who choose to go to Jarlaths while it was a boarding college. Dismal enough record though. No mention of St Muredachs from Ballina. The Bradys x3 , Clarke, the Deveneys, Harte, Nallen passed through the Moyside school. Am amazed at their pathetic record at that level.

  4. That’s great, thanks. It’s a poor enough record alright: don’t forget Colman’s in Claremorris as well who obviously didn’t win it either.

  5. any word on a team for saturday or have they played any challenge games lately??

  6. For sure Willie Joe, however at least , and I am open to correction here, prior to 1989 Colemans won an All Ireland and a few Connacht A titles. I think that Gabriel Cuddy and Padraig Coyne the Galway keeper in 83 won All Ireland A medals with Colemans, but Muredachs have to still break their duck. I dont know how to classify Nathies, Mayo or Ros?.

  7. U21 is the only indicator of the future(kerry are the exception). You only have to look at Laois and see how they failed to win anything at the more senior grades despite all the success at minor. The better senior teams more often than not have players brought through from successful U21 teams. A lot can happen between Minor and U21…lads go on the Piss, fall in love etc. Only the really dedicated(and bigger) players make it through. So dont panic…..the rossies wont be bothering us any time soon 🙂

  8. No word on a team yet – I suppose it’ll be announced on the Mayo GAA website at some point.

    Colman’s did win an All-Ireland alright but I think that was around 78 or 79. I was thinking more about who had won what in the last 10 years or so. Best not to raise that point about Nathy’s – I see that the “why don’t Ballagh players play for Roscommon” got (yet another) airing on gaaboard.com the other day so it’s as well not to get it going here again!

    I’d agree that U21 is a more dependable incubator for senior players than minor is – at least we have to hope so, given our recent record in the former and our neighbours’ in the latter!

  9. Cannot understand the Mayo whinging about Sligo, Ros and Leitrim getting to play two games in advance last year. When the round robin system was originally proposed for all counties Mayo and Galway actually opted out. NO REASON TO COMPLAIN ABOUT UNFAIRNESS THEN. As a result, in it’s inaugural year you had All-Ireland champions Ros having to play in a round robin in order to get the opp to play Mayo and Galway. In addition, Roscommon were a tired team by the qtrs – even though I felt they should have beaten Galway in the Connacht and secured an easier route. This year it’s worse with Roscommon or Sligo possibly having to play 5 games just to win Connacht (literally beat every team – some of them twice) to a qtr final compared to 2 for Galway and Mayo. With leaving cert and everything going on, this is asking too much of minors and it really jeopardises any chance of being fresh from qtr final on.

  10. Fair enough, Dr Hyde, wasn’t aware of the history relating to the current set-up. If ourselves and Galway did opt out, then I guess we’re in no position to complain about it now. I think Ray Dempsey’s point from last year was that his guys went in cold to play Ros, who already had come through two games and he felt that this told against them. As you quite rightly point out, though, an extended Connacht campaign would leave a team a bit jaded for the All-Ireland series but, then again, that’s the length of campaign that counties in Ulster and Leinster have to cope with every year.

  11. Dr Hyde is wrong there. My understanding is that Mayo and Galway did not opt out of the round robin. It was introduced for the three weaker counties in the province to give them some chance, bearing in mind Mayo and Galways total domination of the grade. Look at the stats, Ros minor champs in 2006, Leitrim back in 1998, Ros back in 1992, Ros in 1984, Ros again in 1975, and Sligo in 1968. Six titles between the three weak counties in forty years with Mayo and Galway picking up 33 titles between them, something had to be done for the obviously weaker counties in the province. By excluding the big guns Mayo and Galway, the others got an extra outing to prepare them, Ros in fairness did the business in 2006 but normal delivery resumed last year with Galway winning again. Galway and Mayo have won eight All Ireland minor finals between them since 1966. And yes ros won a single one in 2006, however Laois won three in an eight year spell between 1996 and 2003 and are as far away from Leinster senior titles never mind All Ireland senior ones as ever. Interestingly enough, and after their hopes for the highly rated Ros U21 team this year, it was the Roscommon board that backed a proposal to abolish the inter county U21 series earlier this year. As for the whinging Dr Hyde read your own post again…its all whinge ..too many games etc. This system was brought in because you lot whinged about Galway and Mayo constantly beating you, of course your Co Board can change it.

  12. Ontheroad – the 2007 round robin was voted by Connacht Council and Mayo and Galway opted out, and indeed voted for the structure that was put in place. There was not one bit of criticism from the plains of the yews until the result of the minor semi-final last year. The motion originally proposed by Roscommon was for all counties and their was much criticism from the Ros minor management when the Connacht Council voted for only a 3 team round robin. I can dig up the articles if you want. The round robin was never to give the weaker counties a better chance of winning Connacht, but to give them more games. Now we have an absolutely ridiculous and even more elitist system in place.

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