Castlebar regain Connacht crown in style

Castlebar Connacht champions

Photo: Inpho Photography

They may have gone into this afternoon’s Connacht SFC club final at Tuam Stadium against Corofin as underdogs but a hugely committed performance by Castlebar Mitchels saw them dethrone the defending Connacht and All-Ireland champions, claim the Shane McGettigan Cup for the second time in three years and end the day as the new favourites to win the club All-Ireland. Not a bad day’s work on a cold November afternoon.

I watched this one on the box but could almost feel the cold from Tuam, where the playing surface looked hard and unforgiving, with the grass decidedly on the long side. A low winter sun cast a steely glare across the pitch as the champions of Galway and Mayo did battle for provincial spoils and a place in the All-Ireland semi-final next year.

Corofin’s modus operandi on their way to winning the Andy Merrigan Cup earlier this year was typically to claim the upper hand early on and dictate terms from there. It was, then, vital for Mitchels to get a good start in today’s contest and an eighth minute goal from Barry Moran gave them what they wanted in this respect.

A point from play from way out by Barry Moran put the challengers four clear with just over halfway gone in the opening period. From then till the break, though, it was Corofin who enjoyed the best of the exchanges and it looked a bit ominous that they’d pulled level when the half-time whistle sounded.

So Mitchels still had it all to do in the second half but they did it in fine style. It was toe-to-toe for the first ten minutes or so after the break but then Neil Douglas swung over a peach of a point and followed this up by smashing home a glorious goal.

The champions were really on the ropes now and although Martin Farragher cut the gap back to three soon after he then picked up a second yellow for a stupid foul. Down to fourteen, Corofin’s cause was then further undermined when Micheal Lundy was ordered off on a black card.

Corofin needed goals – two of them to be precise – to rescue their cause but they never came close to getting the ball in the Castlebar net. As the clock ran down, the Mitchels lads visibly grew in confidence as they eased home on a 2-10 to 0-11 scoreline.

Well done to Castlebar on winning their fourth Connacht club title, a win that makes them the most successful Mayo club in the competition and which hoists them to joint third (tied with St Brigid’s) in the competition’s roll of honour. It’s also a victory that sees Mayo sides take a clean sweep of all three provincial club championships this year.

Mitchels can now look forward to an All-Ireland semi-final appearance next February. This will be against either Armagh’s Crossmaglen or Scotstown from Monaghan, and while either of these will be tough to beat, the new Connacht champions will surely now also be turning their thoughts towards a possible return to Croke Park on Patrick’s Day next year.

41 thoughts on “Castlebar regain Connacht crown in style

  1. Well thanks b to jaysus for that.. and well done Castlebar. Hopefully now we can move on.. get the charter signed.. get Rochford in place and with a bit of luck we will all start talking about football, the wonderful talents we have and the possibilities for the year ahead. I for one have been sick to death of some of the stuff on here for the past few months and am looking forward to starting 2016 with a clean slate

  2. AOS was brilliant last night v Australia, What a player, so happy he plays for Mayo. Unbelievable that Brogan was names Player of the series. Brilliant display by Castlebar, now 2/1 fav for All Ireland.

  3. 2nd time in 3 years that Rochfords side have been out thought on the line by Castlebar management.

    Corofin touted as a high scoring team only managed to score 0-11 (0-8 1st half) today. When Douglas scored that cracking 2nd goal it was simply game won.

    Crossmaglen the likely opponents next for Castlebar which is one to watch for sure.

  4. Of course Aiden O Shea was the best player on the pitch last night without any shadow of a doubt. Great result for Castlebar, fair play to them. . Two more hurdles for the Mitchles to jump, their able to do it but it won’t be easy. Corofin were great All Ireland champions, but its hard to keep going as Castlebar found out last year after making it all the way to the final on St Patrick’s day. Hopefully they can go that one step further in 2016. If indeed it is Stephen Rockford that’s ratified, he will be denied some Castlebar players for the FBD and League for a while. Barry deserved his MotM award, Turbo Tom has got himself some detractors this last two years, his performance today certainly will have silenced some of them,& I for one hope they stay silenced. I’ve been very impressed with Danny Kirby this last few months, and with Paddy Durcan ( hopefully TnaG 4) learn to spell his name correctly, with Nial Douglas ,Richie & Alan Feeny excelling its great for our new manager to have such riches to choose from. Last week Hollymount won the intermediate Connacht crown also over Galway opposition on Galway ground, Pearce Stadium.You know thing are still looking pretty good for us. Here’s to a great 2016!

  5. Well done Castlebar, this was a comprehensive victory and well worth the journey to see. In the balance for a long time but Douglas’s goal was decisive. Barry Moran gets better and better as his injury problems seem well behind him. Of the players not on the regular Mayo panel I was also impressed with Danny Kirby and Neil Douglas in particular. Kirby in particular could have a big impact for the county next year.
    Nice to have the hat trick of Connacht Club crowns. Is this the first time for Mayo?

  6. Good win for Castlebar

    In people’s opinion who would be the main guys that should step up for county.
    Is Douglas young or is he a senior member?

  7. Underdogs I can understand, absolutely. But being factual, Corofins performance last year amounted to one extra win compared to Mitchels run the previous year. That included a win over the same opponents in the same ground. What absolute lunatic thought Mitchels at 3/1 was a good idea?! The easiest money I have ever made, and an awful lot of people got on that absolute howler from the bookies. Mental stuff.

    A great performance today from a great football team. Barry, Tom, Dougie, Ray, Durks, Kirbs, Ciano, the Feeneys and more after that were all outstanding. On we go. H’on Cashelbar!!

  8. Well done to the mitchels and well done to Declan o Reilly and declen shaw and back room team. A credit to all the hard work being done not easy going to corifins back yard and coming away victorious. A real team effort and some stand out displays from Douglas and Moran. Well done and onwards and upwards. Free beer in old stock Byrnes tonight.

  9. Congrats to Castlebar, it was great to get the win! For three Mayo Clubs to end up as Connacht Champions at the end of 2015 is great to see and a great way to end the year, especially after the goings on of the past number of weeks. Its great to have something positive to be talking about. Best of luck to all of the clubs in the All-Ireland series in 2016.

    Again you could see the benefit of being involved in county training has had on a number of players. Its great to see players using, their weaker hands or feet to great effect to move the ball out of trouble. I’d still like to see the Castlebar forwards scoring more points from play. Fair play to Barry Moran scoring 1-2 from play and winning loads of ball around the middle of the field as well. If they are going to go the whole way though, you’d love to see the lads up-front popping over points like the one Richie Feeney kicked at the end. Their heart, guts and determination was super to see!

  10. The question has been asked [elsewhere] “how does this team compare with Castlebar 2013?”
    In my opinion this year’s team is stronger in several areas. Particularly the bench, all players introduced to date seem to have upped the overall team performance. Barry Moran, with two injury free years behind him also seems stronger. Patrick Durcan has also improved hugely as has Neil Douglas and Danny Kirby. Only Richie Feeney seems less influential this year than 2013 and he is still a major contributor.
    Add Castlebar’s performance to Aiden O’Shea’s and Lee Keegan’s last night and things look good for Mayo in 2016. Hopefully Stephen Rochford can add that little bit extra on the sideline and we may finally plant the flag on the summit.

  11. Great performance from Mitchels. Totally agree with Mark on the PP odds, there’s money to made betting on club football because they haven’t a notion most of the time!!

    Think Mitchels will win it out if they don’t get any crucial injuries for the next two games, very strong panel. Barry Moran’s improvement over the past 5 years and been nothing short of unblievable. His passing and shooting have come on so much and he’s probably the best high fielder of a ball in Ireland. Funny I watched Corofin last year and I thought they looked unbeatable, a brilliant club team. Watching them today I couldn’t pick one county standard player from their team, whereas Moran, Cunniffe, and Durcan stood out a mile.

  12. Well done to mitchells today great win. Don’t forget we have top scorer cillian to come back to so plenty to look forward to in 2016.

  13. Ya well done Castlebar throughly deserved victory . I was frozen at it ,but it was worth the journey. The goal came at the right time for them because it could of been anyone’s game up to that point I hope they go all the way now. Time now for Steve to dust himself off and focus on the FED and the league. Maigh Eo Abu come on the yew.

  14. The first half of todays Connacht final was as good as i have seen in any club match at this time of year however 2nd half not so good and you could see the longer the game went on the more leg weary Corofin became.

    Neil Douglas was quiet against Clann na nGael and Kirby making noise while the opposite happened today. Barry Moran outstanding a player at his peak now. Have Castlebar improved since 2013? it looks like it but we won’t really know for sure until after the All Ireland series.

  15. Well done to the Castlebar fellas and all concerned.

    It looks like the younger guys have matured well particularly Durcan, Kirby, and O’Reilly. Ally that with The inter county standard brigade of Tom C, B Moran and R Feeney and there is a serious core of hardened talent there to work off and focus on.

    The fact that they won so well today with making so many mistakes (especially in the first half) and sloppy passes says it all. Again congrats to them.

  16. Castlebar definitely stronger than in 2013. Neil Douglas has been a key game changer in a lot of games this season. Great to see. If he can bring consistency into his future Mayo starts that would be a big development.
    Similar Barry Moran is proving the value of being injury free to be able to develop his game. His accuracy has gone up massively. Barry Moran 2013 versus Barry Moran 2015 no comparison. Danny Kirby then is much more consistent. Then you have Patrick Durcan who seems to be developing steadily into a cross betweek Keegan and Boyle. Strong with great pace.

  17. Elite club players really get treated very badly when you see the state of the pitch in Tuam yesterday. Compared that to what our Aussie visitors played on Saturday night for a nothing game. Complete joke.
    Cannot see anyone stopping Castlebar. A very physically strong team all over the pitch.
    If Feeney worth a punt for Mayo at full back ? Looked very good yesterday.

  18. Agree totally, facetheball, re the pitch surface yesterday. I think the surface on which our respective U10 teams faced each other on Saturday morning was better than the one at Tuam Stadium yesterday!

    Castlebar must have a great shout now. If you look at the number of their players who have appeared at senior county level in some guise (be it FBD, League or championship) over the past few years – by my reckoning that’s Tom Cunniffe, Alan and Richie Feeney, Paddy Durcan, Eoghan O’Reilly, Barry Moran, Danny Kirby and Neil Douglas – you can see that they’re backboned by a seriously hardened and experienced group of players. None of the other clubs left have anything approaching this kind of talent, not to mention all the other solid club players, so it’s not surprising that Mitchels are the favourites to win it out now.

  19. Great win by Mitchells. Completes the clean sweep of Junior, Inter and Senior Connacht Championships. Imagine if the three of them managed to win their respective all Irelands.

    On a completely different note, this Joe Brolly article is well worth reading for those who care about the game. While we all have issues with Joe from time to time, I think he is absolutely spot on in what he says in this article, and you have to admire him for speaking out when there’s plenty of others who have noses in the trough of punditry, commentary and for what passes sometimes as journalism (we know who they are) who would much prefer to take the cash and stay quiet. Hes never afraid of throwing a dig, sometimes in a well thought out and eloquent manner, sometimes not, at whoever he thinks needs it.

  20. Agree with all posters that Mitchels have serious talent on the team and serious talent on the panel. They have it big (Barry and Danny and even Eoin O’Reilly) and small (Costello); they can score goals consistently (Dougie, Barry, Danny); and they can manage great points too (Barry again, Eoin’s free, Richie); they have pace to burn (just love watching Paddy Durcan get better and better, and his twin James is very good too – worth a shot at the Mayo panel, even though only a Castlebar sub). They have a killer instinct for goals that really break opponents’ hearts, and the defence although they look vulnerable at times, have kept some serious forward talent quiet (are you reading this Aido?).

    However, we shouldn’t lose the run of ourselves. We have beaten the All Ireland champions, but Mayo teams do that for fun. Beating the team that appears in an All Ireland final is a different matter, and that is something Mayo teams do not do for fun. I thought Declan Shaw should have eased up on references to getting back to Croker in his after match comments.

    That’s because the club championship is a notoriously difficult competition to forecast. The extended break between November and February can change the dynamic significantly, and teams that soared in November can nose dive in February. Then again unheard-of teams build up a head of steam as they progress through the competition. Remember Crossmaglen? They were the newbies and complete underdogs against Knockmore in ’97. This was the Knockmore team we all thought would finally do the business for us after a great run complete with a very strong panel. Cross won well and went on to be one of the dominant teams in the competition thereafter. And guess what? They are on our side of the draw for the semi. If they are beaten in Ulster, you can bet Scotstown will be a damn good team. I predict that the Ulster final will be a humdinger.

    Oh, and don’t forget Nemo. They’re back.

  21. Just to add my congrats to Castlebar Mitchels, a superb achievement and great to see a clean sweep in Connacht across the three levels. This Castlebar team is getting better and better. Our county panellists have made a major contribution to their success so I hope we get to see more of them in 2016. Neil Douglas in particular!

    Here is the latest from Stephen Rochford on his Mayo GAA aspirations. I hope he gets the phone call he is waiting for sooner rather than later.

  22. Well done Castlebar. Would like to see Douglas, Kirby and a few others get a real run with Mayo. Top class stuff and proud of them. Maith sibh.

  23. Well done castlebar didn’t see the game and certainly didn’t expect them to win.
    Facing Ulster champions won’t be easy.the long break now between provincial finals and all Ireland semis can be a help or a hindrance to teams.

    It seems finally we may be able to have a manager in place in next week or two barring any hiccups!!!

  24. Really enjoyed Brolly’s article. A well researched piece making references to international peer reviewed literature. Illustrates how English soccer etc. erodes local participation in sport and the lessons we can learn in GAA. Amateur boxing enjoys similar community support where Ireland overachieves considerably.

  25. Joe Brolly’s article hit the nail on the head. I agree 100%. The players in the GAA get nothing for their efforts, the people at the top are cleaning up. The GPA were supposed but like every organisation they too were sucked in by greed. Congratulations to Mitchells. It appears only their neighbours are the team that can defeat them. Looking forward to Stephen Rochford taking over Mayo. I,m surprised that the some people are not “whinging” about his failure to bring Corofin another title. I stated in a blog 3 weeks ago that no club team has won back to back AI’s since Crossmaglen. I’m 100% behind Stephen Rochford and I know he will succeed.

  26. Expect there will be news tonight via the Mayo News.
    What i would like to know is rochford who the players want. It seems this facillator has met all the players now and presumably he reports to the County Board. Then. Rochford will be called? Then i guess the 3 parties will shake hands.
    I am nervous about this appointment and so hope you are all right on SR being the right man.
    I sure would like to see James Horan around for 2016 with SR serving his time. This team is so good that one can hope.
    Aido was great on Sat but one could see how B. Brogan caught us with goals and no need to to target players with blame for that.

  27. Willie Joe the one club that would be close to Castlebar’s pick are probably their next opponents Crossmaglen, off the top of my head P Hearty; McKeown, J Hanratty, A Cunningham; A Kernan, T Kernan,K Carragher, J Clarke have all played county football.

  28. Yes agree AOS was very good on Saturday but also have to say that Keegan looks a class player, everything he does has a touch of class. In my opinion the best defender in Ireland by a country mile.

  29. Joe Brolly is partly right in that coaches are essential to developing young players and giving them the opportunity to play. But seeing their heroes on TV is also the inspiration for young players in the first place as was hearing Micheal O’Hehir’s match broadcasts in the days before TV. If there is no TV exposure there will be no hunger to emulate the stars of today. What percentage of young Castlebar players were at the match yesterday? Pretty small, and same for Corofin youngsters. It was something I was looking out for because the same issue arose with me in a discussion on Saturday night.
    Regards the Champions League format favoured by the GPA for the championship, I am not in favour of it as there would be too many meaningless games [at least 50% in my opinion] and the Provincial championships would be devalued over time. A provincial championship played before the “real” competition would be meaningless to counties aiming to peak in August /Sept.

  30. AndyD, a club players existance has been on a downard slope for the last ten years in particular. Long stretches of training with no games and an incredibly long season.
    The Mayo U21 championship is only at semi final stage. Meaning that we have club players playing from January to December. Many club players are on a pay to play, as in there is a significant net cost to playing for your club and I don’t mean 50 euro per year. Much higher than that. For all the revenue in the game look at the vast sums that don’t make it down from County board level as it is spent preparing county teams to a near professional level. The one opporunity clubs have to make significant cash in championship games the home club only gets 10% of the gate was the old rule if I recall correctly. What Brolly talks about in other articles with a shorter club season and county season makes sense. The season is far too long for both club player and county player. The FBD is meaningless seeing as you will be missing players from successful clubs like Castlebar/Hollymount and any students who are on their Sigerson team. The Mayo team in the FBD will be a shell of a team if the Colleges hang onto their players.
    So we have huge sums of money that do not trickle down, tens of millions as it is hoovered up to prepare county teams. If you add up all the money spent preparing all county teams in football it is tens of millions. If you have a shorter season you cut the costs involved. You would have a training window leading into the county season. The rest of the year players are with their clubs.

  31. Brolly was spot on. While people mightn’t like to hear it, the vast majority of club players in Mayo hope the county team exit the championship early on. It’s selfish but understandable. For example, garrymore had no player on the county panel and put in a massive effort without knowing when their next game was. Their season was held up for the the top 0.5 percent of players. Hardly fair!!!.

    Inter county football is out of control at the moment and something needs to be done to curb this. The only reason the season is prolonged is to maximise media coverage as stated by Padraic Duffy on numerous times. In the summer months, gaelic games is the only show in town. You open up any paper, the main lead in the sporting section is gaelic games. While the premiership starts in August, the big semi final games continue to draw media attention. While people might say that only a handful of counties compete after the august bank holiday, no other county board will schedule fixtures on 5 of the next 6 Sundays as people will want to watch the matches on TV. If Croke Park succeed in reducing the county scene, they must put pressure on counties to get their act together with Dublin being an obvious example. Their attitude to club football is a disgrace and needs to be addressed by outside parties as they don’t seem to see the need to change it. It is wrong to play matches on Sunday, Wednesday and the following Sunday in order to get the club championship finished. While people will say that Jim McGuinness succeeded in winning an all ireland, his attitude to club football is not a template to be copied. It was a disgrace that the board didn’t stand up to him. Also, some counties who get knocked out out in the first round of the qualifiers struggle to finish their championship ahead of the more successful counties. See Waterford football this year.

  32. JP & John,

    I fully agree that the balance between club and county players is totally out of kilter and that the county scene is too dominant in the organisation both in terms of cost and time.
    That does not conflict with the points I made re the importance of TV coverage.
    Part of the trouble with GAA timetables is the tendency of players to play with multiple teams, even in the club scene, eg, you have players on Senior, Intermediate/Junior, U21 and Minor teams. That is without the issue of dual players. U21 is the biggest bugbear in the entire system. While the most talented players are overburdened with games many
    others have far to few games. Yet it is almost impossible to get the average club player to take an even passing interest in administration or structure of the games. Why else do we have so many ancient fossils representing clubs at Co Board? Eugene McGee may not be everybody’s cup of tea but his characterisation of the average club admin man [whose name I cannot recall just now] is so accurate.

  33. TV coverage is important but the deal with sky wasn’t in the best interests of growing the game to young people. Putting two quarter final and other high profile games exclusively on Sky is hardly going to inspire all young people. Older people and families from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to have sky. (search Paul Rouse UCD on google and you will his research on sports that entered into pay per view agreements). For example, Cricket in the Uk is suffering badly from being moved to pay per view.

  34. East Cork Exile. You have done the State some service in bringing Brolly’s article to our attention. As others have said, a fantastic piece of analysis supported by evidence gleaned from several reputable international sources. Truly, the elite at the top of the game are prospering at the expense of the club game below. A lesson learned from the IFA perhaps?

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