Paddy’s Day is when the club championships reach their climax every year but it’s on dreary November Sundays, just like today, that vital steps are often taken towards a possible Croke Park outing the following spring. There was plenty of club action on today but my attention was focused on what was happening on both sides of the Shannon this afternoon.
Castlebar Mitchels weren’t given much of a chance of upsetting the odds against Galway champions Corofin in their Connacht semi-final but at Tuam Stadium this afternoon the Mayo kingpins did just that when they forged a gutsy 2-8 to 1-10 win. An early Gary Sice goal for Corofin looked to have Castlebar in bother but the Galway lads failed to translate the dominance they enjoyed in the opening quarter into scores. They were made to regret this when goals before the break from Richie Feeney and Neil Lydon swung the contest back in Castlebar’s favour. The Mitchels went in at half-time two points to the good and although they had to withstand a strong Corofin onslaught after the break, they did enough to seal a one-point win and with it a place in the Connacht final.
Waiting for them in that one will be the defending All-Ireland champions, St Brigid’s of Roscommon, who enjoyed a facile win over St Mary’s of Sligo in the day’s other semi-final. The Connacht final is scheduled for Hyde Park on Sunday week (24th).
Colm Gannon’s match report from Tuam forthe Mayo Advertiser is here.
I was with the kids in Cusack Park, Mullingar, meanwhile, (along with around half the population of Marino, by the looks of it) to see our local club St Vincents open their Leinster club campaign with a tricky fixture against the local side, Westmeath champions St Loman’s. Vincents were favourites to advance but facing into their fourth championship match in just thirteen days and with Diarmuid Connolly suspended, this one was never a gimme and the visitors’ task was made significantly harder less than ten minutes in when captain Ger Brennan got a straight red following an off-the-ball incident.
Loman’s never managed to make the spare man count, however, and opted instead to persevere with a fairly nonsensical blanket defence strategy, relying on a two-man inside line – featuring their main man John Heslin – to get the scores they needed. That kind of approach was never going to win a match like this, regardless of the extra man.
Vincent’s were dominant around the middle all day – where Eamonn Fennell caught every ball that came his way – and they repeatedly broke forward rapidly, taking the game to the home team. A good spell before the break saw them open a three-point lead and they led by two at the break.
Both sides failed to add to their tally as the third quarter wore on but then two frees from Heslin got Loman’s back on terms. When they swept downfield soon after to score a point that put them into the lead, following an unsuccessful goal attempt by Ciaran Dorney at the other end, it looked as if this wasn’t going to be our lads’ day.
But Mossy Quinn had other ideas and three points from him in the closing stages – he ended the match on seven points, six of them from placed balls, and was outstanding today – as well as a late insurance score from Ruairi Trainor proved enough to send the Marino contingent home happy. Vincents’ next outing is also in two weeks time, when they face Meath champions Summerhill in the Leinster semi-final at Parnell Park.