Connacht championship launch


Photo: Connacht GAA

There I was yesterday tap-tapping away wondering about when the Connacht championship launch might be happening when at about the same time the lads were out in their finery over in Bekan, the rushes tickling their bare legs as they formally set in motion the 2016 battle for the Nestor Cup. The launch has spawned a fair amount of coverage today so here are a few bits for you to have a look at.

There are pieces with Stephen Rochford in, the Irish Examiner and The 42 in which he talks about Cillian O’Connor, how best (and when) to integrate the all-conquering U21s into the senior ranks and the training camp plans for after the London game.

The injury-plagued Galway midfielder Fiontán Ó Curraoin is taking some time away from the county panel and this gets an airing with Tribesman manager Kevin Walsh in GAA.iethe Irish Independent, Irish Examiner and The 42. Roscommon selector Liam McHale, meanwhile, talks about their great escape in New York, the injury problems facing them ahead of the Leitrim game and the loss of Conor Daly, who’s heading to the States for the summer. Pieces with Liam are in, Irish Independent and The 42.

Connacht Council Secretary John Prenty had his spake yesterday too, saying what a right pain in the hole it would have been from a logistical point of view (no, he didn’t quite put it that way, John’s far too polite to use such terminology) had the Yanks actually beaten the Rossies the last day. You’d have to admit, though, it would have been fun had they managed to do this.

Nothing to do with the Connacht championship launch but still interesting all the same, Kerryman Mike Quirke writing in the Irish Examiner – a man always worth reading in my view – tackles the thorny issue of how difficult it can be for tall men, our Big Dawg included, to get frees in big games.

Back to provincial matters, let’s end with a poll. The bookies have us chalked down as the clearest of clear favourites to secure an unprecedented sixth Nestor Cup success in a row. What do you reckon, though?

Who'll rule the West this year?

  • Mayo (79%, 306 Votes)
  • Galway (7%, 28 Votes)
  • Roscommon (7%, 28 Votes)
  • London (2%, 9 Votes)
  • Leitrim (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Sligo (2%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 386

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66 thoughts on “Connacht championship launch

  1. Interesting stuff there Willie Joe, though when I looked at the Connaught Council website I couldn’t see the fixture list!

    It’s the most frustrating bloody web site; maybe you could take it over Willie Joe, you’d have it singing and dancing within a week.

    Regarding Fiontán Ó Curraoin, the vibe from Galway seems very downbeat – Jim Carney was forecasting recently that Mayo could do another 2013-like job, and that Aidan O’Shea could beat them on his own.

    From a Galway perspective that’s all plausible, and I don’t think this is setting Mayo up or anything like that; things ARE bad in Galway, but they do have a lot of good footballers.

    However, we should be careful not to set ourselves up. As I posted before, we didn’t set the world on fire in the league – for good reasons, but that’s still the bottom line. Our injuries, thankfully, have eased, exciting newbies are emerging, the break between league and championship will do us a power of good, but there are significant questions ahead of the Connaught championship:

    1. Do we know our best 15 at this stage?

    2. Do we have a road-tested game plan that players and management believe?

    3. Is that fatigue factor lurking there somewhere waiting to be discovered (by a rejuvenated Galway, or others)?

  2. Yeah catcol, I was reading about that article by Jim Carney in the Tuam Herald, he was saying something like, at the moment Shane Walsh would be the only Galway player that would get into the Mayo team and that no one seemed to doing much about that. So it probably was an honest article from him but I suppose he could be using it as a rallying call as well to get Galway fired up so we’ll see how it goes.

    In relation to John Prenty’s comments about what would have happened if New York had beaten Roscommon, the Connacht Council’s finances would have taken a big hit, he commented. It just sums up the attitude of the GAA, money is all that matters to them. It’s like the Leinster council always voting to keep Dublin in Croke Park because of the money aspect. Fairness does not come into it. Players are only seen as a secondary thought when they should be the most important part of the GAA, afterall without them, we would have no games.

  3. I feel your pain, Catcol! Sadly, my skill set doesn’t run as far as website design, though I imagine anyone with half a brain in that department could have come up with a better site than the one they have. It truly is all sizzle and no sausage. The main GAA website also got an overhaul not long ago, which disimproved it greatly, but at least that has all the main inter-county fixtures listed on it.

  4. I think we’ll hammer galway

    You’ll only have to watch the club championship this weekend to see the state Galway football is in right now. When there are the same amount of county players from a Junior club as arguably the best club team in Ireland in Corofin you know something is very wrong. Walsh isn’t being helped by guys going off abroad and declining call ups but Galway look in a very bad place right now relative to ourselves. They were hopeless in the league. They have no clue of their best 15 and have lads who are no more then ok club players in the side at the expense of much more talented younger ones. I think it’ll be 2013 all over again

    Roscommon is a fascinating one though. They get a tough time here and bizarrely galway seem to get far more respect, but Ros are a step above Galway these days and they showed that in abundance in the league. I’d much rather have had Ros’s league campaign than our own. The recency effect in full play- we have one or two ok showings at the tail end of the league, while Ros under-perform relative to early on and suddenly we’re way better than them again. They shouldn’t be underestimated, and they should have beaten us in our last Champ meeting. All the pressure will be on ourselves to be fair

    Saying that gun to head, we should have enough (hopefully it rains in case 😉 ) but it will be hard fought for sure. We do have better players than them and more experience and a better bench. Hopefully we’ll have close to our best 15 available.

    However, is a Connacht final loss that disastrous though? Winning it 5x in a row has never brought us an AI maybe a Galway 2001-like kick in the hole might do us the world of good! 😀 We won’t lose to anyone in a back door match, maybe getting Dublin or Kerry in a AIQF is the time to get them.

  5. There are enough websites in use at the moment to provide a choice for any club, county or province to choose from. I do not find the Mayo website all that user friendly, partly perhaps because the Mayo league structure takes a bit of time to get the hang of, with everybody apparently in Div 1.
    The Leitrim site is the best I have seen with all games listed as they take place and then categorized by competition with league tables given and up to date. For both adult and underage games. Only the Ladies seem not to bother.

    One “sad” absentee from this years championship which I saw mentioned a while back, but surprisingly not commented on here so far as I could see, is our old friend Cormac Rielly who has been dropped from the referees panel. He is however included in a backup list of linesmen, which hopefully won’t have to be used.

  6. Id be wary of Galway no matter what “state” their allegedly in, talk off 2013 all over again, is exactly the shite talk that can get into players heads and we could end up with a disaster on our hands. Lets just focus on London and then see how we’re fixed.

    Have to disagree with Ciaran, League form stands for nothing when it comes to championship, if it did, then Kildare and Derry would have beeen AI champions within the last 5 years. It really is a different ball game. I dont think all the pressure is on us IF we meet Roscommon, they’ve invested alot of money into this managment and have been shouting about being a “top 8” team for the last couple of years, without ever having beaten anyone in the championship, I think the pressure is on them to actually beat a top 6 team.

  7. Would always be weary of Galway in championship…those of us that can remember before 2009 😉

    On the issue of NY winning and being a headache…Id imagine the issue of players over there and visas is the major one. They had to forefit a hurling match a few years ago as their players could not travel as they would not be allowed back into the US.

  8. At the start of the year I thought Galway would be our biggest threat in Connacht, I still think thats true but not as big a threat as before. Galway will put it up too us for the first 40mins or so but our fat superior physicality with over come them and we will run out comfortable winners.

    As for Ros, after the league match, im convinced we will beat them. We are just too powerful for them. What im not convinced about is actually playing Ros in the final. They will beat Leitrim, be super confident once again and quiet possibly flop against Sligo. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, a line which Ros find way too easy to cross. I think I will visit the bookies and bet it will be a Mayo v Sligo final again this year.

  9. No disrespect to other counties. We focus on ourselves. Our weakness is in clinical finishing. Perhaps, Loftus judging by his display in the under 21 final is growing towards filling that role.

  10. “The rushes tickling their bare legs” one of the best lines you have ever used Willie Joe.

  11. Hi, Just a thought that no one has remarked is the team’s hot weather camp this year. It will be in London and this seems so sensible. SR mentions it in the above. Rather than having players pack their bags twice and all the extra time involved it solves a few problems at once.

    Haondered why they had not gone away. This seems the right time. Now that the Panel is settled.

    Recall John Maughan doing something similar in New York.

    SR. was adamant that they will not be using the Arsenal Grounds.

    London weather could be anything but that is as it should be?

    Ciaran 2. M

  12. I still think they will avail of the arsenal facilities, at least they will be the same standard as what the dubs use.

  13. Basically for Galway to beat Mayo it would take an unbelievably bad Mayo performance and for Galway to produce a performance that they haven’t looked like producing in years. I think it is very difficult for the under dog to win Galway v Mayo games because both teams are so up for it. I almost felt last year that Mayo could have won in Salthill by whatever they wanted to. It was level at half time Mayo upped it a gear and went 6 points up, when Galway scored a goal Mayo pulled it out to 4 again.

    People are saying that Galway were unlucky not to get promoted but 2 of the games they drew they should have lost. Meath were absolutely hammering them at half time and switched off and against Armagh they scored an injury time goal to equalise. 2 losses in those games and they could have been relegated.

    I see Kevin Walsh is using the oldest trick in the book by talking Mayo up.

  14. Sure it has to make sense to have some kind of a change of scenery for a training camp, just to keep it fresh. As long as our players don’t get injured in London or in any other match of any type then we can be happy.

  15. Those comments by John Prenty about New York were very telling indeed. Oh, if only they’d got that goal … 😀

    Roll on London! Two weeks and counting …

  16. Just read the article by Quirke. Always enjoy reading him too! It will in interesting to see if the big lads win a few more frees this year because the issue was highlighted.

  17. Yes – am a bit perplexed by our second favourites tag – a dangerous one I think, and what have we done to deserve it?

    If we had finished in the top four of Division One, hammered the Rossies in Croker, scoring from every direction, and were neck and neck with the Dubs until a sending off changed the game, what would our narrative be? Imagine the howls if we got the pastings Kerry got from Brolly, O’Rourke and some of our own (who should know better)?

    No, I’m afraid the jury is out (and well out) until we see some championship football from our good selves.

  18. Eh Sky Sports? Who labelled Mayo bottlers in the last few years? Pure BS.

  19. Yeah I agree catcol.

    I think, on paper at least, our panel this year is stronger than the last five years. However, we really haven’t shown any form yet to be considered better than Kerry, Tyrone, Donegal etc.

  20. I’m disgusted with John Prenty’s comments you just get the feeling sometimes that the GAA want their “stars” like Kerry and Dublin contesting finals poor ol New York prepared hard and very nearly beat the Rossies they deserve better

  21. Willie Joe with all this sun about, maybe it’s time we got a few new caps for our Manager 🙂

  22. Backdoor Sam,

    You’re sympathy for NY may be very laudable but the reality is that they were due to travel for an Ulster Hurling championship match a few years ago, having won the first round in NY, but were unable to do so. Visa problems and illegal status of players was the problem apparently? Would it be different if the were due to come to Carrick to play Leitrim on 22nd? And what if they were and won in Carrick, not impossible if they were able to travel, would they then make it to Sligo for the semifinal? It must be remembered that when Rosc were booking flights they had lots of time to negotiate and book. It would be different for NY seeking flights at short notice and the cost would be much different too. Airlines know when you are snookered and just love it.

  23. I have to say I’m a bit confused about what I’m hearing and reading nationally and on here. Now that said I’m easily confused and don’t know much about football.
    Firstly let me say Bekan is on the verge of the central plains of Ireland and there are no rushes growing here WJ!
    The next thing that is confusing me is all this talk about Mayo being the only team capable of dethroning Dublin.
    Have we suddenly found answers to not being able to kick points regularly from play, and on that front neither could the U 21’s in the final against Cork and perhaps Key Tyrone Dublin etc will not give away as many soft goals as Cork U 21’s .
    Have we also solved the problem of struggling under a high ball in FB line and of the freeway that opens up from midfield to our goal straight through the centre of our defense..
    Have we solved the problem of fading out of games and letting winning leads slip. In fairness the U 21’s certainly have the winning mentality that was missing.
    So that’s a bit of my confusion but yet I’m more confident this year then I was at this stage last year when I think we preformed way above expectation. We will win connaught I think but not without a few questions asked by our Neighbours. We will make a semifinal and if Tyrone are waiting there then I think they have potential to beat us and they definitely will be in serious all Ireland contention in next few years.
    Another interesting cameo might be if Kerry decide they want to avoid Dublin until final and decide to throw muster to Cork they could end up against us on Qtr final.
    But i think we can reach an slk ireland this year and we could stop the Dubs winning more then we could go out and win it ourselves. So the pressure is on SR to come up with a tactical plan to beat Dublin. An exciting summer in store and a busy one on here I’m sure….

  24. It could well be! I was raised not a million miles from there, though, and I don’t ever recall rye grass coming up in conversation.

  25. The early meadow would have been mainly ryegrass breed of grass….the type with the non frilly seed would have fast growth and therefore first to be cut and made good hay much sought after by keepers of horses. What’s tickling the thigh of parsons leg would be one of the frilly breeds not yet in seed. It’s prob showing seed at this stage so if we could have the pic retaken now we de be able to identify without any doubt……important to have everything covered this time!!?

  26. Great stuff there from Malachy Clerkin today – your own contribution Willie Joe was a particular highlight.

  27. Aghamore hammered Charlestown earlier. They could be a dark horse for the championship

  28. Chris barrett, Tom parsons, seamie o Shea and Alan Dillon were all out injured this evening

  29. I’m not sure was Dillon injured. He started on the bench but came on and scored a point from play.
    Conor Loftus didn’t play either I think.

  30. Anyone hear what county players did well today? Freeman and Harrison looked sharp for aghamore

  31. Yeah, heard it tonight and in the McWilliam from an Aughamore girl, Freezer was brilliant!

  32. Aghamore have had a big injection of talent, by contrast Charlestown have no underage coming through. This result was on the cards.

  33. Kirby drills three past the Deel Rovers keeper as Rochford watches on. I’ve been saying it since the news of the cull broke….it was a big mistake to drop Kirby from the panel.

  34. I’m sure Rochford could bring Danny Kirby back into the panel again if he wants I think he would be a very useful addition

  35. There are two things here.. he’s either saying to Kirby’s your not suitable for the style of play I have in mind going forward and as such it’s only fair to let you know you are not going to see much game time and other players are in the pecking order ahead of you.. hence your’e let back to your club. Or.. he’s watched him in a few games and said this lads not putting in a proper shift and needs a kick in the hole and so dropped him. If its first scenario then we will not see Kirby back this summer.. if its the second then this could be the best thing he ever does for the lad.. if Kirby’s wants it bad enough he will have to show it consistently at club and it won’t go unoticed.. any player that starts scoring for fun in the club league and championship I would guess the door is always open (don’t know this for sure but it makes good management sense) and would be invited back in A v B games to see where they are at.

  36. I agree Kirby has something to offer as does Neil Douglas IMO. Cant blame Rochford though, Castlebars run in the Club Championship gave them little or no chance to make an impression. A couple of challenge games isnt really enough. I would expect these guys to get a good run in the league next year (unless Castlebar go on another run).

    It is good in general for Mayo football that quality players are finding it difficult to break into the panel, shows that we are building real strength in depth in the County.

  37. Captain fantastic Stephen Coen played very well for holly mount yesterday evening. The O Connors were off form. Holly fully deserving of their win though

  38. Alan Dillon starting on the bench for Ballintubber and included in the Mayo championship panel! Am I missing something here?

  39. Some players are happy to concentrate on club football and possibly don’t have an interest in pushing for places on the mayo team..a lot of sacrifices to be made to compete at inter county level..not everyone wants to make them..

  40. If SR is thinking about maybe meeting Dublin later in the year , then he knows it’s all about pace. From what I’ve seen of Danny , he seems a bit lacking in that dept.

  41. Yes, presumably Reape has this, though I didn’t see much of it in the match against Dublin where he failed to make a decisive impact, though he did show flashes.

  42. Could someone please tell me wether the London game is live online or not thanks . Otherwise it’s midwest witch is no harm either. Thanks

  43. Not 100% sure but I think Irish TV are showing adding it John. That’s Sky channel 191.

  44. Thanks all, by the way, for the comments on Malachy Clerkin’s piece in yesterday’s Irish Times that I was featured in. Just to answer your question, HopeSpringsEternal, it was indeed very enjoyable to chat with Malachy and he’s a fine writer. The piece he wrote recently in the Best Club in Ireland series in the Irish Times about the local golf club his late father was involved with was wonderful and rather moving.

  45. Up to 4 votes now for Leitrim!.
    Imagine Cillian,Aidan & Evan staying inside as a FULL full-forward all season…with Diarmuid & Conor Loftus coming in from the wings-is there a back line anywhere to cope with this firepower now.Higgins reintroduced to 11 to create further panic?…death by a million cuts!

  46. Your welcome WJ, I must check out that article you mentioned about by Malachy, it sounds like an interesting one, he is a fine writer alright. He is one of the few GAA writers who you feel writes with no agenda attached to his writing, which is great to see.

    I thought that was a very interesting stat that he mentioned:

    (Between them, Kilkenny, Dublin and Kerry have won 20 of the 32 All-Irelands since the turn of the century. They’ve been runners-up in another eight. Of the past 25 seasons, only two – 1996 and 2001 – have ended without at least one of them contesting a final in September.)

    It just shows what the rest of us are up against!

    @ John Jennings, I was checking that out for you but I couldn’t find any mention of the game been shown live anywhere. Irish TV (channel 191 on Sky) sometimes show games live, so it might be no harm to keep an eye out on that channel to see if they mention about showing the game. I remember in the past seeing an Up for the Match, type programme on there, a preview before the Mayo v London game. I’ll keep a look out as well and post it on here if I hear of anything.

  47. Irish TV although they are the main sponsors of London GAA Ruislip, cannot show the game as RTE & Sky have the rights to the championship. I’d happily do a live periscope broadcast but I’ve only 2 hands! Maybe someone will kindly offer to do a broadcast at the match?

  48. Got you now, John – I’m afraid I’ve no further intelligence to add on the issue. I’m not travelling to it either so I’m in the same boat as regards following it on the day. I’d be happy enough with Midwest for it.

  49. I played golf last week with Eddie Maguire who played GAA for both Mayo and Meath. Eddie who hails from Blacksod is now Captain of the Blind Golf Society, a gentleman to his shoe laces, an inspiration and a joy to play with. His back swing is severely impaired from old injuries but a great competitor. You can see him here in this video direct link:

  50. Thanks for that WJ, its a very good read alright that article. He is a great man for the one liners, Malachy, and thats not an easy thing to do, to convey a good one liner in writing. He does it very well, like the one below:

    It would have been a lot to do without.

    I hope that we as Mayo supporters can say that one day about winning an All-Ireland title as Malachy’s dad used to say!

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