Connacht crown for mighty Mitchels

Castlebar Connacht champs

Photo: @Inphosports

On a day when the country’s attention was focused on that oh-so-nearly historic result at Lansdowne Road – where, as @davidsonjen so wryly put it, the whole country got to feel the way Mayo GAA folk so frequently do – and I was suffering the after-effects of travelling 5,500 air miles yesterday, Castlebar Mitchels’ footballing year came to a triumphant climax as they wrestled the Connacht club title from defending provincial and All-Ireland champions St Brigid’s in dramatic circumstances at Hyde Park.

Down five points at the break and down to fourteen men shortly after the restart, when Barry Moran got a straight red in a match where Marty Duffy eventually red-carded four players, it looks as if Castlebar’s club championship run was going to come up short against the highly experienced Roscommon lads, who today were aiming to seal a provincial four-in-a-row. But, like they did against Corofin in the semi-final a few weeks back, the Mitchels responded to adversity with goals as two second half majors – a Neil Douglas penalty and a close-in effort from Richie Feeney, which followed a first half goal by Danny Kirby – swung the tie their way. A second green flag for the reigning champs got them back in front before Castlebar, via a last-gasp Neil Douglas free, forced the match into extra-time, by which time Brigid’s had Ian Kilbride sent off.

The defending champions erstwhile numerical superiority turned to inferiority in extra-time – with the card-happy Marty Duffy dispatching two more Brigid’s lads to the line – and the same happened on the scoreboard too. As Rob Hennelly had correctly predicted at the end of normal time, Castlebar’s strong bench proved decisive in extra-time as they surged clear to become the first Mayo club since 2007 to claim the provincial title.

Mitchels won in the end by 3-13 to 2-12 and they now await the Munster champions in the All-Ireland semi-final early in the New Year. That will almost certainly be Kerry’s Dr. Crokes – Gooch included – who will, no doubt, be a very tough nut to crack. However, having downed the reigning All-Ireland champions today, Mitchels won’t fear anyone at this stage and with Croke Park on Paddy’s Day now starting to come into view for them, they can with confidence begin to aim for the stars.

Needless to say, I wasn’t in any fit state to go to any football match today. My own club St. Vincents were also in action this afternoon and they won too, getting the better of Meath’s Summerhill by 1-14 to 1-10 to advance to a Leinster final date against Portlaoise on December 8th. I dunno about the rest of you but I’m beginning to think that an All-Ireland final clash between the Marino lads and the Mitchels now has an air of the inevitable about it. If this is how it pans out, it’s going to place me in a bit of a quandary but I guess that’s a can that can be kicked down the proverbial road for a while longer.

Regardless of how the campaign pans out from here, though, today’s a day that belongs to the mighty Mitchels lads. It’s been too long since the county punched its weight at senior club level within the province and it’s great to see that long losing run finally brought to an end. Well done to Pat Holmes and his charges on doing this in the gutsy manner they did today.

55 thoughts on “Connacht crown for mighty Mitchels

  1. Fair play to Castlebar today, like the other matches this year they ground it out when they had to. Today showed further evidence that Marty Duffy hasn’t a clue how to ref a game though and even though Barry was harshly sent off, he definitely assisted Castlebar in drawing the match for a finish. I am amused that you think it is inevitable that Castlebar will beat Dr. Crokes, WJ! Great win to end the year though.

  2. They weren’t fancied to win the last 3 games by many people but they have delivered and delivered in style, so it will be no surprise if Dr Crokes succumb aswell to the obstinate tough footballing side that Castlebar Mitchells have become.
    This side don’t seem to know the meaning of being beaten and if,as has been alluded to earlier and they delivered the ball quicker into the forward line, the scoreline could have been much greater and the battle easier.
    Onwards lads and you’ve done the county proud.

  3. I wonder what the scoreline would have been but for Marty Gobshite Duffy. Big congrats to Castlebar a fine achievement by them against the odds and it will take a top side to stop them now.

  4. A game not for the faint hearted. Great passages of play, superb skill, end to end, near misses, sendings off, woeful passes, near misses, refereeing decisions, will to win, never say die, use of the bench, heart, fitness, commitment, nail biting, tackling, great scores, what more can be said? Congrats Mitchels

  5. Congratulations Castlebar Mitchels on a brilliant Connaught Final victory, made all the sweeter by knocking out the AI champions. Anything from here is a bonus, and having produced some real battling performances to get this far, they have shown that anything is possible when lads put their hearts and souls into it.

  6. Looking at the mitchels and the way their playing, espec. moran and feeney its obvious that we did,t have our best team on the field in the all ire. final in either half and for the life of me cannot understand how ritchie feeney did,t get the call that day……..mind boggling…………..Well done mitchels and great to see 2 mayo clubs in all ire semis now in the new year……..Bring it on.

  7. Incredible day, amazing game. My voice is gone. Some terrific football today and my God, that team’s heart and character is just unbelievable. A huge, huge moment, Neil Douglas’s point a minute from time to put us within a point. A great, clever, composed score that essentially clinched extra time. Tom King was outstanding, as was Alan Feeney. In fact they were all superb really.

    Well done boys. Ar Aghaidh.

  8. Under normal circumstances Brigids are one of the few clubs to match Mitchels bench, Domican,Kelleher,Dara Dolan didn’t start Cathal McHugh,Garvan Dolan had to go off injured and they have to play all of extra time without Ian Kilbride and Darragh Donnelly. take that amount of players out of any side and they would struggle.

    Well done to Mitchels made the most of the breaks that came their way i have a feeling it won’t be the last Castlebar Mitchels v St Brigids Connacht final but it will do well to match that classic.

  9. Great win for Mitchels and always good for Mayo teams to win a Connaught, be it club, County, Senior, Minor etc it creates a winning mentality in the county which is never a bad thing.

  10. Well done. Good to see the Mayo senior club champions winning games outside the county again. Best of luck in 2014.

  11. Congratulations to Mitchells, excellent display. Thoughts are with the family of young Darragh Walsh who was killed in Qatar a couple of days ago. A dedicated young footballer with his club The Neale, and a staunch Mayo supporter. RIP.

  12. Thrilled to bits for the Mitchels and supporters – a great day. Hope the heads aren’t hurting too much this morning. 😉 Makes 2014 even more appealing – Mitchels will have no fear and meeting Dr. Crokes is an appetising prospect. Well done to Kiltane too on bringing home more silverware yesterday …
    Marty Duffy – seriously, something needs to be done. We might need to get onto those lads in Wicklow … 😉

  13. Marty Duffy won the game for Castlebar. The better team in normal time missing 4 talented players lost. Duffy should never be let near a football pitch again. Brigids should have been at least 13 points up at half time. Castlebar were exceptional in the first 15 mins of the second half and if they play like that for 40 mins of any game will win the All Ireland. I wish them well, have no gripes against Castlebar but I do against Duffy. The number 3 that played most of the game around the middle was very good, no 15 was pretty good too.

  14. Well done to Castlebar on a fantastic victory. I did hear John Casey say on radio that it is a pity more of the town don’t get out and support their team. Castlebar have pathetic support following them in umber for a big town. Even playing them in games down the years you would easily outnumber them. Great GAA people in the town and the people that do follow the team but there should be more for the size of it.

  15. re the Castlebar support , maybe we should all get ourselves to the semi final. Im gutted i didnt go yesterday but i will be there for the semi final for sure and there should be an effort made from all areas of the county to attend .

    Its a mayo thing now as well as castlebar , lets get behind them.

  16. True Sean. Was at the Corofin game myself but couldn’t make the Hyde due to local club fixtures yesterday. Will try to be at the semi final and hopefully the final should Castlebar make it.

  17. Hope it get the highlights on TG4 tonight. Is Barry Moran likely to miss the semi or will an appeal go through?
    Crokes are an awesome team but Castlebar are well able for the upset this year!
    Ennis the likely venue?

  18. Great to see the Mitchells dig out a win when it looked like a lost cause for most of the first half and again near the end of normal time. Their refusal to be beaten has stood them well against both Corofin and Bridgits. Let’s bottle it and give it to Mayo ( God willing ) at half time next September.

    Have to agree with other contributors, Duffy is a clown of a referee – players deserve better in such a big match.

  19. Yes they do, Steve – but Crokes are 1/20 with Paddy Power to win that one so it’s not too surprising that it’s being assumed that they’ll make it through.

  20. Yes WJ but you never know. We here in Mayo hate it when we have been dismissed as cannon fodder down the years (only to prove them wrong on a number of occasions) Cork 2011 springs to mind and Kerry 1997.

    All teams in left should be shown respect.

  21. Didn’t know Crokes had the Munster final yet to play. They should have enough but you never know, still have to do the job.
    The Kerry final was on TG4 after the Meath County final of Summerhill and Na Fianna last month, the difference in quality was ridiculous.

  22. Crokes only struggled past the Clare champions last year but they will take that into account and stroll into the semi final. Munster teams nearly always get Munster venues so a trip to Tipp or Ennis is looking very likely for Castlebar.

    Kiltane will play the Cork champions BTW that will be played in Jan.

  23. Superb win for Castlebar. We need big towns like Castlebar to be successful and bringing as many players through as possible.

  24. Let’s not forget Cratloe won the semi less than 24 hours after winning their county final – they’ll be well up for the final and won’t go down without a fight …

  25. Did you see how many Clare senior hurlers are on that Cratloe team?
    I think they are well able to play football at a high level on dr crokes are no dead cert against them. Inter county hurlers are savage fit and tough boys, colm cooper may meet his match in a fella that prefers hurling.

  26. Great win for Castlebar. Good to see them and Kiltane win Connacht titles, just shows the strength of Mayo football . Maybe we can get a player or two , like from Davitts a few years ago for the county.
    Just read James Horan interview in the Western and he seems very positive about the future, where he also says that Ger Caff is on board for next year. Great news to me.
    As an aside after watching the game on Tg4 yesterday ( I’d be the first to admit I know nothing about baking )I wondered is there any difference in a currant cake and a fruit cake.

  27. Did anybody think that Danny Kirby earned a penalty in the first half when he seemed to be taken out of it by a Brigid’s defender as a high ball into the square. I was watching from the middle of the terrace so was not in a great position to judge but it looked like a very suspicious attempt to contest the ball by the defender to me.
    I was surrounded by mostly Roscommon supporters [I love punishment!!!] and they seemed to think Marty Duffy was very good when he was sending Barry Moran off. In fact like most supporters they seemed to think he was very good whenever he was giving Brigid:s a free.
    On yesterday’s performances I would think that both Feeney’s, Eoghan O’Rielly, Danny Kirby and Tom King, if he will commit and take a break from soccer, should be joining Barry Moran and Tom Cunniffe in Mayo’s plans for next year with both Durcan Bros in the U21 picture [I think they are still U21 next year]

  28. Well done Castlebar. Great heart shown against a great team. Agree the ref was dire. Only deserved red card was the Brigids lad in last minute and that was from total frustration. Tough semi now presumably against Crokes whose only test so far was against Cork champs Curran a real character for last 25 years, not many still around like him. Felt the fitness of county lads told late on . I like the look of Eoin O Reilly, he impressed me in minor team of 2008 and has looked good n last few games. Finally well done to Pat Holmes, a great servant to Mayo and manager of our League winning team of 2001 and involved with our U21 champs in 2006. An impressive record to say the least.

  29. In fairness Kiltane should never have found themselves at intermediate level and its doubt if any other Mayo senior side would have beaten both Corofin,St Brigids.

  30. Jaysus Sean. it’s great to have a baking expert on the site. A lot of us are fruit cakes, currant or not. 🙂

  31. Does anybody know when the new Cairde Maigheo jackets will be available?

    Got great use out of my first one but looking forward to getting the new one for being a 2 year member.

  32. Would disagree with you there. People are failing to mention mitchels missed chances too in the first half…douglas missed a sitter on goal and mitchels had others too but yet again they started slowly. I agree marty duffy was a disgrace and morans sending off was a yellow card offence not a red. He had committed himself and couldnt back out…clumsy more than anything but no intent. He was driving forward and doing well in midfield before being sent off so had mitchels had him bridgets would have struggled to turn the game around. Also I believe mitchels’ sending off put more pressure on them as they had to go 25mins in normal time without big barry. Bridgets had a man off at end and back to 15 in normal time. The next sending off was bizarre but mitchels were always gonna have the legs on bridgets. Finally blaines sending off was at the depths so u could say it was too harsh reds one for each team that had the major effect. IN CONCLUSION MARTY DUFFY IS A DISGRACE AND SHOULD NOT BE LET NEAR A WHISTLE AGAIN OR WOULD WANT AN ALMIGHTY KICK UP THE ARSE

  33. You could even say a connacht thing now 😉 agree re the support in castlebar that those who follow are die hard gaa men

  34. Agree with u re. The penalty and the last paragraph. I suppose when a club has a run to all ireland club stages you shouldbe taking a few players from them (ballina and mayo panel a few years back spring to mind). Didnt think the bridgets fans were the nicest supporters myself but some ros followers that at county games.

  35. Definitely, he has what we are lacking in our forward line. Pace, tons and tons of stamina, is not afraid to take his man on and is beautifully balanced, see the way he side stepped his marker in his build up to Feeneys goal! He may not be the biggest but his movement and balance are something that we don’t have in our forward line. He reminds me of James O’Donoghue from Kerry, high praise indeed but plays with a similar style.

  36. The man I would truly love to see coming in alongside Horan as assistant is Tony McEntee. Former Armagh All-Ireland winner and he just stepped down as Crossmaglen assistant manager after a number of years there. Proven success at club and county and noted for his skills-based attacking style of football. He possesses the mental toughness we need and he has the ability to communicate that to his players. An “outsider” too which means he will not be affected by the malaise of numerous final defeats.
    He carried on the style of football at Crossmaglen that Joe Kernan had begun and is alone up North is playing a kick-passing man-to-man attacking game where all players hold their zonal positions. No blanket defense, no withdrawn half forward playing in a sweeper position, no diagonal hand passing movements up the field. Speed, movement and skills.
    A tough hard fucker as a player as well. That helps.

  37. Tom king looks extremely light for inter county football. Nice forward an’all but too light
    Kirby is the type needed

  38. Along with pace, balance and stamina, King also has great vision and is definitely well worth a look for Mayo. He may be light but the skill level is very impressive and you’d have to think he’d be much better playing on summer sod.

  39. Yeah, he would be in the squad in January in my opinion but he is travelling next year unfortunately.

  40. I like the way Tom King plays and definitely should get a run in the league if he stays around. I would like to see him against a top class inter county corner back before making a final judgement on him. I’m not sure Danny Kirby is at senior IC standard yet. He looks a bit raw at times but he is still very young.
    I’m a great fan of big Barry but he definitely deserved a red card -it was a really dangerous tackle that could have broken the lads neck and I don’t think he was that committed to the tackle that he couldn’t have pulled back a bit.

  41. Its time for me to let it go, but over-turning the linesman on a clear line call for Brigids over two mins into alloted injury time was baffling. Later on he signaled the game over, but to give a red card to Kilbride and a free in to Castlebar. Brigids had two clear peno calls around the time they hit the butt of the post in the first period of extra time. The first point for Castlebar was no free in, he also gave Brigids two stange handy frees for points, agree with comments around Barry Moran, he was commited to make the shoulder and should not have walked, neither should Kilbride or Donnelly. Its a pity we are talking about all the negatives cause it was a hell of a game.

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