Okay, maybe the tournament is on its last legs and, while all the action was taking place this afternoon, the GAA top brass may have been tucked up in bed with their teddies Down Under, but it’s still worth mentioning that Connacht had an easy interprovincial semi-final win over Leinster this afternoon in windswept, rain-spattered Kiltoom. They won by ten points, 2-15 to 0-11, to set up a final meeting next weekend with Munster, who edged out Ulster by 1-5 to 0-5 in their semi down in Fermoy this afternoon. The final is on under lights at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, next weekend and that might be a trip worth making, just in case Connacht do manage to win their first football Railway Cup in almost forty years.
From a Mayo perspective, it’s interesting to see that, unlike last year, Johnno wasn’t shy today about peppering his team with our lads – there were eight Mayomen in the starting fifteen and, at one stage in the second half, we accounted for nine places on the team. We had David Clarke in goal, Tom Cunniffe at full-back, Peadar Gardiner and James Nallen in the two wing-back positions, Pat Harte at midfield, Alan Dillon at left half-forward and Conor Mortimor and Andy Moran in the two corner-forward berths. Ronan McGarritty joined them early in the second half before Mort and Andy Moran were subbed later in the half. Andy scored 1-1, Mort and Alan Dillon got two points apiece but it was Padraig Joyce, who bagged 1-4, who was Connacht’s most prominent player today.
I aso see that Johnno gave the Connacht lads a run-out against a Mayo selection under the lights at Aghamore the other night (details here), where a number of newcomers pulled on the Mayo jersey at senior level for the first time, including this year’s minor goalie Robert Hennelly. Ballina’s Ger Cafferkey – who has more than once been touted as our brightest prospect for the troublesome full-back position – donned the no.3 jersey where, according to the Hogan Stand report, he did well against Barry Moran who lined out at full-forward for Connacht.
Johnno also fielded eight Mayo lads in his Connacht selection for that game but I wonder how he managed to do his bainisteoir thing for both teams at the same time. I know it’s a talent in political circles to be able to talk out of both sides of your mouth but that must have been stretching it a bit. Still, top marks for using the Railway Cup to kickstart Mayo’s 2009 season and before any of you Herrin Chokers, Sheepstealers, Ridge Countymen or Magpies start getting shirty, we (that’s Connacht, by the way) won today by ten points.
By the way, our prep for ’09 continues tomorrow, in the form of a match between an Erris selection and another Mayo XV (some details on this one here). The Erris side will be managed by Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly and their team will be drawn from Ballycroy, Belmullet, Cill Chomain and Kiltane. Throw-in for that one is at 1.30pm (winter time – don’t forget to put the clocks back) in Bangor with all money raised going to the very worthy Marie Carolan Fund. Unlike today, the weather tomorrow is promised reasonably okay so this match could draw a decent crowd.