It was, in hindsight, an inspired decision to shift this match from Claremorris to the Dome.
On my way down from Dublin this morning I’d battled through heavy rain and howling winds but the day down here in the west was fine and sunny for a time. The beating rain outside was, though, clearly audible during the match and, sitting here now in the carpark in the gathering winter darkness, it’s hammering down on the roof of the car.
Speaking of the car, I need to be somewhere else fairly soon so I’ll keep this account of today’s game – if it could be thus termed – short. In truth, this match was merely the prelude to the pre-season so it doesn’t really merit much in the way of serious discussion.
Today’s match was, first and foremost, a fundraiser for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association. There was a decent-sized crowd in the Dome today and, one assumes, plenty more watching the stream on Mayo GAA TV so hopefully this very deserving cause received plenty of well-deserved financial support from today’s game.
The game itself was a useful run-out for all the players involved. There was the chance to impress for some of the lesser-known fringe players, the opportunity for a few returning players to announce their reappearance and, of course, it also provided a stage for the experienced lads to show why they’re still so key to our hopes.
Of the first cohort, names like Tom O’Flaherty, who hammered home a real rasper of a goal in the first half, Diarmuid Duffy, Kevin Quinn, Conor Reid, Conal Dawson and Kuba Callaghan all stood out. Rory Brickenden, Eoin O’Donoghue and Rob Hennelly – the latter a guest on our Final Whistle pod after the game – were prominent returnees while Ryan O’Donoghue, Paddy Durcan, Sam Callinan, Jordan Flynn, Jack Carney and Cillian O’Connor all showed why they’ll be central to what we aim to do this year.
The Mayo selection ran out winners by 7-20 to 0-17. I dutifully kept a log of scorers for most of the first half but the scores were coming so regularly and, given the near-impossibility of telling the similarly attired players apart for this poor benighted colour-blind observer, I gave up that task for the remainder of the game.
It goes without saying – but I’ll say it nonetheless – that the goals were decisive in deciding the outcome. The ones for the Mayo selection were bagged, in this order, by Paul Towey, Conor McStay, Tom O’Flaherty, Cillian O’Connor, Kuba Callaghan, Paddy Durcan and Eoghan McLaughlin.
Mayo GAA have some highlights of the game, which you’ll find here.
Our Final Whistle pod from the Dome is up now on Patreon. On it, I chat with Rob Hennelly and Club Stars co-manager Niall Heffernan.