Photo: Irish Mirror
I’m a bit stiff and sore and slow to get going this morning after a fairly fast and hard 80km on the bike down in Clare yesterday. As some of you have already noted in the comments, though, there was significant news from the weekend’s club championship action that’s worth mentioning so I may as well do so. Not least because, in a welcome a change when discussing club action at this time of year, the news in question is positive rather than negative.
Cillian O’Connor missed a fair chunk of this year’s spring action with knee trouble and Noel Connelly admitted a few weeks back that it was touch-and-go if the Ballintubber man would be okay to line out for the county against Galway in Salthill on 14th June. The word I was hearing was, however, that all should be okay on that front but it was still a major surprise to see him appearing for Ballintubber in yesterday’s club championship clash with Ballinrobe.
Cillian came on as a second half sub in yesterday’s game and while he didn’t remain on the pitch until full-time, that had nothing to do with his state of fitness. Instead, he got shown a black card (you do still remember the black card don’t you? It was meant to be brought in for inter-county matches too but the idea never really caught on) after just 16 minutes on the field, in which time he’d contributed a point to Ballintubber’s tally.
The importance of Cillian’s return to fitness can’t, in my view, be understated. Quite simply, we’re a different – and far less potent – team in his absence and without him our attack is often blunt and lacking in incisiveness. And that’s to say nothing of what he brings to the party from placed balls, which has frequently been more than the difference between winning and losing. If we can now assume that he’s okay for Salthill (and I hope that we can) our chances of recording a third championship win on the trot over Galway at the venue will have been boosted significantly.
In case you haven’t seen the link in the comments, Colm Gannon’s round-up of the weekend’s club action in the Mayo Advertiser is here.
Elsewhere, the Rossies did the needful against London over in Ruislip yesterday and so now face Sligo in Markievicz Park on 21st June in the semi-final. By the time that one throws in, the winners’ opponents in the provincial final should, of course, be known.
Finally, it was once again a case of hard luck for the county’s hurlers, who went down to their third Christy Ring Cup defeat of the year on Saturday, this time in a relegation play-off against Wicklow at Cusack Park, Mullingar, on a scoreline of 1-18 to 1-11. It’s now a case of last chance saloon for the hurlers as they face a promotion/relegation play-off against the winners of this year’s Nicky Rackard Cup, which they’ll need to win to retain their Christy Ring status for next year. That play-off (which will be against either Armagh or Roscommon) is pencilled in for 13th June.