Second half goalfest secures Connacht three-in-a-row for minors

It was, deservedly, the Rossies who left McHale Park today with most of the plaudits and fair play to them too for the way that they made such a nonsense of those (admittedly daft) pre-match odds to seize an unexpected 20th Connacht title over a Sligo side that failed to reach the highs they achieved when beating ourselves and Galway on the way to the final and whose indiscipline at the back proved suicidal, given Donie Shine’s awesome freetaking ability.  The Rossies will savour this provincial win like a precious jewel, all the more so because it looked as likely as a Fianna Fail overall majority in the next election at the outset of the championship.  They’ll now head to Croke Park in great mood, knowing that 2010 will go down as a success for them, regardless of what happens from here on.

We can only look in at all this from the outside but the minors’ excellent win over Galway in today’s curtain-raiser at McHale Park is worthy of celebrating too.  The lads’ victory completes a provincial three-in-a-row for the county at this level and it means that, for the third year in succession, it’ll be the minors that’ll maintain our direct interest in the championship as we head towards August.

Our five-point margin of victory, on a 3-9 to 1-10 scoreline, suggests that the win was a straightforward enough one but it looked anything but at half-time.  Sure, we’d opened brightly enough, with Danny Kirby pointing within two minutes, and we then led by five points to two a little after twenty minutes, with Ryan Quirke’s point from play being followed by three frees from roughly the same position all being converted by Cillian O’Connor.

But just as we seemed to be taking control, the Tribesmen got a goal at the other end that came against the run of play when goalie Paul Mannion made a hash of an attempted clearance, allowing Paul Varley to claim the game’s first major.  Galway then followed up with two quick points, the first from a free and the second from play, to open a two-point lead for the visitors.  Our lads steadied themselves, though, with points from play from Darren Coen and Sean Kelly to leave it all square at the break.

Galway got the opening score of the second half and when Cillian O’Connor missed two frees, the second of which was well within his range, it looked as if the match might be on the point of running away from us.  That second miss was our eighth wide of the game and our failure to take the chances we were creating was raising obvious worries about our ability to close the deal.  A blistering six-minute spell ensued, however, at the end of which the match was as good as over.

Cillian O’Connor started things off with a burst into the square where he was hauled down.  Danny Kirby buried the resultant penalty in the bottom right-hand corner and, straight from the kickout, we broke foreward again, with Darren Coen unleashing a piledriver to the net from 20 yards out.  The young Tribesmen got one back from play but this was cancelled out by another Cillian O’Connor free before Coen netted for a second time to end the game as a contest, with just under fifteen minutes left to play.

The match, understandably, petered out from there – Galway tacked on four points to bring down the winning margin into more respectable territory, while we only managed a single additional point, which came from the boot of substitute Conor O’Shea.  It was a comfortable win in the end but this was solely due to the fusillade of second-half goals, which turned what was up till then looking like a tight contest into a canter to the winning line.

Next up for the minors are the Leinster finalists Offaly in an All-Ireland quarter-final tie to be played at some stage over the August Bank Holiday weekend  and, if they win that one, either Kerry or Tyrone will be waiting for them in the semis three weeks after that.  With Cork and last year’s winners Armagh also still in the hunt for minor honours, it’s obvious that capturing the Tom Markham Cup this year will – as we know full well from the last two campaigns at this level – be a tall order.  But today’s win provides plenty of encouragement about the will to win that Tony Duffy’s young charges have and so they can now head off to the All-Ireland quarter-finals with a fair degree of confidence about how they’ll fare there.

MAYO: Paul Mannion; Brendan Harrison, Niall Freeman, Ciaran Twomey; Ryan Quirke (0-1), Conor Walsh, Conor Horan; Danny Kirby (1-1, goal a penalty), Sean McGarry; Fergal Durkan, Mícheál Forde, Sean Kelly (0-1); Cian Costello, Darren Coen (2-1), Cillian O’Connor (0-4, frees).  Subs: Jack McDonnell for Costello, Adrian Leonard for Kelly, Conor O’Shea (1-1) for Forde.

23 thoughts on “Second half goalfest secures Connacht three-in-a-row for minors

  1. Fair dues to the the Rossies, I thought that after we beat the arse off them last year that they would be a few years in the doldrums. Amazing what a bit of heart, belief and a good free taker can do.

  2. Yeah congrats to the Rossinieri.

    Just shows that if you can come back from a thrashing like they got last year there is no reason why we cannot be smiling 12 months from now with hard work and focus and of course the right manager.

    Fair play to our minors! Nice to have some silverware to show for the year. Galway haven’t won a Connacht championship at any level for 2 years now!

    By the way, and sorry to use your blog as this forum Willie Joe, but does anybody know what happened There is a Light That Never Goes Out – seems to have been quenched?

  3. Congrats to the Rossies. A breath of fresh air in terms of the style with the old long ball into the full forwards utilising the open spaces. Mayo deserved the minor and it was always going to be diffciult for Galway with the absence of their two 1st choice midfielders and one of the defenders through injury. If these lads are back for the q/f Galway will have a big say in the minor championship yet.

  4. Was at the match yesterday, great game well done to the minors, some great scores taken. Have a few clips taken of the match, will let ya know when i’ve them uploaded.

  5. That’s great, Mick – looking forward to seeing the clips.

    Offaly were beaten by Longford (them again!) in the Leinster final. I don’t know a whole load about them, apart from the fact that they murdered Longford in the opening round in Leinster (by a margin of 19 points) but then lost to them by six in the final (they obviously have some kind of backdoor system within Leinster).

    Didn’t realise Galway had so many out with injuries yesterday. It could, I guess, have been a very different game yesterday had they been at full strength.

    From what I know, it was too much work rather than too little passion that caused TIALTNGO to stop blogging regularly. Like the Mayo team, though, I wouldn’t write him off totally just yet!

  6. Never thought I would say it but here goes…well done Roscommon. Mainly because Sligo were getting more insufferable by the day. Lets not run amok here. That result shows how poor Mayo and Galway really are. Ros were as hungry as Sligo and beat them. This was a team with one win in division 3 and walloped by an average Mayo last year. The Connacht final is a reflection on how poor Connacht is rather than how good Sligo or Ross are. You dont believe me? Two words then….Wexford (and) Longford.

  7. That’s right and I’d say that how Sligo and Roscommon fare from here will bear this out. The last team from Connacht to make it as far as the All-Ireland semi-finals was ourselves way back in 2006 and I can’t see that changing this year either.

  8. Willie joe i have them cilps uploaded now to my channel ( mayomick1 ) on youtube. The picture came out ok, for an amiture cameraman, apart from them damn poles!

  9. Thanks for that, Mick. For anyone who wants to see the clips from yesterday, they’re at That was a really well taken penalty by young Kirby, cool as you like. O’Connor is a fine freetaker as well, not quite up there with Shine but more accurate from distance than anyone else we have currently (apart, maybe, from Aidan Walsh).

  10. Good to see Ros use the long ball into the forwards alright, it’s so little used nowadays it’s a surprise to some defences. Connacht football is at a low ebb now, but I think this is due to management teams not getting the best of of their panels rather than lack of players… Big Joe has no good midfielders, granted, but why ditch Big Barry Cullinane who can at least stop a good midfielder from playing? Mayo stuck to wrong tactics too long, and Johnno must take the rap for not getting any spirit into Mayo. The West will rise again next year I hope, but for now Ros need a handy draw and Sligo need to do a whole lot of healing in a week. One good thing is that minor teams from the Wesht have done well in recent times.

  11. The only minor team in the West I hope that does well is our own. We are starting to see the damage the Ros minors of 2006 are doing, soon it will be the Galway 2007 ones troubling us. Time we won it for us, not the West. Just looking at a few stats re Rossies. They seem to be a start of a decade team. Won Connacht in 1943, 1952,1961/62,1972,1980,1990/91,2001,2010. Never can discount them. Poor old Sligo did.

  12. Looking at Donie Shine yesterday and remembering he was minor in ’06 I wonder is it time to bring Aidan Walsh to the senior team. Shine kicked a lot of long range frees and I doubt any man on the Mayo seniors could come anywhere near that kind of consistency. Andy Moran kicked a 45 against Longford but his ratio of success is about 1 in 8 or 9. A reliable long-range free taker is vital at senior level. Something we have been missing since Maurice Sheridan really.

  13. That’s very true, Kev – Aidan Walsh has kicked some phenomenal frees at minor level and you’re right that his range and accuracy far exceeds anything we’ve been able to manage at senior level. Along with the likes of Kevin Keane, Shane Nally and Eoghan Reilly, I’d say the new regime will be looking to see how Aidan handles senior next year.

  14. Does anybody know when the Quarter is on? Will it be in Croke Park before one of the Senior quarters?

  15. It’s on the Bank Holiday weekend, Esther, but the date, time and venue have yet to be confirmed. Depending on who is up against whom in the senior quarters, I suppose there’s a chance our match could be played at HQ but I’d be doubtful that this will happen. Hyde Park, or else the unhappy hunting ground that is Pearse Park in Longford are the likely neutral venues. If we get past Offaly, our semi-final – against the winners of Tyrone and Kerry – will be on the 22nd of August. One hurdle at a time, though.

  16. I don’t want to sound as if I am picking on others but we shouldn’t be hoping to avoid Pearse park or any other venue. We need to get away from that type of thinking and play any hand we are dealt in future.

  17. The Quarter Finals are usually played as a double bill involving the teams from Connacht. So Mayo/Offaly and Galway/Longford is a likely double header in Ros I would guess?

    Ros certainly are getting mileage out of their minor class.

    But remember we have had a group that have not been managed for 4 years. The cream of 2006 will shortly be coming into their prime. We won 4 Connacht u21s in a row, and have won 3 minors in a row. I think the likes of Kevin Keane, Shane Nally, Cathal Freeman, Cillian O’Connor, Aidan Walsh, and that’s just off the top of my head give us a very bright future.

    For all of our faults this year our team was very young and will come again.

  18. Good man Bingo bus, thats what i like to hear, a bit of positivity. This was a freak year for Mayo senior football, we will not have one again, there is like you have pointed out plenty of talent on the way, i also believe that our current senior team did not play to their potential this year, we are not half as bad as the results suggest. Great to see the minors win too but i hear Galway have a load of good minors to come through next year from u-16, supposed to be the real deal for the future.

  19. Your right Bingo Bus but we need a manager and setup to get the best outta them…… has doubted we have the players, our success in underage is up there with the top 3 or 4 in the country. Another reason why this root and branch review is probably a waste of time,they are saying we need to look at all aspects of the game, well bar getting over the finishing line in minor finals (some days your just not good enough, especially at minor, 2008 was the only one that got away imho) we’ve got a solid record in underage.
    We should be focusing now on getting the link working properly between minor to U-21 to senior and focusing on a man who will get the best out of our “conveyor belt”

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