So, it’s off and running once more, the real action of the summer has begun. Today saw two matches of interest from our point of view – both played in Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon – while further North, up in Ballybofey, the nation was treated to a fine display of pulling, dragging, pushing and all kinds of cheating in front of the cameras of The Sunday Game.
The match of most immediate interest from a Mayo GAA point of view was, of course, today’s curtain-raiser in Carrick, where the county’s Junior team were bidding to claim a first provincial title at this level since 2012 when they faced off against a strong Galway side.
After a ropey enough start, an Andrew Farrell goal midway through the half put our lads briefly into the driving seat but the sides went in level at half-time. Although the Tribesmen got the first score after the break to reclaim the lead, Sean McLoughlin’s charges were soon back in the ascendancy and they had established a three-point cushion as time was running out. It was all Galway in the closing stages but all they could manage in this period was one further point, as our lads held out for a gutsy 1-12 to 0-13 win.
The newly-crowned Connacht champions will next face British opposition (over there, as far as I know), in the All-Ireland JFC semi-final which is due to be played on 25th July. If they come through that one, the All-Ireland final is scheduled for 8th August.
A match report from the Mayo Advertiser on the Juniors’ victory today is here.
In the day’s main event at Carrick-on-Shannon, meanwhile, Galway did what they needed to do to book a date with our lads in four weeks time. By all accounts, they didn’t exactly set the world alight today but it sounded like they had no need to, as they were always in control against a pretty limited Leitrim outfit.
Our Connacht SFC semi-final against Galway has now been confirmed for Pearse Stadium, Salthill, on 14th June with a 4pm throw-in.
And so onto Ballybofey and today’s ill-tempered clash between Donegal and Tyrone. Donegal were expected to win and they did and the match was expected to be dominated by the usual tedious macho bullshit that these two counties repeatedly serve up, which it was, so pretty much everything went to script.
I’m no fan of Donegal – and would, in truth, have liked to see the both of them lose today – but Tyrone’s antics as time was running out made their defeat a richly deserved one. All the usual tactics came out – including Sean Cavanagh starting a tangle with Neil Gallagher, the sole purpose of which was to get the Donegal man, already on yellow, sent off – but this time they were to no avail, with Cavanagh himself getting the line soon after for a stupid high tackle.
I could say more but instead I think this rather brilliant 8-second video sums up the whole sorry affair better than any further words could do.
Finally, commiserations to the county’s hurlers who, at half-time in yesterday’s Christy Ring clash with defending champions Kildare at James Stephens Park, Ballina, looked well on the way to causing a major upset. They led at that stage by nine points – thanks in no small part to the turbo-charged injection provided by Keith Higgins who was a late addition to the starting fifteen – but the Lilies reeled them back in after the break, winning in the end by five points. A report on this one is here.