U20 tops in tempest conditions

Photo: Mayo GAA

For the first time in three years, penalties weren’t needed to separate Mayo and Galway in the Connacht U20 football Championship as the home side prevailed by 1-6 to 1-4 in dreadful weather at the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence this evening. A shootout is always a bit of a lottery but the wild card in this one was the extremely blustery and wet conditions in Bekan that made it almost impossible for the players.

Galway enjoyed whatever advantage the wind conveyed in the first half, though the wind seemed to be coming from the other side of the Dome – which was the obvious place to play the game, given the prevailing conditions – and blowing hard diagonally across the pitch.

Mayo hadn’t enjoyed a very happy time of it in the pre-season Leo Murphy Cup but they’d had to soldier through those matches without five of their best players who were all involved with the Senior panel. All of them started in this game – Ruairí Keane at full-back, Sam Callinan at centre-back, Frank Irwin and Donnacha McHugh (who was on the bench at Croke Park on Sunday) at midfield and Paddy Heneghan at full-forward. The strong spine this gave to Maurice Sheridan’s team was evident throughout.

Sam Callinan was prominent from the off and he was the instigator of our first attack which could have led to a goal. Cian O’Connell’s shot into the wind went over, though, to give us that early lead.

The halfway point of the opening period was approaching when Galway finally opened their account and then we responded almost immediately when Frank Irwin fired over for us. They scored again three minutes later and that was the scoring done for the first half.

Grainger blasted a monstrous ’45 between the sticks for them soon after the restart. It was the first and only time they were to lead in this contest.

Cian O’Connell responded quickly from us. Taking possession out on the left wing he hoisted the ball into the wind and over it flew.

We then made what proved to be the decisive breakthrough. Galway messed up an attempted clearance, which Jack Fallon intercepted, went round the ‘keeper and slipped it to the net.

That score came five minutes into the second half but a full twenty minutes would pass before the next score came. In between we attacked, necklacing handpasses carefully as the lads made their way up the field in the the howling gale until eventually we’d lose possession and then they’d proceed to do the same.

Eventually sub Bob Tuohy broke that long scoreless period by smashing over a fine score for us. Frank Irwin followed that up soon after with a free and seconds later Paddy Heneghan drew a fine save from the Galway goalie who deflected Paddy’s rasper over the bar.

Six up with just a few minutes to go, the game looked done and dusted. A scrambled Galway goal made things interesting again, however, and a Grainger free reduced the deficit to two. Despite five minutes of injury time being added, though, the young Tribesmen were unable to add to their tally and so we prevailed by two points.

Next up for Maurice Sheridan’s charges is a Connacht semi-final meeting with Leitrim. That’s fixed for Páirc Seán MacDiarmada this night week (throw-in 6.30pm), with the provincial decider down for decision back at the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in a fortnight’s time.

Mayo: Brian O’Flaherty; Ruairi Keane, Fenton Kelly, Alfie Morrison; Aiden Cosgrove, Sam Callinan, Conan Dawson; Dylan Thornton, Frank Irwin (0-2, one free); Tom O’Flaherty, Donnacha McHugh, Jack Fallon (1-0); Cian MacHale, Paddy Heneghan (0-1), Cian O’Connell (0-2). Subs: Mark Cunningham for O’Connell, Paul Walsh for MacHale, Conor Reid for Fallon, Bob Tuohy (0-1) for Dawson, Seán Morahan for Morrison.

The Final Whistle podcast, with Mike and Rob at the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence, is now online on Patreon and is available for Mayo Football Podcast club members to listen to. Join the club here.

33 thoughts on “U20 tops in tempest conditions

  1. The U-20 championship seems to be run off very quickly, with Connacht championship games on every week til the conclusion.

    Hard to learn much about the players tonight, as I wouldn’t have sent a dog out in the wind and rain in Bekan.

  2. Provincial decider was played in MacHale Park last year shouldn’t it be away to Roscommon if they overcome Sligo?

  3. Does anyone know was Ruairi Keane was marking Tomo Culhane ? He did a very good job on him if so.

    Tomo is a brilliant footballer and has a big future with Galway and i expect the same for Ruairi with Mayo, its a battle we could see plenty over the next 10-15 years.

  4. Alfie Morrison was involved with seniors this season too if i’m not mistaken. Terrible conditions for a game but good win none the less.

  5. @Seanie CH not sure who was marking him but If i were from Galway i’d be very disappointed in the Tomo Culhane performance. His basic skills, decision making was very poor on a night and they would have looked to him to lead their forward line.

  6. Alfie Morrison was involved with seniors this season too if i’m not mistaken, Terrible conditions for a game but good win none the less.

  7. God, that was a hard watch. I know the conditions were dreadful, and as for the TG4 cameras, but still, the possession game is doing my head in. Bob Tuohy, seems very promising. The seniors made a difference; Irwin looked assured; a little disappointed with Callinan, though he didn’t do anything wrong.

  8. Seanie CH yes keane marked culhane, also marked him last year in the game in tuam that went to penalties and also marked him in the u17 connacht final in 2019, plenty of battles between those two already.

  9. I just can’t understand why this game was not played in the Dome or was there another game going on in there.?
    Great to get a win over the Tribe at any grade.

  10. Very hard to judge players out there but the following caught my eye to an extent:
    – Callinan. Physically the most imposing player on the field. Still u19, looks to have a long future ahead of him as a Mayo senior. Very similar to Paddy Durcan in my view, but probably more physical and will end up a bigger man than paddy in a couple of years. Athletic and powerful, he’s the modern prototype player built for Croke park really.
    – Irwin. Got on a lot of ball around the middle, clearly a leader for this team as you’d expect at this level having played senior for Mayo. Would like to see him be more direct the next day if the weather is better.
    – Conal Dawson. This guy is a tenacious little battler. Still u18, I think there is something to work with here at a higher level, will be watching his progress closely in the coming years.
    – Cian o Connell. Hadn’t seen this lad before but 2 points from play on a horrendous night for any corner forwards was impressive. Cian McHale had a rough night in the other corner but he’s someone I’d have high hopes for too, however he didn’t look the quickest a couple of times when chasing back… pace is now almost non negotiable at senior IC level as we saw last Sunday.
    – thought the subs Bob Tuohy and Conor Reid added a fair bit when they came in and could push to start the next day.
    – I was watching out for Tomo Culhane but he was pretty anonymous. So Ruairi Keane obviously did a decent job on him.
    – was impressed with the Galway corner forwards ability to kick frees and 45s into the wind, he’s a sweet striker of the ball.
    – hopefully Ethan Henry is fit soon for this side as he can kick those 45s with ease and is a beast physically compared to most lads at this level.
    – a good nights work to beat Galway at this level something we have not done much of in recent years.

  11. Only ended up catching the second half and have to say I enjoyed it. I thought, conditions been what they were, there were some great scores.

    I thought Mayo looked the better team and deserved their win and I hope they keep ploughing forward now.

  12. Why did the Mayo management not leave more forwards in closer to goal with the wind to our backs ..???? Pure daft winning hard breaking ball in the half back line and only option is hand pass as all our full forward line were ” working back ” .
    Good bunch of lads there last night and Mayo should have win by a lot more…
    Alright being in peak physical shape but tactics from Sheridan and Co were unbelievable with the wind …

  13. Thought Alfie Morrison was outstanding at corner back. Had a number of dispossesions. Culhane also kept very quiet by Keane.
    Callinan looked good but had a small tendency to take too much out of the ball, a serious prospect nonetheless. Looks a physical specimen.

    Irwin looks like he has a touch of class about him, again a few silly shots but you will have that at under 20.
    Impressed with O’Flaherty number 10. Good on the ball and seemed to use it quite well.
    Subs that came on made a welcome impact.
    Mayo looked the much better side albeit Galway very poor at times.

  14. Larry and Clubman (posters I respect highly), I must be missing something. As I said, I was somewhat disappointed by Callinan, considering his reputation. He doesn’t strike me as physically imposing, and I did see him up close against Donegal. Last night, he looked a safe pair of hands, but not a line breaker or innovator.

    Convince me!

  15. Watch for Bob Tuohy. As they say, it’s in the Levi’s. He has it in the genes.

  16. Is Ethan Henry a long term injury or can we expect to see him for u20s this year?

  17. Unfair to make any real judgement on individuals in that wind. However although I am not a big fan of possession football Sheridan’s tactics were right for the conditions. Must say though that Sam Callinan was one who stood out but fair dues to every player on both sides for competing in that storm. Yes it would have been better in the Dome but I imagine too many tickets had been sold.

  18. It was easy have a plan B for the tickets. For example if the dome holds 500 spectators – then the first 500 tickets sold – numbers 1-500 have valid tickets.
    If your ticket was over 500 – then your ticket was not valid for the dome and you got a refund.
    Made no sense last night when dome was there not to use it.

  19. Mike Finnerty outlined the reasons for the dome not being used and it’s fairly straightforward – either all games in the competition are played indoor or none, so it’s none, and games are played outside as they have been since prior to the dome being in existence.
    Not sure I get all the negativity around the game and how it was played last night. The conditions were horrendous and if proof is needed of that then all you have to do is look at this tweet https://twitter.com/cartyban/status/1511795547765624838?s=21&t=mQ_ERwsLf4jl89wJ5SoxdQ and that’s even before the element of rain is added in the mix.
    To win in those conditions and to be as dominant as mayo were I thought was a decent achievement, the goal putting a gloss on the scoreline for Galway.
    Horanball is great to watch and very exciting but only when it works and it didn’t work last Sunday. We saw a different approach last night that was more suited to the conditions and won, reasonably convincingly under the circumstances.
    Not sure what people really want, but I can guarantee you that none of the mayo players from last night feel the same way as the mayo lads who played on Sunday did on Sunday evening.

  20. Oisin Tunney was Culhane’s marker in most of the ’19 minor battles….I seem to remember Alfie out injured for a fair bit of that campaign.
    He doesn’t seem to have his best performances against Mayo….thus far at least.

  21. The dome would easily have held the crowd. Seating would be limited but no different to the outdoor pitch.

    Hard to give an opinion on any player last night, especially forwards. Some good defending from Fenton Kelly, Dawson and Morrison. McHugh and Callinan carried the ball forward well. Irwin and O’Connell kicked some good scores in the conditions.

    Having said that, our goal came from a Galway mistake. That made the difference in such a low scoring game.

  22. Hope the senior panel members are left with this team till their Championship is over. Would be crazy for Horan to give them five minutes against Galway .

  23. Conal Dawson at 17 definitely a player of the future. Looked a decent team, despite conditions, they bossed Galway for most of the game… It would make no sense to draft any of them into senior team.

  24. Well done to the u20s. Definitely the better team on the day and deserved the win. Hopefully they can progress in the competition and we get a chance to see them in better conditions.

  25. @catcol in my opinion Callinan was extremely brave and willing in possession and also tackled very hard. Driving forward at every opportunity, I don’t think the conditions suited too many line breaks but felt he was integral to anything good Mayo put together.
    He also seemed to be tasked at times with marking Galway senior player James Mcloughlin and stuck to the task well.
    I know he got turned over once or twice also but he does seem to back himself.
    In my opinion a better option in the future than some of the players we had in defense in Croke Park on Sunday.
    Unfortunately from yesterdays viewing it doesn’t appear we have another marquee forward coming through, hopefully I am proven wrong with better conditions.

  26. Thanks Clubman. I’m not negative about him, and this is evidence. I do like the look of Irwin, and he impressed me inTralee. Better conditions may help us assess further next week.

  27. I’m not a fan of mass defences but have to say that Maurice sheridan was spot on with his tactics last night. That wind wasn’t a simple, straight-forward, one side to another type. It was angled and made it difficult to play with it or against it. Maurice saw the mistakes Galway made in the first with the wind and obviously didn’t have Mayo forcing it second half. Having been at the game, it was obviously extremely difficult to play. Balls rolling off tees and blowing away, goalposts shaking etc. It was a really tough game to play in and both teams struggled bravely against the conditions as much as against each other. Was going to feel bad for whatever team lost. One game is a joke. GAA clearly have no great respect for the u-20 competition.

  28. Speaking of having it in the genes,Fenton Kelly has a bit of it,being a neighbour & cousin of one Colm Boyle.

  29. 2 hops heard that yesterday, he’s another really good young footballer too.

  30. I think people should look back on the game last year between mayo and Roscommon.
    A lot of this team played last year.
    Roscommon destroyed them in the second half,did they learn from last year the jury’s out time will tell.
    Far too much negative football being coached in mayo lately.

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