So, no conflict of interest will arise for me, after all, in the All-Ireland club championship final next month at GAA HQ. The bookies may not have been expecting the result, but I wasn’t at all surprised and more than a little delighted (as were my miniature Jackeens) at Vincents’ comprehensive dismantling of defending champions Crossmaglen Rangers in this afternoon’s semi-final at Navan.
Notwithstanding the fine achievements of the Armagh club down the years, I’ve always felt that they’ve more than ridden their luck in a number of those big games (remember that smash and grab win over Ballina in 1999, which I felt at the time – from my vantage point in the upper Cusack – was a bit like watching an impending car crash in slow motion) and that they were well due a hammering.
That’s what they got in the first half, when goals from Mayo’s Brian Maloney and Marino’s own Mossie Quinn helped propel the Vins into a 2-8 to 0-4 lead at the break. Crossmaglen’s goose was well and truly cooked at that stage and, although they staged a decent comeback in the second half, the deficit was far too much to make up. The Vins only managed a single point in the second half but they still won comfortably enough – by 2-9 to 0-10 – in the end. Here’s a short report on the match from RTE.
For Ballina who faced Nemo in the other semi-final down in Ennis, it was one-way traffic but, unfortunately all in the wrong direction. Playing against the wind, a listless Ballina managed to raise only a single white flag in the first half at the end of which they trailed by six points. Stephenites’ hopes of a second-half comeback ended when Shane Sweeney was red-carded and although they did get a late goal from Enda Devenney, they ended up losing by seven points, 0-14 to 1-4, with James Masters notching eight points for the winners. Once again, here’s RTE’s summary of proceedings.
So it’s the Vins v Nemo at Croker on Paddy’s Day, which should be quite an occasion for the folks in these parts. Meanwhile, it’s back to inter-county duty for Ronan and the rest of the Ballina lads. This should, in theory, strengthen our hand in the league though, based on today’s rather disinterested performance from the Stephenites, they’ll need to rediscover a bit of their hunger if they’re to make any discernible difference to the county team.