It was a weekend off for the county’s senior footballers, as next weekend will be too, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any action of interest taking place, and some which did even involved members of the senior panel.
First up there was some U21 activity, with Tony Duffy and his colleagues taking the opportunity to get a few challenge matches in ahead of the county’s forthcoming U21 Connacht semi-final against either Galway or Sligo in a month’s time.
On Friday night his charges took on Donegal where they narrowly lost out by 0-9 to 0-8. I’ve no idea where that match was played or who lined out for us but I know both of these facts in relation to the second U21 challenge match held over the weekend.
This one took place on Saturday against Clare in (fittingly) Claremorris where our lads came out on top on a 3-11 to 1-8 scoreline, having trailed 1-4 to 0-4 at the break. This was the Mayo team that lined out for this match:
Mayo (U21 Challenge v Clare, 16/2/2013): Rory Byrne; Aidan Butler, Niall Freeman, Brendan Harrisson; Conor Horan, Conor Walsh, Eoin Collins; Danny Kirby, Eoghan Lavin; Fergal Durcan, James Shaughnessy, Ryan Quirke; Darren Coen, Conor O’Shea, Michael Forde.
I can’t, I’m afraid, shed any light on who scored what for us in Claremorris. All of the above U21 information is, by the way, culled from the ever excellent source that is @MayoGAA.
Next, there was yesterday’s club action where Roscommon and Connacht club champions St Brigid’s, managed by Kevin McStay, upset the odds by edging out defending champions Crossmaglen in a tense All-Ireland semi-final at Mullingar where fortunes swayed back and forth before the Rossie lads finally made it into the winners’ enclosure by the minimum margin.
St Brigid’s odyssey now takes them to Croke Park on Paddy’s Day where they’ll face Dublin’s Ballymun Kickhams, who upset an applecart of their own in their semi-final against Kerry’s Dr Crokes at Semple Stadium, toppling the fancied Killarney side by four points. And it’s not only the Rossie lads who’ll have a Mayo connection at HQ either because Ardnaree’s James Burke – who played for the county a number of times during James Horan’s first year as manager in 2011 – is a regular at wing-back for the Dublin club.
Another delicious twist to next month’s final is the fact – pointed out yesterday by @edmcgreal – that Kevin McStay played his club football for a time with Ballymun. And that’s saying nothing about all that green and red that’s set to be waved around at Croke Park on the big day.
Onto today’s interpros where Connacht were unlucky to lose out to Leinster, going down by a single point in what must have been a cracker, as it finished 1-21 to 1-20. The Connacht lads – who included within their ranks David Clarke, Ger Cafferkey, Lee Keegan (at wing-back), Jason Gibbons, Seamus O’Shea, Jason Doherty and Michael Conroy – seemed to be on their way to victory, as they led by five points at the match entered the final quarter, but then Leinster then hit six points without reply, four from Bernard Brogan (who ended up with nine points to his credit, to nick the tie by a single point. Match report from RTÉ is here.
Both of today’s interpro football semi-finals were very tight, as Ulster squeezed past Munster by the minimum margin as well, and both matches featured plenty of top talent from all four provinces. It’s just a pity that these matches were played at this time of year: I still believe that the Railway Cups can be rescued as a meaningful part of the GAA calendar but only if they’re given a proper slot – right after the All-Ireland, with some kind of tie-in to the All-Stars would be my choice – and some decent marketing welly (like the kind devoted to that Aussie nonsense).
Finally, it was sad to hear this morning about the death of Seán Óg Ó Ceallacháin who, in the days before Twitter score updates, was the voice of GAA club results (and more) on RTÉ Radio on Sunday evenings for more than half a century. Seán was, of course, much, much more than this – a gifted hurler (he played for Dublin in the 1948 All-Ireland, scoring a goal in his county’s defeat to Waterford that year), journalist, author and playwright as well as a broadcaster, he was one of the essential voices of the GAA for several decades. May he rest in peace.