We’re all, I guess, coming down gently at this stage off the high from Ennis and the giddy experience of seeing a Mayo team barnstorm its way to an All-Ireland victory. What’s rare is beautiful, they say, but at the same time it’s a feeling a man could get used to, given half a chance.
I didn’t get to sample any of the homecoming stuff but, from the photos I saw of the Castlebar and Ballaghaderreen events, the lads were given a rousing reception. Only right and proper that they were.
The strong Ballaghaderreen angle to this win gets some focus in the papers today, notably this piece in the Irish Examiner where Sharoize Akram credits Andy Moran for “forcing” him to take up football at the age of eleven. The flying wing-back, who has attracted much media attention since Saturday as the first Pakistan-born player to win an All-Ireland medal, pays Andy a nice tribute:
I was persuaded to play the game. Andy Moran, I put it all down to him. I was sort of made go by him and it has taken off from there. I picked the game up when I was in sixth class about eight or nine years ago and I’ve been playing ever since. He’d be one of the players I look up to in the club. He is a great mentor. He’s the one who got me involved in football and he has helped me ever since.
UPDATE: It’s since been drawn to my attention by Colm Gannon of the Mayo Advertiser that Adrian Hession, Games Promotion Officer, Mayo GAA, has been in contact with local media outlets to clarify that Sharoize isn’t the first Pakistan-born player to win an All-Ireland medal. In fact, he’s not even the first Pakistan-born Mayo player to do so.
This is because back in 2004 the Ballyhaunis club player Urslan Afzal was a member of the Mayo team that beat Armagh in the final of that year’s All-Ireland U16 C hurling championship. Urslan scored a goal for us in that final. So while Sharoize can, with confidence, claim to be the first Pakistan-born player to win an All-Ireland football medal, that’s as far as it goes. Until, of course, he wins a senior medal with us.
Like myself, I’m sure you’ve been sampling some of the local coverage about Saturday’s win. Both the Western People and the Mayo News have oodles on it and I’ll spend plenty of time over the coming days digitally thumbing through it all. I’ve only now flicked briefly through what’s in the latter and plan to get the kettle on, put the feet up and hunker down to go through it later on.
So with the U21 campaign over, what’s next on the horizon? Match-wise, it’s the juniors who, according to a brief snippet I espied in the Western yesterday, begin the defence of their Connacht JFC title tomorrow evening (Wednesday). This match is against Sligo and is fixed for a place called Quigibar, which is a new one on me but is apparently the home of the Enniscrone/Kilglass GAA club. Throw-in there tomorrow evening takes place at 7.30pm.
On Saturday evening up here in Dublin a much more high profile contest takes place, in the shape of the LGFA League Division One final between us and Cork. That decider throws in at Parnell Park at 7.15pm on Saturday evening and it’ll also be broadcast live on TG4.
This was a match I’d been planning to go to but clean forgot about another appointment that has me out of town then. Not only will I not be able to get to the game, I won’t even be able to follow the unfolding action either as I’ll be on the road when the match is on. Still, I’d say the ladies will bring a big crowd with them to the Donnycarney venue on Saturday evening where hopefully the county can land another one on the Rebels.
Finally, the hurlers’ weekend exploits fell off the radar a bit but their win over Armagh on Saturday now means that they’re into the semi-finals of the Nicky Rackard Cup. Who they’ll play then hasn’t yet been determined, as it’ll be the winners of one of the quarter-final fixtures that are due to be played this weekend. The semi-finals have been fixed for Saturday, 21st May.