Following Mayo's footballers

Lovely leathering of Leitrim seals FBD final slot

It was one-way traffic for the lads in Ballinamore this afternoon, where a 1-11 to 0-2 win booked us our place in this year’s FBD final.  The decider takes place under the lights at McHale Park on Friday, 11th February (throw-in 7.30 pm), where NUIG – who are, don’t forget, managed by a certain J Maughan and feature a number of Mayo lads in their ranks – provide the opposition.

Yesterday I mentioned the Mickey Moran connection when talking about this fixture but, not for the first time in the FBD this year, it was Mark Ronaldson who grabbed all the headlines today.  The diminutive Shrule/Glencorrib forward was a late replacement on the starting fifteen for Brian Benson (that’s two no-shows out of three for the Crossmolina man – what’s the crack, like?) and he wasted no time in making his presence felt.  He weighed in with six points in the first half and two more from Aidan Campbell put us 0-8 to 0-1 up at the break.  By then, the match was as good as over.

According to Mike Finnerty on Midwest, the pace dropped waaaaaaay down low in the second half (a contrast to our first two FBD games, where we failed to get moving properly in the first half before taking over in the second on each occasion) and with Leitrim showing no signs of adding to their solitary opening half point, our lads didn’t bust themselves by adding too much to their tally either.

By now, James Horan was busily emptying his bench, with Ciaran Naughton coming on in goals for Kenneth O’Malley at half-time while Kevin McLoughlin and Tom Cunniffe came on for James Burke and Alan Feeney respectively.  Later on, Kilcommon’s James McAndrew came on for Austin O’Malley and Mike Nestor replaced Chris Barrett.

The punters in Ballinamore must have been close to nodding off in the second half because twenty-five minutes passed with only one point – one for us by Andy Moran – altering the half-time situation.  That sounds a bit like waiting for the 123 of a Sunday but then – also a bit like the buses – we added a fair bit more to our total in short order.

Aidan Kilcoyne will go down in the history books (well, the results archive at least) as the man who bagged our goal but according to Mike all he did was swing his toe at the ball as it was about to cross the line. Alan Freeman made the goal, by all accounts, fetching a high ball in and feeding Ronnie who must have been certain that he’d bagged another FBD goal before the loitering Knockmore man applied the coup de grâce.

Andy Moran then got his second point of the half before Leitrim ended a 48 minute lacuna by bagging their second and final score of the game.  Ronaldson, fittingly, rounded off the day’s scoring with his seventh point of the afternoon to complete a facile 12-point victory.

There’s little else that can be said about the match or, to be more precise, there’s little more I can say about it seeing as I wasn’t there and have only been able to embroider together the above account based on the nuggets of information I picked up on Twitter (thank you @ColmGannon, @LeitrimGAA, @edmcgreal and @ClubMayo in this respect) and on Midwest (where I see that Angelina’s taste in music hasn’t got any better since I tuned in last).  No doubt Colm will have his usual quick-fire match report online in the Mayo Advertiser before the evening is much older. (He has – here it is).

So another FBD final now awaits and another evening under the lights at McHale Park on Friday week.  In the meantime, though, a much more high profile outing awaits at the same venue, in the form of our opening match in Division 1 of the 2011 NFL where we face last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists Down.  That’ll be the first time that James Horan and his management team will come under the glare of national scrutiny and regardless how they get on there, they can’t but be pleased about how they’ve fared out over the course of the warm-up phase of their first season in charge.

Mayo: Kenneth O’Malley; Cathal Hallinan, Alan Feeney, Richie Feeney; Chris Barrett, Ger Cafferkey, James Burke; Jason Gibbons, James Moran; Aidan Campbell (0-2, one free), Austin O’Malley, Andy Moran (0-2); Aidan Kilcoyne (1-0), Alan Freeman, Mark Ronaldson (0-7, two frees). Subs: Ciaran Naughton (for Kenneth O’Malley), Tom Cunniffe (for Alan Feeney), K McLoughlin (for Burke), James McAndrew (for Austin O’Malley), Mike Nestor (for Barrett).

Comments

  1. Ronnie is a really good footballer and was very good today again. (On one occasion under the magnificent stand he jinked his way out of a very tight spot with three very menacing defenders about to spill blood and delivered a good ball under the most intense pressure. You cannot coach that!) But we need to remember that his talents were best exploited when the delivery in to him was fast and accurate. When this is well done Ronnie is a real headache for defenders. I wonder how well we can do this when the things get tougher out the field in the heat of championship. Also it must be said that Leitrim were poor today so we will not get carried away.
    Aidan Campbell played fairly well and could be worth sticking with if he continues to improve.
    Jason Gibbons was good and worked hard and is a real prospect. Moran is a horse of a man and I would love to see him in a real physical battle in the middle of the field (the likes of Meath) before passing judgement on him.
    The defence was never under much threat and therefore it is hard to pass comment. I like the way Richie Feeney plays – he is very cool under pressure and can take a good rattle and still play the ball intelligently.
    All in all Mayo did what they had to do without needing to be spectacularly good or anything like that.
    And so it is on to the League and headaches for James Horan as he has to select a team without having had access to many of the lads for long periods. We need to be patient with him.

  2. C’mon Willie Joe, Michael (Micheal?) Jackson’s “Dirty Diana”, how can you have a problem with that?? Either way, surely Angelina’s dulcet tones made up for the music horror show?

    I like the way we’re shaping up.
    I can only imagine the problems James Horan will have finalising a panel. I just hope we don’t end up with a panel that has too may similarities to the last few years. I’d like some of these new lads to get a fair run out in the league. We’ve heard a lot about how the players that show the most hunger and desire will get a chance this year, and I think that’s all most of us want to see happen.

    Anyway, it’s just the FBD. We’ll have more of an idea after the Down game on Saturday.
    I’m heading over for it and I have to admit I’m excited. I think it’s the start of a brand new beginning for this team. Who knows how it will all end up, we’ve all had enough false dawns and disappointments over the years.
    But I like the idea of being around to experience the highs and lows either way.

  3. Fourgoal McGee says:

    It’s great to see the optimism that has returned to the county and I am delighted to see so many new lads getting a chance to stake a claim to a jersey. But is it really a headache for the manager?

    I have no doubt in my mind that James Horan is a clever lad. And when I hear people saying that he has a difficult decision in choosing a panel, I am sure that he has looked at all the options that are available to him.

    If I was in his shoes I would do the following:

    • Use the league to continue to experiment,

    • Talk long and hard with Ray Dempsey about the U21s. Johnno always seemed to have a problem about the fact that they had games in March or April. Leave these players with Ray. They are getting plenty of football as many of them are on Sigerson duty as well,

    • For the league, use only the players that are not getting U21 or Sigerson football but make it clear to the players not being used in the league that their performances are being noticed and that, come the Championship, they will still be in the frame.

    In this way, you effectively run two panels up to the start of the Championship and keep the competition for places on the panel going until early May. By then, the top 25-30 players in the county will be fairly clear.

    But then, as I said, James Horan is a clever lad. He probably had thought of this himself already.

    Keep the Faith!

  4. I would like to see the younger lads get a run in the early stages of the league – O’Connor and anyone else who’s under 21 in particular. I would then rest them from senior duty when the under 21 championship starts. If you just leave them playing colleges and underage only by the time championship comes a settled team will have developed and they won’t have had any game time at all with the first team.

    I can’t ever remember starting a league campaign with the team being so hard to pick, it’s impossible to guess what Horan will want to do this weekend, he may want to throw the likes of Dillon Doherty and Gardiner straight in or he might give the FBD lads another run first – an interesting week ahead.

  5. WJ – the challenge in mid-week is against the U-21s, so will allow mgmt to get a look at nearly the full panel hopefully.

  6. Thanks Tubberman – just heard the same via Twitter. It makes perfect sense as it will, as you say, allow them to run the rule over the lot of them, most likely for the first time this year.

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