So....about last week

GAA: Comment

An urge to alter last week's article at the 11th hour spectacularly back fired on me as I somehow forwarded my piece from 12 months ago after making the alteration. The absence of sports editor Colm Gannon because of a family bereavement in the Advertiser office meant my mistake slipped through the net and the article from 2017 got published.

It probably didn't make the most pleasant of reading for Kiltimagh folk so apologies to anyone offended. It didn't stop referee Jerome Henry and his entourage reminding me about my mistake before last Sunday's Connacht semi-final. I had to take it on the chin.

The road ends for Balla and Belmullet

It was a mixed weekend for Mayo clubs in the Connacht Championship last weekend as both Belmullet and Balla went crashing out of the intermediate and junior competitions respectively while our senior champions, Ballintubber, overcame the challenge of Leitrim champions Aughawillian.

I fully expected the three Mayo teams to qualify for their finals, the odds were very short for such a circumstance. Belmullet ended up losing in extra time against Spideal of Galway in Tuam. The absence of team captain Ryan O'Donoghue cannot be underestimated. His decision to undergo surgery on a long term ankle injury ultimately deprived Belmullet of their ace marksman.

Although I'm sure it was a very difficult decision for O'Donoghue to make, to cough up the chance to play for his club in a Connacht championship, the long term benefit of his decision will be unmeasurable. A delay in his surgery may have scuppered any football involvement for him in 2019. From personal experience it's better to get an injury sorted as soon as you can - otherwise you risk the chance of developing other more serious injuries while playing through the pain barrier, which ultimately could end up to be career ending - as happened to yours truly at 24-years-of-age. I'm sure O'Donoghue is on James Horan's radar, now he can fully concentrate on getting himself back on the paddock for next year.

Ballintubber still standing tall

Ballintubber's 3-11 to 1-08 victory over Aughawillan came largely thanks to inspiring substitute, Jamsiey Finnerty, who bagged himself two second half goals. Although the final scoreline (a nine point victory ) looked comfortable, this was a very tight contest for the most part and the tie wasn't really settled until Finnerty's first goal in the 44th minute.

Ballintubber seem to be a team that won't emphatically put an opponent to the sword but at the same time they have made themselves very difficult to beat. Their victories over Castlebar, Breaffy and Tourlestrane are a testament to that. Aughawillan's decision to play 15 behind the ball against the breeze in the first half made it difficult for Kevin Johnson s team, who were only ahead by 0-8 to 0-5 at the break, despite playing with the elements. Ballintubber will now take on reigning Connacht and All-Ireland champions, Corofin, in the final in Castlebar on Sunday November 25, a repeat of the 2014 decider that Corofin won on a scoreline of 2-13 to 1-07.

Connacht final will be another step up

I was in Hyde Park for Corofin's routing of Roscommon champions, Clan-na-Gael, on a scoreline of 4-22 to 0-7. Corofin won the game by a massive 27 points, as emphatic a victory as I have ever witnessed. Firstly, it's important to point out that Clan were deplorable in every sense of the word but their opponents were simply out of this world.

Corofin play total football which is a joy to watch. It's hard to comprehend that they were nearly caught in the Galway final by Mountbellew-Moylough and needed a 64th minute point from Micheal Lundy to rescue a draw in their first meeting. The problem facing Kevin Johnson and Ballintubber is - where do you start tactically against such a well drilled and balanced team?

Newly appointed Roscommon manager, Anthony Cunningham, looked on in horror in the Hyde as the best Roscommon could offer crumbled in front of his eyes. When you couple that with the emphatic pasting Roscommon were on the end of in the Super 8's, you'd expect Anthony and his management team to immediately start working on a defensive strategy.

Corofin's massive score was amazingly bettered by Dr Croke's 5 -20, racked up against a hapless St Finbarr's of Cork; all 5-20 coming from open play, which is hard to comprehend. When you consider Cork Champions of 2017- Nemo Rangers - were in this year's Club final and in recent years gone by, St Brigids of Roscommon, have represented their county against the best clubs in the land with distinction, it's hard to get your head around that both County's senior champions of 2018 have been beaten by a cumulative total of 48 points in a provincial semi final, a staggering total. Soon there'll be calls to split clubs in two.


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