Eugene McGee: Mayo sum up monotony of League's anti-climax
THE order of the day was ‘nice’ in Croke Park yesterday for the first big inter-county matches of the year. The weather was very nice, the pitch looked really nice and the two games were also nice. Unfortunately, nice games of Gaelic football alone are not what the diehard GAA fan wants.
They also want passion, intensity of performance, touches of class and, above all, really competitive personal battles. So while we were entertained to a certain degree in the two games, it was not far above the level of challenge games in the main.
I had expected a lot from this Mayo team – what's new you may say – because they had won four very hard away games against Kerry, Tyrone, Derry and Cork and I assumed that their morale would be sky-high as a result.
Alas, this was never the case as once again players with high reputations played dismally for most of this game and the forwards in particular were struggling all through, apart from a few classy scores from Conor Mortimer.
It took just one statistic to emphasise where Mayo’s problems were most acute. Thirty-one minutes of the first half had gone by before any Mayo forward managed to get a score from play, by which stage Cork’s forwards had scored six from play.
That was the trend throughout the game, with Cork creating the chances which facilitated the scoring skills of talented forwards like Daniel Goulding and Donncha O’Connor among others. By my reckoning, Cork scored 1-15 from play as opposed to 0-6 from Mayo and that really sums up this disappointing game.
Cork will be happy enough; sure what more could they ask for after a decisive victory? They still have to find places for people like Graham Canty and Eoin Cadogan, but maybe nominating their two best midfielders will be Conor Counihan’s biggest task.
This is another disastrous result for Mayo footballers and looking at the technical deficiencies of some of their forwards in the opening half especially, one has to wonder if their mental attitude to big-time football is floundering.
We have all seen these players play wonderful football often, but when the chips were down some were reduced to terrible levels of incompetency.
Few will envy the hand-holding job that John O’Mahony has to undertake as they get ready for another championship campaign with a tricky away game to Sligo, who looked one of the best teams of the eight on view over the weekend. Overall, the National League remains an enigma because the closer it gets to what should be an exciting conclusion, the more mundane and uninteresting it all seems. A real challenge here for the GAA.
Tragic Philly is gone but he'll never be forgotten
Living, as I do, in Longford and surrounded by Leitrim people in that town I felt particularly sad for the tragic death of Philly McGuinness. The GAA is as indelibly stitched into the fabric of Co Leitrim as it is in Kerry, Tyrone or Kilkenny.
Football is the badge of honour for most young men in the county and when such a dashing, fun-loving but totally dedicated player as Philly comes on the scene, he lifts the whole community.
Playing for Leitrim footballers can often be a frustrating exercise because of the lack of resources, but the presence of this young man from a wonderful GAA family lifted the county and put a smile of the faces of Leitrim football fans.
The sudden nature of his passing has shattered the whole community, but his mother and brothers and extended family can rest assured that the GAA family will do its best to alleviate the terrible pain which now exists.
The intention of naming the refurbished Mohill club grounds in honour of Philly McGuinness will ensure his name is never forgotten in Leitrim and beyond.
Shannonbridge taking the fight to depression
Depression is an ailment which I know has affected many GAA players as well as the general community and it is more prevalent in these difficult economic times.
So when the Shannonbridge GAA club in Offaly open their new pitch on Saturday May 1 with a game between Offaly and Longford at 6.0, there will be no admission charge.
Instead, donation buckets will be available for those who wish to contribute to the Aware charity which helps out with depressionrelated illnesses.
This is an exceptionally generous gesture from the GAA club and is sure to be well supported.