Wednesday 17 July 2019

Billy Keane: 'Netflix have bought the rights to Mayo the Movie. In this week's episode....'


James Carr of Mayo celebrates after scoring his side's first goal
James Carr of Mayo celebrates after scoring his side's first goal
Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke signs autographs for supporters as the light fades in Limerick on Saturday evening. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

Netflix have bought the rights to Mayo the Movie.

This week's episode included a saved penalty, a wonder goal from a player who has been out hurt for most of the last two years, an unexpected change of goalkeeper, a team ending up with a dozen men on the field, the best player pulls up hurt when he should have been left on the bench, a goal from a 14-yard free with 13 on the line, punches thrown but no red, a ref who was fair to Mayo, and the first Mayo win over Galway in ages.

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This was a massive win by Mayo over their local rivals. The only thing that was missing on Saturday night in Limerick was a one-man pitch invasion from Mayo Mick and Judgement Day.

Next week's thrilling instalment is set in Killarney on Sunday next.

Mayo are the most loyal supporters in any place. They will travel in their thousands. In Limerick, Mayo outnumbered Galway by about ten to one even though Galway is no more than a quick run down the motorway to Limerick. I counted only seven Galway flags in the Mackey Stand.

Mayo is far away from everywhere except Mayo. But the GAA still fixed their game against Galway for a Saturday night.

The GAA is now governed solely by money. We are not complaining about Dublin and money here. Soon enough, we will take you home to Mayo but our journey takes us via the Navan Road in Dublin.

It was 13 years ago and we hosted our good friends from the U-10s out of St Oliver Plunketts Eoin Ruadh in Dublin. Plunketts are the home club of the beatified Brogan brothers.

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John Quilter, my old team-mate from St Michael's, is the Plunketts chairman and we were treated to a lovely day out. John is more Kerry than most but he has worked tirelessly for Plunketts. Appropriately enough, for a man who chairs a club named after St Oliver Plunkett, he never loses the head.

We kept two of the U-10 Dublin boys in our home for the return game in Listowel. Lovely lads. One of the boys was of Kerry stock and the other lad came from Dublin's inner city.

Declan Kyne of Galway and Cillian O'Connor of Mayo. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Declan Kyne of Galway and Cillian O'Connor of Mayo. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Plunketts arranged for kids from socially deprived areas to get bussed out to the club for training. The inner city kid's mam embroidered a hankie. The hankie was beautifully wrapped, with such care and love.

The inner city boy was a credit to his people. He was all go, but his kicking skills were poor. The Dublin and Kerry kids had a game after the real game in our back garden. They loved it and had to be called in several times for the dinner.

The only garden the little Dublin boy had at his home was a window box. There was nowhere to play ball. Gone are the days when kids could boot a ball up and down the road outside their homes. It always saddens me to see a sign outside a set of council flats on the way to Croke Park that reads 'NO FOOTBALL ALLOWED'.

My view is any money spent on the coaching of kids in Dublin is money well spent. You cannot begrudge a penny if kids benefit. And they do. Massively. The Dublin clubs are altruistic. John Quilter isn't out to help build a better Dublin team. He is up for his own club and for a better Ireland and a better Dublin. This is the case with so many country people who live in Dublin.

Tom Ryan, the director-general of the GAA, has said rather than hit at boys and girls in Dublin, the plan must be to bring the other counties up to speed. I would favour curbs on the amount of sponsorship given to the Dublin senior team. They get far too much and nearly all their games are at home, even the ones played at neutral venues.

But today is all about Mayo - Series 10. Picture this. I'm in the press box at the LIT Gaelic Grounds where the perfect surface rivals Lahinch and even Thurles.

There's an imperative. The bar is busy. I'm a bar man. It's Saturday night in the summer. Do I leave early? Mayo are six up and the ref will blow the final whistle as soon as he catches his breath. Then I think. Whoa up there, Bill. This is Mayo. They would never let you travel all this way without a riveting final scene.

Referee McQuillan gives a 13-metre free for Galway. Some of the Mayo boys start pushing and shoving with the Galway forwards. The correct procedure to be followed in such cases is for a player to go down with cramp right in front of where the spot the free is to be taken from.

On runs the physio who stretches the cramped leg and bends it back from the heel. The cramped player grimaces. By the time the spray is applied and the holy water is doused, the goal-line defence is organised. But Mayo were distracted by pettinesses. And Galway scored a goal from the free.

Shrewd Referee Joe McQuillan played over seven minutes of additional time.

Mayo held on and now they will pack out Killarney on Sunday next.

Will Mayo beat Kerry? Maybe. Maybe not. Those who know Peter Keane a lot better than I do say the Kerry manager is shrewd and clever too. He has been holding back. Kerry will improve. Mayo have a lot of injuries and might be tired.

Mayo beat Kerry in the league final and the canny James Horan has found new, fresh players. Every man of them is better than the next. Last week Kevin McLoughlin scored a solo goal. This week it was the turn of James Carr who drove through Galway in top gear. Not forgetting Peter Cooke and Darren Coen who kicked some fine points.

One thing for sure is there will be drama in Killarney with thousands of extras roaring Mayo on from off the main stage. But before Mayo the Movie, there will be Mayo the Book.

When the history of the GAA over the last decade is written, Dublin 5 or even Dublin 4, will rightly be regarded as the greatest team of their times. But Mayo will be the most loved.

That is aside from the citizenry of a few counties, somewhere in the west.

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