Wednesday 11 December 2019

Dillon hints at Mayo return but Corofin first on list

Alan Dillon in action for Ballintubber against Corofin's Kieran McGrath in 2011 - the sides meet again on Sunday week. Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE
Alan Dillon in action for Ballintubber against Corofin's Kieran McGrath in 2011 - the sides meet again on Sunday week. Picture credit: Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE
St Brigid's goalkeeper Shane Curran: 'It's tough, but all good things do come to an end'. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Mayo veteran Alan Dillon has hinted that he is ready to commit to the county's cause for a 13th season - but he will only make a final decision after Ballintubber's run in the club championship comes to an end.

The Mayo champions progressed to a Connacht final date with Corofin in two weeks' time when beating 2013 All-Ireland champions St Brigid's on Sunday in Castlebar's MacHale Park.

Dillon was central to the win, landing two crucial scores when his side were in danger of being overrun by the Roscommon men early in the second half.

And though he has yet to meet with Mayo's new management team, he suggested afterwards that he would be open to continuing with the county, having made his debut way back in 2003.

"Yeah," Dillon replied when asked if he was prepared to return with Mayo in 2015. "I haven't talked to Noel (Connelly) or Pat (Holmes) yet, though I know a couple of the lads met up last weekend.

"We'll see when the club finishes. We'll enjoy Christmas and see then after the new year."

In beating St Brigid's, Ballintubber fired out a warning to the rest of the country as they have now seen off the last two Connacht champions - they beat All-Ireland club finalists Castlebar Mitchells in the Mayo decider.

Progress to a first provincial final is the high point to date of a golden era for the club, having won their first senior championship in 2010.

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"That will give us huge confidence going into the final," reflected Dillon, whose side will enjoy the familiar surrounds of MacHale Park in the final. "We were unfortunate in that the last two times we won Mayo, we got turned over by Killererin and Corofin.

"That left a sour taste because we were seen as a team that could win a county but could never progress in Connacht. The goal this year is to win as much as we can, and we are now 60 minutes away from a Connacht title."

Ballintubber's last campaign in Connacht ended with a one-point defeat to Galway champions Corofin back in 2011.

The Mayo side made the early running that day but were chinned on the line despite Cillian O'Connor racking up 2-3.

DEVASTATING

Corofin have emerged from Galway once more and were in devastating form over the weekend, putting 7-20 on Leitrim champions Aughawillan. They also won their county final at a canter, having 18 points to spare on St Michaels.

However, Dillon believes the defiance his Ballintubber side showed against St Brigid's at the weekend will stand them in good stead.

"Some serious questions were asked of us in the second half and we showed a lot of character and desire to step it up when we needed to and get the vital scores at the right time," he said.

"That's the most pleasing thing but there's a huge amount to be improved on. Corofin will be a tough ask.

"We were right in (the game against Corofin in 2011). We probably didn't do enough to win the game and they got on top in the last ten minutes.

"We got a great start and didn't hold out. Hopefully we'll have learned from that, and a lot of the fellas that played against St Brigid's played in that game three years ago.

"Deep down we probably have some unfinished business against Corofin."

Curran considers future after Brigid's exit

The career of colourful goalkeeper Shane Curran could be at an end after St Brigid's were sent crashing out of the Connacht club championship at the semi-final stage by Ballintubber.

The former Roscommon stopper (43) hinted that his playing days could be at an end after the club's latest campaign came to a halt in Castlebar on Sunday.

"It's tough, but all good things do come to an end," he said. "We've put everything out there on the field for a lot of people. It wasn't to be our day though.

"Time will tell (for me), time will tell. That that's the way football goes. I'll make that decision in time."

Curran had no chance with any of Ballintubber's three goals and he admitted they were unlikely to recover from coughing up those scores.

"One would have to say Ballintubber are a very good team. We knew we'd be up against it coming down here. Look, we've had great days and unfortunately today wasn't to be one of those.

"The goals proved the difference. Any time you concede three goals it's still going to be very difficult for your team to come back into the game. We tried valiantly to come back into it, but that's just the way football goes.

"We've knocked a good run out of it and there is no shame in being beaten by a good side."

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