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Saturday 18 January 2020

The miracle of Magheracloone, Wexford's dual duel, and a spot of bother in Castlebar

Magheracloone Gaelic Football Club in Co Monaghan which was forced to shut after the collapse of a mine caused sinkholes to appear in its pitch.
Magheracloone Gaelic Football Club in Co Monaghan which was forced to shut after the collapse of a mine caused sinkholes to appear in its pitch.
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Here are four highlights from the GAA weekend that was...

'Throwing in the towel was never an option' - The Monaghan club who lost their home and then suffered relegation are on their way to Croke Park

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A little over a year ago, the future of Magheracloone Mitchells GFC club lay in tatters. A giant sinkhole, which appeared overnight in September of 2018, rendered their playing pitches and facilities unusable and left the club without a place of their own.

It devastated the local community in general too, causing road closures and forcing families to evacuate from their homes.

To make matters even worse, the club lost their senior status last year and slipped into the intermediate grade.

Magheracloone have been football’s nomads since then, using pitches of neighbouring clubs and even crossing county and provincial borders to train in the likes of Louth, Meath and Cavan.

Land sinking in Magheracloone GAA Club, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan. Photo: Border Region TV

However the club dusted themselves down and set up a temporary training ground on land near their original base while they play their ‘home’ matches a short hop away in county Louth, on the pitch of Annaghminnon Rovers.

But after winning their All-Ireland IFC semi-final against Louth’s Mattock Rangers over the weekend, where they kicked 15 unanswered points down the home stretch, they are now just 60 minutes from a national title.

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"Throwing the towel in was never an option," club chairman Francie Jones told RTE radio this morning.

"As soon as it happen we put a sub committee together to arrange for training facilities. And we’d be in debt to all the club who offered their facilities, we can’t thank them enough it was very good of them and we are very grateful.

"We have been training pretty much everywhere, all in the locality. As has been well documented as soon as it happened all the local clubs within Monaghan and in Cavan, Meath and Louth offered their facilities and we have been taking them up on those offers. They (the players) put up a lot of miles for training this year and they have traveled a lot and it has paid off so far."

On Saturday week, Magheracloone will look to cap a remarkable journey when they take on Galway’s Oughterard in Croke Park.

Paul Galvin has spoken about the start to his Wexford reign. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Football's loss in hurling's gain in Wexford

It hasn’t been an easy start to life in inter county management for Paul Galvin in Wexford. He's already lost selector Mattie Forde and there have been some unrest over some of his selection decisions.

Last year's football captain Michael Furlong and Kevin O’Grady are no longer part of Galvin's set up and with the hurlers down a raft of players, hurling boss Davy Fitzgerald gave both men their chance in last weekend's win over Kilkenny.

Furlong started in defence while O’Grady featured as a sub as Wexford booked their place in the Walsh cup final with a 12 point win over the Cats in Callan.

Donegal’s Michael Murphy. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Murphy and Letterkenny IT off to a winning start in Sigerson

With everything else that was going on over the weekend, the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon cup wasn’t afforded much of the limelight.

Donegal’s Michael Murphy was in charge of LYIT (Letterkenny IT) for their first outing in the competition as they saw off Athlone IT.

In doing so, @GAA_stats pointed out on twitter that the Donegal outfit became the 28th different college to play in the competition and the 11th to win on their debut.

Brian Walsh of Mayo takes the last penalty of the penalty shoot-out, that hit the crossbar, to ensure a Galway win, as Galway goalkeeper Conor Gleeson looks on during the FBD League Semi-Final clash at Elverys MacHale Park in Castlebar, Mayo on Sunday. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Penalty shoot-outs "for a different sport, not our sport"

For the second year in a row in the FBD league, Connacht’s big guns Galway and Mayo had to be decided by penalties. And as was the case in 2019, the Tribesmen came out on top.

However neither manager displayed any appetite for deciding the game on spot kicks, with new Galway boss Padraic Joyce insisting it was "unfair" on the players.

"It is unfair on the players stepping up and it is tough on the Mayo players and in my eyes that is for a different sport and not our sport," he said.

Those sentiments were echoed by Mayo boss James Horan.

"It suited today that there wasn't extra-time, (but) I'm not sure if it is the right method."

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