He’s the boy alright, isn’t he? Sure, there’s the awful peroxide locks, the hairdresser’s car and the, at times, cringing self-exultation. But he knows where the posts are (well, most of the time) and when he’s on fire, the flame burns with greater intensity than that produced by anyone else in the Mayo colours. And, boy, was he on fire today up in Omagh, smashing in three goals to help clinch a Mayo victory over Tyrone that was scarcely deserved but which will keep confidence high ahead of next weekend’s return to Croke Park.
Today’s match was only going to be relevant depending on how results went elsewhere. For us, that would only happen if Donegal lost, in which case we’d top Division 1A and so play the second-placed team in 1B. For Tyrone, the result would only matter if the Dubs were able to beat Kerry, which would leave Mickey Harte’s men needing to beat us to stay up. In the event, Donegal nearly lost (they were seven points down to Fermanagh at one stage) but won by a point, while Kerry edged out Dublin at Parnell Park and sent Pillar’s boys crashing down to Division 2.
So, today’s result ultimately meant nothing for either Mayo or Tyrone. But I still like the fact that we won it and that we did so despite being pinned back for so long over the seventy minutes. We needed goals to win today and they turned out to be surprisingly easy to get. Conor got the first from a penalty to haul us back into the game, Tyrone having galloped into an early lead. His second came just before the break to send us in a point in front, after having been outplayed for most of the 35 minutes. The third came for Trevor Howley – who came on for Enda Devenney and played a blinder – to edge us back in front following their goal scored by Colm Cavanagh, with Mort adding the fourth late on to seal the victory.
Apart from Mort, the main man for Mayo today was – surprise, surprise – Ger Brady, who ran riot in the full-forward line. He scored three points from play himself and was instrumental in two of the goals. Having played really poorly in both the Cork and Dublin matches (I thought he was certain for the chop after last Sunday), Brady appears to have found a new role for himself and will probably start at full-forward next Sunday, where he’ll add a considerable amount of bulk and power to what has been a lightweight sector for us. And The Brother is happy too – he’s been screaming for such a move for weeks (he’s also claiming credit for BJP’s conversion to centre-back, by the way). I’d say Johnno isn’t crying either.
But The Great One won’t exactly be over the moon about the fact that our semi-final opponents next Sunday will be (cue drum roll) Galway. Oh bother, as Pooh Bear says. This turn of events has happened because Galway won well over Down today while Laois and Kildare drew at Newbridge. (I was at this latter game: an exciting, even tussle between two not very talented teams. I’ve got a few videos from the game to post on the YouTube channel, a chore I’ll deal with tomorrow). These two results meant that Galway ended up topping Division 1B, with Kildare finishing second and so the semi-final lineup is Donegal v Kildare and ourselves against Galway.
I’d say Galway won’t be too unhappy about this turn of events, as it will enable them to learn a bit about how The Prophet is getting on back in his native land. It will also enable them to get the media hoopla surrounding the Johnno issue out of the way before next month’s showdown. I don’t think we’ll benefit much from another meeting with Peter Ford's Galway: I think we know plenty at this stage about the cynical, negative style of play he seems to favour. Oh well – we’ll just have to go up to Croker next Sunday and kick their holes. Not too hard, mind, as we'll want to keep a bit in reserve for next month.