The Sporting Diary

with Sports Editor Peter Campbell

The Sporting Diary

PHOTO:A youthful looking Rory Gallagher in the early 1990s pictured when he was Erne Gaels Senior Player of the Year along with then Fermanagh manager, Pat King and Erne Gaels captain, Brendan Ward.

The Mayo Curse

Score 2-15; limit the opposition to 0-9 . . . and still not win. Surely there is something supernatural working against Mayo on All-Ireland final day.

The Connacht men were superior to Dublin in everything but the scoreboard on Sunday, yet will have to do it all again on Saturday week if they are to bridge the 65-year gap between the county and Sam Maguire.

But will they ever get a better chance? Imagine being told beforehand that Dublin wouldn't score until the 31st minute . . . and that the Dean Rock free would put them three points clear. It seems like a dream from a horror movie.

Also, picture what the Sunday Game panel would have made of it if Donegal had performed like Dublin did in the opening half. Strips would have been torn off them. Yet, here were the Three Wise Men almost genuflecting to the players for the wonderful display that they were witnessing.

They were watching a different game to me. It was a very poor standard final; mistake-ridden is the best way to describe it. The conditions were a factor, but there was also an awful lot of basic errors.

And as for the use of cards, one can only despair. James McCarthy had to watch two thirds of the game from the sideline because he collided with Cillian O'Connor in trying to get forward, thanks to the intervention of linesman Joe McQuillan. All three officials seemed to be unaware of the antics of Lee Keegan in mauling Diarmuid Connolly in all areas of the field; Michael Darragh Macauley and Cillian O'Connor were very lucky to escape black cards . . . and then we were saved with O'Connor's sublime last gasp equaliser.

While there was very poor fare on view, there was plenty of incident. The much-hyped Aidan O'Shea again managed to look mediocre; thank goodness for Andy Moran (why was he substituted?)

Will Dublin be ever that bad again? They were there for the taking on Sunday. On the day Mayo were four or five points a better side, but they still couldn't get over the line. One feels that there might be something to this curse after all?

Rory gets extension

Rory Gallagher got the most of what he was looking for with a new 'contract' to look after Donegal's fortunes for the next three years with the option of a fourth.

Thankfully, the appointment was completed without any great fuss by County Committee this week. There was a brief hiccup last week with a national headline, but in the week leading up the All-Ireland final, Donegal was well off the radar.

Rory Gallagher was always going to look for four years if he wants to do a rebuilding job, and in the end he got most of what he was looking for. There will also always be rumblings around the appointment of managers. Just look at what happened in Galway hurling and Mayo football last year. And there are rumours of a revolt in Clare against Davy Fitzgerald.

It has always been this way. But once the Donegal captain and some of the players went on the record in recent weeks, then the outcome was almost sealed. It is important that players are involved as, at the end of the day, that is the relationship that matters most. Supporters will always vent praise and criticism in equal measure, something which is their right.

Nothing much has been revealed about the plan going forward in regard to backroom team, etc. But with plenty of young talent in the county, it will be a huge task to integrate that talent and build a new team.

Footnote: Rory was not giving any interviews this week. Maybe he could be a secret weapon for his home club Erne Gaels, who will contest a Fermanagh county senior final for the first time in 35 years. He would surely qualify for a free transfer and then could emulate father, Gerry, who was midfield for the Belleek men when they were last in the final in 1981

Big weekend of championship fare

Championship hopes in senior, intermediate and junior are on the line this weekend with semi-final and final places on the menu. One really big gun will bite the dust when Naomh Conaill meet St. Eunan's in the top game in MacCumhaill Park on Sunday evening.

Good luck to all teams.