Mayo manager Stephen Rochford has been explaining all week why he dropped his regular goalkeeper David Clarke and started his number two keeper Robbie Hennelly in the All-Ireland final replay last Saturday evening.
Rochford said: “We did our analysis on Dublin. They had pushed with a formation in the first game, pushing four guys inside. They were trying to cut off our short kick-out and as the game developed in the drawn game they were getting more comfort or more reward and it was probably something they were going to try and maximise further. Robbie’s kick-out gave us a bit more length, a bit more option and that was the reason behind it.”
Unfortunately, Rochford’s decision backfired. Not only did Hennelly drop a ball which allowed Dublin to score a vital goal, his kick-outs were wayward and favoured his opponents.
Mayo’s demise was not helped by Lee Keegan’s dismissal after a silly trip which again brings into question the unreasonableness of the black card. The Mayo dressing room must have been a sorrowful place to be after the game. It’s unfair I suppose to highlight individuals who were culpable in any game but, the same heroes would be signalled out for glory if they had played well and their team had won.
Mayo by their efforts over the two games have given other counties hope for the future. Hardly anyone would have predicted an All-Ireland spot for the westerners after their league and indeed championship performances. Although Mayo lost by a single point, they have demonstrated that Dublin are not untouchable after all. We can only applaud Mayo for their tremendous displays in the two games. They have done all GAA fans a great favour in rescuing our game from the ashes.
Within Donegal, it seems that Kilcar are untouchable after their annihilation of reigning champions Glenties. Under the influence of my old team mate Martin McHugh, Kilcar have excelled this season. They were truly magnificent in Ballybofey last Sunday evening. We may have a team who can not only win the Donegal title but go on to win the Ulster club title as well. This is not in any way disrespectful to Glenswilly who narrowly beat Malin to reach the senior county final. I believe McHugh’s managerial skills have had a huge impact on his native club. “It will be interesting” as the wee man says himself to see how Kilcar fare against our Ulster counterparts.
In my autobiography, Confessions of a Gaelic Footballer, McHugh gets the full treatment as do the rest of my fellow former playing colleagues. I have come in contact with many managers, coaches, opponents (literally), teachers, made acquaintances and have had accomplices through five decades. If you are shaking in your shoes, then you should be!
I need to clarify that this not a book just about football. Yes football forms a part of the story but it details the comical mishaps and provides an insight into the happenings and events in respect of training and preparation for games. I had notions about writing an autobiography for quite a while now but I never had the time or the inspiration to make the effort.
Last January, I decided to make a start. I started and I didn’t finish until the end of March, night and day. I had no ‘ghost’ writer. I’m afraid of ghosts. I did have a very able assistant and friend in Peter Campbell who had a glimpse around April. He has since rounded, squared, tidied, edited and fixed it.
Donegal won their first All-Ireland in 1992. It was a magical time. I was 31 years of age then. I had lived a great deal of life at that stage when there were many twists and turns. Fast forward 20 years. Donegal won their second only ever All-Ireland senior football title. I was there again but in a different capacity. In those intervening years, an awful lot of water went under the bridge at Lifford. I fill in those lost years for the reader.
People have a very general opinion about inter-county players. Believe it or not, they are very normal and ordinary men. I recall a story back in the day shortly after the final in 1992. I was stopped in my car on the Port Road in Letterkenny waiting for the traffic lights to change. A working colleague of my wife Maura spotted me from her office window. She told Maura that one of those “county football bollixes” was outside waiting at the lights. Maura quizzed her and asked her if she had ever met him (me obviously). She hadn’t but just had that perception. Maybe she was right! By the way, I went into that office the very next day and introduced myself to that young lady.
On a serious note, the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Pieta, Donegal. People have been asking me if the launch (Saturday 22nd October in Abbey Hotel at 8pm) is by invite only. NO, it’s open to all. Bring your friends and family and support Pieta. Basically, in respect of the football content, I tell what Jim McGuinness forgot to tell.