The Schemozzle: End of the championship road yet again for Mayo

Monaghan great Conor McManus; Louth dispatch Cork; managers on the move; Dublin’s free-scoring Wonder Woman

Mayo’s dejected Ryan O'Donoghue after missing a penalty against Derry during the championship preliminary quarter-final on Saturday in Castlebar. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

So, Mayo are out — and it bodes well for Derry in the longer term. While Kevin McStay’s men have yet to get their hands on Sam (you may have heard something about their odyssey), by this stage they must surely be the ultimate gatekeepers.

Since 2012, they have lost six All-Ireland finals (four against Dublin and one each versus Donegal and Tyrone) and been knocked out in four All-Ireland semi-finals and two All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Amazingly, Mayo’s involvement in the All-Ireland race has ended against the eventual champions in 11 of the last 12 seasons, with Kildare, who beat them by two points in the famous Newbridge or Nowhere match in 2018, the odd one out.

Following them must be a rollercoaster, especially considering the astonishing number of close matches in which they have been involved. Since 2012, they have been involved in 13 championship matches decided by a single point (eight wins, five losses), five draws and four matches which went to extra time (one loss, three wins).

What now for Monaghan’s McManus?
Conor McManus of Monaghan calls time of a stellar career after the championship game against Cavan. Photograph: James Lawlor/Inpho

We may have seen the last at intercounty level of one of the greats, Conor McManus. The Clontibret man, who turns 37 in November, is regarded as possibly the county’s best player to date, vying for that honour with Eugene Nudie Hughes. Both men began their careers in defence, with Nudie winning an All-Star in that position before making his name as one of the best forwards in the country.

McManus, famously, never featured in the Ulster Minor Championship. In 2007, he lined out in the back line for the Monaghan under-21s who lost the Ulster final to Armagh.

After the first-round win over Cavan (whose full forward was future All-Star goalkeeper and current manager Ray Galligan), Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney noted: “Our switches worked, Conor McManus went to corner back and did very well … his versatility is a great plus.”

Lovely Louth
Louth’s Donal McKenny celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game against Cork in the championship preliminary quarter-final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

You might not have been aware that there is a hierarchy of boots to the gnashers but there you go. When Mickey Harte shocked Louth by upping sticks for Derry, Sam Mulroy described it as “a little bit of a kick in the teeth for us”.

Chairman Peter Fitzpatrick went further: “It was a real, real kick in the teeth.”

Safe to say then that there would have been more than a few smirks had Derry lost that shoot-out against Mayo before Louth’s win over Cork which would have meant that jilted Louth advanced further than Harte’s new beaux. Still, Derry’s eventful run aside, Louth making a first quarter-final must rank as the story of the football summer thus far.

Manager merry-go-round

We’re only at June 24th and already, three counties are on the lookout for managers for their senior football teams.

The first to move on was Carlow’s Niall Carew, followed by Tipperary’s Paul Kelly. Last week, in a not-unexpected move, Glenn Ryan resigned as manager of Kildare.

Vinny Corey, Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher, Kevin McStay, John Cleary, Tony McEntee and Andy McEntee saw their seasons finish this past weekend. History suggests at least one of those will now step down too.

Word of Mouth

The game of hurling has never been as clean compared to 10-15 years ago. Frees and yellow cards are far too often and [it] should be very rare [that] we ever see a red card. [The] game is becoming less attractive to watch for supporters and hugely frustrating for players and mgt. Michael Fennelly on X.

By the Numbers: 3-6
Dublin's prolific Carla Rowe in close attendance on Kildare's Grace Clifford of Kildare during the Ladies football championship match at the weekend. Photograph: Leah Scholes/Inpho

What Dublin ladies captain Carla Rowe scored against Kildare as her side eased into the All-Ireland SFC last eight.