TV View: Mayo take a tilt at MacHale Park as wind has all the angles
Shaky cameras give pitch Himalayan slope on which Mayo need crampons not studs
Mayo manager James Horan: relinquished his punditing role to put the bainisteoir bib on once again. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/©INPHO
The good thing about the week leading up to the start of the National League every year is that it’s a reminder to batten down the hatches and buy two extra bags of coal because you know it always coincides with a stormy Baltic snap. And so it proved. Indeed, there were times on Saturday evening that MacHale Park looked to be experiencing an earthquake around the 7.9 mark, the squalls making operating the cameras as tricky as controlling a pneumatic drill with a mind of its own.
“Will you miss the warmth of the studio,” Eir Sport’s Mike Finnerty had asked James Horan before the game, Horan having relinquished his punditing role with the channel to put the bainisteoir bib on once again for Mayo. Dressed like he was heading for a climb up the Himalayas the manager insisted he had no regrets, but on the night that was in it you wondered.
Not that his former sidekicks were actually in the warmth of a studio, as it happened, Connor Morris, Senan Connell and Billy Joe Padden given no shelter at all from the stormy weather, all three stationed on the MacHale Park pitch for their chatting.
Connor wondered out loud if Horan would find it easier to end the Mayo curse than he did working with Senan, which Senan found quite harsh, but nobody was more hard done by than Billy Joe who had the job of holding an umbrella above his and Senan’s heads, the fella in severe danger of disappearing Mary Poppins-like over the stand.
Playing against the wind in the first half, Mayo had an uphill battle. A literal one, it seemed, when the wind tilted the camera, giving the pitch a Himalayan slope and those unaware of the conditions a notion that it was crampons Mayo needed and not just studs to advance upwards.
Clashing with the game in Castlebar, incidentally, was a contest in the Caribbean over on Sky which Geoff Boycott had previewed under the headline “England should be far too good against a West Indies side full of very ordinary, average cricketers”. A 381-run defeat later and former West Indies player Daren Ganga somehow managed to maintain a straight face when he said to England captain Joe Root: “You must be disappointed with this result?” “Eh, yeah,” said Joe, the only consolation that he had the sun on his back.
No such good fortune in Castlebar, although the Barmy Army might have wished they were there instead of Barbados. Mayo prevailed by a point in the end, the hurricane at their backs of some assistance in the second half.
On to Sunday on TG4 and there was a cyclone in Clones, his name Stephen O’Hanlon, the Monaghan sub helping himself to an offensive mark – in time we’ll get used to the lingo – a mere minute after entering the fray. And then he inserted the ball in the back of the net in a rather impressive fashion, before, mere moments later, setting up another goal for Shane Carey.
The Dubs? Slain. Those of you fortunate enough to have tuned in to First Dates earlier in the week could only have thought of Cathal from Monaghan who dined with Carol from Leitrim. When their meal was served:
Carol: “Bless this food and may it be delicious and nutritious for our bodies, and bless our time together, may it be wonderful and positive for everyone involved.”
Carol: “Do you want to add anything?”
Cathal: “Eh, just ‘come on Monaghan!’.”
Cathal, then, would have been beaming come Sunday – “Monaghan by the Grace of God’, and all that – although Carol would have been well-chuffed too after Leitrim won their Division Four encounter with Wexford.
The Dubs shouldn’t lose heart, though. They might well rise from the ashes yet. They just need to look to Liffey Celtics for inspiration.
“I remember crying the whole way home from Cork after an 82-point loss,” Ailbhe O’Connor said to TG4’s Gráinne McElwain of the Leixlip club’s early struggles. And here they were seeing off Brunell of Cork to win basketball’s National Cup Final.
Their triumph might have taken place indoors of an evening, but Liffey Celtics felt the sun on their faces come the end.