Friends of Sligo Football
Recession. What Recession? With the turf home the silage harvested and Mayo beaten and Westlife to play in Sligo later in the Summer and it is still only the first week in June could life be better?
Congratulations to Sligo footballers on a fantastic win over Mayo in their Connaught championship game. It was an evening to remember not just for Keelan Cawley, Stephen Gilmartin and Colm McGee making their Championship debuts and all excelled in the game.
Keelan Cawley probably had not started primary school when Eamonn O’Hara made his bebut in 1994 yet the two of them combined in some great moves and you would think they were playing together for years. 2 years ago after the defeat by Mayo contributors to the Sligo GAA Website were suggesting Eamonn and other senior players should pack it in .I recall writing in these notes that Sligo could not afford the luxury of dispensing with good players, who still had a lot to offer. And boy how Eamonn responded on Sunday. As he has done for so many seasons he was magnificent - starting at full forward dropping back to support our full back line and helping the half back line, he also found time to help around midfield and return to the forward lines when we were on top in the second half.
Sligo’s victory will long live in our minds. It was a shaky start for Sligo as Mayo tried to pump high balls in to their tall full forward culminating in a penalty award to Mayo despite the Mayo player over carrying the ball and the person, who kicked it in had handled the ball on the ground. There was concern for Sligo but Manager Kevin Walsh took immediate action moving Eamonn O;Hara back to help our defence as we were playing against the wind and we solved those problems. It was clear David Kelly and Colm McGee had the measure of their opponents despite Mayo having an extra man back there and Colm got us on the scoreboard with a point from play and a free. Johnny Davey was driving forward with every opportunity despite getting a lot of punishment in those sojourns and he scored the point of the first half from one such run. Sligo went in 2 points in arrears at half time and would have the wind in the second half. The second half showed what a great team Sligo are as they outplayed Mayo throughout the field. Alan Costello was very involved as playmaker and the forwards were creating panic and Sligo outscored Mayo 9 points to 3 in the second half. Mayo rung the changes sending more big men into their forward line but Sligo full back line stood firm and when another missile was sent in and Ross O’Donovan jumped with a few Mayo men each 3 or 4 inches taller than him and Ross burst out with the ball one felt this was going to our day and so it proved. There were many heroes on the day .Captain Charlie and Ross were brilliant in the full back line as defenders and driving forward, Noel recovered from an uncomfortable start to make some telling contributions. The half back line defended heroically and attacked at every opportunity and what a return to the Sligo colours for Brendan Phillips, who almost became the forgotten man in Sligo football. Stephen Gilmartin and Tony Taylor were dominant at midfield and contributed 2 superb points. Not so long ago there was concern in Sligo at the quality of our midfield area now we have a very formidable pairing. Stephen was always available to a colleague in possession and played a role similar to that of Kevin Walsh for Galway in his playing days. Mark Brehony worked extremely hard and took his points very well and David and Colm tormented their opponents. We should pay special mention to the manager Kevin Walsh and his selectors, who had the team very well prepared and made the changes when necessary. The players appear to be extremely fit considering the weather and the mobility of backs and forwards exchanging places and there seems to be a great spirit in the team. So roll on Galway in the next round.