In a county yearning for All-Ireland glory, it’s ironic Mitchels beat holders Corofin at Tuam Stadium,and inflicted defeat on the next Mayo manager Stephen Rochford in his final game in charge of the Galway champions.
Rochford said afterwards he expects to discuss the Mayo county manager’s job — his “ambition” —with the Board in the next day or two, and for everyone’s benefit, he’d like the process to conclude as soon as possible.
“It does bring an end to my journey with Corofin,” said Rochford. “But I haven’t heard as regards us formally meeting this week.I assume on the basis of today, and their mediation process maybe having come to an end with the players, it will happen sooner rather than later.
“I am sure over the next 48 hours, I will be getting a call to sit and meet with them. Each day you turn a new page. Of course I am looking forward to it — it has been an ambition.
“If we are going to be the guys who are getting in there, we would like to get the work on now if it is going to be us.”
In another ironic twist, Rochford is now likely to have to plan without the Castlebar Mitchels players for Mayo’s early season FBD League and national league games as they prepare for an All-Ireland semi-final against the Ulster champions. On this and recent viewing, players like Paddy Durcan, Barry Moran, Neil Douglas and Danny Kirby will have huge roles to play for their likely new boss.
Moran was outstanding again for Mitchels. His goal in the ninth minute gave his side the lead for the first time. But from open play, under kickouts and as a points scorer, he was masterful.
He played a crucial role in the clinching goal from Neil Douglas 15 minutes from time too, when he freed his hands well when tackled to send Douglas in on goal. Moran didn’t even wait to see if his teammate would score — he had already turned towards his midfield station — but the sizeable Mitchels’ crowd let him know the ball’s final resting place.
“We’d scored goals all year, I felt we could have got three in the first-half, we only took one and that was a bit worrying,” said Mitchels’ co-manager Declan Shaw.
“We’d normally be clinical in those situations. Against the All-Ireland champions you don’t get too many goal chances. But we got a great goal in the second-half as well for Neil which gave us the cushion we needed.
Moran’s early goal and huge pressure from their forwards when defending helped Castlebar to a 1-3 to 0-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, but a couple of points each from Gary Sice and Martin Farragher saw Corofin level by the break, 0-8 to 1-5.
But Mitchels have become renowned for strong second-half performances. Douglas suddenly found his place in the game with two points from play to start the second-half, while his goal ended the contest even before Martin Farragher was sent off for a second yellow card.
“The result says it all,” said Rochford. “You know, we never looked like winning the game, I didn’t think anyway, in the second-half.
“They are a team that’s very comfortable on the ball, they’ll create the space and offering them up an extra man was an absolute death sentence for us.
N Douglas 1-3 (1f), B Moran 1-2, E O’Reilly 0-1 (1f), S Hopkins 0-1, N Lydon 0-1, R Feeney 0-1, S Keane 0-1.
Martin Farragher 0-4 (2f), G Sice 0-3 (3f), I Burke 0-1, R Steede 0-1, K Fitzgerald 0-1, D Wall 0-1.
R Byrne; T Cuniffe, A Feeney, D Newcombe (S Conlon 46); P Durcan, E O’Reilly, R O’Malley; G McDonagh, B Moran; S Hopkins, N Lydon, R Feeney; N Douglas, D Kirby, C Costello.
A Walsh for McDonagh (35), J Durcan for Costello (38), F Durkan for Hopkins (43), S Conlon for Newcombe (46), S Keane for Ludon (52, BC), R Burke for Feeney (60).
T Healy; A Burke, K Fitzgerald, C McGrath; C Cunningham, P Kelly, L Silke; G Higgins, R Steede; G Sice, D Wall, Michael Farragher (c); Martin Farragher, M Lundy, I Burke.
D Burke for Higgins (34), K Molloy for McGrath (46), C Silke for Cunningham (46), J Leonard for Lundy (55, BC)
Eamonn O’Grady (Leitrim).