Pre Match Interviews
- Nov 19,2021
Mayo GAA Tv pre match interviews with Intermediate & Junior managers
John Reilly (Kimeena)
Mayo GAA TV will be streaming three county finals this weekend, with the senior final live on TG4 on Sunday. The first of those games sees Kilmeena take on Cill Chomain in Junior Exclusive Club Final, with throw-in at 12 noon on Saturday.
Kilmeena manager John Reilly is trying to a lid on all the hype, after a convincing semi-final win over local rivals Islandeadly. Their passage to the final has been relatively straightforward, with nine points the closest margin so far.
“The semi-final win, we were delighted with the outcome. I think when you look back on it, sometimes when things are going really well for you, your stock price can get a little inflated. As good as we thought we were in the semi-final, to get across in the final we're going to have to be even better than that and that's a fact. But we will enjoy it and a win over the neighbours is always good too, to get one up on Islandeadly, they'll be hurting for a while but it's all for nothing if we don't get the win on Saturday,” Reilly told Mayo GAA TV.
“I think our guys are very grounded. The media and the fanfare around it, everyone's pushing us as favourites but finals have to be won. Cill Chomain aren't going to have a care in the world for our form going into the final. They're going to make us work for it. I think our boys know this and I think we have experienced the final last year, a lot of our guys have played in underage finals so they're very experienced in finals.”
Despite their performances to date, Reilly is expecting their toughest battle yet from Cill Chomain in the final.
“Cill Chomain are there on merit, it's not a fluke that they've got there. The work they've put in, their league form is very good - they could have gone up to Division 2. Coming through against Achill, they had two tough tests there. And they played an excellent game of football against Shrood. They know what their game is about so we'll have to focus on ours.”
County finals don’t come around that often, particularly for smaller clubs and that is something Reilly is conscious of. Kilmeena actually played against Belmullet in a Junior final at the turn of the century and their current manager points to them as a template of what can be done if you manage to win a Junior final.
“It's massive. It's great getting to finals. Cill Chomain have gotten to three finals - one in 1982 then they won it in 2005 I think and 2013. For us, our last win was in 2002 where went into an All-Ireland series and before that, it was 1993. Then you go back to 1986 and 1977. So they don't come that often. We lost a junior final in 2001 to Belmullet who are in a senior final now. It was their first adult title as a club and they've gone to win two intermediates since and gone on to senior so it's massive if we won a junior title. It can help build something bigger going forward. We have young guys coming through that are mad for football and we want to find the next level for them. I say it to the community here, we have to enjoy it, we have to embrace it because with the world the way it is at the moment with Covid, to find a little joy is great and we want to provide that on Saturday. Having a good time - socially distanced of course - but we want to enjoy it.”
Paul McGarry (Cill Chomain)
As mentioned above, Cill Chomain are Kilmeena’s final opponents this Saturday, led by manager Paul McGarry. McGarry is delighted to reach a county final but is wary of the threat that Kilmeena will cause.
“Look, it's great for the club to get to a county final. Any day you get to a final is great but once you get there, it's all about winning. We're there on merit, so it's just about getting things right between now and Saturday. We're under no illusions about what's ahead of us, Kilmeena are a fine side. They've been tipped all year and, to be fair, rightly so. Their performances have been great, they're won all their games very easily. I think nine points is the nearest any team has come to them so that just shows you the quality they have,” McGarry told Mayo GAA TV.
“With the year we've had, getting to a county final is such a boost. For Cill Chomain, it's a big parish so it's great to give something for people to talk about. It's given the place such a buzz. There's a sense of excitement. Look, they're hoping to bring the cup back home and I think the last time they won it was nine years ago.”
For Cill Chomain, even organising training the week of a championship final can be a challenge, given the commutes of some of their key players. McGarry believes that the commitment of this group of players is what has gotten them to the final so far, and what can potentially push them to a Junior title.
“For training, we've lads coming from Cork, Limerick, Galway, Offaly, Dublin, Meath and Donegal, as well as the local lads so it's a huge effort. But, if you want to win and perform on the big day, that's the sacrifices you have to make.”
James Fallon (Mayo Gaels)
After the Junior final at 12 noon, there is a tight turnaround for Mayo GAA TV viewers, with the Intermediate final throwing in at 2 pm. It sees Mayo Gaels take on Ballyhaunis in what should be an enthralling encounter.
Charlestown is the venue and Mayo Gaels James Fellon is just delighted to be in a county final in the first place, given their semi-final win over their local rival.
“Yeah, we're obviously relieved to get through the semi-final. Kilmaine, derby match, you never know what's going to happen. These games will always be tight. We were probably fortunate in the first half that we made use of the wind so they had to come out in the second half,” Fellon told Mayo GAA TV.
Fellon has spoken previously of using last year’s poor championship showing as fuel for this year’s run but doesn’t want all that motivation to go to waste if the job isn’t done on Saturday.
“We're spurred on from last year's disappointment but the other side of the coin is we want to win the final. That's human nature, we're never happy! But we have a massive task ahead of us against Ballyhaunis. They're resilient, they're improving. After losing the first game, they said it themselves, they had to treat every game as knockout. They've done that and reached the final. They were in the final two years ago, some of them won it in 2014, so they have a good amount of experience. It will be a difficult challenge.”
As with all clubs involved in county finals this weekend, Fellon is delighted to see the “buzz” caused by his team’s run - owing a lot to the hard work done at underage in the club, which has seen a gradual improvement in championship performances.
“There's a good buzz around the club because we've put a lot of work into the underage the last 10/12 years. And it's great seeing it come into fruition, players coming through to hopefully play Senior.”
Paul Jordan (Ballyhaunis)
Ballyhaunis lie in wait for Mayo Gaels and manager Paul Jordan is also relieved to have made it to a county final, given how close his side were to throwing away their semi-final against Louisburgh.
“We’re extremely happy after the Louisburgh game, it was a really good win and performance. We started well, and were in control just before half-time before their goal. In the second half it opened up a bit more for us, we got our hands on the ball and used our runners a bit more. Our disappointment from the win is not getting a goal despite having a few chances, which kept Louisburgh in the game. And they could have nicked it at the end, we were two points and they had a shot on goal. A last-ditch clearance from Jack Coyne saved us. So it was a tight game in the end but we were happy with the performance,” Jordan told Mayo GAA TV.
Jordan is under no illusions on the challenge his side will face on Saturday. He believes getting the matchups right will be critical to deciding who will be Intermediate champions this weekend.
“Mayo Gaels will be a serious test for us. They would have been one of the favourites for the championship at the start of the year, and rightly so. They have a well-balanced team, strong all over the pitch with a good blend of youth and experience. They’ve dangerous forwards that can hurt you so we know we’re going into the game as underdogs but we’ll try and focus on ourselves. Get our matchups right and see where it takes us. It was our goal at the start of the year to make a county final so we’re really looking forward to it.”
As with Mayo Gaels, the build-up in Ballyhaunis has brought a major buzz to the area and Jordan is determined for his side to not only come out on the right side of the result on Saturday but put themselves up as role models for the younger players in the club.
“It’s huge to be back in a county final, they don’t come around very often in Ballyhaunis so everyone is really enjoying the build-up. There is great colour around the town, all the local businesses have the flags out. There are loads of well wishes and everyone is getting behind the team. It does mean a lot because we’ve struggled at underage level in recent years at fielding teams. So when the adult team is going well, it gives the whole club a boost. The lads on the panel realise that and they do appreciate the support they’ve got. They know they have a great responsibility to set a good example for the younger children within the club and hopefully, the senior team being in the county final will help the kids keep at it.”
Brendan Prendergast (Tourmackeady)
The Junior B final takes place on Sunday morning, live on Mayo GAA TV, which has led to a good buzz around both Tourmackeady and Eastern Gaels ahead of the final. We had a chat with both managers.
Tourmackeady manager Brendan Prendergast is delighted to reach a county final after an early championship setback meant they had to focus on the Junior B competition.
“Yeah, we had a tough game against Ballycroy. They really put it up to us in the first-half and were coming towards the end of the game, so we were lucky enough to come away with a two-point victory. At the start of the year, our goal was to get out of the group. We didn't qualify out of the group so the next goal was to gather the troops again and get ready for the Junior B campaign. So we started training well again and things have been going well. Happy enough where we are at the moment and we're looking forward to it."
Sunday’s opponents Eastern Gaels will present a tough challenge for Prendergast’s side, particularly given their convincing semi-final win, and he’s under no illusions.
"Eastern Gaels are a good side, a lot of pace. They've been putting up some good scores against a lot of teams right throughout the league campaign where they were near the top of the table. Even their championship games, they were unlucky to lose to Ballycastle in the Junior A so they're going to have threats from everywhere.”
The Junior B final has given clubs like Tourmackeady a new lease of life ahead of the final, given the promotion and extra eyes that will now be on the fixture. This is only adding to the excitement ahead of Sunday’s showdown.
“The build-up has been great. We didn't expect the Junior B final would be streamed live on Mayo GAA TV so it's a great fillip for the club. We're delighted to be in that position, everyone's excited about it. The players have an extra step in training and we're looking forward to it. It's late November and we're still kicking ball so that's where you want to be this time of year.”
Fintan Forde (Eastern Gaels)
Opposing manager Fintan Forde was happy with his side’s impressive display in the semi-final two weeks ago but is wary of the strengths of this Sunday’s opposition.
"We're very happy with the victory over Kilfian, it was in Moydavitts. A nice day for football and we played nicely so we're happy to have progressed. Yeah, it's nice being in a county final. Tourmackeady are a good outfit and we'd have huge respect for them but we said we'd take it game by game and see how the year went - so we've found ourselves in the B final and we're ready to give it a go on Sunday. It's our first year with Eastern Gaels so we haven't come across them as a management team before,” Forde told Mayo GAA TV.
Forde also spoke about the positivity at training of being in a county final, allowing good numbers in attendance despite it being the middle of November.
“It's very positive to be in a final and it helps keep the training going with numbers and all that. Lads are happy, with football at this time of the year coming into December.”
The Eastern Gaels manager also spoke positively about the streaming service, saying it will give all of their members the chance to watch the game live if they cannot attend themselves.
“The live streaming is a great occasion for the club. It gives a lot of people, particularly elderly people, it gives them a great chance to watch the match live. “