Sport GAA

Mohill deliver as new era dawns

Leitrim Observer Sport Review of the Year

John Connolly

Reporter:

John Connolly

Email:

sports@leitrimobserver.ie

Mohill deliver as new era dawns

Man of the Match Keith Beirne, captain Danny Beck, Mary & Johnny Kennedy pictured with the Fenagh Cup after Mohill's victory in the Connacht Gold Leitrim SFC Final. Photo by Willie Donnellan

Nobody doubts Mohill's resilience and strength of character now! And after a year of twists, turns and new formats, nobody is in any doubt that there is a changing of guard in Leitrim Club football on the way.

Mohill's 0-14 to 0-11 victory over a Glencar/Manorhamilton team that have bestrode Leitrim football for the last decade as a colossus may just signal the start of a new dynasty as the champions looked well placed, on and off the field, to dominate in the years to come.

But with the emergence of young, vibrant teams in Ballinamore, Melvin Gaels and, at Intermediate level, Leitrim Gaels and Fenagh St. Caillin's, we could be about to witness a new era of fierce rivalries and contests that might just lift and inspire the standard of club football in the county.

Mohill stand at the top of the three at the moment and are now the team to beat, their young stars from 2015 graduating in style and a strong second team poised to supply them with even richer resources in the years ahead.

Mohill's march to the Fenagh Cup was not without it's complication as injuries stalled them at times while there were doubters after Drumreilly and St. Mary's pushed them to the limit in the knockout stages.

But this is a new Mohill team and the steel in their mental make-up was evident in all the knockout games, but especially the Final as they turned around a poor first half display with a completely dominant second half.

The manner of their win is what inspires so much confidence about Mohill's future but they know they need only look to Sean O'Heslin's and Melvin Gaels as potential powerhouses in the years ahead.

The Kinlough men saw injury sabotage their hopes in 2017 but if they keep their young players coming through, they will be a force.

And Ballinamore will definitely be a force, not withstanding their loss of sparkle against the best Glencar/ Manorhamilton performance of the year, a performance that shows the value of experience and championship know-how.

And nobody can dismiss Glencar/Manor but replacing some of their famed four-in-a-row stars cannot be easily done, even if the Club's superb work at underage level seems to promise a bounty in the future.

Aughawillan, even with their scant resources, can't be discounted as injuries caught up with them in a controversial two match series with Glencar/Manorhamilton.

Most important for the Club Championship was the experiment with a new format and unlike the Intermediate competition where a far greater spread of talent existed, the Group games in the Senior showed some alarming gaps between the halves and have-nots.

Aidan Rooney is adamant the new format has worked and the two-group six-team format certainly provided a sterner test for prospective challengers but there is no doubt that improvements can and must be made.

Drumreilly provided me with some of the most inspirational performances of this, or indeed any other year, with their quarter-final performance against eventual champions Mohill a rebuke to other clubs with far greater resources and supposed natural talent.

Yet Drumreilly's reliance on players who are admittedly some of the best club players of the last 25 years to keep them going is a worrying sign that Leitrim GAA cannot and must not ignore, either in short or long terms.

Population numbers suggest that 80% of young children in the county are in the Areas covered by five to seven clubs and no more than the imbalance caused by Dublin's massive population at Inter-county level, it raises questions for the long term viability of some clubs in Leitrim.

That's a discussion for the coming weeks but nothing can deny Mohill the well deserved title of Leitrim's best and worthy champions.

And nothing should deny Glencar/Manorhamilton's place as one of the best Leitrim club teams ever!