Davitts v Milltown-Castlemaine preview

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Davitts (Mayo) v Milltown-Castlemaine (Kerry), Croke Park, Sun (4.00)

MICHAEL Conroy doesn’t need to be told about the poor run of luck enjoyed by Mayo football in big games with Kerry. The Davitts captain was on the Mayo senior panel from 2004 to 2007 which took in the harrowing All-Ireland final defeats to the Kingdom in 2004 and 2006.

His exploits for the club have earned him a recall to James Horan’s Mayo senior panel for 2012 – but first he’d love nothing better than to see Mayo football bury their Kerry hoo doo at Croke Park in the club final this weekend.

“We had a couple of bad days against Kerry and are hoping to rectify that if we could. Ballina won the All-Ireland club final in Croke Park so there is probably too much of it made by the media about Mayo teams in Croke Park.

“It’s only another venue and it’s not the venue will win it – it is the same lines and posts and might be bigger but it’s the prize on offer is what you are looking for. Mayo teams will be winning things and winning games in Croke Park and hopefully we might get the ball rolling on Sunday,” he says.

They haven’t gone out of their way to do their homework on their opponents – which he thinks is no bad thing.

“We know nothing about them. Sometimes you are better off not knowing and give it a rattle and after 10 or 15 minutes you’ll know each other anyway,” he adds.

The Mayo and Connacht champs have tried to keep a lid on the hype building up, but Michael Conroy admits it is a special time to be involved in the club.

“There are lads in our club who would never even think of going to Croke Park to even see Mayo and the fact the club is in it they’ll be up there. They live and die for the club and it is a great initiative,” he says.

Kerry champs Milltown-Castlemaine have Croker experience in the form of forward Ian Twiss who was on Kerry senior panels for a number of years. Their centre back Marcus Mangan was a Kerry minor centre back two years ago while Shane Murphy and the injured Ciaran Kelleher were Kerry minors in the 2004 All-Ireland final defeat by Tyrone.

Their captain is 32 year old Damian Murphy who can’t believe the club will play at Croker.

“For me, personally, at my age it is a dream come true. I’m 32 and it’s great. As one of the lads said you do and die for your club and you want to get as far as you can with your club and I can only imagine this will be the highlight,” he says.

“It’s a great competition and fair play to the GAA and to a Kerry president Sean Kelly who brought it in and the AIB for being behind it.

“There are guys going to come up and support us who have never been to a football match before. That’s the best thing about the competition – it is bringing more people into the area and more people into the community people getting to know each other. With an urban sprawl there are a lot of new people in communities who don’t know what is going on around them and competitions like this really bring it alive and get people to know each other better,” he praised.

Not surprisingly, Kerry clubs have a good record in these club finals and Milltown Castlemaine are eager to add to the roll of honour.

“Our club is two little villages. When you look at it, it seems a big area but it is a long narrow strip. It was two little villages getting nowhere on their own and amalgamated in the 60s and came up through the ranks. There was a very good team in the 90s and we won the intermediate in 2003 and went senior for a few years and got knocked back down. Our main aim at the start of last year was to get back senior and compete at the top level and this now has been a bonus journey.”

“There’s about four of us coming towards the finish and it would be nice to leave on a high – but there is no such thing as deserve in sport and we’ll have to go out and earn it,” he added.


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