Greenways a huge sporting boost
The development of the greenways between Achill and Westport has to be one of the most wonderful sporting developments in Mayo.
The last government got blamed for a lot (and rightly so too) but it must have provided some form of funding for this magnificent project that when completed later this year will allow people walk, run, jog or cycle in the most beautiful of settings between the two locations. For that, it should take, and receive, immense credit.
The Mulranny section of the greenway has been open for some time. It's been hugely successful and the extension to Westport is nearly complete.
Westport people can already avail of the old railway line walk so they have an idea of how beneficial the new development will be when completed.
Your columnist is fortunate enough to live right beside the new route and we have already carried out the test run/walk. It's a fantastic development and one that will be of immense benefit to every section of the community for years to come.
The Mayo Sports Partnership is involved in the project and I know that for many years now the people running that organisation are endeavouring to encourage sporting involvement beyond the traditional team sports. Their efforts are being rewarded and when completed this year, the new greenways will be there for everyone. No team manager required, no jerseys or football boots, just the willingness to get out and enjoy the best of fresh air in the most beautiful of places.
A plain mad goal
It's easy to say it in hindsight, but it was a tad strange that Arsenal were such strong favourites to beat Birmingham in the Carling Cup final on Sunday.
Some bookies were giving 7/1 on Birmingham and I know of at least one man who took advantage and threw a tenner on them. Lucky man.
The odds were strange in light of the fact that Birmingham are a Premier League team with a way of playing that makes them difficult to break down, even for a team as talented as Arsenal.
The winning goal, though, was plain mad and was totally freakish but, in its own way, it symbolised what many observers (not least many of their own supporters) view as the absence of ruthlessness in the Arsenal team.
Their last truly great defensive leader, Tony Adams, would not have waited for the 'keeper to make a decision; he'd have simply cleared the ball away and if the 'keeper got in the way, then tough luck.
That defeat will be hard for Arsene Wenger to take. As excellent a manager as he undoubtedly is, Wenger needed the victory. His body of work at Arsenal has many highlights but there is a view that he carried out his greatest work with players that he inherited, particularly that group of great defenders that George Graham had nurtured.
Of course, he did sign Viera, Pires, Petit and Henry, but for whatever reason he hasn't been able to replicate this success since those players left.
And he really did want to win on Sunday. This wasn't the youth team in the Mickey Mouse Cup that he has used to blood young players in; this was the full team, Fabregas apart, and they didn't pass the test.
But fair play to Birmingham. And what about Stephen Carr? It was great to see an Irish man lifting a cup as captain and for someone who couldn't get a club only a couple of seasons ago, it must have been particularly satisfying.
Stiffer tests await Mayo
There was a lot of pressure on both Mayo and Galway before last Sunday's clash in the national football league in Tuam.
Most of the build up centred on how difficult it would be for the losers of the game to avoid relegation at the end of the season. In the end, Mayo won rather comfortably to get their first win of the season while Galway buckled rather badly, and their immediate future does not look too rosy.
But, it's doubtful if anyone in the Mayo camp will be getting too carried away on the back of one win. It was good to get that first set of two points on the board at last but far stiffer tests await in the rest of the campaign.