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Clontibret seen off as Harps book final spot

By John Campbell

Player power exerted itself dramatically both on and off the field in a football context at the weekend.

While Monaghan Harps, inspired by two goals from Feargal McMahon and Michael Galligan, were revelling in a stunning 2-12 to 1-10 victory over Clontibret in their county championship semi-final, Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly were bowing out as the Mayo management team after just one year in charge.

Harps will now go on to meet Scotstown, who beat Castleblayney by 1-14 to 1-8 in the other semi-final, in the Farney county decider.

For Harps, who lost Dessie Mone to a red card yesterday, it will be a first final appearance since 1991 - a welcome change in fortune for a side that has been starved of major success.

Scotstown's goal was landed by Brian McGinnity while former Monaghan county ace Ciaran Hanratty scored Castleblayney's goal.

And while there will be four more Ulster county finals next Sunday in Down, Armagh, Cavan and Tyrone, the spotlight remains very much on Mayo where the manner in which the Holmes-Connelly partnership was shown the exit door has left a distinctly sour taste in the mouth and triggered speculation that James Horan, whom they replaced, could be reinstated.

It became clear last week after a 27-7 vote among squad confirming they had no confidence in the Holmes-Connelly alliance that the duo would have no option but to resign.

It has also been hinted that Mayo, who have failed to win an All-Ireland title since 1951 despite having been involved in the closing stages of the competition for the past five years, could turn to Donegal for a new messiah, but whoever takes on the role will do so against a particularly demanding backdrop.

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