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12th Jan 2018

Pakistan-born wing-back Sharoize Akram makes first start for Mayo

Proud day despite the defeat

Patrick McCarry

A Mayo squad containing the likes of David Clarke, Diarmuid O’Connor, Shane Nally, Kevin McLoughlin and Alan Freeman lost to a gutsy Galway side in Castlebar.

Stephen Rochford’s men went into an early lead, at a rain-soaked MacHale Park, and were five points clear in the second half before the wheels came off.

Those that braved the inclement conditions were treated to a feisty FBD League encounter, and those that got there early were in for an altogether GAA sight.

There were fears that the game could have been called off but the pitch passed muster and fans could sink their teeth into some ferocious action.

Mayo were fielding Pakistan-born defender Sharoize Akram for the first time and he was in the thick of it from the off. The Ballaghaderreen clubman had been named on the Mayo bench for their FBD encounter with Leitrim but was replaced by Shane Nally before throw-in.

Tonight was the night, though, for the wing-back’s first senior start and he got to wear the No.7 jersey graced by so many Mayo legends over the years.

Having helped Mayo to an All-Ireland U21 victory in May 2016, Akram is highly thought of in the county and will be hoping to get more chances in the coming weeks and months. Akram, who was born in Haroonabad, is the first player born in Pakistan to line out for Mayo’s senior side.

His first start did not coincide with a first win, however, as Galway got their act together in the second half. Having been ahead 1-8 to 0-6 after 40 minutes, Rochford’s experimental side crumbled and conceded 1-4 in a disastrous 10-minute period.

Having hit the front, Galway almost managed to blow their lead by getting two men sent off. Damien Comer and Sean Mulkerrin were red-carded within three minutes of each other.

The Tribesmen were gutsy, though, and only gave up one point in the closing 10 minutes to see the game out and win 1-10 to 1-9.

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