It’s funny how, after the long lay-off, we all got quickly into the game-a-week rhythm. But this weekend there’s no Mayo match on – what are we going to do with ourselves at all?
Nothing for it but to do a trawl online for stuff that’s relates to us or that’s relevant from our perspective. Here are a few bits and pieces in this regard.
On the RTÉ website yesterday, there was a feature piece by Declan Whooley with James Horan (here), which covered far more ground than what was flagged in the headline.
That issue – restricting counties from taking any players apart from the match-day panel to their matches – is, rightly, a hot-button one for competing counties and it’s understandable for James to beat the drum on it. Without having to name any obvious names, it would for sure be outrageous if some of the finest players to wear the Green and Red over the past decade have to watch the game on Sunday week at home on TV like the rest of us.
I thought, though, that what the manager had to say about Aidan O’Shea was more interesting. As James pointed out – referencing what Declan Bonner had said last week about Michael Murphy – Aidan takes huge punishment in games and gets little or no protection from referees. Unlike Murphy, he doesn’t dish it out either and, as James said, the big man’s discipline is “unbelievable.” It’d be good if, once in a while, refs did something about the treatment he gets but I wouldn’t be holding my breath on that.
Also on the RTÉ website, there’s another Declan Whooley piece featuring more James Horan quotes – that’s here. This piece also includes quotes from Stephen Coen and it takes the interesting angle of considering how the team is performing in the absence of the massive Mayo support. Could it be that they’re doing better without us lot caterwauling at them from the stands? One to think about at least.
Other pieces of interest from the Mayo News, which have featured either directly or indirectly in recent chats on the podcast, are Billy Joe Padden’s analysis on what we need to do to get the better of Tipperary (here) and Mike Finnerty’s interview with Connacht GAA secretary John Prenty, which covered the financial impact of playing matches behind closed doors – that’s here.
Another impact from Covid is a changed National League format next year, which looks set to start in late February and comprise a minimum of three games in smaller groups based in reasonably close geographical clusters.
John Fogarty has a piece in the Irish Examiner (here) on that issue, in which he sketches out what the 2021 groupings might look like. In one, with Division Two split in two, we could be in a ‘North’ section along with Down, Meath and Westmeath.
But, apparently, consideration is also being given to combining the top two divisions when creating these smaller groupings. That scenario is also sketched out in the piece, with us in a ‘West’ section along with Donegal, Roscommon and Westmeath. This would mean – a bit like Bobby Ewing emerging from the shower (ask your parents, kids) – that our recent relegation from the top tier wouldn’t really have happened at all.
These Covid days really are strange ones.
Finally, another plug for the podcast, in which we’re running The Road to Croker series in the lead-in to Sunday week’s All-Ireland semi-final. Michael Foley of the Sunday Times, who is also the driving force behind the superb podcast series The Bloodied Field, is the special guest in the latest episode. We’ll have another episode in the series online tomorrow so stay tuned for that.