A few final thoughts ahead of tomorrow

Up Mayo

Time for a few final thoughts, then, before tomorrow’s provincial decider, a contest which has to rank as the most unusual Connacht final that we’ve ever been involved in. We’ve often been confident heading into battle for the JJ Nestor Cup – sometimes with good reason, other times not – but we’ve never before, and surely never will again, take the field in a provincial decider as 1/500 favourites to prevail.

You can’t really argue with those odds either, given the two teams’ respective standing in the game at the present time. We can rightly claim to be one of the top few teams in the country at the moment while London are clearly no more than a modest Division Four outfit. We’ve massacred Galway and Roscommon to reach the final while they – and fair play to them for doing so – have managed to steer narrowly past Sligo and Leitrim to make it to tomorrow’s decider.

London’s appearance in the final is, of course, bigger than the game itself (which is probably just as well). There is enormous symbolic and emotional importance to what Paul Coggins and his gutsy side have achieved this year and as someone who lived and worked in that great city for a number of years myself I can appreciate only too well the heartfelt pride that those involved in the London GAA scene, as well as the wider London Irish community, will feel when London take the field at McHale Park tomorrow.

You’d need to be a hard-hearted individual not to wish the Exiles well tomorrow and to hope that the day is a memorable one for them.  While London GAA is clearly on an upward curve, it’s unlikely they’ll find themselves in this situation again any time soon and, even if they do, they’ll only get to experience the novelty of this initial appearance the one time. In that sense, tomorrow is the biggest of big days for them and it’s a day they’ll always want to look back on with pride and satisfaction.

But this is sport and once the ball is thrown in at 2pm all that soft-headed, kind-hearted empathising has to end. As Mayo supporters, we surely want to see our team win this match as comprehensively as possible, maybe even by a record-beating margin. Not because we’ll take any great joy in inflicting pain but instead because on Connacht final day the lads should be primed to perform at a standard that a team like London simply won’t be able to deal with.

Against both Galway and Roscommon, the result was in the bag before half-time and the aim should certainly be to get to this position as well tomorrow. Memories of the 2011 Ruislip near-miss should mean that the lads have every incentive to assert their superiority in the opening exchanges and if we get on top in the opening quarter then we should be able to win by as much as we want.

Against Galway and Roscommon, James Horan’s team showed that they’ve shifted up a level from last year. With heavy-hitting teams like Donegal, Dublin, Kerry, Cork and Tyrone now looming up ahead as Croke Park once more starts to come into view for us, we know that we need to improve further if we’re to face down teams of this quality.

Tomorrow is a step on the road to Croke Park for us and it’s a step we need to take in the most decisive way we can to ensure that we’re ready for the more significant challenges facing us once we’ve completed a hat-trick of Connacht titles. This particular three-in-a-row should be a cause for celebration itself but once it’s in the bag – as it surely will be by around 3.30pm tomorrow – thoughts will already start to turn to the bigger challenges facing us at HQ.

Best of luck to the lads and best wishes too to Enda Gilvarry’s minors, who face a tough battle as they aim to knock defending provincial champions Roscommon – who are also chasing a Connacht three-in-a-row tomorrow – off their perch in the day’s curtain-raiser at McHale Park. At the risk of being greedy, it’d be nice to see the county claim both the Kilcoyne and Nestor Cups tomorrow afternoon.

22 thoughts on “A few final thoughts ahead of tomorrow

  1. Well it’s another early start for us die hard mayo supporters in the states (9am) …I’m glad to see Higgins in at chb he will cause serious damage goin forward but my main concern is mayo easing off in the final third of the game as we did in the Galway and rossie games ….people over here are on to us for having such easy games but at the start of the campaign we had the hardest draw its not our fault we have our games in the bag at halftime..I have a funny feeling that cork will await us in the quarters….Up mayo

  2. Without wanting to open a whole can of worms again, I noticed that London are flying in today from Southend – the very airport that caused ructions on this forum two years ago when Mayo used it to get to Ruislip. Maybe it is not quite as far out of the way as some were claiming it was at that time in order to take a shot at the country board.

    Anyway, looking forward to a good weekend of sunshine and football here in Castlebar.

  3. Very confident of a mayo win tomorrow but hoping that London will make a game of it. Best of luck to the minors too they are having a tougher time in the championship and hopefully that will be to their advantage. Sun cream at the ready lads!

  4. Btw southend is about the same distance West from Centre of London as luton is to the north so I guess it depends where you are going.

  5. No no your right John Griffin.Thought they were very poor.I have a sneaky feeling that Meath could edge Tyrone.

  6. thought kildare and tyrone were both poor. from a mayo perspective its a pity both couldn’t hang around. suspect both mcgeeney and micky harte knew their boys were well behind the top teams so they got them fitter than the rest for the league in order to build confidence. was at the mayo dublin semi and our lads looked miles behind fitness wise. perhaps the dubs did the same thing. meath asked some real questions of them and they’re no world beaters

    well done to the galways lads. not awful surprised armagh did lose to the rossies last year after all. would have gone for armagh beforehand because i didn’t think galway would fancy playing cork. cork will beat them but they won’t learn anything from it. then into the quarters where they can compete with kildare for the title of irelands dumbest team

  7. I was just thinking about all of this hype with he final and whether or not it was positive or negative .But actually think its positive for Mayo.All the media is focusing on London which would have made it easier on our lads prepare for this game.As for London’s side surely getting focused for the game must be very difficult with the media and hype around them.The exiles must think their in cloud 9.If i was Horan i would be saying to our lads is lets get these exiles down from their cloud featly lively.I do expect our lads to come out fast and hard from the start .Does anyone reckon that the London lads think they could win?

  8. Would love to see what that Kildare poster who was goading us on this site after they beat us in the league has to say now. Looks likely the 4 qualifiers will be Cork Tyrone Cavan and Monaghan! That’s if I was a betting man at this stage!

  9. Well it’s all heating up nicely now…………..Galway still in it, Tyrone just…… and a fantastic show by Cavan…………..Galway are good to take Cork, Tyrone can be taken but Cavan don’t know when they’re beat……………..the sad part is that London will in most probability meet Cavan in round 4 and to be honest it will be sad to see either leave the stage.
    What London has achieved this year has been fantastic and if my heart and blood was anything but Green and Red I would be hoping for a cataclysmic result tomorrow afternoon in Mc Hale Park.
    I know that the welcome for those Exiles will be great tomorrow and that we will all be rooting for their future success, they deserve it and it’s them who make the history tomorrow, not us………..we get the chance to repeat a 62 year gap in history and make it 3 in a row…………..It is unlucky for them that with their best team in their history that they come up against probably the best conditioned Mayo team ever but then it’s also a compliment in the sense that we have to give our best to challenge their best.
    I dearly hope that when it’s all over come September 23rd that Londain played against the AI champions 2013……………………….
    Still feel Monaghan can upset the Donnies tomorrow and with what went before this afternoon, then we are in for one headscratcher of a run in…………….and with Armagh out, we must be among the best target men in the game.
    Welcome………Londain to the home of Mayo football ………….And go the Green and Red for 3 in a row.
    Maigh Eo Abu

  10. Wasn’t alot between Tyrone,Kildare two even matched sides i thought.

    The lillywhites have gone downhill since their unlucky defeat to Down in 2010. While Tyrone are not a patch on the 2003,05,08 teams they should beat Meath however unlikely to beat Kerry,Dublin,Donegal or Mayo in the quarter finals.

    Laois,Cavan will probably reach the last eight now and like Tyrone won’t go any further. Galway beat a side that they are bettter than, nothing more and will be lucky to get within 6 points of Cork.

  11. Agree with you Aussie Exile that the most likely 4 teams to come through the qualifiers will be Cork, Tyrone, Monaghan and Cavan. 50/50 that we could end up playing either Cork or Tyrone. I hope we can avoid either team as both have the talent and potential to blow us out of the water if they were to hit top gear in the QF. Cork have surely now identified their best starting 15 after the Munster final and remain a very formidable team. Tyrone just don’t go away and will be further strengthened by their series of tough qualifier clashes. It still remains to be seen how good Mayo truly are judging on a couple of facile victories against very poor quality opposition and whether we would be ready for either of these two teams in two weeks time? Hopefully we will be more than ready and able for any team we come up against but I certainly wouldn’t be booking a Dublin hotel for the 3rd Sunday in Sept just yet…

  12. I would take a chance on that hotel booking…………our movement, intensity and improvement in the skills factor IMO sets us apart from any of the sides I’ve seen so far, this side will relish tougher opposition and will deliver.

  13. Now your talking JJ
    I firmly believe the green and red will be flying high in croker.And lets not be afraid in being confident.

  14. Can’t believe people are still doubting our ability after the last two years of beating top teams in Croker. We are firmly established at the top table and should be afraid of no one.
    Galways result and Roscommon’s results in the last week should be showing how convincing and professional our wins against them were. Maybe they weren’t as bad as they were protrayed after being hammered by us and its just that we are so far ahead.
    Looking forward to tomorrow and a great atmosphere and to see 3 in a row for the first time in my 35 years following Mayo, that in itself is an incredible achievement and should be celebrated and looking forward to another two months of championship following Mayo

  15. Actually going to be in mc hale park today cheering the lads on brought some Oz weather home haha! To answer your question though every match that’s live on tv in Ireland can be seen on tv on setanta Australia live which is pretty good in fairness. I think its the same in USA, and uk. Its a good service for emigrants to watch gaa abroad. Looking forward to a good win toddy and hoping the minors can do the business too up mayo!

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