A few thoughts on Donegal

Pre-match parade 2013 All-Ireland final

So, we got what we wished for – a clear majority of those who responded to the poll running here on the site during the week plumped for Donegal and it was our nemesis from last September that we ended up with when the draw was made earlier on this evening. Whether it’s a good draw or a bad draw for us is pretty much irrelevant at this stage: it’s the only draw we’ve got and now we’ve got to deal with it.

The only way for Mayo supporters to focus on this match, I reckon, is to telescope ourselves back to last year’s All-Ireland. Donegal beat us in so many ways that day – on the scoreboard, tactically, physically (especially when they crossed the line) and, perhaps most painfully of all, numerically and vocally on the terraces. Their supporters came to Croke Park that day exuding confidence about their ability to win, as if the outcome had been somehow pre-destined, and we never matched them in terms of the noise and colour they brought to the occasion. For me, that was the biggest defeat of all.

But last September was also the genesis of this championship campaign. The defiant air in the Regency the night of the final was so uplifting and it was clear even then that we were going to make another almighty push for honours in 2013. This was no empty “We’ll be back!” rhetoric and it was instead a clear statement of intent. The swathe we’ve cut through Connacht this summer has provided the first tangible evidence that we are, indeed, ready to compete with the best once more this year but the quarter-final draw we’ve been handed now puts it up to us in no uncertain terms.

Common consensus would say that we’ve improved since last year while Donegal, burdened with injuries in a way they somehow managed to avoid last year and facing into a third championship clash in as many weeks, may not be the same force of nature that they were last September. This is reflected in the match odds – Donegal were 1/2 favourites going into last year’s final whereas we’re 4/6 with Paddy Power to prevail next weekend.

Common consensus is, however, of little relevance to next weekend’s showdown. This is do-or-die for both teams and like any defending champions we can be damned sure that Jimmy McGuinness and his team will not give way without first expending every ounce of energy they have to retain their crown. Sure, it helps that we’ve developed a good track record under James Horan of taking down reigning champions – if we do a number on Donegal next weekend, that’ll be another three-in-a-row for us, having disposed of Cork in 2011 and Dublin last year – but we’re going to have be pretty much pitch perfect the next day if we’re to achieve this particular treble.

We know from our own direct experience of playing them last September what we need to do to beat them (and, in this respect, we absolutely have to avoid conceding any early goals to them this time) and there’s also much we can learn from Monaghan’s template in doing so last Sunday. What I’d love to see us do is open up on them the way we did so mercilessly against Galway by hitting them with the most ferocious intensity we can muster and racking up as many scores as we’re capable of. As Monaghan showed last Sunday, an ultra-defensive approach is no good to them when they’re chasing the game so we need to do what we can to put them in exactly the same position that the Farneymen had them.

James and his colleagues will, of course, already be hard at work plotting and planning for next weekend and I’m sure the players too will be itching for the chance that this tie offers to even the score against last September’s conquerors. Revenge is a dish best eaten cold and all that. As supporters, we should be equally up for this one and that means getting there in numbers with as much colour as possible and ready to make as much noise as possible.

For a variety of reasons, last year’s contest between us was theirs but over the coming week we need to adopt the firm resolve that this one is most definitely going to be ours. We shouldn’t countenance defeat going into this game and when the day comes, all of us – team, backroom and supporters – need to play our part to get us over the line. It’s a huge challenge but it’s a great opportunity for us to take a decisive step towards another All-Ireland final appearance. It’s an opportunity we simply have to grasp with both hands. Can we do it? Too bloody right we can.

35 thoughts on “A few thoughts on Donegal

  1. Think of the Mayo Q-F V against Tyrone a few years back, the 2006 S-F against Dublin, the 2012 S-F against Dublin……..Mayo can and have dethroned current All-Ireland champs in Croker when the pressure was on and I expect this year’s team, a more focused team than 2012 in many respects, to have a great chance of beating Donegal this weekend. It will take a solid 70 minutes performance and a dogged ‘die-for-the-county’ committment from all on the panal, but I believe we can and will do it.

  2. Perfect analysis Wj, Couldn’t be put across better………….Let’s get this monkey off our back, think this side will be itching for this ‘cold dish’

  3. The route to Sam is difficult, but no one said it was going to be easy. Its big boys games now! We are definitely better than last year, Doengal appear to have regressed. Hopefully our support, which went quiet last year will reawaken, stuff all the low key mantra.

  4. Good analysis, WJ.
    To be fair, we’re probably better off meeting them now than in a semi. They are still struggling with a few injuries and will not have had time to rest up or change systems.
    I see they pulled all the men behind the ball tonight for kick outs to stop Laois from going behind. A safe bet that they will probably do that next week too. Horan and co. will need to be ready.
    At this stage, Dillon probably won’t make it. Even if he’s named, he probably won’t start. Probably come on and hope to make an impact but an injured player won’t last against Donegal and Horan will know that.
    It will be a dour game I’d say but you’d have to fancy that once Mayo hold them for the first half and don’t score goals, they can outlast them in the second half.
    It will be the real litmus test for Horan and Buckley though. Will Mayo be fresh enough and will the injured players hold up? O’Connor is now crucial because of frees and 45s. How fit is Moran and more importantly Cafferkey? Because if their fitness doesn’t hold up, Mayo are in trouble.
    It’s going to be an interesting week and weekend!
    P.S. It’s a shame the minor match couldn’t be on before the senior game like last year. O’Connor Park in Tullamore on the Monday just won’t attract the numbers they deserve. Ah well!

  5. I’m not sure I’d agree with your praise of the Donegal supporters WJ. When it comes down to it most of them were Celtic supporters in Donegal jerseys there for a day out. When the Jimmy bandwagon rolls out of town in a year or two they’ll go back to their first love – a team that don’t even play in Ireland. Mayo have a group of a few thousand die hard followers who were there 20 years ago and will be there in 20 years time regardless of our success or otherwise. It is that following that separates us from the likes of Donegal, Galway and Dublin.

    Anyway, let’s get stuck into them on Sunday – we owe them one.

  6. Willie joe, you pretty much nailed it there. This what Donegal did last year beat the best, so if we are where we think we are then this is what we want. Right now Donegal are either worried or delighted. To be honest, I’d rather take Donegal Tyrone and Kerry on route, because anything less would be that. Jeepers creepers, be careful what you wish for……. See you alf Stewart and remember51 in the sshhtand. BRING IT ON………

  7. I’m not sure that we have supporters that are any better or worse than other counties, our bandwagon attracts large numbers of who never go to league games and some of whom turn on individual players when the going gets tough. At last years final we were out shouted by Donegal, the fact that they might also support Celtic is immaterial. I hope that we can match or better their support on Sunday.

  8. No doubt we’ll be up for this one – just hope the team will be physically ready for the Donegal onslaught given our injury situation and lack of competitive games. A massive improvement in our shooting from distance is also going to be required. I’m sure none of our players will leave anything out on the field for this game. Bring ’em on…

  9. No blanket can cope with accuracy from 30 m plus……………we have those who can do it…………Buckley will have us ready….bring it on……………a goal or 2 would be the icing

  10. Us Donegal support got just what we wanted… A team untested thus far in the championship who have yet to come up against it in the cold heat of battle.
    The Donegal team is hardened and ready to stand toe to toe……
    So c’mon Mayo lets see if your good enough.

  11. Glad you got what you wanted too, Brian. Don’t understand your “untested” theory but I guess all will be revealed in terms of who is ready for whom next Sunday at 4pm.

  12. been building all year with a view to a donegal semi. so its come a game early prob suit us better given their injuries. lads will be ready and raring to go. expect a similar performance to down last year. we’ve more variety to our game then they do. toughest draw we could have got but i expect a win. could be wrong but i’d rather find out now if we’re good enough or not than in the final. Up mayo

  13. Brian, you have a slight problem there, you have been tested and you come up short……..against a much lower division team………….We will be ready this time and it’s yours to worry about.
    MaighEo Abu

  14. C’mon…. Who have you played in the championship this year ??- I kno u can only beat what’s put in front of u but be objective for a minute…. Hence my term untested….. And last year – 5 more mins and dub would have reeled you in & apart from them??? Nobody.
    I’m sorry tho I think given our injury situation Mayo have a great chance of getting past us they are still behind dub / cork & Kerry in the reckoning. The lack of competition has to count against you.

  15. Salthill in Galway never was a gimme for any Mayo team and we destroyed them. They didn’t look all that bad today. We also destroyed Roscommon, who came close to beating Tyrone. Yes, we can only beat what’s put in front of us and this we’ve done (unlike Donegal) and done convincingly. As I said earlier though we’ll see soon enough who is ready and battle-hardened and all the rest next Sunday. And, by the way, you’re completely wrong about last year’s semi-final against Dublin: we scored the last two points in that game (they didn’t score for the last five minutes or so playing time) and we were pulling away from them when the final whistle sounded.

  16. @brian. Think ur been a bit harsh on our semi final win last year, as willie joe said we wer pulling away from them in the last 5 minutes plus cillian missed a great goal chance to put us 5 points ahead in injury time. You maybe correct in that were untested but seriously how much does it actually matter? Do you honestly think the mayo players are goin to be expecting a stroll in the park like london? Are they hell, they know exactly what their gunna be up against, they lost to you guys in the biggest game of their lives last september and will push heaven an earth to even the score.

    You’ve come on our site claiming its the best draw you could have got, maybe your right, but by god dont be expectin an easy ride because were “untested” theirs 10 months of hurt and pain to released on that field by 15 mayo men, i think it will far out way the “untested” factor. May the best team win.

  17. Dear James horan and the entire mayo panel.. Please please give it all on sunday which I’m sure ye will,, the Donnie’s over here in NYC think that they have this in the bag..the Kerry boys can’t stop grinning from ear to ear and to further my frustration of being a loyal mayo supporter from the moment I went to my first mayo game in 1987 I truly believe that a lot of other counties in Ireland don’t rate us as being a first rate team I guess there is only one way to change their mind ..winning is contagious. Green and red forever
    A

  18. Here we go! Donegal fall. Tyrone by two. Then we shine our light on Kerry. Next year they all will know about this serious Mayo team. Paybacks a bitch, hot or cold. Not getting to carried away, it’s just that “Mayo are winning All Ireland Finals!”

    “Come On Mayo!”

  19. Brian, I think a lot of donegal people will be fearful of this draw. This years hot word ” untested” is nonsense. Mayo know exactly where they stand, and even better they know where donegal stand.
    Roll on next weekend.

  20. So much talk of poor old donegal’s injuries!!! But hang on…..Clarke, o’malley, Vaughan, b Moran, Dillon, a Moran, cillian, conroy, the doc….in some shape r fashion have been effected! We’ve been riddled with injuries all season!!!

  21. Mayo will have been eyeing up a semi final v Donegal until they lost to Monaghan. All thats changed is we go and beat them in a QF instead.
    Lads, Andy said it in his acceptance speech he wants to see a huge Mayo support in Croker. We supporters have the easy job of the two. We don’t train all nights of the week and we can have our few pints. Its the least the team deserves to see Croker LOUD with Mayo supporters and awash with Green and Red! See this video of the broken jug full of supporters last year v Dublin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBZOgV8cNr4&feature=youtube_gdata_player We want that pub empty this week cos everyone is in Croker! Come on Mayoooooo!!

  22. a call to arms for all Mayo fans:

    Last year’s All-Ireland final is the only time I have ever seen Mayo so clearly outnumbered at a football match. Even the games against Dublin seemed to be almost 50/50 in terms of support but Donegal outnumbered us hugely in 2012. The players have the chance to gain some revenge on the pitch and now we have a chance to gain some in the stands.

    Being outnumbered so badly last year hurt almost as much as the defeat so this year we need to reclaim our spot as the best supported team in Ireland. It is a bank holiday Sunday in the middle of the best spell of weather most of us have ever seen in Ireland. There is NO reason whatsoever why any Mayo person cannot make it to Croke Park this weekend and show those Donegal players and fans that we mean business.

    The boys in Green and Red have been doing it for us on the field, now its time we showed them our support in the stands. Stand up, be proud and cheer for Mayo!

  23. @Brian,

    “Us Donegal support got just what we wanted… A team untested thus far in the championship who have yet to come up against it in the cold heat of battle.
    The Donegal team is hardened and ready to stand toe to toe……
    So c’mon Mayo lets see if your good enough.”

    I am taking the liberty of speaking on behalf of all Mayo fans around the world when I say:

    BRING IT ON!

  24. am stunned at mayo drawing donegal to be honest can mayo do it i think they can would they start cillian what do you think. bookies and pudits giving mayo no chance

  25. +1 Mike Kelly

    This is without question the toughest quarter-final draw we could have got.

    I’m not as bullish as others here. You can dress it up any way you want, but to my mind Donegal have played tougher teams than we have. On the flip-side, they look weary now and their lack of depth in the panel is there for all to see.

    But then again, they’re All-Ireland champions and won’t give that up without a fight… But then again, Mayo have beaten the champions the last two years running…

    And on and on it goes. We can’t win this game for the team with our comments on this site. But we can make a massive difference by, as Mike says, TURNING UP on the day and showing our support.

    Andy Moran made a point in his speech last Sunday of asking Mayo supporters to come out in big numbers for the quarter-final. He said that it makes a huge difference to the players on the pitch to see and hear the support in the stands.

    They need us now. Anyone who calls themselves a Mayo supporter, who genuinely cares about Mayo’s quest for Sam, should move heaven and earth to get to Croke Park next Sunday.

    No excuses.

  26. watched Donegal in Carrick y/day evening in a dour hard battle with a physical Laois team. Donegal kept plodding away, against a team that only played two(and sometimes one up front), and finished very strongly. After watching Mayo struggle with the physicality of London I’d worry about them against Donegal

  27. It is very easy for some people to write negative stuff about Connaught football but Galway and roscommon put up hard fought displays against cork and Tyrone respectively … This theory of not being tested yet is quiet frankly rubbish talk …

  28. I don’t think mayo struggled with the physicality of London one bit. I think thy struggled with the refs loose interpretation of the laws of the game particularly the use of the closed fist ! I’d have no worries about Mayos physicality ……but it seems Jim McG does. He has already tried to influence the ref on the matter ……he sounds like a worried man

  29. Us Mayo fans needs to give all our support and be there on sunday.
    We need to outnumber them donegal fans and like A Moran said after the match in connaught final that The fans mean so much to the lads out on the pitch.
    It won’t be easy but If we get as many to show up at the match we’ll win it.
    I’m not saying that the fans win matches but by hell do they help the teams!
    LET’S ALL SHOW OUR SUPPORT FOR THE BOYS IN GREEN!
    UP MAYO!

  30. While we need a huge support Sean Flanagan once said: when did you ever see a supporter score a point? However we must reflect on what we have learned since September. The management identified a deficiency at No.3 but the measures taken didn’t rectify it. Since then Keane’s confidence has been eroded by the incessant repeating of that goal. Cafferkey’s one handed flapping at high dropping balls does not inspire much confidence. The addition of Cunniffe has given much stability to the last line although I would prefer to see him at No. 6.
    The O’Shea brothers are a far moer formidable combination at midfield than last year with all due raspect to Barry Moran.The increased fitness levels are very encouraging for dominance in that area.
    From here on in we need high levels of fittness and for all his value to the team I would not play COC because he is just not up to the intendity levels needed. I would like to see the following occupying the attacking positions: Mcloughlin, Feeney. K. Higgins, Coen/ Conroy, Freeman, Moran. I have suggested that Keith be moved from No.4 to No.12 as Andy will need support when he is surrounded and Keith will not turn over possession. I can not see a place for Dillon as he seems to be running on empty this year.
    The move of Higgins to the attack would mean bringing Mchale or Barrett to No. 4 and I don’t see either letting the side down.
    Finally Robbie Hennelly clearly demonstrated that he is our best netminder at the Connacht Final and I hope he remains available for the remainder of the campaign.
    While we need to be realistic about the task ahead we should not forget that we were the team that Donegal didn’t want to draw. They are carrying a lot of injuries and have now discovered that shipping hefty challanges is much more demanding than dishing them out. I think we are in a better position than they are and Paddy Power rarely gets it wrong.

    the management recognised a weakness in the full back position and the measures taken to repair it didn’t come off and Keane’s confidence gas been eroded by the incessant replays since. Cafferkey’s one handed flapping at high dropping balls in the Connacht final do not give grounds for much optimism.

    he introduction of Cunniffe has given some stability to the last line but I would prefer to see him at No. 6. the O’ Shea brothers are a much bettet midfield pairing than last year with all due respect to barry Moran.

  31. Realistically if you want to win Sam you have to beat the best. Donegal last year beat Kerry, Cork, Down, Tyrone and ourselves. The only good team they didn’t beat was Dublin and I reckon if they had met them they’d have taken care of them as well.

    Donegal aren’t what they were last year. They steamrolled teams last year but are struggling this year. They had no injuries really last year but this year they are effected. I’d have no fear of them but plenty of respect. McGuinness is a cute manager and the team obviously proved their worth last year so it’ll be no cakewalk.

    Going back to last year people go on about the goals in the FB line. Tbh a lot of the mistakes which led to the goals occurred further up the pitch. We couldn’t hold the (decent) ball that was sent into out FF line thus gifting possession to Donegal and then our half-forward line didn’t close Lacey and co down quickly enough. Sure we probably had Caff on the wrong man but that was far from our only mistake. This time around we should have Andy and Freeman in FF to hold ball and I’d expect to have a half-forward line of Mc, COC and Feeney the next day – much tougher than Dillon, Doc and Mc in terms of tackling back. I think we’ll have Caff on Murphy, Cunniffe (who wasn’t available last year) on McFadden and Higgins on McBrearty.

    If we do all that and bring the tenacity that this team have always shown under James Horan, along with our scoring boots I don’t see us being beaten. If we don’t do these things I can see us falling.

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