A long ride on the rollercoaster

This is the piece I wrote about Sunday’s match for this week’s Mayo News.

THIS was a rollercoaster ride if there ever was one. Periods of dominance, moments of despair. One minute, after Aidan O’Shea showed incredible lightness of foot to dance past the Cork rearguard before slotting the ball into an unguarded net, we were in Heaven but the next, when Brian Hurley unleashed a screamer into our net at the other end, we were in Hell. Happily, though, when this Croke Park funfair ride was over we were the ones left smiling as we headed for the exits.

It was a long day for the Mayo supporters at HQ.

The minors’ emphatic win over Armagh in the opening match got the day off to the best possible start. But the difficulties we experienced in the first half of the senior game, though, in getting past the suffocating blanket that Cork threw across their rearguard showed that we were going to have to win this one the hard way.

Then we came out after the break and pretty much blew them away.

A very strong third quarter saw us establish a seven-point lead which, in the process, rendered their blanket defence redundant. The game should, in truth, have gone down a pleasingly predictable path from this juncture – Cork, with their hard-working (and hard-hitting) defensive strategy in tatters, forced to chase the game, in the process leaving even more space for us to exploit and so kill them off.

It didn’t, of course, work out that way. They chased the game alright but the problem for us was that – with Donncha O’Connor now on for them and establishing himself as a forceful presence in an already dangerous attack – they proved pretty good at doing this.

Suddenly, we were visibly wilting as our nice big lead began to leach away. As it did, the big Mayo following in the Lower Cusack began to get a bit restive.

“Jesus, we’re going to let a goal in, I know we are!” screamed the girl sitting beside me, just before Donncha O’Connor obliged her with Cork’s first major of the day. From there to the finish, the poor girl looked like she needed medication, squirming in her seat and wincing at every hair-raising switch-back the game took from then on in.

Even though I could see myself that the contest appeared to be slipping away from us, I still felt – and gave voice to my optimism – that we still had it within us to win this one. I wasn’t all that astonished when we did but, like the nervous man alighting from a rollercoaster ride who realises that he’s still alive, I was all the same pleasantly surprised when we did manage to emerge as winners from this seats-of-the-pants encounter.

What I loved about the performance was that no matter how Cork rocked us we always had a rejoinder for them. Their opening of a three-point gap in the first half was answered by four on the spin from us. O’Connor’s goal for them was followed by a tricky free out on the right that Cillian expertly guided over for us. And Hurley’s majestic second goal for them was replied to with an outrageous up-and-under from Donal Vaughan that eventually fell to earth somewhere between the posts.

Was it the accumulated knowledge from all these big matches that we’ve played in over the last four years under James Horan’s leadership that helped to guide us home in this one? I don’t know but I’d like to think it was.

At the final whistle, my mind went back to another rollercoaster contest, one also decided by a single point, and I was happy to contrast my despair then with the contentment I felt from our having squeezed home in this one. Last September that narrow loss meant we were left to rue another All-Ireland having slipped away from us but this narrow win keeps us firmly in the hunt for glory once again.

59 thoughts on “A long ride on the rollercoaster

  1. Some bizarre decisions before and during the game from the sideline as some previous posters have alluded to already. I made enquiries with a few mitchels lads and was informed that barry moran was fully fit and not injured and is flying in training. I for one dont know whats going on there after him starting connacht final. Is jh going to treat him like richie feeney and leave him on the bench too? I worry going forward as kerry have seasoned midfielders unlike the young 19 year old cork had for example

  2. I think the mood in the Mayo camp will be extremely positive at training this week. We scored 1.16 from play with a good spread of scores and all six forwards contributing. The midfield diamond was excellent.

    We’re vulnerable to the opposition running from deep at us. We need to decide if we’re going to trust our defenders to get a hand in or if a ‘tactical foul’ is required in occasion. A good example of this is the last play of the game in the Connacht final. Boyler got back in time but that could easily have rattled the net.

    We cannot afford to leak three pointers to the Yerras.

  3. @pk there may have been some bizarre decisions by management but the Barry Moran one is one of the least bizarre. Seamus and Aidan are a way better mid-field pairing and Barry lacks mobility. Not to mention the fact that Mayo were very strong around mid-field against Cork. You might want to start worrying about the soft goals we are conceding because that’s where our weakness is.

  4. I read your article WJ, very good stuff, well done.
    I still cannot understand how we are using lads ahead of feeney and freeman, it’s like we are looking for answers and the question has been answered so many times already, let’s hope it doesn’t cost us an allireland when one of them coughs up possession and Kerry or whoever race downfield and score a goal.
    Armchair expert I can be called if you like but last Sunday told us all we need to know about our subs

  5. I don’t like joe brolly but he summed our problems up well after the game. For gods sake we were about 6 inches from conceding a penalty in the very last play with a 2 point lead!! That’s u12 style defending. We seem to crumble with the winning line in sight, and could very easily have lost the last day. Being totally honest, if we had a six point lead with 15 mins to go against Kerry or Dublin, I wouldn’t bet on us holding out. Unfortunately this will be our Achilles heel. Also the rotten habit of conceding a goal immediately after scoring one reared it’s ugly head again. A depressingly familiar trend.

  6. I was wrongabout cork although when we went seven up I thought we were home and dry, reading some of the comments if I had not seen the match I would have thought cork had won I know the management team are not immune from critical comments but they have got it right so far, they see all the squad in training so we have got to trust them good luck the next day

  7. Hi All

    Just after watching the second half and hate to visit this subject again but that last free of Corks was taken from the wrong place and should have been disallowed and a throw ball conceded. The kick was taken a full yard inside the outer marking line of the ‘big square’ suggesting that the foul was commited along that line which of course would have been a penalty?

    Q.E.D

  8. Not everyone on the blog have the good news that Mayo beat Cork last Sunday. Just thought I would mention this to break up the negativity that some our posters are determined to stick with. Its all a bit tiresome. i believe that this team is based on hard work, skill and total commitment. I do not attend the training sessions and I do not have the facts on the performance of various players. I want to see the hard working skillful players that the management team pick and not the ones picked on a blog or board no matter how harmless their intent.

  9. I’m happy for you PJ that you are fully satisfied and contented with the team selections, performances and even possibly subs used.
    I’d really love to be that contented but alas, I want to see Mayo win Sam in my lifetime and that will never happen if all real supporters (yourself and most of us that write here) think all is well, when it’s far from it!
    Just one question on training form – Is Feeney on fire in training more than some of our starters? If so why isn’t he getting the start he deserves?
    We all can’t be privileged enough to be at training but a blind man would see that every winning manager last weekend used subs to great effect and not to inspire the opposition in to a flight back!
    You can’t blame any of the players – just look at how Gavin manages on form and tactical awareness – and their players keep responding.
    It’s bloody great that we’re back in another semi-final but we won’t bring Sam west if the wrongs aren’t righted, and fast!

  10. Our problems in the FB line were down to Barrett & it was the same in the Galway game,Cummins got ahead of him for a lot of ball. In his defense he is just back from injury.
    We have to play a sweeper & when he goes forward a forward has to come back to cover. Moran got on a lot of ball but slipped a lot–it will come right for him. A lot of giving out about Varley but he defended well as did Freeman. CoC was holding his shoulder going off, any news on his injury?

  11. I am sick to the teeth looking at all those blogs still ranting about Richie Feeney and Barry Moran not getting a place on the team. I have never seen so much said about those lads not getting on the team. Would some genius tell me who would they replace and where would you play them?. There is more football in Freeman and Gibbons and both have pace. Last Sunday Gibbons was brought on for 5 mins he had to get a ball and not like other selfish players he had the brains to pass it to Leroy to score. Freeman also did well for the length of time he was on. Those players have far more ability than Feeney and Moran and others. Both Freeman and Gibbons would be a great asset to the starting 15 against Kerry.

  12. Just looked at the stats of league and championship matches Mayo have played since Horan took over. To date it’s 53. Solid run indeed.

    I then broke up Feeneys stats year by year. In 2011 Ritchie started 10 of Mayos competitive games, was first sub in one and missed one. In 2012 Mayo played 15 competitive matches. Feeney started in 3 but was first or second sub in 8. No involvement in 4.

    Last year 2013 Mayo played 14 competitive games. Feeney started 6 and came on as first second sub in 7. He was involved in every game bar one, the final. This year his appearances had been curtailed by Castlebars run. Mayo so far have played 12 matches. Feeney has had limited last sub in two and earlier sub in two. His match minutes don’t amount to a lot.

    Managers manage and players train. I figured Feeney as the natural replacement for McLoughlin after the elbow to the face. Seems Ritchie has gotta to grin and bear it. Hard when you featured in every match last year bar the final.

    I read how Mayo stood up to Cork on
    Sunday. To a point they did, Mayo shipped dogs abuse, Cork were very aggressive and mouthy. Cadogan got away with “murder” on Mcloughlin and we didn’t exactly seek retribution . We did keep the head and the two O Shea’s are beasts that nobody will mess with but Boyle had his hands full and the full back area is a sand bank waiting to burst.

    By the way, who from Mayo was “marking” the Cork selector who spent the last five minutes in our back line. A good fucking shoulder would have driven him out. In effect they had 16 players on the pitch, he was interfering and was also influencing .

    The Kerry game comes down to the two coaches. Cian O Neill ex Mayo and Donie Buckley ex Kerry. Each will have an insight to the others camp even though Kerry ’11 have changed a fair bit. We haven’t but.,,,

  13. True grit, whatever about Barry I think id have feeney in before conroy or varley. Both those lads are ok players but the scores don’t appear to be coming and that’s a problem, feeney can score from 45 meters and has done, against Kerry in croker in fact so that’s something to consider.
    Regardless of who’s on the field in the forwards anyway, we had a bag of opportunities that we didn’t take, much like against Tyrone in last years semi. If we can settle for a second and see what’s on I think we won’t be beaten because the goals will come and we will need them.
    Kerry and Dublin/whoever will take their goal chances against us and we need to be sure to take ours. That’s the biggest thing we need to work on for the next three weeks, awareness near their goal.

  14. Those are my sentiments too Cloud9.
    I believe we are capable of winning this thing outright but will be very lucky to do so if this nonsense continues … no point in burying our heads in the sand.

  15. There are a few aspects of the modern game i just dont understand.

    Falling on your backside when you get the ball, is it by design or just a bad play?

    What does controlled performance mean? Can you actually go out and play a game and win it purposely by the tightest of margins whilst having the ability to win it by a lot more comfortably ?

    I was delighted with the win on sunday and they do give us an amazing sense of pride this set up , why that is im not sure but i dont think we’ve ever had a team as good as this in my time and ive seen all finals since 89 . Honestly there are some of them players going to be remembered for manys a year to come.

    But there were some big worries for the big semi final clash, Barret and Caff lost their battles, there is no other way of describing it and as someone else has already pointed out the signs were there when Danny Cummins roasted barrett only he was missin his shooting boots it would of been a lot more obvious. Now we can keep ignoring this or we can try a different gameplan . Bearing in mind the lethal threat of JOD , we realy need to have a plan, he is sooo good its scary , shrug it off at your peril , he is the messi of our game . I think we will nearly have to go donegal 2011 style to cope with Kerry threat. You certainly cant man mark him or he will kill you.

    We also missed a couple of goal chance through bad selection, vaughan point and Andy point , both should of been goals Cillian was free for Andy point for a tap in goal and Vaughan shoul of rattled the net..

    We will need improvement to beat Kerry but i do believe there is a good deal of improvement in the tank.

    The substitutions , its just a waste of time disagreeing with Horan or supporters who refuse to question him, where as the whole gaa world just laugh at some of the same stuff we try. [Deleted]

  16. I would think that most posters on this site would agree that when Horan, the players and management sat down to plan out this year that there was only one goal, there had to be. I now firmly believe that every decision that has been made since has been towards achieving that goal. The loss to Derry was the first time I thought that maybe they where looking at the big picture, we weren’t playing mighty and another loss to an inform Dublin would be massive. Meeting Dublin in the AI was a near cert.
    We have all heard the talk of a certain player new to the squad who is playing phenomenal stuff in training. Why hasn’t he been sprung? Look at the strength and conditioning, everything is being geared towards the 3rd Sunday in September. People might ask why you would risk losing a quarter or semi final while holding players back, but I know I would rather have lost Sunday or lose to Kerry than lose another All Ireland.
    It might sound a bit fancifull but I’ll be completely honest, if there isn’t a big game plan and some of the decisions being made aren’t based on something greater, then we are in serious trouble..

  17. I agree Liam .I have no doubt in my mind that the plan is to play like we did against Donegal in the quarters last year saved for the final this year. Now I’m not saying we are going out deliberately to scrape wins however in both the connaught final and the Cork game I always felt that we were in control during those games.In both the Galway game and in the Cork game when we upped the intensity we blew them out of the water. I am confident we can and will beat Kerry and I’d be expecting that the moments that we saw the lads up the gears in the last couple of games that we would do that for 70 mins in the AIF. Now that’s the way I see it .I’m sure other people will believe different. I don’t think we are suffering from fatigue.If we were I couldn’t see us playing in and All Ireland semi final.

  18. Sean – I’ve deleted that reference to a specific player (unnamed but it’s fairly clear who you’re referring to) which, as MayoMark has already said, is a disgraceful comment to make. You’re commenting here long enough to know that kind of stuff isn’t allowed.

  19. Well we’re heading to Dublin again in a two weeks. I don’t have a season ticket but I purchased my semi final tickets a good few months ago. For the first time I feel a little arrogant going to Croker. I feel that we will win, no doubt, no matter what occurs. Is this the way a Kerry man used to feel?

    My desperate hope has been transformed into secure expectation. I expect this Mayo team to win, no matter what occurs. I expect them to find a way.

    Mayo will beat Kerry because we have more experience and we have more belief. There’s a statement that I never thought that I would fully believe, but I do now and more importantly so do this Mayo team. They feel it to their core.

    Alot words bandied about Feeny and Moran. Both are excellent players but as another poster alluded too, who would you replace them with? They have been great servants for Mayo on the field but we don’t know and probably never will what the management sees. We either trust this current group or go back to pre 2010. I know which side I’m on here.

    Bare in mind that Richey the captain was sent packing in The Mitchell’s All club final for a blatant black card offence. He kept the bench warm when he was in control of his own destiny.

    I’ll stick with Horan and his crew even though I remain baffled by some of his decisions.
    What’s the other rational choices? Is there any other man out there who maybe wants to raise his political profile from the backs of blown away steam.

    Mayo will beat Kerry and I hope that Dublin get through, we owe them that much.

  20. Liam That is a fair point. The Kerry we face in the semi will bear little resemblance to the one Galway meet in the quarter final. They are old masters of peaking at just the right time of year. We have a lot to learn in this dept yet. We will do well to get passed them IMO. Either way if we do not have our A game in September we will not win irrespective of what year is in it or what the opposition are.

  21. Joe Ruane. That is rational thinking at its best. Full of hope and confidence. We will revisit that place we came from in 2010, some day but I am not wishing for the return to the old Mayo team. This suits us much better.

  22. Very interesting feedback from comments. As well as barry and richie there are others of course who I would mention (ie freeman).

    Some people see to think there is negativity from sunday…I’d call it realism. Once again bad calls were made. Subs being made too late like most games…what will lads do with 2-5 mins to go and nearly throwing away games.

    From posters its laughable to think that a county players involvement this year was curtailed by a run to a club final. Surely the displays in club games should be a stronger argument for their inclusion. For example moran was best midfielder vs o sheas in county final, I believe richie picked up mom in nexr game and other great displays by the aforementioned two including the ability to take and set up scores etc. But im not gonna rant on about club finals.

    likewise where did freeman slip up? Someone mentioned the game time feeney was getting. Moran was nominated for an all star in 2012, held his own vs galway last game (bear in mind there has been alot of talk about galway midfielders and look at how they got goals in galways last two games) and as for freeman he had a great league I thought and pre all ireland was playing well and was hauled off. I can go on about a few more lads but these three spring to mind.

    WHERE WOULD THEY FIT IN?
    1) U could have left team as it was and brought cunnife directly in for Barrett which would have seemed the most logical change pre cork?
    2) Freeman on edge of square…certainly before varley and offers a target
    3) richie good option to bring in (ie for mcloughlin when blood subbed)

    As I said going forward if things arent addressed yes our frailties in backs will be exposed. We attack in waves and when it breaks down we are exposed. If a wing back goes forward another man normally goes back to cover in event of a turnover and our fb line remains vulnerable

  23. Good man Liam , said what I have wanted to say for a while now , but hadn’t the courage .
    I really think James is holding something back all year. Last year it was all geared for Donegal and this time, you know who. Just look at the Cork game, ( in hindsight ) it was just like the Connacht Final in a way, a few shocks but always able to recover.
    Some subs I didn’t agree with, but who’s to know this May be part of the plan. If we get to the final , we may well see different subs.
    Watching James Horan for the last four years, of one thing I’m certain .
    He’s as cool as the knob on an eskimo’s fl..e .

  24. We may well be in games toe to toe up to 50-60 mins but I feel when the bench get used by them or us, we will get worse and other team will get better

  25. How about this comment…

    We are going to win the Sam Maguire in 7 weeks time. As Ger Loughnane famously said… “We’re gonna do it!”

  26. Looking ahead ……Kerry will review the tape of our match with Cork and will be licking their collective chops at the way we conceded two easy goals.
    The last thing I want to see is jod slotting two early goals against us.. If that happens then all those terrible memories will come flooding back..no question about it, Kerry will go for the early kill.
    So, from their pov, our full back line will be seen as weak and easily caught out. No doubt they have an edge in this third of the field, so the question for us is how do we neutralize it?, or at least contain it! Do we go man to man? zone? double team? sweeper? I dunno. But I’m all ears…

  27. Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when o when is one of these “officials” going to get red carded, for invading the field of play, without getting permission from the ref? I mean, it’s farcical at this point!
    Case in point, the cork official on the field of play in the dying minutes of the match. I mean how many times have we seen one of these muppets run across the field, while play is ongoing? FFS…only in the GAA.

  28. You know when you have someone complaining Barry Moran is left out, and when you see how well our 2 main midfielders did, that people really will complain about anything. Poor aul james can’t win at all with some

    Barry is a great player himself but come on the two O’Sheas are beasts.

    Anyhow rewatched the game again. How on earth did I not notice how well Doc played the first time? And Boyler! The former has been a revelation this year with his workrate and dirty work around the breaks. Tom Cunniffe was a colossus aswell I thought. Ref rode him all match

  29. 3 Substitutions on Sunday.

    Freeman: Good call, done well, got up to the pace of the game very quickly.

    Harrison: Barrett was obviously struggling, so this made sense, alternative would be to bring Higgins back. I was happy with leaving Higgins forward for that game, as he carried a threat and bringing him back might invite more pressure on an already under pressure back line.

    Varley: Now this man can be hit & miss with his point taking, but there are other sides to his game, like his tackling, positioning and sheer workrate. IMO the reason he is often ridiculed is because when he plays, he tends to be involved a lot and so is open to criticism. Not only does this keep a full back busy, it also creates space for other forward players. Plus, he is always looking for a turnover. Where do you think the space comes from for our wing backs to point. Very often these are uncontested points.

    We should be praising our players for what the bring to the collective. For years we have seen what great individuals have done for our county, but the collective have never delivered. It’s about the team and the players role in that team and its a team that will deliver an all Ireland not a player.

  30. A good point there TonyK. Nobody can question his lack of pace or work rate. He is fearless in the tackle. The guy who gets ahead of him in the pecking order will be busting a gut in training. His decision making is not where it should be, but look at the progress in this dept since Cusack Park in May 2006.

  31. Maybe the subs do positive stuff i just cant see, i just dont see the why a player would opt to run directly into the corner nearly all the time when he can run at the goal .What i have started to notice is there is a slight nervousness to some of the play whn these bucks come on, so the next day out if and when they come on , im personally goin to cheer them onto the pitch as if it were Ciaran Mac or wilie joe of old coming on, remember the almighty cheer they used to get , maybe that will boost their confidence a biteen.

  32. Those being critical of Ger Caff, should read the analysis below. Excellent piece of work. I remarked to someone afterwards that while Hurley scored 1-3 or something, Caff had a good game on him, and this data seems to back that up. I think alot of people fall into the trap of thinking that the teams were per the program all day, they werent

    Mayo Maori says:
    August 4, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    I’ve just watched the game again and I’ve been looking at our full backs and how we handled O’Neill and Hurley.

    I think that people are being overly critical of Cafferkey in particular.

    In the first half Caff started on O’Neill and Barret on Hurley- Hurley goes onto score 2-3 great points from play beating Barret each time. O’Neill didnt score

    So 20 mins in Caff switches to Hurley and marks him until around 60 mins- Hurley doesn’t score during this period. O’Neill finished the second half beating Barret again 2-3 times with points from play.

    After half time Cuniffe moves back to mark O’Neill and Caff stays on Hurley until about 60 mins- Caff fouls hurley once for a free in, Cuniffe fouls O’Neill twice for a free in.

    After 60 mins Caff switches back to O’Neill and Keith Higgins moves back onto Hurley. Hurley wins a ball and beats Keith Higgins for his goal. Caff gets turned easily by O’Neill in what I believe was his only real mistake. He manages to disposses O’Neill again though (legally according to the ref).

    Neither O’Neill or Hurley scored from play whilst Caffs was marking them!!

    Overall the full back line was under huge pressure and the lads were isolated one on one alot. Barret struggled hugely, Cafferkey not so much

  33. Sean Burke

    I will cheer too, so we will probably be heard, if you know what I mean.

    I don’t remember Enda running into the corners in the QF. He was operating closer to the half forward line. possibly to force the cork keeper to go long.

    A couple of months back, nobody could convince me, we would win an AI with Doc in the team, he is un-dropable now.

  34. Our subs in forwards on Sunday last
    Feeney
    C oshea
    J gibbons
    Enda v
    Alan freeman
    Mickey c
    Mikey Sweeney

    And yet it took a midfielder to score the only goal

  35. Ah I actually just find it very frustrating and disappointing really in terms of the subs we bring on. Jason Gibbons was only on the field a very short time yet in that time he dispossessed a Cork player, layed off the ball, got it back, continued on his run straight at goal, which he always does and gave the assist pass to Lee Keegan for our final point. I would call that a positive impact. Again Alan Freeman was only on for a very short time but won the turnover that led to Mayo’s goal. Again I would call this a positive impact. So you’d think even based on these few minutes they should be first choice subs if they are not starting. In relation to Harrision, he is a very game lad and never shys away from the ball but I think at times he goes forward too much, again this was probably one of the reasons why we looked so open at the back nearing the end of the game. We seen the impact that Conroy and Varley made in last year’s All-Ireland final when they came, now if that game didn’t tell us all we need to know about them, I don’t really know what game will. And in fairness to him, Michael Conroy actually did very well when he came on against Tyrone in the semi-final last year but he just seems to lack composure at the vital times. It just looks to me like these two players are very short on confidence and end up trying too hard to make an impact and this leads to them even making more mistakes when they are brought on.

  36. To be honest, I dunno what point you’re trying to make really David? Who cares who gets the goals, to be frank? Our forward line that started scored 0-13 from play, I make it??

    Christ, I’d bite your hand off for that before any match in the latter stages. All scored from play with only one (Kevin Mc- who spent a good stint of the first half on the line) scoring 0-1, all the rest got at least 0-2. Great going. Our forwards that are starting are the finest there’s only one slight question mark and that’s Moran or Freeman. Dillon is safe now you’d imagine

  37. The question we must ask ourselves is are we learning?
    1. Barrett well beaten in Galway game & again last sunday.
    2.We were always known to be a soft touch—not any more.
    3.We are vulnerable under a high ball-still the same-Donaghy ???
    4.Vaughen too loose–now at midfield–positive move.
    5.Need for mobile midfielders–Gibbons & Vaughan a help here.
    6.All teams need man markers-keegan did well last week.
    7.We need a sweeper system–tried last Sunday
    8. Tendency to fall asleep
    9Tendency for team & supporters to loose the run of themselves–Horan has team under control.
    10.Need a plan for each game–we have one.
    11. Need better use of subs
    12. We need to play on the edge–we do now but we need a Cadogan type.

    I have been watching Mayo in Croker since the 67 semi.

  38. ” It just looks to me like these two players are very short on confidence and end up trying too hard to make an impact and this leads to them even making more mistakes when they are brought on.”

    I agree with this and hopefully this can be worked on for the next day, Varley needs to keep his composure he went for a big garryowen straight away , i felt it was a desperate attempt to make an impression , Freeman also shot a bad wide on introduction.

    Kerry defend very well i think, they really limit your shot selection , i really hope we can create some space to run straight at them with the likes of AOS doin the burstin down the middle . I felt when Galway ran at them directly for goal they were in trouble ie the galway first goal.

  39. I think Liam makes a very valid point above. I have had the same feeling too. Horan has not played all his cards yet and I don’t think they will be played until the final if we reach it. It’s high risk and we could come unstuck against Kerry but it’s worth the gamble. We were way too predictable last Sept.

    If I had to guess, I think we will see something new tried in the FF Line if we reach the final. A lot of football to play before that though.

  40. Things didn’t stick for Varley but he didn’t have a stinker either. He brilliantly won the first ball that came to him. In the same time as he kicked a wide/lost possession, Alan Dillon, Jay Doherty and Donal Vaughan did similar. Last time we played Kerry in a semi it was Enda’s points that put us 2 ahead at the start – quality ones too. The guy has ability

  41. I wonder would Lee Keegan be the best man to man mark James O’Donoghue? I know he is not an orthodox corner back and I don’t ever remember him playing in the full-back line for Mayo but he would have the mentality to do the job. In fact he would probably relish the task. It would maybe be the best attacker in the game at the moment against maybe the best defender. He did a great job on Paul Kerrigan and it was like he was rubbing salt into Kerrigan’s wounds as not only did he keep him scoreless but he helped himself to a point as well, at the end of the game. He has the speed, the discipline and the strength to do the job, maybe it might be just his positional sense that might go against him as he wouldn’t have that much experience of playing so close to his own goals, would it be a risk worth taking?

  42. Tom Cuniffe, if he is marking James O Donoghue, will give him plenty to think about.
    Tom has a great burst of speed, he attacks the ball and won’t spare his marker.
    I think Tom is the man to do the job.

  43. Ed. Tom Cuniffe tried to mark “The Gooch” and what was the outcome? James O Donoghue is slipper than the “Gooch” and I don’t think Tom will be any better than when marking “Gooch”.

  44. If mayo repeat old mistakes of leaving Backs one on one against top quality forwards like ODonoghue we will have a familiar result.

  45. J O’ Donoghue will skin anybody if he is left man for man, particularly now that we have the black card. The same is true of Bernard Brogan, Connolly, O’ Gara or Mc Manamin. We need an effective sweeper system now more than ever. We need our number 6 to cover the hole in the middle of the half back line when the opposition get a run on us but a sweeper further back to provide a second line of defense when the full back is turned as he inevitably will in the course of the match.

    I really admire the fluidity of our backs and their attacking ability has got us where we are, however, since the black card was introduced our backline has been too porous. A new strategy is needed. The two concepts are not incompatible but need to be managed better. All our great work upfield will be destroyed if we leak goals.

    As regards team selection, fair play to James Horan. Who would have thought that Alan Dillon would be back to his graceful best. Who would have believed that Jason Doherty could be so effective against Galway and again against Cork. His tackling and link play is unbelievable and he is even scoring. I didn’t see that coming. When Andy stops slipping he too will be back to his best and should start.

    In relation to impact subs it seems that Varley, Conroy Freeman and Gibbons were like for like substitutions – brought on for tiring players, although the O’Sheas never need replacing , to my mind. For a real impact how about introducing something new to the forward line, like B. Moran, Gibbons or Gavin Duffy and try a few long balls in. That would unnerve the backline.

  46. Mayo-maoris analysis of Caff’s performance above makes very interesting reading.
    Caff is as wholehearted player as you can ask for. He gives his all and never gives up.
    But he does deserve more support from out the field to stop these free runs in on top of him.
    And Barrett is only just back from a long layoff. He’ll be fine.

    The man I am sorry we are missing is James Nallen. He’d be a huge help to our defense
    Any chance of enlisting him for the remainder of the c.ship?.

  47. I was just reading some of the Kerry forums there now, I came across the below post. I could never imagine a Mayo poster posting something like this. It sums up the Kerry boys actually!

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    Hey, it is a 21 man game, let’s stick together now and support our heroes at this crucial time. Killarney is magic these days when you know that the best footballers on planet earth are just up the road preparing themselves to excel, pushing back the barriers of possibility to make history, again. On a few occasions I was in town and they’d be very tempered conversations in Tatlers afterwards. They’d be no predictions, no rousing statements, the time for that would be long gone as battle drew near and unity set in. Let’s take the lead from those days. A pint for me there!

  48. I’m sick to the teeth reading the negative shit from the same geniuses who questioned Dillons inclusion in the cork game and just have no clue about anything.

    Of course people are right to question the switches made during the cork game but to single out players for abuse etc is very similar as what them low life’s in the cork management did before we played them.

    With regards to Barry Moran and Ritchie Feeney they probably feel hard done by but the O Sheas were immense the last day and gibbons made a huge contribution when he came on. There is always rumours about players who are flying in training etc but I’d take it with a pinch of salt. With some players form is temporary and class is permanent. Andy Moran isn’t in great form but he pops up with some crucial scores and assists…

    There is probably 2/3 positions available in the team for the Kerry game… We have strength in depth and I’d say training will be v interesting in the next 3 weeks… Lads will be going hell for leather as the say… We are in a good place and are real contenders. Less negativity and remain positive. Believe in our team.

  49. Was talking to Colm at the match on Sunday as he was heading down the tunnel beneath me. Asked him how his recovery was coming along. All he said was “Fine” I’ve a funny feeling we could be seeing him playing against us the next day. I’d never trust them “cute Kerry hoors”!! 😉

  50. Heard your question Mayo Mick and the reply.
    I agree with you totally, but why would he be togged if they were going to spring him or is it more cute hoorism. ( put them thinking) . If his injury was anything like Andy’s . I hope they play him in place of J o D.

  51. ‘I’m sick to the teeth reading the negative shit from the same geniuses who questioned Dillons inclusion in the cork game and just have no clue about anything.’

    I questioned Dillons inclusion from the start based on his poor show v Galway, absolutely delighted to be proven wrong.

    No clue about anything is a tad harsh though. (i have 300 e/w double on both kerry minors and seniors to win the all irelands) even though the cash would be nice, i hope im wrong there too.

  52. Dillon having one good game does not mean he should be nailed to that position for the Kerry match. Lots of ppl here get upset and hot and bothered about certain players and their inclusion on the starting 15, based on long past all star nominations or awards. Them awards were earned for sure, but they don’t matter now, what matters is current form. Dillon seems to have it back, Andy is still struggling but playing through it. Varley and Conroy might be showing good in training but have not done so in the heat of battle. I’d be ok starting Dillon and Moran again against Kerry, but if it is that way’, then I’d like to think Freeman would be first forward subbed followed by Sweeney, Gibbons…
    Got to thinking though, where does Gavin Duffy fit in all of this? If at all!

  53. If Gavin Duffy is good enough, he’ll be included in the match day panel. Nobody has seen the lad play football for over 15 years (ok, maybe a few souls saw him play a few mins for Salthill), so there is no basis for saying he should be starting or brought on in the semi, or final if we get there. We’ll have to leave that up to Horan and the management team to judge.
    I was delighted for Dillon on Sunday, it was heart-warming to see him put in a performance like that after all the negative comments about him, and I must admit I had major reservations over whether he should have started on Sunday.
    I share the concerns over the forward substitutions that are repeated and don’t seem to ever work. It’s unfair to be publicly negative about players who are putting in so much effort, but it really does seem to be damaging our chances…

  54. Duffy played a full match for Salthill v Kilconly, Tubberman

    He’ll be playing again this weekend against Caltra too in the next round I’d imagine

    He was midfield and according to a few Salthill players I know, he put in a good shift and is a great presence in training

    Now I’m not advocating playing him at all but just to be a tad pedantic (sorry :o) it wasn’t a mere “few minutes” he played and by the time the AISF comes around he’ll have probably played as much club football as a lot of the Mayo team

  55. Jeepers lads don’t be worrying the Gooch won’t be seeing any football in 2014 never mind in 2 weeks (wish him well of course but cruciate injuries take a long time to get back from)!!

  56. Colm coopers mother just died, he has his allireland medals already so I think perspective will come into it for him. Rip mrs cooper and get well soon to colm cooper, a man that plays the game it should be played.
    I seen on some newspaper that Cillian o Connor was training on Wednesday evening with his teammates so his shoulder is just fine, thank God.
    Gavin Duffy has had a lot of ball handling done in the last few months, he would fit right in but it’s hard to see him being used much since he wasn’t even named in last weekends subs. His strength would cause serious problems for any defender from Dublin or donegal or Kerry . It would take 2 to hold him and that leaves another mayo man free somewhere, is it possible that jh has some plan to do something ?

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