Alan Freeman our leading scorer in this year’s League campaign

Alan Freeman

Photo: Mayo Mick

Not wishing to open old wounds or anything but the decision to withdraw Alan Freeman so early in last year’s All-Ireland final had many scratching their heads both on the day itself and for months afterwards. Alan was, with some justification, seen as one of our principal scoring threats that day and over the course of our just-concluded 2014 League campaign he has gone on to underscore this point further.

Despite not re-establishing himself as a member of the starting fifteen until the Kerry game in Round 3 (having come on as a second half sub in both of the first two games), the Aghamore man’s 4-22 haul for the campaign as a whole means that he’s comfortably our leading scorer in this year’s NFL, as the table below shows.

Mayo NFL 2014 scorers

As you can see from the table, Kevin McLoughlin (with 1-24), Cillian O’Connor (1-11), Adam Gallagher (0-14), Jason Doherty (2-6), Mikie Sweeney (2-5), Lee Keegan (1-7) and Jason Gibbons (2-3) were our other leading sharpshooters this spring. In all, a total of 22 players got their names on the scoresheet for us at some point over the eight League matches we played.

It’s always worth checking how many of the scores we got came from placed balls. Well, the answer to that one is that 1-15 of Alan Freeman’s total of 4-22 did (this includes free kicks, ’45s and a converted penalty), 0-12 of Kevin McLoughlin’s 1-24, nine of Adam Gallagher’s fourteen points and 0-8 of Cillian O’Connor’s 1-11. In addition, all three of Robbie Hennelly’s points came from ’45s, while one of Andy Moran’s points (the one he blasted over at the death the last day) also came from a free.

Full details on all of our League games this year may, by the way, be found under the ‘2014 Results’ tab and eventually they’ll be preserved for posterity within the Results Archive.

106 thoughts on “Alan Freeman our leading scorer in this year’s League campaign

  1. keith higgins total says it all .put hiim back to where he belongs,he scores more from the backline than he does in the half foward line

  2. Those stats are quite telling.

    Agree with Peter on Higgins.

    Andy Moran has not been as effective as he once was and I think this backs it up. Certainly we would be better with him in the full forward line where he wins ball and runs at defences. He is too slow to deliver out the field.

    And Alan Freeman, there are interesting gaps in the stats. Against Dublin, against Cork and against Derry’s first choice full back he struggled to score and make an impact from play. He struggled in the All Ireland Final too and that is why he was taken off. His head seems to go down when there is a battle to be won, and he doesn’t like the rough stuff.

  3. I thought Alan did ok against that easy going gang that is Tyrone in an All Ireland semi final and had done enough on O’Carroll to stay on the field – didn’t play well in the league game cos Jesus himself couldn’t have done anything with the ball played into the FF position that evening – it was that atrocious.

  4. Fairly harsh assessment of Freezer there Cynthia. He was one of our better performers on the day of the All-Ireland and without raking up old ground unless he called to go off (which I don’t think he did) I cannot fathom why he didn’t stay on.

    Can’t see how you can say that he doesn’t like the rough stuff – can you give some examples? And as ruanejos says above, the quality of ball going to him vs. the Dubs on 29th March was shockingly poor – the Gooch himself would have struggled with that supply.

  5. I agree totally with Cynical Cynthia re Freezer ,he has been lacking in catching and holding on to the high balls , and making space for himself against good full backs He to inclined to stay behind his man and wait for the breaking ball ..Yes we need him in the forward line but i think we need someone more aggressive when it comes down to the business end of the championship and for freezer to feed of him . Freezer is a good finisher .

  6. While being an admirer of Alan Freeman’s contribution over the past twelve months I fell that he sometimes struggles against stronger, more physical full backs. And its not always about the quality of ball in to him nor was it against the last Dubs game. For some reason he was consistently behind the full back. where you cannot win ball unless the full back is incompetent I still think that Barry Moran would be a more consistent ball winner and should wear the No 14 jersey with Alan in the corner. They would be a very formidable combination, There may be reasons why Barry has not got a moments game time in the three games since the Club final but if he is fit to be named in the subs I do not understand what they may be.
    I also agree that Andy Moran is slowing play too much and that he should be moved to the corner. It is where he has played his best football in recent years. When using a target man it is essential to move the ball as quickly as possible from midfield in. While Jason Gibbons has been our best midfielder in 2014 I would like to see him given a run on the 40 with Seamus O’Shea and Tom Parsons fighting it out to be Aiden’s partner. It might not work but it is worth trying.
    My team v NY would be [assuming all fit]
    Hennelly or O’Malley [good to see him back in the panel Sunday]
    Cunniffe, Cafferkey & Higgins,
    Keegan, Vaughan & Boyle
    Aiden O’Shea & Seamus O’Shea or Tom Parsons,
    McLoughlin, Gibbons & Doherty,
    O’Connor, Barry Moran & Freeman.
    Subs with expectations of getting game time: [Forwards]Andy Moran, Mikie Sweeney, Adam Gallagher, Enda Varley & Ml Conroy. [Defence] K Keane, S McHale, B Harrison, D Drake, C Barrett

  7. Shar Freeman was taken off within 10 minutes in the AIF if my memory serves me right so its hard to make a cal like that on his AIF performance. As for the other games he is not getting sufficient ball . At the moment our attacking play is very poor. So i think its worth looking at the bigger picture . If freeman gets enough ball and quality ball he will do damage.

  8. I haven’t posted since just after the AI, partly due to the old computer’s impression of a Saturn V
    I’ve read the comments over the last few days and, with regard to forwards scoring, Pebblesmeller’s views on the time allowed to forwards hit the nail. Freeman has done well. However, those that can change a game in the hardest of contests are priceless. When they have those around them making the task even easier then you have trouble ahead. That’s where Dublin are blessed. Posters have suggested where the problem lies, such as attacking and leaving the defence exposed. There is no question that opponents found it very difficult to get goals last year.

    Despite all that, I look back and see that Dublin managed a draw, admittedly with 14 men, Derry were 3 points down half way through the second half before staging a come back. Maybe, I am the Imelda Marcos of rose tinted spectacles, but for a team that is not firing on all cylinders they have acquitted themselves fairly well and come the business end of the season, the championship, they will not roll over for anyone.

    I cannot wait.

  9. When the dust settles down a little you start to see the woods.

    Derry had a well deserved win against us. I would be having serious doubts about Mayo going forward if I thought they were playing championship level football. In my opinion there not even close to playing to their max, while I don’t think that Derry could have played any better.My point is that I don’t see how Derry can improve on Sundays performance, where as Mayo can only get better. Alot of people on this blog are concerned about Mayo peaking too early, well that’s definetly not something we have too worry about.

    Having said that the likes of Diarmid Connelly will win an All Ireland club final medal and get the MOTM, play a peak performance for his county the following week and the following week, kick the winning point against Tyrone and win the MOTM against Cork the following. The likes of Connelly are not too bothered about the aul peaking too early business, he’ll just peak every week. I could name a good few more Dubs who have a similar mindset. I guess that’s what champions need to be made of.

    Foot to the floor time now lads and give her loads of welly. The only thing worse than peaking too early is peaking too late.

  10. That comment about his substitution in the final is one I take issue with. Surely his inability to make inroads with O’Carroll and the subsequent trouble he had with Sweeney afterwards indicates that Horan in fact knew what he was doing introducing Conroy for freeman?

  11. Not really, Conroy didnt exactly tear the Dublin defence open in the final, or even make a dent in it actually

  12. In the overall sense I am concerned about a few things & less concerned about others.
    One of the things I’m very concerned about is that we have been getting basically the same team & the same subs for yonks now so the staleness is no surprise. This can’t be good for the people on the fringe of the team who must be rightly pissed off by now.
    I don’t think it’s good for the incumbents either as there are no consequences for poor performances.
    A team in Mayo’s situation should be giving their top 10/12 players a rest for the League regardless of whether we are relegated or not.
    The remainder should then be told to win 3 out of the 7 League matches & we would all have a proper chance to assess the contenders for places & at the same time
    the key players have their careers prolonged are kept fresh for peaking when it matters later in the championship.
    As someone posted earlier we have an unreal loyalty to history & sameness.
    The other issue is that we seem to see substitutes as a necessary evil with no pre-planned thought as to their best use at all. Other counties see them as a huge impact weapon & would be looking to to have their best team on the field for the final 20 minutes whilst we want to have our best team on the field for the first 20.
    Many of us here are discussing various permutations in team selection but it is really whistling in the dark as management is going to select as management has always selected regardless.
    We need rotation in our midfield selections. If a player can only give 50 minutes then the only question should be is it the first 50 or the last 50 ?
    We cannot afford shagged midfielders in the last 20 min.
    I see the Cynical One has been stirring the pot again and the Mayo/Meath Man has put the lid on it … a summary with which I would concur.
    I have reached the conclusion that we have to go with a target man at full forward with Freezer beside him. There is no reason why this target man could not repeatedly rotate in and out with a midfielder. This would mix things up considerably & we could attack in different ways creating multiple problems for the opposition.
    Will any of this happen ? Probably not ….. for reasons given above.

  13. Have great time for Alan but share the concern about his performances v Derry and Dublin . That’s not a criticism and maybe we should give credit to O Carroll and McKaigue

  14. lads and lassies do ye believe that it is just a training strategy that has the lads off the game or do people believe we are like Donegal last year and just sapped mentally physically?

  15. just looking at the table of scorers . Adam Gallagher scored has scored 14 points from 3 games. Would it not be better to play your form players . 14 points from 3 games in my opinion deserves another day out.

  16. Joey, you’ve hit a lot of nails on the head there and in so doing you highlight what could be wrong with Mayo at present. Following our most recent defeat many on this Blog commented on how tired our lads looked, and sure enough with ten minutes to go we looked out on our feet. I’m not sure tiredness is the problem, I think it’s more to do with players having gone stale. Going forward this could be a problem, for unless players see some reward for hard work they will just give up trying as they realize it’s a case of making up the numbers. People can defend Horan all they like and no doubt he is a fine person but, he seems to be stuck in this battle with himself, where the heart is ruling the head, and as we know loyalty alone will not win matches…..

  17. 10 of those were from free kicks. We have plenty of players who are capable of kicking a ball over the bar from frees i.e. Freeman, McLoughlin and O’Connor.

    I think it’s the return of scores from play during game time that is the crucial statistic. Also of course we should be looking at assists but that’s a whole other set of statistics.

  18. i hear you JPM but it think he won a lot of his frees. which for one stat is good because he obviously making a nuisance of himself. Either way he scored . Remember the days mayo were put down because we missed a lot of scores ?

  19. As mentioned to be corrected by WJ at the top that AG scored 9 frees and 5 from play in 1 full game (Tyrone) and just over 2 other half games (Kildare and Kerry), (not 10 and 4 as in the stats provided). Its as good a rate as O’Connor from similar games, so I agree he should have been given more game time.

    People tend to dismiss free taking (think its just because we have a v good one), but not long ago were the days where I think we tried something like 7 different free takers in one match! (which necessitated the drafting in of a young COC).

    Also In fairness to Freeman, he has a decent rate from 45’s….another thing we have had shocking problems with in the past.

    Overall, think we should be giving the group support rather than v harsh criticism, I mean they are on a hiding to nothing this year in the media, (ie have to win the AI or its failure), so I think the last thing they need now is their own on their back. By all means, critcise where you feel due if we are knocked out of the championship, but I think they need all the support right now. Its APRIL FFS!

  20. Have to disagree
    He didn’t get enough quality ball over the Dublin full back’s head a few weeks ago. Alan was positioned on Cluxton to pull the full back nearer the square to create space for others to run at the goal but only one of about six balls in gave him any chance.
    The balls played in were too low, too short or didn’t hang up enough for Alan to get under.
    I was in line with him at the AI and I think he was on for at least twenty minutes. He did well under two balls played into him because he was up against two in the full back line every time.
    After around twenty minutes he put his hand up to the bench so I still believe something happened to him and not that he was taken off for tactical reasons
    He may not look very aggressive but he has put muscle on since 2012 and is a handful when he gets good ball into him
    I think he is better out in front of his marker (rather than a speculative high ball) because he can turn them very well when he makes room for himself

  21. Ha Ha……………….G’d man Joe Ruane…”…the only thing worse than peaking too early is peaking too late…..”…….Spot-on !!

    I don’t know……I rewatched Sunday’s game in fast-forward mode, and despite the silly giveaways that led to turnovers and opposition scores that nailed us, we were in contention for the win for a long time. I genuinely believe we now have the ingredients for a good championship campaign, and players that are individually up there with the best of them….Just where exactly to put some fellas is the key question.

    Definitely for me, Higgins is an attacking full back. I agree with all Freeman points above, and that he will only get better…His heart and determination to step up is evident. AOS really should stop barging forward in possession….Just win the ball and offload quickly, they should really practice that with Aidan. We also need to get the FF line sync’d better and use Sweeney off Freeman. Youth and pace will win the day, and I agree with the Andy observations, unfortunately……Keep him in tight to the endline, feed him and let his finishing skills do the talking.

  22. Forgot Richie Feeney in my list of subs above, he would certainly be one of my first choices as sub. I also think that Alan Feeney, based on his Castlebar performances deserves a place on the bench.

  23. He is a manager, not a fortune teller. Conroy is a more moblie type of forward than freeman, who looks to get out in front in a similar fashion to sweeney. He was also in good form in the previous match. It is clear that horan identified o’carroll’s weakness with quick forwards and looked to exploit it. Conroy just had a poor game on the day – not all of it his own doing either. Wouldnt that indicate that his thinking was in fact right, but the player just didnt perform?

  24. I think he has been carrying an injury since the U21 defeat against the Rossies. I was disappointed that he didn’t feature against Derry the last day as the run out, even in a defeat, would have stood to him and we would have learned a lot more from that than we did from seeing Varley come on. Varley, unfortunately, confirmed in my book anyway all that is good and bad about his play. He kicked the point of the day after coming on at a time of the game when we were in the ascendancy, but then kicked the miss of the day when we badly needed a score. I have no doubt that he puts in the work, sacrifice, effort and pain that all the other players do but I think we know at this stage what we get, and I don’t believe it is enough to win us an All Ireland.

  25. I find it insulting for anyone commenting on here to accuse any of our lads of “not liking the rough stuff”. Cliched, insulting and unsubstantiated. Where exactly have you seen Freeman “not like the rough stuff”??? Where exactly have you seen Freeman shy away from a challenge??? Go to a training session and see some of the hits our lads give and take IN TRAINING and then come back with a comment like that. If you can’t take “the rough stuff” you don’t get anywhere near intercounty level.
    You are well named Cynical Cynthia.

  26. No manager has people off their game on purpose. But horan is definately looking to peak later in the year as regards fitness and guys reaching top form. Proper order aswell. Come the business end of the provincial championships and nobody remembers the league. People forget, we were comfortably beaten by dublin in last year’s semi final, yet come the final, had all our players been fully fit and firing, my guess is we would have beaten them. It is ok for dublin to go all out for everything, they have the squad to do it. It is different for the other counties, they need to prioritise.

  27. In fairness to Derry and more so to the player sent off I would expect them to play better with 15 men on the pitch. I believe a winning team will go out to win every competition. It is in their mindset.

    Are Mayo in such a position that they can be snooty about competitons like the National League and leave them to teams like Dublin, Kerry, Cork, Tyrone, Donegal and indeed Derry that have won it in recent years? I would imagine any of these teams would like to think they will have a reasonable peak later in the year. Believe it or not the empirical evidence suggests that they occasionally manage to peak around September.

    It also worth pointing out that the Connaught Championship has been very weak over the last few years, London getting to the final says it all really. Quite a few of these
    teams would really appreciate the luxury of negotiating the path Mayo have had and keeping their powder dry during June and July.

  28. Just checked those stats again, KL, and you’re right about that Kildare game – two of Adam’s three points that day were from play so the post should have read that nine of his fourteen points came from frees. I’ve corrected the post accordingly.

  29. Sean Moran has a good piece today in the times about the league and it’s true influence on the coming championship, which amounts to not alot really!

    Agree with Pebblesmeller on Varley (and there are a few more like him) Hail Mary shots only come off when you’re winning. As was documented on Sunday Sport these Mayo forwards are long enough on the road to know when to shoot and when to recycle.

    Regarding James Horan the Maestro is correct in saying he will have them right for the championship and the championship is all that matters, no matter how nice it is to win the league.
    The problem James Horan has is that the analysis only looks at the negative things when you lose. Jim Gavin can do no wrong, all his substitutions are master strokes etc, but can you imagine the analysis if Dublin lost the AI with 2 injured players on the pitch, having emptied the bench too early?

    We live in an age where the media drives the positives and negatives to the extremes, hence after last weekend the dubs are unbeatable, with the perfect manager and Mayo are in crisis having lost another big match in croke Park. Reality is somewhere in between.

  30. What a load of rubbish that comment is Maestro – as are most of the negative and inaccurate comments above about Freeman.

    Freeman is arguably Mayo’s most naturally talented footballer – much more, I would argue, than say Cillian O’Connor. In the AI final, James Horan made what is without doubt the worst decision of his Mayo management career thus far, in taking Alan Freeman off after 26 minutes and bringing Conroy on. He was comfortably beating Rory O’Carroll and scored an excellent point where he threw O’Carroll out of the way, only for the ref to call it back for a free-in to Mayo.

    The decision to take AF off was compounded by the fact that it was Conroy who coming on, meaning a FF line that was as slow as Christmas and had absolutely no height. The one time Mayo scored from play in the second half was from a long ball into the FF spot and it was Mayo’s only hope given how our half-backs were so well marshaled by Dublin. That’s why Freeman should have been left on.

    In relation to his positioning, and other daft comments that question his overall worth – he is by a distance, the best full forward in Mayo. As good a free-taker as Cillian O’Connor (I’d argue better at 45s too) and like Cillian when the pressure is on he gets even better.

  31. Agree with most of the above.

    Question – why did it take so long for Freeman to earn a starting place in the league? Was he made work for it in training or is it simply a case of Horan not having much time for big target-men?

    If John O’Mahony was over the current team there would be no doubt that we’d see a system with the ‘twin towers’ up front, Barry Moran would likely be starting. With JH the impression I get is that he’d rather have a quick, clever full-forward who can bring others into play – Andy last year or McLoughlin this year.

    Still, Freeman is a real talent, when on form he’s too good not to start. Mayo may not get the best out of him under JH, the long diagonal ball that Dublin use would allow Freeman to thrive. As a plan B when the running game stutters, Freeman gives us serious options. But he needs better ball.

  32. Very well put.I ve noticed in the media since Sunday quite an amount of critical commentary about Mayo. Better for that to happen now than later. As always the media jump on the last game and base all their judgements on that. If Dublin hadn’t scored with last kick of game v tyrone there would have been no brilliant 17 point swing v Cork. If Mayo hadn’t qualified for semis there would have been no last quarter fade out v Derry. And still Mayo are not a worse team or Dublin a better team than they were this day last week. What I am trying to say is that there is always a bigger picture and judgements should rarely be made based on one game. I remember when we lost to Donegal away in league two years ago and even when we lost 4 in a row in league last year everything looked bleak but on both years we were excellent when championship came around. Hopefully the same will happen this year.

  33. I agree MartyK, the game went away from us in the minutes between 54 and 64 where we came away scoreless from a number of attacks. We gifted them 2 very soft frees in easy scoring positions and that gave them something to hold on to. What disappointed me most is the way we lost our heads in the last 5 minutes where we kicked aimless efforts at goal and rushed our play too much. I was disappointed with the line also in that they should have put their last 2 subs in along with Seamus O’Shea for them to have any effect. Then again, as much as we like to think we do, we do not know everything, and it is safe to say that management know the condition of the players on the pitch and on the bench better than we do. Maybe the lads on the pitch we running on empty and maybe there were not that many options on the bench in terms of freshness and fitness?? I don’t know.
    Regardless and for whatever reason, it was plain to see we were very heavy legged going into the last 20 minutes of the game and did not have our usual “bounce” off the pitch. That will come and the more the pitches harden the more we will bounce 🙂
    Everyone relax, we will have a long year of it yet.

  34. Freeman didn’t get better against Dublin. And not every ball into him was a disaster,. There as the sideline when the ball went over O’Carrols head and right into Freemans hands on the penalty spot. But he spilled it.

    Also he was poor against Derry. What did he contribute from play and his man marker got MOTM.

    He was fine against Cork but Shields (another physical full back) was rested and not marking him that day.

    In my opinion the jury is very much still out on him. Unfortunately right now becasue Horan has not tried Barry Moran in the FF position line in the final games of the League we are very much stuck with whatever Freeman does on the day. Otherwise it’s back to the small inside line. That is poor management in my opinion.

    Finally people have some cheek on here to criticise other posters who may not be a fan of Alan Freeman. And then come along and dish out criticism and say what they like themselves about other players.

  35. would ye agree we looked more tired in this game than in others in the league? Thats what i thought and leaving croker i thought these lads must have being put through the mill in training recently.Maybe im wrong .But your right Pebblesmeller everyone just needs to relax . Championship is a coming.

  36. Agree with most of these comments particularly with Pebblesmeller’s about sub decisions and timing. Who said that ideally, you should have your strongest team on the pitch at the end? With our recent fade outs, is it feasible to start one or two “weaker” panel members and bring in “stronger” players with 20 mins to go? The policy in Dublin under P. Gilroy was to burn out your wing forwards and bring on fresh legs early in the second half.

    Also, have we become susceptible to teams running strongly at us? In the two Derry games, their tactic of bringing 13 players back inside their 45 and then running at us like a rugby team was quite effective. Hopefully, we can find a way to kill attacks in midfield and thrive on the turnovers before August.

    Having just made a small investment at 11/2, I’m crossing everything I’ve got for two great displays on August 24th and September 21st. And if it doesn’t happen, i know it won’t be for the lack of trying by either the panel or the management.

  37. Definitely Mayomaningalway, we certainly looked more tired on Sunday than in the previous games. I have to admit that I was surprised how fresh and fit they looked in Kildare and Omagh considering they were only back training since January so maybe they just need a bit of a break.
    Maybe a bit of shopping on Main Street, New York town is just what they need 🙂

  38. Barry Moran (and I am a big fan) is not as good at full forward as Freeman – it’s as obvious as day. Very good at club level but way too immobile to consistently start at county level. Not to mention all the additional benefits Freeman brings, like free and penalty taking.

    Against Dublin in the league the standard of ball into Freeman was terrible. Against Derry he got very little to work with but did fine overall. He has been Mayo’s best forward in a number a games in the last year, not least the AI semi-final last August. It is one of the positions that Mayo have sorted. The fact that people feel the need to bring Freeman up shows how off the point people can get when there are way more pressing positions, namely in the half-forward line and corner-forward positions.

  39. I couldn’t agree more with you GBXI. Freeman got 2 good balls, that he could actually challenge for and do something with, against Dublin in the league game. He dropped one and flicked on another for Kevin Mcs goal. I get totally dismayed with the argument about Barry Moran at full forward and also Gibbons at centre half forward.
    As regards the half forward line, it was the total malfunction of that line of attack in the second half last September that rendered our offensive game ineffectual. I think we have gone some way to improving things in that section during this league and I wish people would look at our “Scores For” column as much as they look at our “Scores Against” column. 4-22 in the league whilst not starting every game??? If The Gooch or Bernard Brogan scored similar stats from similar appearances we would be all gushing with praise and awe. But because he is a Mayo forward we instead look at how many did he score from frees/45’s and penos! As if they don’t count.

  40. I’m referring to your comment Pebblesmeller back to Cynthia and GBX1 to Maestro. Cynthia may have been OTT towards Freeman however she is entitled to her view (as is everyone else i.e. Maestro). Just becasue others don’t like it does not give them the right personally attack the poster. It’s not my site but it is one of the rules on here.

    As to Freeman – well fine, but the level of debate on this just shows how much people are divided on the issue. If he was as rock solid as some claim then there would be no debate.

    Also there is the question as to what happens in the event of an injury to him? Say he doing well and the long ball in is ‘perfect’ for him. And he gets hurt. Do we abandon then this gameplan and go back to the small inside fw line?

    This is fundamentally why Barry Moran should have been tried out in the League.
    He demonstrated his ball winning ability at 14 very well against Eoin Brosnan (inter county star for Crokes) and setup all 3 goals for Castlebar whilst playing against him.

    Of course maybe he is not a viable alternative at inter county. But becasue he has not been tried at all there in the League we will never know now if it might have been viable. Poor decision making by management I believe.

  41. Shields played and marked(well tried to ) Freeman in the Cork game this year JPM!

  42. Ah for gods sake! Threw o’carroll out of the way! O’Carroll was actually out in front of him for that ball and let it slip through his hands down to freeman at which point he was fouled by another player, so I dont who at what point he done that throwing. He was beaten to 2 other balls that came in in the final also. Im not trying to knock him, but those are just the facts. O’Carroll got the better of him in the league match also, and it was actually sweeney that gave o’carroll the most trouble. Trying to deny any of the above is only kidding ourselves, and what is the point of that? I wish freeman was doing that type of damage, I wish he had thrown o’carroll around the place a few times, and I hope he does it in the future. But look, he didnt do it in those games and nobody can deny his substitution was justified in the league game and that the smaller nippier man sweeney gave o’carroll more issues. My point is the much-maligned substitution in the AIF actually followed very similar logic to that one.

  43. I dont believe it was derry running strongly at us that did it, I think it was their counter attacking game once they went a man down that did it. They crowded the front of their area. Mayo send so many forward that this area became congested and we were turning the ball over at which point they were attacking into the space our attacking defenders had left. How many times did we see our half backs chasing a man back towards his own goal against derry? It wasnt that they were beaten by guys running at them, they were actually caught on the counter and never got a chance to get a tackle in at all.
    The very same thing – against 14 men also – happened last year in the league meeting with dublin. When Brennan got the line we were actually ahead. When dublin went to 14 they sat back and counter attacked at pace. We ended up losing.

  44. yeah, he’s not afraid to air his thoughts which I admire….I dunno if I agree with him on where the game is heading though. i.e. pay for play. But I do agree that many many counties cannot complete at a high level and just dont have a chance. there are many reaosns for that though…not least the population of those counties, the numbers playing the game and then the talent of those playing. in other words, you can only pick from what you have in your county. In Mayo, we’ve experienced a dwindling population and an exodus of youth, but despite that we have remained competitive over the past ~20 years. Interest by the youth in the county (from what I can tell) is as high as ever but the longer we go without an All Ireland, the more likey it is for that youthful interest to diminish, thereby reducing our competitiveness over time. Anyway..carryon.

  45. The substitutions in the AIF and in this years league game are very different actually. I agree that bringing Sweeney on for Freeman was the right choice at the time because Mayo badly needed some pace in the FF line, in a stretched game and there were what 15 minutes left? This is very different to the AIF last year where Freeman was doing well and looking threatening (despite what you’re trying to say) and Conroy is brought on with 45 minutes of the game left, a game that was never really stretched and was made for long accurate balls into Freeman.

    I am all for debate JPM but I’ll pull people up when I think that they are making completely inaccurate comments about players. And btw I think if Freeman gets injured Horan knows very well that he can play Barry in FF and he’ll be able replacement assuming he’s given decent ball.

  46. Just on that one Crete. Michael Shields was actually name at corner back that day for some reason. Cadogen was the one named at full back on that Cork team.

    Note: Cadogen was withdrawn after 47 mins and when Freeman scored his goal it was in 48th minute just after Cadogen was substituted. New fella marking him for it was Barry O’Driscoll (whoever he is) number 20 I think. You can see his goal here

    Note Number 5 on Freeman is Conor Dorman (some U21 Cork were trying out)

  47. I like the look of that team.

    Some changes though – switch freeman to CF and B Moran to wing but play him more as a fourth half forward. Freeman & O’Connor are great finishers when properly fed and this would feed them.
    Barrett for Vaughan, and tighten up on defence but feed the half forward line.

    Subs strategy

    45th Minute – defer to running at them from deep – Drop in Andy or Sweeney or Feeney to the corner forward (Barry off) and Donie V on for Barrett.

  48. I wonder was there any news on Caff’s injury or the results of Cillian O’Connor’s scan? I’d actually like to see Cillian O’Connor playing at CHF when he returns. That’s the most thing I noticed when I viewed Alan Freeman’s goal against Cork again, the pass into him by Cillian O’Connor was perfect, bouncing into his hands. That’s the key to get the best out of Alan Freeman or Barry Moran, if he is given some game time at full-forward, delivering the ball in such a way that it gives the advantage to the attacker. At the start of the second-half against Derry, the ball was played into Alan Freeman’s path by Andy Moran, Freeman then ran at his man and won a free, which he converted. Also in the All-Ireland club final, there was only one proper ball played into Barry Moran during the first-half, he won it well, turned and kicked the ball over the bar. We need to look at some options in case Freeman gets injured etc. The delivery to our full-forward line is vital, I think that we don’t use enough kick passes into our forward-line. Then I’d like to see Doc and Sweeney playing in the corner forward positions, this would give us a lot of goal scoring threat in the final third of the field. I’d then play Kevin McLoughlin and Andy Moran at 10 and 12. Andy should be instructed to move the ball much quicker, just get it into the danger area. You’d wonder why Adam Gallagher and Darren Coen were not given some game time in Croke Park. You feel that we really need some more natural scorers up-front, especially nearing the end of games, also some more natural defenders at the back are needed and make much better use of our mid-fielders. Also our substitutions at times are baffling to say the least, you’d think it should be, take off a player that is playing badly and the player that comes on should then play better than the player taken off. We seem to do the opposite, take off a player that is doing well and replace them with someone that plays worse. You’d hope that the players can just re-group now and give one final massive push for the rest of the season, there is just six months until Sept., maybe go back to basics. A break away to New York might do them some good. Only a few weeks ago we were hammering Cork off the park in Castlebar, they are meant to be one of the top 3 teams in the country so we can’t be too far off the pace setters at the moment. We had at least 3 goal chances in the second-half against Derry and took none of them while Derry had one and took theirs. We need to be taking more of our chances in the big games to get over the line. Roll on the New York game!

  49. I said it before – I think it’s fair to say that Freezer for all his many attributes, would benefit from some controlled aggression, as would some other players such as Caff.
    Black cards or no black cards, you must show a physical contact presence at close quarters – the player your marking respects that, and if it isn’t there he takes the Alfa-male role, and you’re looking over your shoulder going for the ball.
    I’m not talking dirty play – just not holding back from contact at close quarters. Even basketball players in the great ‘no contact’ sport get that message across under the basket at rebound times.
    And for me, it would explain in Freezer’s case what happened with him v Dublin (even with Cillian and Kevin Mc picking up the slack that day).

  50. I love The stats WJ. Freeman is developing nicely on this team, though not the finished article. He is no Gooch just yet. I believe he was trying his best in the AI but the ball in was terrible. The wrong ball and much too slow IMO. The Dublin corner back had loads of time to come across and cover him from behind long before the hopeless ball was finally delivered. I had a seat in the AI that was similar to the one I got for the league game in the Hogan and I could clearly see the Dublin defender employ the same tactic in both games to great effect. I am amused how we always point the finger of blame in the wrong place when it comes to our full forward or the full back lines. Truth is we have very poor kickers of the ball out the field, and we always had. Freeman needs fast accurate ball in order to maximise his talent. He is just on the wrong team I think. The Gooch never had that problem I believe. Too much of the time in training sessions is spent running with the ball in hand in Mayo. Kerry and Dublin practice their foot passing more and signs is on them.

  51. I hear what you are saying and I generally agree. However, Dublin are a very formidable team and they seem to be getting even better. I have a horrible feeling that they will dominate football for quite some time……..unfortunately for us………unless we can catch them on an off-day. I had hoped and believed that winning the All Ireland might have taken the edge off them but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. In fact it has strengthened them if anything.
    My worry is that some of our players might begin to think that Dublin are moving away from us. It certainly is hard for players to keep the belief going when you see a second half performance like they produced against Cork.
    I was totally convinced that this was our year………..but I had not counted on Dublin coming through the winter in such good shape. I now think it will be very difficult for us. Hope like hell I’m wrong because this a do-or-die year for this team.

  52. Ah Jasus , Mayo 3 G .
    Would ya not let the dead rest, I’d almost forgotten O ‘Mahoney.
    As Con Houlihan would say, forgotten , but not gone.

  53. A big forward line-up – but I’d have Mikey Sweeney in there giving the passes and taking scores when they are on. For the game time he’s had, he’s done remarkably well. He’s the kind of player others love playing with. He looks up and gives the passes to players in better positions, and he can score too. Very intelligent player in the Gooch mode!

  54. He who has eyes to see knows where we are.
    Derry did us a favour.
    Now, less expectation and we may be pleasantly surprised.
    Keep her steady. And we deserve reward.

  55. Impact subs are supposed to lift your team when they come on. On all to many occasions, we tend to inspire the opposition more with the choice of our introductions to the fray !

  56. JPM, criticising a player for technical deficiencies in his game for example, or a bad performance for example, is one thing. However, saying that a player “doesn’t like the rough stuff” is not only a slur on the person they are talking about, it is also an insult to an intercounty player that puts themselves and their body through enormous stresses during training and game time. I stand by my comment and if you want to talk about the house rules, then let Cynical Cynthia give actual examples of “”Where exactly have you seen Freeman “not like the rough stuff”??? Where exactly have you seen Freeman shy away from a challenge???”” In my criticisms of Varley I have given actual real-life instances where he has both done good things and bad things. I never said anything of a personal nature, which Cynical Cynthias comment was.
    Just to clarify something, I am not a clubman of Freemans and indeed, up to the tail end of the league last year, I could not see what Horan saw in him as he continually played him when Freeman failed to impress. I probably was one of his greatest critics to be honest.

  57. Agree with a lot of that PJ. Our foot passing has disimproved in the last eight months or so. But if you look again at the Galway game last year, it was excellent that day and Freeman made hay. Although he didn’t get in on the goals he had a hand in everything and gave the full back (who was brutal) a roasting.

    Sweeney too will need this kind of ball to prosper.

    I think there are two things that have to be worked on: the foot passing and the tackling.

    In relation to the tackling, I looked again at the Derry game. A lol of what we did was good actually. And, just before the second Derry goal the defence put a lot of hard work and shoved Derry right out the field, before McGoldrick took a really hard run. Then we parted like the Red Sea.

    More training, more practice. Blacksod again, maybe for a couple of weeks! Wouldn’t mind heading up there myself.

  58. Re: Alan Freeman. I have always said that he could be Mayo’s most important forward if given the opportunity. He is finally being given that chance and, for my money, is proving himself to be one of the stars of this team. I don’t think I’d class him as a ‘leader’ on the team. There are other far stronger and more vocal personalities there (Moran, Boyle, O’Shea), yet Freeman has really shown his worth over the last number of years. I do agree with some points made by other posters about him having off days against some Full Backs.

    He played poorly against Derry and Dublin. But in each of those games he was being marked by exceptional footballers in O’Carroll and McCaigue. They really are two of the best full backs in the business. I was hugely impressed with the Derry FB the last day. He did his primary job – keeping Freeman quiet – very well, and then grew into the game even more. He started to break out of defence with the ball as well as dominating his area.

    We now know that Freeman is a quality player. The issue remains at the best way to get the ball into him. This season he has started trying to run off the back of the defender instead of trying to get in front. I think that this is a clever option but he is overusing it and is becoming a little bit predictable. It creates space in the FF line for the 2 corner forwards and it keeps the FB on the back foot. Freeman should probably start trying to get out in front again and taking on his man when he has a little momentum. Peeling off the back should be the second option that he takes.

    A second point that I’m concerned about is the problem with Mayo’s tackling/tactics. The black card doesn’t turn the best defence in the country into the most porous. Last year we tried to isolate the ball carrier and then get men around him. This was, and still is, perfectly legal and made us incredibly hard to score against. This year, in the league at least, we seem to have abandoned that tactic. We didn’t defend cynically last year, for the most part. Why the need to change? I almost see the black card as an open invitation to return to a blanket style defense. I think that a man is far more likely to commit a cynical foul in a one on one situation than when he has support.

    The Mayo half back line was championed last year as being the engine room of our team. They drove forward at every opportunity, kicked scores for fun and dominated their line. This year we have seen our full back line exposed time and time again. We leave our full back line isolated, one on one, with 30 yards of space in front of them. With that much space to play with, it’s easy for a footballer out the field to spot a run and kick a long, accurate ball into space for a FF or CF to run on to. It’s almost as if James Horan has told his players to go man for man in the league. He seems to be holding them back for championship action.. At least I hope this is the case.

    I can see two possible scenarios for Mayo this year. Either Horan has them primed to play with a little more abandon during the league with the expectation that tactics and work rate intensify during the championship, or else Mayo are stagnating (much like Donegal did last year). If the first scenario plays out then I expect another final appearance. If the latter, I see a dose of reality in the QF or (more likely) SF.

  59. I remember after either the 2004 or 2006 AIF Jack O’Connor was quizzed as to how Kerry hit on the notion of bombarding Mayo with high ball. He said something like “well, we noticed their forwards were small, and so would be used to getting low ball in, so the defenders marking them in training wouldn’t be used to dealing with high ball”. How right he was.

    With that in mind, I’m wondering are Freeman and Cafferkey marking each other in training? And if they are, are they too “nice” to each other? Would the Mayo team be better off putting, say, Cunniffe marking Freezer in training, with explicit instructions to hit and hit hard?

    I’m a fan of Freeman and still believe him to be our no.1 choice for FF. But the two non-performances against Rory O’Carroll, plus the Derry game, are indicating that he needs to get used to much tougher marking so that he can adapt his game to it. Once he does, he can handle anything, as he’s shown time and again that he knows where the posts are.

  60. If a full forward decides to play behind his marker as Alan Freeman appeared to do against Dublin and Derry recently it is very difficult to play “good” ball into him. Equally if the full back has the pace over 4 – 5 yards and the confidence to get out in front good ball quickly becomes bad. Barry Moran presents a different and more difficult problem for the fullback with pace in that he cannot be confident that Barry, with his height and fielding ability, would not be able to field the ball behind him. And as we saw with the one good ball he got in the club final he was no slouch at turning and putting it over. We will not be meeting ordinary full backs when it comes to the business end of the year as teams with them will have departed the scene. I would not compare playing Barry and Alan together with John O’Mahony’s tactic with Barry and Aiden O;Shea in 2009 as Alan is so much different than Aiden who is and was not a natural forward.

  61. Mayo are just jaded right now, e.g. Keith Higgins was in a good position to stop O’Gara’s winner in Croke Park but he didn’t look too bothered. That’s been the story of the league. No appetite for it. Summer should tell a different story.

    Horan’s tactics are all about driving the ball through the middle. That won’t change much but with Andy roving at 11 Mayo have a quarterback who can pick a pass. If we can get him on the ball more often then we might see more creative football. Otherwise it will be business as usual I feel.

  62. Thought Aiden looked a very natural forward under O’Mahoney.

    The reality is that Horan doesn’t care much for target-men, witness Andy Moran being deployed at 14 last year or McLoughlin this year. This will work against Barry Moran unfortunately, who I agree is a superb target-man but even Mitchells couldn’t give him decent ball on Paddy’s Day.

    If Jack O’Connor or O’Mahoney were managing us we would see a ‘twin towers’ system – the players are there but Horan clearly prefers a running game. The fact that Freeman can win the high ball gives us a great plan B. How often will we use it though?

  63. I would love to see the team go big as they say in basketball – field the 2 O’Se’s in midfield – Gibbons on the half forward line and Freeman and Barry Moran inside. We shouldnt be shoved around with that lot on the pitch. Another big lad that’s gone of the radar recently is Danny Geraghty – any word on his recovery ?

  64. Freeman looked dangerous in the final? Have you actually watched the game back? This is something we have built up in our heads. He won 1 ball, lost 2 and was tightly marked for the rest of the ball that came in. Those are the facts.
    As regards the substitutions being different, they are not. On both occasions a target man who was losing out was replaced by a quicker forward. We seen o’carroll struggle with newman and bray against meath. It just didnt work on the day.

  65. I think Doherty already adds size to the middle 8 and he’s the closest thing Mayo have right now to a wing half-forward, Keegan usually pushes up high on the far wing. If Doc’s not starting it could well be Seamus in his place so again it will be a big midfield with Gibbons likely to partner Aiden in the centre – a line-up that suits our running game.

  66. O Mahoney Part 2 had his chance and we regressed four years worth of football. Barry has played full forward and looked a fish out of water in there, same as McHale years ago. Our problem is high tempo football up to a point where it then is slowed down by playmakers and that loses momentum. The opposition regroup and cover and we lose the head of steam, once it breaks down we then depend on those who lost it to track back, some do, some dont.

  67. Agree with a lot of that.

    I’m not sure where the headlong rush for BM at full forward is coming from. He did some damage against Crokes in the club semi, but at the white hot pace of championship, I feel he would be easily bottled up. And, he has looked most uncomfortable in the position (Laois in the league a couple of seasons ago comes to mind).

    What he does need is game time at midfield. He is a superb midfielder and was our stand out player in the league last year.

    Nearly all of the above can be applied equally to Aidan O’Shea.

  68. We have more than enough midfielders. 5 fellas for 2 positions. We need to be thinking outside of the box. E.g. a suggested team would be with subs in brackets.

    Hennelly (O’Malley)
    Harrison, Cafferkey, Higgins (Barrett, Keane)
    Boyle, Cunniffe, Keegan (Vaughan, McHale,)
    AOS, Gibbons (SOS, Parsons, B Moran)
    Feeney, O’Connor, Mcloughlin (Doherty, Parsons, Dillon, Gallagher)
    A moran, Freeman, Sweeney (B. Moran, Conroy, Doherty, Varley)

    Some are named twice as they can play in multiple positions. Also I admit it’s probably v. unlikely especially with Higgins seeming a constant in the 1/2 fw line.

    But we need reliable spare subs across all lines who have played at the top level. We need these for a number reasons inclding
    Black card offences (our defence simply needs to start acting tougher) , injuries during games, player fatigue after 50/60 minutes.

    Bottom line is that we have a very good squad but it’s up to management now to get the balance right on how they play them.

  69. Super post above from JPM. This is the kind of ‘outside the box’ thinking that we need.
    We are good enough to go the whole hog. We remain capable of beating anybody out there & it is also encouraging to see Dublin in such good form so early in the season.
    It is now all about getting the small percentages right which leads me again to address our flawed substitution policy which I believe has been killing us.
    In the white heat of Championship battle on the big field in Croker you have to set your team up on at least 3 different occasions. We have been setting our team up once at the beginning of the match & hoping it will last with the same personnel until the end.
    We need pre-planning & I want to introduce the concept of the ‘Departing Burnout Player’. By this I mean at least 3 (Maybe 4) players who start the game but depart the scene somewhere around the middle period of the match either just before, at, or shortly after half-time. The players themselves know who they are, their team mates know who they are, management know who they are because everything is pre-planned. The ‘Departing Burnout Player’ can now empty the tank early on & he can also set down the physical parameters unlike the other players. A ‘Departing Burnout Player’ can assess the leaders in the opposition team & can administer the ‘ Mayoman’s Au Revoir’ to their leaders in the minutes before his departure in the shape of a lung emptying shoulder to shoulder.
    I think we are overly concerned about personnel as we have various players who can perform different jobs …. it is more about pre-planning and team structure.
    I can think of a number of players who could perform this ‘Departing Burnout Player’ role … the likes of Parsons, SOS, Barry Moran to name but three.
    Everybody talks about Barry Moran at Full Forward but how about Barry Moran at Midfield for the first 25 minutes, at FF for the next 10/15 & then off the pitch. Think about AOS at FF for the first 25 minutes & then switched to midfield for the remainder of the game, a state of affairs which might allow him to get through the full 70 min.
    Think about Alan Freeman at 15 for the first 40 min but at FF for the final 30 when the game opens up. And think about Rory O Carroll & Michael Darragh McAuley too. Rory would first have to deal with AOS, then Barry Moran & finally Alan Freeman. Michael Darragh would have up to 4 different people to ‘meet & greet’ not to mention a close encounter with that most shattering of all emotions … a ‘Mayoman’s Farewell’.
    There are many other similar scenarios in other positions that could give us added value over the entire 70 min. We need some outside the box smart thinking, pre-planning & then ruthless implementation of the plan. Au Revoir.

  70. My suggestion of playing Barry Moran and Alan Freeman together in the full forward line is that Cillian would play in front of them and that the ball could be played long into them which would allow our half forwards and midfield fall back further in defence with one or two of our half forwards or half backs breaking forward at speed in support. A running game as we played it last year is all very well but as last year one can rapidly run out of road. It presumes that we can run appreciably faster than the opposition to gain real benefit. With the black card, if it is implemented in any real way, defences will need numbers to avoid one on one situations which is why I think our half forwards will be needed in support. In that situation a half forward line would have run themselves into the ground long before the final whistle with a “running game”. Unlike Dublin we do not have a plethora of subs equal to our preferred starting 15.
    Incidentally I consider it a big advantage that we will. presuming we get over the Rossies [and NY], have time to assess the use of the black card before we get into serious action.

  71. The running game is a great idea if you could replace them all half way through. perhaps we should leave that one to the heads in Sky to implement. We talk about target men and twin towers like we are Dublin and Kerry which we are not.They would be happy with some of the options Mayo have in this dept. Our main issue is that we are runners not kickers. The ball travels much faster by the boot, and we are not delivering quickly enough to the inside forward line. Remember Liam McHale in his hayday. Mayo v Offaly in 1997 semi final. Big Mc at full forward the envy of the nation. How many good balls did he get that day can you remember and why? How many good foot passes had the inside line in last years AI. I sat there in the second half trying not remember Liam McHale. Worked out ok that time for us because we had JM to blame.

  72. We have not been shoved around the pitch by anyone for a long time and please don’t refer to Connolly holding two jerseys in AIF which has been put forward before as an example of Dublin bullying us. This Mayo team are competitive, hit hard and are no mugs..

  73. Agree that Barry Moran isn’t an out and out full forward, but if on the field, he should be doing spells there, as Micky Harte often does with Tyrone – moving lads around during a game.

    But on John Cuffe’s point about playmakers – there are two kinds. Those that go looking for every ball, which you are correct – slows our fast defence in to attack strategy and allow the opposition to get back in position to defend against our attacks. You loose a lot of opportunities to get in to position to go for goals because of that style.

    We all remember the like of Peadar Gardiner tearing out of defence, only to have to pull up and give the ball to a static Ciaran McDonald and in most case the better opportunity was lost.

    Last Sunday in Croker, Andy Moran repeatedly did similarly and thankfully was ignored on many occasions by the players moving forward. JH needs to kill that out straight away.

    The other kind of playmaker is the likes of Mikey Sweeney – straight away when he gets a clean pass or wins possession, he lifts his head and makes a judgement to give a good pass or take it on. The instinctive playmaker is a joy to watch – a pleasure to play with and great asset to any team.

  74. AndyD, I would rate the Rossies in the Hyde as ‘serious action’ , especially at the rate we are leaking goals. The stats don’t lie (well not often), and they confirm for me what open play has shown me, Keith is being wasted in the forwards.

  75. yes Cloud9 agree with a lot of that too.

    Andy Moran’s constant demanding of the ball led to turnovers, and missed points and slowed it all up, painfully and obviously.

    Sweeney’s instincts on the other hand are very good. I loved the way he narrowed the space as McLoughlin was thundering forward, and then offloaded it instantly and accurately. Andy did finish well.

    And I’m not all negative about Andy by any means – he’s too good a player. But this McDonaldesque role is counter-productive

  76. Agreed and while they have been fighting in Div 3 for the past few years they have improved greatly and cannot be taken for granted. But provided we do not take them for granted we should still win with a bit to spare. I do see them as most likely to succeed Mayo as provincial champions. but not this year.

  77. Rarely saw McHale play well at full forward though one exception was v meath in 1988 semi. We had got a fair hiding in first half and were down by about ten at half time. Did better in second half and big Mac went in FF in the later stages and caused havoc scoring a goal and having one disallowed and we got it back to 3 with a few mins left. I remember a lot of people saying he should play FF after that but he was out around midfield in 1989 and played a massive part in getting us to AIF that year. I remember him playing FF in 1992 semi v Donegal where he was marked by Matt Gallagher who was much smaller but Gallagher dominated him that day and Mac was out the field again in 1996 where he had another huge year for us. The only big FF who delivered on a consistent basis over a long number of years was Donaghy who was unmarkable when at his best. Other than that the big FFis often only used in crisis times during games as an option to put pressure on defences when other methods have failed. I wouldn’t class Murphy from Donegal as a Donaghy type player though he can be a great target man and is a super player. One who springs to mind at the moment is O Connor from Kildare. He win lots of high balls and lays them off very quickly to guys who can score. Colin Corkery from Cork in the past was a great target man who could win ball and take his own score.

  78. I believe we have had some success at the foot passing game under James Horan. I am not happy that we have developed this facet of our game enough. In the AI last year Boyle collects the ball and delivers early inside to Conroy who feeds Moran for our only goal of the match. I would love to believe it happened by design. Alas it had a big element of luck about it. In the Galway game I agree our foot passing went well for us and O’Connor and Freeman prospered. I believe that this skill is key to our getting the best out of our forwards. I believe we can have the so called marquee forwards if we start delivering the right ball early in to the attack. It is the one remaining skill we must master in order to win the All Ireland. I believe the players are in position already.

  79. Yeah I’d agree with you there, to win just once, I always feel that you should start every player in their preferred or natural position to allow them to settle into the game and get their confidence up. Then maybe move them to a new position when they are comfortable and might do some damage in their new position, as you pointed out, Liam McHale did against Meath in 1988. It’s like the situation with Keith Higgins and Kevin McLoughlin being played out of position at the moment. They seem to find it very hard to get into games. Their confidence then suffers and to see both of them been taken off against Derry, was a very disappointing thing to see. They both looked very frustrated when coming off. Again if you were to try them in a new position I’d prefer to see them starting in their normal position then maybe moving them to a new position during the game when they have played their way into the game. Maybe starting Keith Higgins at corner-back in the final against Dublin might have been a better option, then move him up-front when Dublin only had 13 fit players and O’Gara was really out of the game. That might have paid dividends at that time.

  80. Don’t agree with that. Mayo have always produced playmakers – McDonald, Horan, Dillon etc. Now we have Andy playing very deep in a quarterback role. We don’t get him on the ball often enough, perhaps that’s the problem but we could easily play the Kerry way.

    It’s Horan’s system. He’d rather run the ball and get the easy scores. It’s predictable though.

    It’s also the main reason behind Higgin’s deployment as a half-forward, he’s very quick out of the blocks and with Hennelly driving kickouts down the middle everyone gets sucked into midfield. When Higgins breaks from the pack he’s very difficult to catch. It’s a good tactic and it’s likely ‘the experiment’ will continue.

  81. Does anyone know the story with Chris Barret? Heard rumours but would love to know whats really happening, Massive massive loss if he isnt coming back this year.
    Also separately does anyone think Clarke will have time to earn his place back or will he be to rusty?

  82. Mayomad – I’ve deleted that comment. Stating that a particular player isn’t county standard isn’t allowed – see house rule 11 (details here).

  83. Having read the posts above and trying to keep to the topic, I think we are somehow pointing at Alan Freeman and our forwards as the reason for the Dublin draw and the Derry loss at the expense of not admitting or wanting to see our real problems.
    In fairness to the lads up front we had a great return of scores in the league, now this could be because of the black card or at least partly so but what is glaringly obvious is our inability to cope with that dreaded black card at the other end.
    It could be argued that what has seemed to give our forwards a false positive return has also helped to give our defense an excuse for the awful scores against tally.
    It has however affected one of the best half back lines in the country, as when they go on their marauding forays they get hit on the break and desperation through fear of the BC lets others run right through us.
    We have to use whatever it takes to stop this as we are becoming a soft touch, if that means taking the card or whatever, then so be it.
    Derry and Dublin both, lost two top players against us and still ended up on top, how can this be allowed to happen when we view ourselves as being a top table side ?
    Our leaking at the back followed by our slow delivery of ball into our forwards is what has to be improved drastically or we are going nowhere fast.
    We have to maintain constant numbers in the hb and backs and cf so we defend in numbers and as alluded to above, we have to employ and perfect the kick-pass so the ball gets to those at the front much, much quicker……………..then the BC comes into its own for us to exploit and we have to learn to exploit it as it’s here for the rest of the year.

  84. If mayo defence are leaking goals look what tipperary hurlers are up to the conceded a lot of goals as well I heard on news and look how they turned their season around mayo could learn from them.

  85. Its stating the obvious that the kick-pass into the forwards quickly is the way to go.

    And this tactic was employed in the last two AI finals and cost Mayo the game. Why? Well as JH put it the ball didn’t “stick”.

    So the question is why did the ball not “stick” Have the forwards not perfected the receiving of the kick-passes. If the kick-pass is the tactic it becomes obvious and predictable so the execution has to be perfect both the delivery and most importantly the receipt.

    This means incredible pace in the forwards, movement, decoy running and variety in the how, when and where the kick -passes are delivered and received.
    It also requires forward that can make fast decisions re off loads, shot selection, recycling, pivot-and-score.

    The management need to plan this so meticulously with several iterations and contingency plans.

    Is this possible?

  86. I was very impressed with the Cork defending in the first half against the Dubs. Granted the Dubs did not get into the swing of things until the second half but Cork i thought done very well at crowding out the Dubs and not given away frees.

  87. The kick-pass game requires HFs with certain skills:
    1) Speed: – they most be very fast to loose their marker
    2) Craftiness: – loosing a marker that knows what the play is requires certain innate skills over and above speed
    3) Receiving: – ability to receive a ball travelling at lightening speed
    4) Synchronicity: – can the forwards integrate a team running game made up of decoys, variety, quick decision making on contingency plans.

    The kick-pass tactic means ALL the HF forwards must have these skills in plenty so as to exploit a variety of plays and mitigate the risks associated with the predictability of the plays.

    Do the Mayo HFs have these skills?

  88. Like to wish the Rossie’s Under-21s all the best in the All-Ireland Semi tomorrow in Portlaoise. They beat us fair and square and are worthy Connacht Champs.
    Both semis on TG4: 3pm Rossies v Cork, followed by Cavan v the Dubs

  89. Ok it’s time we put the freezer comets to bed, let’s move on w j and discuss some other problems with Mayo defence etc, also I don’t agree with Liam Mchale View on the current Mayo team set up. Liam is a friend of mine but slating Mayo team set up without stating what he would change is a cheap shot.

  90. We must have the talent, and then the ability to execute that. While it’s an entirely different game, I see football becoming much like American football where all plays are designed, there is nothing left to chance. Now clearly gaa football is nowhere near like that, but I do feel there is way too much left to chance.

    If there were more plays designed, perhaps only two or three, and the players practice these over and over and over again on the training pitch, I feel these are the types of plays that can exploit openings and opportunities when they arise.

    Players need the attributes you mention above, plus the smarts to recognize when the opportunity is available. Good coaching on the training field combined with good video analysis should be the main part if this. If players don’t get it, they should be benched until,they do.

  91. Yes Mister Mayor

    And Mayo can take the lead with this – design, implement and and execute a bunch of plays that will give them a cutting edge in this championship.

    These play would provide a framework from which new players can be selected against and performances evaluated against, like you alluded to..

    This will take the hit and miss and all the ponderous discussion and analysis out of the game..

  92. The inter county team that starts to implement these “Design Plays” could gain not only a short-term but also a long-tern competitive advantage.

    Mayo is clearly striving for success and recognition. But not doing much different.
    At the same time the game is going through a transition, is evolving and ultimately will become more professional like (with amateur status) in its approach to winning championships.

    Mayo county board and management take note where there is transition and evolution there emerges amazing opportunities to do something different that has potential to become the forward play standard that is envied and copied by everyone. “Design Plays”

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