All-Ireland semi-final v Compromise Rules

With the first of this year’s All-Ireland football semi-finals on this weekend, I’m delighted to welcome JPM back into the guest slot to preview Sunday’s showdown between Cork and Donegal. 

The first of the All-Ireland semi-finals is upon us and on the one hand it has the makings of a great game. On the other it could turn out to be possibly one of the worst and dirtiest semi-finals ever played in Croke Park. Certainly either way it won’t be one for the faint hearted.

Both teams are nothing if not consistent and both have reached this milestone in the GAA calendar on merited credit. Donegal on their way to retaining the Anglo-Celt Cup have beaten Cavan, Derry, Tyrone and Down. Since then they have moved up another level again to reach this junction with a famous victory against Kerry in the All-Ireland series. More importantly on this entire route they have experienced both sides of victory i.e. winning by large margins and then following up by closing out much tighter encounters. This tenacity and composure will surely stand to them now in their biggest contest to date against a colossal Cork team that has marched relentlessly forward to this stage.

Defeats of Kerry, Clare and Kildare have seen Cork rack up outstanding scorelines, with each game an improvement on its predecessor. Against Kerry they banged over 17 scores, against Clare there were 19 and they followed this with a whopping 21 in total against Kildare.

However no one in the country expects them to achieve anything like this against Donegal. It is far more likely that scores here will achieved by the team that has the ability to hold their nerve until the last possible moment before pulling the trigger.

Donegal’s biggest problem for this game is actually not Cork’s ability to get scores. It is the excitement that is reputedly being generated throughout their own county. After beating Kerry, rumour is that the hype has gone beyond the Richter Scale completely. Magnitude 15 or thereabouts. Keeping the players’ heads firmly in place for this match must be very difficult for Jim McGuinness. However to date the man has dealt more than ably with all tasks placed in front of him.

And if he can do this, then no team in the country is better equipped than Donegal to plot the downfall of these Cork giants. Their ability to patiently break down attacks time after time, added to the fast counter bursts to get crucial scores is the way Donegal play now. And they will not yield to any other approach. Upgrading the mass defence to a new level may not look pretty but the self-belief to do this and keep it up for 70 minutes (without throwing caution to the wind at any stage) is a serious mental conviction that your tactics are correct and you will come out on top in the end.

The rest of the country may in general not like these Donegal’s tactics; however you have to ask yourself if they appreciate Corks strategies any better? Against Kildare and while on a yellow card Alan O’Connor was wisely withdrawn by Conor Counihan. Graham Canty too was lucky not to escape in that match after several on- and off-the-ball encounters. And that’s before even mentioning the names of Paudie Kissane, Eoin Cadogen and the now infamous Noel O’Leary. You get the impression that a lot of these players are sitting on time bombs. If things are not going well for them, someone might just explode.

It will be very interesting to see exactly what role Noel O’Leary takes up the next day. Generally he is asked to stick like glue to the main playmaker on the opposing team. Think back to Marty Clarke in 2010, and Paul Galvin every single year. But the main playmaker on this Donegal team is likely to be situated in his own full-back line. So where does Noel go? Up after him? Chances are if he does he could well be on the receiving end of plenty of his own just desserts. But in speaking of punishment dished out one has to fear for the life of Mark McHugh whenever he comes within arms reach of the aggressive natures of these Cork backs.

Perhaps the biggest factor of all in Sunday’s game will be the referee. How will he handle the first big bust up? The GAA have ignored the plight of referees for countless years now. However all this is likely to change soon. It must! Look back at the hurling last weekend. All that continuously happened off the ball has left a very sour taste in the wider audience’s mouth. If this happens in the football (as it most likely will when there is so much at stake) then insistence for austere changes in the governing of the game will surely be demanded.

We will just have to wait and see. Overall the big question from Sunday’s encounter will not just be who will reach the All-Ireland final. Instead, will this be an All-Ireland semi that will go down in history as one to remember or will it be something similar to what we are used to (off the ball) from the Compromise Rules?

39 thoughts on “All-Ireland semi-final v Compromise Rules

  1. Have to agree JPM that this will come down to the referee – fouls, frees and injuries.
    If McFadden, Lacey and especially McHugh are targeted for roughing up and get injured, Cork will win by 2 or 3 points.
    In turn, expect Canty, Cadogan, O’Leary and Alan O’Connor to be targeted to get cards.
    Can’t see too many goal chances and it will come down to who takes their long-range frees better.
    It won’t be pretty

  2. Excellent piece, JPM. The ref is all important. Watching GAA over the years, the GAA react to insidences, ie after a rough game the ref is extra strict the next day, as the top brass are scared to let a pattern develop.
    For this reason the Hurling last week being very heated will mean the ref next week will be told to clamp down on everything. This is a problem for Cork.

  3. I agree there will be a clamp down on the hard stuff and rightly so. But I wouldnt get too hung up on it. The Cork lads you mention are indeed hardy bucks no doubt – but they can also play football! And so can all of that team.
    The way to beat Cork is to dominate the midfield area and to run the arse off some of those lads who are now getting on a bit. Oh and you have to worry about some really effective forwards as well! That’s a tall order for anyone and I cannot see Donegal being able for it. Donegal seem to be on to something with their defence but if Cork rattle in a couple of early goals then Donegal will be in real trouble. So its Cork for me.

    Personally I dont mind who we meet in the final!!!

  4. here is a question for you to mull over , we all know that the powers that be are a reactionary bunch ,
    would if be better for mayo if the skin and hair flies in this semi so that the referee for our own semi is then told to clamp down on all physical infringements ? or would our own physicality be at the mercy of being over-penalised due to too many schmozzles in the cork-donegal game?

  5. I actual;ly believe Mayo are reffed in a way no other team is. Thats because in the main county boards over the years took it and did nothing about it. I wonder who complained after McQuillen made a bags of us V Meath 2009? If they did they were laughed at, McQuillen was linesman at the final that year plus he was the man who marched step by step with the Dubs last year. I trust none of them.

    The minors face Meath. Two teams nobody expected. In 1996 we had all bases covered except the psychological. Meath didnt like Mayo both on and off the pitch. Be in no doubt Meath Minors will be told that Mayo are soft, whingey and moaners. Only answer is a bit of metaphorical timber pulled across their shins and as hard as possible. Dont spare them…they wont spare us.

  6. Exellent piece, very interesting observances, Cork like early goals, but I cant see them getting them v Donegal the best they will do is get a few close in frees, Donegal wont let goal chances devlope at any cost. Donegal have been very effective to date but their ball winning ability round the middle hasent been great, deliberatly so in my estimation, no point in winning a ball at midfield when you have no one up in the fowards to play it to. They preferr concede possion drawing the opposions backs further up the field, then breaking at pace into empty space. Cork will know that & have planned to counter Donegal. I think it will be Corks day if they can keep their dicipline, but I’m not sure they will. Personally I hope it goes to a replay, that certainly would be good for Mayo or Dublin. A titanic struggle with alot of sore bodies awaits us next Sunday. Its just a feeling I have, but I think both of these heavy weights are viewing this as the real All Ireland final, suits us fine!


    To win the All Ireland we must change our mindset.
    Making the Referee an issue is just a distraction to the Honest Players on the panel. The honest player gets up in the morning , looks himself in the mirror and sets his standard and mindset that he will be better and better, He dose not complain about his own aches and pains or the sacrifices he has to make to get his place on a county panel.
    Poor refereeing decisions , injuries to fellow team mates , a fellow team player receiving a RED CARD, poor shot selection, not making the starting fifteen etc are all Peripheral to the Honest player in the heat of a championship game.
    The honest player will continue to work hard for the team during the game no matter whats going wrong at any given time. Week “Dishonest” players are always complaining, looking for an excuse when the team is not performing. They will be quick to blame a team mate or Referee etc. .
    The week player will be excellent when thing are going well and the team are cruising but will hide and look for the excuse when the team is in trouble.
    James Horan is in the process of building a panel of ALL honest players. All Mayo teams in the past have had a majority of honest players but it must be admitted that a small few have a Question Mark. We may not like to admit this but without mentioning any name we dont have to go too far back in time to identify one.
    I saw a Mayo Player throw his hands in the air in 1992 All Ireland Semi Final against Donegal when a poor pass was made to him by a team mate when he should have been busting a gut to put his marker under pressure on the ball instead of allowing his opponent run up the field under no pressure to score
    This will not happen with any player on this Mayo Panel.
    As supporters it is time for all of us to be honest with ourselves. We have had some very good teams in Finals since 1989 but with the exception of 1996 we have been just short of one or two players who could make a difference.
    I see no point in talking about refereeing decisions as in most games errors will be made by the officials and the players should get on with the game.
    In my humble opinion this Mayo Team should play football with speed and skill,
    It will suit Dublin and Cork or Donegal should we make the Final to make it a more a physical affair than a football affair. I am not saying that we let any team bully us but we would be better not to allow ourselves to be distracted ,

    We have a honest panel of players and they will be prepared mentally and physically for the Battle on Sunday Week. At times during this game things will go wrong, they know this and will give their all.Mayo can now match any team but they will have their heads and hearts right . As supporters we should drown out the hill and if thins are not looking good at any time during the match just think back to 2006 , seven points down – Andy Morans Goal – Kieran Macs unreal point on the run from the sideline and keep supporting our team

    Also I think that as good supporters we should stay away from the Black Stuff untill after the Battle on Sept 2nd

  8. WIND!! James Horan could do worse that let you give the lads the team talk before they run onto the pitch…you know your stuff, alright!

  9. wind … Amazing post … … A huge issue I have attending mayo games is not the lack of physical support but the mental one !! I.e lack of shouting on our team … I always seem to be the only eejit shouting MAYO MAYO or trying to start the green and red 🙁 {In fairness my singing not great maybe that’s it !! } .. When we played Kerry in the league semi this year I was so proud of the way we supported our team shouting all the way and a standing ovation on their way in at half time .. I am fully convinced this support helped them to win … and would so love to hear the green and red of mayo drown out all the booing and cockles and muscles etc etc … on hill flippin 16 on the 2nd Sep … Let us be the 16th man for MAYO seeing as they will have MR Mc Quillan and the yobs that will be in hill 16 … There are genuine Dublin supporters have met them down through the years and had the craic with them too .. But have ye noticed when their team not displaying the goods how quiet they get … Its up to us to shout and sing our team all the way to the final whistle like never before it will make all the difference …. As Paddy would say Up Mayo wherever you go 🙂 x

  10. oh Wind … You forgot to mention how amazing Kevin O Neill was that day against the dubs Class personified 🙂

  11. Wind I take it all back but I suppose it’s a bad wind that blows no have us all at it now!
    Seriously trying to dictate to refs is futile though John is right that in the past we were hard done by. Mr Mcaneaney allowing quick frees for Meath while stopping our quick frees every time comes to mind. Nevertheless wind is right they have to get on with it but support each other in a crisis. Minors especially do not need rough stuff. A lot is penalised in minor and giving away frees that settle the other team is not the way to go in my view.
    I believe all Mayo players do their best but it’s human to get exasperated if not the most productive response.

  12. looks like wind isnt all hot air after all , fine post.

    there is a fine line between bullying and physicality but i think that horan is mastering this , i very much doubt cork for instance were we to meet them again would get away with the same stuff they pulled in the league final.

  13. I hope to God that Cork beat Donegal, and not just because I live there, if anything Donegal winning would make it easier for me to get tickets when we make the final 🙂 on a personal level I am now getting to the point where I cannot stand Donegal. It’s not really the team it’s their supporters, the cockiness has reached absurd levels and whilst they deserve to be proud of two ulsters in a row, a fine achievement but the few I know are off the scale with cockiness and shite talk. They could learn something from the kerrymen who always won with class and in my experience never really got cocky despite racking up the number of SAMs. Donegal are starting to remind me of the neighbours who suddenly came into a bit of money and don’t know how to handle it.

  14. I had a good seat for the league final and I had a great view of the Cork tactics. Whilst the running off the ball was designed to stop Mayo runs and the tackling was fairly heavy I could see very few fouls. I feel that Cork got the upperhand simply because they were bigger and stronger. The backs and half forwards stopped forward Mayo momentum by getting the tackle in early, pushing forward with their upper bodies and pushing back the Mayo ball holders. To do this you have to tackle early and once you start pushing dont stop. Excellent tackling. The Cork players train by soloing the ball constantly from one side of the pitch to the other at pace. No laps needed. If Cork are to be bet the opposition needs to avoid their tacklers and move the ball quickly, they need to stop their runners and put pressure on a slightly suspect half back line.

  15. I somehow knew that our friend the Wind was an inspired genius, as Thomas Edison said ‘genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety nine per cent perspiration’

  16. I could not agree with that sinabhfuil. I thought Cork were quite illegal in their tactics and Cadogan,O Leary and Sheils in particular are pulling jerseys and getting in hits for years. Now a lot of counties do that but Cork seem to want to goad the other players too. Who can forget the sight of O Leary lifting an injured player by the scruff of the neck (v Mayo) and pushing him to the ground again.
    Donegal border on illegality too and I agree with East Cork Exile in relation to many of their supporters (not all of course- there are very decent Donegal followers too)
    Referees do need to allow football to be played and I don’t know if Coldrick has enough bottle.We will see.
    If James has changed the Mayo psyche (clean,fair and pure football) in two years then he is to be marvelled at. I would not like to see Mayo abandoning all that is good but yes I think we need a harder edge going forward.
    Off to Dublin Sunday – Don’t worry Sean B Ill be shouting too

  17. I don’t agree at all Sinabfhuil. I was at the League final and several incidents are still living unwell in my memory.

    Donal V around after he was tripped and had collided heavily with his head against the Cork fellas knee. He was in serious distress. Then O’Leary comes in off the ball and starts to drag him around while on the ground. The whole country saw that and commentators on TG4 were actually visibly shook by the incident. What did the ref do? Nothing.

    Also in the second half when Andy was fouled by Alan O’Connor. O’Connor lost the rag completely, roared in frustration at the ref and then took the ball up over his head and banged it down on Andy’s head while he was on the ground. What did the ref do? Nothing.

    Donal V came in then to stand up for Andy and he was pushed (punched) three times in the throat. He went down once and got up again. But tell me what was he supposed to do? He was on a yellow card so if he had hit back he would have got the line. All he could do was go down and hope the ref would intervene quicker. What did the ref do? Nothing.

    Same with Pat Harrte. Alan O’Connor (again I think) hit him a full belt with two fists in the throat. Harte went down and only got a free. Linesman saw it in plain view. What did the ref do? Nothing.

    Overall what kind of play is this? I understand Cork had a point to prove against Mayo but they proved only one thing to me that day.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for tough football and I have been advocating for years that Mayo need a far tougher and more ruthless streak but the level that Cork have reached is borderline madness.

  18. And we all figured out after that game that we shouldn’t give a shit about anyone else, referees, critics or opposition antics, just take care of your own out on the field. And in the board rooms too. As “ontheroad” pointed out the other day, our mindset has evolved to “enough is enough”. No if’s, but’s, or maybe’s, let’s just do the business, and get on with it come what may.

  19. Now you’re talking Digits. It’s as simple as that. At the serious end of the championship you either bully, or you are bullied. Be sure that Dublin took note of how Cork handled Mayo that day. How we respond to the physical stuff the next day will be very interesting. Stand up to the physical threat – and then beat them with skill. It’s worked for Kerry for long enough.

  20. Mayo should have a good look at 2011 championship game against cork, it was full of missed passes and dropping shots short. Mayo should really have beaten cork by a lot more than they did. Some of the stuff mayo done wrong was junior standard mistakes. If they can reduce the mistakes forthe next game they will have a good chance.

  21. I’m sure the ref’s will look at all the match’s involving the remaining 4 contenders. No team should expect to get away with any reption of what they got away with im earlier match’s. Neither ourselves or Dublin should have too much to worry about in that regard as both teams went out to play within the rule’s by & large…WIND is right, but only to a certain degree, you got to know and play the ref too, All have their own paticularitys, eg dont argue with Marty Duffy & so on.

  22. I see on the Herald tonight that Alan Brogan is struggling big time to make the match on Sept 2nd and it is not looking good for him. He is probably as big a loss to them as Andy is to us. It evens things up. Kevin Mc could be the guy they will play there for them. I would not fancy Vaughan on him. I would imagine Vaughan will pick up Flynn as he would most suited to marking him, Boyle will take up Cullen and Keegan will take up number 11(Kevin Mc or Connolly, I would imagine).

  23. I like the phyical edge james horan has brought to mayo n we,v badly needed that for years, stand ye,re ground lads n come wat may including wanker referees , i cannot think of 1 them i,d have a good word to say about them down thru, the years n we got some awful decisions in league games an like it or not not a budge out of our county board, its like the schoolyard bully if you let him walk over he,ll keep walking on ya. see wat we got in 04 n 06 , remember a certain mr. brady come,n on and the girraffe knew he was in a game then, i remember the start,n fullback that day shaken hands n patten donaghy on the back[i said to my self were fucked ere n so it was, over in 15 min] So if anything this mayo team does win or lose sunday wk or last sunday in sept. go down fighting what ever way it comes to ye lads, watever way n this bunch will be back with another few boys on board. UP MAIGHEO, TIOCAIGH AR LA..

  24. I cannot believe we are back on about refs again and how unfair they have been to us since 1951. It’s no wonder we get slagged off.

  25. Ye,re entitled to ye,re opinion lads n thats mine, and we will be continued to be slagged off facetheball until we do something about it and myliemayo your not half as dissapointed as me when i came back 3 times from new york in 96 within 6 weeks to see the so called greatest referee [gobshite] send off the wrong player for us an at the least he couda done was even it up an send of tha bollix mcdermott off instead of the thug that he did and now the same gobshite is over the referees now.As for the club that invited him down a few years ago to a function shame on them.Mcquill. from cavan was a disgrace also unfortun. against meath in the qualifers were not 1 but 4 big decisions against us that cost us the game in 09.Let no 1 tell u they dont get on up there in the meaths,cavan n monaghans, they all sleep in tha 1 bed same click. Hope we dont be talking bout refs nx. week or the week afta tha…one more point i think its a disgrace again that mayo has to go to ennis[munster] to play kerry in the junior all ire. final, for years now our minors n u-21s go down to ennis or limerick to play kerry or cork n not a budge about it, is it any wonder we get walked over,the county board at the very least shouda demanded tha game in crokepark for noon before either weekends of the semi finals.

  26. I’d tend to agree with some of what you have to say Johno ,re the county board being too submissive .

    96….blame the ref if you wish, i maintain we have nobody to blame but ourselves, as for McHale , again nobody to blame but himself , should never of ran half the pitch to get stuck into a malee, pointless for the risk involved.

    The 09 game, was a joke of refereeing performance, it was no penalty all day, Meath seemed to get everything that day but again we were 4/5 points up at one stage and couldnt go for the kill, so we didn’t do our bit.

    Kerry were robbed last year imo, the decisions Dublin got in their favour were ridiculous, in fairness to Kerry though you don’t hear them complain. Why is that, it’s not because they’ve won enough mentality , i believe it’s because they know ultimately it’s their fault they let it slip, ref was no help but it was Declan o Sulivan who should of landed that Achill island man a wallop if he had to , to stop that goal, he choose not to and they got the goal that led to a Dublin victory.

  27. I’m not sure there’s much point, to be honest, as we face into an All-Ireland semi-final in a bit over a week’s time, to be arguing the toss about 1996 and 2009. I’d disagree with you Sean, though, about last year’s final. A few decisions went against Kerry in the last ten minutes but it’s a stretch to say they were robbed: except for Cluxton’s winning point, all of Dublin’s late scores (including Kevin Nolan’s monster point from out on the wing) came from play and all were pressure scores. Kerry should, of course, have closed out the win but it was Dublin, not Joe McQuillan, that snatched that All-Ireland from them. It’s not true either that you don’t hear Kerry complain: Jack O’Connor was still bitching 18 months on from the (correct) decision to disallow an early goal for them against Down in the 2010 All-Ireland quarter-final. And they still haven’t shut up about Seamus Darby in 1982 either!

  28. Lads forget about referees. Dont go giveing this ‘we were robbed’ reaction. It shows us as weak. We can only control what we do and if we want it enough and do our homework we will win. Big teams will always get the shout. What we have to do is get there and then maybe we will win these big calls. Lets not be whingers and moaners. Get on with it.

  29. Fair enough, you disagree but i detect a fondness for Dublin in your posts and maybe a hint of anti Kerry too.

    Seamus Darby, was a push in the back and it denied the Kingdom of the ultimate 5in a row.

    You say Jack o Connor was bitching, that is nit picking imo, Kerry in general are a very classy breed and take it on the chin in general when they have to. They are entitled by truth to shut everyone up , just by dangling their medals in front of any county but they don’t as such as supporters.

    I found the referee in last years final, swung towards Dublin everytime, the tackling was illegal most of the time when Kerry ran at them, Dublin fouled in the two handed tackle and more besides, this was hardly punished once. Kerry were indeed robbed but will not get much sympathy from outside of Kerry . Thats without mentioning the decisions that went against Kerry in the most vital stage of the game.

  30. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, Sean. Kerry can pull and drag and block and tackle illegally with the best of them. They did it plenty to us last August (and we didn’t moan about it afterwards) and they did it again in the final.

    Can’t see any evidence of a push in the back in 1982, by the way: Even if there was (and a fine upstanding Mayo referee decided there wasn’t) Darby still had a bit of work to do to finish it. And what a finish!

    You’re right, though, that I do have a fondness for this Dublin team, not that there’ll be any hint of that on Sunday week. I’ll be taking my small lad who supports the Dubs with me to Croker for the semi so it’s going to be an interesting day out for the both of us that day.

  31. Previous championship defeats are history – leave them there. These results cannot be changed – yes they are learnings there for the current squad but its the here and now that matters. Andy Moran has often been quoted about 04 and 06 and has been clear that Mayo were beaten by a superior team on the day. End of.

    In simple terms this is how I view things. Players performance is made up of 3 parts; ball skills, physical conditioning, and mental performance. This squad are very well conditioned thanks to O’Neill and co. They will not be bullied and are particularly strong at turning over possession. Our pace in the half back line is an asset. Ball skills are very good – a lot of two footed players and I was impressed by the delivery of ball by foot this season too. The scores racked up v Down demonstrate that creating scores will not be an issue.

    Re mental performance – the ability to control and manage your thoughts pre, during, and post match – now this is an area that will decide the outcome next Sunday week. Do the squad genuinely believe that winning Sam this year is achievable? Body language, sound bytes to media, and more importantly their attitude in the heat of championship battle is very positive. Its ok for a squad to have a few chips on their shoulder once its translated into a positive goal. Referees are immaterial – the team cannot influence the outcome here. However they can influence what happens when they have the ball in their possession. They can influence what happens if they concede or indeed score a goal at a crucial period in the match. They can influence how to manage themselves if provoked into a scrap by their opposition (reference ’96 v Meath). The last time they visited Croke Park they had a 12 point victory in their kit bag. Mentally they are in a very good place.

    Positivity breeds success. Mayo will beat Dublin on Sunday week. Then they move onto their next assignment!

  32. I fully agree with your comments First Generation Dub. We are in a great position this season to move on to a Final. I have only one area of concern that is the moving about of our corner forwards, no settled persons there, it is a small worry. I expect Aidan O Shea to play a huge part in our success.

  33. Fist Gen Dub I agree with a lot of what you say but I’m not too sure that it was Meath doing the provoking in 96! If my memory serves me right a couple of our lads did a bit of provoking too!

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