And so it begins again

I love procrastinating. In the run up to Christmas I had exams galore to study for and assignments by the score to finish off. Instead of doing something remotely academic with my time, I turned my attention completely to something else.

I am currently doing a Masters in Journalism in NUIG and 60% of one of our modules (broadcasting) is allocated to constructing a 30-minute radio documentary. The topic was wide open and of course, no surprise, I decided to document the rise and fall of Mayo GAA but to get the marks for a catchy headline it was renamed “To win just once – the curse of Mayo”. Therefore, in my head, it felt more logical to begin the interviewing process for the documentary rather than study Media Law and pen that 2,000 word essay that had been on the back burner since November.

So over the course of a couple of weeks, I drove around the county of Mayo and even ventured as far as Galway and Dublin to conduct these interviews. The trip to Dublin happened to coincide with the Christmas shopping, two birds, one stone and all that craic!

I thought finding people would prove incredibly hard. When you talk about Mayo GAA, you talk about lost finals, missed chances, curses and 65 rolling into 66 years of hurt. I was apprehensive about who would actually want to talk to me about that. But then, I realised, when you talk about lost finals and missed chances, you have to mention amazing journeys and matches that led you to that moments.

When you mention the notion of a curse you either intrigue or irritate and regardless of whether you believe or don’t (I’d just like to clarify that I don’t), everyone has their own story or opinion to tell on the matter. And when you mention the 65/66 years of hurt, you have to revert back to our last victories in ’50 and ’51 and the great achievement that is winning a back-to-back All-Ireland in a team that featured some of the greatest players of all time.

As I said, I love procrastinating and nearly a full month had passed before I decided to start transcribing my interviews down on paper to try and concoct a documentary. Thus far, I have only managed to chalk down two full interviews from ear to paper. They were with Michael Gallagher of the Western People and David Clarke. Other names whose recordings have been stored away in my Dropbox but have not yet been re-listened to are Martin Carney, John O’Mahony, James Nallen, David Brady and, of course, two men that will go down in Mayo GAA history – Paddy Prendergast and Padraig Carney.

The prospect of interviewing David Clarke was daunting but the man is a gentleman. His goalkeeping panache is completely unique and eccentric and he thanked his role model Peter Schmeichel for this style.

“Getting to the ball first, at any cost” – that’s his motive, and what a great motive to have as a ‘keeper. It’s no surprise that the best of forwards find it hard to get past him, he towered above me as I met him at the front door with an outstretched hand, twice the size of mine.

He stated his disappointment about the replay and rightly so but it wasn’t something he dwelled on for too long, once the decision was made, it was made and he got on with it. His attitude is amazing, he was on call for the replay and went in with the mind-set that he would be getting some game time. He was ready to jump in at any stage and that was something which he had to do. If that was anyone else, they may have sat on the bench sulking but he is a team player and any decision that is made, he understands it’s for the best of the team.

It was a cold December’s morning that I interviewed him but he admitted that he was already doing some personal training in the build-up to the coming year. Any notions of the loss were out of his head and although 2016 may have still been there, 2017 was firmly on his mind.

Michael Gallagher was one of the first people I interviewed. He is a walking encyclopaedia when it comes to Mayo GAA and was a huge help in sourcing possible interviewees. He talked about witnessing his first Mayo match against “foreign opposition”, that’s what his young self, thought of Dublin and reminisced about his idol Willie Joe (the footballer, not the blogger!) climbing into the skies to collect the ball.

Michael is the perfect man for a documentary. His vocabulary and structure of words mixed with his insight and one-liners make for fantastic and easy listening. Some of his quotes stuck in my head over the Christmas. He stated that not a day passes where he doesn’t think about Mayo winning the All-Ireland which, although may seem funny out of season, is probably something that reigns heavy on our minds all year round.

His finishing lines were heart-warming and excited me to continue interviewing more and more people, hearing their stories and association with Mayo GAA.

I wonder what it would feel like to be standing in Croke Park, with the final whistle looming and just knowing that we were seconds away from the Promised Land. However, reaching that final destination would mean that our journey to the Promised Land would be over and some say that the journey is just as good, if not better than the final destination. We’re blessed as Mayo fans to be a part of this fabulous journey but we’re ready for that final destination.

As I chalk down the other interviews in the coming weeks, I will report back with more quips and quotes but for now the magical journey which Michael referred to above starts again this weekend. Mayo face NUIG in MacHale Park on at 2pm tomorrow afternoon and by all means if you can get yourself down there, do. There are a handful of Mayo men on the NUIG squad who may find themselves knocking on the green and red door after. And as for Mayo, it is a time to discover our next Cillian O’Connor or Aidan O’ Shea or Keith Higgins.

Sure, it’s only the FBD league and no-one will be able to pinpoint how this match will serve us in terms of the summer but you might leave MacHale Park with a player’s name on your lips whom you never heard of before this. That’s what’s great about the FBD league: we don’t want to see the big names, we want to see the up and coming ones who are going to look at the big names and say ‘I want your place’.

It was at this time last year that I wrote my first guest piece on this renowned and fantastic blog. I can’t thank Willie Joe enough for letting me use this platform and it is one we should all cherish. It allows us to come together, no matter where we are in the world and inform, rant, rave and support the Green and Red.

New Year, same aim. In the words of Jagger/Richards, Start Me Up.

53 thoughts on “And so it begins again

  1. Team I am expecting tomorrow.

    Rory Byrne
    Donie Newcombe
    David Kenny
    Ray O Malley
    Michael Plunkett
    Eoin O Reilly
    Brian McDermott
    Danny Kirby
    Shane Nally
    Fergal Boland
    Cian Costello
    Fionn McDonagh
    Neil Douglas
    Brian Reape
    James Durcan

    Really interesting to see how David Kenny does on Damian Comer. Also, Fergal Boland & Neil Douglas were outstanding in 2016 would love to see them carry on that form.

  2. Aw man, I thoroughly enjoyed your guest piece. Makes me all the more eager for Castlebar tomorrow. Starting the great journey again. I’ll be on the early train from Dublin . Maigh Eo Abú!

  3. Thanks for sharing the thoughtful commentary and the quotes. I have always loved the mindset of the journey vs the destination – only question is how long will the journey be, time to enjoy it for once we reach the Promise Land (which I KNOW we wil on September 17, 2017) we will look back on all the events that lead us there. From a Florida fan, Maigh Eo Abú and all the best to the Players, Management and FANS for a wonderful 2017!!!

  4. I don’t know what the winning will be like or when it will happen. I can only talk about the journey. Since 2011 it has been amazing, and it has been made all the more enjoyable by Daragh and WJ.on this blog. Tomorrow we have our first day out and an opportunity to look at some talent for the future

  5. Excellent post Darragh well done. I hear you on getting to the promised land it would be nice to reach it all the same and please God we will one day

  6. Good read hopefully you can have ending real soon

    Team i would go for

    Rory Byrne
    Donie Newcombe
    Ray o Malley
    David Kenny
    Michael Plunkett
    Eoin o Reilly
    Shane Nally
    Matthew Ruane
    Danny Kirby
    Fergal Boland
    Conor Loftus
    James Durcan
    Niel Douglas
    Liam Irwin

    Seems to be some conflicting stories of loftus and reapes availability. expect cunniffe and Fionan Duffy to join the party as well.

  7. I like the look of your team Redcol – Certainly a good test of Kenny would be to put him on Comer – with the option of a more experienced defender like Newcombe or O’Reilly if too hot to handle. The only change that I would make to your starting 15 is have Loftus in the half forward line. Not sure what Costello would bring to the party if in fact he has been called in at all? Irwin needs to be slotted in there too – so at least there’s a couple of options off the bench as the game progresses.

  8. Great article.i always say the all Ireland we should have won was the final we were never in 2014.

  9. So it begins again. Great post Darragh and I’m not sure you need paperwork to be a good journalist…looks like you’re there already! Seconds out………

  10. Darragh,
    I’m not exactly a stranger to the pen, myself…..As a hobby and in a “past time” sort of way. One thing that I enjoy more than writing well is reading well. You, certainly, have the tools of the trade. Keep at your craft. I’ve enjoyed your posts thus far and look forward to more in 2017.

  11. I doubt Kenny would be placed on Comer. That’s not a sensible match up currently. Comer has to matched by a physically strong experienced player.

  12. Some day we will reach our destination… and I’m sure it will feel fantastic… tinged with sadness for all the great supporters who won’t be around to see it. Sad but true.

  13. JP – the FBD is more about testing out the skills and capabilities of potential new talent as opposed to the game result. Therefore I would not have a problem seeing how Kenny could handle a physically strong player for a defined period in the game at least. Not a realistic match up for championship but 15-20mins in FBD is worth the test.

  14. I don’t think that’s a good introduction to Senior for a player marking someone that is a complete mismatch.

  15. Could anyone settle an argument (with a modest bet….a pint)!!
    What Mayo player won the Man of the match in 2016 All Ireland U 21 final??
    Agree 100% on David Clarke…a real gentleman.
    Exiled Stephenite.

  16. Great piece Just the thing to read as we begin our journey once again to the promised land

  17. See a few of ye would start Kirby in midfield. In his patchy league 2014 with Mayo, my sense was he struggled a bit to win ball in FF line against tight defenses like Tyrone and Donegal but when he drifted out to half forwards his kick passing and vision were very good. However the Tyrone game that year was a bit of a systems failure for Mayo. Similar style to Irwin and Dublin’s Rock but he doesn’t take frees. Hard to know what’s Kirby’s best position but he has talent no doubt. Maybe midfield would work as we’d have the benefit of his kick passing but could he chase race horses like Fenton or David Moran all day? Not many can. Game time needed. Nally was unlucky last year after an excellent league. Expect him to be to the forefront in FBD if played.

  18. Hope there is a massive crowd there today and hope to see somebody like Loftus or Irwin or Reape or Douglas bursting the net at the bacon factory end and putting down a marker and making a statement to Rochford.

  19. Do people think that sometimes the more you desire something the more elusive it becomes.

    Its like the unemployed fella who just can’t get a job no matter how hard he tries, while another fella can have three or more jobs on the go and think nothing of it. While the single man would love to be married or attached, while the married man with kids doesn’t consider himself to be a lucky man, a lot of the time!

    It’s like the Dubs picking up national titles to beat the band at the moment and some of them are still sore winners, yet we would do anything to get our hands on a national tile. That’s life I suppose!

    Maybe we should all try to take a bit of a more relaxed approach to the games this year.

  20. A very good article ,love all the different views not in agreement with all but interesting all the same

  21. Really enjoyed that piece Darragh.

    First day of the season – the day when some Mayo GAA fans feel the need to announce to the world on twitter how super they are at supporting the team

  22. I’m not there, JP, but the team that started was: Rory Byrne; Niall McManamon, Ray O’Malley, Donal Newcombe; Brian McDermott, Eoghan O’Reilly, Michael Plunkett; Shane Nally, Danny Kirby; Fionn McDonagh, Cian Costello; Fergal Boland; Liam Irwin, Neil Douglas, Brian Reape. According to the Mayo News, that makes it 10 senior debutants on the team today. They’re doing okay so far, though.

  23. Wasn’t able to make it down from the big shmoke for the game. What players stood out?

  24. Rory Byrne, Danny Kirby & Fergal Boland well worth another look. Would be interesting to see them alongside some senior players. Young Westport lads McDermott & McDonagh also future prospects

  25. My man of match was Michael Daly at number 11 from nuig.adam gallagher majority of points from frees.

    Few players stood out for Mayo namely fergal boland and Brian reape.boland is a real gem of a player hopefully he can develop physically wise.reape got some good points and shows very well for the ball and has a physical presence inside.
    kirby had his moments to but to me his not at pace of county level .shane nally also did well.
    Few of the other castlebar players were well of the pace .
    Interesting to see tj Byrne come on he has a big physical presence and hopefully he will get an injury free run with the under 21s.
    Anyways its early days yet.

  26. Now Aidan it’s a bit early to be writing off Adam Gallager I know he’s not the fastest player in the world but he knows where the posts are I agree with you about Michael Daly lots of pedigree there him being the son of Val Daly what is about Galway they have the knack of producing classy forwards

  27. I call a spade a spade when judging players and that’s no offence to any player.
    there is a huge gulf in class between a good club player and the level required to be a county looking for players that can make a difference to Mayo at championship level! Ya won’t know yet in January which players will be good enough but you will know which players that won’t!

  28. Aidan – I’ll call a spade a spade too: you’re not allowed to refer to individual players in such terms and if you do so again there’ll be consequences. That’s been a rule here ever since I put the house rules together and you’re commenting on here long enough to know this. If you put a bit of thought into it, then you should be able to come up with a reasoned critique of a player by reference to what he did or didn’t do in the match just played but lazy, cheap putdowns like the one you came up with aren’t acceptable and won’t be tolerated here.

  29. Enjoyed that. Fergal Boland kicked some fine scores and was very good overall. Donie Newcombe was tigerish and liked his reading of the game. Michael Plunkett started well but faded. Shane Nally kicked two lovely points but played too deep a role for me in the first half. Danny Kirby done brilliantly for the goal but he needs to be playing regularly for his club. Thought, that they all tried hard and Adam Gallagher gave an exhibition of free taking which was the difference in the end.

  30. Ridiculous statement Aidan, Gallagher scores 9, 3 from play and you write him off. Are you for real?! No, we are not looking for players who know where the posts are, so let’s ignore them!

  31. Fergal boland 0-4 all play.brian reape 0-3 all play.kirby got a goal.douglas got a penalty and a point from play in its half.
    Shane nally 0-2.
    Irwin got 2 or 3 frees.
    Duffy 0-1

  32. Neil Douglas 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), Fergal Boland 0-4, Liam Irwin (0-3f), Brian Reape 0-3 each, Danny Kirby 1-0, Shane Nally 0-2, Fionn McDonagh, Fionan Duffy 0-1each.

    That’s according to mayo gaa Twitter.

  33. It was impressive scoring from play by a young inexperienced Mayo forward line.
    Some of these lads would barely have ever known what each other looked like nevermind trained/played together.

  34. Danny Kirby, Fergal Boland the two standout players today. Byrne very solid in goal and Newcombe stuck well to his attackers. Fionn McDonagh impressed me also – made a few mistakes in the first half but showed great energy, speed, determination and handled a lot ball throughout. Kirby’s kick passing into the forward line was sublime and got himself into position for two more goals in the second half if only man in possession had picked him out. Shane Nally played quite well also.

  35. Fiona McDonagh certainly looks to have something about him. I liked what I saw and I reckon he will make it but perhaps not this year.

  36. I was listening to both teams managers Maurice Sheridan and Rochford after the game and was surprised to hear that NUIG was missing 5 defenders including Luke Burke called up by Galway seniors and Eoin o Donoghue. Sheridan naturally was the more pleased. Rochford however did say that he was impressed by a couple of the newcomers and that it was hard when playing with each other for the first time and playing the final 20 mins a man down. It was good for some of the players to get out there or the first time and that some in SA will be looking over their shoulder.

    From our senior team point of view it may be hard to take much from it as the level of competition will be get a lot harder. Some will get another chance to show what they can do. i hope they do especially against next weeks opposition. Sligo IT. looking at todays result against Roscommon the senior players would be better resting up from a long flight that playing in that game.

    It was however good to see some of this years U21s coming off the bench like Cannon and McCormack that weren’t even part of last years panel even Fionn McDonagh wasn’t part of that panel. Just shows what a year makes in young players and that our U21 team is worth following this year too.

    As for Adam Gallagher 4 points from play, 5 frees we get too see what he does against Roscommon next week. Still only a young man and a lot of improvement yet in him.

  37. We have a very wide pick for this years U21s is true. Maybe no standout like Diarmuid/Loftus but in my opinion a wider panel. Should give us a strong bench.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *