And so it ends

Photo: Nat Telliya (@rodgegella) via Twitter

Well, that’s it then. The final itself is well and truly over and the homecoming is too – fair play to everyone who turned out, by the way, in atrocious weather conditions down at McHale Park yesterday evening for the lads’ official return to home territory – as the curtain comes down on our 2012 championship season. It’s been one hell of a year, with the team getting to both the NFL and the All-Ireland finals (the last time we did that was in 1951), and while the only silverware we have to show for 2012 is the Nestor Cup (never a trophy to turn one’s nose up at, in my opinion) it’s still been a year of success and of development for the county.

The upbeat mood within the camp was obviously still evident as the lads were checking out of the Regency yesterday morning. Speaking with the Irish Times, James Horan was in reflective mood about what might have been but was also keen to stress how the team are already looking ahead to the future:

As regards the desire of the team, yeah the guys will drive it on forward, no doubt about that. Even yesterday there were guys looking at skill protocols, strength and conditioning protocols, for the winter. And that was straightaway after the game, and that was hugely encouraging.

In terms of his own position, James was in philosophical mood and he wasn’t exactly definitive in what he had to say about staying on for the final year of his initial three-year term:

Well, I don’t know how contracts work in the GAA, to be honest. All I remember on the night I got the job I was told it was three years. So we’ll see. But I suppose it is relentless, absolutely relentless, and maybe that’s something I didn’t fully appreciate. Morning, noon and night, and every single day. It’s hard to get a bit of off-time, but you wouldn’t do it unless you enjoyed it.

That report does, however, state that “no-one doubts” James will still be in the saddle for 2013 and my understanding is that it’s very likely this will be the case.

Andy Moran was also in bullish mood when he met the media before the team left Dublin yesterday. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Andy predicted that:

I believe we’re going to win more than one [All-Ireland], to be honest with you. If we win one we’ll keep going. This is a great group of lads and I wouldn’t be surprised in two weeks’ time if these lads are back training.

That piece also states that Andy has targeted the beginning of April for his comeback from the cruciate injury suffered against Down in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

If Andy is correct and we do land Sam in the near future, then it appears all but certain that current team coach Cian O’Neill won’t be involved, as the Irish Examiner is reporting today that the Kildare native is leaving the Mayo set-up to join Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s management team in Kerry. While this is obviously a set-back for James Horan, it cannot be any surprise to him: I heard well-placed rumours to this effect up here shortly after the Dublin game.

That Irish Examiner article also states that if Cian does, as expected, jump ship we have a replacement lined up in the form of National Athlete Development Academy consultant and Tallaght IT lecturer Barry Solan who was involved with Laois this year and who has also done elite coaching work with the likes of Katie Taylor, the Clontarf AIL rugby team and the Polich soccer team. (Further background on Barry is in this Mayo News article from earlier in the year). Barry is a native of Ballaghaderreen and he won a senior county championship medal with the club in 2008.

35 thoughts on “And so it ends

  1. I was devastated to hear this morning that Cian O’Neill was leaving us and going to Kerry – OF ALL PLACES. It was certainly Cian who had the team so fit and aggressive. This was the fourth time he brought a team to an All Ireland and when Tipp won their first All Ireland in a number of years, Cian was their trainer. I must say though, Willie Joe, that I like the sound of Barry Solan. The fact that he is from Ballaghaderreen is a bonus – his heart will be in the job. I don’t know what Kerry want a trainer for. They can win All Irelands without any outside help.

    I was at the homecoming last night in the lashing rain. There were at least 1,000 there. I think we just wanted to show our appreciation of the their efforts on our behalf. But a sports reporter and Pat Kenny on Radio 1 this morning condemned us for “subjecting” the team to a homecoming when they are still feeling so raw after the loss. What does anybody think?

  2. I was in mchale park yesterday evening. Even though the weather was awful a good crowd turned out for our Mayo team. Alot of the players I was chatting to are rightly pissed off but they all spoke about driving on next year which is heartening. Even though we didn’t win the attitude is that there is no point in dwelling on defeat. Mayo will learn and kick on. We fear no team anymore.

    Cian O Neill is a loss but if we get Barry solan on board then we have a guy with new ideas and hopefully improvement will come. After last night I’m more optimistic about next year. There is a hunger there to succeed. The crossmolina, knockmore & Ballintubber boys are getting ready as we speak for the club championship on Saturday week!

  3. That is very disappointing to lose Cian O’Neill. Why would he want to walk away considering the year that he has had and the unfinished business with this Mayo team? I am disappointed to hear that.

  4. He’s based in Limerick so I’d imagine the travelling has a lot to do with it. Shorter commute to Kerry and will still be working with a top team – one which most people would say have a better chance of winning Sam if we’re being honest.
    Still, if Horan can get Barry Solan on-board that will be a great replacement. He’s based in Tallaght so that’s hardly ideal, but he’s a Ballagh man, so hopefully he’d jump at the chance of getting involved with Mayo.

  5. Sorry to hear O’Neill is going, he must be largely responsible for the great shape the team were in this year.
    But still, new ideas will be brought in next year now.
    It’s good to hear the players and manager all being positive about next year. We have a young squad, so there’s room for more development.
    Still sickened about Sunday, but it’s not the same as 2004 and 2006 especially, as this team will be back again. This was a great opportunity to win it, but sure when do we ever do things the easy way?
    I’d expect Dublin, Cork and Tyrone to be much better next year, so it’ll be difficult. But certainly not impossible. Who knows, maybe we’ll have the opportunity to meet Donegal next year in the semi and defeat the reigning All-Ireland champions for the third year in a row…

  6. Good luck to Cian, he has set high standards, that will be followed and improved upon by Barry Solan. Yes Mayo are in good hands.

  7. ‘And so it ends ‘ goes the heading …. perhaps it is only the beginning !
    Perhaps it was asking too much to expect us go all the way in just two years.
    This time we have a younger age profile and we have gained serious Croke Park experience in the two years.
    It may be hard to see it now but perhaps we will get a better return from the team in the long run than if we had won on Sunday.
    In retrospect if we had handled the first few minutes better Sam may not be in the hills right now.
    We will never know for sure as once Donegal got their cushion a different type of game ensued.
    To fail in 7 All Ireland Finals on the trot is seriously neglectful by any standards but this team/management can only be held accountable for one.
    We were extremely nervous and not aggressive enough early on and the opposition took advantage.
    Why this was so despite our 61 year wait I do not know.
    It was disconcerting early on to see any ball that we got in to our full forwards coming back out as fast as it went in and then even more concerning to see the same forwards getting physically beaten up by their opposite numbers.
    The contrast between the two full forward lines was stark. When have we last seen a Mayo Full Forward finish in the emphatic manner Murphy did for Donegal ?
    Sam will not come to Mayo without changes … yes we will continue to compete and sometimes go close but we will not get over the line.
    We will get over the line if we become ruthless and learn from our mistakes. We need at least 4/5 personnel changes/switches to get the 10% improvement that would get us over the line.
    We need to look after the young players who have the potential to contribute and these players should not be spending their summers in New York.
    Over to you James.

  8. 2011 starting Championship team V Kerry
    Hennelly, Cunniffe, Cafferkey, Higgins; Richie Feeney, Vaughan, Trevor Mortimer; A O’Shea, S O’Shea; McLoughlin, Dillon, Andy Moran, Varley, Freeman, O’Connor.

    2012 Starting Championship V Donegal
    Clarke, Keane, Cafferkey, Higgins, Keegan, Vaughan, Boyle, Aiden O’Shea, Barry Moran, Mc Loughlin, Doherty, Dillon, Varley, O’Connor, Conroy

    Seven Changes!

    Lost semi to Kerry by 9 points in 2011, Lost final to Donegal by 4 in 2012
    This is progress in anyone’s book.

    We know we are not the finished article, there are 3 to 5 more changes needed to finish the deal. Comparing our progress over the 2 years with Donegals is wrong as they had an older, more settled team when Mc Guinness took over. Horan had to rebuild first.

  9. Lets move. The loss was devastating. O’Neill is a great loss but there are replacements. He obviously had committed to Eamon Fitzmaurice before last week end.

    I understand that the championship games in Mayo senior club football are fixed for the same week end ast the FBD Final in New York. Who will travel? The players who performed so well for our county deserve the break in New York?

  10. Still very down after Sunday, but very proud of our lads.They never gave up , despite an awful start. It would have been very easy to do so and for that alone I am thankful.
    Just looking at the programme, the two teams are close enough age wise,with Donegal on average about a year older.Its a bit different in championship games played.Mayo, including subs used are on 12.5 while Donegal are on 25.1 This is a huge difference in experience, and much has been said of Kevins slow start.We must remember he had only played 4 times for Mayo,so nerves surely played a part.He is a good player and showed it when he settled.Sorry to hear Cian is leaving, but we must carry on.
    Once again thanks lads for a great year.Our day will come.

  11. @ P J,
    I had heard that if we won the final they would travel to New York next month for the FBD final, but if they lost, they would not be travelling. Don’t know if true or not, I would hope not.

  12. Anyone feel maybe Horan had his mind set on his 3rd year in charge to be the year he took Sam back West? I think these managers now have a better idea than the rest of us of what games his team are capable winning. Just when i look back i do wonder had he really set his sights on 2013 as the year what with the way the game is gone and the time to develop a team into winners?

  13. I was there on Sunday. A great atmosphere & there is no game like it in the world when Croke Park is full. The finest stadium in the world. Forget about 89,96,97, 2004,2006
    People are getting to caught up in the past.

    Mayo football is on the right track. This is a young team. Let James Horan complete his work. He is without doubt the best manager of a Mayo team we have had in the last 25 years along with Micky Moran who was without doubt shafted because of 1 bad result.

    I have no doubt at all we will win Sam Maguire in the very near future. We need to keep the faith with this bunch of lads. Sunday will bring them on leaps & bounds.
    Let Mayo people not be to down hearted. Lets get on with it now & start planning for 2013.

  14. Ah sure it will never end, if Mayo were in another all Ireland final next week regardless of grade, gender or chances I’d be there.and so would be many of the same faces that I know to see, but not their names, Some very good and objective reasoning of what went wrong, what went right.I must say on this site. We are much improved no doubt, individual players, managment and fans all have learned plenty, but now have to take the lessons on board. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as regards the match ups issue, Murphy had the beating of both our full backs, he easily beat Cafferkey and Clark to palm over a point in the second half, it could easily have been a goal, Sure I can win the lotto twice a week in hindsight, It will take a few weeks to clear the head to take a cold hard look at what went wrong, Donegal got a dream start 7 points up and 11 minutes gone. I was in the corner on the end line Canal end Hogan stand, so in reality very difficult to see what was going on down the Hill 16 end. I was tuned into RTE radio when Bernard Flynn (a very fair objective man in most circumstances) said some thing about Mayo being cursed when the second goal went in, I hate any talk of curses and could not listen any more to the radio, bad enough to be fuming so much without being told you were cursed, Anyhow I never put in my ear piece again for the match because Mayo started to take the game to Donegal much better without my listining to the radio. Did anyone else other than me think that Donegal fans outnumbered Mayo fans 2 to 1. I also taught that Mayo fans were not as vocal in our support as we should be, fair play to some of the Mayo fans close to me tried to get behind the team and did their best to get everybody to make a bit of noise for Mayo every chance they could, especially the young ones but some of the older ones too, Sadly many never raised a cheer, I wonder were they so deflated by the start or our previous All Ireland defeats. i’m sure many of the thousands of Mayo fans that were’nt lucky enough to get Ticket would have done a better job in supporting their team. Anyhow all mayo fans owe a debt of thanks to all of those that repesented Mayo so heroically in 2012, hopefully we will go one better in 2013. It has’nt even started yet, Mayo For Ever!

  15. Willie Joe, I dont know if we are allowed highlight a post on another blog but I have just read an input on Gaaboard.Com (All ireland Final 2012 Donegal V Mayo / General Discussion Page 72, contribution by Moysider ).
    This is the best and most knowledgeable analysis I have read and others might like a read.

  16. I agree with Dan, Dublin,Cork and Tyrone will be much better next year, especially Dublin,however I would add add one other team to that equation and that’s Galway. The men in maroon, the sleeping giants in Connaught will be highly motivated to show Mayo how it’s done as they did in ’98. I give Mayo a chance,assuming the gods aren’t still angry and if they are,there might be a way to appease them, don’t cha know.

  17. Good man Lobitin have to agree with all you say.Myself and my son were in lower cusack 305 season ticket holders, and on several occasions had to turn back to our own to urge them to support the team.It’s easy to shout when we’re winning,but it’s when we’re down we need it most.We thought there was a funeral on behind us,and i’m not that young either.Was at every final since we last won.Come to think of it the young lad is’nt that young either.Greatest moment ever in Croke Park was after Dublin game when they sang the green and red of Mayo.Just wanted to hear it one more time,and I know I will.

  18. Consider it as if we hadnt been in a final since 1951, and that losing to the likes of Longford in qualifiers was the norm. Then consider the past two years and our overall performance in the final. Different story then.

  19. I think Horan really has to learn to make the substiutions a lot earlier. He made the same mistake against Dublin that nearly lost it for us. If Jimmy Mc was in charge of Mayo, at least one player would still not been playing by half time an two more subs would have come on by the 40th minute. What if we had brought Gibbons, SOS and Feeney on at the 40 minute mark ? They came on far too late. Donegal were winning but had 3 subs on by the time we brought on our first sub !!! We need to get K Higgins to number 6 and find a place for Feeney.
    Possible strongest starting 15 for next year if all fit
    Clarke
    Keane Caff McHale
    Keegan Higgins Boyle
    SOS AOS
    Dillon Feeney Kev Mc
    Conroy A Moran Cillian

    Horan just has to learn to make the changes a lot earlier. I think that was his biggest flaw this year.

  20. agree about lack of vocal support … I’m still hoarse today was surrounded by Donegal was in the lower cusack and I just couldn’t get the mayo ones around me to shout for our brave soilders … Was extremely proud of them but Am so gutted worse than I was in 1996 can’t read the papers or look at anything atall about it on tv … We had the beating of them and that’s what hurts the most 🙁 .. Went to the banquet on my own and couldn’t believe the amount of people that had paid 80 euro for tickets and didn’t turn up … I left again before 12 and headed to Galway on the 12.15am bus from the airport my heart in bits … And to top it all off I hear Cian O Neill leaving to go to of all places Kerry suppose it could be worse (if it was Galway) oh and how will we keep those Aussies away from Aiden ???? They all know about us now no more hiding under the radar or anything like that so when its time let us dust ourselves off get our scarves gloves and warm jackets ready for the FBD and begin to dream our Mayo dream once again …. Maigheo Abu always …

  21. Have cousins in donegal really heartbreaking reading his updates and about the crack their having st the home comings. 🙁

  22. Just to say a big thanks to WJ and to James Horan and the team for another roller coaster ride. So many other counties would ate yer hand off at the elbow to be where we were these last 2 years. Mistakes were made, no doubt about that but personally I believe management know this. I’d love to see a good spread of players for the FBD, plenty of fringe lads getting a chance and if they are good enough he can add the requisite depth necessary to the panel. Anyway enough. Again to WJ, JH, & the lads Go raibh mile maith agaibh, ye made 1 shite summer great.

  23. We have come a long way since Longford 2010. We now have a team to be really proud of – they are capable of beating anyone – they have real character and they will not give up. For all those things I am deeply grateful and I look forward to next year. I look forward to going to Mayo matches in 2013 in the full knowledge that they will give anyone a run for their money. I look forward to going to games full of confidence and not trepidation. I also reckon they will improve considerably and become an even more formidable footballing force. I believe we are on the brink of something really big if not next year then very shortly after – IF we are patient and persistent and If we can come up with better attacking options.

    One such option is this. We have plenty of midfielders – JG, AOS, SOS, DG, AM, RMcG. I would change AOS to FF and develop him into something very special by intensive coaching and practice. He is our best option and was brilliant there when he first played senior. He is a very big man and it is hard for him to do they type of running and covering that is now required around the midfield area for 70 minutes. As he gets older it will become even more difficult given his natural build. However, he has all the attributes to make him a FF that would strike terror into any FB line.

    The team would look something like this:

    Clarke
    McHale or Keane Cafferky Boyle
    Keegan Higgins Vaughan

    Jason Gibbons Barry Moran Seamus O Shea Richie Feeney

    Kevin Mc Loughlin Andy Moran
    Aidan O Shea Cillian O Connor

    Kevin Keanes has to prove himself again before we can trust him to mark a top class forward close to goal.
    Alan Dillon must be be getting fed up – he might need a break and coming off the bench he might have more to offer in the future
    This gives us a 4 man midfield / defence and only 4 forwards
    I wonder ?

  24. Livenhope I fell in love with you when you wrote about you’re dad, we all have our stories. With that passion maybe you’re my sister.Hope it is’nt the death of us all.

  25. Not too sure whats happening with the FBD final in New York. Championship matches down for that weekend so players and officers would be caught up. I can see them pulling the plug alright on it. The thing to do would be to send over the Junior team which done so well this year in getting to their AI final also. But I dont think that will happen either.

  26. Certainly would take a day trip to NY to see them,..keep us posted,
    Btw, someone mentioned it elsewhere and I recall thinking about it watching the match on Sunday, didn’t it seem Mayo supporters were grossly outnumbered by Donegal?

  27. Pity about the big hole at one end of Croke Park it will never be right until the bowl emerges – the planners obviously think otherwise, It may of course have been the correct decision but strange compared to one rural domestis development I know which was approved by Planners despite the fact that it intruded upon the privacy and took away the sunlight of existing dwelling.

  28. My understanding of the Hill situation is that there is no way they could do it without closing the railway line for a very long time while construction is ongoing.

  29. WJ…….Your comment on the stature of the Nestor Cup caught my eye.
    Absolutely – Let’s never lose sight of that.

    I’m a believer in hitting Croker, whenever we can, as provincial champions and that our ongoing tally against the men in maroon in particular is a key competitive standard that must be maintained on the home front.

    Currently it’s level at M 43/G 43 in that derby.

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