Animals!

do-not-feed-the-animals-sign

Image: stephencreates.com

No, not you lot, not those who follow this blog nor the Mayo followers in general. Páidí Ó Sé described, in a 2003 Sunday Independent interview, the Kerry followers as  “the roughest type of fucking animals you could ever deal with”.

No ambiguity there. Páidí could have melted down eight Celtic Crosses won on the battle field. He could point to managing Kerry to an U21 All-Ireland, two Senior ones plus a few League titles.

So what reduced a certifiable gold-plated Kerry warrior to utter such an unambiguous statement about essentially his own people? Well a number of planets aligned and dimmed Páidí’s star. His use (scant) of Maurice Fitzgerald , the 2001 battering by Meath, the throwing away of the 2002 final against Armagh and the inability to deal with Tyrone’s “puke” football in the summer of ’03.

Páidí was actually assailed in Croke Park by a follower. Had Páidí gathered his medal and managerial haul in Mayo, we would have built a gold statue to him and returned him and his offspring to the Dáil until doomsday.

However in Kerry, like  in Kilkenny, winning is the only accepted currency. Past glory and gold only remind them of their status. Páidí took his treatment badly but Kerry annexed the following year’s title under Jack ‘Hard’ with us rolling out the carpet for them. In fact since 2003 they have added five more All-Irelands with a few Leagues thrown in. Jack Hard felt the cold hand of fate after the 2011 final loss and was replaced by Eamon Fitzmaurice.

How badly did Kerry and Fitzy want last year’s All-Ireland? Bad enough to mug Mayo, toss a boot into the crowd and, in the final, for the Mohican-shaved Barry John Keane to knock over Paul Durkan’s teed ball at the death.

Paul would have understood. Against Mayo in 2012 himself and his full-back line breathed heavy on the Mayo full-forward line. Once in a skirmish, Durkan drew on anything moving within his domain. It was ugly but to win, it was necessary. Nice guys are nice guys and often winners aren’t, but the mob howls with delight at the glint of silver and the hows and whys no longer matter.

As Murphy raised Sam that day, the ground beneath me shook. All Donegal’s gamesmanship was consigned to the skip and we stood hands on hips once more in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In his book “The Keys of the Kingdom” Jack O’Connor referenced his fore-bearers who struggled but ultimately survived on their mountainy domain. Often the struggle for that survival meant a neighbour lost out. In the West and North-West we can understand that. O’Connor was comfortable with the “Hard” status . It inured him to the slings and arrows of life but he inherited it from the generations of yore.

So are Kerry followers “animals” to coin Ó Sé’s term? Of course not, no more than the Kilkenny followers. What they are, though, is shrewd and not prone to unnecessary or overt sentimentality. Your record is your calling card, your medal a mere reminder you were once a contender. A kind of Henry Shefflin to a DJ Carey, the present and a past.

And what may you ask are the Mayo people? Easy, that one. Mayo people are amongst the friendliest, most decent and generous people in this country. Allied to that is an almost Corinthian approach to sport, Gaelic football in particular. A sociologist would describe us as warm, forgiving and enduring. However to succeed in what now for me is a quest now entering its seventh decade, we need to shed the soft skin and man up.

Playing “our” way will take down many hurdles before playing “their” way trips us. A thread on this blog recently bemoaned the lack of identifiable anthems and songs we have. I met a member of the Tyrone back room team a few years ago and he asked me who did the Mayo people look to in the past for inspiration.

He had me thinking. No one bar Michael Davitt sprung out. Luckily he had also referenced him. The Great Famine of Black ’48 wreaked havoc on our county. Mayo suffered the most deaths in the nation and saw its population halved. Idiotic political initiatives in the ’30s to late ’50s decimated the county further.

Psychological, I believe those periods when basic survival was at stake sapped a lot in our psyche. We turned bitterness into stoicism and acceptance. We let others think and act for us. Our football team was the single entity that bound us. But, as Eamon Mongey once said , it was not because of certain people, no , it was despite them.

I’m a soft person in terms that I forgive a slight. No point bearing a grudge that corrodes. And yet, myself included, the nostrils flare if an outsider should dare to point a finger at us. But is it real anger? Joe Brolly was the bête noir of Mayo followers for years. He then arrived down in Knockmore and suddenly Facebook, Twitter are full of selfies and praise for our former tormentor.

McEneaney – a man I’ll never forgive after ’96 (I know, there are a few grudges I’ll hold to the sod) after a sulphuric All-Ireland final that crushed my heart. Was I shocked to see a photo of him with a few Mayo worthies hill walking in our county? Actually no, we do that type of thing – kill with kindness instead of holding our noses in the air as we emit our perpetual distain for past transgressions.

I’ll not give my place any the queue in my distaste for Eugene McGee but he won a county an All-Ireland and made UCD a top team. He doesn’t rate Mayo, possibly never did. The week gone by he told a few home truths about “that game” against Dublin. We had Mayo outrage at him daring to do so. Now, despite his sniffy opinion of us, this time, as often before, he was dead right.

When you suffer your worst defeat since 1993 and worst home defeat since 1956, Eugene McGee is not the enemy – hell, he might be the antidote. I won’t go into some horrendous refereeing and Croke Park decisions that have cursed us down the decades. Not because I don’t want to be seen as a whinger blaming anybody but ourselves. No, I won’t go into it because our own officials right back to the ’30s never challenged or called the big shots’ bluff. Mar a deirtear sa bhaile, ní seas síad an fód.

We make officers out of footmen, princes out of corporals and kings out of princes. I’ve done it. We cut out the past as if only today matters – hence the 2011-2014 team was the greatest since ’51. No it’s not, the 1996 team that actually drew the final before being shafted on the narrowest of margins in the replay hold that honour.

From the 1996-‘99 era Burke, Ken Mortimer, Cahill, Flanagan, Holmes, Nallen, McHale, Brady, Heaney, Fallon and O’Neill would comfortably hold their own with today’s boys. What would we give for a number 12 like Horan essaying points over the bar from all angles or a young McDonald toe-flicking the ball off the wet Croke park carpet, as I once saw him do, before driving it over the bar?

We are sentimentalists, unashamedly. Andy Moran wrecks his knee against Down in the 2012 quarter-final. What happens? Instead of rehabbing him quietly, Mayo seemed to set him mid-stage on the rest of the quest. Heck he was even made selector for the final – why? Darragh Ó Sé broke his leg before the 2004 final. We never heard from until he was given his winner’s medal around Christmas.

Have we become a “club” side rather than a “county” side? I only ask because a few weeks after Donegal beat us in ’12, a Mayo player declared he would not retire until HE had won an All-Ireland. After the ’13 final loss to Dublin a different player stated that he would hang around to win one “for the Mayo people”. Hello there! It’s hardly for the Sligo people we are trying to win it for is it? Interestingly none of the two uttered the magic words “if picked” in their public annunciations.

I cannot imagine Brian Cody running a ship with such crew. Charlie Carter had issues as captain about his position. He blew tough but Cody blew tougher. Carter, a class hurler, moved out and Kilkenny moved on. The quest is not about the individual, the quest has to be about the collective in order to succeed.

So we got a recent trimming. Where does it leave us? The truth is I haven’t a clue, as some might have noted this Mayo team to me has surpassed any notions I had about them. Horan deserves credit for his stewardship but I believe the cutting edge given by Cian O’Neill and Buckley was vital. I also believe they deserved more input.

As others here have correctly pointed out, we are dealing with the hand we have. Certainly going man-to-man is no longer viable. But have we the players capable of playing a cross between Tyrone and Donegal? One thing we are certain of is that off-the-cuff football no longer suffices. So as Pat Gilroy found out with his “startled earwigs” team of 2009, the blueprint has to be shredded and new skin for an old ceremony found.

Football is cyclical, perhaps we are drifting out for a period? I don’t buy that though. And where I take issue with McGee is here. We do have the players, we do have the depth. A midfield selection from SOS, AOS, Barry, Parsons, Kirby, Gibbons, Geraghty, Corcoran is not to be sniffed at.

The team that wins All-Irelands tend to do so on their own terms not aping other teams. Hence Dublin in 2011 were diametrically opposite to Dublin in 2013. Kerry in 2014 were different than Kerry in 2006. Armagh laid down a marker in 2002, Tyrone modified it the following year. A decade later Donegal dusted it down, trained it up and succeeded by making it even darker.

For us to succeed we must break moulds, find real leaders like Dooher, Donaghy, Darragh, Big Joe McMahon, McGeeney, Ger Brennan, a Connolly . We don’t possess enough of them apart from AOS , COC and Higgins. Loading them much heavier and they will collapse.

And no, we don’t want to become as Páidí described his own “fucking animals” but the odd baring of the teeth and a snarl can act to remind our latest stars that they are merely on stage in a 62 year-old movie and us movie goers have demands. This is the famous fork in the road we read about or that shadow that exists between the rock and the hard place.  Some are crushed by it, others conquer it. What will our lot do?

52 thoughts on “Animals!

  1. On the McGee article..
    He points out that mayo only have the same guys to sort out the problem, and we will just re-jig them around to do it. He is right. But may I ask how is that any different to Donegal, Kerry, and basically everyone, other than Dublin?
    The problem he refers to isn’t down to mayo not having a big enough squad, it is down to Dublin having a way bigger squad than everyone else…

  2. Dublin may have a bigger squad but they didn’t win an All Ireland. Why did we beat them in the 2012 semi final? No team is unbeatable and every team is beatable on any given day. One thing is for sure if you are in any way below bar or off your game as a team you will get steamrolled as we dished out to Donegal in 2013 and as Dublin did to us at the weekend.

  3. When we last won Sam in 1951 we had a way ahead of his time captain in Sean Flanagan. From what I had read about the man he was like something of a modern footballer gone back in a time machine. He would show the lads clips of English professional soccer teams defending to show the footwork and closing down of space. Video analysis to improve defending in 1951!!!
    I believe he also organised short camps where they worked on things he had ideas about. I don’t believe we need to get cynical or blanket in our approach.
    But I do believe we could do with someone rowing the boat in a successful new offensive direction. In my view that direction is extreme practice of coordinated offensive plays. To an uninformed observer it would just look like great teamwork, to those on the inside it’s simply their 500th rep of different plays from the playbook. They’d nearly be bored scoring the play they’ve ran through it so often. Literally we should be studying a play book. Off the cuff football is dead, there is a major gain to be had to the first team to really have their players studying plays like an American football team does. Harping on about it at this stage but I believe teams have only gone for the easy to coach option which is loading men up at the back. It takes much more ingenuity to play no more than 10 at the back and be cutting through teams with blindingly accurate and quick team work. Guys running evasive planned and timed routes to arrive as open options to the receiving target man, all timed off the typical 2 second flight of the ball. The off the cuff stuff is actually not off the cuff, it’s extremely predicatable to defend against and actually it’s fairly obvious what players next moves will be, they generally go with the obvious option. When you have extremely well designed teamwork plays, it’s designed in practice to not be easy to defend against. Multiple target men, multiple runners behind and in front of the target man. Doing an awful lot of practice in to getting guys open for goal attempts.

  4. Excellent piece john, while I don’t always agree with your opinions you are dead right in everything you say here. We have the mentality of losers in mayo as a people in general. Of course there are some exceptions, and I would certainly hope that any member of our county panel is in the latter bunch and thinks like a winner. Unfortunately the only thing that will change the fans mentality is a few visits from Sam.

  5. My team for playing blanket defence would be:

    1. Clarke (good kick out distance & short kickout aswell, something we are missing from the 2 keepers already tried out).

    2. Cunniffe (good speed, tight marker, good counter attacker)

    3. Keane (having a good solid season)

    4. Barrett (solid back who scored valuable points against tyrone, can interchange with centre back & left half back depending on attack/defence during game)

    5. Keegan (hes not running on full cylinders yet, need his speed and pace at counter attacking,. need doc to cover his position when hes on the counter attack.

    6. Boyle (hes not running on full cylinders either, need him to win breaking ball, can change with barrett depending on attack.

    7. Higgins (hes vital for us, we need his pace and speed to break out of defense on the counter attack, vaughan can drop back if he goes forward or barrett and boyle drops to corner back when mayo attacking.

    8. S O S (hes playing well in the league, he needs a partner to show during games.)

    9. Vaughan/Gibbons (hope gibbons is fully fit come championship, he would edge it for me, vaughan shown up against dublin, then again who wasnt)

    10. O Connor/Dillon (youth vs experience, tough here, but i would go with experience here, when dillon came on against the dubs, he sprayed some lovely balls in, intelligent footballer.)

    11. Doherty/Vaughan (wins dirty ball, does a power of work, vaughan is powerful aswell but cant take a score like doc.)

    12. Mc Loughlin (needs to work a bit harder, hes a shadow of himself during the league, class player when hes in the mood)

    13. Regan (very eager to please from what we saw of him, looked good till he got injured, wild card here, something different/unpredictable here

    14. COC (hope he rests the knee, need him for the whole championship)

    15. AOS (keep him here, we need him for the blanket defence, needs to hold it up and give to regan & o connor to punish the defence. He can change to midfield/half forward if needs be.

    Please god if we are 6 or 7 points up, we should implement the blanket defence (plan B), which we should have done last year against kerry in croke park. No point crying over spilt milk, but we deifinitely need a plan b.

  6. A lovely piece of prose John. I thought about that contrast with the ’96 team recently myself. I always felt that team lacked an inside forward (McDonald returned from the US the following year). They were extremely strong everywhere else though.

    Burke was an excellent keeper. Mortimer was the best corner back in Ireland for two or three years. We’ve never replaced Cahill in my opinion. Nallen was exceptional at centre back and Connelly was very much under-rated. The midfield had few equals. Horan was a superb half forward and Sheridan was the preeminent free taker during that period. Colm Mc was often derided but he was a brute of a man who could forage all over the field for dirty ball.

    The current side contains far better footballers but I’d love to see the hard edge of that era instilled in the current panel. I think Horan made some strides in this regard but we need to be careful that work is not eroded over the coming months.

  7. Done deal – I’d prefer to see an official announcement being made on that before any names are mentioned here. The lads involved deserve that respect.

  8. jonh,cuffe after reading that piece,the torch is lilitand it will never burn out ,you have said in one article what i could never say in a life time,,im nearly into my 6h decade following mayo willi see sam come home i dont know,but illmake the journey home this summer likei have for the last 40years and piease god twenty more id die happy tosee sam raised in croker and every parish in mayo

  9. As I have said before, I look forward with anticipation to your writing john, I can not add anything to what you have said, I hope we can rise to the challenge, one other thing we hear a lot of in mayo is rumours about certain players eg after Dublin in 2013 , but they have not established themselves since, so perhaps the manager had it right

  10. None that I’ve seen as yet, Done deal. I’m sure once an announcement is made, it won’t be long before it gets mentioned here.

  11. Lads Burke didn’t play in 1996 it was John Madden from Ballycastle who watched the ball bounce over the bar from Coyle. Let a ball bounce over his head into the net in the semi v Kerry that year too!!!

  12. Crete Boom, I know that John Madden played in ’96. I tried to cover the 96-99 era with the name checks. Sorry for the confusion

  13. Can you imagine if madden had came out and it went into the net over him? He would have had to head for the moon or some other place off the planet, he was smart to stay put that day. That’s a great piece john cuffe. I imagine that the players and Donie Buckley have so much invested at this stage that they will not put up with anything less than proper planning from management or else they’ll “pull plant ” as they say in Mayo.

  14. What made it worse for 96/97 team was seeing Galway stroll up and win all Ireland in 98
    I wonder will history repeat itself….don’t think so myself.
    We will have leared an awfull lot from this league campaign more so than any other year
    re the phrase horses for courses ie when we play nordie blanket teams we seemed to learn from the Tyrone game & what happened we went out and beat Monaghan & Derry.
    The Dublin game was totally different & we nead to set up more defensively ourselves thenext time we meet them …maybe play a sweeper god knows there are enough former defenders in our management team to come up with some system to counteract
    their attacking flair.
    I know Stephen Rochford was tuned down for our u21 job but I wonder would he be open to doing a few sessions with our seniors, Corofin played the Galway seniors off the park in a recent challenge game & he would now be free for most of the summer…the Corrofin players love him & did so from the very 1st training session despite a lot of people not wanting him to get the job in the 1st place due to him being an outsider from Mayo…but I know it would be very brave call from Pat and Noel to invite him in.

  15. Freespoon

    Great idea but no chance of Rochford being asked to help out. Kicking a long accurate pass is about lots of practice, Connelly and Holmes can have them do that. I’m convinced we will know all we need to know by the final whistle of the donegal mayo game in 3 weeks time about our prospects this year. Be it good or bad.

  16. Wonderful piece John.
    I’ll never forget the Mc Donald pickup you mention, it was against Ofally in the 97 semifinal and the ball was actually running away from him at the time. Pure class and a great memory. Most couldn’t pickup like that , if it was coming towards them. It was a disgrace the way he was treated later.

  17. Thank you for your contribution John, it was eminently readable, as was the Belmullet Bus item. Did you know the lady I referred to shortly after your latter article appeared?

    Another query. Does anyone remember (or did anyone hear of) the song written around the time of the 50/51 victories which, to the tune of “Moonlight in Mayo” went:
    “It was just an hour or two ago, above in old Croke Park,
    The Mayo team came on the field, but kept their form dark” ?

  18. I agree with Nephin it was a disgrace the way Mc Donald was treated in the end it kills me to say this but this current team won’t bring us Sam they got two chances to win it and just couldn’t seal the deal we can’t expect them to keep going and be contenders every year time to rethink out strategy and maybe wait two or three years for new blood to arrive

  19. John, that is a powerful piece of writing and is just what was needed to re-ignite the flames after the thumping of last weekend. And as someone who attempts to write on occasion I can only dream of possessing a tenth of your talent for prose.

    I am a sucker for a bit of nostalgia also and smiled when you mentioned the team of the 90s. My god, but that team of ’96 was a band of warriors. Rock says above that we never replaced Cahill – I would tend to agree, for me he was one of the greats. And what of the giant Pat Fallon commanding midfield? Colm Mc’s flamboyancy, Horan’s clinical finishing, Nallen’s searing runs from 6, Connelly bossing the defence. They were the heroes of my youth and I don’t mind admitting that I still get a bit star-struck when I encounter any of them to this day. Yet they too had their failings, the big one being that just like this team in 2014 they failed, to their cost. to close out a game when in the driving seat. That six-point lead versus Meath will haunt me til my dying day just like L******k will. And, a bit like our own team of 2014 they failed to get the rub of the green.

    McDonald was a hero in my eyes and always will be – he had plenty of critics at the time (many, unjustifiably from within the county) and we all know he had his own off-days, but in my mind he produced more moments of magic in his time than anyone who went before him in my lifetime and certainly anyone since. He was a magician. I remember that flick-up too – I distinctly remember as an enthralled teenager rewinding it in awe on the VCR 😉 If only it had ended differently for him – he’s not the first to have had an undignified end to his Mayo career and I feel he won’t be the last. One thing that is different these days though, I feel (though this was argued with me lately by someone lamenting the amount of abuse he hears in the stands) is that we are less likely to turn on our own than we were then. I hope I’m right.

    As for our mentality,we have always lacked that bit of bite, that bit of meanness – last year was the first time I remember it being so evident, but we need more of it. We need look no further, as you mention, thank our Kerry compadres for inspiration.

    I’ve often lamented how emotional we are in victory and defeat, but I’m not sure given our own circumstances we’re capable of recalibrating ourselves to react differently. The need and the deficiency is too great. But the flipside of the despair we so often feel is how quickly we bounce back from defeat these days. Perhaps it’s because we’re so accustomed to it, but it’s amazing how quickly the optimism returns, even after a hiding like last Saturday’s. I’m itching to get to Cork and see what the team’s response will be. More expectation, more pressure. Will it ever be any different? Who knows?

  20. backdoorforsam. This is a young team in general with some time to go I hope.. Just as well too. I don’t see any thing on the horizon for a good few years. We can fool ourselves all we want about brilliant minor and underage talent. I see very little of the minors teams making the step up to U21 and senior football. When our current crop resign we will take a drop back I believe.

  21. Well done John Cuffe that is a good piece and very enjoyable “We make Officers of foot soldiers, Princes of Corporals, Kings of Princes. How true.

    . For me the team of that era were the mould breakers. Their natural leader was Connelly, they broke new ground like no other Mayo team I had seen in my time. The game moved on a good bit in the 15 years or so since the turn of the century. Horans team was the best I have seen in my time. We enjoyed great days in the Hyde, Salthill, and Croke Park. Our attitude and approach to football has denied us the success enjoyed by others. Time to man up or stop talking about All Ireland titles surely.

  22. I know what your saying PJ but I just think it’s hard to get back to the Summit again we did well to get there two years in a row and almost 3 years in a row nevertheless I will be making the trip to Cork and always will support the lads I’d love to see them beat Cork and Donegal to restore my faith. I wish to point out that by saying we may have missed the boat by not winning Sam I don’t mean it in any way as a slight on this team they have given us some great days out and may very well do so again

  23. Wouldn’t get too bogged down on our apparent lack of talent coming through . Cillian, Evan Regan, Danny kirby, conor o shea, adam Gallagher,Michael forde, Darren coen were all on u 21 in 13 and I believe were the makings of a great U 21 team , whatever went wrong it just didn’t turn out that way but it’s a one shot championship with no next year as such . Plus there is lot of this side with a few years to go yet , Aos , Keane, hennelly and cillian ( already established seniors) isn’t a bad start to a middle line to be looking at for the next 4/5 years minimum.

    5IAR

  24. Lovely piece. The talents in our county are not confined to the football pitch. And I don`t

    agree with anyone saying we have missed the boat. It has`nt even sailed yet.

  25. That was a mighty read on a thursday night, fair play John. Mcdonald was a big hero of mine growing up aswell as jh and colm mc…i had the number 11 on the back of my “Genfit” jersey while crying as i left the cusack stand in ’96.
    One thing i think people forget was how physically strong mcdonald was in his prime, i work with an ex inter county player who played against mayo a few times between league and championship in the 90’s and 00’s. I asked him before who was the toughest mayo player he came up against and he replied “ciaran mcdonald was as strong as a fuckin bull, he’d flatten ya with either shoulder, a beast” i loved hearing it to be honest. Great to hav had a player with such skill and be so physically dominant at the same time. A couple a more “bulls” in our current team would do just nicely.

  26. Interesting comments here about some past players.it would be great if we had a few them now nallen McDonald Ken Mortimer Trevor mortimer.kevin Cahill I see a lot saying he was one best full backs we ever had not for me though even though he was good I remember padraig Joyce taking him to cleaners a few times niw Joyce has done that to a lot full backs.in relation to Eugene McGee I don’t like him but he right on a lot of things.we genuinly are missing a few class forwards .take cillian out it we have no go to men inside that will put up big scores.would love to have a Diarmuid murtagh and Enda smith players.we would be a different team if we had a few top class forwards.pity we don’t have two of our best forwards from last years minors in boylan (sligo rovers) and Hanley (Australia).that the caliber of player we need coming through.

  27. Was the stragecic review every revisited since new chairman came on board? Or will it be put aside due to financial restructuring? .liam Horan approached by county board put in massive work .he put a team of 10 or so which included stephen rochford to look at different aspects of the game within the county .its a shame the county board never fully implemented liam horans plan.at the end of the day we don’t need to be exporting our best coaches to other counties.

  28. Some good comments on here, in my opinion we have had three good managers in recent past, injom j Maughan and james horan, but as some of you has said c mcdonald was treated badly, as was David brady, also one or two more, that is why I rate james horan as the best, as he gave everyone a fair chance, and apart from one retirement I dont recall anyone else leaving the panel, that is not to say the other two did not try their best

  29. corick, one guy who didn’t really get a fair crack under horan in my opinion was Aidan Kilcoyne. He was dropped from his first squad in 2011. In fairness, and all due respect to enda varley, but kilcoyne was a superior forward to him and he started the semi final against Kerry that year. Could never understand how he was dropped so quickly. He had loads of pace, an eye for goal, a good eye for a pass and he was a good free taker too. You would think he would be right up horan’s street with that kind of skillset?

  30. I agree a kilcoyne was very good, I hoped he would come through, but he suffered a lot with injury, so dont know what the story was with horan, by the way I have seen a lot of ver good mayo footballers and think c mcdonald was the best of the lot, ve ry powerful wonderful skills he had everything

  31. Macdonald was a step above anything else in Ireland in my opinion. I know of people from other counties that would travel to see crossmolina playing just to show their kids how he could do things. I think cillian o Connor has flashes of genuine brilliance too, killed a high dropping ball under his boot flicked it to Andy with the same movement, sheer class.

  32. I thought Kilcoyne was a great prospect but as far as i can remember he suffered a serious injury and was never the same again. I remember being very disappointed that he never made it back.

  33. Kilcoyne was an excellent footballer and suffered a horendous injury .however when Horan took over he wanted forwards that would work off the ball and tackle and this is probably why he didn’t keep kilcoyne has thst aspect of hes game wasn’t strong.the likes of varley and conroy worked very hard under horan.we have a great thing in mayo I notice that we talk about the footballers that are not there than the ones that are currently there! And we all guilty of it!

  34. Aidan you’re dead right, we tend to dream a lot of yester years at every opportunity, and of all those fine footballers that so proudly wore the green and green. Of course those guys were some of the best, and will always be spoken of where ever football is discussed. But right now, it’s the lads who can do it for us in the here and now, is what matters.

    This for Mayo seems to be a problem, finding the right mix of players who will bye into, and stick to a plan, come hell or high water. Yes we have some fine players, but to often we tend to be doing things in isolation. Defenders going on solo runs and nobody covering back, midfielders winning good ball and not realising it on time, or forwards taking pot shots for scores rather than looking up for a player in a better scoring position. And the big one for me, when finding ourselves in a winning position, not knowing how to close out a game. Players for instance not wanting to take one for the team, and as we’ve seen in the recent past, there’s many a way of doing that. Question, are these shortcomings, down to the Manager, the players, or a bit of both?

  35. Mayo McHale, at the risk of repeating myself, this playing in isolation would be solved by a new defensive and attacking system where every player practiced and knew their role. Look what Jim McGuinness did and what the Dubs did and others. It’s a very simple solution but there seems to be a resistance to it in Mayo. Is that, do you think, a valid observation?

  36. Interesting to compare the Maughan era 1996 to 1999 with Horan era 2011 to 2014. We were blessed with two brilliantly dedicated managers who did everything in their power to get us over the line and who came agonisingly close to doing so. They took over the teams at low points. the 3 years prior to Maughan had seen us lose to Cork by 20, lose to Leitrim in CF and get whacked by Galway the following year. Horan took over after defeats to Sligo and Longford. We really had some great players in both those eras but I have always felt we were that bit short on absolutely top class forwards despite a few exceptions. As regards not having the hard edge well Mayo threw away big leads v Meath twice in 1996 and also blew a big lead v Cork in 1999. In the Horan era we blew good lead v Dubs in AIF and twice v Kerry in semi.. Maughans team became the first from Connacht for years to defeat Munster and Leinster opposition in AI semis while Horans team defeated every strong power in the country with the exception of Kerry. For some people having relative success without reaching the ultimate prize is not enough and indeed it is galling that we lost out to eventual AI winners in 1996, 1997, 1998 2012, 2013 and 2014.. However without wishing to make princes out of footmen or wishing to appear too sentimental and nostalgic the fact is that we are indebted to those two groups for their Trojan efforts. From one who has witnessed 2 Connacht titles in the 1960s none at all in the seventies and a few absolute dog days v Ros 3 13 to 0 8 in 1980 v Galway 3 17 to 0 10 in 1982 v . Cork 5 15 to 0 10 in 1993 and defeats to Kerry in 2004 and 2006 I appreciate what they have done. Its simply baffling that we have failed to make it but one thing is for sure it wasn’t lack of effort from those two groups.

  37. @ to win just once, well summed up there, the phrase that comes to mind when I read your comment is, (What we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history). As you said though, it was not for the lack of trying and effort that these two groups didn’t make it to the promised land, which is such a pity really.

    @ Mayo McHale, as you said we have had some great players in the past but now we must look to the future, hopefully we’ll see some progress being made by our U21s today.

  38. Good piece john, enjoyed reading it, and the comments also make for interesting reading.

    I think perspective is important in the aftermath of the hammering by Dublin.
    Two perspectives, first from the players sense. Dublin really, REALLY! Had to win that match or face relegation. We on the other hand were sitting pretty at the top of the table, and a win would have been grand! But not absolutely necessary. As much as we’d like to think this mental awareness and rationale doesn’t play into our players minds, it does and it impacts their preparedness and ultimately their collective performance, the exception last weekend being Aidan.
    Second perspective is watching, observing and analyzing the match as it is happening, live. Now, we’re all good at the Monday morning quarterbacking, however it’s fair to say IMO, more difficult and complex to recognize and correct “problems” and make corrections during the match. I watched this match from the comfort of my home here in the US, with my kids buzzing around and occasionally stopping to observe. After another kick out by Robbie was gathered by Dublin, one of the kids piped up and shouted at the screen “why does he keep doing that?” …regarding the kickouts! this observation coming from a mildly interested 11 yr old! This is what I mean by my second perspective.
    Perhaps the sideline perspective is no longer the best place to view and understand how the game is unfolding? what’s working and what’s not? Someone touched on this in another context (play calling)in a previous post and how this is woven into the US NFL game strategy. These teams have official “coordinators”, viewers of the game, sitting high in the stadium, observing and analyzing the game as it’s happening then communicating observations and calling corrective action to the sideline( coach/manager) as needed. They understand this “perspective” is critical to understanding how the game is unfolding and how this perspective is different to the one they have, from the sideline. My kid, from the TV perspective recognized some things were not working, Mchale from the commentary box perspective, observed and recognized it early on! So it’s reasonable to ask did the managers observe anything early on from their perspective on the sideline? The result suggests they didn’t or we’re too slow in recognizing how the game was unfolding.
    Point is, if we can see these things, how come the managers can’t? I think those guys sitting high in the stands see the game from a different perspective and are onto something. Maybe Noel needs to sit up higher with a headset!

  39. Mister mayor, I enjoyed your post a lot. Well said. Billy joe said similar during the week. We are not Carlow or Waterford footballers so we are not being outplayed as much as out coached, that type hammering was helped along in hindsight plain in action by our sideline. The same kickouts giving the same results were madness and it’s not the first time it happened with Mayo. I’m really interested to see what happens in the next two games, we know what the players can do, now it’s the managements turn to show what they can do.

  40. As always John, wonderful stuff. To hammer home your point, there were a few Dublin lads behind us at the game. They commented how wonderful the support is for Mayo. He said, and I quote, “if our lads in Croker had performed like your lads did in that first half, we would’ve booed the fuckers off the pitch”. What do we do? Sarcastically cheer McLoughlins last point because it meant we got to double scores with 10 points.
    Like the Tyrone game, I can take a beating as long as we learn from it and don’t get caught again. They (management and players) responded in the Monaghan game. We wait to see what the response will be against Cork.
    On last Saturday nights showing, in my opinion, there are 3 players (all experienced and one of them a favourite of mine) no longer worthy of a starting place. If it was me, every fucking one of those jerseys would be up for grabs. No complacency, no favourites, no captains, no certainty. I don’t give a running shite how long you are playing for Mayo or how many Nestor trophies you lifted. We either act now or we will have 5 to 10 years in the wilderness because Roscommon and Galway are coming, and coming hard.
    No-one is going to hand a Celtic cross to you, you have to go and take it. If that means cheat, batter, drag, puke football, whatever. Just fucking do it.

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