Another time, another place

This afternoon at Páirc Seán MacDiarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon our Connacht Championship campaign was meant to get underway. Of course, like so much of life nowadays, that fixture, along with plans for the entire Championship, has been mothballed.

Today’s scheduled meeting with Leitrim would certainly have had a novel air about it. We’ve only met Leitrim once in Connacht since the blog’s inception – when we enjoyed a facile win over them in 2012 at MacHale Park – and you have to go as far back as 2006 for our most recent provincial clash with them at Carrick-on-Shannon.

The fine stand that adorns Páirc Seán wasn’t even built back then – it went up the following year – and our hopes of Championship advancement, under the tutelage of Mickey Moran and the late John Morrison, very nearly came unstuck that day. A match we were comfortably in charge of careered wildly out of control after we lost Pat Harte to a red card early in the second half.

We were lucky to emerge from Carrick that afternoon with a one-point win. Few of us who trudged out from the ground with furrowed brows after that close shave would have believed that the same Mayo team would later that summer go on to claim a storied All-Ireland semi-final win over Dublin. I certainly didn’t fancy our chances of going too far after that stuttering opener against the Ridge County.

It would have been great to hit the road today at the start of another Championship campaign. Another summer headed towards an unknown destination – it’s that lack of advance knowledge about how a game and, by extension, a whole season is likely to pan out that bestows on sport so much of its magic. We should all have been feeling the first frisson of this summer’s magic today.

Instead, we’re left with a Covid-induced void. We might have a truncated Championship later in the year, which may or may not spill over into 2021, or we might see no Championship football at all this year. Our unknown destination now relates to how and when all the current restrictions are lifted and what kind of route this opens up back to something approaching normality for all of us.

Today, thinking about all those fine GAA grounds around the country that should have been hosting competitive clashes this afternoon, normality seems, if anything, further away than it ever was. This crisis will, I know, eventually pass. But not before further, long-lasting damage has been done and weekend after weekend passes without any Championship action.

Tonight The Sunday Game returns to our TV screens. The show tonight should have contained highlights from a number of games played on the first weekend proper of the 2020 Championship but instead it’ll be no more than some old blather about games played in past years, from campaigns long done and dusted.

I don’t plan to tune in. What’s the point? Let’s face it – none of us will be able to tune back in properly to Gaelic football any time soon.

It’s often said that the past is another country but now that distant shore, the vague contours of which can’t yet be properly glimpsed, is out there in the future somewhere. In another time and in a place where all those things we took so much for granted are once more within our grasp.

32 thoughts on “Another time, another place

  1. Nice piece Willie Joe but in relation to the Sunday game they’re showing the 17 final. I know it be hard to watch but with rochford in studio it could be interesting.

  2. What would have been the starting 15 today?
    Starting 15 I would have gone for against Leitrim is based alot on the most recent league game against Kerry

    1. David Clarke
    2.Brendan Harrison
    3.Oisin Mullin
    4.Eoin O’Donoghue
    5.Lee Keegan
    6.Paddy Durcan
    7.Padraig O’Hora
    8.Aidan O’Shea
    9.Diarmuid O’Connor
    10.Fionn McDonagh
    11.Ryan O’Donoghue
    12.Kevin McLoughlin
    13.James Carr
    14.Cillian O’Connor
    15.Paul Towey

  3. I’d have Mattie Ruane in midfield @TH. Move Diarmuid to the forwards instead of Paul Towey, who we haven’t seen enough of yet.

    Anyone watching John Horan on the Sunday Game? Basically saying no games until social distancing is not a thing anymore.

  4. Yeah watching the Sunday Game alright…I have to say that GAA President John Horan came across very well informed on all the ramifications Covid 19 may have for the GAA… Good to see, I’ve been critical of him in the past mostly on the subject of all the home/Croke Park games for Dublin and the financial doping of the Dubs, something that didn’t go unnoticed by Connor Moore… But tonight Top Mark’s to the President of the GAA very impressive!

  5. Just wondering should the gaa bring back the old under 21 championship and minor to give all those players that will miss out this year a chance next year at underage

  6. I read a piece in paper today by Pearce Hanley where he said there would probably be no irish recruitment this year to afl…might keep oisin mullin with us for another while. Don’t want to stop anyone living their dream but i can be selfish in this case.

  7. Who is Pearse Hanley?

    Oisin Mullen should stick with Mayo, full stop. The goal of being on the Mayo team to bring home Sam for first team in 70+ years should far outweigh any attraction in afl..if it doesn’t then a lad shouldn’t be near a Mayo panel. To hell with feckn aussie rules.

  8. I enjoyed that Sunday game tonight, we got a bit of clarity on where things stand for the rest of the year. Rochford came across very well as did ciaran whelan as he always does. On the previous comment about Oisin Mullen staying in Mayo, I’d say that he would be mad not to jump at the chance to go if he can. Dublin won 8 allirelands between 1940 and 2010, that’s 70 years. Then in the next 9 years they win 7. Say what you like but there’s something wrong with that system, and I wouldn’t ask any lad to waste his best years fighting against that broken system. Let him and Mattie ruane head to Oz and enjoy the sun and lifestyle.

  9. Are you a Dub or a Rossie Dave? Apart from encouraging a mass exodus of the mayo squad you said Ciaran Whelan always comes across well.

    No right thinking mayo fan would say the latter haha

  10. Neither. Mayo to the backbone and I’ve been on here for years. Whelan did come across well as usual. Believe me, no dub would want a mass exodus of players from any county, otherwise the whole championship will be like Leinster and how would that look? My main point was that no player if given the opportunity to be a professional should turn it down on the hope of beating the system as it stands. That’s all.

  11. I think Whelan is fine.A hell of a lot better than Spillane and the chap from Derry whose name escapes me. We played some outstanding football in 2017 including the final Rochford , a decent guy and good manager came across as a very honest and genuine guy tonight. Watching all these re runs of Mayo matches is tough going but in fairness there was so much to be proud of in 2017 final. Some bad luck, poor decision making and a great opposition are the reasons we lost, but they gave us the most incredible year.

  12. Mid May and less than double digits in a comments section of the blog on a Sunday night..Yep the world really is standing still..
    Thought Rochford came across well tonight but it has to be difficult for him to reflect on what may have been..Still cant watch the game in any shape or form but that’s just me.

  13. I found it very interesting that Rochie went into some detail about what he would have done had Vaughan stayed on the field. Obviously something he put some thought into since that final. He may have protected Donie in the media but deep down I’d say the sending off sickens him.

  14. This is just a gentle reminder to everyone to play the ball rather than the person when responding to a comment someone else has made. There have been a number of instances in recent days where people have gone in studs up on others and I don’t want to see that type of debate become the norm here. I know everyone is bored and frustrated but that’s no excuse. Please bear this in mind for future reference.

  15. Just to throw it out there. Can anyone see a day where we see Stephen back as Bainisteoir. I for one certainly hope so. Still a very young age, management wise.
    I don’t want to bring up County Boards etc, that would be unnecessary. Just a genuine question.

  16. enjoyed the game last night and the contribution of both Whelan and Rochford , but nobody picked up on the penalty Mayo should have got , except the commentators on the day , it looked a cert of a penalty and if it was the other way around it would have been given to Dublin.

  17. I picked up on 2 occasions where Mayo should have got a penalty in the 2017 final, the foul on Lee Keegan was as blatant as the nose on my face, a 100 % penalty in real time.
    Jason Doherty being pressed down to the ground by Cluxton also could have been a penalty.
    But then, McQuillan gave Mayo a lifeline only for Cillian O Connor to hit the post, not a single forward alert to the breaking ball, even if that went over the game may have ended in a draw with the Dubs getting the final score.

  18. I am sorry i did not take WILLIE JOE’S advice not to watch the sunday game last night as i am gone into a depressed mode since. all my feelings of the month after the 2017 final came flooding back.i thought i was over it but i now know i wiil never get over it until mayo go and win the sam maguire cup.FROM con o callaghans goal ,to donie’s moment of madness,to cillians shot coming back of the post. to rock’s winning point it all came flooding back. i listened to all that old blather from rochford and whelan but it will never change the result and thats it.i think i will go back to bed until 2021.

  19. TH – I like the look of that 15. Mattie is nailed on, but keeping him in reserve might have been an option.

    Wide Ball, I have seen enough of Paul Towey!

  20. Can anyone confirm to rule in relation to Keegan’s potential penalty. Keegan was first fouled outside the penalty area – the referee raises his hand to play the 5 second advantage rule. Keegan is then fouled inside the penalty area. The ref pulls it back for the 1st offence and gives the free in.
    Is this the correct interpretation of the rule

  21. I had recorded the 2017 final but deleted it from the Skybox about 6 months after the final, having never watched it. Last night was the first time I watched it since being at the game. I’m afraid that’s the best chance we will had to got our hands on the big one. No offence to the subs we brought in on the day, but the quality Dublin had to bring off the bench tipped the scales in their favour. But feckin’ hell I’m as proud of them as ever after seeing it again. They gave us a fabulous summer of entertainment that year.

  22. Never realised how clear cut the peno shout was. 100% should have been given. We’re not going to get those calls though. Ever. Just the way it is. Wasn’t Lee absolutely on fire though?! If there was fairness he’d have bagged 6 points for us in an All Ireland final at the most crucial time. That’s what you call a very special player.

  23. I’ve always said it to win an all ireland we are going to have to be ten points better than the opposition and we’ll
    Still only win by a point if we ever do win. The reality is we haven’t an ounce of luck in Senior finals not an ounce if we ever even once got the rub of the green in some of those finals be it 96 or 13 or 16 or indeed 17 we’d have won one but not to be. I can’t bring myself to watch any finals we lost I don’t think it’s good for the mind or soul. I never watch the Sunday game involving Mayo matches I prefer to go to watch them live, can’t stand a few of the panelist’s. Hopefully please God this will all be over soon and We will get to cheer on the Green and Red in ‘21

  24. South Mayo Exile,

    As I understand it the rule in respect of penalty incident is:-
    ‘If, during the advantage period, another foul is committed against the team which received the original advantage (Mayo), then a free kick / puck will be awarded for the second foul if it is considered more advantageous than the original’

    IMO that should have been a penalty all day long as Lee was basically assaulted in the square, the most blatant penalty decision not given in past 20/25 years of All Irelands

  25. Paul Towey has done enough for me , between his performance against Galway in the Under 20s back in Febuary and his point from play against Monaghan and the free he took against Kerry in the League I would say hes our most dangerous forward after Cillian at this moment, With him not been that tall, he could do with putting on a few kilos of lean mass to break the tackles at Senior level, but has a great boot and I expect to see him starting in the Mayo full forward line for the next decade.

  26. A few points here:
    I live in Melbourne, and can almost guarantee there will be virtually no irish AFL players recruited for the next 3-4 years. AFL list sizes are about to be slashed significantly to save $$$ in what is a professional sport. COVID19 has already put the AFL into massive debt. Signing irish players is expensive and considered high risk/high reward style recruitment for these clubs. With list sizes in AFL teams reducing, clubs are much more likely to take a safer local option than a speculative international rookie from Ireland, and they can’t afford to have “project players” developing on their squads in the post covid world.
    This basically means mullin, Irwin and others won’t be going anywhere, certainly not in the next 18 months at least and probably much longer.

    On a separate note, I see Peter Leahy has now banned any Mayo girls from playing AFLW next year. Many of these girls are established AFLW players for 2 years plus. The future of AFLW is also uncertain but players like Gilroy, Rowe and the Kelly’s played really well this season and are very likely to be invited back next season.
    With no players from the county’s best club team involved for 2 years now due to Leahy, if he turfs out these 4 girls it’s getting to the stage that it’ll be possible to pick a stronger Mayo ladies side from the players that have fallen out with or been dropped from the panel by him.
    It’s high time a clean slate was started in Mayo ladies GAA and I’m sorry but I feel that this guy has overstayed his welcome at this point and Mayo ladies GAA as a whole would be far better off without him. Sorry WJ if that’s against the rules but I’m not sure how to put it in any other way. Frank Brownes comments the other day about the whole thing being sad are very apt I feel. It appears there will be no healing of any divides while Leahy remains involved with Mayo.

  27. You’re okay Larry – you laid out the position to support what you had to say and it’s up to anyone who disagrees to challenge the argument you’ve presented. I’ve no problem with people voicing criticisms as long as there’s an objective for what they have to say and you provided this.

  28. One tiny sliver of a Silver Lining might be that with most of the the year already ruled out as regards playing both Women’s and Men’s GAA some bruised EGO’s might have a chance to heal… Concidering that there are far more important issues at Play in Society…Many might now have the time and space to figure out what is genuinely best for Mayo… The last few years have provided more than enough evidence of significant fissure’s and certain mistrust in factions of the administration of both the Women’s and Men’s game!… Personally I don’t like the idea of anyone effectively ‘Banning’ anyone from living the only life they have as they deem best..
    It’s a short enough time that anyone could dream of playing a sport professionally, I am not in favor of anyone trying to set limit’s on what our best Sport people might try to achieve!

  29. On the Ladies debate. I agree its always good to see people reaching their high points in life and in sport.

    I would wonder though, how other panel members feel about members who have gone off to play professionally and then coming back for some of the Gaa season and maybe forcing out some of the team players who have been there training and busting a gut all year.

    I’m sure some of the stay at home girls would be delighted to get girls back to put out their strongest team, but I’m also sure some of the ladies that will loose their places must feel very disappointed.

    What happened to the days where matches might have to be replayed, because of players having played on a different continent and then coming back and playing in the Mayo Championship. Imagine, they had played thousands of miles away and were then ruled not eligible to play for their home club team in the County Championship.

    In the 90’s I believe Kiltaine went on to play in the Connacht club semi final and they were not even the County Champions that year.

    I believe that the reason Kiltaine represented Mayo was because the other County semi final had not been decided, so Kiltaine at that point were the only team to have rightfully qualified for the County final and went on to represent the County.

    Kiltaine were subsequently beaten by Crossmolina in that years County Final. I’m not fully sure what year it was though.

  30. It was 1995 Revilino. Crossmolina and Garrymore were the other semi finalists if my memory serves correct!

  31. Would it be an idea to put the 2021 underage county grades back to u-18 and u-21 . Very unfair on lads if they don’t imo .

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