We’re back home – our flight into Dublin landed not long before midnight and so I’m not sure if I’m coming or going this morning. But back I am and we’re back in the All-Ireland semi-final this coming weekend.

The turnaround is, once again, a brutally short one, with our semi-final against Dublin scheduled to throw in at Croke Park on Saturday at 5pm. Mayo supporters have every incentive to get into HQ early that afternoon, however, as the county’s Minors take on Cork in the All-Ireland MFC semi-final in the day’s curtain-raiser. That game throws in at 3pm.

As has already been mentioned, Cork’s Conor Lane is the ref who’s been assigned for the big match. We’ve had him plenty of times in the past, notably for the drawn All-Ireland final of 2016. He’s no better or no worse than a lot of them so hopefully he’ll do his job with fairness and efficiency. That’s all we ever ask for.

If you’re a season ticket holder you’ll already have got the relevant email on this, including how to make use of the Bring a Friend option. As ever for a match of this magnitude, it’s better to get the tickets squared away sooner rather than later.

There’ll be loads of media coverage on Saturday’s big game ahead of throw-in but here’s a sample just to kick-start you.

RTÉ have a piece by Peter Sweeney with Donegal’s Neil McGee (here), who reckons we have a fighting chance of doing the business on Saturday. RTÉ also have Aidan O’Rourke’s column (no sniggering at the back there, please). To be fair, it’s worth a read as the Down man provides some good analysis of how we mastered Donegal from a tactical point of view. As you’d expect, though, he doesn’t rate our chances against Dublin the next day.

Over at the Irish Examiner, Conor Sheridan – a really fine writer – has a wonderful colour piece. I love, in particular, his ascribing the Madiba knick-name to Andy Moran. That one’s here.

Finally, for now, in case you haven’t yet read it, do take a few minutes to savour Keith Duggan’s wonderfully lyrical match report from the Irish Timeshere. That’s one that’ll definitely set the pulses racing.

Right, there’s unpacking to do, tickets to sort and a few dozens other things besides. It’s back to reality. And back in the All-Ireland semi-final.

There are two tickets for the game plus an overnight stay in Dublin up for grabs in this week’s Mayo GAA Lotto, as well as a jackpot prize of €5,700. Play the Lotto here.

62 thoughts on “Back

  1. Nearly crashed the car earlier today when I heard the top sports story on the national radio. Gavin says we just have to get on with the fact we only have a 6 day turn around to the semi final. What credible journalist could indulge this fake news…..

  2. Train, hotel, tickets and bring a friend ticket booked might have to go to J Streicher for a bit of finance the way this season is turning out but wouldn’t have it any other way. Hon Mayo.

  3. Welcome back WJU…hop you got a nice tan!

    Now down to business. This will be Dublins first real test this year..there is tremendous jeopardy for them here. I would just love to be a fly on the wall in Gavin’s prep sessions, cause he knows for sure, Mayo will bring it.

  4. Please will someone explain the following extracts from Aidan O’Rourkes article. Maybe I’m stupid and would welcome clarification.
    “Fundamentally Mayo no longer have the individuals to go toe to toe with Dublin……..”
    Will someone send this man a tape of last Saturdays match and ask him if Keegan, Durcan and Boyle can stand toe to toe with Murphy, McHugh and McBrearty who will they not be able to stand toe to toe with in the Dublin team
    “Jim Gavin’s men are master of probing for weakness and adapting to create pressure where they find it”
    What the hell is he talking about. What does this mean. It sounds like the sort of things that aliens would do to you if you were captured by them.
    “the task of curbing game changers multiplies exponentially when you face Dublin and look insurmountable ”
    The only thing multiplying exponentially is the heap of bullshit in this article and that definitely is insurmountable.

  5. Excitement and drama already on the gaa website as sections bought up in no time.
    You re right about Lane-no worse or better than the others but he missed an atrocious amount in drawn final that day.
    Having said that i hope i dont see gough for the rest of the year. He ignored a hit on COC as he was heading to take a free in 1st half, 2 wild hits on Boyle and AOS and blatent trips off the ball on COC and Andy as they were running to collect passes. That for me is total incomptence and i m not convinced that JDs injury was entirely accidental. Have any of those refs actually ever played the game themselves i often wonder?
    What is there left to say about Andy?
    BTW your welcome back!

  6. Why Dublin won’t see it coming

    Dublin ( full disclosure I’m a fan of the way they play the game and I believe they’ve been very good for the game) won’t see what’s coming next weekend. Despite just witnessing the prequel last Saturday.

    Because they can’t .

    You see they “know “ deep down that Mayo are hard to play against and they “know” deep down that they always find a way to beat Mayo. That’s the deeply ingrained narrative.

    Dublin pride themselves on their composure and “know “ that’s been the only difference between the teams ( always)
    Composure “always “gets them out of trouble or at least always stems the tide until they find their own mojo.

    They don’t see the evolving composure in this Mayo team. For them it’s ( still )absent in our team. This is called willful blindness. It doesn’t fit your narrative.

    However , slowly but surely ,Mayo are starting to accumulate composure. I’ve observed this progression throughout the league and again now in the championship. The pace is accelerating .

    Just look how we go out in front in games now and hang in there quite comfortably ( in comparison with how we played until recently). Each game is becoming more comfortable with each passing week.

    We have no problem building , holding or clawing back a lead. This speaks to an improving mental aspect of our game. This mental confidence is buttressed by our physical confidence. I said it here before that the strength and conditioning of this particular Mayo team is under appreciated. They are teak tough. The old boys have been reborn, rejigged and speeded up.

    Of course we are weathered warriors but are also using more guile to save some energy. Our game management is on a huge upward trajectory ( albeit from a low bar )

    We are becoming both a first half team and a second half team. First half dominating possession and second half closing out the game.

    We can play in bad weather and good. It makes no difference.

    I know you could point to our shooting Saturday and say where was the composure ? Then again , where was Donegal’s ? We actually held it together better than they did. The conditions didn’t help but the intensity of the play and the toughness of the hits ( by both sides )would shake anyone’s composure.

    Saturday was a war of attrition won , in the end ,by sheer domineering forces of hyper energy , hyper belief and iron-will.
    Another feather in the Mayo development cap.

    Saturday, the intensity required meant forsaking some composure. We needed to be able to get up to , dictate and keep escalating the intensity of the game.

    We were “ at it”. Mayoball .

    This was best exemplified by Fionn McDonagh. Remember this is this guy’s first year at senior but yesterday he played like a seasoned veteran.

    I am truly in awe of what he can and does bring to a game. He can win clean primary or mop up dirty secondary ball. He can field . He can link . He can make the foot pass or visionary hand pass . He can score.

    Saturday his intensity was 11. But his shooting was off as a result.

    In the first two minutes he made two big hits. The second of these – in the second minute – totally rattled Michael Murphy who one second later – as he was still reeling- got the knockout shoulder , ending up on the ground , from Colm Boyle.
    Donegal scored , but the message was clear. You’ll need to give up your life or accept a shortened version of it if you want to score again. Donegal didn’t score again from play until the second half.

    In the second half he hit Paddy McGrath (a warrior in his own right ) a legal hit that ended his game. He was responsible for winning multiple 50:50 balls and he dispossessed Donegal on multiple occasions ( sometimes more than once in a single passage of play)

    This guy is truly teak tough. Real steel. Real quality.He can play too but most importantly he brooks no bullshit. At this rate a certain Dublin doctor is in for a rough and rude awakening this Saturday.

    When the highlight reel of Fionn McDonagh’s career is made , expect this game to feature.

    (Jason Doherty was the same until we lost him. Tbh I’ve been only worried about one line on the field and that was the half forwards. Then Jason found Saturday’s form. I realize he is probably now out for at least a game ( unknown at this stage what the nature of the injury is ) but I was starting to really relish the idea of the teak tough trio of Fionn , Jason , Diarmuid.

    (HFS now that is a half forward line)

    However, what we can do here ( if Jason is out )is bring back Ruane to Midfield and put Aido at number 11 ( though his role would remain exactly the same as it currently is as a defensive midfielder- 11 is just a number )

    Ruane can take Fenton on a tour of Croke Park. So in essence we would have Ruane as the forward moving midfielder pulling Fenton defensively, Seamie in the middle ( aided by both Ruane and Aido) and Aiden as the keystone of the defense allowing our half backs to attack.

    To mature this much so quickly speaks to a set up that allows , and encourages this rate of development.The rate of improvement of our forwards is high and set to hit the ceiling.

    Expect ball handling , shot selection and execution to be greatly improved this Saturday.

    Game management and composure are actually improving but I expect these to hit very high levels on Saturday).

    Our criticism of Horan’s training methods were misplaced. Saturday night’s intensity could not have happened without that kind of practiced “putting your body on the line “ kind of experience in training.

    Limerick knew what Kilkenny would bring but couldn’t stop it. I believe Dublin can’t stop what’s coming . For them also I doubt they can even see it. Of course it’s predicated on whether we can do it again in 6 days.

    The most pleasing aspect of all this is that long term , if we can bring players on in this manner so quickly, if we can play defensively like we did on Saturday ( thereby putting to bed the idea that Donie Buckley was the only reason we were so good defensively in the past ) then no matter what happens on Saturday , we are here to stay.

    We haven’t gone away yet ya know !

  7. Just to add
    I hope the papers start ramping up the 5 in a row talk this week. Jim the cute effer has managed to keep a lid on it to date….

  8. Anyone know the weather for Saturday evening?? I hope the heavens open and it pisses down at 5 o’Clock Sat evening and see how Kilkenny, Mannion, Fenton and O’Callaghan cope in there own “Home” ground as they call it.
    I remember Alan Brogan making some sort of excuse about the wet surface for Dublin forwards performing so bad in the 2016 All Ireland final drawn game , a game they were gifted 2 own goals and Mayo were denied a free when Denis Bastick picked the ball straight of the ground in the last minute.

  9. Agreed onemoretime, I rewatched that clip(on phone) when poor Doherty got injured, and to me the donegal player went under him and seemed to have a hold of his foot / was a strange injury even if no foul play.. hope he is back for the final!

  10. Lads and lassies, will ye stop giving any credence to whatever Aidan O’Rourke writes.
    He is the man, who last Autumn, was all ready to take the Roscommon job. He presented a crack backroom team to the Ros Co Board. The S&C man had even worked with the All Blacks.
    The S&C man then advertised to sub contract out his job to someone else to represent him.
    Meanwhile, another crack appointment pulled out.
    When the dogs in Roscommon started barking, O’Rourke himself pulled out.

    That’s why nobody in Mayo, should be in any way bothered about what he writes.

  11. Are the “bring a friend” tickets gone already?

    Got “There are no tickets available at this time. Please select another section if available, or, alternatively, please try again later” since 11;00

  12. The Sky deal is the worst thing to happen to the GAA in a long time. Nowhere to even watch the game back.

  13. Two other big positives from Saturday: Keith will now be very fresh this weekend and Eoin O’Donoghue has got serious championship game-time under his belt, the timing of which couldn’t be more perfect. He’ll likely be needed in second half to relieve one of our tiring backs. These small things are so important.

    The team will pretty much pick itself for Saturday, baring no other injury issues. I’d start Darren Coen again, he’ll have much more space in Croker and I thought he did well against Meath there. It didn’t happen for him against Donegal but if he had nailed the goal he’d have gone on to thrive from there I believe. Small margins, but he’s come on so much this year and I’d trust him again the next day. He’s an awkward forward to mark and will give Dublins full back line something to think about. As Clerkin says, we need Andy in second half, especially against Dublin so I cant see James starting him.
    It’s going to be an awfully long week, Too much thinking, its gonna be a struggle!

  14. I’m trying the bring a friend option since 10, with no success. Has anyone got tickets through it??

  15. Andy off the bench has worked fine last few games. Leave him there where he can provide bigger impact wen he comes in

    Higgins black card was inadvertently a blessing. Mcbrearty had already skint him a few times in opening 10 minutes, EoD shut mcbrearty down after he came in

    Great to see so much shoutouts for fionn mcdonagh on this page. Felt it was a coming of age championship performance from him, didn’t shoot the lights out on scoreboard but showed Savage doggedness, workrate and maturity throughout. He was my second choice as motm (behind paddy durcan obviously). Mcdonagh is there to stay now

    Doherty loss shouldn’t be critical on Saturday as we have 2 perfect like for like replacements to come in there in diarmuid and Kev

  16. I just got the email from HQ that the “bring a friend” option is sold out. It will be packed to the rafters.

  17. @mayomark nowtv also just do it for a tenner so there are no excuses really. Quite a thing listening to O se and Whelan teeing up a bitch about GAA being amateur etc when themselves and Brolly are raking in contracts ranging 50-80k per annum….yet ironically all thought super 8s is a great idea….great for TV money and for massively widening the gap between weak and strong. Super 8s is designed to promote the top table while players form weaker counties f-off to America for the summer and fall further behind when they should be playing games at home ….rubbish!!

  18. Assuming diarmuid a doubt would start as follows v dub


    Sounds crazy but i think and expect horan will focus on cian o sullivan as a weaklink this week. He is been in decline for about 18 months now and shlukd be targeted. Cork match was interesting, kerrigan occupied that zone o’sullivan likes negating the sweeper. Cillian coukd drift out and do that. Cork genuinely had them rattled and cut through them numerous times only to run out of puff by the 60th minute.
    That won’t be an issue for us as ourselves and Tyrone the only match for dublin in terms of strength and conditioning

  19. What has me concerned more than anything next sat is when we run out of steam they will blitz us , every single game we are running out of gas , of course it’s understandable too but look back on that game Donegal had about 5/6/7 shots in that period where we tired , it was just pure luck they went wide ,Dublin won’t miss .

    Is there a way of conserving energy without giving up too much of a lead , I think we will have to find a balance . Their defence does not have me in awe , they will have their work cut out with MacDonagh and James Carr , ya have to like the way them two bucks are shaping , they don’t give a fuck , they’ll have a go and I’d expect the same next sat .

  20. I dont believe the dubs bench is the force it once was tbh.
    There is a reason connolly was got back in by gavin and it wasnt for the craic.

    Certainly guys like brogan, mcmenamin and Andrews are way off the level they were at years ago. Philly mcmahon too has regressed a good bit. I think they are weaker now than 2017

  21. I wouldn’t be too worried on the bring a friend option, there’ll be more again when they start selling the upper tier

  22. My concern is we are very short In half forward line assuming the the two DOC’s are out. Who is able to win breaking ball and turnovers for us there in their absence.

  23. @Lahanman McLoughlin can take Doherty’s place no bother. I’d leave Durcan in the same role to lock down McCaffrey like he did McHugh. Other than that I’d leave it as is, though I’d be tempted to start Ruane for Seamie and put him to work on Fenton.

  24. Lahanman , I believe Aiden for 11 and possibly Diarmuid for 12. If not him then we have Kevin McLoughlin ( not too shabby eh ? ) James Durcan And Keith Higgins ( with EOD going to #4). as options.
    I think we will need Keith’s speed at #4 though. So it would be Kevin McL or James Durcan ( if Diarmuid not available )

  25. Sorry to also be asking but any idea will more “bring a friend” options come available. I only finsiehd work at five and it was my first opportunity to get one ?

  26. MayoMagic, I know two or three people who got the bring a friend option. We emailed season tickets and they said they were gone within 90 minutes!
    Just wondering if anyone knows what time tomorrow morning tickets will be available from

  27. Mayo well capable of upsetting odds again..

    Plan needed!!

    Rem. Joe Jacob’s emergency masterplan ’01…. one of those clips that you can still recall where you were, what you were doing…

  28. Dublin Drive for 5;
    Stephen Cluxton; David Byrne, Michael Fitzsimons, Philip McMahon; Jack McCaffrey, Cian O’Sullivan, John Small; Brian Fenton, Michael Darragh Macauley; Niall Scully, Cormac Costello, Brian Howard; Ciarán Kilkenny, Paul Mannion, Con O’Callaghan.

    That forward line can be marked, the target men being Paul Mannion & Con O’Callaghan along with Jack McCaffrey & Brian Fenton. Take these 4 guys out of the game and we have helped our cause no end. Durkin has to go on McCaffrey. We also need a plan for the subs that Dublin rely upon to win games against Mayo. Players in the last 20 minutes which will be vital are Moran, DOC (if fit) Ruane, Parsons, EOD (If not started), Boland & Vaughan. For the first time playing Dublin I feel (even with DOC out) that we have a better bench.

  29. Great win against Donegal. We are now in a semi final which I didn’t think we would be in a few weeks ago. A serious increase in performance is needed…the intensity will be there but we must drastically increase our scoring percentages.

    We are creating more scoring chances than most teams but our conversion rate is poor. To win on dat evening is a huge ask in my opinion and Dublin are not favourites but I could
    Never write off these Mayo players.

  30. I used the bring a friend option this morning at 10 30 and managed to get 4 tickets as your allowed 4 tickets per account I got them for section 310 but I know a few other season ticket holders who tried to get them at 11 this morning and they were sold out. There will be tickets on sale tomorrow morning on need to get them fast thought this game will be a sell out the Dubs will snap them up.

  31. Shooting needs to improve considerably for Dublin. We won’t get away with that number of wides again.

  32. Gang .. are tickets available on the season tickets site for ticket holders to print yet ? May have missed a mail from HQ.

    Thanks a lot

  33. BackdoorSam, where is it advertised that tickets are available tomorrow on,im not doubting you, but I don’t see it mentioned anywhere

  34. Paddy joe Johnston I saw it on Facebook this morning someone had a detailed post up about it and it included prices of tickets etc I don’t have the smarts to link to it here but be on early tomorrow maybe from 9

  35. Have a listen to Mike Quirkes Irish examiner podcast with Tony Mcentee and Cian O’Neill today. It’s really brilliant. They give unreal insights into the Mayo squad and the type of guys we have. You’ll not hear a better discussion, I guarantee you on that.
    I’m a real fan of Mcentee and its very obvious why Rochy chose him.

  36. WJ Thanks for the ref. to Keith Duggan’s article. He has the interest of Mayo football at heart and writes beautifully. Have you read his “House of Pain” ?

  37. To echo liberal roles comments the examiner podcast with Cian O’Neil and Tony McEntee is the best discussion you’ll hear on the game from guys who really know their stuff. Both guys believe Dublin’s bench has significantly weakened and give mayo a great chance. We as supporters need to do what we did on previous games and this a home game with regards to support.

    I used the bring a friend option around 11 this morning.

  38. Am listening to that Examiner podcast now – great stuff.

    Speaking of Keith Duggan, there is also a great interview in Saturday’s Times with Martin Carney. Poignant stuff on his recent bereavement and the Donegal Mayo push and pull that has dominated his life since he moved to Mayo.

  39. Thanks MayoMark,

    Just to echo the praise for the Duggan articles both before and after the game .. some cracking lines .. Loved the description of the Mayo tram as ‘the wild bunch’ .. also Catcol spot on about the Martin Carney article .. poignant and really interesting on the dual Mayo and Donegal threads in his life ..

    The Wooly Parkinson podcast from Westport also a good laugh !

    Great times listening to the endless praise for our team .. what an era !

  40. That is an amazing article and insight by Tony McEntee (im a huge fan) and Cian O’Neill ..really enjoyed that. Gave us a glimpse of behind the scenes. Must say the Mayo Gaa PRO (and other fan groups too) did a great job all week mobilising the fans and it definitley worked. It was just such a great day/evening all round in Castlebar.

  41. Swahili, I love your writing and you make many valid points. However, Killarney was only a few weeks ago and your post makes little or no reference to that. We cannot make a fair assessment as to where we are and not consider the first half debacle that was Killarney.
    We are now where we are most comfortable, a 5/1 long shot to beat a great side going for 5 in a row, no one giving us a snowballs chance in hell, and pushing back against a narrative of an ageing time without clinical forwards.
    Mayo to stop the drive for 5. And there aren’t enough stewards in all of Croke Park to hold me back from what will be a pitch invasion of the ages!!

  42. Pebblesmeller, fair point about Killarney. Many on the Kerry GAA forum feel that Kerry would not have won last Saturday the way we played. Killarney was a bridge too far at the time and I didn’t post that week because I knew we would be poor. The main reasons were mental fatigue, no rest, long travel , Kerry had to win, and also because we were depleted with injuries and finally it was not knock out football.

    We are simply a different breed when it’s knock out football. We have our team back . We are rested. We are battle hardened. It’s knockout time.

    The 7 day turn around for Dublin is a worry imo but I think Dublin are woefully undercooked coming in to this. So if we get the intensity up ( and especially if it’s a greasy surface) the first half should be ours by a distance. Of course Dublin have individuals who can do brilliant things but it’s going to take a massive , unified collective effort of intensity to beat Mayo now. I don’t see them doing it.

    I think the game is ours to win. If we convert 70% +( or there )of our chances we will win.

    I hope the team go out against Dublin with the same attitude as they did against Donegal .

    Saturday’s attitude was the definition of “ NOT TODAY SHAM “ (Shakespeare ? Pebblesmeller ??)

  43. My belief is that one of the reason James Horan came back is that he has a plan on how to beat Dublin.. if he ever had a tactical plan he will have it for this game.. mark my words. I just hope he has all the pieces in place needed to deliver this plan.. we will find out on Saturday.. can’t wait.

  44. We ‘Mayo’ seem to go from hero to zero, and back again in the mind’s of many… Right Now we are right back as the Nation’s favorite team again… Those of us lucky enough to be in MacHale Park last Saturday, witnessed it and done our bit, we will need to do all again and only better and we will hopefully the help of several thousand others who wanted to be in MacHale Park last Saturday, but apparently it’s essential to have several thousand Empty Space’s in MacHale Park nowadays… Anyway we Mayo Supporter’s need to be in Croke Park early next Saturday Evening… our very exciting Minors take on Cork in the curtain raiser and deserve our support as fairness to Mayo Supporter’s we are pretty good at being in early, I was in MacHale Park at 3-55pm last Saturday and the Stand was over 90% full by then… Our seniors might just take a gander out on the Pitch and it would be great for the Green and Red to greet them..An added bonus will be that the Multitude of over fed Sea Gulls will probably be frightened off by the noise and colour of the best fan’s in Ireland.. This won’t be like the ‘Coma in Omagh’…This will be more like the ‘Battle in the Capital’ and one thing we have is that we are Battle Hardened…. I just can’t see any one involved in this Mayo setup letting us down, or us not giving them the best support once again that any Team ever got…. Our Media Guy’s and Girl’s need to impress on the whole Irish Sport’s Media that the treatment dished out regularly to Aiden O Shea and ignored by Refs has to stop… and we will need to heard too if anything like that happens next Saturday..

  45. Im actually loving all this “up the dubs” narrative stating their stats have improved and ours have disimproved. Dubs stats have improved palying division 2 and 3 teams. They have not had one competitive game all season. They took a step back in the league, leinster is a joke and had an opportunity to play a division one team in tyrone and they chose not too. Could all back fire….

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