Well, the League’s come and gone, Easter has gone the same way and, if it’s the GAA you’re depending on for your entertainment at the minute, you’re not exactly spoiled for choice. There’s the hurling, of course, (more on that in a bit) and the business end of the U21 championship, plus there’s club action on too so it’s not as if the place is devoid of any diversion. It’s just that you have to cast your net that bit wider right now.

A measure of how (a) how becalmed things are at the moment and (b) how far up its own hole the so-called national broadcaster is that the following occurred today. Marty Morrissey, standing in for Ryan Tubridy (pause and take in the import of that for a minute – out of the frying pan, into the fire, for sure) on RTÉ Radio 1, had an interview with the recently-retired Colm Cooper. During this he asked the Gooch about Joe Brolly’s asinine criticisms of him as a player that the grinning goon made the other day.

So far, so Marty. Then the geniuses in RTÉ, in their infinite wisdom, decided to run (on RTÉ) Cooper’s reply (made on RTÉ) to RTÉ pundit Joe Brolly’s criticisms of him (made on RTÉ) ON THEIR FUCKING SPORTS BULLETINS! Sorry for shouting there but … what the fucking fuck?

As I said, we’re all a bit in the doldrums right now and so in need of other distractions. Mine have come in the form of some proper cycling – that explains the photo above, by the way: the pedant in me never fails to chuckle as I pedal past it on the N2 – and finally getting to sink my fangs properly into Andrew Roberts’ utterly superb and rather long biography of Napoleon. Each to his own and all that.

If you’re on the lookout for some Green and Red action, though, there’s always the hurlers. After a disappointing run of games in the League this spring, JP Coen’s charges start their Christy Ring Cup campaign on Saturday with a difficult home tie against Kildare.

The Lilywhites are the hot favourites in this one – Paddy Power have them priced at 1/7 – but our lads’ cause will be helped greatly by the return to the hurling fold of Keith Higgins and Fergal Boland. Both players were ever-present for the footballers during the League but the break in big ball action enables them to make a welcome return to the hurling squad. Report on that in today’s Mayo News here (this also covers Joe Keane’s appointment to the senior backroom team in a coaching capacity).

On the flip-side for the hurlers, Kenny Feeney won’t be available to play on Saturday. According to the match preview in the Mayo News (paper and digital versions) he’s away in the States at present. The match throws in, by the way, on Saturday at 3pm in James Stephens Park, Ballina. 

Finally, something completely different. We all know that John Cuffe has a way with words but he’s now taken this to a whole new level with the publication today of his first book. Inside the Monkey House is a no-holds-barred account of John’s three decades as a prison officer and is published by Collins Press (priced at €12.99).

The book will be launched formally at St Peter’s GAA club in Dunboyne, on Friday week (28th April), throw-in 8pm. John is also planning to hold a separate launch event back on home soil, at Léim Siar guest house in Blacksod on May 13th, also at 8pm. I know you’ll join me in congratulating John on the book’s publication and wishing him all the very best with it.  

66 thoughts on “Becalmed

  1. Best of luck to John and his book launch, As a border residen, I have noted a great pep in the step of our neighbours the tribesmen, the ‘ we’re back ‘ mantra is gaining momentum up in these parts, and in truth it is so. Given the lack lustre nature of the Div 2 League final, there is a feeling that the true measure of Galways improvement will be the test at Salthill against our men. Now if we have learned anything at all it is never to take any game for granted but subject to our winning the first round of the Championship, the battle of Salthill will. be mouthwatering to say the least, maigheoabu

  2. I’ll certainly buy John’s book. A big fan here of his football related contributions to this brilliant site. Best of luck with it John

  3. Good luck John, should be a good read.

    Sarah mac – As a south Mayo resident I have also encountered the new found enthusiasm of our near neighbours. The jibes of “We will win Sam again before ye do” have returned. They may be right….if they do many of us south Mayo residents who live and work with Galway folk may have to consider immigrating….

  4. I’ve heard it too – ‘we’ll lift it before ye’ – Jesus, if there is any justice . . : . as you said YewTree, leave the job & immigrate. Mind you I can’t see it just yet, they’d have they’re work cut out with the Dubs and a few of the others.

  5. Yew_tree, mayogalingalway, my tack is to heap loads of praise on them but just between ourselves I think we are still a good way ahead of them, if I’m wrong … we’ll goddamnit they just after making it harder to get the 457 visas to oz

  6. Just a reminder Mayo v Galway in the Quarter final of the Connacht minor championship is on the last Saturday of this month. Mayo are due home advantage after playing Galway in Salthill last year.
    Its the last ever minor championship game and the loser will be out in April while the winner will play Roscommon in a June semi final.

  7. Ya getting that off a Galway guy at work ” we will lift it before etc” ….. can you imagine

    Would love if we beat them out the gate in salthill in June 🙂

  8. Hi everyone . I just want to see if anyone has any enlightening info on a discussion we had over a few pints at the weekend . It was about who was the youngest player to play championship for Mayo . One man was adamant that Patrick Kilbane from Achill played when he was only 17 . I think he is wrong because I think he was overage for minor that year and I can recall Brian Kilkelly coming on as a sub against Roscommon in 1982 I think and I think he could have been a minor or very close to it . My opinion is that it could come down to months as I think ( not sure ) that they were both 18 . But I think the youngest player was Brian Kilkelly . Any views are welcome . Thank you

  9. Tom . Here is my opinion . Pat Kilbane was minor in 64 I think and played in 65 . Brian Kilkelly was minor I think in 82 and played in 83 . Adrian Garvey was minor in 78 and played in 79 . TJ Kilgallon was minor in 79 and played in 80 . Also I would think Ciaran Mac , Conor Mort & John Casey might also be in that cat

  10. David Clarke was still 17 when making his debut in 2001. So I would imagine he has that claim at roughly 17 1/2.

  11. David Clarke was well into his 20,s before he played Senior championship . He prob played league ok

  12. Tom – I’m nearly sure Padraig Brogan played a mayo minor match in Castlebar and was in the subs for the seniors the game after and I think even came on for the last 15min or so, early 1980’s – not sure that made him the youngest though

  13. I am just after thinking about the archives section WJ has on this great site . JP I was checking David Clarke but I see Peter Burke kept him off the championship team in 2001 . Also I see it confirmed Padraic Brogan played in 83 . Can anyone confirm if he definitely minor that year

  14. I was in Easons in Cork yesterday and saw the book, least I could do for a fellow Mullet man was purchase a copy.
    A fine read so far and would recommend it.

    Regarding the “we’ll lift it before ye”, well I heard that back in 2013, walking out of Pearse Stadium the day we beat Galway by 17 points from a Galway cousin of mine who I was at the match with. It was said in jest but unfortunately reflecting on it later I thought it wouldn’t fecken surprise me.

    Galway supporters have a great knack or completely ignoring their county when they are shite, and then not having ANY shame about taking prime seats on the bandwagon when there is any sniff of success. A fella said to me once that the big difference is that Mayo people would follow 15 dead bodies in a green and red jersey with some sort of mad optimism “ah theres life in them yet”, whereas the Galway gang wont follow a team in maroon if they are no good. The attitude is “sure they are shite, why bother”.
    We have more differences than that between us thank God, but I think that’s a big one

  15. Padraig Brogan is listed on the 1986 U21 team which made it to the All Ireland semi final. So he was most likely a final year U18 minor in 1983 but whether he was 17 or 18 when he came on in that championship game you’re unlikely to find out.

  16. Congratulations to John on what I am sure will be a fine read,I hope to get it signed at corick in September, on the youngest player I feel Mick Conneghton of Claremorris would be thereabouts

  17. Great question Tom.

    I think it’s got to be Padraig Brogan – what a player and a forward that would thrive it today’s game. Power, accuracy and ability to win dirty ball.

  18. its incredible the amount of years David Clarke has been involved with the Mayo squad,

    when you consider the age profile of some of our squad, some would not have been long out of nappies in 2001

    He is arguably the best keeper in Ireland now

  19. Well done to John on his book I’ll certainly be popping into Eason to buy it. Don’t mind Galway let them at it if they lift it before us they lift it before us they have almost twice the population of Mayo so it’s no shame if they do all we can do is control the controlables

  20. Best of luck with the book JC As regards Galway they were always my second favourite team.Like the way they usually play and liked the fact that they usually performed well in Croker at least prior to 2002. Not quite so sure now. Despite having talented forwards they tend to play a negative defensive game ,. While I was pleased to see them beat kerry in U21 I am not too keen on some of their fans who trot out the usual mantra about AI success bottlers etc. Thats of course when I can find Galway fans. Talk about bandwagon jumpers. They simply wont support their county unless they have a great chance of winning. Last year in Castlebar was a prime example and even when we have to travel to my least favourite ground in Salthill we tend to outnumber them. Was the same in the 1990s when I remember them going to Carrick to play Leitrim and there were only about 200 Galwegians. Yet when they won AI V Kildare in 1998 youd swear that the vast hoardes present had been following them for decades. Now I know some posters here arent too fond of Ros but one thing I will say about them is that in general they have a passionate loyal support who despite little success they do back their team. Galway looking good now so they might muster 8 – 10,000 for their game against us in June, should we overcome Sligo.

  21. On the youngest player to play for Mayo in Senior championship, l recall reading in the Green above the Red of a player in the late forties, who played senior a year before he played minor. I might be mistaken, but it could be Padraig Carney. Must dig out the book.

  22. Best of luck with the book John, the mullet peninsula has produced a lot of men in uniform over the years. Look forward to reading it and hopefully Rinty and a few of the old characters get a mention.

  23. Good luck with the book, John. it’s on my list.
    Regards Galway’s “we’ll win it before you do” I got some hardship from a Galway man in the 1998 – 2002 era. My reply then was “ye’re great now that ye have a Mayoman showing ye how to play.” It silenced him every time – and he never thought of replying that the Mayoman had not managed to show Mayo how to win it. I do think that Galway may be a little bit ahead of themselves if making plans to welcome Sam with that defence.

  24. What time is our minor game with Galway sat week? It could be the last ever minor game which kind of makes me sad.

  25. Anybody know the make-up of the Mayo panel? All we ever hear is players going back to their clubs. Those of us not really in the know who are out of the county would appreciate it.

  26. i’ve had this phrase yelled at me a few times from both Galway and Rosgommon supporters while coming out of various Connacht grounds after we had beaten them.

    “Mayo will get bet next place ye go”.

    Especially in the old days when it was straight into an All Ireland semi final after winning Connacht.

    1981 Connacht semi V Galway, 1983 Connacht semi v Rosgommon and 1985 Connacht final V Rosgommon are 3 examples.

    I doubt if Galway have even a hardcore support of 5,000 when times are hard. They always have the hurling to fall back on too. There have been times when there were more Galway people at a Munster hurling final down in Thurles than at a Connacht football match involving their own county playing on the same day.

  27. Re the youngest player to play for Mayo I did a bit of checking on the Archive section of this site and it is clear that David Clarke did not make his championship debut until 2005 v Roscommon. Peter Burke was main keeper in 2004 although Fintan Ruddy played v Galway and Rosc in the championship.
    P Carney [who I presume is the great Padraig] made his championship debut v Sligo on 23/6/46 playing alongside Henry Kenny and scoring 0 – 4. I think that was the year he left St Nathy’s but am not sure.
    Padraig Brogan did make his debut as a sub in 1983 v Sligo on 3/7/83 and also came on as a sub in the final v Galway. Brian Kilkelly made his debut [as a sub] ahead of Brogan in the first round v Sligo, 12/6/83.
    Whether any of thse were minors at the time of their debuts I do not know but the list of players making thier debuts a year after minor would be endless.

  28. @AndyD. Padraig Brogan is in the archives on the 1986 u21 team. Meaning he has to be u18 in 83.

  29. Thanks WJ – bit early in the day for me with work.

    Galway have a hardcore of about 500-1000 fans and that is what a Galway friend told me.

    Mayo have a larger hardcore (maybe 5,000) but we also have a huge bandwagon. Anyone remember 2011…the start of our current team’s journey? I remember being in the Hyde on the worst day for wind and rain I ever experienced at a football game. Very few Mayo fans there that day…..then when we beat Cork despite being told by most (including Mr. Brolly) that we had not chance and “Cork would wipe the floor with Mayo” – That was a great day to be in Croke Park but again….not a great Mayo support there that day.

  30. Any word of Mayos pre season challenge game before the Sligo/New York game on the 21st of May? The County championship Round 1 is May 7th so I am presuming that they be getting any games in before then!

  31. I think a common viewpoint on here regarding the Sligo game is that playing our first 15 as per the league will be a mistake that comes back to bite us later in the summer. There should be a balance towards giving some more game time to fringe players.
    On the subject of game time it really is the thing that improves players. You can train and train all you want. Training makes you strong enough to take part, but games are what make you an impactful footballer.
    Those who I think need some gametime include:
    – Conor Loftus, Brian Reape, these guys haven’t had anything close to the gametime to help them along.
    – Eoin ODonoghue, David Drake to have plenty defensive cover
    – Seamus OShea from the bench to get him back up to speed
    My bolter is James Shaughnessy. He really needs to be involved. It is utterly predictable looking at his formline and the type of player he is with his pace and confidence that he will continue to have a high scoring year with Claremorris. Probably too late to be a starter now but you could see him making an impact as a sub.

  32. Yew Tree – would agree the Mayo crowd in Croker for the Cork game in 2011 did seem small, as did overall attendance that day which was only around 22,000 people.
    Given Kerry played Limerick earlier that day in Croke Park it was poor enough attendance from all 4 counties, but bear in mind the distance people would have had to travel from their home counties that day too it might not have been unexpected.
    That said, we did outnumber both Cork supporters by several thousand that day.

  33. heard Seamie o Shea is playing centre back for Breaffy, would he be an option for Mayo at No 6?

    is James Shaughnessy of Mayo Standard ?

  34. I remember that day versus Cork in 2011. Weather got worse as the game went on. Got soaked. Retreated under the shelter of the stands. That was the start really of this current crop of players. Some great days in Croker since..and more to come! Up Mayo

  35. @Morag, yes Seamus was back at 6. He might end up back around the 6 spot with three half backs still named. I could see just blocking off the centre but not being tasked with man marking.
    As regards James Shaughnessy he is one of the most in form club footballers but crucially is quick from a standing start. Something others who haven’t cut it usually lack. We won’t know till he’s tried.

  36. Plenty of Mayo players have played Senior championship in their first year out of Minor in recent years. Likes of Diarmuid and Cillian O’Connor, Aidan O’Shea, Pearse Hanley, Ciaran McDonald all spring to mind. I think Hanley might have been the youngest of these as I recall his birthday is at the end of the year – October/November. David Clarke is the only Minor I recall being part of the senior squad in the last 20 years – sub keeper in 2001 for Connacht Senior Final after playing in the minor final which was the curtain raiser! But he did not play championship, or league, that year. Brogan playing while still a minor is fair going!

  37. JP do you think he deserves a chance ?

    seen that Neil Douglas scored 9 points v hollymount, cannot understand why he was dropped from the mayo squad.

  38. I agree JP it’s vital the lads putting up the the big scores from play in club football should be getting there chance.James Shaughnessy with 10 points for Claremorris the weekend and Enda Varley who is playing his best football of his career now with St Vincent’s in Dublin both deserve to be brought in and given chances in training.As for the other high scoring forwards in the county Liam Irwin and Neil Douglas have been dropped and Alan Freeman has opted out of the panel for work reasons.Adam Gallagher, Brian Reape and Conor Loftus have got little or no game time in the league.I also agree with Eoin O’Donoghoe getting game time he was really good when thrown in against Kerry in Tralee and our best defender against Galway in the under 21 did a good man marking job on the in form Michael Daly.

  39. @TH Is it a case of Varley not wanting to commit to county training? It takes over your life. Maybe he had enough when he left the squad and is content at Vincents. That’s what I have been thinking for the past while. Surely management have rang him and asked does he want back in again. I had though the reason for his not involvement was that mangt were focusing on developing and bringing up the younger crop of buckos but as we’ve seen from the league, this hasn’t been the case.

  40. @Morag I believe anyone who is scoring heavy from play and has enough pace/strength should be given a chance.
    As regards Neil Douglas and Liam Irwin I would imagine they are just not quick enough. Irwin has the size so he only needs a bit more fitness. Neil Douglas at 5’9″ would need that bit of natural raw pace to make up for that.

  41. This is not the case PaulClaffeyfan.He was harshly dropped by Holmes and Connelly in Febuary 2015.I have heard no mention that he was not making himself available to county , playing in the Dublin senior championship has brought him on alot and he looks a lot sharper.Reading reports of sum of the names involved in the Dublin championship tonite shows how high the standard is.Another Mayo man not on the county panel is James Burke from Ardnaree whos plays for Ballymun Kickhams at Half back in a line that also includes James McCarthy and John Small.Ballymun would probably beat most county teams.

  42. Willie Joe i think that comment is a bit biased—you cant beat local rivalry. Looking forward to the Meath championship myself.

  43. The only 2 teams to beat them in last 4 years in Dublin were St Vincent’s in 2013 and 2015 county finals and 2016 semi final and St Oliver plunketts in 2014 semi final and they reached the club All ireland in 2012 against St Brigids

  44. I know their record in recent years, TH. Ever since losing to Brigid’s they’ve been tame enough in the Dublin championship. From what I’ve seen of them, their county lads haven’t exactly given everything for the local cause. Also the straight knockout nature of the Dublin championship means it only takes one club to halt your gallop in any given year.

  45. Just listened back to JC on the Newstalk lunchtime show. Well done, John – great to hear one of our own on there! Look forward to the book and congrats with getting it published.

  46. Got it in one Hego51. The publicity drive worked a treat last year. Dublin GAA will continue with a drip drip of feel good reports to sugar coat their on field antics. Philly is probably up next. I seem to remember Dermo hauling down Lee in the second half of the drawn game also Donal Vaughan held back off the ball in the replay. This stuff has got to be countered

  47. Did the late Ger Feeney RIP come on as a sub for the senior team while a minor in 71 or 72. It was in castlebar a Connacht championship against either Sligo or Roscommon.

  48. Oh i hear you on the Galway thing. In my many “discussions” with a Mayo-hating Galway work colleague who seems more obsessed with Mayo losing than his own team’s performance, I have so often found myself responding with the words “ I wouldn’t swap the amazing journey that we, Mayo fans have had over the last 6 years for anything”. Those of us residing close to the Galway border and those poor misfortunates living and working over the border in Galway will have heard it so many times- “ Galway will win an All Ireland before Mayo do” “ When we get to a final, at least we win”
    And it has all got me thinking, we say it all the time “to win just once”. And we’ve pondered over which one would have been the sweetest. But I’ve started to wonder about this beautiful journey that we’ve been on and I’m wondering if I was now offered the opportunity to rewrite history would I take it. At first glance, I’d say “hell yeah”!!! But what if there were conditions? What if I could chose for Mayo to have beaten Kerry in the All Ireland semi final in 2011 and to have gone on and beaten Dublin in the final, at last reaching the holy grail exactly 60 years after our last win. Sweet divinity, the goose bumps just thinking about it. We’d probably still be celebrating!! But I said that there would be conditions. The conditions would be that Mayo would then slip back in to oblivion, not winning Connaught nor paying a visit to HQ for a quarter final for at least a couple of decades. Would we take it? Would we swap all these wonderful last six glory years just to have had that one dance with Sam?
    I know some people would argue that they were not glory years without the ultimate prize but I beg to differ. They HAVE been glorious, for me, at least. The days out, the nights out, the camaraderie that crosses the generations, the friends we’ve made, the excitement in the run up to a trip, planning the transport, the food stop, the wardrobe (match day chic can be so hard to pull off), the banter, the nights in Bowes, the racing home to see the recorded Sunday game and check out what holes brolly or Spillane will pick in our performance this time, the scouring the Monday papers or waiting till WJ does it for you ( eternally grateful WJ) the roller coaster of emotions that comes with following Mayo. That swagger about Mayo people talking about a trip to Dublin for a game. We know our way around the capital and have developed habits and traditions around the trip -These trips which have become two a penny at this stage“ We ALWAYS park here, we ALWAYS stop there, we ALWAYS have grub in such and such a place, we ALWAYS get the train from Maynooth.” And why wouldn’t we know our way around – 5 trips to Croker last year alone ( or was it 6 in the end?).
    Would I give all that up to have had one dalliance with the big one? It’s a very very hard call. It’d sure be nice to quieten that Galway man!
    And sure maybe this year we will!

  49. Nice post viewfromthecusack….yer kindof hit the nail on the head there…..always remind them it took Mayoman John Omahony to get them over the line and of course the 12 opostles when Galway could not beat 12 dubs….

  50. Excellent post the view from the Cusack you are so right. I can find my way into 304 or 305 of the Cusack with my eyes closed at this stage and it’s all thanks to the huge efforts of this special team over the last number of years

  51. One could do worse than give the hurlers get a bit of support today on a nice Saturday afternoon for their first game back at Christy Ring level – the game is indeed on in Ballina at 3pm. Kildare have a couple of ex Kilkenny and Tipp imports including John Mulhall of 2011 All Ireland homecoming fame
    Game should be a good standard – hopefully the pitch is in decent nick.

  52. Good post there CPR. And talking of hurling, I can’t post it now, but if anyone can (Willie Joe!), have a read of Jackie Tyrell in The Irish Times today on Tipp v Galway and especially on corner back play it’s hurling of course, but it is pure gold and backs and forwards could learn so much from it. He is particularly good on the dark arts – ‘play his hurl, play his helmet, play his hand’. Just love the mantra ‘not today lads’.

  53. Freespoonwitheverytub, that Galway team would have won AIs whoever managed them, albeit O’Mahony was an excellent manager. They were a great team and it’s sad they didn’t win three titles. Thankfully for Connacht football they won two.

  54. TheViewFrom The Cusack – you hit the nail right on the head there. I was touching 30 years old when I first saw Mayo in an All Ireland Senior Final- now it has become a regular event. Despite the results there is a tremendous pride in being at the top table and giving as good as we get from the Dubs.

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