Bittersweet homecoming

Minors arriving home

Photo: @Derflah via Twitter

Well, at least in this respect there was something about this year’s All-Ireland final weekend that was better than the one last year. Twelve months ago it hammered down rain all day long the day after we lost to Donegal, with the result that the homecoming event at MacHale Park was a dreary washout. This evening, in sharp contrast and despite the fact that yesterday’s senior defeat was far more depressing all things considered compared to last year, the homecoming took place in bright Indian summer sunshine and the faithful assembled at MacHale Park in their thousands.

McHale Park Sept 2013

Photo: @CronaEsler via Twitter

But it wasn’t, of course, just because of the weather that this happened. This evening, for the first time in twenty-eight long years, a Mayo team was returning with silverware won at Croke Park on All-Ireland final day and so it was only right and proper that the minors should return home to acclaim with the Tom Markham Cup in their possession.

Minors with Markham

Photo: @AngelinaNugent1 via Twitter

It was appropriate too that Enda Gilvarry and his victorious minor team were given top billing at the homecoming and it looks as if the well organised and well attended event (which RTÉ estimated was some 8,000 strong) may have done something to help ease the pain of yesterday’s senior loss. As I indicated early this morning, I didn’t travel west for it and so I’ve only got snatches of what was said – this RTÉ report covers the event briefly – but James and Andy both seemed to have uplifting words for the occasion, with both of them keen to stress how positive the future could be for the team and what good prospects they have of reaching the promised land.

Promises of jam tomorrow are only ever of limited use, of course, but at least there was significant silverware for the late evening sun to glance off at MacHale Park. And because of this success, there has to be optimism about our future prospects. To come back a third time on the trot for a serious tilt at Sam next year will take a massive effort but at least the minors showed yesterday that defeat in every single final isn’t destined to be our lot. The bittersweet joy at this evening’s homecoming must, then, help to point the way for us when the time comes for us to march again.

27 thoughts on “Bittersweet homecoming

  1. We were there this evening and there was a great turnout,sadly an awful lot of the people there are never seen at a match.Great for both teams to get such a great turnout just wish the same crowds would turn out for league and early championship games as well.A woman had the cheek to turn to me as the seniors took to the stage and say “I don’t know why there making such a fuss of them and all the children crying yesterday when they lost”.I felt like saying what the fuck are you doing here so but I didn’t bother.Like I have done all year I went there with my wife and 3 children to support the lads and say thanks for a great year.Great to hear Andy and James positive for the future

  2. Folks, I watched the clip on the news of Andy being interviewed by Marty Morrissey as he boarded the train to head West….To be honest, although undoubtedly hurting as the leader of our team going home without the spoils, he looked like a straight-up no bullshit man who had dusted himself down, reflected on the match briefly and was looking forward to erasing all and hanging on in for commencement of the next phase and restarting training this Nov……….and looking forward to getting back to the Homeland this evening……..I know that the last thing players wanted was the ‘forgiveness’ event in Castlebar as opposed to the euphoric heroes welcome, but they are heroes to us all………………We all know they are Top Table players and have been at that level, on merit, for the past 2 seasons. On the day, as they say, many many factors have to click, and a bit of bad luck can blow apart the best made plans, regardless of the hopes, aspirations and sentimentality of the adoring faithful.

    Just a further word on Freeman, whose substitution baffled me also. A man apparently more knowledgeable than me, in the Davin’, told me that there was some diagonal wing forward pass-in strategy that Freeman wasn’t getting at the end of, but I thought that was a load of shit…..The Freeman I witnessed was a very determined forward who turned up well for the few balls he got, and who was giving it his all……..I’d imagine he was anticipating being the main man if COC got injured again and he was shaping up for that role. I thought his chipped point when bearing down on Cluxton was a very intelligent finish……….Mad for the goal as we were, he obviously saw that the keeper was well forward off the line and had all covered, and he went for the point.

    Last word on COC……….Did you see the wallop with the injured shoulder he gave a Dub in the second half !!!!

  3. Pacar
    You have to realise a lot of people are hurting.It was a poor performance from the seniors yesterday even if they were great all year.We have been here too often and we are back in excuse territory again.I personally dont know what Horan was at yesterday….poor decision making.We have great support but we are entitled to be upset….yet again.

  4. John Griffin
    I was hurting as bad as any man,woman or child in McHale Park this evening.I left Croke Park yesterday evening with 3 crying children and a wife from Tipp who supports Mayo a lot better than some of our own.The woman I mentioned even had the neck to say to someone else “I’m glad I didn’t pay to watch them”,I’m sorry but people like this are no addition to Mayo football

  5. I was in Castlebar this evening. Great turn out and proper order. I thought Andy was his usual positive self and reassuring us that they would be back. I’ m not sure he fully believed it himself. James Horan said all the right things but I didn’t detect any great appetite to be involved himself. He seemed to subtly if unconsciously distance himself from the future without saying anything specific.
    My suspicion is that a couple of the lads will be taking time off ( a year) and getting on with their lives. I doubt if James Horan will continue. It is an enormous commitment and he has a job to keep and a family to raise.
    On a lighter if somewhat Kilnascully moment a certain politician, by way of encouraging the lads and the supporters uttered the most amazing line: “the Americans got Bin Laden, we will get Sam”. What can you say?

  6. Fair enough Pacar.
    Just feel some criticism inevitable and even warranted.
    Decisions on sideline poor and shocking lack of urgency at the end.Taking final point instead of trying to manufacture something was final straw.
    You get few chances at this level and we dont take ours.sickening.

  7. Well said pacar its a pity when we are travelling the country all year the “great supporters” aren’t travelling to watch the matches. I’m also sick and tired of peoples bullshit they don’t support mayo all year and knock them when they are down. We have had some great matches all year these lads are a credit to their county. We will soon see who the great supporters are on the cold, wet nights and days when we travel the country to follow mayo.

  8. Agreed John thought it was a very bad decision not to have a go with the last free,as I’ve said on an earlier post I can’t understand why Richie didn’t get a run plus if Cillian got injured after freeman went off we were screwed for a free taker

  9. Delighted both teams got a good welcome home. I seen three buses carrying both teams and support staff go thru Citywest Campus…no cavalcade of cars…no sound..just a slow procession as they headed for Heuston for their long painful journey home. Mayo county board need to take responsibility for their cairde tickets, disgraceful abuse of valuable tickets one young Mayo fan arrived towards end of first half of minor match left at half time and did not appear again until start of second half of senior game and i am sure similar happened thru out the ground – maddening.

  10. Diehard, I was there also and that comment was pathetic. Anyway, the yanks have better firepower than we have!
    Minister Ring was his usual tub-thumping self and lord knows he does not need a mike to project his voice.
    To lessen your pain, if you think their speeches were bad, you should have sat through Frank Burkes hilarious attempt at public speaking last night in City West. Head man of the Connaught council and he couldn’t string 2 words together!
    Fuck it, I haven’t slept right in 2 nights so I am going to try and catch up. It might help tomorrows mood.
    364 more sleeps 🙁
    Hon Mayo.

  11. The team and James horan needs support now. I’m sure he realises now he made mistakes but he is after all human and will learn from it and be a better manager.even Alex ferguson by his own admission,made mistakes early on in his career and obviously learned from them.

    Of course the players,who are still young and in peak condition, will stay and complete what is unfinished business.

    When you see the calibre of men on that team you realise they are a special bunch who will deliver given the support they undoubtedly have.

    They will not give up and the achievement when it comes will be all the sweeter.


  12. I would rather be a loser from Mayo than a winner from another county. So proud of this county, our players and supporters. I am totally devastated but what can we do but keep going?

  13. We are all very upset by this latest defeat, and to see kids crying makes it much worse, there were plenty tears in the eyes of adults as well I can tell you.

    For me it’s a mixture of heartbreak and anger because I know,as many of you here do, that as poor and all as the performance was that had the manager made a few small tweaks our chance of winning would have increased considerably.

    But the bottom line is this, we do not have that Canavan, Joyce, Cooper or Brogan type player which you need to get you over the line and until we find that player we will not win an All Ireland or expect to either.

  14. I think after last year they knew what they had to improve on and couldn’t wait to get started

    This year, it is too soon 24 hours later to see what can be improved for 2014

    We need to give them all some time off to make decisions

    If most supporters were upset or worse, angry, how do you think the players feel?

    They gave us some great displays this year but if we figured out since last September how to beat a Donegal, they will figure out how to beat a Dublin side playing this style

  15. I follow mayo football from Jamuary to finish whenever that might be and I am so proud of them. They give there all for us and we should be so grateful many a county would give there right arm to be us. Where are all these ones that are giving out in January, February, in the freezing cold when the players are out there playing for us and the true supporters are there shouting for them. I remember a few years ago going to bructer park and there was only 300 of us there and Pat Holmes thanking us for turning up. In reality we should be thanking every player for all the hard work and dedication that present and previous players have put in. I as a true mayo supporter want to thank you all for the enjoyment you have given me over the years and ypu will bring SAM home soon MAYO ABU

  16. Also just saw the Hawkeye piece that John Cuffe mentioned and the graphic shows the ball going between the posts but the text came up as a “MISS”

    Explain that one

  17. Folks…….Can somebody tell me was I dreaming but in his Sunday Game winners hotel interview with our GAA president, when Micheal Lyster asked him if, like the hurling AIF he thought late on that the game might go to a draw, the Pres said a firm “…….No……I was talking to Padraig at half time and told him (…not sure what after that….)…”……….What was all that about ?…..

  18. Lads, I’m not one for blaming the ref and all that and making a big fuss when you lose, BUT both from being at the match, close to the kick and judging by the reaction of Mayo fans behind the goals, AND the hawkeye graphic it seems pretty clear that point went over.
    We should be making a big deal about that, its not going to change the result now but we cant continue to take getting f*cked over lying down.

    I have a picture of the graphic, can I post it here? Cant see a way of doing it

  19. Hawkeye is set up that if the ball goes higher than the actual post a virtual pole is beamed upwards from the actual post. If the ball touches any part of the virtual post it is deemed wide. Thats why its looks like a point. In reality if the actual posts were that high the ball would clip the inside of the post and go over. It’s just the way Hawkeye is set up, it can’t decide what happens if the ball hits the virtual post. Not an ideal system…..

  20. According to the Connaught, Horan intends to complete the 2 year contract extension he signed last October.

  21. Mayo’s played like a team cripled with past failures in the second half. Conroy was the only inside forward capable of winning ball, but has not got the physicality to break the tackle. Hennelly did well with 3 very good saves, for Brogans goal he was at fault going for a ball he had no right to go for. Cant understand why Horan took off Freeman and did not bring on Feeney at some stage. Cluxton by-passed the two big lads in midfield which negated Mayos chance of winning primary possession in the second half. Horan did nothing about this either. Also was it a good idea moving the excellent Higgins to corner back when he was doing so well in a crucial area of the field. Dillion is a fine player but is far too light and easily pushed off the ball in the modern game. O Connor, what was he thinking going for a point? he takes an age to take a simple free. Need an entire new half forward line. Boyle, Keegan and Higgins are smashing players. Aidan O Shea is a star but why his bro was taken off before him was plain wrong. Horan is a very good manager and has taken Mayo a long way, but he does not think very well on the line, under pressure, when the game is there to be won. The game was lost on the line. Hawkeye got it right by the way, the images I saw had the ball just wide.
    The minors were excellent as perdicted, Loftus, Coen and the excellent Doherty are future stars. The manner the Doherty lad connects with the ball is awesome.

  22. That’s a good summary Rossoneri and I’d agree with everything in terms of what we did wrong – on the field and on the sideline – over the course of the game, in particular the second half. I don’t think past failures had anything to do with it, though – we simply didn’t sink the knife in far enough when we had them on the ropes early on, coughed up a suicidal goal completely against the run of play to let them back into it and then failed to make changes quickly enough and counter their strengths when they were on top in the second half.

  23. Cluxton did exactly what he did to us in the league semi-final and it should not have surprised anyone. In that league semi-final the 2 Dublin midfielders would bunch in the middle, Flynn and Connolly at 10 and 12 respectively would move centrally also, but then spread to the wings as Cluxton began his run-up for the kickout. Almost every time in that game our lads were too slow to react and it left a Dublin wing forward fielding their own kickouts, unchallenged, 50 yrds from our goal. That day they also targetted Aidan O’Ses player and Aidan was very slow to read this and also to react. It did not appear that there was a plan in place for that yesterday. O.K., we pushed up to prevent the short kick-out, we would fancy ourselves to win ball around the middle, but it certainly looked like we never considered what to do if they went long and wide! Maybe the heat and conditions sapped us of the energy needed to cover those areas, maybe some players didn’t carry out their instructions or maybe we never considered that scenario arising. Whatever the reason it put us on the back foot and prevented us from building up consecutive attacks and much needed momentum.
    One other thing, I think Keane or McHale should have come on and Higgins should have been brought back up into the half forward line when it was apparent that we were chasing the game and that his man was injured. Higgins would have carried his running threat through the middle and possibly created the overlaps we needed to engineer better scoring positions.

  24. “A man apparently more knowledgeable than me, in the Davin’, told me that there was some diagonal wing forward pass-in strategy that Freeman wasn’t getting at the end of, but I thought that was a load of shit…..” Marty K

    No, that would make sense, a cute alternative to the running game that would create some goal chances. Interesting that Mayo’s attack looked clueless after Freeman went off. I don’t buy into this notion that we need to unearth new forwards, the league should be about developing that partnership between Andy Moran and Freeman – potentially lethal. The modern league is more about fine-tuning your tactics and you need a settled full-forward line.
    Excellent article about Mayo’s future, (, and it’s true too, the Boston Red Sox, Cork footballers, this years magnificent minors – you can end the hoodoo!

  25. A young dublin lad beside me at the back of the hill seemed confused that Cluxton was able to kick the ball out wide to a free Dublin man on countless occasions… if he could see that like most of us here, why did our management team not see it or choose to act on it.

    Too many of our big name players had a bad day at the office in a final again. Have to say I am fairly distraught. You could see it in the players too out at citywest Sunday night. I felt sorry for the minor team as the gloss was taken away from their win but what a win for them and hopefully it is something we can build on for the future.

    Right now, Mayo seem a million miles away from winning an all Ireland. Why? Well we don’t have enough quality forwards at the minute. The cream rises to the top in finals and the marquee man has his day like brogan showed. Could any our our minors be propelled to the senior ranked like Mannion, Kilkenny were for Dublin? Maybe too soon for them just yet.

  26. Well, I am of the opinion that a number of those minors should be brought up to the senior training squad at least, and even integrated into the set-up during FBD games. I know physically they are not at the level of mature intercounty seniors but their presence and enthusiasm would keep a freshness in the senior squad and encourage them to keep at their football. I would give serious consideration to Doran, Cunniffe, Kenny, Coen, O’Connor, Loftus, Prendergast, Doherty, Irwin and Conroy.
    Realistically, the fall off rate from minor to senior is huge and if we could get 2 or even 3 of these lads into the senior team inside the next 5 years it would be considered a success. College, work, women, travel, drink, emigration, etc. will all cross their paths and have an influence in how their football careers turn out. For now, they deserve all the plaudits and credit they are getting. They won it playing a great style of football and are a credit to the county.

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