Saturday night and a quiet few pints. Speaking to a buddy of mine the weekend gone by, the conversation inevitably turned to the big match and how this Kerry team compared to ones gone by. And he made a couple of interesting observations in terms of how Kerry are seen nationally and internationally. We talked about the Mayo brand and what it means worldwide. He was at the game in Gaelic Park and in Connolly’s pub the night before.

He said the fellas on the door that night were collecting twenty dollars a head. He had no problem with it. However he did note that they were collecting it in a shoebox. His point was that it looked very unprofessional. (Note: I don’t want to bring up our past mistakes and that’s all I will say about that event). 

However he compared that to a similar Kerry event in the Big Apple some years ago. When they arrived they rolled out the big guns, former Kerry players, every one of them with medals from All-Ireland all the way to Railway Cup. Food was prepared, there was space for everyone to meet and get pictures taken. The event was marketed to a high degree. The point my buddy made was that the rumour had it that the Kerry County Board came home with the guts of half a million euros. Now I don’t know the exact accuracy of his claim but in terms of the story and because it was Kerry involved it is not unbelievable.

As most of you know the Kerry brand is huge to say the least. Others look on in envy. The Rose of Tralee, the way Killarney is marketed, the Lakes, the Ring of Kerry, Puck Fair etc. etc. – the list goes on. Even a single dolphin in Dingle gets nationwide coverage for some number of years because the right marketing team are behind him. Suffice to say they know how to sell themselves. But in fairness the value of what they are pushing is generally high quality. And this is done through hard work and maybe a fair bit of initiative and promotion of tradition.

This has been pushed through continuously onto the GAA scene in Kerry as well. Probably the biggest sponsor in Ireland is AIG for Dublin but Kerry Group are surely not far behind. As a trademark, Kerry Group are global and like any global brand are keen to be seen to be associated with success. And if the County team are successful they will get all the funding they need from the company. A successful company supporting a successful team. Both sides are benefitting to a high degree.

And like all brands the Kerry teams come under unceasing scrutiny. Tweaks and assessments are made continually to push it on and continue to deliver on the promises that are associated with it. This is where you see the former players always promoting nationally – especially coming into finals. They are there to talk up the Kerry brand. Note they don’t necessarily do it for semi-finals. These as seen as obstacles to overcome before they take to the big stage. Any way of getting a result will do in a semi. It will be forgotten about nationally within the week.

All these are other reasons why Kerry are so hard to beat. Simply put, down there they know the importance and value of the Kerry brand is and what it means traditionally within the county. And the people pushing this will continually remind their team of what is expected of them. They will encourage and drive on these players.

But it’s also a big, big reason for us to beat them. If we are to become recognised forerunners we must be able to defeat big brands such as Kerry. That’s simply the bottom line. Mayo teams in the past have been unable to complete this task especially in finals. But semi-finals are different. At the very least no-one can deny that this present team are not used to winning at this level.

In fairness to James Horan and his backroom team they also have promoted their own brand this past four years. Who would have thought five years ago losing to Longford that we would be looking at winning four Connacht titles in a row and competing for our third All Ireland final appearance on the trot? The Mayo brand was at its lowest ever point after that defeat. However it is now right up there. In doing so they have seriously upped the ante in terms of what the county expects to achieve.

We see too in the county team now big name players, guys who are can be game changers for us. These are battle hardened fellas who do not now let the heads drop at any costs even if things are not going their way on the day. This is a serious mental adjustment to the Mayo psyche.  And we have a serious squad. When you look at all the debate on this blog at who does not make the 26 man line-up on the day, or who is not sent in as a substitute it is very revealing. We have players in this squad who have played in All-Ireland finals who now cannot make the 26 man match-day squad because the competition is so fierce. Suffice to say that there are not many brands on the GAA map like that.

Sunday’s game will be a massive charge for our team. The task for these guys will be twofold. To uphold the claims they have of being worthy high achievers and in doing so to sink the Kerry tag in the process. If they do so they automatically force their way further into the arena as a real top brand that are worth backing.

47 thoughts on “Branding

  1. That’s an interesting piece JPM and I think from our point of view we certainly don’t do as well on that front as we could do. Unless you count the “Mayo 4 Sam” phenomenon which of course has taken on a life of its own over the past 3 years. And obviously you need to look no further than Dublin when it comes to creating a hugely successful brand.

    (As for the shoebox, someone obviously had a word on the night, cos by the time I arrived they’d upgraded to a bucket!)

  2. Interesting piece JPM and yeah the less said about Connolly’s the better. Kerry are indeed master at the marketing. A man once said north Mayo with it’s beautiful scenery could do so much more to market the region. Mayo have a brand though much bigger and better than Kerry and that is our fans and Mayo people all over the world. We must be the most scattered people in the world.

    Indeed the Irish folk living in NY and natives say Mayo bring the biggest traveling support over by far. As long as our brand is “winning” then that is all that matters.

    Ann Marie, P.S I see you tweet on a certain Corkman made the headlines on Hoganstand 🙂

  3. I think a lot of us here remember good work done by Liam Horan, Willie Joe and John Cuffe looking to develop the Mayo brand in the Strategic Review that was quashed by the County Board.

  4. That Kerry event in the Big Apple was last May and they took home well over half a million euros for the Center of Excellence that is being built near Farranfore.

  5. It’s almost a rite of passage for a team. To be taken seriously as a team you have to beat Kerry in a big championship game. Beating Kerry in the 2011 AIF was the making of this Dublin team and they followed that up with a semi-final win last year, both tight games that could have gone either way but the Dubs have the upper hand in that rivalry now and so they fear no other team.

    I don’t have the stats to hand but given that Kerry are a perennial Croke Park team, I’d say almost every All-Ireland winning team ( in the years that Kerry did not win it themselves ) for the past dozen ( bar Cork in 2010 – Down did them a favour that year ) have had to beat the yerras to get their hands on Sam.

    It’s our time to deliver and follow all those other teams who have beaten them and go on and win Big Lugs. It’s a big ask but we can do it.

  6. I agree with you 100% WJ on Kerry. To be honest I am baffled at how well they market themselves. You forgot to mention the Listowel Literary Festival , the Listowel races and the Tralee races.

    Now come on – 2 sets of races is just being greedy!

    They have the butter and John B Keane. According to the reports Kerry is the most beautiful county in Ireland. And fair do’s to them I say. If we marketed ourselves half as well our youth population would not be so decimated. They copped on to the tourism $ long before anyone else, and it has paid dividends for them.

    By contrast Mayo is more expansive, it seems so much of our population are in London. We have had some good fundraisers there. We are scattered and appear to have more of a diaspora. (By this I mean so many ”Irish” abroad have a claim to a Mayo heritance)

    But we have been fed this drivel long enough. We are not tourists we live here. It is time to make our own brand. And for the record Kerry is about the sixth most beautiful county in Ireland.

    (Donegal, Clare, Wicklow, Mayo, Galway/Sligo, Kerry/West Cork – this of course is a matter of opinion ? 😀 )

  7. It’s not my piece, Coilltemach – this one is a guest post by JPM. And maybe it’s the air down here in Dingle or something but I’d have admit that there are few more beautiful places in this country than this part of it. Yerra sure it’s only gorgeous!

  8. Coilltemach – you’re forgetting the Killarney races!

    NON – Galway ’40, ’41 and ’42.

  9. NON – Galway from 1940 – 1942 lost 3 in a row. Then along came Roscommon and won the next two.
    I’m not going to another Mayo match if we lose another final and Roscommon come along and win the All Ireland next year.

  10. Thanks all. Just trying to settle a petty argument . Even better to hear it was Galway that lost 3 in a row not that I expect us to .????

  11. Great piece there JPM.
    The way to create our own brand & do the marketing all in one go is to beat the existing top brand. Chance to do that on Sunday.
    What youngster wouldn’t want to be associated with ‘Brand Mayo’ come Sunday evening ?

  12. I thought Galway lost 3 in a row in the 70s or was I dreaming?

    Love Larry Finnerty’s comeback to Larry Tompkins in the examiner in that he prefers to think about the present and not a soft all ireland Cork won decades ago.

  13. Apologies there JPM I missed the tag – great piece. & Agreed With you on Dingle WJ – absolutely beautiful.

  14. Indeed Mayo Mark, when explaining our (Mayo) predicament to my American colleagues, I use the Buffalo Bills analogy unfortunately…couple that with Kerry been the “Yankees'” of Gaelic football!

  15. Very true MayoMark. I remember at the time the running joke was that BILLS stood for ‘Boy I Love Losing Superbowls’.

  16. Marv Levy was the head coach then, I remember watching a video about that Bills team. And the video closed with him quoting something he said to his players, loved it since then and think it applies to our boys in a big way!]

    “Fight on, my men,” says Sir Andrew Barton,
    “I am hurt, but I am not slain;
    I’ll lay me down and bleed a while,
    And then I’ll rise and fight again.

  17. Ah, great stuff. You couldn’t sum up the Mayo resilience in a better way. Someday our thirst will finally be quenched.

  18. JPM Great piece I enjoyed that. I was working in London in the seventies. A young colleague of mine from Kerry came back to Dublin for one of those games with the Dubs. Kerry played well and lost the game. Afterwards I remember he saying to me in relation to the game. ” Not good enough from Kerry to be losing to that crowd”. Their attitude has not changed much in my time

  19. Very interesting piece JPM. I have a feeling Gibbons will start in the middle of the park on Sunday . Anyone else see this happening ?

  20. I think Gibbons will start in the middle with Vaughan to wing back and Keith in the corner replacing Barrett. Also I think Freeman will start instead of Andy who will make a much bigger impact coming on than Varley or Conroy when the game opens up a little in the second half.

  21. I see A Mulholland has quit Galway job. Bit of a surprise as I thought he had them going in right direction

  22. The Kerry team has been named for Sunday:

    1. Brian Kelly Killarney Legion
    2. Marc Ó Sé An Ghaeltacht
    3. Aidan O’Mahony Rathmore
    4. Shane Enright Tarbert
    5. Paul Murphy Rathmore
    6. Peter Crowley Laune Rangers
    7. Fionn Fitzgerald (Capt) Dr Crokes
    8. Anthony Maher Duagh
    9. David Moran Kerins O’Rahillys
    10. Michael Geaney Dingle
    11. Johnny Buckley Dr Crokes
    12. Donnchadh Walsh Cromane
    13. Stephen O’Brien Kenmare
    14. Paul Geaney Dingle
    15. James O’Donoghue Killarney Legion
    Fir Ionaid
    16. Brendan Kealy Kilcummin
    17. Declan O’Sullivan Dromid Pearses
    18. Killian Young Renard
    19. Bryan Sheehan St Marys
    20. Darran O’Sullivan Glenbeigh-Glencar
    21. Barry John Keane Kerins O’Rahillys
    22. Kieran Donaghy Austin Stacks
    23. Kieran O’Leary Dr Crokes
    24. Jonathan Lyne Killarney Legion
    25. Mark Griffin St Michaels/Foilmore
    26. Pa Kilkenny Glenbeigh/Glencar

  23. I will be saying my prayers I think am not sure about Sunday hopefully I wrong cillian due a big game so hopefully Sunday mayo will win

  24. No problem for Kerry selecting 6 useful subs to bring in if needed . That’s if Dec O’S and co start on the bench .

  25. After looking at Kerry team named, I can not see us being beaten sunday if we play fairly well!!

  26. Not surprised to see Moran start to try to add more size to their midfield – but that doesnt look like a mobile one as a result. The tactic of having O’Sullivan on the bench looks like Fitz wants to be ending the game with his best team. oh the fun and games.

  27. Hi All,
    Is it a first that the Senior Semi-Final matches are contested by the exact same counties as the Minor-Semi Final, I am sure its a rare thing….does anyone know, cheers.

    Kind Regards,
    Martin the Dub

  28. That Kerry line up would hardly make you to lose any sleep at night. Some of their best players on the bench or maybe that’s what they want mayo folk to believe?

    Either way it’s a Kerry side in transition against seasoned and experienced team. Tbh it will be a shock if mayo don’t win on Sunday.

  29. Martin the Dub, apparently it is the first time this has happened according to a report I recently read.

  30. I’ll eat my match programme if that Kerry team starts. I’ll be in Section 305 if anyone wants to witness this spectacle.

  31. Just because some of the starting 15 aren’t household names doesn’t mean they are not good players. Look at it from another angle. If they can keep the O Sullivans, Sheehan, Young, Donaghy, O Leary etc out of the starting 15 the must be fairly decent performers. Take nothing for granted against these boyos

  32. They have some bench alright, who said only Dubs have a strong panel, imagine if they get a good start like a couple of goals early on, and then bring players off the bench as we are tiring, hate to say it, but we could be in big trouble.

  33. Four starters [O’Sé, O’Mahony, Maher & Walsh] and four subs [Enright, O’Donoghue, Walsh & Buckley from the 2009 Kerry team who lined out v Mayo. And only two All Ireland medal winners [4 if you count 2009 subs Maher and Moran] in their starting 15. Biggest transition since 1996/97. I expect 11 or 12 of the Mayo 2009 line up to start.

  34. Very inexperienced Kerry team named. I find it hard to believe they’ll start that 15 but if they do, I hope Mayo’s plan is to build a lead as Kerry have useful subs. Even though Sullivan was subbed v Galway he was clever in 1st half. If they stick to that 15 it’s a big gamble. Try to have them on the back foot from the start. Teams should always start their best 15 or else tell certain players to absolutely burst a gut for
    for 45-50. Hard to see Sheehan left off unless he’s not recovered. D Sullivan maybe similar to A Moran situation but the 2 Managers should be starting these lads & if subbed leave room for bringing back on should the game end tight. Where is the composed Kerry distribution which was so successful v Cork. Leaving just the Crowley and maybe midfield for Mayo to watch in that department. I think it’s a bogus selection.

  35. I don’t think it’s bogus as they never mess about with their initial selections.Crowley is a better centre back than young, surprised there continuing with maher at midfield. We just have to be careful early on, as o donoughue is almost unmarkable. When is our team announced, was james waiting to see the Kerry team first.

  36. Anyone who thinks that Kerry team will start is sadly mistaken, a bogey team sheet if I ever saw one, also I think the poster “MO2014” is an imposter on this site, I beileve a post such as yours above is designed to garner extra pressure on.the team, im not falling for it anyway.

  37. Juan falling for what exactly? It’s my opinion you don’t have to agree with him but no harm to have a little confidence in your own side. For the record I also tipped Mayo to beat both Tyrone and Dublin in the last two AI semi finals.

  38. MO2014, your entitled to your opinions as is everyone, im just getting more nervous as Sunday looms even closer, I wish I had your confidence!!!. Apologies in the impostor remark, im just getting sick of some of the shit stirring on this great blog. Is it Sunday yet???

  39. there is no way that kerry team will start as selected . No way! Why are we so weary of this Kerry team lads??? Are we afraid of their few forwards? Ot will will take more than a few good forwards and a half decent midfield line to beat us. Less of the negative talk . Tis now time to beat the kingdom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. I think the team they have picked will start, they have never messed about before with the initial selection.
    The more I think about the game I’m thinking the weather could play a big part as there’s rain hitting Dublin around 3pm on Sunday. This I believe will suit us down to the ground as their forwards are a lot silkier in possession and with a dry ball could cause us problems. I hate to say it but we have a couple of plodders in the forward line who a drop of rain and strong wind wouldn’t do any harm. For me freeman is our best forward but for some reason james doesn’t fancy him or maybe trust him in the big games. Just looked on paddy power and Kerry are favourite to beat us in the minors, hate to say it but could be a long day on Sunday, to lose one game to them would be bad, but to loose both would be totally devestating.

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