Catching up

Photo: @CiBuckley

It’s been a few days since I did anything here on the blog so I guess a small bit of a catch-up is in order.

In an odd juxtaposition, I was based on home soil for much of the week but despite my geographical proximity to the main topic here on the blog – I even passed by a mournfully empty MacHale Park one of the days, the sun glistening off the unoccupied blue seats in the stand – I had other priorities to attend to for the last few days.

Plus, like the rest of you, I’m sure, my heart was a bit on the heavy side, contemplating the enormous loss to our hopes this summer that Cillian O’Connor represents. It’s a blow that, I think, we’re only now beginning to process properly, so great is its likely impact on us.

What more can be said about this? Loads. Not a lot. It’s all the one, as we end up back in the same place. So let’s move onto those things to catch up on.

Chief among them are the draws for the various club Championships that took place on Monday night. This resulted in the usual mix of some clubs liking what they ended up with while others found themselves landed into proverbial groups of death.

Details of the Senior, Intermediate, Junior draws are here. Colm Gannon of the Mayo Advertiser has a piece making sense of it all – here.

The club-themed photo at the top, by the way, is a cracking one taken in Aghamore at sundown last night by Ciara Buckley, where Charlestown negotiated a path to victory over the home team in the midsummer dusk.

Next, the opening up of matches to limited spectators has meant a shift in the venues in this year’s Connacht Minor and U20 Championships. The original plan was that these competitions would both be run off behind closed doors at the Connacht Centre of Excellence but now Connacht GAA have decided to shift them to the relevant county grounds – announcement on that is here.

In both cases involving us this means that the matches in question have become away fixtures.

In the U20 Championship we’re up against defending Connacht and All-Ireland champions Galway in the semi-final. That’s down for decision at Tuam Stadium on Tuesday, 13th July. There’s no throw-in time set for that yet but I assume it’ll be in 7-7.30pm territory, not least in light of the fact that a winner has to emerge on the day. Hopefully, as happened last year, not from a stupid penalty shoot-out either.

In the Minor Championship we’ve been drawn against Roscommon in the sole quarter-final tie. That game has been fixed for Dr Hyde Park on Friday, 23rd July. Again, no throw-in time has been announced but it’s got to be an evening one too. The winners of that fixture play Galway in the semi-final the following Friday.

There’s no football involving us on this weekend but at 5pm this evening John Maughan’s Offaly take on Derry in the NFL Division Three final at Croke Park. If I had been a bit better organised myself this week I might have managed to bag a ticket to go to that – imagine, going to a game at Croke Park again! – but by the time I got around to it all 2,500 tickets had been snapped up.

It’s a cracking day here in the capital so perfect conditions for ball a bit later on. If you want to watch it that’s where your GAA GO season pass comes in as the game is live on the platform.

UPDATE: it’s also live on TG4.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Faithful, a county that punched well above their weight all during my formative years when I first developed a love for Gaelic football. This year John Maughan has already led them back to Division Two for the first time since the late Noughties and now he has a chance to guide them to the Division Three title as well. I hope he does and so that’s an Up Offaly from me.

Finally, we’re just a week away now from our opening game in this year’s Connacht Championship. From here on the pace picks up and we’ve quickened our step on the Mayo News football podcast as well.

We’ve two episodes coming out before the lads take the field at Markievicz Park, the first of which is a Championship preview episode while the second previews the Sligo game. I’ve already had a sneak listen to the first one – hosted by Billy Joe Padden, who is joined by Mick Foley and Colin Sheridan – and it’s a great listen. That’ll be online tomorrow, with the Sligo preview show following on Wednesday.

19 thoughts on “Catching up

  1. U could start aiden and ruane in midfield. Let durcan and aiden swap. Give durcan midfield role and aiden as deep lying midfielder. An option if diarmuid is unfit

  2. Conor O’Shea has to come in to the reckoning. Towey too for frees, he hit a mighty one against Clare, though he did miss another. If Aido is outfield, who for FF? James Carr.

  3. Mathew Ruane has been doing fantastic of late, Athletic, scoring a few points every game, bringing the ball at pace, fielding, defending and attacking.. I watched some of Offaly and Derry today in Croke Park, it struck me the size of pace the perfect surface brings to the game.. It’s much different to last winter’s championship, with Diarmuid out for how ever long, .. In fact a fully fit Diarmuid/ Mathew combination is absolutely fantastic, but whoever James Horan and Co replace Diarmuid with needs to have serious athletic ability, believe me that it will allot harder to keep up with Fenton and McCarty, should we reach Croke Park in Summer than it was last December.. This last year or two, GAA players have improved in the athletic mobility stakes, and less so dependent on physical strength… So I think that they should concider playing AOS as a sweeper in front of the D,.. He’s the best tackler in the game.

  4. I agree spectre. Paddy should be given a run at midfield. Would be well capable of doing a job there.
    If it was me i would be putting Keegan and Mullin into the middle 8 aswell.

  5. Horan wants forwards to be defenders and defenders to be forwards lol its hard to know what he will go with.

    Centrefield I know what u mean. Keegan playing very well this year and mullin is just some animal. I prefer him in full back line. Hes abetter threat coming from deep

  6. At present we’re ultra dynamic from the back with Lee, Oisin, Paddy, and Eoghan (if he reignites some of last years form). I’d agree that a reshuffle is needed especially as Cillian is out. I’d rather have a conservative set of backs protecting the goal, allowing our dynamic players more freedom. Lee, Oisin and Paddy are score-getters. Look at Lee in the ’16 and ’17 finals, banging in audacious goals (and winning a clear peno that wasn’t given). With his extra few years on the clock now its unrealistic to expect him to score again like that from no. 2. He simply may not have the legs anymore, regardless of the excellent shape he’s currently in. However, the key point is that in all the finals we’ve been in, Lee has scored and gotten the most goal opportunities. Therefore, for me, Lee is and always has been our most important player. A game-changer on the biggest day with highest stakes. Goals win games.

    Oisin has every bit the ability of Lee, but again, his influence is massively curbed at no.4, especially against the top teams. Neither he nor Lee will have the luxury to roam forward like they do, especially not for prolonged periods like we’ll need from them. They are our aces and we need to maximise their ability and the damage they can do.

    Of course that brings us back to the conundrum of who could ably replace them in the FB line…

  7. Play Oisin at C.H.F.and he will attract more attention from the Sligo backs, thus freeing up Conroy and Ryan O Donohue and Carr in the same way as Cillian does
    Aidan in a defensive C.F. role to stop the runners , Coen at F.B. Eoin O Donohue and Hession in the corners, and the rest of the team on familiar lines.

  8. Does anyone know if the minor challenge against Longford today will be streamed?

  9. As I said in another post, I thought the Clare match showed up the defensive qualities of the forwards. If those goals hadn’t gone in, I think we’d have coasted home. We need to get back to turning over ball; very little of it in the league.

  10. Championship preview episode of the podcast is online now. Billy Joe, Colin Sheridan and Mick Foley assess the coming summer campaign.

  11. Does anyone know if it is proposed to have any spectators at the Sligo game and if so how are tickets being alocated? It was great to spot some Offaly and Derry supporters around Dublin City centre yesterday afternoon as they headed for Croke Park

  12. Sadly, I’d say you can forget about the Sligo game, Seamus. It’ll be a 200 ticket event. The match yesterday was an official pilot event, with 2,500 there.

    The other thing militating against a bigger attendance at Markievicz Park (even if a bigger crowd were to be allowed, which it won’t be) is the capacity of the stand. The maximum allowed for pilot events is 10% of the seated capacity, which, for Markievicz Park, is only 3,600 so even in that case only 360 would be allowed to attend.

    One of the mad things about these (overly cautious and depressingly unambitious) pilot events is that the Roscommon/Galway semi-final is included but our likely match against Leitrim at MacHale isn’t. Hyde Park (seated capacity 3,600) will have 360 punters at it while Castlebar can accommodate 1,000. AND it’s only that low because the only seating being taken into account for MacHale Park is the main stand, whereas the whole bloody place is seated …

  13. Alot of interesting comments here in regard to the placing of certain guys in the team.
    It’s pure daft in trying to win one game after another in a condensed championship by playing a running game.
    Some posters think that a player attacking from the fullback line is a great option, I would like these people to come onto the huge pitches with me and look at the amount of running that’s involved with this.
    Let ye just compile a scaled down drawing of Croke parke and look at the running needed to get up and down the pitch, don’t forget there is a big hole left when those fullbacks become attackers.
    In the case of Oisin Mullin, he would benefit greatly around the middle, he gets into great positions, reads the game very well, and attacks with so much ease.
    He can field the ball, imagine Dublins best midfielder trying to compete with him.
    I wish Horan would see sense and not just be sticking to his guns as if he was right in the first place to put him at fullback. If I was the opposition manager playing against Mayo I would make sure Oisin eould be pinned in his position as much as possible.
    With the way football has now evolved, this running game is unsustainable, games are won up front not in your own fullback line.
    There are plenty of other guys that could be fitted into nr 3, as a static guy.
    Horan must let the forwards be forwards and defenders be defenders, there is obviously a bit of give with this where one guy may be interchanged to suit the particular opposition.

  14. Catcol
    Those goals did go in though and they have consistently for a number of years now

  15. Thanks, for the heads up Willie Joe. Here’s hoping for a long and fruitful summer for the lads for more reasons than one, at the end of which there might be wriggle room for more supporters at the games. Until then looks like the couch will have to suffice.

  16. I agree with you catcol. We need to start turning over way more ball.its something we used to be great at. But as I have said in other posts. When our forward s are tackling better than our backs then we have a serious problem..if duirmuid is out as well as cillian we have big decisions to make. Positional switch s I can only imagine..As to midfield. Carr in.

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