Catching up

It’s been a hectic few days since we got back to the land of the perma-frost, with work rearing its ugly head almost the minute we collapsed through the front door, but I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things. Can I interest anyone in some silage, by the way? I cut the grass yesterday evening and I’ve got so much of the bloody stuff that I think I’ll get the lads with the baler in later on to complete the job.

Later on last night, I finally got to sit down and watch a full re-run of the Connacht final. I haven’t got a huge amount to add to what you’ve all been saying about the game over the last few days – and I’d concur in the main with An Spailpín’s take on it – but I was, I must admit, happier about the match having actually seen what happened. (Well, information about any topic is generally a good thing).

It sure was a battle, with both teams doing everything to nullify the other by packing their defences, pulling and dragging and blocking runners and all that kind of fun and games. To be fair to the ref, it must have been no picnic to officiate and, when you look at some of the dire refereeing performances we’ve had to put up with in recent years, I don’t think Cormac Reilly did all that much to feature in that particular rogue’s gallery.

The disallowed goal was an important decision but it was, in truth, a call that could have gone either way. The wider problem is, of course, the way in which this rule is applied: if Cillian’s handpass was a foul then so too were at least fifty others that were executed on the day. There was one in particular for Sligo – when Adrian Marren was fed for a first-half point – that was for all the world like the kind lateral handpass you’d see in rugby. Personally, I think every kind of handpass bar using the closed fist should be outlawed but Congress, in their infinite wisdom, have given us this dog’s dinner of a rule instead and refs are left with the impossible task of ruling what’s in and what’s out.

The other thing that struck me was in relation to the corner forwards where I felt we didn’t do as badly as so many seem to think. Enda Varley had a very frustrating day but I’d put this down to a combination of hospital passes into him combined with the suffocating nature of the Sligo defence. If he had been given any kind of decent ball inside, he’d surely have hit the target a few times but every time he was fed the ball he was swallowed up by a ruck of black shirts. Jason Doherty, meanwhile, did plenty of useful link work further out from goal – in the process setting up a number of clear scoring chances – and never really acted as an out-and-out corner-forward. I’d say there’s a good chance we’ll go with the same formation again in the quarter-final, though I’d agree that Cillian would be better suited to the inside line.

Our failure to take those easy point-scoring chances late in the first half clearly made the job harder for us to complete. A few of the goal attempts were just hopelessly naïve – did Barry Moran really think that his shot from that distance was going to reach the target? – but the great thing was that once Sligo had achieved their initial aim of dragging us into a scrap, we were more than happy to give as good as we got in the ensuing battle and then had enough in the tank to edge away from them in the closing stages.

So, with the Nestor Cup once more in the bag all we can do now is sit back, enjoy the cat-fighting in the qualifiers – I’m really looking forward to tomorrow evening’s do-or-die clash down in Killarney – and wait for the quarter-final draw. Given the Round 3 and 4 qualifier pairings, that’ll potentially pitch us against Kerry or Tyrone (I’m leaning slightly towards the former in that one), Kildare (assuming they make it through but one assumes The Fourth Best Team in the Country will be able to do this), Meath (assuming they lose to Dublin which I think is likely, though only after a right battle) or Down (assuming Donegal win, which I think they will).

I wouldn’t really have any preference out of that lot or indeed anyone else who might spring from the qualifier pot – we could, on our day, potentially beat any of them but then again any of them could just as easily put a halt to our gallop. That’s the beauty and brutality of knockout championship football, I guess.

PS: You may have noticed that the pictures on the slideshow have been updated – my thanks to Mayo Mick, from whose treasure trove of photos I’ve taken the selection I’ve used both in this piece and in the slideshow above. The one of Andy hoisting the cup is courtesy of The Brother. 

28 thoughts on “Catching up

  1. I watched the game again last night and I agree Doherty did in fact play quite well. Welcome back wj.

  2. Good to see you pumping out the stuff again WJ. I disagree however with the benign view you took of Cormac Reilly and the disallowed goal. All year I have seen passes like that let go. He does what Micheal Collins did last Connacht final, he made a stand that was against Mayo and will not be repeated outside Connacht.

    Collins gave a throw up because O Connor took too long addressing the free, we were 4 points DOWN and a minute into the second half! Shine took a free after and I timed him longer. Then go to the All Ireland final. The Dublin keeper was allowed all the time in the world to amble up the pitch, place the ball and slot the winner. Now people will say I am picky and bitter…nothing further from the truth. Going on Collin’s Connacht interpretation of the free , Cluxton should have had a throw up given against him. No argument, the rules are the same for one as the other…I am right am I?

    Now to come back to Reilly, I may be wrong but this is the guy who saw Tom Cunniffe fouled on his way through 30 yards out against Tyrone QFs 2008. We were a point down, Reilly blew up , I said great, a free in. No, he took the ball and match over. The papers commented the next day. Mayo were entitled to finish the move or get a free. So you know I would not be inviting Reilly to my rain dance.

    Point I am long windedly trying to make is , I still see us getting s****e breaks from officials.

  3. Myself and a neutral re-watched the match and the neutral counted 13 blatantly anti-Mayo decisions from Cormac Reilly on Sunday, ably assisted by Rory Hickey on the sideline. The standard of refereeing is an embarrassment to the GAA.

  4. mayo never got anything from the refs down the years ,because unlike the the truly succesfull intercounty managers who have the bottle to have a go at the ref and officials our attidute was take it on the chin , jack oconnor puts doubts about the opposisition in the refs mind all week leading up to a game ,saying things big physcial side with a hard stroke dirty edge to them sean boylan was the same , then again when do mayo invite officials to presentations for a bit of backslapping etc ,itsnot just about what happens on the field of play anymore ,how many times have you heard on the sidelines at club games fellas being told to cut out the cynical stuff and play the game ,only place ive heard it lately is at club games in mayo , last sunday was the first time ive seing mayo emply such tactics eg barry moran getting sent off late on ,mayo have to stand up and and be counted the likes of dublin meath tyrone cork dont care how they win as long as they win ,to long have mayo be the kings of nice clean football and won nothing, if you cant beat them join them

  5. Agree with most of your analysis Willie Joe but perplexed with your reference to corner forwards.
    They were mostly off target with shots, ineffective when in possession and so often unwilling to take responsibility. This surely cannot continue. Yes I agree they were marked tightly by Sligo backs but will they not always be marked tightly? A good corner forward has to make space and has to be able to convert scores.
    I hope they get better and I am confident they will. What I would urge is that they have a go even if they miss. At least Conroy did and I applaud him for it.
    I think the referee in the minor final was worse but Cormac Reilly earned no bouquets from me either.

  6. Agree cool hand.but forwards will improve we hope.Dillon needs to lead way .too much handpassing.possession is good but a means to an I the only one who thinks Higgins is a superb footballer but at times gets caught ballwatching.

  7. I totally agree with JC on the Cormac Reilly thing, he was riding us. I know I am obviously partisan when we are playing, but I like to think, even though I might initially bellow like a bull when it goes against us from the man in black, I can take a deep breath and look at it logically and agree when it was actually a fair call. The hand pass call was technically correct but it struck me as like a Guard blowing the dust off some statute from 1894 to put the collar on some fella he doesn’t like. Someone said it before, some of the refs these days seem to pick a side and stick with it all the way though, more often than not that side is not us. I don’t know what the answer is, I would imagine that, ironically, despite being f*cked over for years by refs despite sometimes playing like lambs while all manner of dirty tricks went on around us, they’ll come down on us like a ton of bricks when one of the genii on the Sunday Game notice that we might be a bit cuter at the dark arts then we were in the past. Then all of a sudden they’ll be out to tame us, a bit like McGeeney in 96, but lets not drag all that back up again.
    I don’t know what the answer is but you can be damn sure the Mayo County board won’t be making any noises now that the GAA equivalent of AJ Chopra has given us the owl dig out.
    Right I’m off for me breakfast, might improve the mood a bit 🙂

  8. Last night on belatedly heard the John Maughan interview re Conor Mortimer leaving the panel. He seemed to agree with Conor but not his timing. As this Interview was on the 11th July he was in fact adding to the pressure on James Horan before the Connaught final and encouraging the other media bloodhounds. Me wonders if it is a case of sour grapes that he did not get the job? which left him too blind to see his own timing?

  9. Maughan, a man whom I have respect for and reservations about as a manager has belatedly taken a more strident approach in his assessment of managers/teams/players. He didn’t spare the Roscommon set recently, he has been very opinionated on issues relating to Mayo football as well.

    I suppose John has taken the view that he himself was never spared in the commentary stakes be it Mayo MK2, Fermanagh, or Roscommon. I think there was a little frisson between himself and O Mahony Mayo’s MK 2 as well. So he would be entitled to bark and have a bite like the rest of us.

    The difference is huge though.What John Cuffe rants on WJs fine site has the effect of a ripple on a storm. When John Maughan opinions he has the effect of creating a storm.Hence the difference. Maughan is still a young man, a man whom would be still attracted and useful at the top echelons of any good inter county. Maybe he no longer has the belly for it, maybe he sees he has done his bit and in all fairness had lady luck smiled but once , Maughan would be a crowned Mayo prince.

    His defence of Mortimer is the defence of any manager of a favourite son. I dont agree with it, in part I suppose both previous manager s of Mayo were highlighted in positive terms in the statement issued to MidWest radio regarding young Mortimer.Where John Maughan should have been strident as well as O Mahony and that is in the area where the manager picks the team…end off. They should know that better than anyone.

    Maughan in particular and O Mahony to a lesser degree have had the status to have their teams abbreviated to ther names. It was “John Maughans Mayo/Crossmolina/Clare/Fermanagh/Roscommon etc. I never heard of Tommy Jordans Crossmolina but I do recall that team winning an All Ireland, I do recall John Maughans Cross losing one…quell la differeance mes amies?

    Maughan has that gold dust associated with certain personalities.Its a good thing. Carried from the field in Tuam in 1999 as Galway surrendered their two big belts on the day he then became a lightning rod for dissent by 2005 . John took hard decisions in relation to Dave Brady, Kevin O Neill, Ciaran MacDonald, possibly Padraig Brogan, possibly Staunton and Butler. Mick Moyles an equisite footballer never flourished under him. And yet the press and the public never bridled or bristled too much. So maybe John should not beat the Conor bush too much, the above mentioned footballers in my own humble opinion brought as much to the table as little Conor.

  10. Thanks,John for your detailed reply in relation to the interview by John Maughan.

  11. Conor Mort was ostracised by Horan and co, of that i have litttle doubt, whether that the end result will prove beneficial to the team remains to be seen.

    The Mayo set up at all levels has preferred choices according to club and clique,it’s not to say it’s blatant but if you have for example two footballers at minor county level who are around the same potential the one from Balintubber is a shoe in comaped to the lad from Kilmovee shamrocks, there was a perfect example of this last year with a 15 yeard old from tubber taking the place of a lad who had played league to sit on the blooody bench.

    You can choose to ignore this type of thing like we have done in Mayo since it all began or you can question the motives involved in such cases. Personally, i will always speak the truth no matter who i expose.

  12. have to agree with sean on that its always being the same with mayo especially where east mayo is concerened

  13. I’m hearing the two Mayo sides fared poorly in the Ted Webb cup (U16s) yesterday. Both Galway sides have reached the final.

    Talent coming through isn’t as good as it was a few years.

  14. Very negative vein lately in comments.John Maughan has a perfect right to call things as he sees them as does John Cuffe or Sean Burke. There are always conspiracy theories about who is picked but I think generally players are there on merit.

    Sure Maughan made mistakes but who hasn’t really.

    In football terms did not see anything this weekend that would worry me too much though Donegal will be hard beaten.

  15. You pick your best team at all times. Conor was incorrect in going but we need him and need him badly. If he had come on in the C.Final the game would be over 10 minutes after his arrival. We need him and possibly he needs Mayo also. Would it be correct to say that he has not had any approach from management or other officialdom????

  16. I’m not gettin into a bitchfest Sean Burke,but unsubstantiated guff does not sit well with me

  17. PJ do not need everyone pulling for all….look at Donegal and Cassidy

  18. A convincing win for Donegal and a typically hard fought leinster final win for Dublin leaves us with Meath and Down as well as some other strong teams as possible opponents for the quarters.It gets really difficult from here on in.We played in the minor and senior final last sunday and here are the worrying stats.Including subs, we had 8 fowards play in the minor game and 8 in the senior game and the 16 combined for five points from play over 130 plus minutes of football.Something is not right.Mortimer (who has never been my favourite) would have had a field day against Sligo feeding off the amount of ball Moran won.On the other side Alan Costello is a Mayo man who a couple of years ago scored 5 pts from play in a connaught final.When did a Mayo foward last score that amount from play in a game of significance.And yet we have two very average corner fowards and a young footballer of the year who defenders have copped on to the fact that he has zero pace and is easily marked.Whos running our schools of excellence and why are they turning out fowards who are a)too small to win their own ball and b)not able to have the confidence to pop one over from 30-40 yards out.Its a real problem.

  19. Fairplaytomayo….think if you read my little piece I actually said all you said….my points iterated that, my difference was that John Maughan rightly carries more clout than those of us hanging around the edge of the square on WJs blog.

  20. John Cuffe very interesting points but in fairness you were very critical of J.Maughan

  21. Willie Joe

    Should we have a Poll – “Should we ask Conor Mortimer to tog out”.

    By the way I hope he continues to train

  22. I’ve no interest in running such a poll, PJ: what Conor should have done was to stay in the squad and take his chance when it came, which it would have done in Hyde Park. What he does now is a matter for himself.

    By the way, I think Roger’s riposte on the so-called curse was pretty much spot-on.

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