Catching up

Dublin Bloomsday 2014

I know I was the one who was talking about the need to chill out and all that but what I’ve been up to in the days since wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I’ve just completed a stay of four nights in the hospital – with a good chunk of the first one making my weary way through A&E – and having regained my liberty earlier on today, I can assure you that I’ve had my fill of that particular kind of chilling out. It’s not for nothing that patients are so termed.

Anyway, back out in the real world (that photo above, by the way, which was taken on Bloomsday was the view I had from within the hospital out towards Eccles Street and beyond) I haven’t really missed a whole load of GAA action. Indeed, I didn’t miss any of it as there was precious little else to be doing in there only watching all the live sporting action on TV.  The hurling from Thurles was riveting enough, the football from Clones less so, though inevitably I was more drawn into the latter rather than the former, given that we might well ending up crossing swords with one or other of them before this championship campaign has run its course.

Monaghan did well to come away from Sunday’s quarter-final with their Ulster title still in their possession, though they had Eddie Kinsella’s parsimonious helping of injury time combined with Tyrone’s own failure to convert that last-gasp free to thank for their narrow escape to victory and a semi-final date with Armagh. I wasn’t overly impressed with either side last Sunday, I have to say, and although Donegal still have Antrim to get past before they can contemplate another Ulster final appearance, it’s hard not to think that Jimmy’s Winning Matches won’t be getting a reprise or two between now and the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Closer to home, you’ll have seen the reports by now – the one on GAA.ie is here – about Andy Moran’s hamstring having flared up following his off-the-bench cameo at Hyde Park.  There’s more positive news, however, in the Mayo News (paper and digital versions), which confirms that Barry Moran came through last Sunday’s club League match against Ballina okay and the same paper also states that Jason Gibbons is expected back in action for Ballintubber next weekend.

Hopefully, by the time James gets around to pick his team for the Connacht final, we’ll be at – or very close to – a fully-fit squad, which would make a welcome change from the situation over the last few years. But before we get to this point, of course, we first need to find out who it is that’ll be facing us on July 13th in this year’s provincial decider.

Saturday evening’s semi-final at Markiewicz Park pits Galway – fresh from dealing emphatically with that potentially awkward trip to Ruislip – against Sligo, one of the final few counties left that have yet to kick a ball in anger this summer. The Magpies’ recent record against the Tribesmen is a good one – with wins in 2010 (in a replay) and again in 2012 (a first-ever championship win for them on Galway soil) – but despite home advantage this coming Saturday, the Yeats County are outsiders in this one. Galway are priced at 4/9 with Paddy Power to end this losing streak and set up the first Old Firm Connacht final since way back in 2009.

But who do you reckon will do the business under bare Ben Bulben’s head this coming Saturday evening? Time to test the waters on this one.

Who'll win on Saturday evening?

  • Galway (78%, 126 Votes)
  • Sligo (22%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 162

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53 thoughts on “Catching up

  1. Hope you’re feeling better soon WJ, not a nice way to spend a few days i’m sure. I think Galway will win against Sligo and voted accordingly. On the upside you’ve probably tripled your consumption of grapes in one foul swoop ????

  2. WJ I do hope you’re on the mend. Also think it’ll be a one sided affair in Galway’s favour. To be fair I could think of better (and absolutely more fun) ways to increase my grape consumption Trevor 😉

  3. Passed by Eccles Street yesterday – No. 7 long gone, and overall had a good Bloomsday. It was hot out there!

    Not so sure that Galway would be the pushover a lot of posters expect. If they get a bit of confidence going they could be very dangerous. Look how they progressed last year after the pasting at Salthill. Not so sure that they will beat Sligo however, who are very tricky at home.

  4. Hope you are well on the way to full fitness, WJ. Though neither side impressed Monaghan should have had two goals. Galway to get through this one.

  5. Best of luck WJ, hope you’re on the mend, having a tough time recently.
    For me, hopefully it’s Galway, a proper Connacht final and at home, but Sligo never easy in their own ground. Anyway, if we go about our business in the proper manner, it shouldn’t matter who we meet. A lot of people were giving out after the last game, but by God did that team dig deep when they had to. You would have thought we lost , if you went straight to the comments and had not known the result. As I said to a Rossie , on the morning after the game, I don’t know much about football, so I Googled it and it says , 0-13 always beats 1-09.

  6. Mind yourself WJ, and hope you’re on the mend, can be very dangerous places those hospitals !!!, anyway hope galway do it sat eve, as you may know, i’m up on the border here in Glencorrib and we will have some banter with the neighbours in the lead up to the game. Maigheo abú

  7. I think Galway have to win on Saturday because the motivation of reversing last years result against us will be too strong for them to fall against Sligo.
    We need to be ready for them because they will have that hunger we had going up against Donegal in the quarter final last year.
    WJ beat wishes on a full recovery .
    WJ agus MaighEo Abu

  8. Get well soon WJ. Definitely think Galway will do it on Saturday, and indeed could win it well. They have a lot to prove from last year and had good run through qualifiers which showed they weren’t half bad.
    It’s really terrific news to hear that Jason Gibbons is on the mend. Outstanding during the League and I think he can show great leadership for us this year. He seemed to be really settling into the team and becoming very solid in all aspects of his game and I’m sure he will continue in this vein if he remains fit.

  9. Sligo have been hit with a number of injuries i have been told from Marren,Murphy,Harrsion etc all haven’t even trained in recent weeks their form in challenges since the NFL has been very poor e.g beaten by Leitrim and Meath bet them by 19 points. Galway have a poor recent record against Sligo however that will end this weekend IMO and Martin,Walsh (two top underage forwards) will do most of the damage.

  10. Expect Galway to win and look forward to Mayo v Galway final in front of big crowd in Castlebar. Have beaten Ros Sligo and London in last 3 finals so it would be nice to beat Galway for four in a row, not that I am taking it for granted that we would defeat Galway.By the way up north WJ I think Donegal have Antrim in semi while Monaghan play Armagh in other semi so it could be repeat of last years final and if it is I expect Donegal to win.

  11. Thanks for the correction, to win just once, I should have checked the fixtures a bit more closely before finalising the post. I’ll amend it now.

  12. Get well soon WJ!

    Galway for me but don’t except a game like last year in Salthill. Anything can happen in a Connacht final when it’s Galway v Mayo – we must be on our guard as our dominance in Connacht won’t last too much longer I feel.

  13. Hope you’re on the mend WJ – not the nicest place in the world to be but thankfully you got out 🙂

    I was a bit disappointed with Monaghan on Sunday – I expected them to push on but they were very wasteful in possession and were lucky to come away with the win in the end. Mind you I fancy them to take Donegal (which I assume it will be) if they make it to the final. Then again, you can’t really take anything for granted in Ulster.

    I expect Galway to win at the weekend too, but I don’t expect it to be a walkover v. Sligo. I know posters elsewhere have been warning against complacency, and I think regardless of who gets through they will be gunning for us, just like the Rossies were. I would still have regarded the Rossies as our biggest threat in Connacht though and that hasn’t changed. I hope it’s Galway, firstly because it’ll be in Castlebar and secondly there is always something special about a day out with the Galwegians (especially when we beat them!).

    It’s ridiculous having to wait so long for the next game though – considering the intensity of the training teams are putting in these days, you would really think some structural changes will have to be made sooner rather than later!

  14. I think Galway will walk into this one with too much confidence and be ambushed by Sligo. i have been wrong before of course!

    Willie Joe, hope you are in full recovery.

  15. Glad to hear that you are on the mend WJ, you certainly are having a rough time of it lately. They say that bad luck comes in threes so keep the head down for a while!
    I think Galway will have enough to get past Sligo this weekend, but not by much. Galway have some good players but, for me, Galway teams over the last 3 or 4 years seem to lack 2 crucial aspects. The first being true championship levels of conditioning and fitness. Real aggressive mad-bastard levels of intensity a-la Colm Boyle and not the false “big man” off-the-ball cowardly punches that they dealt out towards the end of the game in Salthill last year. The second thing I believe they are lacking is the mental toughness needed to go and win away from home, and an ability to perform when it is expected of them. After we beat them last year nobody expected anything from Galway in the qualifiers yet they put in a much improved performance and surprised many. However, that was against the backdrop of their very poor performance against us and everyone was writting them off, therefore there was no pressure or expectation on the team. They had the freedon to just go out and play. But, there is a huge difference between going out to play, and going out to play AND expecting to win.
    Even though Sligo have a good record in their own ground the loss of Adrian Marren will more than negate any advantage Sligo may have had playing in Markievicz Park and I think that while it might be tight and close for a while, Galway will win by 5 or 6 points.
    As for the Final? I agree with Anne-Marie in that I felt Roscommon were going to be our biggest threat in Connaught this year given their promotion in the league, victory over us in Ballinlough and the progress of their underage teams. All of these positives were feeding into the Rossie mindset and had them in a confident mood. Therefore, I feel that whoever comes out of Markievicz Park with a win will present a lesser challenge to us than Roscommon did.
    Hon Mayo.

  16. Get well soon WJ. Sligo not going well it would appear. Galway are expecting a good year ahead

  17. Hope your’re on the mend WJ. I’d be expecting Galway to win Saturday evening too, I think Sligo are in dissaray at the moment. Might be heading down to it with the Galway brother in-law.

  18. Glad you’re out WJ and hope you’re feeling better.

    I’m not so sure about Galway. I would not be surprised if there was a surprise if you get my drift!

    I think we can take either of them at home. I do believe that the news on Andy is a setback as realistically he needed game time. The same is true of Moran and Gibbons.

    Hope whoever makes the team for final is available all year so we get some kind of a settled look about team for year.

  19. Ah, Galway will be motivated for this and I think they will have too much for Sligo. Therefore a Galway Mayo Connacht final in a packed McHale Park…proper order restored!
    Wondering though if Sligo are to prevail, where the final would be?…surely not Markiewicz park or the Hyde, again? If so, we should sweeten the pot for them to come to Mchale Park.

    Speedy recovery WJ…at least there’s plently of sport on the telly, what with the championship and an excellent World cup so far..

  20. Connacht Council are saying Castlebar or salthill if it was Sligo and Mayo, Mister Mayor.
    As Sligo would probably never agree to Castlebar then it’d probably be a trip to the seaside for us all, although I wouldnt put it past Mr Prenty to get them to “see sense” if it came to it.

  21. 5 weeks is too long to wait alright. Sligo only entering the Championship this weekend. I think the day is coming where it will be an open draw championship. When you think about it is an awful mess mash championship. I believe every team should have a min 4 games.

  22. Mayo’s first 2014 Championship match 4th of May.

    Sligo’s first 2014 Championship match 21st of June, 7 weeks after Mayo!

    Only 2 venue’s in Connacht that can hold a Connacht final is Mc Hale and Salthill this year, am I correct? I think so.

  23. Time for open draw. I have always thought the current situation is unfair, particularly to Ulster teams given the number of games and the presence of a number of competent sides. I cannot see London last year getting to the provincial final of any of the other three provinces.

  24. Get well soon WJ, I hope that you are feeling better now.

    It will be interesting to see how the games down south will go too, Cork V Tipp and Kerry V Clare. I see that Kerry have only 7 of the team that started against Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final playing on Sunday. With Clare at home and having played two games already and Kerry playing their first game, if Clare were ever going to pull off a shock result then this might be their best chance. It’ll also be interesting to see if Tipp’s good underage work will see them put it up to Cork. But with Cork at home you’d expect them to make life very difficult for Tipp. One word about Galway, if they were to make the Connacht final. If they had Mayo on the ropes with 10 minutes to go as Roscommon had us, I wouldn’t expect them to give us a second chance. If their forwards were running through our defence as Roscommon and Derry have done in the last two games, would their forwards finish those chances that Roscommon didn’t take? Remember Monaghan only beat Galway by one point, 0-13 to 0-12, a last-gasp point by Paul Finlay winning it for them in the last round of the National League. So whoever we end up playing, you’d hope that we up our performance levels, which you would expect us to do.

  25. @Hopespringseternal (I’m sure you don’t want us to shorten it to HSE?!), I was at the Tipperary-Limerick football match a few weekends ago, and they are a nice well-balanced footballing side. They defend in numbers well, and counter attack well with good foot passes to the the opposition 45, where they lay it off for a score or a goal chance. I’d love to see them put it up to Cork

  26. Yeah Digits, I think I prefer HopeSpringsEternal rather than HSE! Tipperary are Division 4 champions and have played a game while it will be Cork’s first game. Also they have a couple of handy forwards as well. They beat Leitrim by 5-16 to 0-16 in the League so thats a big score to put up against any team. Cork have lost a lot of experienced players too but they did look very impressive at times during the League. What are the odds on a Tipperary V Clare Munster Football final!

  27. Hoping you are well on the way to full recovery, WJ. Have been there, tho’ not in the Mater, a few times over the last number of years and it’s not a great place for craic.

    Re Sat. if Adrian Marren is out I cannot see Sligo having the firepower required, although Pat Flanagan is not a bad manager by any means and a win would mean a lot to him given his dismissal by Westmeath last year. A final v Galway could be interesting.
    If it is Sligo in the final would they bring their supporters all the way to Salthill? You could halve the attendance from both counties by doing that given that it’s such a nightmare to get into and out of.

  28. Marren,Kelly,Harrsion all named to started but all three haven’t played any challenges or for their clubs i have been told. I seen this posted elsewhere. This weekend 4 teams will bow out in round 1 of the football qualifiers while Sligo,Cork & Kerry will play their 1st game

  29. Cant see Clare putting it up to Cork or coming near them. Cork in my view are in a different league.

    It would be pure madness to play Connacht final in Salthill if Sligo win. In fact I would prefer Hyde not that that is an option.

  30. Should Sligo beat Galway, they will do everything in their power not to give an inch advantage to Mayo, and that will definitely include going to the beach…..if they do, we need to make sure it’s Mayo who buries Sligo in the sand and not the other way around and take their ice-creams too!!! 🙂

  31. Sorry to digress for a minute folks – have any of ye who are Croke Park Season Ticket holders had a problem with your attendance at the Roscommon game not being recorded?

  32. DavyJ,
    It took a while before it was updated, two or three days later than some others in the family, but eventually my ticket and my young lads ticket were updated about this day last week.

  33. I see that Cork have just 7 of the players that started their last championship match against Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final, named in their team for their match at the week-end. Kerry are in the same position as well for their game. It just shows if we can get back to form we have one of the most experienced teams around.

  34. Experienced yes but i’d be more concerned about the Mayo strength in depth for the latter stage of the championship. After been benched the last day it now looks like Dillion,Andy Moran will now be likely starters it was hoped some freshness would be brought to the starting 15 this summer however it looks like Horan will stick with most of the tried and trusted from 2011 the mileage on the clock of those players a cause for concern also.

  35. Yeah your right there MO2014, its a real pity that Adam Gallagher has not featured much lately, he was looking very impressive early in the league. You’d just hope that we can stay close to being injury free for the rest of the season and that Mikey Sweeney, Conor O Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor and Jason Gibbons can give us something extra. Maybe Gavin Duffy can add something different also. We really need to get more out of Richie Feeney, Barry Moran and Tom Parsons too. Also if Andy, Cillian and Alan Dillon can get back to full fitness, will this be enough? Only time will tell.

  36. Hi DavyJ, yes, there were some issues with season tickets again this time around – we had a good few queries over on the Club ’51 Facebook page and my own was only updated after I got into them. Croke Park appear to have sorted them out quickly and without hassle this time though.

    Unfortunately under the T&Cs of the season ticket you only have 10 days from the date the match was played within which to query an attendance record, but no harm to drop them a mail anyway: seasonticket@gaa.ie

  37. Thanks Anne-Marie. Didn’t realise you only had 10 days. Of course I e-mail them on the 11th bloody day! No reply as yet and attendance not updated. Looks like I’ll have to get on the phone to them – is there a particular number you guys use to contact them? Thanks…

  38. I think we are far too concerned about this starting 15 business. The panel is the thing and from that perspective, if no other, it worked perfectly against Roscommon. Two new guys started and gained valuable experience; old hands Dillo and Andy were brought in and made big contributions, as I think did Mikie Sweeney. Richie got 5 minutes; should have been more but he was the man lined up to come in for Aido when he went down early on.

    What’s important, particularly if we win, that Barry M, Chris B, Jason G, Tom P and, I think, Darren Coen get game time. Or Mickey C and Enda V. They can all make contributions.

    We need all of these to slot in seamlessly and be part of the game, any game. What we don’t want is to have, say Barry making a first appearance of the year late in an AIF (just saying that, I would still take it – to be in an AIF!).

  39. MO2014, I wouldn’t be too quick to assume that Horan is going to stick with the tried and trusted. Moran made a match winning impact when he came on the last day but that does not mean that he would have had the same impact had he started the game. When he came on the intensity of the Rossie defending had dropped, the pace of the game had slowed down and there was slightly more space opening up in the Rossie half back line as they tired. Moran can take up good positions, which he did, and in these positions he can influence the game via his foot passing and availability to receive the ball. Maybe Horans selection was premised on the 2 young lads, O’Connor and O’Shea, having the pace and physique to compete with the early Rossie intensity and defense? If you like, he used the 2 young lads to draw the early sting from Roscommon. Maybe Horan had it planned all along that he would introduce Moran at that stage of the game when things were settling down and the game was there to be won or lost?
    I dunno, maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part but sometimes, James Horan does get a few things right you know despite what some people think! 🙂

  40. MO2014, I do agree with your point though where you mention mileage on the clock and some of our elder statesmen.
    The pace and power needed in the half forward line, in particular, in the modern game puts the selection of Dillion and Moran in question. Certainly I do not believe that we can afford to select them both from the start. They are talented and experinced no doubt but we need to be cute with how we utilise them. The game is 76 mins long mostly, and, 6 subs can be used so we need to take this into account when selecting or starting 15. The point I’m trying to make is you don’t have to start with your strongest 15 but you generally must ensure that you finish with your strongest 15. Think Canavan and Tyrone when he was subbed off and then brought back on to see the game out.
    We have to be cute and keep our opponents guessing.

  41. My biggest concern going forward is whether our manager has truly accepted that it is now a 21 man game & whether the necessary,correct, pre-planned & timely decisions will be made throughout a game in relation to both the initial starting selection & the changes to be made during the course of a game.
    I think it is fair to say that our decision making in the heat of championship battle has been our achilles heel in recent times.
    If we attempt to take on the big teams with their 21 man game plan using just 15-17 players then I fear that 2014 will eventually go the way of 2012 & 2013.
    I have posted before of the need to have our best players on the field at the end rather than at the beginning. This involves starting 3 or 4 players that I would describe as ‘departing burnout players’ who would run themselves into the ground early on & then depart the scene with their job done allowing others to take their place.
    I firmly believe that such a policy would maximise our chances & in a game of small margins it could prove decisive.

  42. I’ve never contacted them by phone DavyJ – your best bet would be to call Croke Park and ask for the ticketing office and they should be able to help you from there. Let us know how you get on and good luck.

  43. A bit of news folks. James Horan’s wife had a baby son yesterday. This is their first boy; they have four girls – all mad into football. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. H.

  44. I tried Croke Park’s ticketing office this morning and got the standard line that “Season Tickets are all dealt with over e-mail, you can’t ring them’ and that I was to allow 24 hours for a reply to my mail. Happily they’ve e-mailed me back now to confirm that they’ve updated my attendance – I didn’t have to resort to begging ;o)

    Anyway, thanks for your help on this Anne-Marie. I won’t be leaving it as long to double-check next time!

    Sorry for the distraction everyone…

  45. Congrats to James and family on the new arrival. We now have ourselves a half forward to kick points over for fun in the All Ireland Final of 2034!!

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