C’est la vie

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As a young man I worked on a lighthouse for a number of years. Also I had the propensity of falling in love every month or so. One of those romantic liaisons was the real deal or so I assumed. The problem was that four weeks in-lighthouse, miles at sea, didn’t lend itself to long-term relationships. One night I got a phone call of the “Dear John” variety, it ran along the lines of “it’s not you, it’s me”. I was blown out.

My lighthouse colleague saw the welling tears and flushed puss as I laid the phone down. We went for a walk around the rock, “there are more fish in the sea” he quietly told me, trying to console a scalded heart. “She’s the only fish I want” I blubbered. All went silent as the lighthouse beam searched across the nearby rocks and ocean. He knew he was wasting his time. Shrugging his shoulders he grunted “C’est la Vie” and headed into the warm open coal fire to watch Coronation Street.

Those words remained with me since, “Finality… end of… no more to be said…take it or leave it” shrug of the shoulders kinda stuff. They carry a resonance and I often smile at my youthful passion and how I actually survived and caught a few more fish before I was finally hooked myself.

The Mayo Advertiser carried a story after Mayo’s draw with Donegal. The manager or part of the managerial duo, Pat Holmes, uttered those words “C’est la vie” in the vox pop. The amateur psychoanalyst in me thought it revealing and worth exploring. Other exotic French, Italian and Spanish words also convey a message. Bon voyage, Adieu, Arrivederci, Ciao, Vamoose, Mañana etc. also contain a subliminal message when put in a certain context.

With the League over, it’s time to pause, reflect and to take stock. Luckily we have measurable facts to work off. This is a seasoned team: four successive All-Ireland semi-finals, two All-Ireland finals and three successive League semi-finals are testament to the work laid down over those years. Experience should be a calling card.

The managerial set-up taking over from James Horan had two choices and one essential task. The choices were either to break up the squad or remain true to it in the main. The latter was chosen.

The essential task was to keep the fire lit and the bus on the road. You can judge that outcome so far for yourself. Mayo failed to reach a league semi-final despite having the stats in their favour and outcomes in their own hands. Progress is measured by either advancement, stagnation or falling back. We are not yet advancing.

Stop reading here if you are of tender disposition, because you won’t like what you are about to see. Ger Loughnane on taking over Clare put it this way “Clare were like Mayo… afraid to win”. Naturally I bristled, and then I figured it out.

Ger didn’t compare us to the likes of Wicklow, Sligo, Kildare or Monaghan – no, he saw us as contenders but cursed with a fatal flaw. In fact he was using us as an example of what not to be at the final level – close but no cigar.

He is/was correct. We have a manic propensity to either blow leads or barely stumble over the line and squander a huge lead. There are countless examples of this. Here are a few.

Galloping away in the 2009 Connacht final, we almost handed the match to before Peadar Gardiner took the bull by the horns. The All-Ireland semi final of 2012 saw a 12-point lead whittled to two before the size 12s of Clarke stopped a goal-bound effort from Brogan hitting our net. Seamus O’Shea added the insurance point, not before a few heart attacks as we stumbled over the line, the joy of victory covering something huge.

Go back to 1996 and our capacity to croak twice with six-point leads, the 2001 Connacht final when a boot into the nearby Hyde graveyard would have ensured a title before a bout of stupid embroidery by us allowed Lohan to fire a goal , thus wiping out a two-point lead at the death. Anybody welcoming Roscommon back to Division One should recall that day as hankerchief-headed, red-faced Rossies, pints in hand, sang from the pub doorways “Home to Mayoooooo” as they mocked our retreat from that town.

I could go on but the salient point is this. We choke with leads, we feel burdened and unsure, and we have a fragile centre. We lack a Darragh Ó Sé or a Dooher or a Cavanagh to calm the nerves when the pot boils.

An example of this is the league against Tyrone in Castlebar a few years ago. Two points up, the clock in injury-time, Deegan refereeing. O’Neill comes out the field to try and wrestle something back for them. He wins the ball. One of our players closes in on him, lurches a tired tackle, misses and Stephen fires it into the square. A Mayo defender places a stray hand on a Tyrone back and before you can say Dunboyne, the whistle peeps and the penalty hits our net.

Don’t worry, I blamed Deegan but I blamed our guy out the field more for not hauling Stevie down. WE DONT LEARN…EVER! And let’s not go to Croke Park last summer against our nemesis Kerry as we conspired to allow Donaghy rehabilitate his career.

Frees, those things that are supposed to reward you for the other side being bold, are a particular pain to us. Go back to the 1948 All-Ireland final and the great Padraig Carney had a fourteen-yard free charged down at the death. How can a fourteen yard free be charged down? We lost by a point.

All-Ireland semi of 1969. Mayo, behind by a point but all over Kerry, get a twenty-one-yard free at the death. Joe Corcoran has kicked frees all day for fun. Now another forward decides he should kick this one, the most vital one. What can possibly go wrong? Boom … wide and Mayo sunk without Connacht trace until 1981; Kerry won that year’s All-Ireland final. Twenty-one yards in front of goal but a chasm with a decade plus one year of oblivion ahead for us.

Rather foolishly we decided the team of 2011/14 was the best since ‘51. The further we move away from them, the less this appears. What would we give for a Sheridan now and his deadly boot? Or a Horan from 12 firing long-range points to beat the band?

The Mayo minors of 2005 got a trimming from Down, a year later the Rossies turned up in headquarters and after a draw came home with the cup. Galway did the Gaisce a year later and we arrived in town in both 2008/09 and went home empty-handed.

Ironically our 2008 vintage conspired to boot a 14-yard free wide at the outset. When a bit of basketball was needed at the death, we went for a racking forty-yard pass out of defence, lost it and ultimately the replay. We don’t handle big day heat well, Ros and Galway did what they had to from single outings, we need multiple before landing a salmon.

In 2009 we also got off to a missed 14-yarder before unluckily losing to a highly rated Armagh outfit. Those misses cost. I read that in our last three matches we have had misses from that range. We shouldn’t be surprised.

In the 1997 final the great MacDonald booted a close in one casually wide, we lost by three. Against the Rossies in 2013 another 14-yarder went a-begging amid smiles due to a comfortable lead. Against Tyrone in that year’s semi an atrocious miss from that spot even fooled the RTÉ cameras, so sure were they that they had panned back out the pitch before the commentator noted “he’s missed it”. Not funny.

Tight leads and tight finishes result in the team that maximises its opportunities and cuts down its errors being the winners. We are prolific wasters of simple shot selection. Not just this year or last year but for as long as I can recall.

Our style lends itself to glorious opportunities when we have a full wind in the sail. But when we get dragged into a fight we are brittle. Now we can ignore that, you can disagree with me as a bitter bollox who only sees doom. Trust me, the need for me to see my county win Sam is as big an ache that I can carry. However I will never subscribe to the fantasy we sometimes create around us. I did for many years but like the punch drunk boxer stumbling down Clonliffe Road, I stopped.

Our present managerial combination has chosen this deck of cards. That’s their choice. I can agree with it or disagree. I believed Mayo needed something new, a different set of variables to advance -fresh heads, fresh blood and feet and new challengers for the team.

Four of the possible starting fifteen have been beaten in Minor and U21 finals plus four senior finals along with three League finals. Do we honestly believe that they are getting bigger, faster, stronger and cuter? I don’t but I do believe the scars of final day defeat of that magnitude has to be corrosive.

Alan Freeman was head and shoulders above anyone in 2010. Since then I believe the lad has had to prove himself time over time, his confidence has had to have taken a knock. I always watch him in the belief that he plays with one eye on the bench. Freeman should be a leader today, instead he has slipped down the pecking order.

Michael Conroy announced his arrival in a dismal day for Mayo, the All Ireland final massacre of 2004. He rattled in 1-1 and looked the first plank for our future. That was eleven years ago and we are still awaiting that explosion to unlock his undoubted talent. Others have flattered to various degrees whilst never exploding on final day.

To suggest that we will win on the basis of turning up on an almost monotonous basis is folly. Down have turned up six times, winning Sam on five, Donegal three times and going home to the Hills and the bonfires with the canister twice. Tyrone have won three times between 2003 and 2008. There is no rule saying long service will be rewarded. A faint heart never won a fair lady.

After our 2013 demolition of Donegal in that year’s quarter-finals, Joe Brolly saw no-one able to stop us. Intriguingly when it came to a single match, us or the Dubs, Joe wasn’t as sure. Three matches back we were odds on to him but with a single hurdle left Joe had seen the horse limp on the ring walk-about. And that’s us. We would surprise nobody by reaching another final but we would shock everybody by actually winning it.

Really, we are cursed alright but not by a priest in the early Fifties. We are cursed because we don’t really believe. What’s belief? Brian Cody, Ger Loughnane, Jim McGuinness, Alex Ferguson, Jock Stein, Heffo, Micko and a hundred others. You buy into them, you share the vision, the belief and will spill your own and others blood to achieve it. Imagine a Mayo manager dropping Marc Ó Sé? Me neither.

Look back at the 2008 final. Devine, the keeper’s father, passed away on the Saturday. Big McConnell and his size 12s came in. The left corner-back was dropped; Big Joe McMahon went from auxiliary number ten to right corner-back to snuff out Tommy Walsh. But the big fish was the introduction of a ring-rusty Stephen O’Neill, twelve months retired and parachuted into the squad. How the previous number 14 must have loved that or number 30 as he slid out of the squad.

Tomas Ó Sé was bemused because he stayed at home marking the old Stevie, by the time he figured that the new Stevie was a busted flush, Sam had left the building on the road to Omagh.

I say this because I don’t see any Mayo manager or board with cojones like Harte. And that is sad because we are a mercurial and free-spirited county that deserves to be trusted and occasionally unleashed. Contrast Mayo v Donegal in 2012 and the Mayo that fired them around like a rag doll less than a year later in the same arena. How come and why? Do finals really neuter us like eunuchs?

Coming up on the outside are Roscommon – promotion, a day out for the League final, a day out maybe for an U21 final, a day out for a colleges A final, forwards scoring for fun and no pressure. Throw in their U21 runs over the last four years. Throw in Brigids toppling of a few giants. They no longer fear us.

Galway are in a better place than last year. Shay Walsh, Cummins and the Corofin contingent cannot wait until they cross us. One win and it’s into the provincial final for them with a minimum last 12 spot and knockout football on offer.

Our better players are getting caught up in the loosening slates. Higgins, a prince now burdened with leadership along with the captaincy, has made uncharacteristic errors. Aidan O Shea is serially fouled but is it because he tries too hard and won’t lay off the ball. Our forwards with the exception of Cillian O’Connor can be put in a bag, shook and whatever four comes out are paired with Aidan and Cillian. Does it matter if it’s Dillon, Andy, Doherty and Conroy or Freeman, Ronaldson, young O’Connor and Sweeney? Six of one and a half dozen of the other to me.

So I see the end of an era. Perhaps this team will ram it down my throat, who the eff gives the likes of me the right to criticize when I’ve never smelled the white paint and green grass? But that’s the rub – we all are in this movie and we all want a happy ending. For the first thirty years of my life Mayo won four senior Connacht titles: ’55 ’67’69 and ’81. For the next thirty they added a title virtually every second year, fifteen in all.

The big one has eluded us and I do recall the ’67 and ’69 teams, a shade behind Galway and their three-in-a row outfits. They should have done the deed – Rooney, Morley, Prendergast, Joe Corcoran, Langan, Cribben McGee, Fitzgerald, Carey, Early, Flatley and others. They are senior citizens now, some passed on but I recall them in glorious Technicolor and hot tar sticking days – white O’Neill’s ball, green, red, maroon and white shirts, all tussling in Castlebar and Salthill, all seeking immorality. I can rattle them off like my tax take but we all sadly mourn one thing, the failure of final day redemption.

The man who locates Mayo’s inner soul and grabs it, will be the man who breaks the mould. Happy summer folks, did I hear a cuckoo sound in yon meadow?

138 thoughts on “C’est la vie

  1. I’m not disagreeing with some points raised above but ,When I read posts like this I question why do I bother going to club matches, to county matches. Continuous lines of negative, negative talk!It’s all I’m hearing lately and to be honest I’m entirely sick of it! It’s plain as day were doomed, or that’s what I’m reading. Maybe it’s time to let the lads get on with the job and see where they take us, if they fail, they fail simple as that! I’ll be there supporting, as I was after cork in 93, after Leitrim in 94, longford in 10, three of the worst games I’ve ever been to including all ireland’s. As Ciaran Mc said in his interview last week, mayo people expect all Ireland’s, even when we get bet! Facts are We have a limited genepool, at club level there’s very few raising the standards and putting their hands up for the county!

  2. €10000 a week to train Mayo senior team, am I the only one that thinks this is awful high?

  3. There are a few isolated reasons for optimism!
    -That it took us till the final league game to take a black card for the team / county
    -That Cillian may come back 100% healthy
    -That Conor Loftus & Neil Douglas might invigorate a lack lustre attack
    -That Parsons & Barry Moran can control the airspace over salthill & beyond
    …a worst case scenario would be a team too naive or green to foul again,that Cillian would get re-injured,that Conor Loftus’ cruciate would go the way of Colm O’Neills & Neil Douglas be overlooked again like he was all through the league,that midfield is bypassed like Cork did to us / TP and or Big Bird get injured again or our management duo go back to Seamie & Donie

  4. In fairness John the management have no choice but to persist with the guys we have. People, yourself included, criticised JH for not making changes in personnel. The truth of the matter is there was no one any better than what we had and the proof was there for all to see when Andy and Alan rescued us in the Hyde. This management have tried new guys in the league and were right to do so but no one has so far grabbed a jersey for june. Some of the 2013 minors for whom I had such high hopes haven’t even made an impression with u21s let alone the seniors. The team of the last 4 years have got as near to Sam as anyone since 1951 and I am not belittling the 1996 1999 team which were also excellent. Some of the greats you mentioned from an earlier era couldn’t manage to help Mayo win a provincial title in the 1970s and never had the honour of playing in an AIF Yes Ros and Galway are on the up and may deny us our 5 in a row this year. All teams have a natural life span and this great one has hammered away for the last 4 beating every major power in the land except Kerry. Its time they were supplemented with fresh new blood but from what I have seen, little of that appears on the horizon. So Pat and Noel appear to have little choice but to go with what and who they know and trust.

  5. @ feár an chomórtais. I agree 100% with John Cuffe. This is not negative talk, it is called, ‘reality’. It’s all this ‘positive’ stuff, that has us where we are today, 60 years without an All Ireland. The ‘positive’ thinking ignores all the cracks that have been papered over for years, putting everything in a wonderful ‘positive’ light. If we had a lot more of a reality check the past few years, correcting our very obvious failings we would, without doubt, have won Sam. Now that is real positive thinking that leads to positive action, that leads to winning positive results.
    ‘Positive’ thinking, without ‘positive’ action is just wishful thinking, leading to negative results, and more heartbreak. I suggest you have a good read of John’s piece again. He is stating facts. Of course, (before Willie has my guts), you are entitled to your opinion. I have been following Mayo for longer than John Cuffe and i say he speaks the truth.

  6. A lot of the time John Cuffe I find myself disagreeing with you but when you compile a series of facts as you have above, there is a lot repeatedly going wrong and one that stands out is our lack of doing simple things simply i.e. 14 and 21 yd frees squandered…………there should be no ifs in hindsight when this occurs, just huge disappointment at not being able to plug an easy gap.
    One instance you alluded to was the goal deep into extra time for the Ross 2001, I was shouting me head off as was most ”pull him down” as (will use your bent in this one for foreign phrases) Deja vu was screaming in my head as I already forsaw the outcome and the helplessness was unreal……………………..we all left that day stunned and the Rosses singin and gloating and us grasping defeat from the jaws of victory.
    We have to find the heart to make it stop because when the omens conspire against us, it becomes easier to accept that we are cursed rather than a crew and a county that are not ready or able.
    Let’s hope that whatever choices are made this year they will be one’s that gives us the best chance of getting that elusive prize and the word ‘choke’ when referrng to our beloved county will be for those with interests in vintage cars and a long forgotten reference to our fine footballers.
    MaighEo Abu

    PS enjoyed that JC as I always read what you have to say with great reverence and interest……………might not always agree………..But !!!

  7. Excellent piece John, well written and enjoyable to read.. but and there is a but.. I don’t buy into this historical connectivity of been afraid to win, choke with leads, feeling burdened, whatever you want to call it that’s getting in our way of getting our hands on big lugs.. The reason we have not won is simply because we were not good enough.. the teams were not good enough and that includes the players and the management. When we do win Sam, and we will, we will win at a canter, confidently and in the knowledge that we have the best team in the land. You mentioned Joe Brolly changing his mind about us on the last day against Dublin.. Joe wasn’t the only one and this is where I believe our problem often lies, its called managing our own expectations.. you actually used two very good analogese, falling in love over and over again (but you cant stop the next generation from falling in love just because it didn’t happen for you first time) and a fair heart never won a fair lady (to dam right it wont). It’s up to the older generations not to bemoan what went b4 but to stand up fair and square and to remind just as you have said how great that team of 50/51 really was, we’re a proud County, we’ve shown it can be done and we will do it again.. We just have to meet the right woman or man as the case may be.

  8. This reminds me of of the goons 6 Charlies in search of an author. Not sure what point your attempting to make but all you succeed in doing is explaining that mayo have not won the all Ireland recently. Our best team in 50 years and you speak about replacing them with players who struggled to win connect. Very easy and simple to be pessimistic. But support for wha we have is what’s needed.

  9. John,

    That is the most depressing piece of shit I have read in a long time. I know it’s pretty much 100% fact as I was there on all those depressing occasions and a few more besides.
    But what’s the solution? In the past fifty years or so I have been around a good part of Ireland and always involved to some degree in GAA activities. One thing In have noticed is how attitudes can vary from one parish to the next – one believes and another doesn’t. It doesn’t really matter what the past history is. One area has no success but has belief that someday the sun will shine on them – and I have seen that sun shine. Another doesn’t believe because the sun hasn’t shone yet. Or maybe the sun has shone on them but they no longer want to believe because it makes those who have had success feel better than their would be successors. I am convinced that pessimism of supporters is the biggest burden a team can carry – it eats into their soul. When I speak of a team in this context I am speaking of more than the fifteen taking the field or the thirty on the panel. I am speaking of all the young men of a generation who could be there if they had the belief that someday the sun will shine. Some of those not there potentially better than those who are if they had the belief – or the encouragement of elders and supporters who believe. One thing necessary for ultimate success is luck. Had Maurice Sheridan not been injured in 1997 our chances of success would have been so much greater – those frees probably would not have been missed. Had our 1996 team not heard so much after the drawn game from supporters about “Mayo’s softness” our approach to the replay might have been different leading to us keeping 15 on the field.
    I could go on but it’s getting late. Please spare us the pessimism, Our team deserve better for all their efforts and despite all of their failings.

  10. I am usually a big fan of John C, however the negativity in this piece is to much. Andyd is right, if everyone is convinced that Mayo have a historical reason for failure then we can never win. Forget about the past lads. The young men who c and h give the jerseys to next summer can’t be blamed for 1996/97 or 2004/06 or 20012/13. Even if most are still playing. Every year brings new hope especially this year with new management. Talent wise we are for sure in top three or four teams. If a club team were constantly hearing about how inept their predecessors were and how the world was against them what chance would they have. Same for a county team in fact worse. Come on guys.

  11. I hear you John, and as much as it pains me to admit it, I do agree with some of your points above. Mayo teams have a tendency to make things difficult for themselves in games. The Donegal 2013 game is the only “big game” game that I can remember where our dominance was reflected on the scoreboard.
    In games, like our recent league games in Cork and against Donegal at home, there are periods in those games where a team enjoys the ascendency. They’re winning ball, developing play and creating chances. The period might only last for 5 or 10 minutes before your opponent alters his game to negate your dominance, but there will always be a time in the game when you are on top. This is the time to take the opportunity to win the game. Do damage on the scoreboard. We nearly always fail to do this. Against Cork, we kicked 4 consecutive wides between the end of the first half and the start of the second. We had Cork on the rack, we kicked our chances wide and Cork realised that they are still in the game as we let our period of dominance slip by without putting the scores on the board.
    Likewise against Doengal. 5 wides from 6 chances ten minutes into the second half !! Donegal, with renewed hope and vigour, hung in and kicked over their only 2 shots at our goal in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. They rode the storm and came through it. We created the storm and blew it.
    Even go back to the ’89 AIF. Everyone goes on about Finnertys missed goal effort as being the losing of that match. However, very few mention the two terrible wides we kicked directly after Larry scored his goal. That was where the match was lost. Cork at that point were rattled and 1-2 without reply, at that stage of the game and with momentum with us, would have made a totally different game of it. Instead we kicked 1-2 away and let a mentally fragile Cork side regroup to go on and win the final.
    At the highest level of team sport, and it doesn’t matter if it’s soccer, hurling, football, rugby, American football, basketball etc etc etc, it’s the team that makes the least amount of errors that will win the day. Simple as. That is why team sports, at the highest level, are frequently dominated by negative tactics and a “safety first” mentality. Mayo simply make too many errors to win the big day. Be it poor shooting technique, bad shot selection, lack of composure, mis-matches in the line-up, poor decision making, whatever.
    Against all this, I do believe that the darkest part of the night is just before the dawn. I do believe a more pragmatic, defensive approach will benefit Mayo. I believe that our younger players like Stephen Coen, Diarmuid O’Connor, Patrick Durcan, Evan Regan, Brendan Harrison and Adam Gallagher (when he recovers his form – form is temporary, class is permanent) are of the required standard to bring success to Mayo. We’ll see just how good Galway and the Rossies are when they come against a battle-hardened experienced group that has contested at the highest level for 4 years as opposed to progressing in the shadows of Divison 3 and 2.
    As I said here previously, it’s time to let the Rossies and Galway have their day in the sunshine, let the media glare put a little more focus on them and “big” them up, Lord knows their supporters don’t need much encouragement to do that. We need to ly in the long grass, say nothing and arrive in Salthill with everyone doubting us and praising Galway.
    Just an aside, I have to say that I’m more than a little disappointed in James Horans newly found appetite for journalism. For a man that, as Mayo manager, insisted on a tight, closed, player-focused environment and was more than a little reserved with the press and reluctant to comment on any “behind the scenes” issues he now seems pretty open and free with his comments on the current set-up and the players performances. I felt he was a little too informative with his comments on the training camp in Portugal. Maybe I’m alone in this but for a man that insisted that the gates of MacHale Park be locked during training sessions to now be quite willing to “open the dressing room and it’s secrets” is a bit rich.

  12. I always enjoy your writing immensely John as you well know, no matter how much I might disagree with what you say. I particularly enjoy the reaction to your articles on here! But when as you say we all want that happy ending, it sometimes feels a bit futile us all turning on each other here over things that happened in the past. I could provide a few counter-arguments to some of your points above but time is against me today. Also it’s Friday and for once I’m feeling a bit too Zen for an argument 😀

    It’s admittedly hard when we take a step back to see how we can cross the line at this particular point. But I won’t feel guilty either for approaching every season, every game with renewed optimism because frankly, it’s all we have as supporters, and there doesn’t seem to be much point in getting dressed on Sunday mornings and travelling across the country to games if we don’t have some level of belief in who we have togging out for us. We can only work with what we have, and ultimately, if we are to have an All-Ireland winning team, that work needs to start at underage level so that we are developing those players we are apparently so sorely missing at present.

    For me, on game day, the bottom line is, as supporters, there’s sweet FA we can do apart from decide whether to get behind the team or not. It’s just not up to us to make those big calls, on the field or on the sideline. Shout and roar and wail and gnash all we want, we have no control over what happens out there and we bear no responsibility for it either. I think once we accept that, that in turn determines how we react to defeat or victory and how we approach our future as county supporters and the load of the weight we carry with us.

    The only area in which I feel we can possibly influence outcomes is by getting involved with our clubs and taking a proactive role in the way the sport is played and administered in our county, with the ultimate aim of learning, of pushing for either involvement with, offering input or searching for accountability from our county board. The opportunity is there for anyone to get their voices heard if they push hard enough, but it is a far bigger ask and we all know that involves putting our money where our mouths are, so to speak and putting in the hard graft. There’s not such an appetite for that.

    As mere supporters, we can choose two paths – look to the future, follow hope and have our souls crushed time and time again, or look to our past and stay mired in misery with no expectations. I’m not blind to our shortcomings nor blindly optimistic – my belief is certainly not rock solid – but the former will win out for me every time (god help me). Now I might of course think differently when I’ve been on the circuit as long as John and many of you here have, but despite all the heartbreak we have had, I’ve had many a good day in the green and red and expect to have many more in future. And who knows, we might just land the big one yet.

  13. Anne Marie is right. I took a club team for a short while and some of those lads stayed in the game just at the point when probably ready to give up football.
    Get involved with your clubs and get young players to improve, and not just the stars of the team. Improving your worst player should be as satisfying to a coach as seeing a lad play county minor.
    Finally try and make young players believe they can improve their shooting and passing. Not by dropping them in games where they will struggle with their existing skills. The basketball approach, rep after rep after rep. Then you introduce them into games when they have confidence. Want to kill young players confidence, drop them in the deep end in games before they have their skills repped to a high level. If basketballers can shoot 3 pointers at a high percentage Gaelic Footballers can all improve their shooting immensely.

  14. Just to add the point I mean that basketballers rep their shooting ridiculous amount of hours until they have the ability to shoot x% from free throw line or as 3 pointers. Gaelic Football should wise up that the same is possible with young players.

  15. Interesting read, would agree with some of it but disagree with other parts. We are producing and will continue to produce good players in Mayo. I don’t believe we will fall by the wayside like the 70’s with the emergence of Galway and Roscommon again, we should relish the sterner challenge.

    Fact is and you all know if deep down we don’t and have never had since I first started my Mayo adventure in 1996 forwards to win big games. I mean our class the likes of Maurice Fitz, Peter Canavan, Padraig Joyce, Colm Cooper, Declan O Sullivan, Bernard Brogan.

    In the 2013 final Mayo and Dublin offered up a dull final, both under par in what promised so much….why did Dublin win? There forward’s clicked and upped the gear when needed, we yet again did not.

    Why are we not producing forwards of this class? It may go back to clubs and how we nurture and develop forward players. If you practise, practise, practise, practise and have dedication and will to win you can become a great player. It is not genes, or curses, or wishy washy fairy stuff. It is no accident or breeding miracle what happens in Kilkenny…..anyone who has been to that lovely town (or city not to upset the locals) will see young lads and girls in their hoards walking up and down the streets in hurl and sliotar in hand. We may need to evaluate where we need to begin before we can more forward.

  16. I only read the first few lines, too much waffle for my liking to I didn’t finish it. This is a gaa website not one for posters showing off their writing skills.

  17. The problem with Mayo is that we only select talented footballers. There is no dog in the team. I’m not worried about big men, its big hearts that are required. 15 nice footballers wont win an all Ireland. Two scoring forwards and 15 men who will stop at nothing to win will do it. Have we got them. Five minutes into last years semi final replay you could see the ref was going to let a lot go. Kerry upped the physicality and we couldn’t match it. We were the better team but didn’t play the whistle.

    Same thing happened in 96, we never matched Meaths physicality.

    In 89, 97, 04 and 06 we didn’t bring any physicality and never tested the oppositions metal.

    In 2012 we started to slow and in 2013 we punched ourselves out and had nothing left in the 2nd half.

    We need to have real metal through the team.

    1. Clarke, 2. Cunniffe, 3. Keane, 4. Higgins, 5. Keegan, 6. Boyle, 7. Barrett, 8. A OSea, 9. Parsons, 10. McLouglin (dropping into defence), 11. C O Connor, 12. Doherty (dropping into defence), 13. Dillon (free role), 14. Kirby (swapping with AOS to rest him) 15. Regan

    Midfield – SOS in to close out a game or Moran to win ball if struggling
    Defence – Stephen Coen for whichever half backs legs are gone in 2nd half
    Forwards – Carolan, Moran and D O Connor into half forwards as legs tire moving C O Connor inside

    No disrespect to those not mentioned but they play too nice to deliver in the heat of battle.

  18. Just an aside..what are people’s views on the upcoming championship…who will win? What about North Mayo football? Will Ballina do anything this year?

  19. agree with done deal. off the point recently i met a mayo lass i asked her about Mc Stay and she upped and left.

  20. I agree 100% with John. He is calling a spade a spade. Looking trough the blogs AndyD is on about Maurice Sheridan getting injured. What about the Dermot Flanagan fiasco.
    Just because he was “some body special” a place had to be made for him. And then the fiasco of changes we made when he was replaced. And what about to days co managers, they both were roasted. There was only one Maurice that day (Maurice Fitzgerald) the greatest forward of all time. Looking at Tirawleybaron team selection, nice on paper but going nowhere. We don’t have a Rory O Carroll as a full back, No centre half back. Midfielders are all one day wonders. No reliable free taker. No forward able to score from 40 yards out, and were are going to win AI. As usual we are still dreaming.

  21. The past does not determine the future, but it can influence it if allowed. If JC’s approach is restricted to the past four years then it may carry a little more weight. This team has been hammering away and coming so close. For me they were at their most majestic against Donegal in 2013. I never expected such a performance. No one did.
    Therefore, is there anything can be done to upset the mind set of other county managers, as to what they are likely to face when up against Mayo this year?
    There are regular comments about the need for strong fast forwards. It seems to me that the player with blistering acceleration off the mark is Higgins. He’s like a ferret on speed. Don’t anyone go having a heart attack at this suggestion, but is there any reason why he couldn’t play corner forward occasionally? It may be the case that he gets homesick if too far from his own goal.

  22. I suppose now is as good a time as any to evaluate where we have come from and where we are going. I would say that it was around 1989 that I started supporting the Mayo team. Since then we have reached seven finals. The common perception out there is that we have underachieved but when you really think about it based on the players that we have had, we have probably overachieved in that time. We have produced many very good players but probably not enough exceptional players. In the 2012 final if we had Michael Murphy and Donegal didn’t, we’d probably have won that final. In 2013, Bernard Brogan was the difference. Even if we think back to the 1997 final, Maurice Fitz won it that day for Kerry, if we had him surely we’d have won. In 1989, Cork had Larry Tompkins, if he had come to Mayo rather than Cork, maybe we’d have won a couple of All-Ireland titles with him. Last year if Kieran Donaghy was playing for us and not Kerry, we’d probably be champions now. In the 1998 final if Kildare had Padraic Joyce rather than Galway, Micko would be an even bigger ledgend than he is, up there, as Kildare would probably have won out. My main point is, to win All-Ireland titles you need a lot of very good players and a few exceptional ones. We have had plenty of the former but not enough of the latter. We seen last week the reaction Ciaran McDonald got, a top top player but he didn’t have a Murphy, Brogan or Donaghy to find with his superb passing skills. Still who knows if Cillian O’Connor continues his rate of progression and another couple of players make the step up to the exceptional bracket we might still reach the promised land, who knows! We live in hope….

  23. John,
    Great to see the ink continues to flow so freely from your quill all the time. Just to let you know that it wasn’t the cuckoo you heard in yon meadow – – – – it was in fact the “curlew” – – – there is still a few of them left around Blacksod. Did you ever make it up with that lovely girl and invite her back to the lighthouse for a “cosy night” in away from it all??!! Unburden yourself of all that bitterness – – – as we speak – – – Jose Mourinho is giving a few tips to the boys at their Portugese training camp – – – stay with the programme,John – – – – 2015 is the year!

  24. Samuel Maguire. Its not Jose Mourinho they need to give them a few tips. It is Our Lord they need. Everything else has failed since 1950/1.

  25. Nice piece John,
    Sport needs to be looked at objectively like most other things. If that was an article on Liverpool FC’s failings or the Buffalo Bill’s loosing streak of the 1990’s then it would be met with more forensic analysis.
    The correlation says that Mayo lose finals and they do it in most grades. 2 U21 and 2 minor wins since 1983 despite numerous opportunities not to mention the senior finals. many of them were there to be won in my opinion. With the exception of the 2004/2006 outings, the other titles (senior)were up for grabs. Maybe teams have been afraid to cross the finish line and maybe managers have been reluctant to pull a rabitte from the hat on the big day, special mention to Davy Fitz and Shane O Donnell. Nor have we marked out an opposition player for special attention. The Kerry DNA is one of winning and down there your nothing until you have work 3 All irelands. Is it possible to evolve Mayo DNA to sucj a level.
    I heard an interview from a hurler talking about a parade before an AI hurling final. he mentions they were playing Cork and as the bank led the players around the pitch he could see Donal Og repeatedily saying “We are Cork”. Then he began to think to himself that they are Cork and he should be worried.
    Mayo football teams need to value their stock higher. Create a culture and sense of self fullfiilling. Many would say they have and the players certaintly would, but do the opposition truely believe that. Statisitcs on AI final day don’t….

  26. “True Grit” – – – that “person” you mention was duly considered for a mentoring role but his rates re overnights,travelling expenses,mileage etc were deemed to be too high by Mike and the County Board – – – so they settled for Jose.

  27. In reading this piece and some of the posts on this site, I am beginning to wonder is it some supporters who fear winning and not the players. It’s easier to be negative all the time and to some extent understandable in Mayos case, let’s just prepare ourselves for the inevitable defeat. Posters here talk about players developing a winning mindset when they themselves lack it. C McDonald said it during his interview, he truly believed that they would win the morning of every All Ireland and I firmly believe that every player since has believed the same.
    The kind of person who looks at a beautiful house and instead of admiring the architecture thinks “that would be a whore to heat”, who looks at a Ferrari and thinks “you’d want a petrol tanker following you”, the kind of person who stood on the shore and thought “I’m safer here” instead of going on the boat exploring, that’s what that article represents.
    Of course Roscommon fear us, if they didn’t fear us then we wouldn’t fill every waking moment of their day. They blew a 6 point lead against a mediocre Galway team (that hasn’t won a game in Croke Park since 2001) in the Hyde. The Rossies have a few nice forwards but they will find things a little tougher against Keith Higgins, Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan and co. If the Rossies are still in Div 1 this time next year I’ll reevaluate my views of them.
    As a poster said earlier, it’s no harm that the unrelenting pressure that was on Mayo over the last three years has lifted. We can arrive quietly in Salthill and do a similar demolition job to our last visit. I fear that John and some posters here will find themselves in a similar position as the voice over actors for Gerry Adams when the peace process started. It mightn’t be this year, but the day will come and it’ll be sooner rather than later.

  28. John’s point may be hard to take, but he is right. Mayo footballers have no killer instinct. There’s no real meanness there, no ‘fuck you, this is ours’.

    For the 30+ years that I’ve been going to watch our teams, the pattern is always the same. When Mayo get on top in matches, the lead typically goes to 5 or 6 points, then stops. There’s no real desire to bury the opponent. To make it impossible for the opponent to even dream that a comeback might be possible. And then the opponent realises this, and our teams get reeled in and beaten, and we all go ‘what if’ and ‘if only’.

    Why does this happen? I’ll tell you why. We’re too nice, and that follows us onto the pitch. We want to win, but we also want to be liked. How many times have we heard about Mayo standing for ‘sporting’, ‘stylish’ and ‘traditional’ football? Those ‘compliments’ (quotes intended) haven’t won us any senior All-Irelands recently.

    Contrast that with Dublin, or Kerry, or Galway, or Meath. None of those teams gives a tuppenny damn what anyone thinks of them. If there’s a title to win, they will win it by any means necessary. If that means somebody’s jaw needs to be broken, so be it.

    The win justifies the means. See Dublin, 1983. No apologies from any of those boys.

    Mayo aren’t like that. Briefly, in 2013 against Donegal, we got a glimpse into a world where Mayo were like that; where they kept the foot on the opponent’s throat all the way to the bitter end. But normal service was soon resumed. Andy Moran drew us level in that year’s final with 20 minutes still to go. Time to push on, to seize the title for ourselves! You know the rest.

    I don’t envy anyone taking on the job of managing Mayo. Even with this group of footballers, who give everything on the field, who clearly pine to win the All-Ireland. But they are still not ruthless enough – not nearly ruthless enough. Without our own version of a Ger Loughnane or an Alex Ferguson in charge – someone prepared to go to psychotic lengths to change the mindset – I don’t know how else we can get where we want to go.

  29. Mayos problems this year are mainly around our shooting percentage being low.
    – Select players or get players up to a higher percentage
    – Work out ways to get players open in better positions.
    We seem to be getting a grip on the defensive side it seems.

    Mayo too nice, no killer instinct, Larry would have won us All Irelands. No bearing on 2015.

  30. Agree with Done Deals last post, he’s summed up perfectly what i think of this piece. Its constantly looking back at the past which is stopping us going forward, constantly being reminded of failure only increases the pressure on team mayo as a whole. Sometimes the better team just wins!!!.

  31. Poor article.

    You cannot link one generation to another just because they wore the same jersey.

    Indeed, you cannot link one game to another just because they are the same team. In reality, each game has to be looked at in isolation. By John’s reasoning, a status quo would remain based on the performances of the past. There would be no new winners, no Armagh in 2002, no Galways or no Clares winning All Irelands, but they do.

    And the reason for this is that when that ball is thrown in at the start of every game all things are equal. And the result is determined by many factors, including chance. But they are not determined by a result that happened before they were born, or yesterday, or three weeks ago, or the colour of their jerseys.

    Mayo didn’t win in 2012 or 2013 due to a number of factors, tactical, skill, luck, many others. And that was that, but they were there, fighting for it as hard as they can, that is undisputed.

    And soon, with all things being equal again when that ball is thrown in, be it in Galway, Mayo, Dublin, wherever, what I say is that we have a group of guys I am so proud are representing my county, and I wouldn’t want any other group there, whatever the result may be.

    And I pity posts like the above, with over simplistic rhetoric, saying things they have heard before (by a hurler no less), what sounds right, what is easy to say. It may make them feel good, but I call it as it is, and I deal in facts and reality.

    As we sit here, this is the best team in Ireland not to have an All Ireland medal on their mantlepiece, and I’m happy in the knowledge that we have the ability to win it. And if all the factors I speak of above fall into place, then it will be no more than this bunch of lads deserve.

  32. I for one would not like to be the one to tell Boyler,Higgins,Clarke,Seamie,Dillon,Cillian etc that they dont have the heart for the battle….time to wise up.Nobody in this present team go out with the pessimistic attitude that some supporteri on here have,and thanks be to God for that!

  33. Not sure we were not good enough in any of the finals.
    We could easily have won in ’96, ’97 and could certainly have beaten Donegal in 2012.
    No chance on 04 or 06 and we were not good enough in 2013.

    I think people are underestimating Cillian O’Connor when they are talking about our lack of forwards. There are very few better than him in the country.
    He has never let us down and could well lift Sam for us some day.

    We have had way more heartbreak than most counties but let’s move on. Not point being too negative.

  34. Posters need to focus on the only thing that needs to be focused on here, only ONE situation; not the past, not individual players, not agreeing with John Cuffe, not being ‘horrified’ by all the negativity, etc, etc. So many are missing the obvious. We need to correct our fucking mistakes, very simple.
    JP. Pebblesmeller and a few others are getting it right. We can have as many opinions as we like but most of them will never, but never, help Mayo to win an All Ireland.
    @ Liam, “In reading this piece and some of the posts on this site, I am beginning to wonder is it some supporters who fear winning and not the players. It’s easier to be negative all the time and to some extent understandable in Mayos case, let’s just prepare ourselves for the inevitable defeat. Posters here talk about players developing a winning mindset when they themselves lack it.”
    Now Liam, no supporter “fears” winning. Everyone wants to win, but we have been shit on so often that the inevitable doubt creeps in even though we hope to hell that they will get it right next time. Of course, without exception, we all support Mayo and look forward with “hope in our hearts” to the next game. You’re lucky I cannot express myself, feeling as outraged as I do. Willie Joe would bar me for life. 😉

  35. I don’t think it’s fair to say the players don’t have the killer instinct or lack bite. We all remember what happened to Eamon O’Hara that day in Roscommon three years ago when he came in and tried to throw his weight around. Similar with Ross O’Carroll when he tried to drag an injured Enda Varley off the ground in a game in which the Dubs threw everything at us in the second half and still they couldn’t break us down. I think you’re being a bit revisionist John when it comes to that game, yes we gave away a massive lead and should have been well out of sight in the 3rd quarter but Dublin tried to bully us out of that game, doing their best to take out our key players (McLoughlin couldn’t come back on quick enough), I think it’s fair to say most other teams would have wilted where we prevailed. The whole country bemoaned our ‘cynical’ style of play. The drawn semi-final last year, yes we didn’t finish the job but not many other teams would came back the way we did with fourteen men against the eventual AI champions. Was it for a lack of killer instinct we didn’t protect our lead? Maybe the answer is simpler, we were tired and Kerry had the likes of Donaghy (yes, the ‘D’ word, I said it) to bring on. Indeed it should have been them who won it with the last kick of the game. Perhaps if we had that bit more depth in the squad things would have been different.

    The fact is Mayo are a hardened team and no-one really wants to play us. The players believed in Horan and while his system wasn’t perfect, you could be damn well sure they left everything out on the field for him. We couldn’t have asked any more of the players last August, they gave it their all. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve suffered some amount of pain over the past three years but there were good days as well that you wouldn’t change for the world.

    In saying all that, the one thing that worries me about the current management team is that I’m not all that convinced that Noel and Pat have a vision for Mayo and for how exactly they are going to bring this team forward from the Horan era. I’m not that worried about not making a league semi-final (remember that Horan managed to get us through on only six points in 2013) but the league overall was disappointing. We looked like we were setting up more defensively yet we conceded those vital scores in the last two games. Our rate of return from the forwards has been frustratingly low. What should have been the game of the league was the worst hammering we got at home in decades. There were good aspects of course, but I wonder will Noel and Pat be able to inspire the team and get them to completely ‘buy in’ to whatever style of play they bring to the table. Will the players leave absolutely everything on the field for them?

    Time will tell.

  36. Appreciate the reasons for the article..always good to review our past failings..but dear god it was a depressing read..can we put the pessimism in a box til June ??

  37. Very god piece John. Although it is too pessimistic in my humble opinion.

    For me it begins at underage. If you have a team that is successful at that grade the management can build on it. A lot of the core of the present team is built from the successful U21 team. I’m pretty sure that success is part of what drives them on.
    Whether the minors of a couple of years ago can make it through remains to be seen. Probably not for at least 5 – 6 years in my opinion unless there is a hidden Cillian among them. Even then that guy has to do something special to make the current setup.

    The easy scoreable opportunities you talk of John are also spot on. McLoughlins and Durcans misses the last day were simply terrible. Worse though is that misses like that have a serious impact on the team morale and are a massive booster shot to the opposition. And to that effect you are accurate.
    The team is brittle, although I would counter argue that all teams are after such crucial misses. Either way the knock on effect is usually defeat.

    What remains to be seen is whether this team has the smarts to understand that and the management have the wherewithal to correct it. Only time will tell.

  38. You can’t disregard your history, but you can’t live it either. Learn from the past, make your own history.

    I was always struck by how the Tyrone supporters, of whom my wife’s family are stalwarts, treated their players. They said “God, Kevin Hughes can’t shoot!”. The difference is this. From a supporter’s point of view, you can view this as a reason for past or future failure and hold it against him – or you can accept this limitation, and support the player in what he does. So they loved Kevin Hughes for all the other attributes he brought to the game.

    Of course, the coaches of teams should not accept these limitations and should work to improve players incessantly. But supporters can’t do that, so why bother. I often feel that some Mayo supporters can’t accept the limitations of individual players or the team, because they can’t bring themselves to accept the fact that we have not won an All-Ireland. In case you were in any doubt, John Cuffe outlined in great detail above that we have not won an All-Ireland. Accept it, because the past can’t be changed, only learned from.

  39. John cuffe
    In american political terms you would be known as “polarizing”. In my opinion, with the likes of cillian o Connor even near the team and if the management have any heads at all on the shoulders there is no reason Mayo cannot compete at the highest level in 2015 and with a bit of luck win Sam Maguire. It’s really a fine line at this stage , if hennelly had another yard or 2 on that free we would not be surmising today because Mayo would probably have beaten donegal in the final last September.
    Nice writing all the same John.

  40. Great piece John. All facts and figures. All true. I remember every one of them missed 14 and 21 yard frees and have learned never to chalk a pint up on the score board from an “unmissable” free for us until i see the man in the white coat going for the flag.

    All the All Irelands left after us, and Connacht titles too and league matches. Its amazing how we keep going.

    On a different note i see they are bitching in Croke Park about the tiny attendance at last Sundays semi finals. 4 counties playing including the host (with a population of 1,000,000 and nobody turned up. See what happens when Mayo exit a competition. One more example (as if it were needed) that we are the best supported county on the island. Despite all the disappointments listed above by John, Mayo have incredible support.

    We must not paper over the cracks on the field. John has a lot of valid points there lads whether we like them or not.

    Maybe less lifting weights and more target practice between now and June and beyond. Cillian cant carry us on his own either.

  41. A great article – what passion!
    I think that John speaks for all of us in being critical yet yearning for victory. And hopefully he is wrong about the end of an era
    That piece should be put up on the wall of the Mayo dressing room so that the players can say “we’re different……..we’ll ******* show them”.
    Remember the late Paudie’s words “………the hardest job in the world………..the roughest type of ********* animals”. There’s no harm in being honest but fair with this experienced panel.And, when the battles are over and the dust has settled, win or lose, we can tell them honestly that we really appreciated their efforts.

  42. Interesting article, find it hard to detect bitterness or gloom in it.

    All these references to negativity and positivity makes me wonder are people really referring to electrical currents and anybody finding an article written about football
    a depressing read probably should enhance their sense of perspective.

    All I could see were opinions, recollections and personal interpretations of events and all the richer for that.

    On another note I see Jim McGuinness has been invited to give a morale boosting talk to the Saracens squad prior to their European Cup semi final versus French giants
    Clairmont. It shows the respect for winners crosses many boundaries and the esteem he is held in. All well deserved in my opinion. Not too many invitations extend to
    those coming second, third or tenth as there is a well thumbed book of excuses out there that just as readily be used.

    Incidentally I do think Saracens will struggle to get the result in France. but that is another story.

  43. Well as the saying goes: What we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. So we’ll just have to wait and see how this year pans out and as usual give our team 100% support.

    Looking to the future there are some interesting games ahead this week-end. The two All-Ireland U21 semi-finals are on tomorrow. Tyrone v Roscommon and Dublin v Tipperary. Tipp are another team who have put in a lot of good work at underage levels so it’ll be interesting to see how they do against the Dubs. Also it’ll be interesting to see how Roscommon will cope against the Tyrone blanket defence.

    Another game to take note of is a challenge game between Galway and Dublin in Skerries at 2pm on Sunday. Maybe some of the Mayo crew in the capital might want to head along to this game to see how Galway are shaping up. The Dubs lineup for the game is as follows:

    Dublin (SF v Galway): Sean Currie; Mick Fitzsimons, Kevin Nolan, Eoin Culligan; Nicky Devereux, Darren Daly, Davy Byrne; Cian O’Sullivan, Tomas Brady; Emmet O Conghaile, Alan Brogan, Brian Fenton; Harry Dawson, Ciaran Reddin, Paddy Andrews

  44. Past mistakes are history.players and supporters have to have the belief on any given day that there going to win.in Ciaran mcs interview he said he believed mayo would have won each final he played in and that they prepared well.but there can be only one winner.theres a fine line between success and failure as paidi o se God rest him said a grain of rice can tip the scales! It’s so true! Luck plays a massive part in any teams victory .kerry got it this year in semi and in final to when donaghy got gifted a goal from Donegal keeper.but anyways regarding the article prob some of it true but forget about the negativity and think about the positives.wouldnt it be great for someone to write an article about the great days in mayo football and we have had some even if we haven’t won a senior final for a while.breaking the hoodoo of not winning in tuam our club successes of Crossmolina and ballina.our under 21 all Ireland in 06 our minor victory in 13.the day in 2006 when we came back to beat the dubs! Magical moments!

  45. Well written piece but it is too negative for my liking.
    I much preferred your previous blog post “Animals” a more balanced piece, in it I like how you alluded to our history as a county, and how this can correlate to our mentality as sports people, players and supporters alike. While the animals article isnt all glowing of our players either not that it needs to be, you do state in response to E McGee, that you do think “we do have the players and we do have depth”. Why now the sudden jump to an all out grim reflection on the shortcomings of Mayo football?
    To quote from Ann-Marie above I too am “not blind to our shortcomings nor blindly optimistic” but christ can we just let go of the negative detailed synopses of our past, if people stay fixated on the negativity of Mayo football well then that will be all that comes to pass. I will keep the faith anyway as I see it there is still plenty to be positive about even from our more recent past, the Ciaran Mc interview highlighted this he never won an all-ireland but commanded respect across Ireland and is a Mayo person with conviction and belief. I too like many on here will keep the faith, Ar Aghaidh!

  46. Great piece John. Interesting that some people are calling for more optimism but it’s realism that moves you forward.
    Optimism is based on a hopeful outcome where realism is based on facts and developing a plan to achieve that goal.

  47. Linking a chain of events like that has nothing to do with the current team. They are all in different eras and these bunch don’t know much about the history or give a hoot. The only thing we have influence as supporters is the vibes we send out. We have the most support but not necessarily the best. On balance the pessimists are averaged out. If a player misses a 14 yard free or we miss 4 or 5 in a row like happened against Donegal should we groan or keep encouraging. Some posters alluded to the crowd egging on Kevin McLoughlin in a specific tussle having a big influence on that game. I believe the same to a happened with big Barry early in that game when the crowd near the sideline were willing him to put a lot of pressure on in specific tussle and he won that battle getting Mayo into the game and gave perhaps his best game in the shirt with buckets of leadership. Dublin 06 began with Heaney deciding ah fuck it let’s take over the hill. Chain of events I like, Mayo fans had the hairs standing up on the back of their necks. Dublin were rattled and we were 4-0 before they got going. The endorphins didn’t get wiped out when Dublin took a big lead and when our great comeback came we were willing them on every step of the way. Two subs David Brady and Andy Moran witnessed all this, Brady’s first act was to flatten Ciaran Whelan who took out McGarrity from the game. The latter reputed to be so distraught at not being able to continue the game also had an influence on the players. Brady turned the game around. Andy told manager put me on I’ll get ye a goal. He put him on in wing back & he still scored the goal anyway. So if ye really want to know what to do as a supporter it’s forget the past we have zero influence on that, cheer every good and inspiring moment, encourage after any mistakes and egg on the team in every last tussle from minute 1 and celebrate all the inspiring goals and points. Be the 16th man and woman.

  48. One more inexpensive but valuable thing people can do. Buy your kids, nieces n nephews size 3 footballs when young. Will make a huge difference when they come up to u12 n size 4 n later at size 5.

  49. I am sure that after all of those years of following Mayo and I wrote a piece like that I would stop watching them and find something else to do that would not make me so miserable.

  50. Shuffly Deck captured it. Recalling Bradys hit on Whelan brings a glow to my cheeks. Cluxton, top keeper , would have been disappointed conceding a weak enough shot from Moran. Interestingly Brady (wrongly) didn’t start the final , came on after 10/15 mins when it was over. Don’t recall any contribution from Moran in the final.

    However this is the one that stuns me. We are told those boys have no link with past final failure. Are you joking me or are people dreaming. Clarke, Moran, Dillon have been 4 times on losing Senior AIF teams, Barry Moran, Conroy and Higgins 3, add in 3 League Finals, throw in various Minor finals (2) for Dillon, U21s and a club finals and we are not removed from final day pain. Worse , we don’t learn. In fact we have an unparalleled record comparable with no other county for wanton failure at the final hurdle. I don’t have a panacea, I do see a lacuna that can be changed, I don’t believe that we have enough leaders currently to turn this outfit and I will eagerly and happily eat my wooly Mayo hat if this team makes this years AI semi finals. Not gloomy, not pessimistic, merely been around too long to be coded. That said , a bit of balls here, a refereeing decision there, a bit of managerial nous elsewhere and we should have won All Ireland’s in ’89, ’96 ,’97, 2012/13

  51. John Cuff, you hit the nail on the head. Facts don’t lie. We blew so many chances to win a national title of any sort it would you weep. Going forward this year won’t be any better.
    I think if we win Connacht we will be doing well. We have gone to the well of defeat with this team to many times and to be honest the boys in management have not the skills to make a team cross the line. I am always hopeful that miracles can happen

  52. Im interested in modern coaching with statistical and tactical insight. This leadership thing? What is it? If we beat Cork and Donegal last two games Id wager ye would be raving about the leadership of Jason Doherty getting first score on the board for us in both games.
    Pointing to specific scores or hits or one off games as leadership or lack of leadership. Its nonsense.

  53. John Cuffe. Spot on.

    True Grit. Spot on.

    Telling it like it is. Some dont seem to like that though and would prefer you to tell it how they would like it to be or just brush it under the carpet.

  54. I hope we haven’t to many supporters like some of you lads. My advice would be for the ones hung up on history and negativity to stay away from matches Incase it spreads to the rest of us.

  55. John Cuffe, some will never get it. They are so focused on calling reality, negativity; feeling so miserable, and telling realistic supporters to stay from away from matches. Do they realise that the last three years are part of history, as are all the mistakes that were made. So, according to ” positive ” thinking, history, and it’s lessons, should be ignored and not corrected, because they are part of history. Just have empty hopes and dreams of Mayo maybe winning sometime in the future. There lies the recipe for success!!!!

  56. Well back to reality, I see that Tyrone and Tipperary have made it through to the All-Ireland U21 final. That was a great result for Tipp beating the Dubs. Roscommon will be disappointed losing to Tyrone but those northern teams are hard to beat.

  57. Maybe we should drop every player who lost an AI with Mayo. Is that the solution. Maybe we should drop Higgins 3 times , Dillon 4 times and keep going till we have dropped them all. What a critical lot. Any guy who plays in an AIF must have s.omething going for him as a player and I have great admiration for the men of 1996 1997 and 2012 2013 and also for the guys who played though lost heavily in 2004 and 2006. They represented their county with pride but lost out on each occasion.But of course we think we are Kerry so we are failures if we don’t win Sam. HALLO Kerry have won Samuel 37 times we have brought him home on three occasions. On a separate note what a fantastic performance by Tipp to beat Dublin today in U21. For a county where all the emphasis is put on hurling to reach an AIF at U21is some achievement. By the way we beat them at minor 3 years ago. Since then they have played in 3 Munster U21 Finals while we have failed to qualify for one Connacht final. In the other semi tyrone parked the bus in 2nd half and Ros couldn’t break them down. Looks like negative football can still win out.

  58. Tipp it seems have natural talent and it was said recently that they plan on a senior football title by 2020, I wouldn’t doubt it. Forget the past, look to the future and aim high.

  59. That might soften the Rossies cough now for a bit… so much for them only been worried about the Dubs at U21. So another so called fantastic Rossie team fails to land the big one… I know those in glass houses can’t throw stones but maybe this will stop nonsence coming out of that particular county.

  60. John , it’s always a pleasure to read you, so I would think we started watching mayo around the same time, so I agree with you, I have seen some fantastic footballers in the green and red, but never enough at the same time, I felt some players did not get a fair crack of the whip from some managers , so felt jh gave everyone a chance and we still came up short, so we need some new players but I dont see them, so i dont think we can improve from last year. So I dont you are negative, and it wont be the fault of the players who have given everything over the last few years, or the fault of management either who have to work with what they have, if a lot of other people had looked for the managers job I might feel more hopeful but I think we got the of the applicants, as I always say I hope I am wrong, I do think we need to try and get more young players to progress but have not seen a lot of the minors coming through , I still hope you and I can welcome the cup at corick bridge but dont think it will be this year

  61. I know we have lost a lot of finals but since 2001 we have won 5 National titles. 2 All-Ireland Club titles, 1 U21 and 1 Minor All-Ireland title and 1 Division 1 National League title. So thats an average of a National title every 3 years since the turn of the century, so thats not a bad record. You have the usual suspects winning plenty of titles, Dublin and Kerry, Tyrone have done well too but after that, 5 titles in 15 years is not to be sniffed at. Yes we have not won the ultimate one but who knows what the future holds. If we won another 5 in the next 15 years then our return would be a lot better than many counties, as it has been in the last 15 years. In saying that we really need to makes some changes at U21 level.

    @ to win just once, I remember that win now that you mention it, against Tipp 3 years ago at minor level, we played some great football that day, it really does show there is something very wrong at the U21 grade in the county at the moment.

  62. I love this site but sometimes i swear it makes ya want to pull your hair out. Mayo players past and present deserve alot more respect than what their getting on this thread. Even the managers (who would’nt have been my first choice) deserve respect. They kept us in div 1…mission accomplished. The championship has’nt even started, yet posters are writing them off already…get a grip people, save your “i told you so” attitude untill we are knocked out, whether that be june or september, ye’ll have all winter for telling us “i told you so” if we fail again.

  63. I see that Ross have failed at U21 level again. A rossie friend called earlier on the way home with a large contingent of Roscommon supporters. Didn’t turn up last year either. What about Tipperary I did not see that coming. I had Ros and the Dubs for the final this year. Money population, coaching, hype, they appeared to have it all. Turned over by a county more known for their hurling skills. Three years ago Tipp faces the Dubs in the Minor final. I had Tipp at four to 1 that day. Still did not see that coming in my wildest dreams..

  64. The reality is that we had one team that was good enough to win all those finals and that was 96. The rest lost because they weren’t good enough. Simple. Cuffe is only playin it the way he sees it. And he’s entitled to do that. Up Mayo

  65. In the post you mention the 08 final and the goalkeepers father dying the day before. Just got me thinking of Liam Mchale saying goodbye to his dad on his death bed to go out and try and win a connacht final with mayo or noël connelly playing in an all Ireland final the day after his dad died. We have had some great players down through out the years who gave their all to try and win an all Ireland for Mayo but sadly it didn’t happen. I think everyone of them deserves great respect.

  66. John,

    I have had another read of your post above and still cannot see the point of it. If it were only the first few paragraphs it might have had a point as a sad life story but the rest????

    I have to agree with Liam and say it’s no wonder they automated the lighthouses.

    You seem to suggest that the new management team had the option of scrapping the current panel and starting afresh. Starting afresh with what?. We have a a panel of players who have come within a whisker of ultimate success in ’12, 13 & ’14 and who to a man are willing to continue the fight. Scrapping that panel before they themselves have given up the fight could only add to the unfortunate history of our quest for Sam. Where would you go in the search for players to continue the fight? We would be inviting another decade or more in the doldrums.

    If contributions like this is the best we can do it would be better to close down the site completely until June and we see the whites of Galway’s eyes in Salthill.

    Finally commiserations to the Rossies on this evening’s unforeseen setback. Too think that the only team ye were worried about are also gone is too much to bear thinking about.

  67. We should be looking towards what the Rossies are doing at u21 not sniping bitterly when they are knocked out.
    Roscommon and Tipperary are going to bring this through to senior.
    While we are fighting the battle solely at senior level in terms of investment and organisation we have no comparable preparation at u21 level. We should study what they are doing and do it. Our deeper player pool at u15 should make it count through to u21.

  68. For all the neanderthal chest beating and grunting out of the inhabitants of Roscommon over the past few years that translates to English as “We are coming”, they remain without a national breakthrough at any level ! Division 1 will be another reality check for their seniors next year when they attempt to throw themselves about against the top dogs of Gaelic Football.

  69. And there is another way of looking at things too, four provincial titles on the trot , an amazing team who keep coming back to compete at the very top. We’ve still got the same bunch who only last year came within a whisker of getting to their third all Ireland final in a row .

    I’m the first to shout in defence of supporters entitlement to criticise but at this point now where we are at, you also have a responsibility to support and help to create a positive buzz goin into the summer . Plenty of time to criticise when we’re knocked out and if some of ye are right it will be pretty early . Just for the record ,I think we will win the all Ireland this year and I also think Evan Regan will be a sensation.

    I see there is a fair few comments in awe of Roscommon . I really don’t get that angle but I’m not goin to tell ye why .

  70. jr I don’t like what Tyrone do. They are a team of bullies. I feel sorry for the Rossies. They probaly went out to play a contemporary style of underage football they way they have always done.They were not allowed. I don’t believe they are coming, at least before Galway. If the two sides meet in the Connacht Final in 2015 I would expect Galway to come through in Salthill. Salthill is the game we need to win this summer.

  71. Ahh now hang on , Tyrone played some classy ball yesterday . If you class bullying as being able to kick a ball over the bar from 35/40 yards, give me a team of bullies all day long.

  72. Tyrone had Lee Brennan kicking great points. Roscommon are going to be a division 1 standard team if they continue current u21 trends. There is a lot we can learn without immediately labelling Tyrone as bullies and Ros as not being of a top standard.
    Evan Regan is the only young forward Iv been impressed by in terms of ability from play. That is worrying.
    The 2013 minors the forward line apart from Conor Loftus was very short or light. We wont stay on top without a better production line of talent in terms of skill and physique.

  73. Aim high and you may reach the stars. Fair play to Tipp. Tyrone better team all day long. I do t like their style of play but you have to admire it. Tyrone used to be bullied like when Meath bullied them of the field in 1996. They put a plan in place and look what they have achieved since…three all Ireland titles.

    I still believe if we can win one we will win a few…its belief…like breaking through a glass ceiling.

  74. Great to see Conor loftus in the mayo panel now. We now have a real centre forward and hopefully he will get some game time this year but one things for certain he will be the fulcrum of our attack in a few years time. Now I’m only basing this on what I have seen him do for cross and mayo minors but the composure he shows on the ball and the intelligent game reading make him different from anyone we have. It was great to see him as a 17 year old a few years ago wear the famous no.11 jersey for cross. They were big boots to fill.

    All I can hope now is he stays injury free and gets a good run.

  75. Did anyone see the last minute of the Tipperary v Waterford hurling? Waterford 1 point up in the dying seconds, won the ball, put it over the line and out. Won it again, put it over the line and out. That was twice. Tipp. couldn’t get the ball, the whistle blew and Waterford won. Now there’s a way to close out a game !!!

  76. John,

    Tremendous piece of writing.
    Difficult to disagree with you, especially on comment on forwards , ultimately that is what will end up winning on not winning an all-ireland. To me that goes down to coaching from 16-17 years old and onto maybe twenty. A large part of skills/dummies/kicking with both feet are in place by that point. then it is a matter of working on being a team player.
    What I am saying may be to simple, but you probably get my point.

  77. @ joemamas, I remember seeing on the TV, U10 lads in Kerry, taking a pass, instantly kick passing, running, taking another pass, kick passing again, on and on, at full speed. Others were soloing, at full speed, around poles, and the ball was stuck to them. It was a revelation!!!!

  78. Just for the craic I did a tally of who has won what since 2001 in terms of National titles. I picked 2001 as that was the year that we started winning National titles again. I went through Senior, U21, Minor, Club and League Division 1 titles won. The overall totals are as follows:

    Position County Total Senior U21 Minor Club League

    1. Dublin 12 2 4 1 3 2
    2. Kerry 10 5 1 1 0 3
    Tyrone 10 3 1 4 0 2
    4. Galway 9 1 4 1 3 0
    5. Armagh 7 1 1 1 3 1
    Cork 7 1 2 0 1 3
    7. Mayo 5 0 1 1 2 1
    8. Derry 3 0 0 1 1 1
    9. Donegal 2 1 0 0 0 1
    Roscommon 2 0 0 1 1 0
    11. Laois 1 0 0 1 0 0
    Down 1 0 0 1 0 0
    Tipperary 1 0 0 1 0 0
    Antrim 1 0 0 0 1 0

    We are in 7th position overall in the last 15 years in terms of the No. of National titles won.

  79. Your piece goes back to the 50s and 60s and even throws in some minor matches etc. Yes some of the lads were in 3 or 4 finals and there may be some residue but some of our biggest performers on recent big days, Andy against Dublin when he wasn’t long back & Keith in all big games. Aido O Shea did a national radio interview in early autumn and said he was raring to go again. Losing a big game is not the end of the world. Nobody dies. Each in last 3 years was very tight margins. There were some lessons to be learned, and some were.
    Kerry might be coaching young lads well just now but their record at underage is nowhere close to the seniors. I concede there is something to what you say alright in that Declan O Sullivan was warming up near me at the Limerick when Kerry got the goal that got them back in and you could see in his body language that he always believed it would come.And game on.
    But fans have a fair influence too. Do Kerry fans groan as much as us (factoring in the pessimists in both camps) if they miss a big point as James O D did in the Croker game. Do Kilkenny fans panic if they have a few misses or concede a few scores, no they think don’t panic, we are Kilkenny. They are a small County, Kerry has only about 20% bigger population than Mayo and more play hurling than us. No real advantage. Mayo has maybe twice the population of Ros. Bigger advantage. Kerry have no more right to be there than us. The county similar to us who have won are Clare hurlers. We have a battle hardened bunch of lads with super strength and conditioning and great heart as showed in both Kerry games when we had perhaps 40% of the ball. Yes we need a bigger panel, few class subs and time will tell if any new lads do make a difference this year in that regard. If not I believe Coen and Durkan will free one of our backs next year. The league is for experiment. Our neighbours have closed the gap and that is good for the game and a provincial loss would not be a disaster either if we then have a good run in the back door. And if we end up using almost the same battle hardened lads making later stages of championship I won’t give a damn. Fully fit Dillon and Moran will be a big asset even as game changing subs. What doesn’t kill ye makes ye stronger. Play the deck of Cards we have and be the 16th man & woman.

  80. Well done John Cuffe on that fine article, hard hitting for sure, but one can’t hide from facts. Pity some on here wouldn’t see it for what it is, a passionate Mayo supporter, frustrated from all those years of waiting and yearning for our turn to raise Sam.

    What ever way we look at it, John’s “C’est la vie”, has provoked a hell of a lot of comment. And it’s credit to the man that regardless of where we stand on all this factual history of Mayo football, he has managed to provoke a lot of passion and soul searching, and as this site would appear to be a fair reflection of Mayo supporters in general, than discussion like this has to be a good thing going forward.

  81. Can’t agree with this article. John says we should have cleared the squad and started again from scratch. I have news for ye john, joe Mac, true grit etc.
    there are no colm coopers or Sean Cavanaghs hiding in the undergrowth of mayo club football right now, waiting to be discovered. Remind me again who was the mayo gaa club player of the year last year? You guessed it – yer old friend Alan Dillon. Ye wouldn’t even have him on the squad the way ye are talking. The best players in mayo are on that panel right now. I’m delighted to see Loftus and Kenny getting involved. They have big futures. But don’t be expecting them to go win us an all Ireland in 2015. That’s up to the players at their peak right now. They are not that far away you know from delivering Sam. If I was Holmes id be looking at players aged 23-30, who for one reason or another weren’t involved the last few years. Colm Boyle, tom parsons type players. But those kind of guys are generally stand outs at club level and most likely are already on the panel. Maybe Kirby will be the 2015 version of Boyle. Here’s hoping.

  82. Willie Joe have you any details of any pre-championship challenge games. Surely there are a few lined up?

  83. Comparing Mayo to Kerry in terms of population is all well and good but the buck stops there. There is a world of difference in the way talent is unearthed and promoted in Kerry to the way it comes through in Mayo.

    Kerry for a long time have just not had the policy that you have to be a Senior player to compete on the county team. And on average 20-30% of their first 15 (not subs now) are from Junior clubs.

    In Mayo nearly 90% of the first 15 are from Senior clubs with the remainder from Intermediate. That is the policy up here. And that goes back a lot to U21 level as well unless guys go to University and maybe play Sigerson.

    It is not as prevalent at minor and below because there are lads in schools across the county playing together from all club grades. But from then on the guys from lower club levels stop coming through as they can’t compete at the top level needed to get the skills and experience to push them on to have any chance at County standard.

  84. Joe Mac – didn’t see the Tipp v Waterford as I had to leave before it, but I made my debut at Nowlan Park yesterday, and caught a classic in Cork v Dublin.

    Dublin scored 2-15 in the first half (with a very strong wind, which nobody mentions) and led by 12 at one stage. Cork playing poorly still snatched a win.


    Here’s the moral of the story for Mayo. On my way back I was trying to figure it out, when the radio people mentioned that Horgan had scored 17 points, 14 from frees. That was it; Horgan missed nothing, they kept in touch and, when they got momentum,the wind was a big help, and Horgan kept on scoring.

    Cillian is our Horgan. How we missed him in the league and how we need him. A significant part of his contribution over the past 4 years has been to keep us ticking over with accurate free taking, even when we are not playing well.

    I rant on about this regularly, but check out the Tyrone, Dublin, and Donegal games to name but 3. If we converted the frees in two of them we would have won.

  85. True Grit, you said on a previous comment we have “no reliable free taker”. Can you elaborate on that statement?

  86. @ Mac’s left boot. My point about Colm Cooper was, that if a footballer, as talented as he is, practised as hard as that, it shows everyone has to practice hard. I do wish we had him though. 😉

  87. joe, good point. even the great c mac did a lot of training, it didnt just happen that he could kick a 55 yard free over the blackspot, the many thousands of practice kicks in crossmolinas ground brought his natural talent to a fine point. Food for thought for any youngster with plans , practice practice practice.

  88. Talking of challenge matches, I see that Galway and Dublin played out a 1-16 all draw yesterday. The teams were as follows:

    Dublin – S Currie; M Fitzsimons, K Nolan, E Culligan; N Devereux, D Daly, D Byrne; C O’Sullivan, T Brady; E O Conghaile (0-1), A Brogan (0-4), B Fenton; H Dawson (0-5, 3f), C Reddin, P Andrews (0-3). Subs: G Hannigan for C O’Sullivan, P Ryan (1-2) for D Byrne, H Gill for E Culligan, S Carthy (0-1) for B Fenton, J Curley for D Daly, A Cullinane for S Currie, E Culligan for K Nolan.

    Galway – B O’Donoghue; P Naughton (0-1), F Hanley, C Sweeney; S Denvir, J Duane, L Silke; P Conroy (0-2f), F O Curraoin; G Sice, S Walsh (1-2), M Lundy (0-1); I Burke (0-2), P Sweeney, D Cummins (0-4). Subs: G O’Donnell (0-1) for J Duane, A Varley for F O Curraoin, T Healy for B O’Donoghue, D Kyne for P Sweeney, T Flynn for F Hanley, P Varley for L Silke, M Martin (0-3) for S Walsh, E Hoare for G Sice, C Healy for P Conroy.

    Referee – C Reilly

  89. I genuinely dislike this type of article. It does nothing for me at all!
    All I have to say is that every year is a new one with fresh hope and optimism for the future from under 10s to senior inter county. Let’s hope 2015 is a good one for Mayo. I for one will be there rooting for the team as usual, as will thousands more whose hopes and dreams are still alive and well.

  90. @ diehard. So you will have fresh hope and optimism for the future, with hopes and dreams, without correcting any of the problems that have caused Mayo to lose so much in the last three years. Wow!!

  91. Agree Joe Mc, showing up for big matches without learning from our past mistakes, will more than likely result in us coming up short yet again. To often in the past when Mayo had teams on the rack, a poor return from our forwards, always left us vulnerable to the sucker punch – and my God haven’t we suffered more than most in this regard.

  92. I reckon the weight of expectation on mayo players on all Ireland day is huge comparing to teams who already won it in recent times, Dublin, Donegal, Kerry, and the likes. It burdens on the players, and the fear of making mistakes going into last ten, fifteen minutes of all Irelands is there. It seems to me that Mayo are going to need a lot of luck to win one, but if they could the monkey would be off our backs.As well as been a long suffering supporter of aston villa they retreated in last ten minutes of win over Liverpool on Sunday and near gifted them a way back when outplaying them for most of the game. But villa had no expectations of winning and all the pressure and talk was on Liverpool. Liverpool froze under the pressure, it kinda reminds me of Mayo.

  93. Concede maybe could take a leaf out of Kerry allowing regional Intermediate or Junior clubs to amalgamate some teams for senior championship. That is something they made a smart decision with.

    Gooch and Peter Canavan are players of a generation. Maybe there’s something different about Kerry to do with them winning so many that they unearth these but in our neighbourhood there were Ciaran Mc, Padraic Joyce, Ja Fallon, Donal Shine. Donegal have Murphy another super player. Competition for places may come into it, Dublin lads have to perform to keep the jersey, same for Kerry. But would the Geaney Bros who are admittedly improving have made Mayo team last year, I think not. That was an All Ireland the won by being the most adaptable team but even so their manager might admit putting on Donaghy in first semi was probably a throw of the dice borne more of necessity than anything else as the game was very nearly gone from them. We have a player with potential to influence the game more than Donaghy in the forwards (AOS). We have no Gooch, but if he’s fit and we make the business end we have a top player in Cillian. We won’t be like Dublin this year with 5 or 6 top subs in the forwards. We may be closer next year if Loftus makes the grade, Diarmaid continues his progress and Keith or Donie freed to play in half forwards as some new backs make the step and grab a jersey with Barratt also pushing hard. We’re top 5, with Dublin a step ahead of the other 4 and Kerry probably 2nd factoring in return of Gooch and addition of T Walsh and Galvin to squad. I include Cork this year but not Tyrone or Monaghan despite our struggle against former, man for man we’re better than both. But on any given day, a lower rated team can take out a big one and it can open up like this year. Galway & Ros closing in on top 6 but in a tight finish in Connaught I fancy us with more impact subs and battle toughness.

  94. Great post Shuffly Deck. I would put Tyrone very close. They play a tough, fast type of football; some great forwards. Could be very tough this year. Whoever wins will earn it.

  95. Barcelona , Real Madrid , Man United and Altrincham .

    Ferrari, BMW, Porsche and a Lada.

    Ciaran Mac, padraig Joyce , ja fallon and Donal shine.

    No way am I letting that go , the man will be lucky to get his place on the Roscommon team this year.

  96. @joe Mc, can I ask a couple questions. I’m keeping the house rules in mind when I’m asking these but am likely to infringe. What gives you the right to question any supporters optimism? And in questioning said optimism, what have you done to rectify any issues in Mayo football bar agreeing with John cuffes assessment on past failures?

  97. Well said Sean, how anybody could list the man in question with the other Legends.

  98. Hi was wondering was any word from Portugal how did Evan Regan and Conor loftus get on I’m hearing good story’s about young loftus can any of the cross lads tell me how ye rate him and how good he is. Please god he will good forward

  99. First off, thanks to John C for his guest piece. It’s a quiet time, matches-wise, on the Mayo GAA scene, and it’d have been far quieter on here the last few days had John not penned this thought-provoking piece. I haven’t done a head-count but I’d say there have been at least twenty guest posters on the site down the years but John’s by far the most prolific and he’s always ready with a piece at a time when things would otherwise be overly quiet. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for the time and trouble he takes in repeatedly putting his views out there.

    That’s not to say that I always (or indeed even frequently) agree with the line of argumentation he adopts but I am a great believer in people being allowed to air different viewpoints. That’s all they are at the end of the day and it sure would be a dull world if we all had the same take on what’s happening in the world at any given moment.

    In response to the piece and the debate that has followed in its wake, I’d just like to add two points, one of which has been made already – but deserves, in my view, to be repeated – while the other has been touched on but merits deeper exploration.

    The first picks up the point in the piece where it’s argued that fresh blood is needed if we’re to improve. I don’t think anyone would argue against the proposition that new faces are always welcome and that the more players there are challenging for places the better but, as others have said, I’m not at all convinced that we an alternative team (or even half a team) of undiscovered talent out there. In fairness to Pat and Noel, they’ve cast their net wide enough since the first FBD match in early January and the fact that we’ll be heading into this summer with pretty much the same panel as last summer tells you all you need to know on that point.

    The second is a more philosophical point about positivity and reality and all that, which has been bubbling along in the comments for some time, not just in relation to this piece but it has featured prominently enough in this regard.

    The first thing I’d say about this relates to the house rules and the requirement to play the ball and not the person and I’d have to say there’s been a bit of the latter in some of the comments made on this particular topic. I won’t bother naming names here but you know (or at least you should) who you are in this respect. If it continues, I will start to call people out as it’s beginning to annoy me at this stage.

    At a broader level, I’m not sure why there is any debate on this issue because it pre-supposes that there’s some higher logic to being a supporter. To me, it’s the absence of such logic that creates the atmosphere that allows us to dream about days of glory and the chance that one day we might see the promised land. If you put logic – call it “reality” if you want – into the mix then, to my mind at least, the room for magic is no longer there.

    Thirty years ago, a Kerryman greatly offended me. After our promising championship run in 1985 (which, like every year I’ve followed them, ultimately ended in failure) when I was voicing great hopes about our ability to challenge at the highest level the following year, he retorted that “there’d always be at least one county capable of beating Mayo every year”. Thirty years on, he’s been right every single bloody year, and so if I were realistic about it, I’d have thrown my hat at this a long time ago. But I didn’t, none of us have, and the dream – however unrealistic – lives on.

    Maybe we’ll never do it, maybe we’ll do it this September. None of us know for sure because the script hasn’t been written yet. And that’s the only reality we have as supporters.

  100. Willie Joe

    I would think tthat there is a team capable of beating the All Ireland Champion Winners every year. Last year both ourselves and Dublin were capable of beating Kerry

  101. Willie Joe, on the subject of ‘reality’ and optimism, dreams and hopes and magic etc. In my mind there is no problem whatsoever with this. There is evident confusion here as to the different interpretations. We all should and are entitled to have those dreams etc, without exception. The following post is probably the most succinct and accurate I have read. It is simply factual.

    “St Pats Oldie says:
    April 18, 2015 at 9:14 am
    Great piece John. Interesting that some people are calling for more optimism but it’s realism that moves you forward.
    Optimism is based on a hopeful outcome where realism is based on facts and developing a plan to achieve that goal.”

    I was there when Mayo won the last All Ireland and it was wonderful, but after 60 years of heartbreak and disappointment the optimism gets a little cautious. I, for the first time in all those years, really felt optimistic and confident that this team could do it and once again, oh dear. I would bet that every realistic poster here has exactly the same hopes and dreams about Mayo as the “positive” ones. It’s only when we are told to stay at home and not bother to turn up or support Mayo that the niggle and defensive attitude sets in and causes hassle. Some of the abuse hurled at John Cuffe leaves a lot to be desired. I am only trying to explain the reactions, within the house rules. If they weren’t there, it wouldn’t be funny.

  102. If you don’t have hope you have nothing and might as well give up following football or anything that involves hope and luck. There’s plenty of doom in the minds of older Mayo people, at the 1997 semi final against Offaly, Mayo were cruising home when my friends dad who was there with us decides that “they’ll win nothing” ” they’ll be lucky to hold on” etc, etc. my own father is a doom mongrel beyond belief and a lot of his peers are the same. About everything. If its sunny and warm they’re dead right in saying it’ll rain before long, but why not enjoy the blasted thing instead of being so pessimistic? Maybe the effects of the famine and losing so many to emigration affected Mayo people a lot worse than Kerry or donegal? When they try to start conversation about Mayo football I play along, agreeing wholeheartedly that Mayo are useless, they ll win nothing and that we will all die, it’s funny how it stops when they see I have given up the battles I used have with them, defending Mayo. But in my heart I am sure Mayo are close to glory, 2015?

  103. I kind of agree with O Sullivan – The GAA championship is kind of weird really when you think about it, it is in effect a cup competition with one second chance for “some” counties. Win Connacht, Leinster etc and you have no second chance. I think the most consistent teams should be rewarded to a point. Open it up to champions league style groups maybe is the way forward.

  104. I don’t disagree with much of that, Joe Mc, and as I’ve said, there’s been a bit too much playing the person rather than the ball on both sides of this particular debate. I just think it’s a non-debate – we’re all supporters and whether we turn up with a positive or a downbeat attitude is an individual thing. I do think that focusing the debate on those making the points – and turning it into an Us vs. Them thing – is particularly unhelpful and unnecessarily adversarial. For what it’s worth, I don’t start every year thinking we’ll win Sam and I harbour doubts all the time about our chances but my own perspective is that if I didn’t have a positive outlook to supporting the team then I probably would turn my attention to something else.

  105. I think John’s piece has created great debate. Mayo support can be likend to the glass half empty glass half full debate.
    The optimist will say the glass is half full the pessimist will say it’s half empty and the realist will say that it contains half the required amount of liquid for it to overflow thus identifying a need.
    The Kerry man of course will offer to go splits on the price of the glass and then inform you that he’ll drink the bottom half.
    Debate and differences of opinion is healthy and none of us would take the time out of our days to post here unless we were mad about Mayo.

  106. Fair comment Willie Joe. I honestly would love to talk football only. I will do so from now on, as i ignore the gibes. 😉

  107. St Pats Oldie, Love the Kerry man reference. I have a Kerry friend and i told him he taught Scrooge everything he knows.

  108. John Mc it’s always the Kerryman that’s giving the lesson that’s for sure

  109. Really cannot understand why opinions have to be labelled. I do not know when that has drifted into discussions of Mayo football. On starting out as a Mayo supporter, I used never hear anybody’s opinion described as negative or positive. As I wrote earlier, sometimes I think on coming onto this site that people are writing about electrical currents.

    I fail to see why it is so difficult to take opinions as just that – opinions.

  110. Well said WJ, couldn’t agree more.

    I’ve avoided any comment on this as it just seems a bit pointless. We’re all different, have different outlooks etc, so just move on and be the type of person you are (positive/negative, optimistic/pessimistic).

    I’ve crossed swords with John a few times myself, but I’ve given up now! No point, we’ve all just got differing viewpoints and ways of expressing those.

    Personally, I go with the optimistic route, because as you say, what’s the point otherwise? If I didn’t enjoy following Mayo and found it a chore or too heart-breaking, I’d just pull back a bit and try not to take it so seriously.
    As it is, I love watching Mayo (even when we’re hammered), the football itself could be shite, but I still feel an immense sense of pride and “belonging” in watching my fellow county when representing this fine county of ours.

    But there’s also a certain realism that goes with that.
    I think 2013 was the only year I actually TRULY believed (both before and during the championship) that we would win it.
    Other years I just go in with a certain degree of hope, but sure hope is a great thing sometimes, makes the whole thing enjoyable.
    It’s not like we’re Carlow and don’t have any chance at all of winning Sam. We’re one of the top teams, and we have a chance of winning it this year. Personally I think we’d need a few things to go for us and a bit of luck to do it, but there is a chance. That’s good enough for me right now.

  111. Thanks for putting up that article from Mayo News on the player welfare initiative, HopeSprings. It sounds like a very positive move which will get everybody involved in player development at county level on the same wavelenght. Hopefully it can be followed on at club level as well.

  112. Your welcome AndyD, yeah it seems like there are two good men in charge of this programme, it’ll be very interesting to see what the results will be like in the coming years. As you said, it’d be great to see the clubs get involved as well.

  113. For all Mayo supporters, take time if you can and watch the following documentarys. Still we believe, the Boston red Sox movie, is from a fans point of view of the ups and downs of the fans over the 2003 season and as a lifetime of disappointment being a red Sox fan!
    Reverse the curse of the bambino, and 4 days in October(available on YouTube) about the 2004 world series championship win, I’ve always felt the red Sox were the equivalent of being a Mayo supporter, it’ll put into perspective the different views of supporters, negative and optimistic, it’s a well worth venture, and could be good for the soul????

  114. I’ve avoided commenting up to now but for all it’s worth my take on this is quite simple.

    We’re a football county obsessed by one simple goal. We’re there or thereabouts most years. We’ve been agononislgly close on a number of occasions. We’ve been humbled on a few more. But we persevere. And that’s something I’m quite proud of. Some sneer at us for it. Others admire us for our durability.

    So what do we do with this? We keep going. We keep trying. And we keep believing. Nothing else for it.

  115. Mayo GAA board poster saying one of our bucks got injured last night at training.

  116. I suffer from the pendulum of the emotional swing, like everyone else here. Somedays when Mayo put on a very poor performance, as soon as game’s over I can be fierce critical – and even to the point of predicting “Mayo goin nowhere this year”, which can be a real knee-jerk Reeaction.
    I understand we go tru the highs and lows, so John above basically feels the frustration of looking back on missed opportunities. So don’t crucify him for this frustration – we all feel it sometimes.
    Wudnt be so sure though regards the lads not bringing in new talent, staying with the old guard…
    Think WJ you get it bang on when u say they cast the net far and wide and still we seem to be left with the best available.
    I don’t know how far we might get this year. Nor does anyone here. Some people throwing in towel before a ball’s kicked. Ridiculous.
    Yes we failed last 3 yrs – but we got damn close. – Who’s to say we won’t get close/closer this year.
    Donegal last year, no-one gave them a hope and they beat Dubs off field.
    We CAN do it. Have a little faith.
    And if we don’t this year we’ll be back. Again and again!
    We always do.
    One more thing – though there has been heartbreak, we have had some great days.
    We may well look back someday, after we have finally done it, and then realise all the years we nearly got there were great years anyway.
    Winning Sam I am obsessed with – but if we don’t do it in my lifetime (I’m 50 so hurry up) I can still say I have had some truly magnificent days – around some truly magnificent people.
    Mayo for SAM!

  117. Joe Mac
    please read my original post again – this time carefully – and you will see I make no mention or suggestion of ignoring past mistakes or of not correcting them. Ascribing views to people that they don’t actually hold and then berating them for such views is unhelpful to say the least!

  118. Diehard. I have read your post again and you are right, you didn’t mention ignoring past mistakes or nor correcting them, and for that I will sincerely apologise to you. Not an excuse, but you got the barrage that I was really aiming at others who had me really furious. The emotion caused me to see that you didn’t mention the necessary corrections so I mistakenly assumed you didn’t care. Sorry again.

  119. We need a challenge game or something new to chew on. Anything in the pipeline?
    I see someone mentioned the Boston Red Sox. They used to hear the ny Yankee fans chanting” 1918″ which was Boston’s version of 1951 for Mayo, it grated on them very badly but the manner in which they came back and beat the Yankees before going on to win the title is really what sport is about.
    If you believe you can do it and persevere there’s always that lucky break coming and you’ll get it someday. Mayo are lucky to have a bunch today that believe.

  120. No problem Joe Mac
    It takes a big man to admit a mistake. Thank you and I admire your passion for Mayo football. Someday our boat will come in and I hope I am around to witness it.

  121. Well said rock, just how I feel. I think one of the things I love so much about mayo is the ability to get up again and again and try once more. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

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