Countdown to Sunday now on in earnest

Mayo v Ros

It’s always the Tuesday before a big match before the countdown gets going properly (for us lot at any rate – the players and management have been planning and plotting about the game from much further out). Well, it’s Tuesday so it’s fair to conclude that the countdown to Sunday’s Connacht championship semi-final against Roscommon at Hyde Park has now begun.

First off, there’s some important ticketing info from the County Board, in case you haven’t seen it – full details here.  It’s unreserved seating in the stand at Hyde Park so the key thing if you’re heading for the stand is to get in early. The curtain raiser is the Connacht Intermediate hurling final between ourselves at the Rossies, which has a midday throw-in time, so aiming to be there for the start of that one should guarantee you a seat in the stand.

Roger has already mentioned that interesting piece in today’s Indo with Kevin McStay, which covers much of the same ground as that included in Kevin’s column on the match in this week’s Mayo News. I think that Ballina man makes a good point when he says that small changes are what could get us over the line this year. Those advocating a rip-it-up-and-start-again approach seem to forget that the current set-up have got us three Connacht titles in a row and back-to-back All-Ireland final appearances in the past two years. As a result, expecting anything this year other than incremental change isn’t realistic, nor, Kevin argues, is it necessary.

The Indo also has a piece on injury news, which contains some good tidings for us and not-so-good dispatches from the Rossies’ camp. The Mayo News (paper and digital versions) also has some encouraging news on this front from our perspective.  While Jason Gibbons is definitely out and the Mayo News reports that Tom Parsons has been ruled out too (with a hamstring problem), the same paper says that both Barry Moran and Chris Barrett are good to go as is Alan Dillon. Ger Cafferkey and Alan Freeman – who both missed the New York game – are also fit and ready so it looks as if James will be picking from a fairly full deck for Sunday.

Roscommon’s concerns appear to be centred around their important defender David Keenan, who featured against Leitrim but who looks set to miss Sunday’s semi-final due to a hamstring problem. In addition, his obvious replacement – U21 player Conor Daly – is still out of action due to the injury he picked up in the U21 All-Ireland final. The Rossies apparently have a few other players with bumps and bruises besides but none of these are likely to impact on John Evans’ team selection for Hyde Park.

26 thoughts on “Countdown to Sunday now on in earnest

  1. Good piece Willie Joe and welcome back again.

    Roscommon will be targeting Mayo’s system big time – if you can call it a system. Kevin Mac and Boyler likely to be targets on the basis that if you can deal with them you blunt the edges.

    Which reminds me that there hasn’t been much talk about Mac in the varieties of analysis that spill out on a daily basis. He is crucial; when he plays well Mayo really tick, and when he doesn’t …

    It’s not the linkage, or the toughness, or the ability to score goals and points (free taking too), or the covering, or the cleverness to spot the right man at the right time. It’s a combination of them all that makes him so special. Yet,(he is regularly dismissed as a ‘converted back’, and thus not a real forward with marquee credentials.

    If he is on his game on Sunday, Mayo will prosper.

  2. Welcome back WJ, hope it’s going ok for you.
    On the match, if gibbons and parsons are both out then maybe we will see Duffy get a few minutes? I agree with the points on kevin mc, after watching some of our big games on DVD from the last few years, he sure as hell can give a pass from distance and for a smallish man he can take abuse.

    On the championship for Mayo this year, if they can remove some of the basic mistakes and give simple passes when the other team are having a purple patch I think Mayo will be hard to beat by any and all.
    I watched the Dublin 2012 game recently, lord god, we gave away some easy stuff to them, i noticed a small trick that could have paid big rewards if the ball broke for Dublin
    Mayo player gave away a terrible ball near Dublin goal, down the field it flew and brogan accepted it with Clarke to beat, Clarke stops it without really knowing much about it and is dragged down by brogan, brogan done it instinctively, he was thinking that a teammate may be lurking and with the goal keeper on the ground anything is possible. It’s small things like that which make the difference.
    If we can learn from those mistakes and see how the dubs work the tricks you never know where it could end in 2014.

  3. Welcome back WJ, yeah Barrett played a half for Belmul, 2 weeks ago so he must be there or there abouts in terms of fitness.

    What options we have in the backs when all fully fit.
    my preffered option would be
    2 Barrett
    3 Caff
    4 Higgins
    5 Leroy
    6 Cunniffe
    7 Boyler

    But most likely Cunniffe will be retained at no.2 with Vaughan at 7 which is more than fine, its great lineup actually add in Barrett,Harrison,McHale,Keane and the very impressive Drake and you got some real good options before going to well for a superstar in the making in Coen.

    I see McStay mentioned the possible movement of AOS to 11 again, I do wonder if this is an option.
    It didnt really work before and only the Dubs midfield duo got bette of him so hard to see why we would change him out of midfield.

  4. Agree re. the backs Outside Of Boot. Would be great to see Cunniffe at 6. Think that would solve a lot of problems we’re having re. conceding goals.

  5. Next Sunday will tell us allot about Mayo.. I still expect us to win first off, but I dont expect our starting 15 will be our strongest, that said I dont know who will and who wont start for Mayo and where they will play, but as has been the motos operandum for Mayo under Horan this last 4 years our finishing 15 might be considered the stronger. There is nothing set in stone at this early stage of the championship. The Rossies will give it everything, they will have planned and prepared for this all year. Im sure they will give us one hell of a battle and thats good. This is Roscommons All Ireland. Everything they have done in winning division 3 has beeb gearing towards this “The Big One” as far as the Rossies are concerened.There will have no shortage of movitation either having suffered so much at the hands of Mayo for more than a decade now. So we too must be prepared for a mighty challenge too like against Tyrone for 45 mins last August. On paper sure its easy its impossible to see beyond a Mayo victory, but we must match Roscommons heart and desire, this time we must assume that they will have a deep self-belief and conviction that can beat us, so forget about big margins or beautiful football, mayo must win even if that means win ugly, we can take the critisism we will certainly get on The Sunday Game” from Spillane and Brolly.. Another thing go out and support your team, this particular set up is the best that have represented Mayo for over 60 years, I was talking to a few (so called Mayo fans) on Sunday night who got tickets for the All Ireland (that was their only outing last year too)wont be going because its on the telly. The Rossies will bring plenty of loud and colorful support.We should be able to match them!

  6. With Barry Moran not match fit and Parsons now reportedly out injured its getting a little too fine for comfort in terms of our mid field options for Sunday – lets hope there are no injuries or black cards picked up around the middle during the game or it could get a bit tricky. At least we have the strength and depth in the half back and half forward lines to win breaking ball if we are forced to resort to that tactic in the event of forced changes at 8 and 9.

  7. We should have no concerns about the Rossies, we are a different class. Would give them 20 minutes max. All we have to do is keep the head and should be a straight forward win!

  8. WJ, glad to have you back.
    Like everyone l cannot wait for the game. I was hoping to go over, but looking at the messages it seems there was no hope of getting in. If, and I don’t want to tempt fate, we get to the provincial final then I hope to go over with my lads.
    For some reason, I feel this Mayo squad are on the cusp of achieving their goal.

  9. I haven’t heard anyone advocating a rip-it-up-and-start-again attitude to the Mayo team!
    And it would help if paid columnists and pundits explained what exactly are the small changes that they believe actually are those that will result in Sam heading west to Mayo in September.
    What is generally being debated is the best options for half of the forward positions on the team.
    Because of injuries, the midfield picks itself, and the backs should return to a proven format, with Chris appearing back in the second half, and no change between the sticks.
    And as long as JH & Co pick the best available form players and we see the outline of a successful forward structure & a good game plan, we should win.
    And for me, based on NL form and a little necessity, I’d suggest our best attacking unit is: 10 – Kevin Mc; 11 – A.N.Other; 12 – Feeney; 13 – Sweeney; 14 – Freezer; & 15 – Cillian.
    Let’s see what happens?

  10. If based on NL form then why did you include Feeney? club tied until March and just a few sub appearance towards the end of the league from what i recall.

    justoutsideballagh its rarely that simple and you only have to go back two years to see Sligo div 3 level at the time put it up to Mayo on 0-12 to 0-10 scoreline, that game was very much in the balance throughout.

  11. Cloud 9,

    Is A N Other a newcomer on the panel? I haven’t seen him play before. Sometimes in the past somebody of that name has been selected but has always been replaced before throw in time,

  12. I think Andy or Richie would be fine at 11. The midfield should be the two O’Sheas, then with Kevin, Alan Freeman, Cillian shoo ins, I would like to see Sweeney, Andy and Richie join them. Not Doherty or Varley – we need to look at other options at this stage.
    Can’t see Gavin Duffy getting any game time really. Be worried if he did to be honest!

  13. MO2014 – that was part of what I was suggesting by ‘& a little necessity” – you’re right about Feeney’s NL game time, but everyone has failed to claim the 12 jersey on form and he’s seems to me the natural fit for it. He played a half in NY there, though that was no test. So basically in my opinion he deserves his turn at claiming it.
    AndyD – I agree, good old A.N.Other. The way I see it, JH will probably play Andy at 11 or 13. Like Horan’s Brigade, I think we need Sweeney in the inside line, 11 will likely be Andy, and on form Doc hasn’t grabbed his opportunities, Dillon is probably too rusty yet, the and midfield overflow in to the forwards won’t happen in this game due to injuries. So who knows?

  14. Am a bit troubled after reading these interviews with Alan Dillon in today’s papers. The gist of it is that the groin problems were a reason for not being at full fitness last year and that he wasn’t able to train properly, or train to the level of intensity that the rest of them were at.

    Which raises the question: if he wasn’t fully fit, wasn’t training to 100%, how was he starting every match? What does that say about the competition, which is supposed to be red hot?

  15. I think it’s obvious enough catcol that there are not many players in Mayo that are as good as Dillon, even when Dillon can’t train 100% or as regularly as his team-mates.

  16. Going on NL form surely Doherty was one of the better forwards? Sure he had a few quite periods but I’d say he done as much as Sweeney in terms of influencing games. Also he has more bulk than Sweeney, Dillon, K Mc so I wouldn’t rule him out.

    I’d go with K Mc, Andy, Doc, Sweeney, Freezer and Cillian. Although certainly there is a case for Feeney

  17. Wouldn’t agree with McStay on that one. The missing part is not a marquee forward. Sometimes teams lack that killer instinct, witness Tipp in the hurling. That can damage a team’s confidence over time, especially if it festers, see Dublin and Cork footballers. The realitiy is that if you don’t have an All-Ireland medal in your pocket you won’t be considered a ‘top national forward’.

    Of more interest was the interview with Alan Dillon where he talked about his injury rehab last year. I though most games passed him by in 2013. If he’s fit again he’ll be like a new player for Mayo.

  18. Agree with you there kevmy. There’s a fairly big clamor for Sweeney on here, and I know they don’t play in the same position, but I have been more impressed with Doherty. He can kick a long-range score, brilliant eye for a goal, and is very direct. As you say, he has more of a physical presence than Sweeney.

    Depending on how Dillon is training, and assuming they are keeping Higgins in the backs, I could see a forward line of:

    McLoughlin, Doherty, Dillon
    O’Connor, Freeman, A. Moran

  19. Roscommon team named:

    1. Darren O’Malley (Michael Glaveys)

    2. Seán McDermott (Western Gaels)
    3. Niall Carty (C) (Padraig Pearses)
    4. Neil Collins (Castlerea St. Kevins)

    5. Ian Kilbride (St. Brigids)
    6. Niall Daly (Padraig Pearses)
    7. Ciarán Cafferkey (Western Gaels)

    8. Cathal Shine (Clann na nGael)
    9. Kevin Higgins (Western Gaels)

    10. David O’Gara (Roscommon Gaels)
    11. Donie Shine (Clann na nGael)
    12. Ronan Stack (St. Brigids)

    13. Senan Kilbride (St. Brigids)
    14. Cathal Cregg (Western Gaels)
    15. Ciaráin Murtagh (St. Faithleachs)

    On the match itself I don’t think ye have anything to worry about, ye will open us up at ease through our half back line that is poor and a midfield that is equally poor, similar story to last year, could be over at half time and the second half a non contest.

  20. GBXI- I believe JH will pick the best forward line on current form and that may or may not include Sweeney. JH will be the best judge of who is on form. But what’s the story with your opinion of Sweeney. Before the Dublin league game you were in your own words “arguing against Sweeney all week” and that Conroy and Varley were better. After the game you accepted ( after scoring 1-2) that he should have been brought on sooner. Now you are back to anyone but Sweeney up to including the Doc with whom he has never competed for a position.

    He obviously is not your cup of tea as a footballer but it’s over the top to have what appears to be an anyone but him attitude.

  21. I would expect Rosc to be much better this year than last. They beat Leitrim with ease and while allowing that Leitrim are extraordinarily poor at present Rosc did look much better than last year. Kevin Higgins in particular looked a much stronger, improved player and if Donie Shine gets his freetaking right it will be a huge boost for the team.

  22. AndyD, Higgins will get destroyed by whoever Mayo name in midfield, for a big lad he has no physical presence and often pulls out of challenges with smaller lads. Shine is a lad that plays so much on confidence, if he nails his first free from a difficult angle then he could get into the grove big time and cause ye alot of problems from frees and open play

  23. Robert Mayo: I agree Horan will pick the most in-form forwards for Sunday, and I have complete trust in him doing so.

    I obviously didn’t explain myself very well on the Sweeney comments. My issue is less with Sweeney himself and more with how strongly some commentators on here felt about him and that he should have been playing more. I just couldn’t see why they kept saying he should be playing – I would understand if it was say Evan Regan or Liam Irwin they were talking about, as they clearly have a level of talent few forwards in Mayo have. And I brought up Doherty just to point out that Sweeney gets a huge amount of credit on here but Doherty less so even though Doherty has had at least as good a league campaign. I’d rate Sweeney ahead of Conroy, and about the same as Varley but Varley for all his annoying habits is strong and can score some excellent points.

    Anyway, I’ll say what I said before the Dublin game and I hope he comes on (if he doesn’t start) scores 1-2 again and helps Mayo to win in Roscommon! Genuinely have no issue with the lad and best of luck to him on Sunday.

  24. Im gunna throw my weight into this forwards debate. I personally would like to see a starting line off

    15.Sweeney 14. Freeman 13. Cillian 12. K Mac 11. Dillon (if fit) 10. Higgins. Andy to come in for Sweeney in the last quarter, Doc/feeney for a tiring Dillion.

    I knw alot of you want Keith back in the corner, but even if he doesnt score in games he creates a heck of alot with his blistering pace and intelligent hand passing and spotting the run, the sight of him in the forwards will un nerve the opposing backs. I think James might go with him again if barrett is back at full tilt. But more than likely the forwards starting on Sunday imo will be andy, cillian, kmac, dillon, freeman, doc.

  25. 1/2 surprises in store in the forward line. Youth will be given its fling by doing this the competition within the camp is going to be intense. Duffy playing for a few minutes for salthill on Saturday that’ll be his seanie Johnston moment.

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