Darren McHale our MOTM from yesterday’s game

Photo: Sports Joe

Seeing a player put in a storming performance at some stage in his first Championship season isn’t all that rare and we’ve been fortunate to witness a fair few examples of this over the past decade. But I’m struggling to think of another example where a player making his full Championship debut put in a Man of the Match performance at the first time of asking.

Darren McHale did just that in yesterday’s game against Sligo. The Knockmore player came off the bench against Leitrim in the Connacht quarter-final last November but was yesterday lining out from the start in the Championship for the first time. He was in the thick of the action right from the throw-in, confidently firing over our first two points from the two opportunities that came his way.

Darren eventually ended up with a personal tally of 1-5 yesterday, all of it from play. It was, in every sense, an eye-catching debut and while on Sky Sports Aidan O’Shea was selected, by co-commentator Billy Joe Padden, as their MOTM, Darren wins the poll here with 30% of the vote.

Aidan came a close second with 26% support, with Eoghan McLaughlin (11%), Paddy Durcan (9%) and Ryan O’Donoghue (5%) also polling strongly. Well done to them all.

29 thoughts on “Darren McHale our MOTM from yesterday’s game

  1. What I liked about him was he has no sign of nerves or uncertainty- he was straight in taking his scores and looking for the ball.

    I also think Towey has talent.

    You’d wonder whether the one-sided nature of some of the weekend’s games could bring an end to the provincial championships- something needs to be done

  2. I love to see a lad like that come in and make a real strong impact. He’s demanding a starting berth now. He’s a strong runner, really direct and can contribute on the scoreboard.

  3. Debutant should make their debut away from home, as it creates less pressure. Yes the provincial system vi’s dead but vested provincial interests will keep it alive

  4. Well done to Darren, he looked like he’d always been there. Here’s hoping he can bring that form and confidence with him over the season ahead, however long it might last for us.

    A good win for us, but what a depressing spectacle within our “premier” competition. How could a game like yesterday possibly benefit Sligo? Why, as a young fella with ambitions to play for county would you want to bother, when you know that’s what awaits you?

    How are the people charged with the responsibility of overseeing the health of the Association not embarrassed that they have allowed this to happen across the country, and how are they not even more embarrassed at the lack of decisive action to address it?

  5. @jr. Hopefully not. You have a healthy national football league system which could be used to seed teams for championship. Its of no benefit to Sligo that their championship season is over for another year.
    Well done to Darren McHale. Makes it a bit easier to settle in when playing alongside clubmatekev McLoughlin. Hopefully Kieran King and others will make the jump nto panel at some stage.
    Despite the uselessness of the game, we are starting to look like we have a panel with depth. Imminent return of Doherty Harrisson and DOConnor.

  6. Hi, Are you forgetting that tor years Mayo people and outside County wondered why Mayo even bothered putting out a team. A National disgrace.
    The same couid be said for Clare, Louth etc. Human nature has not changed. The new high and mighty Mayo.

    Be grateful for what you have been given and take a break from complaining.

  7. Darren McHale is a player I’ve liked. He brings workrate moreso on the attacking side if that makes sense. He’s always making himself dangerous with angled runs. He rarely seems to be running straight at goal. He’s got quite an assured left foot from within 30 yards. Another feature of his, I’d imagine he played with Conn Rangers at some point but he’s a real brave almost soccer striker poacher for goals. He’ll dive in to get contact on the ball.

  8. Ann Marie it’s not new for teams to get hammered in Connacht and Munster by 20 points or more. It happened in Connacht in 67, 69, 73, 76, 87, 90. Sligo nearly did it 65 when they beat Leitrim by 18

  9. Don’t get carried away with the win over Sligo. Scoring against Sligo is different then scoring against Ros or Galway.
    Sligo got some fabulous points, one with 5 defenders around the kicker.

  10. @Ciaran 2 Not forgetting about the hammering that Mayo took for over 40 years but I agree with you. Sligo are building at present and are more than capable of raiding the big houses of Connacht if they get their act together in the coming years. Remember 2010 as a recent example and you do not have to remind Galway people that were around the Championship of 07, 10, or 12 as another example. Rossies are even more potent and are always up to a challenge that appears above them. It’s just a simple case of having something to moan about. Which reminds me, is their any sign of the Luxembourg National soccer being split up so that our best can give them a game.

  11. Game on Saturday was nothing more than a training match but useful in adjusting to playing without Cillian as will the Leitrim game. Darren played well and looks a real find, will reserve final judgment until we play a top tier team.

    Regarding the Championship structure, its been a joke for decades, and the two options up for debate at congress will not improve the situation much, in fact it could make things worse. IMO there is a simple solution to the whole mess, we already have the ideal competition in place, its called the league, the same structure all great competitions around the world are based on. Move the league to the summer and give the winner Sam, move the provincials to spring as secondary competitions. Its madness trying to come up with more and more convoluted structures in order to accommodate the traditionalists and the provincials.

  12. Is the GAA football championship the only competition in the world where they is no grading of teams or divisions or a need to qualify to take part. As it stands at present there is no incentive for a Sligo or Carlow player to put in same effort as a Mayo player- for what – to be beaten out the gate by a Mayo or Dublin.
    What is needed is a proper championship where the weaker teams play teams of their own level with semifinals and final played in Croke Park as curtain raisers to the Sam Maguire semifinals and final.
    Louth and Offaly got a lot more out of thier game yesterday than they would if they were playing Dublin.
    The fact the teams were getting hammered 40 years ago doesn’t mean its right. The fact that it was happening 40 years ago and there us still nothing done about it is the bigger disgrace on the gaa part

  13. Hi, How I wish that I kept my thoughts private. There are far more knowledgable around than me.

  14. To say nothing has been done is simply not true. Some things that were done that didn’t work like the Tommy Murphy cup and then there’s the tier two competition that was going to happen last year but was cancelled because of covid.

  15. You are entitled to your opinion Ciarán as much as anyone else. I like Mayomads idea of prioritising the league, but the GAA are far too conservative to buy into that. It certainly doesnt mean that because teams were getting hammered in the past, that its ok to continue.
    If weaker teams are to progress, then they should have competitive summer football when they can train in the evenings and get fitness levels up.
    Also for irish people home on holidays, what a shame they never get to see their county playing. There is money in it for the GAA but they are stuck in a conservative rut… Does anybody really care who wins a provincial title.

  16. I agree with you Ciaran +2,I have followed Mayo since the early sixties,some great footballers very badly managed,since James came in we have fought our best including with Pat and Noel and Stephen ,who was outstanding,hopefully Sligo will improve because it is always good to watch by footballers

  17. Well done Darren,. he definitely brings a little bit of something different. Going on his style of play I think he will be influential regardless of the tier of opponent.

    There are so many well considered alternatives out there to the current AI series that there is no great need to document them until the powers that be take a chance on an alternative. But seeing as covid has thrown upon us a somewhat different league format this year, how about the following approach:-

    For League – Keep the current split leagues in place with every county guaranteed 4 games and league finalist getting a 5th game. Play Feb & March.
    For Provincials – maintain them and play in April & May obviously playing all quarters on same weekends, then semis 2 weeks later and then all finals 2 weeks later.
    For championship – 1st round of 16 games being div 1 & 2 teams seeded against division 3 & 4 teams. The 16 winners move on to all ireland sam maguire and enter 4 groups of 4 teams with the winners of each group going to AI-Sam Maguire semi and then final. The 16 losing teams drop into all ireland 2 championship and enter 4 groups of 4 teams with the winners of each group going to AI-2 semi and then final. Every team in country gets 4 championship games of football, and every team gets the opportunity to play for Sam first. Play the championship June to August.
    So pre covid times, every team was guaranteed 7 league games, 1 championship game and 1 backdoor game. My humble alternative guarantees every team with 4 league games, 1 provincial game and 4 championship games.
    The real carrot for the GAA….more money, the 70 championships across the summer months amongst teams of comparable abilities will generate far healthier revenues for GAA and for local economies.
    Or am I dreaming again………..

  18. Congrats on Saturdays victory but Kieran King from Knockmore, what happened to him ???

  19. 12 counties have never won an All Ireland and 6 have never played in the final. Why we persist with a one size fits all is hard to believe.

    Sligo are struggling to hold onto players and this must be related to their chances of success. In addition, the town has a strong soccer tradition and Sligo rugby have made strides in recent years. Both Sligo Rovers and Sligo RFC/ Connacht Development squads have required players to pick a sport during the important teenage years, which works against the gaa. This goes on in all counties but where there is a chance of success / profile there is more of a level playing field.
    In my opinion, having a secondary competition would make a big difference but even recent Sligo captains have spoken out against it, so unsure what can be done.

  20. The championship is a bit like the English FA cup everyone gets a chance lose and you’re out the last team unbeaten wins that’s the way it’s always been, it’s up to every county to gradually better themselves like what Mayo has done in recent years

  21. The provincial councils will never ever agree to a significant change in format because it will mean less coin for them. Financial incentives dominate decision making, not football considerations. Look at the Leinster Championship. County officials spent years voting to concede home advantage so that they could participate in a larger gate from Croke Park.

  22. Not quite the same format as FA Cup. The pathway to semi final varies from province to province. But i do agree every county gets a shot at Sam. Losing a first round match should not be end of season. Remember, there is a real problem, how many teams can realisticaly win the All Ireland?

  23. That comparison between the Championship and the FA Cup, while not fully accurate – as Ontheditch points out – is nonetheless historically relevant.

    I think it was in one of Paul Rouse’s books that I read it was the success of the FA Cup and the way that it captured the imagination of the public that persuaded the GAA and, in particular, Maurice Davin that national knockout competitions were needed in football and hurling. This thinking led directly to the establishment of the football and hurling Championships, which, in large, are with us in the same format today.

    It was when soccer went professional in England that league football began (in 1888) and while the FA Cup retained its allure for another hundred years (finally waning in the Nineties after the Premier League was founded and big money began to pollute the game), the league was and has remained the main soccer competition to win.

    By the time the GAA got around to starting league football, in 1925, the die was already cast. The Championship, for good and ill, had established its unshakeable position as the premier competition in the GAA.

  24. Very interesting piece Willie Joe.There’s no doubt about it knockout competition is exciting, just watching Switzerland winning on penalties now reinforces that and we all say we hate penalty shootouts but they are exciting and we love to see the underdog winning.The difference between soccer and Gaelic football is the number of scores,one goal can win a soccer match so you are more likely to get an upset, whereas in GAA the better team usually wins.Whatever changes are made I want to see the Super 8s gone,too many games, dilutes the whole thing.The GAA is a democratic 32 county organisation so the weaker counties have an equal voice to top tier teams,so huge change is unlikely as every county feels they should be treated equally.Still think Provincial titles mean a lot to players and supporters whereas League titles don’t seem to be as important.So we might be as well leave the system as it is.

  25. @Mayojoe, I have to admit that the 2020 Euros so far are providing better entertainment than the Gaa football championship this past 3 or 4 years, for one thing, there are at least 4 or 5 teams than can win the soccer tournament, we are turned off football this past few years as its a sure thing that the Dubs will always win out.

  26. Mayo88 To be honest have only seen bits of Euros up to now. All the goals this evening that got me interested,soccer normally bores me to tears especially the Premiership. Rugby and Gaelic for me anyday and as for the Dubs love them except when they’re playing us.

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