Derry 2-15 Mayo 1-16: power failure

Mayo Derry final score

There are better things in the world to be doing than sitting here writing about a Mayo defeat. But, then again, there are worse things. Such as The Voice of Ireland. So here goes with a few short thoughts.

Like the rest of you, I’m disappointed and more than a bit despondent at the outcome of today’s game and with many aspects of our performance against Derry at Croke Park today. We played in a disjointed, incoherent kind of way, much of what we did – especially after we crossed half-way – was painfully laboured and our defensive shortcomings were all too apparent (albeit explained, at least in part, from the absence of first team players for the second half). And we had another bad day on the sideline, epitomised by the utterly pointless move of pitching Richie Feeney into the action with a minute left on the clock, by which time it was already clear that we were beaten. So, all told, it wasn’t a good day at HQ for us.

It was, too, the first time under James Horan that we’d gone under to a side we were fancied to beat in a match at Croke Park. In fact, you have to go back to the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Meath in 2009 for a similar reversal. Today’s defeat bore some similarities to that one – in that this was was also eminently winnable and that we conceded goals at precisely the wrong time – but I’d give Derry more credit for today’s win, which they dug out with fourteen men and a great, never-say-die attitude.

The other difference between those two games is, of course, that that one was a championship match whereas this was, at the end of the day, no more than a League game. While it would have been great to win today, and even better had we gone on to win the League, losing at this juncture in this competition can’t ever be seen as a very big deal. We were fairly abject in how we went under so tamely to Dublin in last year’s League semi-final but I don’t think that defeat had any impact on our championship campaign. Maybe – though I’m not entirely convinced that this is so – it’ll be the same this year.

I’m not going to get into a blow-by-blow account of today’s match here. If you were there or watched it on TV or followed it on the radio or online you’ll know how it went. In short, we were going well twice but on both occasions conceded embarrassingly soft goals to let Derry back into it. Coming down the closing stretch, we lost all composure while the hard-working Oakleafers grew in strength and belief, shooting three magnificent points from play to seal a well-deserved win.

A few things from this match, and the wider League campaign, are worthy of a mention, though. The first relates to how our backline – the bedrock of our re-emergence under James Horan – has proved so creaky this year. I don’t think this is just down to whether or not Keith Higgins (never the tightest man-marking corner-back when he was at 4, let it be said) plays there but rather it points to a complete failure on our part to find a way to defend under the black card rule. This year we’re letting teams saunter right through our backline and our alarming goals-against tally proves that we’ve got more problems than most in finding a way to defend effectively under the new rules. Unless we fix this problem, and soon, it’s difficult to see us competing where it really counts this year.

Secondly, what has happened to our version of the choke tackle? Last year and the year before, we were excellent at defending high up the field and great at turning over ball all over the place. I know that this kind of high-intensity game is something that really came to the fore in 2012 and 2013 when the serious action started but it’s like we’ve forgotten this crucial piece in our armoury. Hopefully, the summer campaign will see this deployed in earnest again.

Next, it’s unavoidably the case that we’re just not capable of getting scores from our forward line in the assured way that other leading counties so clearly are. Today kinda summed that up – Derry effectively won the match with three high-quality long-range strikes but before this scoring burst, in an eight-minute spell in the final quarter, we kicked four wides from scoreable positions, two of which were of the horrendous variety.  I know this is out of the if-your-aunt-had-balls-she’d-be-your-uncle type of analysis but had at least two of those misses been points, I doubt we’d be licking our wounds right now.

Finally, it’s inevitable that talk will turn to possible burnout and the accumulated psychological damage wrought by those two All-Ireland final defeats. It’s very hard to know if this is a factor, either to a significant degree or at all, but I’ve always felt that this year we need to hold off on any judgment about how we’re shaping up until the August Bank Holiday weekend. I still believe this to be the case.

What we need to do now is assimilate all that needs to be learned from this up-and-down League campaign and get ourselves organised in a way that ensures we’re still in the hunt then. All manner of other talk – both of the frothy Mayo 4 Sam nonsense as well as pointless doom-laden predictions of failure and long-term decline – is simply irrelevant at this stage as our focus shifts once more towards getting back to the business end of the championship.

Mayo: Robbie Hennelly; Brendan Harrison, Ger Cafferkey, Shane McHale; Lee Keegan (0-1), Colm Boyle, Donal Vaughan; Aidan O’Shea (0-1), Jason Gibbons (0-1); Keith Higgins (0-1), Andy Moran (1-0), Jason Doherty (0-2); Kevin McLoughlin, Alan Freeman (0-5, four frees and a ’45), Mikie Sweeney (0-2). Subs: Kevin Keane for Cafferkey, Enda Varley (0-1) for McLoughlin, Tom Parsons for Higgins, Seamus O’Shea for Gibbons, Richie Feeney for Doherty.

139 thoughts on “Derry 2-15 Mayo 1-16: power failure

  1. They looked absolutely shagged…no running game in the second half…hard to be positive after that…Higgins was wasted & eventually taken off…still leaking goals all over…never really had a strong opinion on the Higgins experiment…but now I think its time to end it…he’s not the same player.

  2. mayo were way behind derry in the fitness stakes ,its only april .plenty oftime totake stock .wouldnt panic just yet

  3. Mayo look tired sorry maybe a break might be no harm and away from the media might help as well, really missed cillian today although Sweeney had good game j gibbon s had greAt game but need to put Higgins back in corner I think.

  4. Pathetic..That’s the only word to describe that performace..Havn’t felt as disillusioned in a long time at a Mayo match..Although the Dublin game was bad this was at another level..

    Derry are not a great side..Far from it they had one eye on the Ulster Championship and this was a bonus..We had stated out intention to win the league and to be honest we needed to..

    People will come on and say its only the league but they’re living on another planet if they think that game wasn’t significant..The shot selection all round was pathetic..Enda Varley from the 13 yard line near the sideline with his right foot..Andy from impossible positions..pot shots..Tom Parsons shootng for a point with us 3 down in injury time..We’re learning nothing..

    Which brings me to the management..They should be duly croticised..and it should be a strong criticism..Again with an extra man we didnt have a clue what to do..The extra man then was designated as Shane McHale who stood in front of the derry full forward for the whole second half not in the game whatsoever..Leaving Aidan O Shea on was the icing on the cake..He was a spent force after 50 mins..
    The rossies will be looking forward to us

  5. Looking at second match really showing how poor Mayo were against a very middle of the road Derry team. Our forwards are way off All Ireland standard.

  6. When i seen the full back line i knew we’d get beat. Then ger caff went off, game over!!!

    CIllians fitness key come the summer. Doc had some howlers. Sweeney a certain starter. A moran still not sharp enough.

    I’d be concerned if we were flying in april, but i’m equally as concerned by the lack of any obvious tactical plan.

  7. I think we are cooked and this particular Mayo project could be hitting the stoppers. It’s been three long years with a lot of football played. I think a bit like Donegal last year 2014 could be a write off….we looked very tired and out of ideas. Now one can’t get too carried away either but looking at all our games this year we look off the pace big time…..I hope I am proved wrong but it seems management and players need a serious talk. Maybe trip to NY will do them good.

  8. Well it was a day where Mayo looked tired on the ball. Lazy tackling. Misplaced players. But we have to look forward. No more negativity look forward to championship. We had a few tough weeks and games. Derry had the psychological and physical edge by sending down the b team last week. I think Mayo need to regroup and rethink. Kick outs not working. Higgins needs to return to his spot. But I would not be disheartened by today we will improve.

  9. Joe you’re dead right, the experiment with Higgins has failed and there’s no doubt his own confidence and influence is suffering, and for one of our better players that’s a shame. Maybe it’s time for James to take a long hard look at the team setup – take a look back at some of last years better moments and see can he get them playing as before. I got the impression from todays game the players need leadership on the field and some guidance from the side – today they had neither. A team playing as individuals will never win anything and there was a lot of that on shown today. Thankfully we have time, maybe they should all take a week or so off over Easter, brush themselves down and start again.

  10. Woeful display.Summed up in minute 68 when Keegan handed the ball off at midfield and threw his arms in the air in frustration because no forward was showing for the ball.Yet again we have a forward line that cannot win its individual ball-we have zero physical presence in there.The forward line that finished today was the size of a minor team.Remember how effective Rory O’Carroll was in the last years final? Well today in the first half against Cork hes on the back foot constantly because Hurley is a physical direct full forward and has no problem mixing it with him-we don’t have that.I read this morning about Liam McHale saying its amazing how many mistakes we make and the naivety of our play at times and its very true.We have serious problems in our full back line as well(which showed up in our two final defeats).I believe Horan has taken them as far as they can go.We are a top four team with lots of qualities but a long way away from being number one.

  11. A serious reality check for everyone involved with Mayo football. Was only my second time watching mayo this year on TV, other match was the Kerry game. I live overseas and listened to all other mayo games on Midwest. Based on the 2 games I did see Mayo have regressed significantly since last year.

    There are two schools of thought Mayo fans could adhere to when analysing that performance today. The first one is the positive one. Gibbons and O’Shea caught plenty of ball in midfield, more than enough to provide a winning platform. Mikey Sweeney looked decent when he got the ball early (I’ll come back to that again later). Colm Boyle was outstanding at centre half back. Chris Barrett, Tom Cunniffe, Alan Dillon and Cillian O Connor will all be back for the championship. We are behind Derry in our fitness and conditioning program and are aiming to peak in August.

    Now to the Negative one. I felt we looked tired, stale, and bore all the hallmarks of a team who have already reached the peak of their natural cycle and are currently on the way back down again. In contrast Derry looked like a side moving in the opposite direction, hungry, tenacious, fire in their bellies (very similar to us against Cork in the 2011 AI Q final). Looking at Mayo today, it was painful to watch the amount of times we turned over possession by carrying the ball into contact. This is the biggest area I would question the managements approach. Why is AOS, Higgins, Vaughan etc persisting in soloing into groups of opposition players. Its caveman football, pure and simple. No one seems to want to give a 50 yard pass bouncing in front of Sweeney/Freeman to get on the ball in a bit of space. Sweeney got a beautiful point just before HT, a lovely direct ball into space in front of him by Doherty, skinned his man and kicked a simple score from 20 m out. Kevin Mc Loughlin used to do this passing role so well for Mayo but his game has changed last 2 years. One of the phrases I detest when i hear fans talking about Mayo is “running from deep”. I can only assume the management is responsible for this approach.

    I’ve said it before time and time again on this site. Keegan Vaughan AOS etc running at defences and carrying ball at defenders from 90-100 yards from goal will beat the Sligo’s and Galways of this world easily, but this approach WILL NOT WIN MAYO AN ALL IRELAND TITLE. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves. Against bad/average teams Keegan and Vaughan will kick 2 or 3 points each. O Shea (Seamus and/or Aidan) will break 4 or 5 tackles carrying the ball and set up tap in goals for the like of O Connor and Andy Moran. Against top class sides those boys will end up on the ground 30 m out, throwing a desperation handpass while on their knees, surrounded by defenders to the likes of Mc Loughlin/Doherty/Moran who will then have a shot under massive pressure and either get blocked down or hit it wide 70% of the time. Sometimes they will hit a score in this position, and it will look great, but in reality its an “accidental” point. Its not a result of an outstanding gameplan. I believe the only time a Gaelic footballer should run at a defence is if he is within 40 yards of goal, has clear space ahead of him and can create an overlap (like the goal we got today). The irony of that goal is that AOS was forced to kick the ball first time to Mc Loughlin because of Fergal Dohertys presence. If he was on his own he would have picked up the ball, started a laboured solo run and we would never have scored the goal!

    We have to move the ball faster up the field. Solo runs from deep are not the answer.
    As regards the players performances, I think Harrison has a good future, still a young lad, but he needs to be replaced by Barrett ASAP as he is more dynamic, safer on the ball than Harrison and at this moment in time an all round better footballer. The same can be said about Cunniffe instead of Shane McHale.
    Keith Higgins wont be winning any Allstars this year with a 12 on his back either. He’s an outstanding corner back, but an ordinary wing forward. Funnily he’s probably the only exception to the rule of not running at opposition defenders as he has incredible pace, but even still I saw him run into trouble and turn the ball over today. Id prefer see him at corner back and hope he ends up there soon. A fantastic asset who is being underused in the current system of play.
    Bringing on Ritchie Feeney in the 69th minute was a head scratcher too. Couldn’t understand the logic in that one.

    I cant decide if I’m going to adapt the positive or negative mindset yet for the championship. However I wouldn’t be racing to the bookies to back Mayo at 5/1 for Sam on the back of that display.

  12. too many passengers on that team, centre half back, centre half forward need to be nailed down. has management not learned of a tactic playing against 14 men. embarrassing!!!

  13. Trying hard to be positive but the lack of effort or hunger to win that game is baffling. The chances were there, the shot selection at the end was shocking after we scored some impressive points earlier. Mikey Sweeney could have been in if he’d been given the ball on a couple of occasions.

  14. Ok. First the good news. It was the League & there is time to recover.
    Now the bad news. Second time in Croker that we had an extra man & couldn’t make it count at all at all.
    We have had a lot of talk about ‘statements of intent’ and the like but unfortunately we are losing credibility. Many of those with deep football knowledge were told after the Dublin match to become good supporters & refrain from criticism. We now have the ‘happy clappers’ in charge & I am sure they will be willing to explain their continuing optimism.
    Game 1 starts in three weeks & the good news is that there is no more room for error.
    Whether we like it or not this team & management have had opportunity & opportunity is going to run out in the next few months. Once opportunity runs out we will all be in a different place over the next few years.

  15. Poor performance from our lads today. Fitness levels seemed way off what they should be. Impressed with some of our new players though, Mikie sweeney and gibbons played fantastic. Others not so good unfortunately. I think management got it wrong today too. 10 mins into the second half and we never looked like pulling away when we really should have considering we had the extra man. I reckon keith should have dropped back into his normal corner back position, especially after caff went off. We needed a fully experienced defender back there to make sure we didn’t concede any more goals! Feeney should have come on before varley aswell as I think he has a lot more to offer! That’s just my opinion though. Very disappointed with the loss but hopefully we can learn from this game and move forward as a team.

  16. Joey – I’ll give you a chance to explain that “happy clappers” statement. The only person in charge on this site is me and as you should know full well by now, criticism is allowed and I haven’t asked anyone to refrain from it. It’s how people voice criticism is what’s at issue for me.

  17. keith higgins must be wondering what he has done to james horan .to be played in the half foward of thebest backsin the country .an allstar as welland thepersist with playing himout of position .its beyond me .but thats mayo for you ,

  18. Very good analysis and why Feeney wasn’t brought on instead of Varley had me scratching me head all evening.
    We are no better off than we were before the league but Gibbons and Sweeney seem to be good enough come championship.
    We still take way too much out of the ball instead of sending it in fast and our forwards cannot be blamed for all our woes as it is blatantly our defense needs a lot of working on.
    Anyway, no matter how poor we were at closing out a game, spare a thought for Cork, who will have a huge hill to climb to get their confidence back after their second half performance agains the Dubs this afternoon.

  19. Worst Mayo performance in Croke park for a few years. Derry played well and deserved their win but lets be honest they are unlikely to even reach the last eight of the championship. The mileage on clock of some of the Mayo players is worrying Cork,Dublin haven’t stood still and made changes however with Mayo lack of underage success do they have suitable replacements to bring in?

  20. A few observations;
    Derry’s first goal came directly from a kick out , all the mayo half backs were anticipating mayo winning possession and not one of them stayed home. Poor decision making by those involved.
    Second goal, Donal Vaughan took wrong option should have taken a point to put mayo four up, went for goal, missed Derry came up the field and got equalizing goal.
    Mayo went back up by two, then kicked some terrible wides, Jason Doherty and Enda varleys shooting was poor, kicking off weaker foot when they had time to adjust and kick off their stronger one. We could have been up by four or five. our shooting percentage must have been very poor today, Andy Moran missed two very scoreable points in first 15 mins, both inside 30 meters. Andy adds some value, but a lot of times when he gets the ball, the play almost comes to a standstill, this is becoming too predictable.
    Thought Mayo were slow to change tactics when we had the extra man in the first half, we still kicked the ball down the middle, it changed after halftime, but still 15-20 mins was somewhat wasted, listening to midwest after, shane mchale was extra man, a bit daft if true, does not seem like the kind of player who is a link man. He comes across as more of a man marker.

    Disappointed and worried, not despondent.
    maybe the players need a break, for a few weeks, i did notice that the same level of intensity is not there at the moment. They will beat NY and then have six weeks till they meet Roscommon.

    Billy fitz made and interesting point about u21, and the lack of success and players coming through, a discussion for another day.but should not be forgotten.

  21. I think I’ll take a rain check on this post and gather me thoughts. I think I would break most rules u have WJ and even some you haven’t even made yet. I think allot may feel the same

  22. First things first. The manager aimed to win the league and win tight games on the road. Noble and up front and that made me happy. No false fronts.

    The facts are we won’t win the league and we won nothing crucial on the road. We have a major problem with the overall defensive mode. I have been hard on the full back line but a half back line geared to all out attack leads to three things. (A) Lack of cover for full back line (B) massive leakage in goal
    Stats (C)!Burnout from non stop exerertion .

    We are at a crossroads here. It’s irrelevant if we see the glass half full or empty. It’s out of our hands. We seem clueless as to what exactly our plan is apart from high tempo running. We seem paralysed in tactics be it playing with or without an extra man. Tactically we border on the naive and annoyingly this is a team laden with top class experience .

    The team that lost to Kerry SF 2011 is basically the framework still on offer. It wasn’t good enough then and we pick six from the usual nine forwards except we now have complicated it by fucking up the defence by sticking Higgins up front.

    I am sad and sorry to see us running in circles . A poster recently stated (correctly) that I had lost faith . I lost it after losing 2013 final to Donegal. Never had we a better chance and worse, we failed to heed the lessons a year later v Dubs. Yep my heart is black but the head is clear. We will bounce back but will it be high enough?

  23. That was painful to watch, our league campaign came to a shuddering halt with nary a whimper. Management must take responsibility for this one, our defence was ripped apart today and the substitutions were too little too late. Feeney on for a misfiring Doc after 68 minutes? Higgins still playing in the forwards despite our defensive problems? Derry just wanted that game more, you could tell by the way they cut through for the second goal even with a man down in the attack. They imposed their game on us and we had no response. The inability to close out games is killing us. We faced a similar situation last year and we still reached the final but there is a sense the team has regressed. Let’s just hope the plan is to peak later on in the year, the team looked wrecked today

  24. Disappointing today. Not too many lads could put up hands and say” I played well” We looked tired and Derry looked stronger. I think Horan has done incredibly well over the last few years but I definitely wish he d play Keith in his rightful position. That experiment simply has not worked and now Keith seems short on confidence. I know I was in the minority but I was relieved to see Keith going corner back in 2nd half of AI last year against dangerous Dub ff line. We ve struggled in full back line all year in league so today after Caffs injury Id have moved Keith back and taken off one of the corner backs. Id have preferred 15 v 15 because for some reason we never seem to play well against 14. Looking for some positives I thought Gibbons did well and Sweeney showed well. Also we played poorly yet lost by 2 and its still April and we were equally unimpressive in league semi v Dublin last year. Speaking of Dublin I thought they were great today a 16 point swing during that game. Not being defeatist but Im not all that sorry we not playing them in final in 2 weeks. Finally hope Caffs injury not too serious. I hate to see lads go down with knee injuries. Now if he was sidelined long term that really would be serious.

  25. We were tired and disjointed .Derry by far the better team.Nothing more I can say.I’d be more annoyed if I was a Cork man today.

  26. I’m not going to comment on the overall game until tomorrow but I would like to put the following out there for consideration.. When Derry went down a man they had the choice of who they were not going to mark not us.. in this case they decided not to mark McHale and in doing so they also decided not to contest our kick outs.. They then adopted a defensive approach like Tyrone in last years semi-final which is very difficult to break down and forces forwards to kick from distance.. what saved us last year was the inspirational runs from Barrett from corner back and our fitness then.. today we had neither of those things and at this early stage in the season I’m not concerned we hadn’t.. having an extra man at this level can be of little advantage unless that man is capable of going toe-to-hand the length of the field, linking up with players, overlapping the opposition and then running back like a hare to get into position again.. Always disappointing to loose.. but I for one am proud off the effort these boys have put in.. in the green and red jersey.. especially Mikey Sweeney and Jason Gibbons to name but two.. they gave their all and you cant ask for more than that..

  27. Exactly, maybe a couple a weeks off. I know andy is the captain and he scored a goal, but lads he is passed it, at least from where i was siting. Dont panic boys, we played with a second string full back line for most of the game…

  28. Oh dear.
    Today was horribly disappointing. Very poor in the first half, looked better in the second only to stop playing altogether after Derry’s second goal. Looked visibly tired in the last ten minutes. This was not good.
    Last year, Mayo were hammered but looked like they just didn’t care. Didn’t worry me. Today they looked like they did care but weren’t good enough. This does worry me. Apart from Sweeney, we have found no one in the league. [Deleted].
    Thought Boyle was outstandin, by a distance our best player (though who was marking Lynch?!). The rest all seemed to play in fits and starts. Andy and Aidan are now starting to slow the game up constantly. Higgins looks dangerous the odd time but is never really involved all that much. Doherty and McLaughlin were completely anonymous (save for 2 quickfire Doherty points in the second half). Now McLaughlin looked as if he was carrying an injury, fair enough, but [deleted].
    Our experiments are not working. McLaughlin does look like a corner forward and we don’t get on half as much breaking ball as we should with him not there. We don’t look assured in the full back line without Keith and he’s not offering a consistent threat up front to warrant him staying there. [Deleted].
    The difference in the quick ball that Dublin send in and Mayo send in is huge. At the match today, Dublin were moving the ball in fast, collecting the 1-2s, all at pace and Cork couldn’t deal with that. Mayo did not do that for most of the match. Andy continually slowed the ball down when he needed to move it in quicker. Though it must be said, the options open (apart from the hard working Sweeney) were often poor, leading to hit mainly 50-50 balls. I also question why Barry Moran and Richie Feeney are being left on the bench.
    It is April, it is only the league and we were missing Dillon, O’Connor, Cunniffe, Barrett, Seamus, Caff( for most of it) and that so there’s no point in being too overly negative. However, the manner of the defeat was most disappointing and Roscommon must be eyeing us up big time in Dr. Hyde in June. I am worried and seriously starting to think that yes, the third year on the trot looks a step too far for our brave warriors, who looked tired and anything but fresh today. We live in hope that James and Donie can revitalise and re-energise them again for another long Summer. But today didn’t do much to feed that hope.

  29. Jesus I hope that game was another experiment.

    I’m afraid there is a stage in the cycle of a team where persisting with the the same substitutes match after match actually weakens a team. The reason for this is the desperation by these subs to make a serious impact in a short spell in the games. All those hail mary shots were completely unnecessary when we could have kept possession and created easier chances.

    The Dublin subs are a prime example of what is needed, they always make an impact because they have one or two new lads every other game which keeps everyone on their toes. I believe they threw in another new young lad into the breach today. The Dubs subs also play like they are a necessary part of the whole unit as opposed to our subs who play like individuals trying to get onto the 1st fifteen.

    It’s too late to change now and we are stuck with the lads that are in so these subs need to be coached to improve on their decisions in games like this and made to feel like an integral part of the whole unit.

    I also thought looking at our demeanor in the warm up and all through the game that we took Derry a bit for granted.

    Horan will come in for the usual guff from the regular hurlers on the ditch and the knifes will be out once more in the county. At the end of the day he is not the one kicking ball.

    We are still there or thereabouts and with a few more experienced lads still to come back we will be well in the hunt come August and September.

  30. Very worrying display today. When you consider the second half Mayo had against what Dublin produced in the second half of their game we look like we are miles off an All Ieland. Derry just ran through our half back line and we lack power and pace up front. It’s the first knock out game Horan has lost in his reign that we have been favourites for. I was reasonably optimistic before today but it was a woeful display and I fear we will not turn it around this year 🙁
    Glass very much half empty.

  31. Worrying stuff. Same mistakes being repeated again and again.

    Our decision making is cat, shot selection is outrageous sometimes by some of our most experienced players.

    Half forward line is all over the shop at the moment.

  32. What happened g caff today good defender I know we lost by but at least mayo did not lose like cork did against dubs what happened cork.

  33. Disappointed with that. Didn’t really care about the league but losing like that worries me. Are we burnt out or just peaking for later in the year?

    Few of forwards really disappointed me. We need someone to grab a game by scruff of neck like Connolly and a brogan did but we don’t have that leadership up there.

    Will reserve judgement until later in year as all that matters this year is Sam. On today’s evidence, we look some way short though. Derry won’t be in last 8 imo and they beat us with 14.

    The two goals Derry scored were embartasingly soft . On a positive note, we worked overlap well for ours.

  34. Horan’s Brigade – I could, were I feeling less charitable, deleted that entire comment but you had plenty of valid points there and you’re a long-standing poster so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. However, as someone who has been on the site a long time, you must know by now that posting comments about players not being good enough isn’t, well, good enough. It’s okay to critique players but not in that kind of lazy-minded way so please bear in mind for future reference.

  35. Pulled up injured, Cait, he was hobbling badly before he went off. It was some kind of leg injury from what I could see. And Cork? Well, they completely imploded, didn’t they?

  36. Majorly disappointed. Management were as static as some of the players.
    What else did they expect of Derry but a physical dog fight.

    Fair enough lads not that fit yet but we should have being smarter than them.
    The diagonal ball inside to freeman and Sweeney was working well with doc and kmc coming onto the break or hand passes but next thing we start slowing it down recycling to Andy and man above he is past it. Taking pot shots and causing general confusion with slow tepid play.
    Unfortunately this was to be the story of the game there after.

    If we have no better than Andy or varley and we can’t change tactics to suit two great corner full forwards in Sweeney and freeman the. It’s not looking great.

    Gibbons and Sweeney were superb.

    Higgins needs to return to no 4 We need to shut up shop first and the. Build from there.
    Really worried about henelly too.

    Anyways we may have learnt more than a scaring and physiological defeat to the dubs.

  37. I think Horan is open to questions and answerable to why there was no change in tactic or any variation in play. The half forward line lack direction and ideas. None of them are bad players but should have had a game plan.

    Defensive frailties have being the story of the league and poor ball into freeman seen Horan put Andy at full. That was as much as a change as he could muster.

  38. Going by the posts here I think we all agree we are all worried and won’t know righty where we stand under our Connacht semi final with Roscommon (no disrespect to NY or Leitrim). Indeed going by posts and comments from out side on other forums and media it appears Mayo may be about to be written off….that may be a positives we were always dengerous coming in under the radar a bit.

  39. Just in the door and i see 47 comments that i wont read.All i have to say is get Nallen back quick.

  40. Did anyone else notice that we didn’t do the mass surround defense today. I’d say that tactic is in storage for the championship. When Derry were doing their circular attacking I thought it was unusual that 2 or 3 of our lads didn’t harang the man in possession.

    He did change tactic today, i.e. no long high balls went into the forwards at all. We all agree on the defense but we have been unlucky in the full back line regarding injuries.

    Also, no way on earth would we let in that 2nd goal in a championship match.

  41. Somebody with tactical awareness needed anyhow.

    James is having a bad day on the line most days. It’s his weakness. Sone of the changes were baffling.

    Hard to believe we can win Sam now. To come back after all these hammer blows and win three big games in Croker is unthinkable sadly

  42. I think RAZ is right, Dont be so negative, Cork were overturned by a !7 point turn around and their happy enough, but its very bad for Mayo to be beaten by 2 points, I paraphrase, but the words of Tomas O She on league Sunday. I just made back to Mayo for League Sunday having no interest in Dublin V Cork following Mayo;s defeat. Sure it was a very disjointed display, We were beaten by a better team than us today. I,d be more worried about our long injury list, instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Caff seemed to take an age to cross the pitch at half time, as he hobbled his way into the tunnell just below me. At that stage with our full back line stripped of Tom Cunniffe, Caff and still awaiting the return of Chris Barrett looked very bare indeed, I tought we would have to be very lucky to come away with a win, against 14 men or not. Not making excuses for Horan today but with COC out as well and a very tough Derry, Mayo were always going to struggle, I would be very interested yo know what any of ye tought about the Ref today, some of his decisions certainly baffled me but I was very near pitch side, I would like to see the whole match again on TV before I decide whether or not I decide to go to Specsavers!

  43. Agreed that Andy is slowing up the game, it does not suit our team and the players we have on the field. I just wish our management could see this too. I would like to see our forwards without Andy in there and the play would be much faster and we score when we move forward at pace. Higgins has to go back, we need him in the backs and its his best position so why not build on last years team. We were close last year and after getting two other good players in Gibbons and Sweeney we could be alot better come August/September. I do believe we have done heavy training in the last few weeks and thats why they all seem tired today and we will come back from this.

  44. Billy Fitz may well have said what he said, but we should forget what he said.Sure are Mayo not All Ireland minor Champions?. Also no guarantee come with underage , ask Galway! If players are good enough their old enough.2 in particular come to mind, Patrick Durcan & Connor O Shea, their time may not be far away!

  45. Just read your report at the top Willie Joe.
    Excellent analysis and suggestions.
    Well done.

  46. Lots of good analysis here. Feeling a bit despondent tonight, so haven’t much to add at this point until I sleep on it and restore the equilibrium. At the risk , however, of being labelled a “happy clapper” with a lesser knowledge of the game, I will say that there were some positives. I thought Boyler, Gibbons and Sweeney played out of their socks today. And I am still adamant that those lads owe us nothing. One of my biggest concerns remains intact from 2012 however and that’s the sideline. And the decision-making. And the shot selection. Right, I’m off ……

  47. Fair play to Derry on their well earned victory.

    I couldn’t get to the match today. I watched the coverage on TG 4.

    The wife went for a walk which is by now customery for the duration of the match. On her return she casually enquired about the outcome and I informed her that at least this time Mayo were beaten. The difference I tried to explain between being beating and losing was that when Mayo lose, they are capable of winning and when Mayo are beaten, well, they are beaten. It’s easier to take in some “faminesque way”, I added but the door closed and out in the kitchen a kettle sounded out a road to boiling.

    I watched the first half of dub/ cork game secure in the knowledge that the dubs would come good and win. I have no idea of the final score as I type but Dublins body language even though they were well down on the score board didn’t reflect an inner inherrent belief, which by times can be misconstrued as a lazy arrogance.

    Fair play to Dublin and Derry, deserving winners on the day.

  48. I agree Joe. Also all the points WJ made are what a lot of us are thinking i’d say. I just have no idea where we stand. I know its ‘only the league’ but i fear the problem is deeper than that. Can we suddenly just turn it on come championship? We had no tackling, no intensity, no half back line at times! No leadership on pitch either which is a worry. The dubs have now twice shown character (as much as it pains me to admit it) to claw their way back, something that I believed we had and wouldn’t lose. I fear we’re jaded and need a break.

  49. As a Mayo man i hated hearing last year from the media we didnt have the forwards to win an all ireland….. this year we were the highest scorers in the league so thought it might be different!? But no its not. after watching the cork dublin game i think they just have way more fire power than us….. if we really and truly had the forwards to win an all ireland would keith higgins (an all star CB) be playing there?! Derry made the right changes at the right time, and won the game, simple as! And deservedly so!

  50. Some good performances but some very abject ones also. Seemed to run out of gas in 2nd half. However management have a lot to answer. Once again richie feeney gets 2 mins to turn the game. A o Shea runs out of steam in second half and horan takes off our best midfielder on the day??? Mindboggling. Leaves mikey sweeney isolated in the ff line for the last few mins. Dont understand the tactics at all.

  51. 1) Main difference between the two teams today was that Derry were much fitter and fresher and tactics wise they got it right.
    2)The difference the black card makes was very evident today as how do you stop a strong runner at full speed?. Blanket defense probably only way and we did not have the fitness for that today.
    3)We had a new look full back line for all of the second half.
    4) Colm Boyle Motm for me, workrate, courage, tenacity,blocking.
    5) Sweeney is making a strong case for first 15.
    6) To misquote an infamous politician a lot to do but plenty of time to do it. We were a long way from our best today.

  52. Cork won’t be called bottlers because they are a young team, new manager and don’t have ‘form’ for bottling.

  53. As one who was warning of the dangers of being in a league final, I got what I wanted. Kind of.

    A defeat like this is not the worst kind. And it’s not our worst performance in Croker – think last year’s league semi pasting by Dublin, not to mention a whopping 4:15 by the same team in 2011.

    We hit some good scores in the first half – O’Shea, Moran and Higgins and a bit of the second – Jason’s 2. That breeze was damn tricky and none of the four teams prospered playing into the Canal/Davin end today.

    Still the questions about burnout and psychologiical damage will be there, but they were there last year too. Remember many (including the Sunday Game panel!) thought Galway would win the first round game, and there was a case to be made for that.

    We won’t really know the answers to that for a while, but I think the rest before and hopefully after New York should allow some catching up.

  54. Mayo looked tired. But that said we have the biggest crowd support than any other team other than the Dubs. As support our anxiety, over analysis during a game. Has to transfer to the team. We have to be better supporters and be the 16th man. We are there in numbers but not making it count in support. We have a job to do as supporters.

  55. Im not too worried to be honest. Im not happy but as i said earlier if i was a Cork man i would be pretty annoyed. Mayo looked liked a team that was under baked in comparison to Derry. The few weeks in training before championship starts will do us good. I agree with another poster that Aidan and Andy is slowing up the ball . I watched when we got the ball to our fowards especially in the second half there was no one running at one stage all of our lads were out on the 40 when sweeny i think it was that got a ball into him and shar he was further in than the rest of the lads and no one offering to run . Derry were a lot further down the road training wise than we were and i do feel our lads looked off the pace as we did in all of our games. I think it was Cloud9 that said it that we would peak later this year than last and id go along with that. As supporters we are all a funny breed really when we loose but if you heard some of our so called supporters today in the stand it pissed me off. I understand supporters can get upset but calling the lads pricks, and dicks and spasticks really got to me today . That annoyed me more than the result. Anyhow chin up for the Championship

  56. Mayo looked unfit and started to slow down after 50 minutes. They have looked unfit since that Sunday in Ballinlough all those weeks ago. All said the league campaign went ok. We made the last 4 in the competition when many people were talking down our Div 1 status. We tried a lot of new players over the 7 league games. Cork, Dublin, Derry were way ahead of us in preperation for the knock out stages. We could have won today had we built up a good lead with 20 minutes to go. WE would then be playing catch up in a League Final a week before the start of the championship. I was delighted with Jason Gibbons today, he was great. Disappointing to see Keith leave the field too early

  57. WJ, just a question, is the (deleted) section where you removed a comment? I’m just trying to gauge the boundaries of allowable content for future reference. As in what is above is what is permitted?

  58. Didn’t get to see the game, was refereeing a game at the same time. Going on what people are saying, Mayo were tired in the second half which stand up, as Mayo were the last team to start collective training this year, Derry prob have months on Mayo in this case. Some saying Derry not going for the league is a laugh, they need to be at full tilt now and going into the Ulster Championship where as Mayo don’t need full fitness till August at the earliest. Mayo are lacking quality consistent forwards, we have forwards just as good as anyone else but only on their day, not every day as needs to be. Kerry can rely on players to get them over the line but we need it to be done on the side line ad hoc. Management are able to come up with plans to suit our players as has been shown with a semi and 2 finals in the last 3 years but have been found wanting when changes were needed in a match going against them (ad hoc), unless this is sorted then we are flogging a dead horse but today tells us nothing. Would have been nice to win but I would rather beat Dublin in late summer when it really counts that in a league final. It would be nice to win but mean nothing really when and if Dublin used the match to figure us out and beat us later in the year. Where would those people shouting about the not winning the league be then, they’d be same people shouting about how it meant nothing winning it cause we did not win the AI, if that makes sense.
    Keep the faith

  59. Ah jesus…really? I’m all for ranting and raving when things are going wrong…but be calling players on the team names is disgusting. Nobody goes out to play badly.

  60. Pete – I’m not sure which comment you’re referring to but the house rules are here and these should set you right on what’s allowed and what isn’t.

  61. Id be the same as you Joe for a rant if things are not going well. But never would i call then names. You said it Joe they are not going out to play badly .I always think what if their parents or family friends were listening to this crap . As someone connected to the lads it would be pretty upsetting to hear. I was going to say something but i kept my mouth shut on this occasion.

  62. Today should be the wake up call for this talented bunch of players and management team alike to address the issues in front of them.
    Firstly the defensive issue is very much a glasss half full problem imo. Defenders such as Higgins, Cunniffee and Barrett will certainlt shore up the matter and if our half back line attend to their first line of duty and attack secondly then we will undoubtedly be a solid unit come next August. There is though a need for much more insighful management analysis of that defensive system in order not to repeat basic errors for when we next face a top tier side again – For example from what I recall watching the game in Corke Park, the Derry first goal came from a Derry kickout and our half back line were almost entirely out around the climbing midfielders, with Vaughan actually hill 16 side of the fielders. This is high risk football, something which I frown upon when played at under 11’s.
    However our big issue lies at the other end of the field. Any half baked analysis of the last three all ireland winners reveals that if you can match up from no 1 to no 12 on the field of play then the better of the two inside forward lines will win the day. And that will be the very same come Sept 2014. Our sights may be lowered a little after today, but out objective should undoutedly be that of matching a full forward line of the calibre of Dublin if ambition and success are to remain at the core of this team. We certainly do not have that at the moment, and despite the valiant efforts of some of our boys at trying to present a full forward line threat to Dublin and now Derry, it is quite clear that Kirby and Regan need to be jettisoned into that panel and fast. It is no suprise that Jim Gavin’s substiuted 2 of his inside forward line before half time, which had a telling effect on that game.
    Finally it is clear that James Horan possesses the vital ingrident when it comes to motivitating these bunch of guys to keep coming back for more, however there is a huge lack of ‘forward play’ management/direction in the team when it comes to challenging the top top teams and rather than decrying this in August/September we should do like ever top class manager would do – recognise the weakness and bring on board the expertise now to work with and coach this committed buch for the next three months.

  63. In looking at today’s game it’s everything we knew was goin on within the panel. 1.Horan doesn’t know his best team 2. He is being to loyal to those who have been there for the last few years 3. The team is stall although all the players want to do well and are trying the past few years has clearly taking it’s toll. From the startin team today how many players are knew into the panel Harrison has been around the panel the last few years, parsons has had numerous years at it and Gibbons( find of the league) has been around since Horan started. No new blood has been brought into the panel, no Mitchels player has been brought into even train with the panel and some of the major young players such as Hall and Tommy goals have been given a shot. Don’t know about the rest of supporters out there but it’d rather see tommy goals than a few others that came on today. Can’t tell me that the likes of A.Feeney or Kirby are not better than Keane or Varley?

  64. All due respect but if we were to follow Billy Fitzs opinion we would be playing cave-man football. Half the time the Mad Wesht commentary are blathering on about everything but the game.

  65. If anything, I thought the ref was very good to us today. Keegan could have gone on a carta dubh for a push in the back and Gibbons getting a yellow when it could have been a black. We can’t blame the ref today I’m afraid.

  66. We really need to sure up our back line, ideally I think it should be barret (harrison/mchale/keane all did ok today if barret doesn’t come good), then caff and higgins. The experiment has failed, he’s an all star cb, so play him there. Then half back line of keegan, boyle and cunniffe. Vaughan is way off d pace, running all day and in my opinion one ofthe main reasons we’re leaking goals. With a defensive minded player like cunniffe at half back we’ll lessen the threat of daft goals. Luckily we’ve an abundance of high quality mid fielders. JH needs to replace aido when he has run out of steam. Andy is slowing up the play too much, varley’s shot selection is too eratic and I’m still not convinced by doc. Today was disappointing but not devastating. Sure up the backs, work on the tackling and I think it’s going to be a good summer!!

  67. A couple of points before bed, firstly why the full back line is getting grief is beyond me. One of the goals came from runners coming straight through the middle from deep and the other as a result of our lads not tracking back and allowing Derry runners free. A poster above questioned Hennelly?? I don’t think I ever saw him as secure under the high ball. Derry targetted him with 4 or 5 high balls into the small square and he cleared them all.
    Now, regarding the fitness issue. This is our 3rd year going flat out intensively. I believe it would be physically impossible for us to come back from last September and expect to be at 85% to 90% of our peak for a league semi-final, or final. And then carry that level of fitness right through to August or September. We go to New York in 3 weeks and, hopefully, we meet the Rossies 4 weeks after that. That’s 7 weeks before we have to be physically a lot further down the road than we need to be now. As for any comment on the match itself, as i am disappointed as anyone I will leave that to the morning.
    Chin up, we have had far worse days. We’ll bounce back.

  68. Mayo have great attendance but it doesn’t convert to support. We never convert our attendance into real support when we’re on the back foot. We (supporters) get negative, critical, despondent during games as a crowd. Can we park it till after and start roaring our team on until the game is done. I wouldn’t underestimate our influence. C’mon we r so there in numbers let’s make it count.

  69. pk – you say you’re not being disrespectful or trying to break the house rules. Wrong on both counts, I’m afraid. As I’ve said to you before, can you please make the point you want to make in a reasonable way? You can take this as an official warning, I’m afraid.

  70. Four in a row in Connaught in our sights. Can any one here remember that happening before? Get on board. Focus. Let’s worry about august bh weekend once we achieve that or not.

  71. Back home from Croker and trying to untangle my thoughts for championship……

    I don’t want to comment too negatively on management and player performances today, but we need to learn from our errors or die away as a top team!

    On the positive side, I’m not worried about where we are in the fitness cycle just now. As I have said before, the plan is to peak later and that leaves us vulnerable to team like Derry at this time of the year.

    On the negative side, we have a major problem between the middle and front thirds of the pitch. We have little or no respect or concern for ‘possession’ and surrender the ball far too cheaply. Be it 50:50 passes, stupid efforts at shots for points from distance and bad angles, or just plain crap passes… We also have get this idea that charging in to opposition players will win us frees since the black card came in. It’s just resulting turnovers and lost opportunities.
    Unless we start respecting possession, we will win nothing!

    And for God’s sake let’s get back to our best defensive formation from last year, which was the envy of all other teams. I don’t buy in to the idea that they would not be as effective now with the black card in. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

    Here’s the team I’d start in New York, with a view to Hyde Park. I’d say it contains one positional surprise ?

    Robbie Hennelly,
    Tom Cunniffe,
    Ger Cafferkey,
    Keith Higgins,
    Lee Keegan,
    Donal Vaughan,
    Colm Boyle,
    Aidan O’Shea,
    Jason Gibbons,
    Kevin McLoughlin, he’s better outside
    Mikie Sweeney, problem position – Mikey our most intelligent forward should be tried
    Richie Feeney, problem position – Richie deserves a starting shot
    Jason Doherty, he’s better inside
    Alan Freeman,
    Cillian O’Connor,

    David Clarke, ( Back within 4 weeks?)

    Chris Barrett, ( Back within 2 weeks – work him back in gradually after that )
    Brendan Harrison, ( Improving all the time ).
    Shane McHale, (Needs more experience in centre roles but improving all the time)
    Kevin Keane, (Worth giving him very chance to get his full confidence back.

    Seamus O’Shea, (Getting match sharpness back gradually)

    Tom Parsons, ( Is he a power another more power/carry alternative option at 11? )
    Barry Moran, ( needs to get game time – a FF option when moving forwards around)
    Andy Moran, Captain. (Worried about Andy – afraid JH is asking him to do what he asked
    Alan Dillon to do last year, and while always willing, he’s struggling too).
    Adam Gallagher, ( Going to be a good one – but needs to beef up for next year).

    Unfortunately, I feel, we are likely to see Alan Dillon fully match fit and having had enough football? But I hope I’m wrong!

    I’d also bring 5 other young players to NY, just for the experience and encouragement for the future! (say S.Coen; E.Regan; C.O’Shea; B.Gallagher; D.O’Connor)

    Onwards and upwards – it helps sleeping to get the thoughts out first !!

  72. Please tell me where I slipped up? I believe as a man who goes to most mayo games/has played at a good level im raising vital issues.
    Points I’ll make again which I think are valid are:
    He played a number of players out of position today (boyle, vaughan, mcloughlin HIGGINS)
    Like last September failed to make changes when needed and did so too late
    has not replaced aidan o shea when he has been below par
    Why have richie and barry not got game time today?

  73. I think today just epitomized the recurring theme of Horan’s spell as manager, an inability to learn from failings of the past. How we were so unprepared for facing 14 men is baffling considering it only happened for a full game two weeks ago. Bore resemblance to Keane marking Murphy and other tactical failings that Horan is culpable for. Another thing that irritates me is the clear lack of planning as to what to do in the final few minutes when we’re down by 1-3 points. I’m thinking back to Cillian’s free in the All Ireland final, the lack of instruction at the end of the Donegal final, and once again that was shown up today. We were two down with 68 gone, Aidan O’Shea has a perfectly good opportunity to score a point but chooses instead to try and barrel through the Derry defence, gets turned over and they score up the other end. All these permutations should be planned for and players should be aware of what the plan is. Even Andy’s free at the end going for goal, obviously something very difficult to execute with so many bodies in the way, but why didn’t he give a quick pass to Keegan in a better position + a better angle. The effort for that shot was woeful really and when you see what Michael Meehan did against Cork it shows what can be done in that situation despite how difficult it is.

    Another thing that irked me was the clear lack of plan for the kickouts, so many kickouts were launched down the middle where Gibbons and O’Shea were right beside each other(should be on separate wings to allow them to take a run up and display their unrivaled aerial prowess). Why wasn’t the short kickout used more often with the spare man?! Keegan definitely would have been my first choice as a sweeper instead of Boyle who was sweeper most of the time.

    Aidan O’Shea was poor today too, winning primary possession aside his game is becoming quite limited. Scores very little, from the top of my head 0-02 in last year’s championship, doesn’t exactly contribute much in terms of forcing turnovers etc although did make one or two good blocks today. Andy Moran despite his goal today just showed why JH should look at other options. [Deleted].

  74. Alan Dillon played for Balintubber this weekend and so should be back in shape by the Connaught semi, hopefully refreshed and ready after a long lay off. Would be interesting to see him on the half forward line linking up with Sweeney with good accurate foot passes. Freeman was fairly ordinary yesterday. He has a long way to go before being spoken of in the same breath as Murphy or brogan. Id love to see him get a bit angrier, more aggressive and fiery. He sometimes seems apologetic for his presence on the field. The guy has lots of ability though

  75. Don’t comment very often willie joe on this excellent site but here is the team I’d hope for against the rossies who will on their own patch put it to the high kings of Connacht. hennelly Cuniffee cafferkey Higgins Keegan Boyle Andy Moran Aidan o Shea Jason gibbons Mcloughlin o Connor feeney Sweeney Barry Moran freeman. Still leaves plenty of options on the bench including most of the lads who played today and Barrett/dillon.

  76. pk – See? You can do it if you put your mind to it! The previous comment contained trash-talking statements that broke rule no.8.

  77. Shane – I’ve deleted that bit at the end, the part where you named certain players and said they weren’t good enough. Rule 11 applies. That’s an official warning, Im afraid.

  78. U can hardly have issues with keane after his last 2 performances?? He’d a shockin all ireland 2 years ago… he was 22, horan should have moved him… people need to forget bout that. As for Varley, I concur!!

  79. Hope you’re right about Alan Dillon, and totally agree about Freezer – bucket of talent but needs more aggression and fire in the belly!

  80. Up close to them today and to me they looked physically and mentally drained … They were famed for their tackling abilities last year all out the window yesterday and the silly mistakes they were making had my nerves in bits … At this stage last year I wasn’t worried as I felt we didn’t even try to beat Dublin in the second half we needed the win yesterday and we needed that league title … The spark seems to be gone … Hopeful they will get it together again … When everyone plays in their proper positions … they are a great team and have given us all so much to be proud of … I for one am not giving up on them maybe James can do a Davey Fitz and buy those biscuits !! Reading between the lines of his interview after the match I felt the problems may run deeper than match fitness etc … Anyway roll on championship …

  81. Ok morning after and the reality bites. We had our chance last year and blew it. Does not look like we have the stomach for it for another year. A lot of heads dropped when Donegal got their goal yesterday and we should still have closed out the game against 14. I think we will be back in the mix in August but Dublin have moved on from last year and we have gone backwards so far. Very worrying at this stage.i

  82. We have gone back from last year in our ball handling skills and we looked like a tired team, its still early and you dont want to be hitting your best at this time of year so there is still time to improve. However we still dont have the forwards and that will be our downfall because if your backs are tied up doing what there supposed to be doing then you need your forwards to stand up and get the scores and they just cant do it when there well marked. Certain players need to be dropped but i dont J.H will do it out of loyality which is not good, he did it in his early days when he dropped CM and he needs to do it again. Our running game is the most effective and trying to give fancy passes in to the forward line just isnt working as its to predictable and our forwards are not good enough. We need to get back to were we were last year and if we do that we will be there abouts at the end of the year. Dublin are the team to beat and we should have beaten them a few weeks ago so i believe we are still the second best team in the country if we can get a few key things right.
    Remember the fun only starts now

  83. Looks a good team but I would swop Cillian and Sweeney and would still go for Andy ahead of Ritchie. Think rest of team is spot on.

  84. Equally at least two Derrymen could have gone on black. Seems refs are forgetting about it.

  85. I am in no way calling for Horan’s head here, but yesterday’s performance from the sideline once again is raising questions.This might have been said already, but why Higgins wasn’t moved back when Caff went off is beyond me. I realise this may be in contradiction to things that we were said after the AIF, but when we have a versatile player like Higgins, it appears criminal that we don’t make use of that versatility when and where it is needed – and yesterday, we needed him in defence. I really think too at an overall level that he is stifled in the HF line – for me, this experiment, much like AOS at 11 last year, was well worth trying but has not worked.

    Horan himself commented in his post-match interview that maybe the preparation was a bit off. While it’s good to see a manager accepting some responsibility, I would argue that the decisions made during the game once again raise the bigger questions. Bringing on Richie Feeney with two minutes to go was more than a bit off, it was absolutely farcical. Taking Higgins off. Wouldn’t have been any harm to give Barry a run out either.

    I do recognise that Derry looked physically fitter, faster and fresher than we did – and that is probably down to what lies ahead for them in Ulster – we don’t need (I hope) to be peaking until much later in the year, and I’d sooner we looked off the pace at this point rather than in August – I’m sure that’s Buckley’s rationale too. The next three weeks should provide a good opportunity for recuperation (especially for the injured – does anyone know the story with Tom Cunniffe by the way?) and I hope our Connacht campaign will be used to give further game time to those who need it.

    Ultimately, the lads didn’t commit to another year to go out with a whimper from the championship and that is what matters at this point. We’ll dust ourselves down and get on with it as I’m sure they will, in the meantime, some of us lucky folk have a trip to NYC to look forward to.

    Maigh Eo Abú

  86. Hope you’re not getting overly sensitive Willie Joe.
    All blogs have ‘happy clappers’ at one end of the spectrum & ‘happy criticism junkies’ at the other end ….. with all shades of opinion in between.
    I am going to take up your offer of an explanation.
    I am a long time reader of the blog & an occasional poster.
    I believe the blog does incredible work particularly for our folk overseas as well as heaping a veritable mountain of thankless work on yourself Willie Joe in trying to keep the comments between the ditches, etc.
    Following the avalanche of posts after last years AIF & the mini avalanche after the Dublin match this year I have perceived a change with many posters whose posts I enjoyed no longer posting. The point I am making is that when you decide to intervene at the ‘happy criticism junkies’ end of the spectrum (justified in my opinion) you should also be prepared to intervene in the same manner at the ‘happy clappers’ end of the spectrum. We have had comments that Mayo would win by large scores, polls showing 80% support for a win that didn’t materialise, man of the match selections where the newly elected man of the match passed his gong to the man he was marking in the very next match, statements of intent that on match day were only little squeaks, no explanations as to why these views are held as would be required at the other end of the spectrum, etc.
    You say above as you have said on many previous occasions that you are in charge of the site as you undoubtedly are. However with the greatest respect you do not call it ‘TheWillieJoeBlog’. The name over the door & self given is ‘The MayoGAABlog’ & therein lies the rub. We are all of MayoGaa & it is not in the ownership of any one person. I hope these views do not come across as overly robust and I certainly do not want to offend anyone but when I’m asked I do say what I mean.
    This is the way of MayoGAA .

  87. We can’t blame the ref. I don’t think the old push in the back is a black card offence – does he not have to be pulled down? FWIW I think in a situation when a player is clearly on for a score and he is pushed, it should also be a black card offence – cynical pushes are becoming a bit more common these days …

  88. The sad part of the matter in all of this is that we have the players to progress to win an AI but we dont have the sideline to see it through shades of John Maughan all over again.My selection for the championship would along the following limes. D Clarke or a in other C Barret G Caf.K Higgins. L Keegan C Boyle T Cunniffe A O Shea/B Moran D Vaughan K Mcloughlin J Gibbons A Dillon C O Conner A Freeman M Sweeney

  89. The only positive I can possibly see is expectation is now low within the county and going by comments in media and outside the county, Mayo may not be talked about for a while which is no bad thing either.

    The negative is, we have stuttered and spluttered our way through games in this year’s league. One can only hope we are aiming to peak in August, but will we get that far? The Rossies will have us in their line of sight and be setup for an ambush in the Hyde in June.

    Has this team and management run its course? Remeber this is year FOUR…alot of milage, heartbreak and tiredness and I am talking about us fans here, what about the players?….maybe we need a time out

  90. Either we are keeping our powder dry or we are running out of steam. With a team in its fourth year on the road the latter is very possible. And considering James was reported as saying that we were targeting the league this year the latter seems very likely. Why Barry Moran was not introduced at full forward I cannot understand. Sometimes Alan Freeman seems to be physically overwhelmed whereas Barry would not be. I am coming to the conclusion like a lot of others that Andy Moran is holding up the ball and slowing the game when we need to get it inside much more quickly, Similarly with Aiden O’Shea who does not appear to have the pace to break tackles as the Derrymen did so often yesterday. In my opinion the reason we are leaking so many goals is that midfield and half forwards are not supporting our defence enough and allowing their markers to run at our defence. The difference in our attack and Derry’s yesterday [and Dublin’s previously] was the pace at which they ran and passed the ball,
    Presumably the unthinkable will not happen in New York. The semifinal v Roscommon [it will be the Rossies] will tell us a lot.
    Incidentally does anybody know what Connacht Council would do if New York were to get a win, this year or any other. I am presuming that they would not be able to travel as was the case in the Ulster Hurling Championship a few years ago. Would we have a walkover in the Connacht semifinal [and a big hole in Connacht Council’s wallet]?

  91. To true was so annoying listening to match on mid west. They were not keeping up with game just talking about players and nonsense

  92. Thanks for taking the time to get back on that point, Joey. I think, with respect, that your concerns are a bit misplaced.

    As I’ve repeatedly said, I’ve never had a problem with criticism being voiced, by ‘happy criticism junkies’ or anyone else, it’s just with how players are criticised that’s at issue. As a result, nobody is being told to “refrain from criticism” (which was a charge in your original comment) but I do expect those making critical comments to back them up. Most do and anyone landing here for the first time will see that there are many comments critical of players and management that are more than acceptable and I’m happy for those to continue to be made. The rubbish bin is, though, filling too with abusive, inane and thick-headed nonsense that I won’t allow on the site and will make no apologies for binning.

    Over-exuberance is less of an issue, to be honest, as this kind of stuff (from me or others) doesn’t by its nature contain abusive comments aimed at players or management. It may, of course, contain over-confident assertions that prove cringe-worthy in retrospect but isn’t that the nature of supporting a team, i.e. you go into a match thinking and hoping for the best, and voicing these positive sentiments?

    I take your point about the name of the site and you’re right, of course, that we’re all marching behind the Mayo GAA banner. The bottom line, though, in relation to the site is that I created it and I’m the one paying the bills that keeps it going. In relation to how I police comments on the site, I’m not trying to force my world-view on the place – all I’m trying to do is to keep the comments to an acceptable level, nothing more nothing less. It is, as you say, a thankless task but the fact that there’s only a problem with a small minority is some reward.

  93. I would not be more annoyed if I were a Cork man. I would have seen my team lifting the League title and Sam Maguire in the last five years.

  94. Well, where do we start with that game.
    If you look at the stats from the game you will see that both sides created 23 chances, both sides kicked 7 wides, both sides kicked 6 pointed frees, we scored a 45, they scored 2-8 from play and we scored 1-8 from play. So on the face of it you would say that there was only the goal in it. However, when you dig a little deeper you see the stark reality of what was a poor performance from the lads, our worst of the season I believe, and you can say it is a third performance on the bounce where there were more questions than answers at the final whistle.
    We played against 14 men for 49 minutes, and, when the lost their man we were 1 pt up.
    We conceeded 16 frees in the first half. 4 of them resulted in Derry pts as they were in very scorable positions and came from silly sloppy fouls, e.g. Keegan pushing in the back and Doherty pulling a shirt.
    We went long periods of the first half without scoring. There were two 5 min periods scoreless and then we went 9 mins between Sweeneys pt and Morans goal without registering a thing. That’s 19 scoreless mins in total.
    We rattled over 7 pts in the opening 18 mins of the second half but didn’t score from play for the rest of the game from the 53rd min on.
    We scored 1 pt, a 45′, from the 18th to the 37th min. Then Andy tapped over in injury time when the game was done.
    In that 19 min period we kicked 4 wides, had a goal effort saved and had a 3-on-1 attack with Sweeney in possession completely messed up through poor decision making. In fairness to Sweeney, it was the only thing he did wrong yesterday.
    Management made their 5th of 6 allowed substitutions in the 69th min of the match. What was any substitute to do in 1 minute of game time? And, why not use all 6 allowed subs? Everyone could see from the 62 min we were in trouble and needed a fresh impetus from the line. These are 2 of the more serious questions to be asked of the management team as that is their direct responsibility.
    Some of the shot selection by the players brought me right back to the bad old days. Doherty, who had a fine game until the end, kicked 2 ridiculous efforts. The first, off balance and on his left foot, and the second a wild swing from way out the field with his right. Keegan had a similar wild swipe at one in that period and then Varley decided, very reluctantly, to try from 15 yards with his right foot that went 10 yards wide. He could have fisted it over like Gibbons did from a similar position earlier. It was strange seeing our lads do this as that failing had more or less being eradicated from our game. Maybe not.
    I feel the game was lost from the 54th to the 64th minute. We kicked 3 bad wides, missed a very good goal chance and gifted Derry 2 more very soft frees from central positions. Instead of a 6 pt gain and putting ourselves into a match winning position we missed all our chances and lost 2 pts. That, in effect, was an 8 pt swing.

  95. i was just referring specifically after yesterdays result and after given away a 9 or 10 point lead.I would have being 🙂

  96. There were some good things to come out of yesterday though. Hennelly looked very competent under the high ball into his area and he, literally, took men and ball on each occasion. Some of the quick direct low ball into our full forward line was very good and when we could isolate Sweeney and Freeman we were winning frees and scoring points. Gibbons continued his excellent form with a point, some very good blocking and 3 or 4 terrific fetches around the middle. Sweeney scored 2 pts and set up Moran for his goal and, in my opinion, is a real option come the Summer. He is ahead of Varley and Conroy in my book anyway. Freeman is a very good deputy for O’Connor on dead ball duty and Cafferkey, until his injury, dealt very well with the much talked about McGuckin.
    Don’t forget Adam Gallagher. 3 pts in Newbridge, NINE in Omagh and 2 against Kerry. He will feature this Summer and he should have featured yesterday.

  97. Good analysis Pebble BTW

    I know that it’s the league, April, players aren’t fit, mgmt could do better, players to come back etc, etc – but for this Mayo team and for Mayo supporters only winning an AI counts and right now, I am less optimistic about that than at any time in the last 3 years.

    More depressing than our performance against Derry was Dublin’s great second half performance. We may be in the Top 3/4 teams and we probably will get to a AI semi or even Final this year, but the gap between us and Dublin is widening and not closing. Unless someone does us and huge favour and knocks out Dub this summer, then I don’t see us beating them. (in fact, yesterday may have been a blessing in disguise as a big loss to Dub in the league final would have been an even bigger set back)

    Let’s face facts – Not one Mayo forward would start for Dublin IMO. Players are making the same bad decisions they were 1 and 2 years ago. The huge work rate and ferocious tackling that characterized 2012 /2013 has diminished (surely this partially explains the defensive problems). We are supposed to be masters of the tackle, not on yesterday’s evidence. These are not pot shots at loyal players, but, a reality check that we have fewer truly great players than we think we have and certainly fewer than Dublin, our main competitors.

    In 3 years JH has, overall, done a great job, but 1) we don’t have 21 players of the same quality as Dublin 2) The good players we have are showing signs of mental fatigue as much as physical wear&tear. I looked a Mayo yesterday and I saw Donegal 2013 – tired, out of ideas. 3) There no evolution or innovation in our tactics.

    My only hope is that James and Co have a new bag of tricks for the summer that haven’t been unveiled in the league. James can only work with the players he has, he can’t kick the points or make the tackles, but, he is responsible for tactics and selection. My hope is that we are going to see something really radical in both of these areas as right now we are doing the same old things and getting the same old results.

  98. Correct Pebblesmeller, without doubt the worst commentray team on the airwaves. Its like there sitting in a pub having pints watching the game. Talking utter shite.

  99. Firstly congratulations to Derry. There point taking, tackling, defending, running, movement off the ball, commitment and most importantly work rate was fantastic to watch and best of luck in the final against Dublin. They will have to raise their game by another 50% again if they are going to win but more importantly they showed that once you put a plan in place and stick to it you can overcome all odds.
    For Mayo once again another disappointing result. After Derry took a one point lead in the final minutes you could see the entire Mayo team heads just drop. It reminded me of the time Cork put five goals past us in the 93 semi-final. The payers did give there all but looked out on their feet in the last ten minutes. The reason for this, I feel, was that we were running the ball form our own 21 yard line for the entire second half. This allowed Derry to funnel players back to their 45 yard line and defend. Once the ball got turned over Mayo allowed the Derry forwards to run up to our 45 yard line nearly unchallenged. Our extra man just sat in front of the Derry full forward instead of coming out to tackle the Derry runners. Also the lack of kick passing from this Mayo team is ridiculous. For some reason it looks like the mayo defenders / midfielders have no faith in the forwards winning the ball if it is kicked into them. Anytime the ball is actually kicked in, it’s either two high or well out on the wings. No chance for a half forward or half back running towards goal to receive the ball at pace.
    I feel sorry for Jason Gibbons who once again played very well but once again was taken off for SOS. I felt Gibbons should have stayed on, bring on SOS move AOS into full forward and take off Young Sweeney, who was having a good game. The only reason I would leave Freeman on was for his free taking as I think he did nothing else in the game. With this set up, Mayo could have kicked directly into Moran, Freeman and AOS and have players running at them with speed to receive the ball. Derry knew from early on that Mayo would try and walk the ball to the goal so just sat back and let Mayo come at them. Also why was K Mcloughlin in corner forward? A waste of a player who has a great engine and who has played half forward for the most of his time with Mayo. Was he injured? I would have swapped him with Moran, get Kevin to drag the Derry CB all over the pitch and leave that room open in front of the full forward to hit direct ball into them or a clear path for our half back line to attack. Finally please move Keith Higgins back to defence. We are wasting our best defender in the forward line. He scored a great point but looked lost yesterday on the wing.
    James Horan has done a fantastic job with Mayo and I thank him and the players for all the time and effort they have put in over the last few years. But surely after the Dublin game, it should have been discussed in camp what the game plan would be if the opposition have 14 players. That is the difference between winners and losers. Different strategies for different occasions.

  100. Managers at fault again. James Horan and John Maughan have been our two best managers since 1951

  101. I think you have made some very valid points there Mike. We certainly don’t have the quality up front that the Dubs have and look at Corks O Neill and Hurley. Again this is not criticism of the players. On the contrary they deserve enormous credit for what they have achieved through hard work and a playing technique which saw our backs chip in with a serious amount of scores. Also our game depends on a high tempo and ferocious tackling all of which we did last year. The question is can we repeat it in 2014

  102. It gets very difficult to vocalize support when its plain for all to see the way things start to fall apart. The sheer weight of nerves and disbelief of ‘its happening again’ can cause some to be rooted to the spot, mute!

  103. Yea we were savage defensive unit last year and also our tackling last year was not cynical(mostly) so we shouldn’t fear black card with our precision tackling. I actually think it should help us if we continued to play with last years intensity because teams would have no option but to foul us, cynically. Like the final against dubs when they went to town on us to hang on.

  104. First time I heard JH take responsibility was his quotes after the game yesterday. It has been a while coming but least he sees he has a part to play.

  105. Was;nt blaming the Ref at all, I said I was baffled, definatly tought Lee Keegan was lucky to stay on the field, but taught the Ref missed 2 Derry black card from my view point. The Ref was in no way biased against Mayo, but in my opinion he stopped making hard calls following the Red Card. People who watched it on TV may have a better view of things than me as I was very low down pitch side in the Cusack.

  106. Another bad day in the office. After watching the Dublin/Cork game on yesterdays display Dublin would have beaten the pick of Cork/Derry/Mayo. To be fair the referee for Dublin/Cork game was again a disgrace. The black card is supposed to be used for bad language. Cork were awarded a free and the language from the Dublin No 4 to the ref is not for print. Such dirty insulting words with venom in not wanted and should not be tolerated. Back to our boys (not men) we were caught again by a 1/2 back line not being able to do their job. The fullback line again was under tremendous pressure. Again yesterday Vaughan and Keegan show why they are not forwards. They both kicked balls wide when they could have passed them to somebody who could score. Vaughan in particular is the most selfish. I saw Gibbons running ahead of him and free and he wouldn’t pass the ball. We also went for 3 goals when we could have taken points. If we had those points we may be in a League final. With 10 minutes remaining we took off Jason Gibbons and we were 3 points up, and by putting on SOS we gave away 5 points. We have a lot of work to do to reach AI and James and co. will have to take the bull by the horns and make some decisions that players wont like. I wont go into this now. We have the players but the prime madonnas should also be accounted for their stewardship. As a team we can win, but as shellfish (me only) shows why we again loose.

  107. James should give those lads a couple of weeks off, tell them to go and have a few pints and unwind and a good think about whether they’re up for one final throw of the dice. They looked flat and stale yesterday so maybe a break away from football and training is what’s needed right now to try and get their heads right and then return for one final push. The management should do likewise.

    Very disappointing performance but most worrying aspect was the flatness of the team and the management and the nagging feeling that maybe the 2 AIF defeats have taken their toll.

    League form has been strange but any games we’ve lost have been close and we threw away the game against Dublin. The worrying aspect of several of those games and again yesterday has been our inability to finish teams off when we’ve found ourselves in winning positions, a bit like horses at Cheltenham who look winners all over coming round the final bend but can’t stay up the hill.

    Is that lack of fitness or belief ? The former is fixable, the latter fatal.

    Time will tell but we should be glad we’re not facing The Dubs in two weeks time. Let everyone build them up into an unbeatable team but is that the same unbeatable team that we should have put away two weeks ago ? Let the media turn them into Gods and hope that they believe it.

    April will be long forgotten when August arrives and if we’re there and hungry then who knows ?

  108. If we were in any other province apart from connacht we wouldnt make last 8 unless we are tactically cuter. Have a set game plan and certain habits are addressed and players are played in their favoured/more natural position. This includes keith higgins and barry at midfield not ff as well as boyler,vaughan and mcloughlin yesterday. Finally its quite clear some lads must not be doing their fitness work. AOS was gone at 40 minutes. If we were cuter we’d conserve energy levels. Derrys number 11 was in no great physical.shape but boy could he play football and was cute

  109. Surely one for the PRESENT & future!,as is Adam Gallagher as Pebblesmeller thankfully mentioned (nearly averaging 0-5 a game until he vanished).Granted he may have needed a break with U-21 duty but for Horan AND selectors to persist with a failed experiment is pure stubbornness as is sticking to the same subs coming on.
    If a top manager had an unused trump card like Evan Regan do you think he’d hesitate in calling him in at this stage?Doherty after re-finding his goal scoring had a chance to place / roll a ball into the corner with the Derry goalie rooted to the spot & blazed it over the bar,At least Donies chance was “on”-Keegans was never on & his point taking must be 2 of his last 10 I’d say (I love his work rate but he’s gotta pass)

  110. Not sure where to post this, so I’ll do it here.

    I’m a Derry man and have been reading this blog for the last couple of weeks, before and after the league game and now the league semi-final. Just to see what Mayo fans thought of their chances etc. I tend to do this with all the teams Derry comes up against.

    I’d have to say that this is hands-down the best GAA blog of the lot. Well administered with good house rules, good range of opinions and debate and, most importantly, a large group of people dedicated to their team.

    Mayo will certainly play again in HQ this season. I hope that post-league, we do too.

    Keep up the good work WJ.

  111. To me winning the league is not paramount–i remember beating Down in league final & then Ros beating us in first round of championship.
    Finding new players was vital this year in the league .
    Not playing well against 14 men is also important—now is the time to find out.
    Now is also the time to leak goals.
    Rest now and peak for August.

  112. Like to wish the Rossie’s Under-21s all the best in the All-Ireland Semi tomorrow in Portlaoise. They beat us fair and square and are worthy Connacht Champs.
    Both semis on TG4: 3pm Rossies v Cork, followed by Cavan v the Dubs.

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