Donegal 1-14 Mayo 1-12: better but beaten again

Donegal v Mayo

Photo: @odwyersol

It’s still only the end of February but today’s hotly-contested League Division One encounter with Donegal in Ballybofey had more than a little hint of summer action about it. The sun shone, the hits were hard and frequent, the pace was frantic and the action was played out in front of a bumper crowd at MacCumhaill Park.

I wasn’t at this game, though I saw it all live on TG4 and so my pulse rate is only now starting to revert back to normal levels. From my seat on the sofa it looked like a cracking contest but, for the second match in a row, it was one that we could have won but failed to when the opportunity was there for us to do so.

Donegal had won their opening two matches at a canter but right from the throw-in today it was fairly obvious that they were going to get nothing easy from our lads. We hunted and harried them right from the off and enjoyed plenty of possession as we settled nicely into the game.

We’d made two changes before throw-in to our named team, with Kevin McLoughlin replacing Jason Doherty and Michael Hall starting instead of Mikey Sweeney. The resultant reshuffle saw Keith Higgins operating in their half, though sadly he didn’t make it to the break as he went off injured midway through the first half. Conor Loftus came on in place of the unfortunate Ballyhaunis man.

The first half was pretty much tit-for-tat on the scoreboard. We got the first two points, both Evan Regan frees, they got one back, then Aidan O’Shea boomed over our first from play. A Michael Murphy free for them was answered with an outside of the boot special from Shane Nally at the other end.

The Garrymore player saw yellow at the end of the first quarter for a nice, no-nonsense bit of cynicality as Donegal tried to break rapidly. Conor O’Shea had preceded him into the book a minute prior to this for a foul further up the field.

Two points without reply for them squared the match up but Robbie Hennelly thumped over a long-range free to put us back in front. Then a pointed free for them. Then Keegan (play) for us. McHugh (play) for them. Then Regan (free) for us. Murphy (’45) for them. All square again.

We took a one-point lead, however, into the break. Brendan Harrison – who put in another very strong performance today – found himself in possession near their posts and had the balls to back himself for the point.

It was a very positive opening half from us. Although the match was a finely-poised one we looked, if only marginally, the likelier winners at this stage.

Midway through the second half and the in-match odds on us completing the job wouldn’t have been too attractive. By now, Donegal’s discipline had gone to pieces and although Barry Cassidy was letting pretty much everything go for both sides in the pulling and dragging department, they were picking up a serious amount of cards. Neil Gallagher lasted about two minutes from his introduction off the bench to his banishment back from whence he’d come on a black card.

The home side had actually started the second half the brighter. They’d got the first point of the half and, after Evan Regan had equalised from a free, notched two on the spin to hit the front for the first time.

Then Evan Regan was fouled in the square and Diarmuid O’Connor did a passable impersonation of his big brother by calmly slotting the penalty home. He was made retake it (I’ve no idea why) but had no problem sticking it into the net a second time, even though the hirsute ‘keeper went the right way this time.

Now we were motoring. A Conor Loftus point from play stretched our lead to three and we looked well set to seal a first-ever League win on Donegal soil.

Ten minutes on, though, and we were chasing the game. Two frees cut our lead back to a single point and then, direct from a kick-out thumped aimlessly right down the middle by Robbie, Donegal got possession at the breakdown – the exchanges more akin now to rugby in the free-for-all zone around the middle third. They quickly carved through the middle of our rearguard – the first and only time they were allowed to do so – and the goal left us two adrift and flailing.

And flail we did. And, I felt, panic a bit too. We had plenty of chances to get the ball into good scoring positions but there was no real structure to how we attacked in those closing minutes, with one off-the-cuff move after another breaking down, our resolve breaking bit by bit as this happened.

A ’45 by Robbie got us back to one behind, Murphy from play put them two up and when they made it three from a free with five minutes to go there was no way back for us. Sub Seamus O’Shea got one back for us from play but Donegal had the smarts, and the black arts, to run the clock down efficiently and close out a two-point win.

TV can only show you so much but, on the basis of what I saw on the box, our best performances today came from Brendan Harrison, Shane Nally, Tom Parsons and Diarmuid O’Connor. Of the bunch, Diarmuid was the standout performer – like Cillian before him, he has progressed rapidly to become a real leader for us.

As losses go, today’s was a reasonably encouraging one. Our fitness levels have improved, players are returning – though, with Keith once more injured, it’s not all positive news on that front – and we’re obviously going to get better from here on.

Whether or not that’ll be enough, though, to save our place in the dog-eat-dog environment of Division One remains to be seen. We’ve now racked up three losses from three outings and at this juncture we look likely to join Down in Division Two next year. It’s too early, however, for defeatist talk on this front, although it’s fairly obvious now that we need to start winning matches and quickly. In reality, we have to be looking to win all four we’ve left to play between now and early April.

That sequence begins up in Clones next Sunday. If we’re to have any joy at all in this year’s League campaign, this one is now a match we simply have to win.

Mayo: Robbie Hennelly (0-2, a free and a ’45); Brendan Harrison (0-1), Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan (0-1), Colm Boyle, Shane Nally (0-1); Tom Parsons, Jason Gibbons; Diarmuid O’Connor (1-0, penalty), Aidan O’Shea (0-1), Conor O’Shea; Evan Regan (0-4, frees), Kevin McLoughlin, Michael Hall. Subs: Conor Loftus (0-1) for Higgins, Andy Moran for Regan, Donal Vaughan for Nally, Chris Barrett for Hall, Seamus O’Shea (0-1) for Gibbons, Jason Doherty for O’Connor.

Who was our MOTM against Donegal?

  • Diarmuid O'Connor (45%, 164 Votes)
  • Shane Nally (16%, 59 Votes)
  • Brendan Harrison (7%, 25 Votes)
  • Ger Cafferkey (6%, 20 Votes)
  • Tom Parsons (5%, 19 Votes)
  • Colm Boyle (5%, 17 Votes)
  • Evan Regan (3%, 10 Votes)
  • Robbie Hennelly (2%, 9 Votes)
  • Conor Loftus (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Jason Doherty (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Jason Gibbons (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Conor O'Shea (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Chris Barrett (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Aidan O'Shea (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Kevin McLoughlin (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Lee Keegan (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Seamus O'Shea (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Keith Higgins (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Michael Hall (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Andy Moran (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Donal Vaughan (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 361

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122 thoughts on “Donegal 1-14 Mayo 1-12: better but beaten again

  1. To be honest, I thought it was a very good first half performance but a very poor second half performance. Aidan O’Shea was anonymous for large parts of the game again I don’t know if it’s the position he’s in or what but we have a serious problem up front at the minute & he needs to lead the line more. And watching Roscommon tank Cork today makes you wonder about our performance against them a lot more.

  2. Fitness (I think, I hope) told in final 10 mins. We just turned over so much ball there with good opportunities beckoning. Vaughan’s turnover had a crucial impact.

    Still, much to admire up to then. Harrison showed a dimension to his game that looks to be extremely useful. Megan did very well to get the penalty and Loftus showed promise, though needs to toughen up.

    Donegal’s behaviour at the penalty outrageous – Tyrone will be envious of this – should have got at least 5 yellows during that period. Diarmuid as cool a customer as Cillian on that penalty.

  3. Not sure of the protocols of complaining about refs, but Barry Cassidy was an absolute disgrace today

  4. Still a huge amount of issues. If we’re going to play a long kicking game this year we need to get better at it and quickly. No sign of a defensive system – you always felt we were there to be shot at when we were in the lead whereas Donegal knew exactly how to kill the game once they got in front. Keith Higgins injured again is another worry.

    On the plus side we were competitive away from home missing an awful lot of players. However, without needing to name any names, there are still a few players out there that are nowhere near the standard required. Hopefully the management can see this and will let them go once others return. There’s certainly a few I don’t want to be seeing on the field come summer.

    I think it’s time to see what our other goalkeeping options are also. We know what Hennelly can and cannot do – the same issues remain. Hopefully David Clarke can get an extended run of fitness and a fair chance to play for the number 1 shirt.

    We need to win at least three out of four now to stay up. One team in the division is a lot worse than the rest but two go down and at this stage you’d fear that we’ve maybe left ourselves too much to do and the second team to go will be us.

  5. I thought sledging/trash talking was a black card offence.if so Don should have lost most of their team during that disgraceful period around the penalty

  6. Massive free taking issue from range without Cillian, Robbie is a 2/5 man whenever he comes up, you’d wonder are we better taking quick frees and getting on with it from outside the 40 m range, than bringing him up for a low percentage potshot?

  7. We are crying out for a forward from Mayo to take the game by the scruff of the neck and kill the game we were good enough to win today no point being negative if we are relegated so be it but it’s very disapointing

  8. Ahh will he quit the whinging ffs, it’s a mans game and all that . We were fairly ordinary overall . What’s the percentage with henelly kicking 45 s and long range frees ? Surely we need to establish if it’s more worthwhile giving it short . Some bad decisions at vital stages .

  9. Better display than expected however when the game was in the melting pot after scoring the penalty there was no ability to push on. AOS was ineffective as were several others and while we dominated around the middle over the match we couldn’t convert possession into scores.

    It looked like Donegal wanted it a bit more and were prepared to use whatever tactics they could to achieve that. Our lads weren’t prepared to do whatever it took to seal the deal.

  10. Huge effort. They gave everything but the REALITY is we are limited up front, we only scored a couple of points in the final 15/20 mins. We just don’t have a real lethal attacker and without Cillian we are always going to struggle against the top teams.

    I was really hoping we’d see Regan impress. He kicked his frees, most of which were bread and butter. Didn’t feature at all from play. Nor did Conor O’Shea unfortunately. Forwards are there to create and score. McLoughlin had an OK 1st half and Loftus looked a bit livelier when introduced but we have heaps of improving to do. My concern is that, in Cillians absence, we might not have the natural talent.

    So many times today our attacking moves ended with a defender in possession, Hall, Keegan, Nally, Harrison. A few of them kicked scores others didn’t. We can’t be relying on defenders winning games for us. We just look disjointed in the final quarter and as a previous poster commented, we needed someone up front to take the game by the scruff of the neck. That never happened. If you analyse that game, our front six simply didn’t get possession in enough scoring positions. I haven’t seen anything in the first 3 games up front to inspire me with much confidence. 1 goal in 3 games…
    Our Connacht neighbours meanwhile are scoring for fun. McStay getting off to some start!

    Defensively we were satisfactory, apart from being opened up for the goal. Our midfield was decent but the management and players have a big job to try to figure out a way for us to increase our scoring. That’s our issue.

    On the keeper situation, firstly we have some very good no.1’s. Hennelly’s free kick taking is going to keep him on the pitch for the time being I’d say. While his strike rate might be 50/50, we simply aren’t scoring enough from other sources. Top teams score most of their 45’s. When Cillian is off the pitch at least Robbie gives us a competitive chance of scoring. Going short some people say? Fine if our forwards are on song… They ain’t!

    Ps: D O’Connor. Great player. A credit to the jersey.

  11. Agree completely about Donegal’s disgusting behaviour at the penalty. However, it’s the sheer weakness of the referee that was totally baffling. It makes a mockery of GAA. Also, it was just as much a shocking reflection on our lads for Diarmuid to have been surrounded by 5-6 or even more Donegal players jostling and intimidating him and no Mayo man supporting him. Watch it back folks, I have never seen anything like it. Aidan O’Shea came in half-heartedly to assist but other than that it was an embarrassment.
    What a young man Diarmuid is to have kept the head.

  12. Agreed. D’Oc was fairly isolated during that incident.

    I’m not sure I agree JPM that Donegal wanted it more. I thought our gave it all they had, unfortunately that wasn’t good enough. It’s very disappointing when you lose and your team doesn’t appear to have given 100% But it can be equally if not more concerning when it looks like you gave it everything and still lost. That’s two games in a row now and we lost v Dub and today v Donegal cos of a lack of scoring ability.

  13. You cannot fault the effort.Nice to see new lads tried. I thought Nally & Harrison did well.I fear Loftus is too light. Reagan is the same

  14. I note it’s still only Feb but it’s hard not already begun to wonder if any of the other staunchly ‘pro Kevin McStay’ Mayo supporters from 18 months ago are today, like me, feeling an extra bit pissed off…

  15. Where to now ,no more excuses about castlebar contingent ,what have ros got that Mayo haven’t, towards comes to mind mcstay must be laughing to himself

  16. Its a simple fact. If you can score you MIGHT win.
    If you cannot, more than likely you WILL lose.
    We are having it very difficult here.
    Can we do anything about it apart from getting Killian and Keith back?
    I am beginning to doubt it.

  17. We’ve been saying for ages that ros have some excellent forwards coming through and remember, arguably their best one, Diarmuid Murtagh, didn’t feature today or in Kerry.m(injured),

    I doubt McStay is laughing. As a proud Mayo man I’d say he looked on the last 18 months or so with great disappointment. People close to him say he was gutted not to get the job he dearly wanted, and one he deserved.

    It’s the Roscommon county board and supporters who are doing the laughing at the moment. Many of the more astute ones did so when our co board make a mess of things in late 2014 and couldn’t believe their luck when Mayo rejected McStay. To me it’s akin to how we dealt with JOM but took him back when it was too late. Nov 14 was the time to give McStay his chance after the excellent ground work done by Horan.

    Anyway, it’s done now. We move on with what we’ve got. Let’s hope Roch does a good job and develops into the intercounty manager we all wish for but in the greater scheme of things I think McStays All
    Ireland success with brigids was a much greater achievement than rochie at corofin. I’ve been playing senior club football in Galway for the past decade and underage prior to that. Corofin have been playing their brand of football for many years now, long before Rochie joined them and to be honest the standard of senior club football in the county has been poor. Corofin have been head and shoulders above the rest of us. Corofin is a monster parish( biggest area in the country I believe) with big footballing numbers and they’ve dominated Galway football underage for almost 20 years. Conveyor belt. They’ll win at least another 3 county titles over the next 5 years and possibly another all Ireland.

    Sorry WJ, I’m finished my rant!

  18. I think that we have the three most difficult games behind us. If the performance graph

    keeps rising we will stay up. Don`t know what the story is with 4 mins extra time. It took

    at least that long just to get the penalty taken.

  19. I agree with Declan it’s time to see have we any other goalkeeping options

    Hennelly today ticked two from 5 today , he comes up the pitch to take a free in the first half and goes short.

    Him constantly coming up affects the whole rhythm

    He can do well sometimes but overall is to
    Inconsistent … Today for example he was the cause of at least two points one terrible kick out in the first half and In the second half an easy ball came for him to to claim and he let it out for a 45 ….
    What does Michael Murphy do kick the resulting 45 ? Straight over the bar

    I think if fit Clarke all day long is the better option.its time management make the call…

    He may not be able to kick 45’s , but would he be

  20. Today in itself was by no means a disaster, taken on its own merits we didn’t put in a bad shift at all. It was a high-intensity match with good hard tackling put in by both teams. People can complain about the ref but he didn’t do much wrong by us. There were plenty of handbags being thrown around by both teams, with a nasty edge to the game at times. The penalty was disgraceful alright (WJ, the penalty was recalled because the ref hadn’t given the go-ahead) but the cool head prevailed. The only real complaint I’d have about the ref is that he didn’t play enough injury time, I thought we should have at least got another minute but it probably wouldn’t have made much difference anyway, we were well out of steam by that stage. It was unfortunate that Keith Higgins went off when he did, he looked poised to do real damage to Donegal, himself and Kevin McLoughlin were playing off each other nicely. Even on the basis of only a few minutes it’s a switch worth persisting with, I hope he’s given a real shout at the forwards this time and not switched around willy-nilly like a chess piece. Midfield was reasonably strong, we didn’t lose many breakdowns in the first half, but I didn’t think Gibbons had one of his better days. Thought most of our subs looked off the pace as well. None of them had much of a impact.

    But driving back it was hard not to feel deflated at losing what was a very winnable game. We are now under intense pressure to win against Monaghan, a team who came back from nowhere to beat Roscommon (who are taking scalps left right and centre) and who should have kicked on against Dublin. We even made Cork look good when subsequently they have shipped two tankings. Unfortunately the way the division has panned out we are looking like we will have to win three games and possibly snatch a draw at the end. Otherwise the head to head could sink us. We are still without key players due to injury and club commitments and unfortunately we just don’t look strong enough upfront or at the back. It was if the good defensive display against Dublin didn’t happen, was it the weather that checked them instead? We just did not have enough defensive cover, at times Donegal seemed to run through us at will. we made McHugh look unmarkable. We persisted with man to man after Nally’s point when we should have parked the bus and frustrated them.

    Thinking rationally about this we shouldn’t be panicking yet, it’s not the first time we’ve struggled in the league and we’ve had a tough start with three difficult games, two away from home. But it’s hard not to think that Rochford is having to make a big leap in getting to grips with inter-county at this level, and now with the Rossies resurgent under two Mayo men we certainly won’t be given a path of least resistance to the quarters. I’m worried that the regression that kicked in under the last management team won’t be stemmed for this season at least.

    All this compounded by having to listen to Tweedledum and Tweedeldee on Radio 1 revel in sticking the knife into Mayo, bringing up last year’s management heave as the reason we lost today. Not one word of commentary on the match itself. We even got the patronising ‘Mayo are a lovely team, who play nice football and have such great support’ nonsense. With this level of glib, smug ‘analysis’, I’m glad I don’t to pay any license fee towards those muppets!

  21. in fairness to Hennelly i think like most people he thought that the ball he did not save going over the line was a wide. He did not see the mayo player touch it.

  22. Agree with Ballaghman about the ball hennelly let out for 45 , he should have known it a deflection or possibly one and claimed it. His kickouts, kickouts strategy were/was v good

  23. A few thoughts!! We only lost by two points so all the panic about lack of forwards, etc, might not be as bad as it sounds. Those two,(I would call), stupid, long frees should be stopped. We do not have a reliable kicker for them.
    Murphy is just fantastic!! Why not either give them short to someone or drop them right into the square, all in. Who knows, a free, a score??? Better than two wides. Parsons really should have scored as well. There you are… 3 points and a win for us, in spite of our failings!!
    From all I have seen of the Rossies this year, they look to be a very good side, had Monaghan beaten. Now, i feel we will not have anything easy except, possibly Down. That’s being very realistic folks!!!

  24. evergreenandred, I’ve heard it reported that Keith suffered from a hamstring injury, not sure if anyway related to the previous injury suffered against Roscommon (knee I believe?). He was hobbling around for about a minute before being taken off, didn’t want to leave the pitch!

  25. reading this blog a few weeks ago, people saying handy win in Donegal.. we are stuck in a rut now and the rossies will take great satisfaction is dropping us to div2

  26. 5 competitive games now without a win. Best was the miracle draw against Dublin. It is a worry. no point in dressing it up especially when you see Galway and Ros win again

    Some here will make excuses but we always makes excuses and need to learn to win again. If we don’t we ain’t going to be winning any championship or staying up.

    Alot of players were reported to be the leaders of the push and have gone missing now. Today was a winnable game. Two points up and we blew it. It happens too often

    Good to see some new faces but a win in Monaghan is a must or we are in full blown crisis mode.

  27. Thought we played reasonably well today but as against Dublin got nothing for our troubles. Anyone who thinks it will be any easier against Monaghan must be blind They have been a seriously good team over the last few years and it would be a great performance to come out of Clones with a result. Not much new with our forwards. As was the case under JH they are just not quite good enough. Thats why Horan played the hard running game with our half backs scoring frequently. Even today five of our points came from goalie and defence. Rochfords tactic of kicking early ball to forwards is good to watch but our forwards need to be capable of winning their own ball and thats not happening. Today there was some excellent ball kicked into our forwards but not won by them. As a MacStay fan I was disappointed that we did not get him but I have no intention of sticking the knife in Rochford whom I also admire or the team who again gave their best in what I thought was a good game. Having said that one cant but be impressed with Ros results vKerry and especially today. They have good forwards but youd still hope that when summer comes our strength and experience will count if we play them. By the looks of things at the moment we will have to beat them in the Hyde if we hope to stay in division 1 of the league as well as beating Down and a rejuvenated kerry. No time to panic yet. Hope Keiths injury is not too serious. We need Cillian back and well done to Diarmaid on another great performance. He is a really fine player.

  28. Yep Roscommon are tipping along very well and we are not. Sure it’s been a long period of dominance that will come to an end at some stage , 15 years by my count .

    I understand your position mayonaze and you’ve stuck to it re mcstay , only time will tell but so far he is doing a very good job and Stephen Rochford is struggling to get a result . Early days though and a lot of factors to take into consideration . He did warn us though the league would be difficult as he would be getting a feel and trying stuff out and Cillian is a massive loss , AOS has not hit form yet either , Castlebar lads too , Barry Moran being missed with the way he is performing this year and the position he could fill would be a benefit for sure.

    It’s not going well yet but we are improving slightly .

  29. Thought performance in ist half was very good.a nice blend of foot passing.
    2nd half the performance didn’t match the ist and we seemed to run out steam.
    A few positives though Harrison was very good in corner back.shane nally performed well and so did Conor Loftus when introduced.
    Need to sort out free taking no point bringing hennelly up for kicks out on the sideline on he’s wrong side!
    Michael Murphy is some player he misses nothing from dead balls.
    Onwards anyway to Monaghan next weekend.it be a tough game but I think we will get a victory up there.

  30. There are an awful lot of excuses.. Roscommon were missing 13 of the 15 that started their last championship game against kerry. Realistically, I believe they are missing 7 starters from the championship team.

  31. Didn`t think I`d ever say this, but what would Mayo give for 2 or 3 of those Roscommon forwards.

  32. Could be the year off the two doors, trap and back if we don’t buck up and start defending leads,all too often we panic when in front ,

  33. Disappointed to have lost but impressed with the performance and heart shown by all.
    From diarmid s performance to his block on mc Hugh. Sheer class the lad is perfect half forward.

    Boyle Harrison and parsons also very good.
    Caff kept Mcbrerty quiet and even Murphy when full forward so well done again.

    I am not a fan of hen nelly on the frees it takes too long.

    I think seamie o Shea return will free up parsons to perform even better and seamie will be a big addition to the team.

    The back s done well and we look to have a strong pick there with Harrison and nally being new options and hall starting to come of age as well as coen are great options.

    Forwards are fine no issues Regan and Loftus are two class acts and bring new dimension of pace and wirey forward who can kick on the run.
    So ya no win but we can see what rochie is planning and a good dog fight v ros and Monaghan could be the making of this team both morale and in unity.

    I would like to see more from Conor o Shea and Aidan as they have such power and great traits
    They showed some great flashes so if we can get them on form then we will go places.

    I’m still championing RELEASE LEEROY and play him in half forwards as the man is so talented and now we have great options in backs.

  34. There was some improvement today,but some familiar mistakes too.
    Donegal goal was like Dublin replay all over, huge space opened up for Donegal.
    We have no goal threat. Apart from pen we never really troubled their keeper.
    Inside forwards are not working out. loftus was an improvement when he came on.
    AOS was going through the the motions. He is a super talent but he is becoming a bit of one trick pony with the catch and barge. I think he is only about 70% fit.
    Willing to wait until the end of the league before making an verdict on Rochy , the curve is still upwards since cork game.

  35. I’d ease up on the babble about “full blown crisis mode” Cynthia, if I were you! I think there’s every chance we could get relegated this year but I still don’t think that, if this happens (and it might not), it would constitute a crisis. A disappointment, yes, and a setback, sure, but still not a crisis. It’s all about how the summer goes for us and that’s a completely different campaign to the League. If we end up having a summer run like we did in 2010, then we can talk about a crisis but that’s not even on the horizon for us at the minute.

  36. So I ask the McStay loyalists what business have we harping on about him when our own players didn’t want him (due to MacHale presence on the ticket). Our players have backed themselves into a corner if this season goes up in smoke….that said they have given it all since 2011….can we ask anymore? We all know it’s all Ireland or bust at this stage….dropping to division two will be a blow but should not be deemed fatal when planning an assault on Sam.

  37. Howya Sean… Yeah, look I was gutted when McStay didn’t get the gig and to be honest it still makes me sick when I think back to the cock up the co board made. I said at the time that ros would be the beneficiaries, that they’d snap him up and that he’d bring on the young talent, especially forwards, they had coming through. He’s cute as a fox McStay and he’s gone and won away in Kerry and Cork. Comfortably in the former and comprehensively in the latter.

    But I want to make it clear that I fully support Rochford. I hope he turns out to be a super manager for us but the co board should have given him the u21 job two years ago, McStay the senior job (with Roch to take over after) and we’d be in a far healthier state now ( and as a consequence ros wouldn’t be as strong). We might even have won the bloody thing at senior and someone like Rochford would have at least made us competitive at u21 where we’ve been nothing short of dismal in recent years.

    Re: the Castlebar boys. I don’t think any of them bar Durcan and Moran will make any real significant impact to the Mayo senior team. Turbo ain’t turbo anymore. Kirby, jury out at intercounty level as it is too with Douglas.

    Durcan is a class act.

  38. Yew_tree, there’s no evidence the players didn’t want McStay (cos of McHale). IMO this was county board spin…as was their complaint that his budget would be too high. Fact is the head brass wanted ‘yes’ men and with respect to H&C they got it… The sham of a process resulted in county chairman resigning, reluctantly and the players revolting. Laurel & Hardy stuff!

  39. Agree that relegation wouldn’t be the end of the world. Fixtures haven’t been kind to us nor have injuries.

    Donegal went down and they’re back to business in Div1. Tyrone will be back up too and they are serious contenders for the All Ireland this year.

  40. Re Castlebar boys I also think durkan is a certain starter. What would he be like at no10 or do we release LEEROY.??

    Moran too will be a big help as will Tom cun. Cuniffe is still a top defender
    Kirby will be an asset and am excited to see what he can bring to inter county.

    I don’t think Douglas will be part of it no loss to him just other options we have

  41. @Mayonaze, thats correct and mchale is not a yes man.. he would have shaked things up, maybe the shake up we needed.. but this county board knows best.

  42. Mayonaze – there was plenty said here and elsewhere about the appointment process back in 2014 and I’d prefer if we left that one in the past now. It’s all water under the bridge at this stage.

  43. Big difference between league and championship for the rossies 2 wins and their cocky yes the the did really to win in cork and they have good forwards but the big test is the champhionship. mayo might still be in div 1 if cillian and the castle are lads are back.

  44. Outside The Boot:- we have lots of options in the half back line don’t we. I think you have to keep Keegan in defence. He kept Connolly quiet twice last summer. Boyler is going well at the moment and could be in the middle with Durcan on the other side (although the maybe he could turn into a no.6) Not sure Nally has the pace for the wing. Could be used in the middle. He was a very talented minor and this is really his 1st year involved at senior so he needs a bit of time. Keith is a legend, if fit he has to be on the pitch. Anywhere! Of all the defenders I think he’s best suited to a free/attacking role due to his speed and ability to spot gaps/win frees.

    It’s a big year for Vaughan. We need him fit. Serious athlete and engine on him but he’s a player who needs match practice cos his natural ball skills aren’t as good as others, but he brings another dimension to the team.

    Anyway…our two most important players IMO are Cillian and AOS. Without both fit, we’ll struggle against top aides.

    We actually have the ingredients to play like Donegal in ’12. Good natural defenders. Strong running wing backs. Big mobile midfielders. A monster at full forward flanked by a quality corner forward. Why not copy what they did!?:))

  45. I know WJ and honestly it gives me no pleasure raising it but given the day that was in it, I thought it relevant and it was on my mind. But I’ve made my point.

  46. Just in the door after a very enjoyable road trip to donegal (aside from the result obviously!).always thought it would be a big ask against donegal and wasn’t too despondent..however after mc manus against the dubs last night I would notbe relishing next wend..as said earlier we lack a forward to grab the game by the scruff of the neck..simple as..donegal boys were a disgrace during the penalty fiasco..and finally can we pls give up the ghost of mc stay. .we should have enough to think about than what could have been..

  47. How much longer are we going to keep Aidan O shea in full forward for. It didn’t work last year bar the Sligo game and it’s not working this year.

  48. Couldn’t go to the game unfortunately but watched it all on tv. Agree with WJ that it was overall another improved performance, but our lack of scoring threat in the second half lost us the game.

    Some one above said there are attackers just not of the required level and I totally agree. Not a slight against them, obviously decent players but not what we need to get us an AI. Loftus’ missed free in the 2nd half was criminal, Hennelly saved his blushes with the ’45. Not sure if he’s back next week but Freeman would be a big addition.

    By the way, I think we’d have won had Higgins played the full game. He looked pure class at half forward.

  49. Donegal are just out of a training camp and it showed as they were simply sharper. It was a 2 point defeat not a 22 points one.

    Of the so called newbies Nally impressed , Loftus showed nice touches but needs to retain possession as he lost a couple of balls. Evan aside from frees did not impress in open play. This type of physical game should have suited COS but he was subdued may have held back because of the early yellow.

    Ref lost control of that game, he needs to go back to underage competitions.

    The Rossies will need a second bus to hold all their trophies and egos….

    Next Sunday is a must win, don’t give up on Div 1 yet.

  50. At the beginning of the league no wins from 3 looked a distinct possibility and that is how it worked out. Against Cork Mayo didn’t turn up and against Dublin and Donegal today we were beaten by better more professional performances. They had match winners particularly up front when it mattered. Cyncical by the way comes under being professional in the modern game in my opinion. I thought today’s performance was good and in defence and midfield we are stronger than last year but obviously things are not good in the scoring forwards department. Yes COC is a big loss but we are still far to dependent on him nobody new has emerged. So ultimately that will be our downfall in the summer unless we can resolve that issue.
    I think criticism of henelley is unfair I thought we won a lot of his kickouts today it’s just we didn’t have forwards to take advantage. I don’t think AOS at Ff is going to work and I never thought it really did at any stage.
    The other thing I wonder about is going man to man surely the modern game is all about zonal and systems play.
    Finally I don’t think getting relagated would be a major setback in fact it might be a perfect way to blood new forwards that have to step from under 21 level and give them confidence from a 6 or 7 game winning streak . However if there is one fame we might need to win in this campaign it’s against Roscommon on the Hyde just to inflict the psychological damage and I think we are capable of that.

  51. It worked against Donegal last year. The Galway game seems a million years ago…can’t actually remember how he did. The ball going in to him in the Dublin game wasn’t great.

    AOS is a championship player. He’ll improve as the year develops. If he gets they the league without injury that’ll be s good thing.

    If we don’t play him at 14…what would you suggest we do up there? We don’t have the goal scoring threat…and we have plenty of other decent midfield options. A centre pairing of Moran and Parsons is as good as what’s out there.

  52. Good to see Seamie o Shea and Andy and Chris back ….. Gutted we lost but honestly think we prob will be relegated ,, BUT think with our new faces getting serious game and not rushing lads back from injury I believe we will have a stronger panel than last year come championship,, when this group is at full strength and fitness it will take a serious team to beat them ,, it’s all about the holy grail this year !

  53. Mayonaze – he got a point against galway last year and leaving out the Sligo match he is not even averaging a point per game since.

  54. I ‘m tired of the Mcstay waffle. McStay didn’t get The Rossies into division one. Roscommon have been comming for awhile and it’s no surprise that they are doing well well in “The League”. Mayo are in a bit of bother and can’t seem to get out of the blocks. Disappointment with todays result but it looked liked Donegal were a small bit more composed on the ball and were deserving winners. Diarmud o Conner put in some shift as did Harrison. Mayo need to calm down and if they continue to play a long ball game, which I think is the way forward, no pun intended, they need to drill this aspect of their game down in training. Hoping for the best will never be good enough. Anyways on to Monaghan and tomorrow.

  55. Hardly ‘waffle’ Joe. It’s valid comment on opinions given at the end of ’14, much of which has actually transpired and on the back of results so far in the league, was worth mention.

    Of course Mayo need to focus on the present and look forward but mistakes were made in the past. No use in totally sweeping them under the carpet.

  56. There are some very netative comments here about our chances of staying in Div 1. I believe we will survive for the record. So much comment about the Ros, here this evening. You should hold your piece until we meet them in battle. I have just got in from a long trek to Ballybofey. It was a great day and it was a most enjoyable game of football for this time of year. Winning here was never going to be easy given the beating we dished out to them last summer in Croke Park. I did not see a Mayo team in any mood to give up on their Div 1 status in 2016. I watched a Mayo team that could take Donegal again later this summer. Get off the couch and support the lads and stop the whining for God sake.

  57. I think we are being too pesimistic. We have lost to the top two teams in league after a totally unfit start against Cork. Dubs and Don will beat most teams. We will probably need 6 points to survive. Cork now likely to join Down for relegation. Would not agree wit moving keegn, briliant defender. Nally great option in half backs. Move Durkn to half forwd as well as Higns. Only Mayo would hav wasted Higns pace and attacking skills at cornr back. We need high paced half fwrds arriving at pace to take ball from AOS and hopefully Kirby to create goal chances. Unfortunately none of our corner forwrds excpt Cillian look near good enough. We also need to look at why we have conceded so many critical goals from teams running straight through middle of defence. I though our sweeper formation had dealt wit that against Dubs.

  58. Hi. Mayomaze . While I think our midfield options are better this year if you leave out AOS last year we only had 3 proper midfielders and we all know what happened in the replay against Dublin when effectively ended up with no midfield! From recollection and I might be wrong but I seem to remember analysing the donegal game last year afterwards and only being able to attribute 1-2 from the option of delivering ball directly into AOS. A number of other attempts to get the ball to him came to nothing so if you consider the other options that could have been taken in those situations which might have led to scores maybe the AOS effect was not as decisive. However I wonder if COC was played closer into goal then he was last year would the AOS option prove more fruitful. But I do think he is better further outfield but in answer to your question who to out in Ff I’m not sure but I have to say I’m a Alan Freeman fan and while I agree he has yet to deliver you could make the argument so have a few others and that he has never really got the chance to deliver.

  59. Not wanting to add further to the downbeat mood but Michael Gallagher of the Western People is reporting tonight (here) that, according to Stephen Rochford, Keith Higgins “may be out for three weeks with a hamstring injury”. If this timeframe proves correct then he’ll be back no sooner than the Mitchels lads – he’ll miss the Monaghan and Kerry matches but should be back for the Roscommon one on Easter Sunday.

  60. We matched Donegal today in terms of physicality and effort and were a better team for a lot of the game but we made stupid mistakes today that cost us dearly.
    Hennelly gave a lovely kick out to Donie Vaughan who failed to hold it, got turned over and a goal for Donegal. Donie seems to have lost a yard of pace. Conor Loftus had a perfect point chance in second half and fluffed it. Jason Gibbons was fouled and kicked the free into the corner to AOS when a shot at goals by hennelly was a better option. Lee Keegan had a bad wide also.
    I dont think Diarmuid O Connor was quite as magnificent today as others seem to think but maybe I wasn’t watching him closely enough. Our defending was pretty good but our attacking wasn’t good enough, admittedly against a very formidable Donegal defence.
    Staying in Div. 1 is now a real challenge but I think we are well capable of doing it.

  61. That’s the one silver lining for us today in the win for Roscommon, Cork’s points different has taken a big hammering. Both Kerry and Cork are still only two points ahead of us at the moment so it’s all to play for really in the games ahead.

  62. As with DUblin a great first half performance. I like the look of a Nally and really impressed with Harrison today. Conor loftus is a very direct runner. Every time he got the ball he tried to solo it away from a defender. In. The first half he lost it but he showed that in the second
    Half that he is worth keeping around. Evan Reagan took frees well but didn’t do enough from open play but again with games I see both players improving. Expecting more from gibbons, parsons is a great athlete but accuracy from his feet let him down at times mayos strength is in its back we have to find room for Durcan Come championship I see us with playing with a sweeper and using 5 forwards. The 2 Connors AOS McLoughlin and one other. Defenders Durcan Keegan Higgins Boyle Nally cafferkey Barrett. That still leaves Vaughan Harrison Coen and hall as backups.

  63. Improved but by no means impressive . I see Down and Cork going down should we beat the Farney Army as well as the kingdom were safe. ( please God ).

  64. It’s disappointing to lose of course, but I am seeing gradual improvement. Rochford is not in the job very long and looks to be trying out a few things in these early stages to see what works and what doesn’t. This is going to take time and it’s a process of trial and error. He said himself that the way they play in the league is not going to be a reflection of how they play in the latter stages of the championship, and I’d take his word for that. As long as there’s evidence of improvement, things are going in the right direction.

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t care about losing matches early in the year or even going down to division two if there’s one eye being kept on the long game. We need to allow time for players and management to find a rhythm, get to know each other and to figure out a system that works. Instant gratification is not realistic given the circumstances. I think we’ll be much improved as match fitness levels rise, injuries abate, and players and management really start gelling together under a cohesive plan, which is going to take a little bit of time.

    Monaghan in Clones will be another tough match. Conor McManus is arguably the best forward in the country right now and is capable of pulling out a show-stopping individual performance, as we saw the other night. It’ll be interesting to see what the plan will be for him, but I would be reasonably hopeful going into this one.

    On a side note, the Mayo ladies are in great form at the moment. Cora Staunton is formidable.

  65. Roscommons starting 6 fowards scored 4-15 from play today.
    Mayos starting 6 fowards scored 0-1 from play today.

  66. Your never as bad as they say
    Your never as good
    Conor Loftus played really well today
    Tom Parsons is now the #1 midfielder in Ireland
    Football in February has never, nor will it ever, have any bearing on September.

  67. Why persist with the same old problems. Best to make what ever drastic changes are required to create an AI willing defensive/attach system; even if this approach runs the risk of Div 2.

    The current weakness in the forwards can be coached and if these coached forwards are immersed in a well crafted defensive/attacking system alongside a couple of natural forwards, they should be able to execute their scoring tasks at AI level.

    AoS experiment and the structure around him continues to fail since Sept 2015. Why persist.

  68. I’d hate to think we would ever behave like that when a penalty is awarded against us.

    If there was a referee in charge of the game he surely would have sent 4 or 5 of them to the line. Not to mention the constant sledging and mouthing. Dirty, filthy tactics.

    Should have been 8 minutes injury time at the end, though i dont think it would have changed the outcome to be honest.

    I see the Rossies are refusing to go gently into that good night of relegation along with Down. This has upset the applecart somewhat and has muddied the waters as we try to plot a way out of the bottom 2.

    Monaghan has become a must win game now.

    Ah feck it. Oh and speaking of feck, can i just say RIP Fr Jack Hackett.

  69. Not too pessimistic as we found a tactic that really works. Play Keith Higgins as sweeper and he will kick great passes all day. His best long range one today was with his left foot. Won’t have him for next 2 but McLoughlin was also good at passing inside by foot in 1st half and bear in mind he’s not long back.
    Aido looked well less than 100% but won a few frees that led to scores and McGee punched the ball away once and went for wrestling match option another time with no action from officials and got booked another time. But he’s probably the paciest strong full back in the Country. Aido will be flying in summer either inside or on 40.
    Regan should be doing a Paul Mannion of 3 years ago if he’s to break in. Loftus looks to have a bit more about him but jury out, expect Kirby, Freeman and Andy all to jump ahead come summer. COS worked hard in 1st half.

    Negatives,
    1) despite winning kickouts handy and lots more possession in 1st half we only went in 1 up. Not sure of 2nd half stats. Most of Donegal’s 1st half points from play were around the 40
    2) At least 1 possibly 2 frees taken from very low % location and even Murphy took a short pass on one of his from.similar position.
    3) Gibbons not in dynamic form of 2 years ago and has maybe 1 game to keep SOS/ Barry out.
    4) Despite looking like they’ve great gym work done Andy and SOS to lesser extent didn’t seem to be up to match fitness yet. No doubt they will improve rapidly.
    5) Possession to score ratio in first half not great compared to opposition though it was a seriously competitive match of much higher intensity than start of Kerry Down match.

    Like most, I agree forwards didn’t click but also think people forgetting Rochy’s opening reminder to be patient. Relegation would not be a disaster if we can find the right mix of players and tactics. Lads several weeks behind Rossies in starting training so gap will continue to narrow.

  70. Wow – posters seem to be taking their cue from media election pundits. Accentuate the negative.

    I thought we were better than Donegal until about 62 mins. After that their superior fitness and sharpness told. And if you have had a training camp that will help also.

    I thought Conor Loftus looked very useful. He was making his competitive debut really and while he made mistakes, he did some good things and the point was terrific. Megan made the penalty from nothing.

    Where we were poor was in sharpness: kicked passes to the opposition who kill you on the counter attack, and a lack of alertness where guys took passes and seemed surprised by Donegal tackles. This is something all the newbies need to work on. But, getting games against Dublin and Donegal will show them what it’s like.

    I disagree that relegation might not be that bad. Management need wins to steady their nerves. Good league performances over the years fed into to good championship displays.

  71. Hints of a Connacht football revival? Mayo have obviously been at the business end for the past few years but Roscommon definitely seem to be coming and Galway are in a decent position to possibly go up to division 1 after big wins away to Laois and Derry.

  72. i am faifly new to this blog and i am right on ros and mayo border mayo side and i hate to say about comments about ros on this blog but mcstay knew what ros had coming up to leave rte when our county board made their decision whether right or wrong but ros are a massive upturn with the talent they have got and im sick to think they could be very dark horses in champioship but we have ourselves to blame over mcstay /mchale only my opinion in febuary

  73. Interesting but frustrating game today. Mayo died after they scored their goal. The real turning point seemed to be the kick out that Vaughan fumbled. Initially, I was pretty hard on him but thinking about it now, it’s not easy to come into a tight, intense game. You could see that he was a little off the pace so I’d chalk it down to an unfortunate mistake. While I don’t think he should make our starting 15 come championship time, I do think that he is a great option to have from the bench. He is a serious athlete and can cover a lot of ground. What is pretty inexcusable was how Donegal seemed to have 4/5 players running directly at the Mayo goal with one or maybe two Mayo players covering.

    Harrisson did well and Diarmuid is turning into a top class player. Completely unassuming but puts in an incredible shift every time he steps onto the pitch. He is quickly becoming our key player in the half forward line.

    Higgins’ positioning early in the game was one particular aspect that caught my eye. Mayo seemed to be trying to isolate him in the half forward line. This is a tactic that could reap huge dividends later in the year. Few players in the country can live with his pace in a one on one situation. With space to run into on either wing, he can be our number 1 outlet ball from the back and can turn defence into attack with his pace and direct running. His decision making could improve a little so that he doesn’t try to run past too many players at once. He got caught a couple of times today.

    I’m not sold on Loftus. For a young guy stepping up to the senior team, he is going the right way but he made a few costly mistakes today. Definitely one to keep around the set up with the hopes of further improvement.

    All in all, another game that got away. Mayo, as has been the case for a while, have too many options at the back and are lighter up front. Regan is a tidy player but not the intercounty star that will make the difference. I’m another one who would like to see Freeman given a proper chance this year at FF.

    My forward line for the year would look like;

    Higgins
    D.O’C, AOS, KMc
    COC, Freeman

  74. I am greatly encouraged by the performance. The intensity levels were great, we lost a dogfight against a top 4 team by 2 points away from home.

    As Colm Keys points out today, Kerry lost their first three league games under Eamonn Fitzmaurice and won the All Ireland that year.

    If we get P Durcan, C Barrett, S O Shea, C O Connor, and maybe Liam Irwin into contention it will strengthen our hand immeasurably.

    Keith looked very dynamic for the 24 mins he played at Wing Forward. Ger Caff is coming back to form. Tom Parsons performing very well. Diarmuid is a Rolls Royce although he got plenty to think about with McHugh yesterday.

    Nally had a stormer yesterday and when he went off it changed the course of the game. Donie doesn’t seem to be up to his normal levels yet and couldn’t get to the pace of the game.

    Now, we need to win three league games and dismiss the naysayers like Tom Carr who’s friendship with McStay should be highlighted by the Nstional Broadcastet. I would love to ram his condascending vile down his throat in September.

  75. The league can be very changeable in a short space of games , teams looking like relegation material can suddenly look like semi final hopefuls with a couple of wins on the bounce , there is no guarantee till the maths says so.

    My concern at this stage is the lack of quality ball into forwards , people keep saying certain lads are not performing but I believe there is a serious lack of quality ball and not enough ball going in . We have to improve on this . People will accuse me of talking up Regan and him not showing much and where as there is some truth in that so far . He is the only one creating goal chances , Dublin , cork and yesterday he was taken down for penalty , he scored his frees and why he was taken off I don’t know as we missed (Loftus) a dead cert free after too. Let’s be patient with this , both Loftus and Regan have talent .

    Galway and Ross are having good league campaigns so far but that’s it so far , I’m not being dismissive of what they are doing but the way some are typing we might as well hand them the Nestor cup now and that’s not going to happen , they will have to come to Castlebar and kill that team before they give it up , our bucks don’t shy from battle, remember that.

  76. AOS is not a full forward, he is a midfielder end of story. We cant leave one of the most influential players in the game isloated in the forward line for most of the game. He needs to be out where he can get on the ball and dictate the game.

  77. The amount of people on here who automatically assume that Mayo will be playing football in September is worrying.

  78. Redcol,

    Carr may have a good relationship with McStay but that doesn’t come through when he talks of Roscommon, he is very negative towards us and he still seems to have a bee in his bonnet about the way he was dismissed over a decade ago now by our county board.

  79. A slight improvement on the Dublin game, and save for two bad wides from Keegan and Loftus we could have got a point from our trip.
    The stand out impression from the game for me was that Donegal pushed the boundaries early on e.g. McGees punch into O’Sheas face right in front of the linesman – unpunished. O’Sheas response was to take it, stand with his arms out looking at the linesman. McGees wrestling of O’Shea to the ground and keeping him pinned there right in front of TWO umpires – also unpunished. Similar response from O’Shea and others! Donegal knew that Cassidy and his officials were way out of their depth and were going to let everything go. A battle hardened cute team like Donegal took full advantage. This tactic, allied to the those employed by Donegal during the penalty, that saw 5 or 6 surround Diarmuid and intentionally kick him in the ankles and shins, was the hardest and most embarrassing for me to take. Why was Diarmuid left unprotected? Why was a young players left to fend for himself against 5 or 6 opponents? particularly when the referee was not going to offer anything resembling protection or authority to the situation? Where were his teammates in support? Why didn’t Mayo start swinging and drop someone? Don’t mind the result, don’t mind the red card, don’t mind the consequences afterwards. You NEVER EVER EVER leave your teammate on his own in that situation. EVER. All hell should have broke loose but instead we pussied around, allowed ourselves to get bullied and, worse than that, left one of our own to battle alone. That, to me, is worse than the defeat.
    We are a soft touch and teams know they can bully us and so they are targeting certain players, e.g. Boyle v Dublin, Diarmuid v Dublin and Donegal. They are doing this safe in the knowledge that they are in no danger of getting anything in return. McGee should have been left on his knees looking for his teeth. End of. The 5 or 6 that surrounded Diarmuid should all been cleaned out of it. End of. Fuck the consequences. At the very least the message would have been sent out that you mess with one of us, you mess with us all. If you dish it out, you are going to get it back with interest. BRING IT ON.
    Instead the message is that this Mayo team can be bullied out of it, handy enough, and you can leave your gum-shields in the dressing room.

  80. Slightly harsh there if you don’t mind me saying pebbles. mcgee is a tramp and it did them no use in 13 when we annihilated them despite him stamping on Cillian and remind me of the result last year when it mattered also .

  81. The ref and his team should be able to deal with the sort of bullshit dished out by Donegal yesterday. Most of it was right in front of their faces. There’s no way the shower will be allowed any game bar a Louth Longford Carlow game come summer.
    Didn’t the GAA add a black card offence for mouthing at referee. Never was a game a better example of its need to be used as so many Donegal players were at it for the whole game during the penalty that it wasn’t funny. Murphy alone is at it every other game and should be punished.
    Mayo players should have threatened ref they would take law into their own hands. Aido right to expect umpires to call attention the wrestling foul, that should happen in an U14 game never mind this level.
    The Mayo lads tried to “play the ref”, problem was we assumed the ref is any good not a fella with 0 authority like yer man.
    Diarmaid was actually lucky as he gave 1 or 2 of those messers a clip right in front of the ref more obvious than the one that saw Keane red carded last summer. But he was so inept he ignored that too.
    If we play them in summer I hope our lads absolutely tear into them cause the level of cynicism they displayed was very high.

  82. Eight yellow cards were dished out to Donegal players and we scored the penalty. That should be enough for us. By all means back up the team mates but all it takes is one muppet ref and players get sent off. This has cost us dearly over the years. It’s a fine line to tread.

    Because of his size and profile O’Shea will more often than not come out the worse of any discipline resulting from off-the-balls. For what it’s worth we didn’t lose yesterday because we were bullied out of it, We gave as good as we got in the tackle.

  83. REDCOL – how is Liam Irwin going to feature in the senior panel of forwards, if he couldn’t make the Breaffy starting 15 for the county final?

  84. Agree with Pebbles regarding Diarmuid being left isolated. We’ve big physical players but in reality, none of them have that nasty edge to them that Philly Mc and the McGee’s possess. Just once I’d like to see Aiden use that 16 stone to leave one of them flat on their backs with their ears two inches closer together. Take the card but put out the message that you risk genuine physical injury and hospitalisation if you mess with me. Keegan and Boyle have a slight edge to them but we’ve had no real “enforcer” since David Brady.
    On another O’Shea point, he got one direct ball from Tom Parsons in the second half and was one on one with the goalie had he not spilled it. Why are we putting such a target man in as full forward and then not giving him any ball, it was the same against Dublin last year. People saying O’Shea isn’t a full forward need to look back at his point and see how he turned McGee. If you pump in the ball to him, he only has to be lucky once, the fullback has to be lucky every time. The law of averages are with Aiden O’Shea in this regard.

  85. Catcol

    He has done huge work over the winter on his conditioning. He is playing great football with the U21’s and scored a goal for DIT in the Sigerson. I’m told he gave Tom Cunniffe a torrid time in a recent challenge game between U21’s and Castlebar.

    He has size and ability. Remember M Hall didn’t feature much for Breaffy last year either

  86. Regan and Loftus are the future of this side. They are finishers, pure and simple. We have enough physical, hard running and hard working, ball winning half-forwards like McLoughlin, Doherty, O’Connor and now Conor O’Shea to win the ball around the middle third and start attacks. What Rochford and Co need to do is devise an attack that places our most accurate finishers, i.e. Cillian, Evan and Conor Loftus, in possession and in the scoring zone, i.e. inside 30m and central. Whether that is by good movement in the full forward line to open up space and get defenders isolated one-on-one, or whether they decide to play quick long direct ball in to the full forward line to Aidan and have Evan/Conor close by in support, that is for management to decide on a case by case basis. Both styles of attack will fail if the quality of the ball being delivered is poor. One thing is certain, using Evan and Conor to come out the field scrapping for ball, or, having them run into corners chasing badly placed passes, is not going to win us much this year.
    There was a lot of good things displayed yesterday and certainly our defensive performance in the first half was very good. We turned over ball three or four times, tackled relatively cleanly, fouled when we had to and forced many Donegal attacks wide into the corners. There is no doubt that losing Higgins so early completely disrupted the plans for our attack as the entire selection hinged on him going in to the half forward line and he had been on the ball a lot in the 20 odd minutes he was on. Horan first looked at this 2 years ago and was wrongly castigated for it by many. Higgins has what no-one in our half forward line has, serious pace. With Paddy Durcan a shoe-in for a spot in the back six it frees up Higgins to venture forward. Also, Nallys performances are putting serious heat on Vaughan now and he cannot be considered a certain starter anymore. Vaughan coughed up two consecutive possessions after coming on and it resulted in 1-1 against us. That’s simply not good enough and with Barrett returning and the improving form of Harrison Vaughan has to up his game or be ready to warm the bench.

  87. Now you’re talking pebbles

    , “What Rochford and Co need to do is devise an attack that places our most accurate finishers, i.e. Cillian, Evan and Conor Loftus, in possession and in the scoring zone, i.e. inside 30m and central. Whether that is by good movement in the full forward line to open up space and get defenders isolated one-on-one, or whether they decide to play quick long direct ball in to the full forward line to Aidan and have Evan/Conor close by in support, that is for management to decide on a case by case basis.”

    Hopefully Rochford is working towards this or else to put it quite bluntly I don’t see his stamp and they might as well just play off what they’ve already learned these last few years.

  88. Pebblesmeller, the post up you made about allowing our players to be bullied and attacked en masse is something that should be printed off and stuck in the faces of the 14 teammates that diarmuid o Connor had on the field yesterday. We sure have a few that can dish it output for some reason don’t, the same thing happened a few years ago when conor mort was thrown fairly heavily into the net by a couple of Tyrone bucks, instead of conors team mates going in and putting a marker down they turned and walked away, it was very disappointing and it had to have an effect on Mortimer.
    Remember that game where we demolished donegal, the incident where Enda varley was floored and stamped on by McGee, who stepped in and floored McGee? Cillian o Connor, if he wasn’t there it would have gone unpunished like it did yesterday. It happens with Mayo, remember that photo of the 2013 final where Connolly had a grip of mcloughlin and Doherty s jerseys ? Holding them like 2 lambs! In all fairness it was and is a joke, his arm and hand should have left numb with belts, yesterday those donegal c—- should have been attacked in the same manner.unfortunately only Boyler and keegan are aggressive enough. In my playing days if any team member was attacked unfairly or outnumbered in an attack I would get involved and often got the beating to go with it, but it was for the team. Someone of our fellas should have taken their eight week ban yesterday but let the other crowd know that it won’t wash with mayo. I could name one or two bench forwards we have that are real altar boys on the pitch, pull out of tackles and nearly apologies to opponents when they do collide.
    For Gods sake, leave the niceties til the final whistle is blown, get stuck in for the70 minutes and don’t allow your team mates to be abused.

  89. I haven’t read through all the comments above as I cannot see the point of wasting one more second of my life on watching us self-flagellate about McStay and what he is doing with Roscommon. More power to him and to them, but for the love of god lads, LET IT GO. It might also be prudent to note, if no-one has already, that Roscommon did manage to concede 3-10 yesterday against this poor Cork team, so it appears to me that Kevin and Fergal still have quite a bit of work to do. And the less said about our day in Cork in the light of their recent results, the better.

    Back to our own game. I left there yesterday feeling disappointed but not deflated. We are still a month behind most of the rest of the country in terms of fitness and training, still missing a number of key players, still reintroducing players to the mix and still fundamentally reshaping our game. These are factors, not excuses – we could have and should have won that game and it is not ideal three games in to be staring relegation in the face. But we have been around the block enough at this point to know that League football (as Liam says) has no bearing on September football, which is what we are aiming for. For what it’s worth, I don’t really expect a result in Clones next weekend either but so be it. We are where we are.

    I also know this sounds obvious, but we were playing against one of the most defensive teams ever known to man or woman, and despite our lack of scoring prowess only lost by two points.

    While the lack of scoring forwards – and more importantly, the lack of supply of good ball into them – currently is a big concern I was far more worried about our defensive effort yesterday at times. We put in a very solid, decisive defensive shift against Dublin, but yesterday I thought we were caught on the hop far too many times – we were very lucky not to concede two goals in the first half after being carved open when they ran at us. Instead of taking on our man in their half, we conceded far too much ground before defending – something that the likes of Dublin would crucify you for.

    The difference between us and Donegal yesterday was also the difference between us and Dublin – they were able to receive possession, turn and score decisively immediately and from *outside* the 21. We appear to lack the necessary confidence to do that, with a couple of exceptions. We don’t have a Michael Murphy and we have to deal with that. But there are other ways to score and dropping a ball, pretty much unchallenged into the keeper’s hands – from what, 25 yards out? – is unforgivable at this point.

    Shane Nally had an excellent game again yesterday and his attacking play was excellent, but sometimes cost us defensively too. I did like his moment of cynicism but he was lucky to stay on the field – another day, he could easily have taken black. Likewise Conor O’Shea before him. Brendan Harrison was very, very good and scored two fantastic points. I have no problem with scores coming from the full back line as long as we have a strategy in place to mind the gap, so to speak.

    And to anyone giving out about the ref, I felt he was abysmal, and the moments leading up to the penalty where he completely lost control of the game were farcical. But over the course of play, I felt that Donegal had more cause for complaint than we had.

  90. @ Observer2

    Regarding your comment:

    “Didn`t think I`d ever say this, but what would Mayo give for 2 or 3 of those Roscommon forwards.”

    Ye can take ye’re pick from Donie Smith, Donie Shine, Ultan Harney and Diarmuid Murtagh as they are surplus to requirements at the moment, we can do some kind of swap for a midfielder or 2 😉

  91. Glad to hear that about Liam Irwin REDCOL.

    I would love to be proved wrong but my impression was that he was not committing to the serious training regime that is required to ensure panel selection.

  92. Id go along with the sentiment DOC should of been backed up but you’re not going to make scrapers out of lads that aren’t .AoS is a mountain of a man but a scrapper he ain’t , he doesn’t need to be .

  93. Anne Marie, very balanced as always. I thought the ref was poor to say the least but he certainly did us no favours. Probably the most notable was Christy Toye who was booked for damn all. I was right behind the town end goal (running late as always) so I hadn’t a notion what was going on with the penalty nonsense. It looked on tv like our players felt the ball had gone out beforehand. Ref should have taken control of the situation, simple as. I was impressed with Mayo’s intensity in tackling yesterday and like most others, I think i would be positive that the gameplan is developing in the right direction. Not sure how they will fare in Clones in what will be another seriously tough encounter. A double marking job on McManus might be necessary in his current form.

  94. I really feel that any comments on management at this stage are ridiculous. The man is only weeks on the job and he has a mountain to climb. I would love to see Mayo in the qualifiers this year, to practice their tactics, and sharpen lads up. If they couldn’t win in the qualifiers what the hell would they be doing in the quarter finals???

  95. Joe Mac we can practice our tactics against Galway and Roscommon as good a practice as you’ll get off anyone in the qualifiers in 2016 , hoping for the qualifiers is a defeatist attitude , be no Sam won through the back door for the foreseeable .

    Rained off so I’m looking back on the game here which I recorded . Better team till in and around 54 mins , passage of play where AOS took a hop out of in the corner instead of releasing to Andy who was running towards him in front of his marker . Ended up with DoC wrongly penalised for a legit tackle resulting in a donegal free converted by mcbrearty . Then hennelly kicks a lovely kick out to Vaughan who fumbles the ball and donegal absolutely explode up the field with christy toye (aged 309) Thompson , kavanagh and goal scorer mcloone without a glove put on them from their own half back line into the net.

    This is my second time watching it now , still can’t fathom what Conor o Shea’s role is exactly. withdrawing a free kick taker who had converted 100% was silly , diarmuid o Conor is just immense . Keegan is obviously top drawer but he needs to cop the fook on when in a position to kick a vital score or pass it if he can’t find the composure again Andy was out in front for that one . Defence will be fine caff was very good , boyler was savage and Harrison had a very good game . Loftus will be a serious contender , we really need himself and Regan to make the match day panel this year at least .

  96. Am I the only Mayo supporter who was annoyed yesterday by the fact that, for much of the game Donegal had 16 men on the field?
    About every four or five minutes a mentor in a black tracksuit burst out onto the field and ran with impunity to any and all parts to confer with his team. At one stage he ran from midfield through our forwards and spent time in the Donegal goalmouth. The referee and his officials seemed oblivious to this guy’s almost constant presence on the field.
    Had it been Mayo who transgressed in this fashion I’ve no doubt the 31st man would, sooner or later have ended up on his arse courtesy of a slap from a Donegal player.

  97. Sean, It has been commonly stated by managers, trainers, etc, etc that it takes months for a team to develop and be fully comfortable in carrying out a new system, which is common sense. Two goes, (against Galway and Roscommon), are next to useless. They need a system before Galway and Roscommon.
    Hoping for the qualifiers is a positive, not a defeatist attitude. As i said, it gives more time to practice. I am looking beyond the Provincial finals, to Croke Park. How is that defeatist????

  98. Sourceoftherobe-if that bucko in the tracksuit had a tracker on him,I’d say he had as much milage up as Diarmuid!.Deffo was due a shlap

  99. Opt2misteek,
    Believe it or not, I said to my friends, “That Buck is covering as much ground as any of the players”!!!!

  100. Hi All,
    Sorry to see the Mayo lads getting beaten yesterday but to be honest it is a very hard place to go and try and get anything even a bit of fair play. I always enjoy the comments on this site and I have to say Anne Marie and Pebblesmeller’s comments made for excellent reading as usual.
    Just one last thing regarding the backing of the player in the box etc…. I know lots of people think the Dubs were rough and ready over the years (that’s just the team not us fans!!). But in my opinion all the Dubs teams I can remember were trained to play hard and fair and if the other team start it then give it back and then some.

    Kind Regards,
    Martin the Dub

  101. @sourceoftherobe. .was that the same loon hovering amongst players while the penalty was being sorted..he literally wandered up to the goal with hands in his pockets..farcical..

  102. There were at least 9 Donegal officials standing on sideline yesterday making it impossible for anybody in front few rows to see the game. Surely there is a rule stating how many officials are allowed stand on sideline ????

  103. Regina,
    I think that was him. He was constantly on the pitch. I’ve played and managed myself and after his fifth or sixth incursion onto the pitch and the referee doing nothing about it I know what my instructions to two or three players would have been. Don’t be seen to hit him but next time you see him make a run and steamroll him accidentally on purpose

  104. Fair point Martin. It was the purposeful and very blatant manner that Donegal swarmed Diarmuid that really got me. They were like a pack of hyenas. I agree, we don’t do the hard-man thing very well, but feck it, you can’t let that crap go without reacting, especially when it was clear at that stage to the players from both sides that the Ref wasn’t going to punish it. It’s a very poor reflection on our team spirit in my view.
    Tyrone tried it in the semi in 2013 but at least Andy Moran scattered them. I was very disappointed with McCartan last night on League Sunday, totally brushing it off and excusing.
    Nally’s tackle on McHugh was for sure a dangerous one and I’d have been hopping if that was one of our lads on the receiving end (although I recall his brother Mark doing the same to Michael Conroy in a McHale pk League match a couple years ago). But it’s the systematic and controlled way that Donegal and Tyrone do it that is shameful and you simply would not see it in any other sport. Refereeing in GAA is just pathetic. It could be stopped in seconds.

  105. I’m sorry joe but I’ll have to completely disagree , if we lost to Galway how many extra games would it mean ? Roscommon would be a hard fought provincial decider , full of intensity , big crowd etc . What would be the benefit in losing that for an extra game the week after , no recovery time and then the quarter after that . Winning Connacht has stood to us in q/f games since we started this journey with some of the finest performances this county has ever produced in croke park .

    “Months to become comfartable with a system “.
    sure we have four left till the Galway game with four top flight league games at least to go . By having an extra game a week or two after a Connacht final is hardly going to perfect a system which isn’t going to change that dramatically Imo anyway this year. Plus I don’t ever understand the actuality of such suggestions , every team goes out to win and we are still odds on for the six in a row . Dont think it’s ever been done in the history of Connacht football , so I’m sure this panel will want to make history.

  106. No need for panic. Stephen has a very good management team in place, but does he need a forwards coach? Dublin have Jason Sherlock, Kerry have Mickey Sheehy and Rory Gallagher was an excellent forward in his playing days.

  107. Lol, me too joe , me too buddy.

    I was just making a counter argument for your qualifier route preference .

  108. Think Nally is great addition to the team and cannot figure why he was ignored by previous managements given his underage career and his club performances.since.
    Way better h.b than Vaughan, who though v. athletic doesn,t defend adequately and lacks the required ball handling skills,and positional sense.for this level. Management must try to maximise the contribution of their potentially most influential player ie A.O S by positioning him mostly close to the goal area, and developing a game plan around him by providing him with good ball from outside and having our best finishing forwards playing off him. This I believe would be a more beneficial use of his talents, than having him wandering sometimes aimlessly around the field at will, Of course outfield players need to have an awareness that if there are two or sometimes three players on AOS in the danger area then some other players are unmarked and should utilise this situation accordingly. Not rocket science one would think but doesnt seem to be happening much.

  109. Were donegal at full strength on sunday? I reckon so. They were certainly alot nearer than we were. So all in all we showed well against a team with alot more prep than we had and home advantage to boot. Take murphy out of there ranks and i can guarantee they would not be the same. One player missing makes huge difference never mind a selection. Durcan. B Moran. Cillian o Connor. Barry Moran is playin the best football i have seen him play. Durcan has a turn of speed like lightening and Cillian is top forward on his day. Teams are willing to foul us inside there own half as they know were lacking Cillian for the frees. He would make a massive difference from all angles and hes not afraid to show leadership. Barrett, S o Shea , Andy all returned on sunday. I think we will improve our performance again next sunday and get the result we want.

    Our defending has improved this year. The regulars are playing well. Hall. Nally and Harrison have came in and done great work. long may it continue. In midfield i think we will be strong enough for ant team so its up front were gonna have to be patient. Regan. Loftus. Conor o Shea. are trying hard and will need time to adapt to this level of intensity. Loftus looks like a good player who can kick great points and im looking forward to seeing more of him.

    Hennelly
    Harrison
    Caff
    Hall
    Keegan
    Boyle
    Nally
    Parsons
    Gibbo
    Diarmiud
    Aiden
    K mac
    Evan
    Conor o
    Loftus

    Id start aiden at chf. Give Conor the number 14 jersey and tell him show us what he can do.

    We now have alot of regulars back from injury so we will have lots of experience to call on.

    What do ye think of my team boys and girls ?

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