Down to the final four

Well, here we are. The Covid-era rapid-fire Championship of 2020 is down to the final four and we’re still standing.

An odd quartet we certainly make, even if, from a historical standpoint, this year’s All-Ireland semi-final pairings are nothing if not apposite. I think it’s fair to say, though, that even a few short weeks ago nobody would have predicted we’d end up with the semi-final line-up we have.

Dublin would, needless to say, have been on everyone’s list. Their drearily dominant march through the artist formerly known as the Leinster Championship was as uneventful and one-sided as had been expected. That’s ten Leinster titles in a row for them now and the notion that any other county might take that crown off them any time soon is laughable.

Former Westmeath player John Connellan summed up Leinster’s plight in a cri de coeur posted on Twitter (here) following Dublin’s defenestration of Meath the other evening. We’ve seen many of these stats before but they still have the capacity to shock, not just the obvious stuff on funding but also the fact that Dublin’s average winning margin in Leinster finals over the past decade has been 14.25 points.

So, the Dublin juggernaut is in the house and they’re the unbackable favourites to land six All-Ireland titles in a row. Can you see them being beaten this year? In truth, I can’t.

We’re already being touted as the main hopes for giving the Dubs some kind of test before they get their hands on Sam yet again. But we can’t afford to think like that ourselves, as we’ve a tricky challenge to face in the form of Tipperary in the semi-final on Sunday week.

While we may have hoped – rather than expected – to make the final four, the fact we’ve done so is no great surprise. I did wonder in advance of the Connacht Championship if we’d manage to rouse ourselves for battle in the manner we needed to, in the way we’d so manifestly failed to do in the province every year since 2015. Well, we did and we got our reward, even if the margins were extremely tight in the decider at Salthill.

For Tipperary and Cavan, this must be something akin to dreamland. Neither would have been given a prayer of making it out of their respective provinces a few weeks ago and both of them came very close to getting dumped out of the reckoning in their opening matches.

Both needed extra-time and a little rub of the relic to stay in it then. Luck had no part to play last weekend, though, as Cavan and Tipperary produced performances that will live long in the memory for both counties’ supporters.

For Cavan it may have been their 38th Ulster crown but it’s only the second time they’ve won the Anglo-Celt Cup in the last fifty years. It’s also the first time they’ll be contesting an All-Ireland semi-final since 1997.

Tipperary, as we know, made the final four as recently as 2016. That summer they emerged from the qualifiers to ambush an over-confident Galway, fresh from claiming the Nestor Cup, in the quarters before going under by five points to our lads in the penultimate round. This year, though, for the first time since 1935, they’re in the final four as Munster champions.

So here we are then, in an All-Ireland semi-final line-up that’s the same as it was in the 1920 Championship. That competition – which wasn’t played off until 1922 – saw Tipp and Dublin advance to the final, with the Premier County eventually, on 11th June 1922, emerging as champions as they won the 1920 final at Croke Park on a scoreline of 1-6 to 1-2.

It’s still too early this year to be thinking about the final so let’s finish up with a poll on who you reckon will make it to the pre-Christmas decider. In this poll you’ve got two votes so just pick the two counties you think will be battling it out for Turkey and Sam in December.

Who'll advance to this year's All-Ireland decider? Pick your predicted final pairing

  • Dublin (45%, 917 Votes)
  • Mayo (42%, 855 Votes)
  • Tipperary (8%, 166 Votes)
  • Cavan (4%, 84 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,033

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85 thoughts on “Down to the final four

  1. I cant see Dublin being beaten either, we obviously have a very tricky game with Tipp which i think will be a shootout and we’ll just about mange to come through it provided our attitude is right from the word go if we do come through that one, i think it will be a bit like the 2004 and 2006 finals we knew deep down that we werent going to win it.

    Still though getting to a final would be great experience for the younger members of the panel and can only benefit them. all we can do is keep developing players and keep trying, in a way whoever gets to the final against Dublin theyll be no pressure on them, everyone expects Dublin to win. no disrepect meant to Cavan but they are not going to knock out the Dubs.

  2. I agree with much you say Backdoorsam.
    Cavan had their day in the sun and deservedly so on the day. Tipp also but in somewhat less of a surprising result. I tipped Cork just about to do it but suggested that Tipp never have any fear of Cork and on the day, Cork very obviously disrespected Tipp by underestimating them. We won’t do that on Sunday 6th. As for Cavan? In the year that’s in it I wouldn’t definitely rule anything in or out. But more than likely they, like the rest of us, be subjected to the robotic, soulless, methodical, boring display of Dublin and then have to listen to the “paint-drying excitement” of Dessie, boring us all to death with his “well, we wouldn’t be happy with many tings we did out there today”, or “we will have to go away and work on a few tings dat wouldn’t be good enough”. Dublin GAA really did well to find someone more monotone and boring in front of a mic than Jim Gavin, but they found him. It’s all part of the process!

  3. On paper this Dublin team is not as strong as say in 2015. It’s just no one is putting any pressure on them in the middle third.

    I think if we put our best 8-9 ball winners around the middle we could cause them problems.

    The other critical aspect is to not concede goals sweeper and tactical fouling needs to be employed heavily.

  4. Centerfield I think Dublin have actually stepped up a level in comparison to other years. Their fitness and strength is better, their tackling is better and their midfield exceeds previous years. If they are beaten then the winning team will have to play out of their skin for 70+ minutes.

  5. It is, Revellino. The only year we missed out since 2011 was in 2018. In the eight semi-finals we’ve contested we won four and lost four, though two of those losses (2014 and 2015) only came after replays while one of the wins (2017) was after a replay too. The losses were all to Kerry and Dublin, though we’ve also beaten them in semis during this period. We’ve beaten everyone, in fact, though not in the right order or all together!

    Colin O’Riordan is available for the semi-final, Supermac. That was reported in the papers today.

    While I’m all for shifting the Dubs out of HQ I think that horse has bolted for this year. The time to move them was for the Leinster Championship games – as Kevin McStay pointed out recently, Laois have never played Dublin on their home patch in the provincial Championship in the last forty years. In fact, the last time Dublin played a Leinster match away was against Longford in 2005. A big part in the death of the Leinster Championship was other Leinster counties’ meek acquiescence to all matches being played at HQ. They could, and should, have forced Dublin to play other counties away but opted to take the short-term financial gain. What a whirlwind they reaped as a result.

    Semi-finals and finals have been played at HQ for decades now and while I accept that the unique circumstances this year mean that shifting games to other venues is a possibility I’m not sure that’s a good enough reason to do it.

  6. Tipp pose a serious danger, their height alone is starting to worry me. Sweeney, Quinlivan and and the Aussie Rules player are serious ball winners. We’re to have to play Parsons or start Diarmuid in midfield. We simply cannot allow Tipp to have free reign in the air. I feel if Aido is left FF he’ll do damage there, but our lack of height in the middle means he has to drop back abd help out. Its well within us to beat Tipp, but we need to respect them. I do feel we have an edge fitness wise as they were wilting in the last 15mins against Cork. Its bonus territory for both of us, especially when you consider this is a new team, and missing serious baller Doherty, and All star back Harrison. I feel had we them two boys fit, I think we’d be in with a serious chance of lifting Sam. Unfortunately, the centre forward spot is a big problem for us, R O’D is too raw imo, seems to run into a lot of blind alleys, and isn’t strong enough yet, very bad shot selection aswell in last few games. Definetly one for the future with a bit more conditioning. But think he’s one of the weak links in the team.

    For Tipp, id drop Ryan, move diarmuid to MF, Loftus to CF and one of Flynn/Walsh/Fionn into wing forward. If their is even 50 mins in Tom P, id start him in the middle and leave Diarmuid on the wing.

  7. Tipperary were actually quite defensive against Cork. Quinlivan and Sweeney were their only real out and out forwards, the rest were work horses. To state the obvious, tie down them 2 and we can start preparing for December 19th. With Tipp being so defensive, they’ll probably let us take short kickouts more often than not which should suit Clarke. I don’t see Horan changing the midfield now. If he went with Loftus in the wind/rain/muck of the Connacht championship, he’s not going to drop him for the pristine Croke Park environment.

  8. Pebblesmeller – agree wholeheartedly on the Dessie comments, I don’t like commenting on individuals but I’ll make an exception here, he is just brutal. I cringe / cry anytime he commentates. He has 5 comments/sentences he just repeats monotone style for every game ….Her indoors and junior are the same – cringe everytime he is on. The dogs body language isn’t good either…

  9. Oh I think we are pretty good at HYPE Mayo as well. . but we have had plenty of chastening experience as well to help tone it down a bit this time I think… The whole Media’ is looking for something other than Covid to be reporting on…I say let’s back ,a campaign to move Dublin out of Croke Park for the Semi, never been a year and hopefully never will be a year like this one again where no fans can attend an All Ireland semifinal…No excuses, Dublin are no more entitled to play every championship game in ‘Our, All Ireland’s Croke Park’ than Donald Trump is entitled to squat in the White House after January 20th. Routine, double digits hammerings dished out to Cannon foder by Dublin, 21 points humiliation to a Div One team Meath, 22 points in the case of Laois, how long can the entire GAA population of greater Ireland, (outside of the Pale) tolerate such blatant unfairness?..I know it’s not specifically our fight if we want to be narrow minded about, and we have our own, Gallant Rivals in Tipperary on the other side of the draw to think about… but even if Mayo were no longer involved in this years championship, I would say the same thing.. The vast majority of the Media is gasping for a story, never more willing to back a worthy cause… Like Cian O Neil did with his. successful ‘Newbridge or Nowhere’ campaign..As an honary Mayo Man, Jack Charlton who passed away in 2020 might say ‘Put’em under Pressure’..

  10. I think the Leinster championship this year is getting too much coverage (particularly that former Westmeath footballer’s letter) in the sense that all of the provinces are redundant, in my opinion. Leinster is just the worst.

    In Leinster, it’s a perfect storm whereby you have a Dublin team at their very best with some generational players (Cluxton, James Mc, Fenton, Kilkenny, Con), an extremely well run county board, mixed in with the worst mix of Leinster teams probably in the history of Gaelic football. I think we sometimes forgot how much Leinster teams (bar Dublin) have under-performed, not only in the last 10 years but in the last 20 years. Other than Dublin, no Leinster team has made a final since Meath were hammered by Galway in 2001. Even in 1998 when Kildare made the final it was fairytale stuff for them just to be in a final. You have to go back to 1982 and that famous final to find another Leinster team in the final – Offaly – and so much of their success was borne out the work men had with Bord na Mona at the time. So, really Meath are the only traditional footballing county that have been under-preforming, and given their population they have been doing terribly at senior intercounty.

    In the other provinces, Mayo, Kerry, Donegal, Tyrone, Monaghan, and Roscommon, have been performing either to or above expectations in the past 20 years. Cork have been up and down but I’m convinced they will get their house in order and come back strong sooner rather than later. Galway have been poor by their traditionally standards but again, I think they will be back. Down and Cavan are considered strong footballing counties (and both have more AIs than Mayo!) but have done little in the past 25 years. But in a tiered system, counties like Down, Cavan, Armagh, Derry, Kildare, Meath could make realistic improvements (if they get their house in order too) along with all the other counties, while playing competitive matches, rather than what we saw at the weekend in Leinster.

  11. Cavan – quite rightly – are now agitating to move their semi out of Croke Park. I doubt they’ll be listened to but it will put GAA HQ under a lot of pressure. A dirty sodden pitch would no doubt be a leveller. So watch this space.

  12. In the middle of winter moving the semi final and final out of Croke Parke would be lunacy. The best pitch in Ireland by a mile and we want to play in other pitches. Where are those pitches you want to move to? It does not matter as its only a handful of players and backroom people that will be allowed in. If the players are good enough Croker will be good enough. After all its 15 v 15. Who would have said at the beginning of the year Cavan and Tipperary would be in Semi Finals. This stops the backdoor bullshit. It said the backdoor would suit weaker counties. Its the same counties that was contest the quarter, semi finals every year. Were they the weaker counties? This year the cat went among the pidgeons and we have a novel pairing. Its is not the population in counties that count, Its the footballers.

  13. I see it in 2 ways
    1, Let’s be beaten v Tipp and limp out like Donegal on Sunday, thereby avoiding the Dubs.
    2, Beat Tipp and rekindle the fight with the Dubs, last years semi final to be forgotten as too many games were played in such a short period.
    Let’s not dwell on the opposition, over thinking well fuck things up, players that can play may be stifled.
    Plenty of new guys to add flair and pace to the setup.

  14. I forgot to add, Cavan should insist on Breffni or nowhere, given we are living in a Covid19 environment but what of the other 2 games ?

  15. Glad folk on here ant the ones motivating
    In my mind this is the best opportunity we will have in at least a decade to break our duck and win an All Ireland, we should go all out for it, no bullsh1t excuses about unbeatable dubs, we are in transition, may be better not to get to the final this year, etc.!
    Facts are that all the other potential contenders to Dublin are gone, we playing a semi against a Div 3 team who have won their first provincial title in 85 years and have had to beg, borrow and steal to bolster their squad in the last month and to be truthful, Dublin are refreshing their team even more than we are, they are not as experienced as the team from the last few years and they have a new manager that is in a no win situation unless they claim the title again. Yeah they were have hammered all before them in Leinster, but remember these teams have beaten themselves before they have even taken to the field. To me this is the best opportunity we will have in at least a decade if we are ever going to do this bloody thin. LETS GET IT DONE

  16. @Richie Duck, Hawkeye doesn’t matter much when if every possible contentious point (Tá/ Níl) went against Dublin for a whole decade in a single match, when over 20 points humlialitions are being discharged regularly…. For me it’s a Níl to Croke Park for the Semifinal, and for so many of obsious reasons everyone can see for themselves without the aid of Hawkeye.

  17. I dont think the venue should be changed. All Ireland semi finals are played at Croke Park because that’s the tradition. We dont have to go too far back to remember a half full Croker on semi final day.

    Dublin should not get guaranteed home advantage for their Leinster championship games. That is grossly unfair unless a county voluntarily cede home advantage with a preference to play in Croke Park.

    Semi Finals should be only be in Croker, imo.

  18. Thanks WJ. It’s been a great decade for us. Playing in a style that has won our teams admirers all over the country.
    I’m afraid the neutrals for our next game would like to see Tipp come out on top. If it wasn’t ourselves playing I would be roaring Tipp on myself.
    I’m hoping in 2 weeks time the Dubs will be saying ” not them Western f*****s again “.
    All focus on Tipp now. Top notch performance required. Better than what we have produced so far in this year’s championship. Don’t know what improvement is there from the Tipp team but acres of room for ourselves to improve.

  19. Good post @ MayoDunphy…harry and doc are two serious players for us. Two guaranteed starters. Such a shame they’re out.

    And you’re right, ROD is very raw.

    We are just a bit too light in the offensive end of our middle third. If Tipp play well, we could be in big trouble. It’s very hard to predict the game. We have the potential to win with a bit to spare if we play to our max and they dont. If we dont turn up or in fact if we play like we did against Galway, it’ll be a toss up who wins because our forward play in the Connacht Final was poor.

    Someone mentioned 04 and 06. I’d rather not even be thinking about comparisons yet as we have a massive match on Sunday week but Mayo should always be confident of beating any team on any given day. That’s a conversation for another day, perhaps.

  20. Regarding Croker, bottom line for me is that if you get to the last 4 you shouldn’t be whinging about venue and Croker offering and unfair advantage. Yes its in Dublin and suits the Dubs but teams should be yearning to play in Croker for a semi or final. When they get to that stage they’ve earned it, and if a pristine, perfect pitch disadvantages them because they’re inferior to their opponents, then tough luck. Seriously folks, this is a non issue. I’m no fan of the Dubs, and its crystal clear they get other unfair advantages. However, looking at this objectively, its totally inequitable expecting them to play an All Ireland semi final outside of Croker, where semis are always held – where it is absolute custom and practice – just because your opponents are significantly inferior to you.

    It’s all a bit Irish to me.

  21. The Cavan manager made a mistake coming out saying the game should be moved. Should have stayed quiet and planned for the game. I think this game will be over by the first water break.

    Anyone have data that shows how often Dublin have been beaten in championship outside Croker even when they had bad teams?

  22. Exactly, semi finals and finals should be played in Croker, thats just the way it is! Posters on this blog and around the County pissed and moaned over he 2014 Kerry replay being in Limerick, bit rich to go shouting for Cavan to move it now. Players deserve the best pitch and facilites. Without name dropping, I can gurauntee you, the Mayo squad want their Semi Final in Croker and nowhere else. Imagine Oisin, Tommy and Eoghan flying on that pristene surface? Them lads are tailor made for Croke Park
    With regards Cavan, they could play the game on an Ice rink, with the Dubs wearing slippers, and the’ll still get bet….badly.

  23. We will need to be at our very best against Tipp.
    I’m sure James Horan will have the troops ready for an almighty battle.
    Looking back at the 2016 season, Tipp absolutely destroyed Galway in the QF.
    We were lucky to beat them in the semi with Robbie Kiely sent off after 8 mins.
    Their personnel have not changed much since then, while Mayo on the other hand have a lot of new faces.
    It will be a tight affair but we should come out on top in the end.
    This is a very strange year, and anything can happen.
    Looking back on the 2016 games, Croke Park suited our running game, but it also suited Tipp.
    They were fantastic in that Galway game.

  24. Cavan and everyone else are complaining about the wrong game. Semi finals and final are the biggest games of the year and have to be played in Croke Park, if Dublin qualifies for a semi then theres no problem them playing there. It’s their use of Croke Park for the Leinster championship and league games that’s the problem, if Parnell Park isn’t big enough, tough. Even when they do play the token game away in Leinster its conveniently in a Neutral venue.
    While I think it’s okay for Dublin play semis in Croke Park there are a few issues that need to change,
    1. Dublin should not have preferential access to a certain section of the stadium, (Hill16 should be open for general sale, no Hill16 season tickets available only to Dub supporters).
    2. Dressing rooms should be decided by a toss of a coin not the rubbish alphabet rule which conveniently favours Atha Cliath. Dublin should not have their own dressing room for every game.
    3. Warm up end of the pitch, same as above.

  25. @MayoDunphy, Croke Park for Mayo V Tipperary is definitely a neutral venue, Croke Park in 2014 would also have been a neutral venue for Mayo v Kerry… Cavan County Board and the Team should be consulted if they want to give whatever extra advantage Croke Park is definitely worth +probably about 6/7 points, to the Best Team that ever played the game, but also the best funded and most subsidized team by an enormous amount, and unfortunately at the expence of the greater GAA membership and their various county teams, which without trying to take away from Dublin’s individual and collective brillance…As regards best pitches, Armagh which is also flood lit, was in excellent shape last Sunday…As for tradition, all Ulster finals used to be played in Clones, however the whole GAA world rejoiced in the fare and entertainment on view in the neutral venue of Armagh….Do we really want another humelation of a very spirited but still amateur team of Cavan, at the hands of a Professional Juggernaut that Dublin has been allowed by the GAA at large to become?

  26. Mayo will struggle to beat Tipp., they haven’t the height in defence to match Sweeney and Quinlivan, and haven’t the strength at midfield to mark O Riardon. Tipp can score long range points where Mayo depend on frees and close range scores. Only advantage for Mayo , they have more big games behind them but in a strange year history is with Tipp

  27. Don’t think Tipp will be able to press in Croke Park which means we will get short kickouts away, Tipp naive enough at times as well, we will win this comfortably i think, Dubs have had no contest, we will give them that but don’t know if it will be enough

  28. Don’t count us out for Sam this year. We’ve got the right mix of older and younger players to compete with Dublin and definitely we have the quality to beat Tipp. I’d have Aido in mf against tipp to win the midfield battle but I’d move him back to ff for the Dublin game. Also we need a better performance from the forwards against tipp the how we played against Galway. I still think the Dubs are favorites and will near to impossible to beat. All I can say is that we should hope for the best and Hon Mayo!!

  29. one of the maddest stats with leinster is that from 96-04. Dublin only won 1 out of 9 Leinster championships. Meath, Kildare, Laois, Westmeath, Offaly all picked up titles and 5 different leinster teams made a league final 97-05 which gives an indication of the level they were operating at:

    1997-98 – Offaly 0–9 Derry 0–7
    1998-99 – Cork 0–12 Dublin 1–7
    1999–2000 – Derry 1–8 Meath 0–9
    2000–01 – Mayo 0–13 Galway 0–12
    2002 – Tyrone 0–15 Cavan 0–7
    2003 – AI Tyrone 0–21 Laois 1–8
    2004 – AI Kerry 3–11 Galway 1–16
    2005 – Armagh 1–21 Wexford 1–14

  30. Spot on Liberal Role in the tie, fully agree. Whilst in theory, Cavan may have a better chance of beating the Dubs outside of croker, the notion that they are so far ahead that they need to be curtailed or disadvantaged somehow, is a nonsense. Oisín McConville coming out and saying it’s a “no brainer” is ironically hilarious as well!

    Anyways, onto ourselves and Tipp, I feel very similar to how I did in advance of the Ross game, quietly confident we’ll perform and perform well. I can’t wait to see some of the lads get a gallop on in Croker. I think we’ll flood the middle third with mobility and pace, leaving Cillian and Tommy to pivot off Aido around the square. Funnily enough, I think they’ll try and do the same but I feel man on man we’ll have the edge and that will give us the platform we need. Provided we sort out our profligacy in front of the posts, I fully expect us to have too much for them. Time will tell!

  31. Culmore..Equally you could say what are Tipp gonna do about Aidan?? Or O Donoghue?? Or Diarmuid?Who are the two Tipp players Barrett and Keegan will be keeping tabs on..

  32. Culmore, you could be right, history is defo behind them as are 31 other counties. People in other counties are sick of Mayo.

    I think a lot of Mayo people are almost tokenly saying Tipp are stronger in midfield and have Quinlivan and Sweeney up front etc….but they genuinely are very strong!!! Certainly a much bigger physical presence in the centre than us. We couldn’t beat the Galway midfield on possession or breaking ball count, so why do people suddenly think we’ll be able against an even better midfield.

    Our strengths will be pace, hopefully a higher intensity and perhaps fitness but adrenaline can get teams over the line.

    Also O’Riordain is a huge asset now to Tipp.

  33. * and the feckn rossies outfielded us too! Fortunately for us the only thing they were any good at that day was catching the ball from kickouts and they left their ace forward on the bench until the game was up!!

  34. I’m just wondering what would we do if Tipp put O’Riordan in on the edge of our box and started letting high balls in to him.

    Without been cocky I think Mayo must approach the Tipp game with a degree of confidence.
    No disrespect to Tipp but Dublin would dismantle Tipp in short order.

    If we are going in to the Tipp match with any doubts about been able to or not been able to beat them then how could we have anything but doubt going in to an AI final.

    The management must send Mayo out in 2 weeks with no other notion but that a win is fully expected. Not because we think we are better but because this is the level we operate at.

    We generally step up in All Ireland semi finals and finals and we will step up again this year. I have no doubt.

    While Tipp thoroughly deserved their win over Cork it’s time now for us to ask them are they ready to move up to the next level.

    It’s up to us to dictate how this game will go. Again, no disrespect to Tipp but Mayo’s Croke Park CV over the past decade has been outstanding.

    There is a whole lot of difference between over confidence and belief. I believe we are going to crank up our performance a couple of notches against Tipp. It’s Croke Park. It’s Mayo and it’s an AI semi final. It’s time to step up.

  35. Fair point Regina, although I doubt they’ll be worried about O’Donoghue. Not dounting his potential but he has scored 0 points from play in three championship starts. He got 1 pointed mark v Galway. Horan must see something in him at training but regardless, he needs to up that scoring rate from centre forward.

    He was a very good when captain of the u20s 2 seasons ago, but senior championship is an entirely different game.

    If he starts v Tipp I hope he puts in a display cos there are lads like James Carr who know where the posts are and have been afforded far less time to prove themselves. Carr was awful unlucky not to get a goal when he came on v Leitrim. The keeper made a super save low to his right. Carr fluffed a chance v roscommon but I’d really like to see him given a proper 20/25 mins in Croke Park. Imo he has a bit of magic in him. He has shown glimpses but if we could get him motoring (or if he can get himself motoring more correctly!) he’d be a serious asset for Mayo.

  36. @Exiled in Dublin. How is asking the Dublin team to drive in their cars to a neutral venue, ie, The Athletic Ground’s, Armagh with it’s excellent playing surface and flood lighting, a disadvantage… With the Covid 19 nowadays, the driving alone is a nessacity, both Cavan and Dublin players would have to do the same thing… Dublin have been subsidized, pampered something similar to the British Royal family, and similar to the members of the British Royal family, when you see all those military medals on their chests, you also know that mightened have all of those medals if it was a level playing field!

  37. Ryan O’Donoghue did quite well against Galway. Scored one point in the 1st half and set up another 2 I think. He was the victim of a change in tactics. Playing against the wind in the 2nd half meant Aidan O’Shea coming out to 11.

  38. What planet are ye on Mayo and Dublin in a different league.
    Cavan and Tipp have no chance against the power and pace of Mayo and Dublin. Can anyone name one Tipp player to mark Aiden.

  39. Leantimes, if I can pitch in there, I’d say that it’s not justifiable to change tack like that at the last minute, ie at semi final stage, just because a team is inferior. Let’s all be crystal clear here: the calls for a neutral venue for Cavan has ZERO to do with Covid and everything to do with Cavan being inferior. Where’s the honour in that?

    As another poster said, that conversation is fine when it comes to the Leinster championship. Outside of that, its pure nonsense and degrades the championship.

  40. @Liberal role In the tie.. think that Dublin players driving to Armagh in their Team sponcered cars, and they all have them… might be a step in the right direction.. Cavan Players will have to drive in their own cars… Covid has everything to do with players having to drive to the venue.The .Cavan people or team certainly aren’t inferior, but same as everyone else in relation to the pampered Dubs, are certainly disadvantaged!

  41. Changing venue at this stage doesn’t seem like the best way to level the playing field but I do understand where you’re coming from. Nothing inferior about Cavan people but footballing wise of course Cavan are inferior compared to the Dubs! No disrespect meant, of course. Thems the facts my friend. Maybe inferior is a harsh word, but not point dressing it up!

  42. Not just Cavan, but 30 other counties in Ireland are currently inferior to the Dubs when it comes to their intercounty team.

  43. What interests and excites me most about our battle with Tipp is how our new lads perform and how they are developing into senior county players. I look forward to seeing how Oisín Mullin can combine quality defending with powerful attacking runs. I for one would love to see him further out the field or indeed at midfield at some stage. Young McLoughlin has what it takes to not just quieten the best forwards around but to pose a serious attacking threat himself and no better place to show this than Croker.
    I look forward to seeing Tommy Conroy slice open the Tipp defence as he is well capable of doing and putting up a big score. ‘They’ say we don’t have a marquee forward (whatever that means) but Tommy could change that narrative fairly quick.
    What about Ryan O Donoghue? I hope he starts or at least gets 20/30 minutes. Croker will suit him down to a tee.
    Along with those lads what about Moran, McDonagh, Carr, o Hora or Towey and I’m sure I’m missing someone? Don’t be surprised if at least one or two of them set the place alight and become the new superstars of Mayo football.
    Some of you will remember a very young Kerry team taking to the field in the seventies and going on to become legends of the game. Why not our bucks? Why not indeed!
    Ah sure there’s no harm in dreaming big. At least it cost nothing…

  44. @Liberal role in the tie, .. Let’s try and level the playing field first and we’ll find that from time to time, no matter how superior Dublin appear to be now, they will be beaten on occasion…10 in a row in Leinster, 15 out of the last 16, by mega margins at the final whistle.. Currently, 5 in row Sam Maguire, 7 of the last 9, do we want that to be 6 in row All Ireland titles, and 8 out the last 10? How many league titles all played in Croke Park? …. Mary Trump wrote a book about her meglamanic uncle Donald…’Too much is never enough’.. Dublin is like that, and so it will remain until we the GAA people of Ireland finally ‘Enough is Enough’.

  45. Centrefield, yes it is interesting to recall when Dublin weren’t winning.

    My son had a poster in his room for a long time : Dublin: Leinster finalists 2002.

  46. Someone mentioned Hawkeye earlier.

    I remember all the fanfare and months of anticipation before Hawkeye was first used. The enormous expenditure and the world’s best technology and the colossal cost. It was the mother of all umpires. Just as accurate as what they were using for Wimbledon.

    The country glued to see this mighty machine make the tight calls. Relax Mr umpire, don’t strain your eyes.

    And so the Hawkeye’s mighty career was launched. On its first decision it put up a ta instead of a nil or vice versa I cannot rightly remember but the decision was wrong anyway. The hurling program was selected instead of the football or the other way around.

    An honest mistake, but I still laugh about it when I think about the money and the fanfare in the lead up and then the wrong call.

    Now, I would have preferred if Hawkeye had been used to spot some of the shenanigans happening on the pitch that a referee, two linesmen and 4 umpires couldn’t spot.

  47. Don’t think Dublin care where they play….. Tipp could make same against us when it comes to croker….. would we be up to switching to Tip or Cork for the semi

  48. Thanks for the update on O’Riordan WJ.
    Thats going to force a bit of construction and a rethink on midfield for horan in my opinion, O’Riordan, Casey and Stephen o’Brien all huge men and good fetchers in that section.

    Ruane and loftus (as good as they have been so far) are more ballers than fetchers so would be surprised if there isnt a physical ballwinner chucked in, Horan seems to fancy Jordan Flynn so wouldnt be surprised to see flynn brought in somewhere.

    Still think we will have too much for them with our running power from all over the pitch,i dont see them having anyone to take Paddy Durcan in his current form. Mayo to power on in the 4th quarter and win by 6.

    Dublin to win the other semi by 10, i think cavan will put on a better effort than meath (who were a disgrace!) and smash the dubs up a bit but dubs will comfortably have enough for them

  49. if I recall correctly we played Barry Moran at full back for the 2016 AI semi final against Tipp in case they launched in high balls into our goal, it never materialized (maybe because Barry was in there). Think James is focusing on speed this year and if we can get our fair share of breaking ball in the middle of the park and continue to force turnovers we should be ok?

  50. Id say your right citywest, horan will just stick with the runners for most part. I expect they will give us plenty to think about in 1st half but we will ultimately run the legs off them, eoghan mclaughlin and durcan (who are 2 likely allstars) in particular will torch them for pace.
    I do think horan will bring in flynn at 11 (to play midfield) though just for that extra bit of power and tbf Ryan hasnt really done enough across the 3 games (though he still defo has role to play)
    Think it will be same team that started last day except flynn in for R’O D.

    I think anyone on here wishing/expecting to see a bunch of the old guard (Parsons/higgins/boyler etc) drafted in at this stage will be disappointed, there is no evidence that any of them will get a run. I think Horan will hold his nerve now and stick to the new wave

  51. …in some positive news it seems extended panel members now allowed to attend games. Which is great.
    There was something extremely wrong about guys who were busting their ass as members of the panel all year couldnt attend and join in with celebrations, especially as half the capacity was taken up with media.

    With the modern game the way it is numbers 26-40 are important too.

    Must have been particularly hard to take for the cavan and tipp players sat at home on their breakthrough year

  52. @Leantimes – why are they asking to change the venue? Is it it covid related, or, is it an ad hoc attempt to level the playing field? As Liberal Role in the Tie said, covid has nothing to do with it, lets be honest about it.

    Lets say for arguments sake, they did move it, based on the rationale of “leveling the playing field”. What sort of precedence does that set from an administrative perspective? Every county and club would now have reasonable grounds to make ad hoc requests, based on the same principle of “leveling the playing field”. Setting a precedence like that is an absolute non starter and I’m surprised so many GAA people are nailing their colours to the mast on it, without considering the potential ramifications.

    If we want to level the playing field lets look at John Conellan’s suggestion around turning off the funding tap for a start. The penny is dropping on the Dublin juggernaut, slowly but surely, and no doubt ways and means need to be examined around how things can be made more equitable. But to suggest opportunistically penalising their excellence, be it ill gotten or not, isn’t the right way to go about it.

  53. Cavan County Board have issued a statement clarifying that they have not asked for a change of Venue.

  54. …anyways have come out and officially announced they have no problems playing dublin in croker so thats the end of that saga

  55. See James Horan has given an update on injuries confirming everyone is good to go apart from Jason, Harrison and Shaughnessy. Would have been good to have Harry back but it looks like next year for all of those lads.

  56. Fair play Cavan for saying they’re happy to play the semi in Croker. If they requested a neutral venue they’d have undermined themselves and showed weakness which would have been such a retrograde step given the brave way they dispatched Donegal. Cavan will undoubtedly give it their very all against the Dubs and not bow down like Meath.

  57. They didn’t mind taking us out of Croke Park in 2014 when it suited. So not every Semi Final has to be played there! Not that it matters, if you are good enough, you are good enough. We should have beaten Kerry the first day but a combination of terrible decisions and our two best players colliding didn’t help things 6 days later. However one wonders would Dublin be forced to play outside of Croke Park if Semi finals that year were played in the reverse order.
    It’s all in the past I know, but a more important question is why this year Laois had to play against Dublin in Croke Park/Westmeath had to play Dublin at a neutral venue? Surely this year, with no crowds, the minnows could have enjoyed some type of advantage.

    Suits us. We play our best football in Croke Park and probably our worst results in recent years have been at home.

  58. At the beginning of the year tipp would be outside the top 20 in the country in everyones ranking. We have to approach this with full confidence and can’t believe posters thinking otherwise. If we can’t beat a division 3 team we don’t deserve to be in a final. We’re hoping mayo can push Dublin in a final and yet afraid of tipp. If Dublin were playing tipp not a person in Ireland could see tipp giving them a game. I’m not saying we can be cocky but they should be full of confidence

  59. @Exiled in Dublin.

    So why, from now on can Mayo not play all their games in McHale Park ?

    Lets inform the Gaa that all our Connacht opponents must travel to Castlebar to play us from now on.

    Is that how it works ?


    Not if you are from Mayo or from any other county in the country, except, ……….. (I’ll let you guess).

  60. Very sad to hear of the passing of the greatest footballer ever to kick leather.. Diego Maradona RIP, only a few weeks ago I posted on this blog about how he scored the first Gaelic Football goal in a World Cup finals v England in 1986, that man won the World Cup, and didn’t get home advantage either!

  61. I often wonder are these great soccer players put on this earth purposely. I mean look at the names. All beautiful names.

    Maybe Maradona was the the most beautiful name.

    But you had


    Wonderful names.

    Sure what chance have we in Ireland


    We haven’t a hope.

  62. I often wondered what would Ciaran McDonald be like as a soccer player? With that left foot surely he would have made it big or if Liam McHale had been born in Brooklyn instead of Ballina surely he too would have be a top basketball star. They’d be two names for you Revelinio to add to Maradona and Messi and as today Is George Best’s anniversary might as well throw him in too

  63. Leantimes. Obviously your much to young to see the greatest soccer player in the last 60 years. He was Irish. No one to lace his boots

  64. @Backdoorsam. I played a bit of soccer with Mc. He was gifted. I was a sub in a cup final back many moons ago played in milebush. I think he scored our first goal directly from a corner kick. We went on to win 5 – 2. He obviously didn’t get to play too much soccer due to his Gaelic commitments but you can imagine the skill.

  65. Justonemoryear, Thanks for the compliment, it’s been a while since I was too young for anything.. It’s true that I am a small bit too young to remember George Best playing live on TV, who I am imagining you are referring to. Actually today is his 15th anniversary as well… But I read all his books and I read Maradona’s book as well obsiously translated from Spanish to English, written about 20 year’s ago… Maradona, rated the best 100 players of All Time not including himself…He rated George Best at No10, and he said this is ‘even madder than himself’…He rated Pele as No 1… Subsequently year’s afterwards seeing this new young superstar Ronaldino as the best..I was quite friendly with a publican in Berlin who owned ‘Das Füssball Pub’ he had played with some of the best player’s and against them… Hanne Weiner was his name, he had won a few European Cups with Bayern Munich and after that played with George Best in the US…He probably never got to experience the best of Best at that stage…He rated Maradona as by miles the best ever to have played, and after that Johan Cruyff, the best British based player he rated as Kenny Daglish….Pope John Paul 2 was the Pope at the time of Maradonas book, who I believe had played in Goal somewhere… Maradona decided to profile the Pope as well, with the words…”Sure he was only a goalkeeper”.. Maybe himself and Best are putting balls in the net against the famous goalkeeper tonight!

  66. Messi was asked by a reporter one time what he thought about Ronaldos recent comments.

    What comments ? Messi asked.

    The reporter went on to tell Messi how Ronaldo said, God had told him to show the world how soccer should be played.

    ” I don’t remember telling him that ” replied Messi.

  67. Bring Dublin to any pitch in the country and they will still win. February and March league nights the dubs have gone to venues like Castlebar and won easily.

    Every now and again they lose a token match on the road most recently Omagh. So this talk of bringing them out of Croker is pointless. It is not the sole reason why they are winning the croke park factor so it’s a void argument relocating them.

    For what it’s worth if you look at highlights from the Meath game the other night. Meath never tackled, every Dublin score was allowed. Particularly McManamon’s goal he took possession on the 45 and ran without single hand touching him to Meath’s small square, where an unmarked Scully scored. Meath were probably afraid but definitely clueless in defending and tacking Dublin.

    To beat them will require getting stuck into them, in their faces, and some off the ball stuff. At least that gives you some chance.

  68. @ Kickhams man.

    Forget whether they would or would not win outside Croke Park.

    Why are Dublin the only team in the country that appear to be able to play all their championship matches at home ?

  69. Kickhams man, all those sponsored cars that the entire Dublin panel are suppied with,as I was reading in Bernard Brogan’s book…Let them turn on the Sat Navs, key in the coordinates for Breifne Park and play Cavan there if it doesn’t make any difference… And give the generous sponsors a bit of advertising… They never have had to go beyond the M50 in the past.

  70. The one thing i would say about taking Dublin out of Croker Kickhams man is that they wouldn’t have got away with half the stuff they got away with on home turf and they wouldn’t have tried half of the stuff either.

    Take the clothes line around the neck by MDM on Cillian in the final a few years back. Imagine MDM doing that in somewhere like Cork or Tyrone. Good luck on getting out of there unscathed !! it is all part of the game of course but it is one thing the likes of MDM,John Small and co acting up in front of the hill in their own back yard. I guess they mightn’t be so brave on somebodys elses patch.

    This nonsense about Dublin playing all the big games at home. They will most probably win them anyway but there are enough big grounds about to cope with AI semi finals. Get the Dubs out of Dublin for a change and down to somewhere like Thurles, Cork or Limerick.

    This Dubs team is the best I have ever seen by the way Kickhams man. A joy to watch as long as it isn’t against Mayo!!!

  71. whatever about the Dubs playing all their games in Croker, please don’t start Mayo play all their games in Castlebar or we will never win anything.

  72. If we play to our potential we should beat Tipp easily. There is a big step up in class from a Munster final against an abject Cork side to a hardened outfit like Mayo used to regularly Winning in Croke Park.
    Willie Joe – I have a question about the whole dublin dominance debate and I think you are well placed to answer this one.
    A classic reason used by the GAA for the flood of funding to the capital since the early 2000s, is that “the GAA in Dublin was on its knees at that time”
    It’s been repeated so often by the likes of Bertie Ahern and others that’s it’s almost become unquestionable fact.
    Now I suspect that this is actually bullshit.
    The way some GAA men are justifying the funding of Dublin Gaa – you’d swear the likes of Ballyboden and kilmacud and st judes and st Vincent’s were struggling to find 15 lads to tog our for their senior club sides back in 1999/2000 or thereabouts. Isn’t this absolute in sense of the highest order?
    I mean, Dublin GAA club scene has always been strong. Kilmacud won a club all Ireland in 95 didn’t they?
    Was the club scene in Dublin really so much worse than the rest of the country at this time, that it needed urgent funding to “prevent the game dying in the capital” like has been said by many GAA officials?
    Very interested in your opinion as a Dublin club GAA man for many years.

  73. I’m not sure I’m that well placed to express a view on that, Larry, as I only got properly plugged in at club level up here when the kids got involved, which would have been around 2008. The tap had been turned on by Bertie by then and for as long as I’ve been involved I’ve seen enormous numbers at juvenile level, with huge growth in particular amongst girls. I can’t, though, express any opinion on what things were like at juvenile level in the years before then. At Senior level, standards at club level have been consistently high for the last 15 years or so.

  74. I got involved with Kilmacud Crokes in 1995 when my kids joined. At that time we had 60+ lads at each year and that has since increased to about 120. That’s at each year, u7, u8, u9 etc. So the juggernaut had started rolling well before 2003.
    But Dublin had a plan and in John Costello, an extremely able administrator, a full time CEO in Parnell Park. He generally keeps under the radar but I believe he is the main reason that Dublin has attracted the sort of sponsorship and grants from Croke park that Dublin GAA now enjoy.
    It is very difficult for other County Boards to compete. There is a huge difference in a person leaving Mayo or Donegal after a days work to travel to Croke Park to a meeting and a person whose full time job is GAA and who travels half a mile down the road.
    For what its worth I think each county should be invited by Croke Park to draw up with outside help a development plan. Then Croke Park should finance a full time CEO in each county to administer the delivery of that plan.

  75. @Revellino – I’m not sure what point you’re making there tbh.

    My point was specifically related to the opportunistic calls for a venue change from the likes of Canavan, McConville et al (not Cavan GAA btw who have since put the matter to bed), based on the singular perception that it would level the playing field. Had Donegal won, no one would have mentioned changing venues.

    The Dubs having the advantage of playing most of their games in Croker is a separate topic, which I agree, needs addressing, but as part of wider more strategic efforts to tip the balance, especially in Leinster, away from them.

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