Down to the final twelve


The “real” championship only gets going nowadays when the All-Ireland Series swings into action. It’s a situation that’ll become more entrenched next year when the so-called Super Eight is played off for the first time but the final twelve has also developed some minor cachet of its own in recent years.

This is probably to do with timing as much as anything else. We know the identity of the final twelve now but won’t know the last eight until Saturday week, when the Round 4B ties are played off, with the first two quarter-finals of the All-Ireland Series then fixed for the following day.

The result is that the last eight is a case of now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t (though, as already noted, all will change on that front next year). Hence the increased focus – for the next six days at any rate – on the final twelve left in the race for Sam.

They comprise, in alphabetical order, Armagh, Cork, Donegal, Down, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon and Tyrone. That makes it five counties from Ulster, three from Connacht and two apiece from Leinster and Munster.

Provincial representation in this year’s All-Ireland Series will, of course, depend enormously on how the Round 4 qualifiers go. Connacht could, for example, have just Roscommon as its sole county still in contention by then.

If, however, both ourselves and Galway win next weekend, the province will have one of its best showings ever at this stage of the championship. You have to go back as far as 2002 for the last time that Connacht accounted for three of the final eight.

If that happens again this year, it’ll also mean a first ever championship meeting between two Connacht teams in the All-Ireland Series at Croke Park. Galway and Roscommon met at the quarter-final stage in 2001 but that match was played in Castlebar.

Ulster, as usual, leads the way in terms of county representation at this stage in the race. With one all-Ulster Round 4 qualifier a certainty, Ulster is the only province guaranteed to have at least two counties in action when the real stuff starts at the end of this month.

Both Galway and Kildare will have to face Ulster opponents in Round 4 following deflating provincial final losses so the Northern province could yet end up accounting for half of the teams competing in this year’s All-Ireland Series. This has happened before – in 2003 (when the final was an all-Ulster one), as well as 2004, 2013 and 2015 (when no Ulster team made it to the September decider).

Even if four of the final eight are from Ulster this year, it’s easy to see that number getting whittled down in short order. The limitations of Donegal’s enforced youth policy are fully apparent at this stage and even if they get past Galway – which they should because, let’s face it, Galway’s limitations are greater and their sense of deflation must now be rather acute – it’s hard to imagine them getting any further. Dublin will crush whichever team they meet in the quarters and Tyrone will most likely do the same to the other.

A quick glance at the betting illustrates where the money is being laid on who’s likely to be in the shake-up. Four teams stand out in the betting – Dublin, Kerry, Tyrone and ourselves – and it’s 33/1 bar this quartet. Odds from Paddy Power are here.

Dublin – priced at 11/10 for the All-Ireland – are, self-evidently, the raging hot favourites at this stage. Having emerged for the seventh year in a row from the moribund shambles that used to be the Leinster championship, the Dubs won’t be tested until, most likely, they meet Tyrone (priced at 5/1) in the semis. They’ll get a game then but it’s hard to see them failing to make it to the final.

The same goes, to be honest, for Kerry (5/2) even if the five-in-a-row Munster champions face a tricker path to the decider.  If we win and Donegal do too, then Kerry could end up facing us in the quarters. If we avoid each other then, we’re destined to meet – assuming both of us are still standing – in the semis.

Regardless of when (or, to be more precise, if – we still have Cork to get past first and perhaps the Rossies as well) we come up against the Kingdom, current form and the historical record point strongly towards the wrong result from our point of view. The bookies have us at 8/1 to win the All-Ireland, a decent each-way bet, I suppose, but no more than that.

I could, I know, be accused of talking myself into concluding that it’ll be a Dublin/Kerry final. It’s too early, of course, to be making any such assumptions, even if the draw from here on makes this rather obvious pairing appear more than a little likely.

Seeing as the poll on the Cork game has, after 700 votes, yielded an emphatically clear result – with 84% of you thinking we’ll do the business next Saturday – let’s knock that one on the head and stick up one about the wider championship.

In this poll, you’ve got two votes and you can use them to predict which two counties will contest this year’s final. Off with you now.

Who'll contest this year's All-Ireland final?

  • Dublin (35%, 627 Votes)
  • Mayo (32%, 577 Votes)
  • Kerry (18%, 322 Votes)
  • Tyrone (12%, 216 Votes)
  • Roscommon (1%, 19 Votes)
  • Galway (0%, 7 Votes)
  • Monaghan (0%, 5 Votes)
  • Armagh (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Cork (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Donegal (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Down (0%, 4 Votes)
  • Kildare (0%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 959

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99 thoughts on “Down to the final twelve

  1. I think that this year as last Tyrone are overhyped really lacking in the inside forward line . They are relying on hitting a lot of scores from way out as they tried and failed to do last year .
    However I think they may just catch Dublin in the semis
    So I’ve gone for a mayo tyrone final 😀
    And we are their bogey team of course 😉

  2. Sean I’m hearing that for 6 years and they have not win 6 all irelands in a row
    Also hearing it will be a Dublin Kerry final every time they are on opposite sides of the draw .
    How many times have they met in the final over last 20 years ?
    Sport is funny . It doesn’t also follow reason . And this summer in particular feels like their may be a surprise winner. Just hope it is us and not Tyrone ……

  3. Great post WJ. I always feel this is really when the action gets going

    Yeah objectively I’ll be surprised if it’s not a Dublin Kerry final. Tyrone – to give them their dues – look to have learned a hell of a lot from their rather flat performance against ourselves last year and look much improved. I don’t think they have the forwards to outscore Dublin though and while they should keep them honest i think the Dubs should navigate their way to the final relatively unscathed.

    Kerry aswell look to be rebuilding nicely and definitely have their best shot since 2014. The league win definitely has added a spring to their step and on form they’re the pick of the “top” half of the draw.

    As for ourselves we might have a chance of rattling Kerry in a quarter but a loss and two narrow wins v division 2 teams would not fill you with confidence.

  4. Kildare didn’t score for 20 min spell in first half had a barren spell also in second half and still got 1.17 against the dubs. I think( have a feelin in me water)that the dubs are not a happy camp.Vulnerable.

  5. I think the person that voted for Galway to reach the final had 20 minutes to long in the sun this afternoon ??

  6. If Dublin were to cough up.1-17 to either ourselves kerry or tyrone they will be bet.

  7. It’s still looking like a Dublin-Kerry final at this stage of the season. Next Saturday will tell a hell of a lot about where we are at. A massive performance will be required if we want to be still in the mix come this time Sat evening.

  8. I think Kildare would have beaten us today. They are a good side. Dublin still gave them a bit of a hammering…9/10 points…
    I cannot see beyond Dublin or Kerry myself.

  9. There is something special about this Mayo team this year, how they all came back this year after their monster run last year, getting just seconds from victory. I contine to say, Mayo WILL win it all this year! Roll on September 17, the players, back room team and fans…the date 17-9-17 is OURS! Maigh Eo Abú!!!!

  10. kerry are very beatable mayo have cork first one game at a time. tyrone have pace and can catch dublin out.

  11. had two conversations today in croker, one with two louth supporters and the other with a pair of dublin guys, not once was mayo mentioned as contenders untill i let the cat out of the bag i was a mayo man. Are we blinded by heart ruling the head , im asking genuinely as im not at all sure i know where we are at at all.

  12. Obviously as a Mayo man I’d love to see us win Sam this year but I think Kerry will beat Dublin in the final after Tyrone put it up to the Dubs in the Semi and show the Kingdom how to beat them. Kerry don’t rate us they expect to beat us he same way we fully expected to beat Clare the last day. I hope I’m wrong.

  13. I’m not sure about the rest of ye but it pisses me off so much when people dismiss us, whether it’s pundits or just ordinary Joe Soaps. I just hope the players are aware of this and that it pisses them off too, so they can use that anger to motivate them when they get out on that pitch.

  14. Under the radar suits us just fine. Players have been there before and will not be lacking in motivation. We were a match for Dublin last year and will be again this year if both get to the final. We know too well there’s luck involved so any of 6 or so teams can make it to the final. You could argue that we’re better and more experienced than last year but so are other teams. Right now it’s Cork and nothing else that matters.

  15. Everyone saying take no need of league form but have Kerry down for finals based on league form ????
    It’s like déjà vu from this time last year
    Tbh it’s disrespectful. Mayo have been THE most consistent championship team bar none over the past 6 years or so. The qualifiers have helped us again too- fitness for a few , Coen kicking on and Loftus.
    I think we are an extremely dangerous team and at this point I would prefer Kerry in the quarters
    I’m annoyed tonight by it and by some of our own too………

  16. I don’t think anyone would have rated us this time last year either so I wouldn’t let the conversation bother you Sean. We were dead and buried. As a Mayo supporter it’s hard be in Croke Park with huge Dublin support there even if we are not playing. Too many bad memories. I hated the noise of the dubs today through the tv. Gave me the horrors, I felt a bit intimidated and I was at home on my couch.
    Anyway I went for a Tyrone Mayo final. As much as I don’t like Tyrone I’m hoping they will vent all their energy at the Dubs. Then I think mentally we have the upper hand over them. I think we have been better than Kerry in recent years but of course it’s their confident ‘we are kerry’ entitlement and record we have to beat as well as good football which is a lethal mix and of course won’t be easy. But we should have enough ‘hard done by’ energy to vent on them. On that note I’m thinking I’d rather get the dubs in a final again than Tyrone. I’d still rather it is us who knocks them off their perch.
    BUT let’s get over Cork first! Above is dreaming.
    It’s all exciting really. I just don’t want a Dublin Kerry final.

  17. matters not a jot what anyone thinks of us at this point..And from earlier posts if our own dont see us in a final how would we expect outsiders to? Delighted that we are written off..Thats when we work best..

  18. Sean Burke.. Perceptions is what you get when you look at the Leinster final today… And Kildare played very well.. But personally I think, on a given day either Kerry, Tyrone or Mayo can conceivably beat Dublin, and further more neither of the 3 team’s, need every single thing to go right on the day.. Nevertheless, Dublin are definitely the best and most consistent team in the country by far.. I have no doubt about it but Dublin’s second or third team would easily beat Mayo’s second team, but like ourselves Dublin can only have a maximum of 15 in the field at any time, that’s where it get’s a whole lot closer… And that’s where both Tyrone and Mayo have an advantage, it’s always tough in Ulster, and Mayo almost make it as tough as possible on themselves.. Kerry have different advantages, pedigree, know how, tradition… But none of this means that Cork can’t beat us next Saturday, and thus leave us in the observer mode for the rest of the Summer.. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen…

  19. This debate is a bit premature and irrelevant really. The team can only play what s in front of them, and most of it is outside their control. There is always one sting left in a dying wasp, and personally I wouldn’t want to look too far beyond Cork. I am confident we have the beating of them, but it is one step at a time

  20. Let’s be realistic and concentrate on one game at a time Cork is where it’s at and let’s look no further. Let’s not be offended that we are not considered all Ireland contenders this year. I don’t think we deserve to be we couldn’t beat Galway we couldn’t beat Derry in normal time we were woeful against Clare in the first half. But we are still alive in the championship and improving. Let Brolly and Co salivate about the “top 3” and if we are good enough we’ll be in the long grass waiting to pounce.

  21. Game week! Time for serious focus on Cork. While they have been in a bit of disarray lately, they still have fellas capable of putting the ball over the bar. I hope the likes of Barrett, AOS & Kevin McLoughlin continue the excellent form they are showing. Get over Cork & we’re back in a quarter final in Croke Park, where we will thrive!

  22. The problem for Mayo and indeed everyone else was highlighted starkly by Dublin yesterday. Not because of them beating a reasonable kildare team relatively easily – although lilywhites played some lovely football too – but because Dubs are showing regularly how they can just turn up with a player that would be a superstar on any other county team. O callaghan kicking 6 points yesterday and seamlessly taking over free taking duties with near 100% results – left and right foot…..for god sake did you see him on the Sunday game being interviewed – he looked 12!…certainly not capable of growing a decent beard.

    In last years all ireland, Dublin sprung cormac costello from the bench to kick 3 pts from play. Where is he now? If he was from any other county he would part of folklore – i’m not sure he will even been remembered this time next year in dublin…he will be the answer to a quiz question most people won’t get. The competition for places on that team is extraordinary and the problem for other counties is in teh final 10-20mins when Dublin are capable of bringing on 5 players every bit as good and potentially better on their day than any of the 5 coming off.

    The level of fitness too is astonishing. I can’t imagine any professional sports man being fitter than Ciaran Kilkenny.

    As for Brogan, what can you say – i had sort of written him off but he still only needs half a yard of space to make a scoreable chance and equally accurate off both feet. You can say it was only kildare but the quality of his points doesn’t matter who he was playing.

    Are they unbeatable – i’m starting to think they could be. The only thing kerry, tyrone or Mayo (And no one else will have a look in) is the sheer physicality they can bring that is a level other counties still haven’t hit. In terms of x-factor i think Kerry maybe has the Geaney, O’Donoghue axis that could be lethal if they get enough ball….but I think Mayo or Tyrone beating they will have to bring down to the war of attrition approach. of course every team is beatable but i think it is a bigger challenge to beat these dubs than i did a couple of months ago – i thought their hunger would be gone but it looks stronger than ever.

  23. @Seanburke

    I don’t think you deluding yourself. You have to believe you can win it and being one of the top 4 surely that is acceptable.

    The reason I think you don’t hear much about Mayo as a prospect from other counties is (a) based on current form you could not say they are contenders and (b) based on their best form they are unlikely to be contenders. Mayo will need to be better than any of the last few years to win Sam this year because of the route they have to take. Being as good as they were in teh final last year won’t be sufficient this year from the quarter final on in my view. So i don’t think people are being disrespectful. I tink both Kerry and Tyrone has improved from last year and Dublin are as good (mabye better) so what does that all mean for Mayo? They need to be better than last year – the signs are not there they can reach those heights if you’re being objective.

  24. Everyone’s always looking to see how a team can improve to win, and often underrate teams that have been there year in year out. Looking at the big 4 you could say:

    Dublin – pros:
    Ridiculously talented team and panel
    Can dominate most teams physically

    Does Gavin know his best 15?
    Is he really going to rely on kids at the expense of the players who have done the job for him before?

    Kerry – pros:
    Best forward line in the country

    Poor back line
    Yet to prove they can deal with the pure physicality of top teams at the business end of the championship

    Tyrone – pros:
    Seem to be better than last year
    Have had an easier run than usually through Ulster

    Are they really that good?
    Inside forward line in particular

    Mayo – pros:
    Have shown they can put any team to the sword on their day

    Are they past it at this stage
    Scoring can be difficult

    In summary, I wouldn’t be bothered what any supporters from other counties think (commenters on here excluded of course!) as they’re just lapping up what they’ve been fed by people who are trying to sell papers and make it interesting.

  25. Down had played both Armagh and Monaghan in Ulster so they had to meet one of them again. For the purposes of the draw, there was no distinction made as to when that previous meeting happened (i.e. Armagh and Down met in the Ulster quarter-final, Monaghan and Down in the semi). It was a straightforward draw, with the beaten Ulster and Leinster finalists in one pot and the Round 3B winners in the other one.

  26. Everyone discusses this based on what so called experts and bookies think.
    But I`ve never seen an All Ireland won or lost in a bookies office yet.
    The unknown factor in all of this is the great unpredictability of sport.
    If you told anyone a few months ago, that Roscommon would hammer Galway by 9 points in the Connacht Final in Salthill, or that the Kilkenny hurlers would be gone out of the Championship by early July, you would have been commited to a home for delusional Gaa supporters.

    Make no mistake about it, there will be more twists and turns before this championship is decided.
    Is there a kick left in Galway, for instance ?
    Will Monaghan be a force to be reckoned with before this is all over?
    Are Tyrone as good as they look, because who of note have they really played ?
    Depending on next weekends results and subsequent Quarter Final pairings, its conceivable that Donegal and Roscommon could meet in the Quarter Final..Who would rule the Rossies out of actually reaching the All Ireland semi Final in that scenario.

    Could we all be underestimating Cork. Yes they`re Division 2, but so were Derry and Clare, and there were large parts of those games where we looked downright ordinary.

    Fasten your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen, this is all about to kick off.

  27. Sean Burke you ask a good question (as you usually do).

    Really we are nowhere at the moment. That’s the qualifiers for you. It’s a kind of Purgatory, that isn’t shaken off until you beat your way back to the quarters. Winning qualifier matches isn’t rated by anyone except your own, but of course outsiders will be keeping an eye and shaking heads over 18 wides and so on.

    Still, by winning and building momentum you can be in a good place by the time you get to the quarters. If, IF, we beat Cork, I hope we get Kerry in the quarters, because they are definitely disadvantaged by a 5 week lay off, and indeed not having had any real competition. And if we get the Rossies (IF)? Rossies will have 2 games under their belt, we’ll have 5. Advantage Mayo at that stage.

    Advantage of course, if we can divert for a second to the game of the sublime Federer, is a one point lead that can be overturned in an instant.

  28. In the last 8 you could easily have a team who’ve only beaten Clare and Cork in the championship this year up against a team who’ve only beaten Clare Cork and Sligo in the Championship in normal time! Kerry only beat Clare by 6 points in Munster, including a late goal. Kerry’s shooting was unbelievable on Munster final day no doubt. In fact it was so good it’s unlikely to be repeated. If Cork are really as poor as most people make out Kerry haven’t beaten much. Now I don’t particularly believe that spin either but it can go both ways.

    Realistically there are 4 teams capable of winning an AI. Last 12 or last 8 means little enough in one way. It will be either be Mayo/Kerry coming through one side and Dublin/Tyrone on the other. I’d eat my hat if the final was contested by any others.

    Dublin looked decent yesterday but I think like last year there were small cracks here and there to give the good teams hope. Certainly didn’t dominate in the air at midfield and the mark gives teams with good high fielders an outlet. Some of Cluxtons kickouts were shaky with relatively little pressure. The first time a team in Leinster have got within 10 points under Gavin (that might say more about Leinster that the Dubs). Kildare are no great shakes – a good up and coming team sure – but realistically on the level of Galway/Rossies/Donegal.

    Some of the Dubs kids looked great but little or no experience of true pressure at the highest level. For example Dean Rock has developed into a very fine player but two/three years ago he wasn’t to be trusted at the top end of the Championship; he could crack on frees and offered little from play. However in Leinster two/three years ago he looked the business. The same goes for Andrews, Mannion, Fitzsimons and realistically most inter-county players. Very few come fully formed to senior football. Fenton and McCaffery of this Dublin team are the only two I can think of. Cillian and Zippy for us. The Gooch, and O’Donoghue in recent years for Kerry. It just takes so much now that I’d be wary of any team being too reliant on good, young players to win an AI.

  29. With regard to the ‘Super 8’, ive only started to think about it now. Say we lose against cork on Saturday evening. We aren’t in the super 8 then. How long are we out of the super 8 for, or can be get promoted to it?

    Of course ive all faith in the lads to beat the donkey aters but just was curious. Thanks for any replys shams.

  30. Observer, good post, Id be hopeful of a kick left in Galway, Donegal wont be easy as they are an established div 1 team and won Sam in the last few years.. I think Mayo should be very wary of Cork, there is something aboutr that county which shows they can never be written off, look at their hurlers this year, have come from no where to be one of the favs for Liam.. Kildare are a good side and but up a great score yesterday, the Dubs of course are on a different scale.. Tyrone are very good but a long way to go yet.. I do believe there will be more shocks maybe starting this Saturday!!

  31. It’s beginning to look like a Kerry V Tyrone final.

    Unless “Dublin Joe” refs the Tyrone V Dublin semi and kicks a stunning pint for Dublin deep into injury time to save the game for the home team (like he did in the league earlier dish ear).

    If it’s a neutral referee, (like that Roscommon fella) then I would expect Dublin to be well beaten and finishing with 13 men on the field.

    Tyrone would be the dream final for ourselves but I can’t see us getting past Kerry, whatever about Cork/Ross.

  32. Can everyone just put the brakes on for
    a second and stop dreaming about who they’d like to play in finals/semifinals/quarterfinals. I couldn’t give a rats arse if we’re being written off by pundits, it happens every year. We play Cork in 5 days time people, it’s do or die and this game demands our full undivided attention.

  33. We are not playing cork the players are. I’m sure management and squad are fully focused on cork .
    It’s part of the fun for the rest of us talking about possible match ups in next month. It’s extremely annoying every game to be told to focus on that and only that game . I will be in Limerick roaring Mayo on against Cork . In the mean time I’ll have a little Internet conversation about the AI series . I’m sure that won’t make Cillian miss a free or Clarke drop a high ball
    Rant over

  34. There could be a kick left in Cork.They opened up the Kerry defense on a number of occasions . They are big and strong & every now and again put in a big performance BEWARE

  35. We are at least a top four team,we will beat Cork after that it will be interesting, hopefully we will have improved from last year G Caff,S Coen ,C Loftus F Boland D Kirby ,COS ,and E Regan seem to have improved our squad so we have a great chance,up Mayo

  36. I really dont know why some people are getting annoyed about pundits and media not rating Mayo as potential winners and instead tipping it to be a Kerry Dublin final. That’s not being disrespectful to Mayo, its just being realistic.Dublin are the team of this generation and are rightly favourites. Kerry are league winners and have a history of winning. Mayo are very consistant and operate at a very high level and are there or there abouts for the past six years but our record against Dublin and Kerry is atrocious. To be rated alongside Dublin and Kerry we actually have to start beating them now and again (not league, in the championship where it counts). Also I really hate the term top 4 team, top 3 team etc. Thats a soccer term where being in the top 4 actually counts for something. Being referred to as top 4 in GAA is meaningless, has no bearing at all on how things go for the season.

  37. The nuts bit is that Con is a *Hurler*, who only joined the panel because he was disillusioned with the current Dublin Hurling setup.

    All-Ireland Senior Football
    Dublin Senior Hurling
    Leinster Senior Hurling
    Club All-Ireland Senior Hurling
    Club Leinster U21
    All-Ireland U21
    Leinster Senior Football

    He’s a shoe-in for Young Footballer of the year. He’s also a handy free-taker.

    Howard, who was only on the pitch for a few minutes yesterday (and scored), is every bit as good, and possibly better. Your free-taker and goal scorer gets himself stupidly black-carded, and you can bring on Bernard Brogan, who then scored 4 from play.

    My personal concern is that historically, Dublin have been caught cold in the quarters. This is where the Champo starts – there are no easy games from here on in – and no second chances either. Conceding 1-17 is a worry – we looked open down the middle.

    Looking at the remaining teams, it looks like the 4 quarter finalists from the backdoor will be:

    Galway (Fancy them to take Donegal).
    Mayo (Be honest, Cork won’t beat them).
    Kildare (Armagh will be a tough test, but the Lily’s look stronger).
    Down (Monaghan are a one trick pony, and have been found out).

    Only one of those teams looks anyway like making the last 4, and it ain’t Galway, Kildare or Down.

  38. I see Ciaran Brannigan from Down is the ref for Saturday… At least it’s not Maurice Deegan or Cormac Reilly….

  39. Good balanced post there Jaden. I’m puzzled as to why some supporters (my own friends included) are bothered that we’re not being recognized as contenders. Are we seriously that insecure?. It’s the perfect situation to be in, we have always performed best when written off, we’ve had smoke blown up our arse by every yerra and agenda driven journalist since 2012, and it’s done us no favours. Look at the O’Se’s trying to rile up Cork into a performance, that says it all to me.

    If we take our eye off the ball and look over the fence to the quarters, we’ll be dumped on our arse by Cork. Saturday evening is all that should matter to us now…Not that Joe Bloggs thinks Tyrone and Kerry are contenders and we’re not, who cares. My team for Saturday would be:

    1. Clarke
    2. Harry
    3. Ger
    4. Barret
    5. Keegan
    6. Boyle
    7. Durcan
    8. Tom P
    9. Seamie
    10. Keith
    11. Aido
    12. Diarmuid
    13. Kmac
    14. Cillian
    15. Andy

    Loftus, Vaughan, Coen, Doc first 4 subs in, Kmac playing out in the half forwards mopping ball and running from deep. Loftus to replace Andy around the 50th minute. Vaughan to replace a tiring Seamie, Coen for Boyle or black card replacement. Doc for extra energy if Diarmuid tires.

  40. Km 79 if you believe complacency (and yes that is what it is) within the county does not seep into the players’ mindsets then you’re living on another planet. All of our players interact with the public on a daily basis in their respective jobs and the topic of GAA is bound to come up “Ara sure yee will beat cork handy enough, sure didn’t they only scrape by waterford and tipp before being hammered by Kerry”, “Tyrone, Dublin and Kerry will be hard beat this year” etc. As fans we have a responsibility to cut out this bullshit and keep our feet on the ground.

    It’s similar to the rumour mill re injuries & changes to the starting line up before they’re announced (e.g hennelly/Clarke before replay last year). That really sickens my shite – true fans shouldn’t spread these rumours whether true or not because you can bet your bottom dollar by the time we heard of it in Gills pub an hour or two before throw in so too had the Dublin camp (and no I’m not insinuating you are not a true fan Km 79). Rant over

  41. I don’t think it will be Dublin this year.
    We nearly had them last year and really gave it to them through our mistakes.
    They concede plenty and don’t have to be pushed to the wire too often but when they are pushed, the cracks appear.

    For me it is Tyrone, Kerry or hopefully ourselves.

  42. what do we know about ciaran Brannigan? thank god it isn’t reilly or Deegan
    thats a good start to the week in my book!

  43. I don’t live in the county and I hope they are focused enough not to be reading this site the week of a game 😉

  44. On paper right now and if you asked most people back in Jan, the prediction was a Kerry v Dublin final. But this is sport and anything can happen.

    For now, Mayo are still under the radar, still there and present but not standing out. Cork is our sole focus. As we draw nearer I am beginning to get a bit nervous. Cork are very unpredictable. Mayo need to keep upping the performances….our slow starts in games is a worry as is the amount of space between midfield and out full back line.

    We can beat and should beat Cork but tread carefully.

  45. Agree mayodunphy, that would be the team I would pick for this one. Yes the bench is much stronger too this year. Cork will be Cork, good if they’re allowed to be. There should be no slow start with Cork, they have the forwards to kick in if they get confidence.

  46. Where are the Gaa going to find the the time to play off the so called Super Eights next year? and also play the final in August I think. Obviously the football championship will have to be started earlier next year mid April or so.

  47. I think its interesting that it dawned on someone above – ‘jaysus what if we don’t make the super 8s next year’.

    Well what will happen is that the teams who do make the super 8s will come on more for having been in it. The young players coming through will all be getting invaluable big match experience in croke park with a guarantee of 3 high intensity championship games come what may. Your 21 and 22 year olds by contrast will be heading off to america or the likes for the summer falling behind by comparison to teh super 8 teams.

    Your players will be off from the latest mid-july until league resumes in February.

    Of course this is what is going to happen to the other 24 counties anyway….and no one gives a sh*t, In particular the teams that expect to be in the super 8s which will always be Dublin and Kerry and I guess not unreasonable for Mayo to consider themselves in there given last few years….but glad to see someone thinking of the “what if” all the rest of us have to deal with as a matter of course. The 2 tier system would never get voted in today – but GAA’s hope is that this will accelerate the possibility because it is going to contribute to a significant further opening up of the gap….

    ….there but for the grace of god go you too!

    Thundering disgrace!

  48. As WJ’s article speculated on what would happen from here in, it is natural that such a debate would take place as we weigh up our chances of going one further this year. However, as other people rightly pointed out, the result next Saturday is where all of the focus should be.

    Cork are a puzzle to me. They have excellent individual footballers and good group coming through from the U21 finals of 2013 and 2016, but they struggle as a cohesive unit. I always get the feeling that they would be a real force if they consistently played with some sort of discernible team approach. The last time I saw them do that was in the league opener against us In Pairc Ui Rinn in January 2016. They hosed us that day, but ended up relegated to division 2 by the time April came around. Since that, they have blown lukewarm at best and rarely.

    We are building pace at present. The movement in the forward line is better, the long wished-for attacking strategy is emerging and in the second half vs Clare we mixed the new kicking game with a renewed (Horan-era) running game to devastating effect. It was the best half an hour of football I have seen from a mayo senior team for a while. Another thing we have done is to use one of the backs as a sweeper, as Dublin does. This is facilitated by the opposition using a forward as a sweeper leaving us with 6 on 5 thereby allowing us to use a sweeper without sacrificing a forward.
    On the negative side, we still allow teams to run down the middle at us and this yields scores when we foul too close to the posts. However, we should also be mindful that nearly all teams now benefit from extensive strength and conditioning. As a result, teams from all divisions have at least 30 mins of power and pace. Most of the running against us happens in the first half but our strength on the ball, combined with a strong bench gives us the edge in the second half.

    As a result, I think that our ability to win against Cork will hinge of providing positive answers to the following questions:
    Can we impose our game plan on them, thereby stopping any game plan that they might have?
    Can we stop their runners further out the field?
    Do we have the edge on them in terms of overall strength and speed?
    Can we get our running and kicking games working together again?
    Is our bench stronger than theirs?
    To be honest, I cannot see how we say no to any of these and, as a result, I expect us to be in the final 8 on Saturday night. After that, we will just have to take it as it comes.

    Keep the Faith!

  49. I always preface my comments by stating I am a dub supporter. However I have many mayo friends and consider mayo my 2nd team.
    Reading some of the views here I genuinely think some people don’t recognise just how good this mayo team are. Plus in AOS u have the best footballer currently playing. U will beat Cork and ,I think , Kerry and play Dublin in the final .

  50. Someone should be told to put the shackles on Kerrigan. He just keeps running at defenses and opens it up for

    others to profit. And he`s quick. We can not allow a parting of the waters to let them through like the Clare or Derry

    game. Their record against us is too good for my liking.

  51. Before the munster final the cork manager in intervew was almost unable to speak – a dead man walking. The players are good and got them through Waterford and Tipp but Mayo on a continuing upward curve in intensity and combination are likely to be too good for them.

  52. Really don’t see why anyone would be upset that we aren’t rated.
    These are a great team but as been said over and over, there will be no credit until we finally land the big one.
    We haven’t beaten Kerry since ’96 and it’s a while now since we got the better of the Dubs.
    Anyway hoping we can do the business in Limerick v Cork and who knows after that . . .

  53. Cork have absolutely nothing to lose. Nothing is expected of them. They know they have beaten us well before and believe they can do it again. They have seen how Galway hit us, the results, and will even hit us harder. If the belief and tactics are instilled in them, we’d better be ready. Or else we are in for a long, lonesome road. Hopefully, our dream will not be over.

  54. I think Tyrone are really good this year. They have annihilated everything that has come in their path in Ulster and scored an average of 20+ scores per game.

    Plus I wasn’t wholly impressed with Dublin yesterday. They were 9 points up after 18 minutes but from there to the end the match was a draw.

    And If Kildare had taken their opportunities ( and there were some very good ones) it could have been a lot closer and I think that Tyrone will really put it up to them.

  55. By the way I think Cork will really put it up to us this weekend.

    They have had 3 weeks to recover from a Munster final where they were written off totally anyway. They also have nothing to lose and if they get past us they will be playing Ross in a 1/4 final which they know they would have a good chance of success in.

    If they got an All Ireland semi against Kerry anything is possible and that team and season would be redeemed And Cork football would be seen as back in the big time.

    So lots to play for for them bucks this weekend.

  56. I spoke with a corkman today. He thinks it’s all set up nicely for an ambush. Nobody expecting anything.
    He reckons all that’s needed now is for joe Brolly to say the ” Mayo will wipe the ground with Cork”
    Just like he did in 2011. And don’t mind what bookies say neither, in 2008 they had Tyrone at 33/1 after they lost in ulster and look how that turned out. This is another one where Mayo will need goals to win, hopefully we will see some more of that movement up front thats been evident at stages in recent weeks and a few goals out of it.
    Wj, are you doing a podcast this week?

  57. I’d like to see Mayo drop the shackles against Cork and play with swagger the way Kerry do. Not be reckless, still with a sweeper. The team I would pick is exactly the one MayoDunphy picked above. That is 100% our best 15 with Jason Doherty the only real room for debate apart from not knowing what shape Alan Dillon is in. All the subs have been tried and tested and IMO any of them is capable of a Cormac Costello type impact.
    That doesn’t assume Cork will be easy but a one point victory is perfectly fine so long as Mayo play with confidence and ideally with the kind of swagger of the pundits other 3 favourites. Kerrigan needs watching and last time we met in a big game Keegan did the job brilliantly.
    Don’t care if Cork put in a great brave performance so long as we beat them. Cork should be hurting a lot and should be trying to restore pride in their jersey /County as their form this season has been very poor for at least 1 half of all their 3 games.

  58. Dave, 100% correct there in what you say, as regard’s Cork they will very probably try big hit’s on Mayo, having seen how effective it was for Galway. Nevertheless Galway were very fortunate in a referee, that was very accommodating in some big hit’s which were beyond any doubt, foul’s on Mayo player’s and subsequently giving as free’s to Galway despite Mayo being the team fouled… The Galway /Mayo game aside, very little is being let go by ref’s in the gaelic-football championship match’s of 2017,… It would be a big risk for Cork to pursue this tatic.. . Mayo need to be aware of the possibility of such, Cork would have absolutely nothing to lose and may see it as a worthwhile risk to take… Cork have their own motivation and a very tasty carrot dangled in front of them just now… If they could beat Mayo, they would also avoid playing Kerry in the quarter final’s. I’m sure in such a seneraio Cork would be confident of making the Semi’s… And that would make a year that looked so bleak for Cork, into something few would have predicted a few week’s ago… It make’s the Cork challenge for Mayo all the greater and all the more interesting.. Despite what the bookie’s odd’s seem to say! It’s all to play for on Saturday, let all the Mayo support’s give 110% again on Saturday.

  59. As for hypothetical quarter final, quite simple really my preference is the Rossies as there’s only a one week turn around between the two games and the Rossies are short Croker experience and unlikely to be at Kerry’s level. Should we get through that there will be enough recovery time for a semi and redemption for 2014 will be on everyone’s minds including they players. Kerry have some super forwards and a brilliant midfielder but so what, it’s 1-15 that matters on any given day, by picking best starting 15 our forwards will hopefully be in very good form for any remaining games. An Epic semi with Mayo to win in extra time of a replay. Ha.

  60. And Limerick the scene of probably the best game of the modern Mayo era provides the opportunity for redemption against Munster opponents. Mayo can’t control what Cork shows up, but have to assume they will fight hard, can only control own performance. We shouldn’t care what Cork shows up, just put out our best 15 and bloody beat them regardless of refs, rough house tactics or any bloody thing that may or may not be thrown at us. Keep discipline and be relentless in our endeavour and ruthless when we get the chance.

  61. The podcast will be up a bit later this morning, Dave, and the plan is that there’ll also be a shorter bonus episode coming out on Friday.

  62. JPM, if Cork got an all Ireland semi against Kerry only one thing is possible, an all merciful bating for Cork.

  63. Bad news for us on the selection front this weekend, Niall Coakley is injured. He was useless against Cork and a very unpopular selection down south but Peader Healy drafted him in from St judes so he was likely to start with him.
    Probably means that Peter Kelleher will start instead and hes a fine footballer, even though they brought Donnacha O’Connor on for Coakley the last day. They might get the right selection through accident rather than design.

  64. I dont think Cork can be judged solely the Kerry game as they seem to reserve their worst performances against the Kingdom. I was at the Leinster hurling final and only saw tiny snippets of Cork vs Kerry but Cork broke down the Kerry defence and were unlucky not to score a goal on maybe 3 occasions. Mayo need to start quickly which they have failed to do so far and stop Cork in their tracks as if Cork get ahead of ye the belief will come back and Mayo will be lucky to escape. There is no pressure on Cork indeed I was there all last week and there was no mention at all of the team so they have nothing to lose. If I was Mayo I would absolutely throw the kitchen sink at Corkin the first 10 minutes go for goals and not sit back waiting for the second half fireworks to begin.

  65. 2016 AIF. We didn’t score that much but were clearly the stronger team for first 30 mins.

  66. i see the 4B qualifiers are down for a double header on Sat 29th in Croke Park. Does that mean the 2 quarters finals (involving the Connacht & Munster champs) will be played on Sun 30th as a double header?

  67. Thanks Mick – lets get over Cork first i hear you say. Ive no doubt we will. Have faith in this great team.

  68. yes mayomagic double header confirmed for the Sunday also
    roscommon v tbc @ 2pm
    kerry v tbc @ 4 pm

  69. Voted with my heart for a Tyrone Mayo final. Could see Tyrone beating Dublin in a semi final. They dominated Ulster this year. The northern and defensive style of football is the best bet at beating Dublin.

    As for ourselves, it’s all heart and hope so far rather than facts and form!

  70. Anyone got any comments on The Sunday Game panel last Sunday night, rating Mayo at 4 of the 12 surviving teams ?

  71. Seems a tad harsh, but based on this years form alone, it’s not unreasonable.

    The form books say Dublin/Kerry, what the history books say may be an entirely different matter.

    Head down, one game at a time – no pundit holds any sway over the outcome of the championship.

  72. The only comment I’d have is that it’d have been more in their line to stick to analysing the games played at the weekend rather than engaging in such utterly spurious conjecture. As an exercise in pointlessness, it was right up there with picking the All-Stars in April. For sure, The Sunday Game has lost its way badly.

  73. 4 out of the 12 is probably fair. We did lose to Galway and the 3 ahead of us are no doubt Provincial champions so deserve their status. Roscommon might feel aggrieved at not having 4th spot but no doubt even the most ardent Rossie could see the logic in the selection.

  74. And yes, WJ, it was a bit of a daft exercise. RTE are in the Ha’penny place when it comes to analysis, certainly when compared with SKY or TG4, both of whom kick the proverbial Arse of the National Broadcaster when it comes to analysis of games.
    Sadly RTE are only good at acting as a mouthpiece for poorly formed or agenda driven opinion these days. It’s a shame that our licence fee is used to fund such that is less than mediocre.

  75. The Dubs looked good the last day and not by chance.They scored their scores but not without a smart competent build up… was there a hit and hope shot all day? So we all know the lesson. Every team sits down and studies what’s to be done but do they then execute their intentions? Some teams have it in them but only a few have enough to scale the summit.Every team goes out believing they ll come up with enough goods to get them the victory. Anything can happen on the day youll find yourself thinking! But unfortunately anything happens only for the team that’s best prepared.
    It’s been flagged for years that what you re up to on the pitch without the ball is every bit as important as when you have it in your possession. Kevin Heffernan broke ground there back then. Off the ball running was what that team’s game was based on to a great extent. Get the running stunning and you can put a team under the kosch ….an extra barrier to stifle their best intent!
    I would love to be an eye on the wall during the top teams training sessions . I think if I was I’d witness an enormous emphasis on this running aspect. And that’s not to the exclusion of the accurate timed kick high and low.
    I’m reminded of the theatre aspect of the game nowadays as against former times. Then you had your set position on stage and you learned you lines….straight forward….good football for the times then. Now it’s utterly changed ….players/actors are given more freedom but within a framework of a different mor fluid and interdependent inclusiveness which can make for much more exciting and entertaining football/theatre. However the down side is that there is more demanded of the players to the extent that not everyone is up to the new take off. Not any longer do u wait for someone to say their written lines….. now you say them with full understanding of their true meaning. Now your pre production rehearsals are more intense varied colourful with an awful lot of new techniques on board than before….and it’s all rehearsed to the finest of detail…,a little turn of the head at the right time can elicit all sorts of possibilities.
    Same on pitch…smallest things like a little quicker to think/pass/kick /tackle not to mention a sprinkle of magic…..definitely make the diff between walking up for the cup or standing and watching someone else do it in your place.
    Expectations are like juices that makes all things taste so good and so we expect to see Mayo producing many of those modern techniques which will make all the difference against Cork. Of course Cork will do the same but who’ll do it the best?
    So C’Mon Mayo lets dilute our stereotypical image of slow starters/poor scorers and ‘Move your blooming arses’ as Liza Doolittle shrieked at Ascot!

  76. Yeah think 4 is fair. Probably 3 coming into this year but credit to Tyrone they’ve improved vastly

    Might be changes to the Top 4 positions before the year is out though! Tis only July and all that

  77. What struck me about the Sunday game commentary and analysis was the praise they heaped on Kildare. They were beaten by 9 points and it should have been 11 if not more. Now if Mayo lost to Dublin by 9 points I wonder how much praise would we get ………..very little and rightly so!
    As regards 4th out of the last 12 – that’s probably fair enough but everyone seems to forget last September / October and who it was that really put it up to Dublin. I’m not sure Dublin would relish another final against Mayo if it came to that.
    In the meantime it’s Cork – a dangerous wounded beast with some match winning players if they decide to play. We need to treat them as if they were a Kerry or Dublin and give it everything for 70+ minutes. Especially important that we start at 100 mph and lay down an early marker. A poor start like our previous two outings will only give Cork badly needed confidence and make for a very dangerous situation. We need to break their spirit early on like most top teams try to do.
    I am confident we can do just that and move onto the next challenge.

  78. You’re right, Diehard, the stuff about Kildare is baffling. Dublin won Leinster at a canter and all we get is patronising pats on the head for those swatted aside by them. And don’t get me going on all that bollocks about Carlow … As I said the other day, Leinster is in complete crisis but don’t expect any serious discussion about this on The Sunday Game. Blather and waffle is much easier to churn out.

  79. – Cork have good footballers but only two leaders (Donnacha and Alan O’C), no tactics, poor management team and the vibe that they are just waiting for the door to be slammed in their faces.
    – Mayo have the experience, the physicality and the players to win but we need to score goals in the first half, show more organization up front and start off with intent.
    – We also need to hit them very hard and very early in particular Aidan Walshe, Shields, McGuire and Kerrigan
    – Show no mercy to these boys, the 5-15 to 0-10 hammering in 1993 still grates
    – Mayo by about 5, if we are beaten by this Cork team at this point in time then we have gone back into the pack…. No pressure !
    – Thanks WJ for all of the work you put into keeping this Blog up and running in such a professional manner, no mean feat.

  80. If I’m right Dublin have a seriously tough run to September. Probably a monaghan team in quarters,lots of cards and possible suspension for simi against Tyrone where there’s going to be more discipline issues.if they survive those 2 matches the cccc could be very busy in the lead up to 17/09

  81. Monaghan, Tyrone and then Kerry/Mayo would not be any harder than previous years.

    2016 was Donegal, Kerry and Mayo Twice.
    2015 was Fermanagh, Mayo Twice and Kerry.
    2013 was Cork, Kerry and Mayo.
    2011 was Tyrone, Donegal and Kerry.

    2011 was probably the most straightforward, as, like this year, we only have to beat Mayo OR Kerry, as opposed to both (more often than not requiring more than one attempt).

  82. Interesting summary there Jaden! When you see it like that you it’s painful how damm close Mayo were/are and that’s without ’14 included. Jesus.

  83. ….. and only going down by a point in 13 & 16 and sure best not mention 14. My nights sleep is ruined!

  84. I believe that this game will be won in the last 10 minutes. So many posters are talking up Cork’s threat and I agree in that they will represent the best footballing team we will meet this year in the Championship up to this point. Here is the question. If Cork are going to challenge us why are so many people looking to win this in the first 20 minutes. In Ennis I watched Mayo contain Clare’s best efforts in the first half. There will always be the IF’S but’S and Maybe’s but the scoreboard read 2 down at half time. In the second half we controlled it. We did not know what expect from Clare except that they are a decent side moving up the ladder. Our approach was the correct one in these circumstances. If we can contain Cork we will control them and this is a better approach to the next game.

  85. Mayomanindublin…..delighted to see sledging highlighted. A nasty cowardly offence that should be black carded. The sooner is gone from our national game the better.

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