Dublin 4-15 Mayo 3-13: good comeback but still a bad defeat

It’s after ten at night and I’m still none the wiser about today’s helter-skelter league defeat to Dublin at Croke Park.  As well as that, I have an 0600 flight to catch in the morning so, by necessity as much as by inclination, this account of events earlier on today at GAA HQ will have to be fairly brief and to the point.

RTÉ have a full match report, with post-match audio quotes, and there are also match reports available from the Mayo Advertiser, Hogan Stand, Breaking News and Sports News Ireland.  As a result, there’s no need to dwell here on what happened during the match on a blow-by-blow basis.

I can, with some justification, I think, claim to have seen something of this sort coming.  Our starting fifteen didn’t look like the kind of unit that would be able to contain Dublin’s goal-hungry forward line and our decision not to name an orthodox full-back seemed more than a bit odd. With twenty minutes or so gone today and a deficit of 4-4 to 0-2 staring back at us from the scoreboard, it appeared like utter lunacy.  Which, in truth, it was.

The ease at which Dublin scored those four early goals against us was frightening.  We let them waltz through us – never once landing a hit on any of them – our defensive positioning was all over the place and time and again the full-back line failed to keep themselves goal-side of the attacker when the killer ball was played inside.

The entire full-back line was ripped to shreds and I guess the only surprise was that we didn’t end up conceding more than the four goals we did.  Regular readers here will know of my opinions on playing Keith Higgins in the full-back line.  After today’s performance, I seriously hope that this is no longer an issue meriting any further serious debate.

But it’s not just Keith. Chris Barrett and Tom Cunniffe were also filleted, Kevin McLoughlin (a man with many admirable qualities) showed he just isn’t physical enough, Ger Cafferkey was cleaned out at centre-back and while Richie Feeney manfully took the fight to the Dubs at a time when we really needed to do this, this was at the expense of a complete derelicition of duty at the back.

And that’s before even mentioning playing Peadar Gardiner in a sweeping role.  Sweet Lord and His Holy Mother, Peadar won’t stick to defending even when he’s named in the backs and it was obvious with less than ten minutes gone that the tactic of playing him behind the half-back line wasn’t working.  And yet he stayed on the pitch right to the end.

Tom Parsons was hauled off well before then but not before putting in yet another anonymous shift.  I must admit that my heart sank when I saw he was back in the starting line-up – shades of Meath 2009 all over again.  Facts have to be faced: on current form, Tom can’t be considered for a place in the first fifteen right now.  I’d far sooner have seen Jason Gibbons start there but if James Kilcullen was fit enough to come on, then why not go ahead and start him?

Further up the field, the story got a bit better. Ronan battled doggedly all day, as did Andy Moran whose contribution and scores when we were at our lowest point helped us to inch our way back into this crazy, crazy, game.  Aidan Campbell hit a few horrendous wides but he got some scores too, Alan Dillon took too long to get into the game (and 11 obviously isn’t the position he’s best suited for) but when he did he contributed well to our recovery.

But, of course, everything that was positive about our performance today came from Alan Freeman and Jason Doherty in the full-forward line.  As a duo, they were absolutely lethal: both have good hands, quick brains and superb finishing ability.  All three goals – and, in particular, Jason’s second – were of the highest quality.  Neither deserved to end up on the losing side.

So, where do we go from here?  I think it’s fair to say that James Horan’s honeymoon as Mayo manager ended today and that he now has some serious questions to answer in terms of team selection and tactics.

While experimentation during the league is all very well, all the chopping and changing has led us to a situation where we still haven’t the first clue about who should be where in the backline (even if, after today, we have a better idea as to who shouldn’t).  We’re also shy a midfielder and at least two, possibly three, forwards.

And we’ve repeatedly shown that we’re not able to get stuck into a game from the off but instead insist on letting the other lads gallop off well into the distance before bestirring ourselves.  I’d thought our start against Down was alarming enough in this respect but today’s early doors implosion took the biscuit altogether.

The other question I’d have for James after today was why he didn’t make changes at the back when it was clear that our full-back line was getting whipped all over the place?  We hadn’t just one full-back on the bench, we had two (Cathal Hallinan and Alan Feeney) and if either one of them had been pitched in when it was obvious the backline needed shoring up, I very much doubt that Connolly would have ended up with 3-3 to his credit.

Then, as PJ noted, it was only once we had completed our astonishing recovery from 14 points down (an achievement which shouldn’t be forgotten, even if I’m concentrating here more on negatives than positives) that he began to ring the changes.  While this was understandable, we seemed to lose our shape and sense of purpose and we did little or nothing to prevent Dublin from easing clear of us for a second time.  Once they were back in the driving seat, it was obvious we weren’t going to get anything out of the game, although if Jason Doherty’s late wide had ended in the net, the losing margin would have been less than five points.

It is, I know, still only March and it’s a bit early in the year to be writing off our chances for the summer on the basis of a few ropey league performances (with today’s being ropier than the others).   But April is almost upon us now and we need to start seeing at least some evidence that our curve for the summer that awaits us is an upward one.  While Freeman and Doherty went some way towards doing so today, their sparkling performances were more than outweighed by glaring deficiencies further back the field and it’s self-evidently the case that we need to see significant and immediate improvements in that sector if we’re to entertain any serious hopes of throwing shapes later in the year.

Mayo: Robert Hennelly; Tom Cunniffe, Chris Barrett, Keith Higgins; Richie Feeney (0-2), Ger Cafferkey, Kevin McLoughlin; Ronan McGarrity, Tom Parsons; Aidan Campbell (0-3, two frees), Alan Dillon (0-2, frees), Andy Moran (0-2); Peadar Gardiner (0-1), Alan Freeman (1-3), Jason Doherty (2-0). Subs: James Kilcullen for Parsons, Aidan Kilcoyne for Campbell, Cathal Hallinan for Cafferkey, James Burke for McLoughlin.

51 thoughts on “Dublin 4-15 Mayo 3-13: good comeback but still a bad defeat

  1. While I can accept the need to try out different p layers in different positions in the league is it neccesary to play a 5 8 full back against a big full forward. Do we not know the outcome of doing something stupid like this before the throw in.
    While Keith Higgins is one of our most talented natural footballers how long more will it take for management to realise he is not a corner back? Finally why do we have to watch Peader Gardiner day in day out contributing nothing in defence,do we not have better options. With Parsons anonymous again was this not a chance to have tried out AOS with McGarrity

  2. I am in total agreement with you Mayo Abu. Parsons not up to it, get him off the panel, has nothing to offer at this level, Mc Garrity on his own and could do no more on the day, we have no Enforcer on the Team, we had in the past Colm McMenamin, T.J. and many more, we were I felt too naive and most of this team have played in Croke Park many times, so its not as if we were giving them a run out, 4 out of 10 for the Manager, changes at the back he should have seen and made after 12 mins.. It was again, shades of 2006 , the high ball, too small at the back, and no upper body strength. Cafferky, another bad day, I feel he is not up to this standard at all, and I must say Dillon, is now holding up the play all the time, Freeman and Doherty running into positions calling for a quick pass,, Dillon is just not doing the business, any of the top 12 teams in the country would love to draw Mayo with the style and soft brand of football they play, I am afraid, nothing there for 2011, except we have brought on and discovered two excellent forwards in Freeman and Doherty, not afraid to get stuck in, and both have an eye for goals, but we are short and dont appear to have, a full back, centre back and a midfield, who would one suggest as the enforcer.

  3. I agree chris barrett is not a full back paid the price in first half its beyond me as to why peader gardner is playing running up and down the field giving away school boy passes. chris barrett the same where are leo keggan and kevin keaNE hope vaughan back soon and seamus o shea. one thing that frustrated me was mayo inability with first time tackles no cuteness or steel or will to win one to one balls. ger caffekey is a sell by date cathal callinan should have been brought on earlier or leo keegan cafferkey has not delievered no stamina or steel put his hands around his head effort is a problem. mayo need to learn to send the ball into freeman and jason more quickly again dillion over elebotating with the ball slowing it up going to the cornors losing posssesion school boy passes into tight spaces let the ball go that happened on numerious occassions today campbell has ability but let the ball go quicker got caught with his hand passes . Aidan kilcoyne is a one dimension player need to get him back to the player he was has gone back as a player unsure of what he is doing and where to play. I thought killcullen did well should have started from the start. alan feeney should have been playin or was he injured we needed him today under high ball. what was set out today back field as a result of players in the backline . please james learn and listen we need consistency in the back line such as alan feeney at fullback and centre back there is better than cafferkey let gardiner go a liability offers nothing and leaks the defence with goals. parsons nothing to offer aidan o shea has more and more direct ball in freeman and doherthy stop the fancy football holding on to the ball and losing possesion the oppostions are scoping up scores that are killing the team . hope we learn from today and see sense for been sensible in playing players that who would die for the jersey and restore pride not tryin to be kind to a core group in keeping a dead dream a live.

  4. Mayo are now back to pre 1996 standards. We just don’t have the quality of player. Where the hell are all the big players gone in Mayo. Have we no defender over 6 foot?
    I don’t think there is a lot Horan can do, given the lack of talent at his disposal. Hard times ahead. V

  5. i dont think campbell is a disaster killcullen could get more time opportunity its hard when u lose out to parson after having a good game got no chance against armagh. i totally agree we are way off the pace in fittness and physciality . we do need a number 3 , 6, 8, 11, 13, play our 6 forwards and 6 backs mayo didnt wake up to change their game plan when bernard brogan wasnt playin we should have made changes earlier after the second goal one problem is creativity in the forward line i dont agree with the persistence of dillion in centre half to slow and will be an easy target for all oppoistion down the line holds on to the ball will be crowded out unless he releases the ball quicker . we are soft at moment and that needs to be rectified .

  6. Relax, its only the league. Dublin are extremely fit because of their rigorous training regime. While Horan is rebuilding the team. In my opinion we will survive in Division 1, but if we go down its not a disaster either.

  7. Yeah but why don’t we have a rigorous training regieme.

    We approach games as losers.

    Dire straits and no positive improvement from manager. In fact we’re going backwards

  8. The team were very wasteful today in front of goal. On too many occasions players took the incorrect option and shot from impossible angles (or from too far out) rather than working the ball into a scoring position. This is inexcusable from an Inter County team in Div 1.

    McGarrity lorded it today in the middle but wasn’;t assisted by the half backs under the breaking ball. Unfortunately the HB line are too small – no presence and easily intimitated. How many times were they shrugged off by a physically stronger Dub? Moran did well today. Bottom line is that modern day football demands quick distribution (give & go). A good full forqard line (which we have now!) will reap dividends from well directed and quick ball into the 21 yard area. That brings me to Alan Dillon – a superb footballer but his decision making is poor – he needs more urgency in his play. Have we ever seen him run at a defense in a straight line a la Kevin McMenamon today or Kieran Duff in the past. Perhaps this is where Aidan O’S could play a role.

    A lot of positives from today – we closed a 14point deficit and acquitted ourselves well against a top 3 side. The goals were v well taken too. Higgins is super defender and should be played a half back.

    Negatives: Lack of physicality. Poor shooting. Poor decision making at vital stages. Parsons a Junior footballer & not interested. We need a FB, and a robust centre back.

    I actiually fancy us to beat Cork next weekend. Team will be more confident after their 2nd half display.

  9. We should not read too much into the big comeback. The Dubs had simply dropped the intensity and were strolling by that stage (which is no credit to them!).
    Let there be no doubt about it we are not good enough at defending. Today we were too small and timid and our technique in tackling oponents was embarrassing. The start of the Armagh game was pretty much the same. We need to revert to basic old fashioned defending – marking your man real tight and never letting him inside you (even at the cost of giving away frees).

    Using Gardner as an extra defender was a dreadful idea. He didnt seem to know what he was supposed to be doing and neither did the rest of the backline. It served to confuse and undemine the self-belief of the backline as much as anything else. Bad selection decision!
    Poor reaction to the the short Dublin kick-out – they did it all day and got away with it!

    Parsons wasnt good at midfield but I thought he was actually coming well into the game when he was replaced!

    Freeman and Doherty are definite bright sparks but JH is not much nearer knowing his first 15 after today – certainly at MF and the backs!

  10. God its hard to know what to say after that performance so many negatives yet a few positives also thrown in there. have to agree with alot of ye parsons is a disaster and has shown this big time in the last two games, gardiner didnt have a clue how to play sweeper today should have been placed between full back n centre back not running up the field loosing posession i can understand why horan wanted to play sweeper he just chose the wrong man for the job…but enough of giving out today we found a forward partnership that will frighten any county backline and we even scored a few frees courtesy of campbell so not all bad.

  11. Lads, there’s a serious amount of rubbish written in the last few posts – it is just the league and now is the time to try everything out and see where we stand, some things are working and others are not, nothing more than that. The pre-1996 team we’ve supposedly gone back to being would have given up after 15 minutes and lost that game by 15 to 20 points so people need to get a reality check of where we are now and remember how bad we once were.

    The spine of the defence is a big worry but arguably we didn’t have our first choice 1, 3, or 6 on today so there are opportunities to change things around. Freeman and Doherty could be two of the country’s top forwards for the next seven or eight years and Andy Moran is showing great consistency right through the league.

    Plenty of room for improvement but we are slowly building a team and should have a good chance against Cork in Castlebar next time out.

  12. Never fear people! – the clocks change next weekend and the team should be awake for both halves for the first time against Cork next Sunday !!
    Thank God for Alan Freeman – Where would we be in this league if he played every minute so far?

  13. I was looking for a word to describe what we witnessed in Croke Park today as I made my way home this evening and `disturbing`is probally as good as I could think up.
    We let in 4 goals and 4 points with 7 defenders in the first 22 minutes.Then when we decided to go man to man we managed to claw back a 14 point lead without making one change in personal to draw level.Then when the team were getting used to each other and looked like we could maybe win the game a whole rake of subs were brought on and we lost our shape and the game.

    I was hoping that when James Horan took over that he would at least find a couple of corner backs that would just stick beside their men and forget about what goes on past the 21 yard line .
    What did we get today? Chris Barrett spent a third of the game in the Dublin half and Keith Higgins was his usual 10 yards away from his man.
    Now I`m not saying that we can`t defend it`s that we don`t consistently defend and it`s not just the full back line that are at fault.How many short kick outs did Dublin pull off today I lost count at 10 and how many of those were worked down the field for scores?
    Any of the successful teams of the last 15 years used they ploy of 15 defenders when the opposition had the ball.If we don`t learn to defend we can forget about the likes of Freeman and Doherty who are serious talent and that would be a great pity.

  14. Strange game, both a learning experience for the manager and team. Had enough possession to win the game but as above posters have stated, made poor use of the ball, both early and late in the game. The big issue early on was the ease with which Dublin delivered the ball and compounded by the loose marking in the FB line. Team showed heart which was lacking last year, but would like to see more planning regarding defensive organisation. All the best teams defend from the forwards back.
    I still think that we can beat Monaghan, this will be like a championship game, and more value than last year’s league final. No AI this year, but maybe more progress (assessing all options) than under the last management.

  15. PJ u hit so many nails on the head. Manager seems to be learning his way into the job but reaction times way too slow for this level. But im gonna be patient with him. Today in a funny kinda way isnt all bad news. 2 of the most exciting full forwards in the country are wearing our jersey. The team didnt leave HQ with any emotional scars by most accounts, and lessons seem to have been taken on board if managers post match interview is anything to go on….our next two games should tell us a lot. Having said that the Full back slot is gonna be a nightmare to resolve unless kevin keane recovers from injury soon

  16. I like to know who our first choice number 3 ad 6 are as well because as far a I know Kevin Cahill and James Nallen have retired.
    Was at the macth today and I thought Cambell looked way out of his depth. He was shell schoked from start to fisih. If Kilcullen is the answer at midfield, then God help us. I think he touched the ball once. Not nearly mobile enough for IC football. We were forced to play three half backs in the full back line today because we don’t even have one decent corner or full back, not one.
    Horan has no other choice. I am not living in Mayo any more so I am wondering if we play with corner backs on the teams in Mayo Club football any more.

  17. I cry reading some of the comments there. So much negativity. There was a lot of mistakes today but it is a league game in March for God’s sake. I do think not playing Cathal Hallinan at 3 was a mistake as was playing Peadar as our extra defender. But I think as big a part of the problem was guys just generally stuck to the ground, not working hard etc.

    We need to tie down a full-back but I wouldn’t be too harsh on Ger Cafferkey, he has been reasonably good and I don’t think he got filleted today.

    To the guy who asked Alan Dillon to play like Kieran Duff, Christ above will you look at him. That cannot be his game because he doesn’t have the strength for it. As well as that, Alan is playing badly this year but has been our best forward in the last ten years. Is it too much to ask for a wee bit of patience for him to get back to his best form?

    We lost to Longford last year in championship. Today we came back from fourteen points down to level it before tiring (again, it’s March). If that’s going backwards, then I give up.

  18. Surely playing a full back line comprising of players who play in the full back line for their clubs regularly would be a start. I think even if it was a dire county final last year, one could pick Richie and Alan Feeney along with Hallinan as competent defenders, with the pace to stick to a man-could they not be given a go minus the license to ‘bomb-on’? As long as we dont have a competent No 6 then the notion of defenders running en-masse at the opposition is suicide-fair enough one wing back overlapping but for the past ten years we’ve had 2’s and 3’s going forward and completely abandoning their defensive responsibilities. Time to get a grip, get a solid full back line and regular CB and start from there. I wouldve thought this wouldve been the priority for any new manager from the outset-sort the defence, tinker with rest after that. We can find all the forwards in the world (and thankfully Doherty and Freeman genuinely look the part) but if we’re shipping goals they way we are at the moment, we are going nowhere. You dont want to pick a player out as we all know the effort the lads put in even to get to the level their at but I’m afraid its gone beyond a joke how many chances Parsons gets to tog for the county. Just not up to scratch and never even seems to have the stomach for a battle-and a battle is certainly what this year looks like its going to be.

  19. What can I say that hasn’t been said. All in all very honest comments.
    James Horan is the right man for the job but he needs to ask himself a couple of questions. That full back line asked for goals to be scored against it. That’s what happened.
    Dublin kicked every restart short. Mayo never once pressed them. What was Horan up to tactically there?Time and time again Dublin walked out with the ball. Make no mistake about it, had Dublin kept that pace up we would have conceded ten goals.
    Gardiner is a poor defender and not a leader up front. Dillon slows the play down and should not be captain. He is very lucky to be on the team.
    We came back yesterday to a degree because Doherty and Freeman didn’t want to be associated with mediocrity not because of some great game plan.
    We kicked at least 1-6 wide. Dublin had one or two misses. We actually should have beaten them by four points but do you know what…it would have been daylight robbery.

  20. Yesterday’s game was a coming of age for a lot of new lads – and their manager. Dublin played at a phenomenal tempo and the game had the intensity of a championship encounter. But actually it did no harm to expose our team and management to this! Better for them to see it now than in July when we would get hockeyed. Anyways no one (except those in the minority) expected us to win in Dublin yesterday so I don’t see the point of complete negativity.

    Dublin mixed it up brilliantly but in addition they had everything in their favour. Their long ball was a complete success and their short kickouts followed by attacking at pace through our defences was also a complete success. Basically we couldn’t live with their pace or their power.
    I agree we do seem to lack serious competitors in certain key positions. Everyone agrees that. And we do need more Beef and Punch especially around the middle at the breakdown. But I’m not sure we have that in our squad. So the question is can you bring in complete new players in key positions this late on. For instance we might have the beef in a certain individual but can that individual play at yesterdays intensity and for 70 minutes. I’m not sure.

    But, having said all that I also see real positives – the main one being that our comeback in the second half. We began to push back a little on them and hit them (physically) harder. I guess the point for out lads is that this is the pace and intensity we have to be playing at for the majority of our games. And this is the League. This physicality and intensity that was shown in the second half has now to be repeated for both Cork and Monaghan.

  21. I think the major pros and cons about the match itself have been picked through above I just have a couple of personnel questions:

    Whats the status of Seamus O’Shea? – I think he showed last year that he has what it take to pair McGarrity in midfield – thoughts anyone??

    Whats the status of Pat Harte? – I’d love to see him tried in either the CHB or CHF position – again thoughts anyone??

    Can we get Maurice Sheridan in to do some intense work with our free-takers and 45’s I think the only man for this is Aidan Kilcoyne but he needs to get his confidence back – thoughts anyone?

    players that IMO should be dropped: Parsons, Gardiner, Dillon – thoughts anyone?

    Vaughan back into defence and Higgins moved to half back line

  22. nally-stand. Good points and thanks for reminding me of a few lads I forgot about. Seamus O Shea and Vaughan would be two huge pluses. So too would Pat Harte. As regards the free taking I disagree with getting Maurice Sheridan. Either guys have the ability and bottle to kick frees otherwise no amount of coaching will help guys in their mid twenties to improve.
    Not alone should the three players you mention be dropped, they should be removed from the panel. An interesting scenario is going to develop soon. Conor and Trevor will arrive back and they don’t see themselves as bench men. Who goes to accommodate them? Doherty, O Shea, Freeman? I hope not. Who then? Well it leaves Campell, Dillon and Moran. Now Moran and Dillon see themselves as leaders. I don’t.
    Last season Ronaldson and Varley lit up the early part of the league. Back from travelling came Dillon and Conor. Amazingly the form of the former two dipped and were dropped.
    Before Sean Boylan became a great manager he he went with the status quo. It didn’t work. He got ruthless not just with the players but with the selectors as well. Four All Ireland’s ensued. James Horan is now at the point of doing the right thing as opposed to keeping going the previous charades. Hard calls made now will result in fruitful days in a year or two. Go James and stick the teeth in.

  23. I think they done well myself. They pegged them back from 14 ahead… that’s no mean feat.. manys a team would have rolled over at that stage.

    However I agree the backs were not at the races… The goals that they gave away were very soft. However if they had dealt with them correctly then the Dublin would be very mediocre.

    For me the style of play Mayo contrasted with the the Dubs. We had a nice free flowing style at its best quick hands, good hand passing… flowing forward in numbers. It was a joy to watch until you glanced up at the scoreboard.

    I think for me it was the fitness in the end that was the undoing of them. I wouldn’t be worried so much as I saw a lot of positives today from a team that needs to learn how to thrash out a win. Also the inane couple of wides at the start of the game did them no favours and was the undoing of them.

  24. A few thoughts-
    Positives-Freeman and Parsons are two top quality forwards Need to have a game plan now getting good ball into them.
    Defence can be fixed a lot easier than attack
    Horan will have learnt a lot yesterday. If he is a good manager and has good selectors he will settle this team down and start getting positions right
    Very poor on short kickouts-that is basic stuff
    Experimenting with sweeper system is not to be done in Croke park with a lad who is not suitable for that
    Keeper needs looking at-Whats story with Clarke
    Keep it going lads-its a strange season so far

  25. Nally_Stand I would be slow to drop fellas at this stage unless I was absoultely sure I had better players to replace them with – you never know how we might need them later on. I certainly would never think of dropping Alan Dillon – he is not at this best right now but he is a good player and he will come good.

  26. ‘diehard’ Im talking about dropping them to the bench not the panel, they need to prove their positions and after 5 league games neither of that trio deserve a starting position – maybe they are wowing in the training sessions, still though unless your doing it in game time i don’t think you should hold your position – your training form should give you an opportunity to play on the starting 15 nothing more if you fail to deliver consistently well then there should be repercussions Fight to get on the team and then fight to hold your position its a simple hard rule but if everyone understands the fall-out then players become more responsible to their own display and the teams which can only be a good thing.

  27. On Friday I was hoping for a good performance and maybe spring a surprise to sneak a win, against the odds.
    Well the game had a few surprises all right and yes we had an opportunity to sneak a win – but, let’s face it, it would have hardly have been a deserved win. Even James Horan in his post match interview on RTE was realistic enough to say so.

    The final score is worth looking at – for both teams. 35 scores in total so that’s one every 2 minutes – an amazing statistic in football and! And add on maybe a dozen combined wides and that’s a shot at the target on average every 90 seconds. Entertaining at least but it was like watching 2 seperate games.
    Mayo – well we scored 2 points in the first 22 minutes and 2 in the last 25 minutes and in the 23 minutes in between that we scored 3-09. Not much needs to be said about that.
    Dublin – not surprisingly almost the opposite except they managed 5 unanswered points just after we drew level and that’s what saved them in the end.

    I think we can dicsuss and debate whose fault it was and how good or bad players were and so on but reality is yesterdays match was a bit of a freak for both teams. Hopefully it will have taught both of them some lessons about concentration and putting in 70 minutes of solid work and so on but personally I don’t see it as a good match on which to make lost of hasty decisions about who should be dropped or who takes the blame. I do agree with a few posts naming a few players that have struggled in quite a few matches now and not just yesterday and expect James Horan will be making decisions on consistency of performance and not on the basis of 1 match.

    One last point. A criticism of Mayo has often been we have no leaders on the pitch when the chips are down. Well the chips were well and truly down yesterday and a few players did rise to the challenge. I would put Andy Moran top of the list and Freeman and Doherty also up there. But I can’t think of anyone in the defence.
    Wonder what others think?

  28. Our FBL yesterday was an embarressment.What were they thinking of.Perhps we had a lot of injuries?
    On a positve it is easier to manufacture backs then forwads.

  29. ontheroad, with respect-‘the Mortimers dont see themselves as bench men’-thats the type of line thats keeping some players in a jersey the past few years and some of the nonsense that has gone on far too long. As things stand I dont think Trevor would be an improvement on what we have, and on club form definitely a backward step. If we are to have a spot for Conor it would be beside Freeman and Doherty or else the sideline. If ANY player is not happy then they should mind their head going out the door. Its not Man Utd they are playing for its Mayo-its roll the sleeves up and get on with it for this year (and probably next) to build a team of fellas that want it-thats got to be the attitude, not fellas ‘not seeing themselves as benchmen’!

  30. I think guys are overreacting. True the FB line got hammered but as long as everyone concerned about this learns from it and moves on we should be ok.

    I think Horan has taken a deliberate tactic to try out all combinations he believes might work. Some of them will work and some of them will be a disaster. Yesterdays FB line option was wrong. Fair enough lesson learned. Although people should keep in mind that Keith hasn’t been back on the panel long and has been one of our best players in the past few years.

    From what I’ve seen in the league so far and other recent times I’d suggest a team something along the lines of this for Championship.

    1) Clarke/O’Malley
    2) Cunniffe
    3) A. Feeney
    4) R. Feeney
    5) Higgins
    6) Vaughan
    7) McLoughlin
    8) McGarrity
    9) Gibbons
    10) Campbell
    11) Moran
    12) Dillon
    13) Ronaldson
    14) Freeman
    15) Doherty

  31. I think guys are overreacting. True the FB line got hammered but as long as everyone concerned about this learns from it and moves on we should be ok.

    I think Horan has taken a deliberate tactic to try out all combinations he believes might work. Some of them will work and some of them will be a disaster. Yesterdays FB line option was wrong. Fair enough lesson learned. Although people should keep in mind that Keith hasn’t been back on the panel long and has been one of our best players in the past few years.

    From what I’ve seen in the league so far and other recent times I’d suggest a team something along the lines of this for Championship.

    1) Clarke/O’Malley
    2) Cunniffe
    3) A. Feeney
    4) R. Feeney
    5) Higgins
    6) Vaughan
    7) McLoughlin
    8 ) McGarrity
    9) Gibbons
    10) Campbell
    11) Moran
    12) Dillon
    13) Ronaldson
    14) Freeman
    15) Doherty

  32. Why should the Dubs be so much fitter than Mayo? It looked like schoolboys against a County team, the Dubs just shrugged them aside like big boys vs small gasurs! It was a very disappointing first half, a very encouraging first half of the second half, but overall, a bit disheartening to see the “experiments” that were tried against the top of the leage team. I’m sure Horan had his reasons for putting Gardiner as sweeper but Holy Mother, a blind man could see it needed changing after ten minutes.
    Also on the Morts coming back – why would they be entitled to a place just because they are Mortimers – let them earn a place if they want it, if they don’t want it, grand let them off. Hopefully a valuable lesson learned for the future, but its only 10 weeks to Championship, time to have a firm handle on who will feature on our first 15 – I’m not there yet I have to say, jury still out on a lot of lads. Great to see excellent forwards tho, pity we didn’t breed as many backs!!

  33. Interesting posts there folks. Yesterday we got tested against a top 3 side on the the big field where we are going to have to perform some day.
    The two big negatives that I saw were inferior fitness/cuteness in the final 20 which prevented us from seeing it out and absolutely dreadful defending in the first 20.
    For the first goal Barrett was too easily turned.
    Cunniffe allowed attacker goalside for the second.
    Gardiner jumped out of the way and waved attacker through for the third.
    Higgins rooted to the ground and Hennelly comes half way for the fourth.
    There was also insufficent pressure from outfield in the build ups to these scores.
    Other deficiencies included shot selection, freetaking and tackling technique (Campbell & Cunniffe).
    However I also saw a whole bunch of positives.
    Scoring 3-13 should be enough to win any game.
    The fact that we have a few players to come back in later on is another positive. I am thinking of the likes of Clarke, Howley, Harte, Vaughan, A O’Shea, S O’Shea, Conor, etc.
    On the other hand there are still a few from last year that we need to finally bid farewell to.
    I cant wait for the day when we dont concede any goals in Croke Park. I believe that will be the day that we finally get over the line.

  34. ontheroad sometimes what you post makes sense but your above post is absolute nonsense in my opinion. First of all you are suggesting that the two Morts ought to come right back into the team. Tell me when Trevor last played a good game for Mayo? A fine servant but his day has come and went. It takes something for someone as conservative as O’Mahony to drop his captain, but he did that last year. Conor might still have something to offer but the way Doherty and Freeman are playing at the minute, he’ll have to be patient. And that’s assuming he makes a full recovery from his cruciate injury.

    And as for dropping Alan Dillon from the panel? Complete madness. You would think you were at very few Mayo matches to come out with a statement like that. Dillon is playing poorly and has all the signs of a guy who needs a rest so maybe it would be no harm to drop him from the team for the last two league games but if we can start a championship game without a fully fit Alan Dillon on the team, then we could consider ourselves All-Ireland contenders if we have six better forwards than him. That clearly isn’t the case. Sorry if it sounds like I’m having a go but we don’t half over-analyse things in Mayo and the amount of sweeping statements as a result of a league defeat in March is frightening. The line about dropping Dillon though was the one that jumped out the most. We have to solve problems in our defence but we’re doing okay.

  35. 2 major positives from yesterday’s game.

    (1) the Team didn’t give up in Croker and to their credit they spared us another embarrassment and (2) we seem to have unearthed 2 class forwards who can score goals.

    If nothing else comes out of yesterday’s game other than the fact that this team didn’t take another battering in Croker then this is a major step forward. Imagine coming back to Croker later in the summer facing Kerry, Cork or Tyrone having lost by 20+ points yesterday! Regardless of the time of year Mayo do not need any more bad beatings in Croker.

    All said, yesterday was not a good day for Mayo and indeed not a great day for the Dubs either. I am sure Pat Gilroy was thinking back to last Summer’s encounter with Meath and how his defence leaked goals on that occassion also. Tomas Quinn and Diarmuid Connolly will not score (4-10) between them in any other game this year, so plenty for him to think about also!

    We have major problems in defence and this is not a new problem, nor is it a player issue alone. To begin Cunniffe, Barrett, Higgins, Feeney and McLoughlin are all attacking backs so their natural instinct is to attack and not defend, throw in Gardiner playing in a sweeper role whose natural instinct is to attack also and we were in trouble before a ball was kicked yesterday.

    Let’s remember every great team is built on a solid defence, be that in Soccer, Rugby or indeed Gaelic Football. I think we need to stop looking at the individual players as this is the best group of players we have for the moment and start looking at the defensive system we play. The modern game is about getting as many players as possible behind the ball, putting the player in possession under serious pressure and limiting the space available to the opposition, but for some reason we seem to ignore this and go out day after day trying to play an open expansive game which is nuts, especially in Croke Park.

    How many times yesterday did we see Barrett, Feeney, Higgins or McLoughlin making runs deep into the Dublin half? If they are up that end of the pitch then who is back minding the house?

    If we are to be viewed as serious contenders over the next few years then the Mayo management need to develop a system of play which prevents other teams from playing and unless they come up with a ‘new’ system they are going to have to adopt or adapt the Tyrone one, which I think would suit our current group of players for a number of reasons.

    In fairness to our current crop of defenders they are all great athletes with great pace and are also very good ball players which is a great place to begin. However, we do lack height and bulk and most importantly we lack the right ‘attitude’ and the ‘killer’ instinct. Where is our ‘Ricey’ McMenamin? Ricey is not a big man but yet he is feared. Is there a ‘Ricey’ in our current crop of players? Howley at best?

    James Horan was not a defender and James Nallen was never a man to leave marks on his opponent so who is going to turn (sorry, Coach) this bunch of players into the defenders we need?

    A few pointers for James and his backroom team;

    1. Have a look at the defensive systems adopted by the top teams over the last 5-7 years
    2. Based on what they see develop a defensive plan to suit the current crop of players. At any time any one of 10+ players should be able to slot in and play to this system but we should always have a 6ft+ man at full back!
    3. If they don’t have a defensive coach in their set up then bring one in and make sure this guy has a ‘nasty’ streak. Nice guys don’t win!
    4. Develop the current crop of players physically and mentally to play the system. It may take a few years but let’s start now. Mayo won’t win an All Ireland this year but we could win one within the next 5 years if we start doing the right things now
    5. Make defending the primary objective of the 6 defenders, if they are going to attack deep into the other half then limit the number of players attacking at any one time but make sure there is cover when the defenders attack
    6. Make defending the primary objective of at least 1 of the midfielders
    7. Make defending the primary objective of the 2 wing forwards when we don’t have the ball but get them to go all out to attack when we break from defence. We need individuals with a serious engine and a serious attitude to play this role. We need to find a Dooher or a Galvin. Andy for one has the engine and probably has the right attitude. Not sure if Campbell can play this role
    8. Every player is a defender when we don’t have possession, easy to say but difficult to do!

    This is going to be a test of James and his Backroom Teams ability to coach the current crop of players. This is the job he took on and he can’t have any excuses as he knew the players that were available to him before he took the job so let’s give him some time, 2 years at minimum.
    To begin let’s get our defence right. No point having class forwards if our defence is leaking like a sieve.

    Let’s remember it’s not about playing nice football, it’s about winning. Tyrone has proved that they can win All Irelands without playing nice football and without a team full of 6 ft+ players so why can’t Mayo?

  36. Mayo Man. I can see the confusion with my post. Under no circumstances do I think the Morts are worth their places but they may think different themselves and it will be interesting to see how Horan handles them. I believe Dillon to be totally overrated and has been for years. We agree to differ.

  37. 1.cynical cynthia you give me an ulcer with your negativity 2.ontheroad entitled 2 opinion but beating the ‘Get rid of Dillon’ drum is begining to wear thin 3.Would be lovely 2 win all our league games-a la last year,lovely too to have a settled side-a la last year,and championship failure……a la last year! No championship was EVER won in March.Lets at least have patience until the real football starts

  38. I agree that Mortimors like everyone else to earn their chance.(God knows they got plenty chances)Conor was always looking for easy frees to build up his score tally, could’nt win his own ball, he got scores ,after hard work done by others .
    I thinjk James Kilcullen has a physical presence , can win ball and distribute it well.He may not be very mobile but neither was Kevin Walsh and JK would complament McGarrity and protect him.
    Alan Dillon is our most consistant forward over the years and still has plenty to offer.
    I wounder what type of squad games are played at training, are they like friendly games where sunshine players prosper.In Kerry, training games are plated in full blood’ed ,championship level where the men are separated from the (sunshine) boys.

  39. ontheroad – fair enough about the Mortimers. You are entitled to your opinion on Dillon, but Dillon has been one of our key men in recent years. We could have a decent argument on if he is a top-class inter-county forward and whether he would get into any team in Ireland (which I think he would) but to talk of dropping him from the panel . . . I’m still scratching my head at that one.

    Op 2 miss teek is right – it is only March. Only in Mayo do we do such highs and lows detached from reality. Patience folks. We’re doing okay.

  40. A lot of talk about Vaughan on this website .Does any one know what the story is with him.Hard to be naming him in the team when we have`nt seen him playing yet this tear .The defeat to the Dubs isn’t as important but in my opion what is important is t that our manager who we wanted is trying out lots of new players and systems in the league .This is a complete reversal to last years league run and we all know how we done so badly in the championship. Would love to see Aiden O Shea around midfield for the game against Cork to see how he would get on against other big men. Feel we don’t have enough physicality in the team where we need it. Kevin Keane, Seamus O Shea, Pat Hart and Howely will improve the bite if there back to this team.Other point that I feel I have to make is that Ronan McGearty is having a great season so far . He arial skills are impressive and we would be in big bother without him.

  41. Our backline needs to get a settled feel to it for the last 2 league games.
    The idea of playing an extra back against Dublin was a good one allthough the execution was poor.
    people talk about an all castlebar FBL but i fear they might be a bit loose.
    knitting in a new back line will take time & we must be patient.our problem at present is that all our backs want to attack & none want to defend.
    Our backs must get stuck in & when they give away a free the forward should feel the pain.

  42. the last 3 posts have brought a little sense compared to [ IMHO ] some of what was said in the previous 30

  43. If I see Trevor Mortimer near a Mayo Team again, I will cry. I can’t believe his name is been even mentioned. He is not even a good club footballer at this stage.

  44. listen backwords this team s go’n n cannot see them go’n beyond a quarter final n tha championship n thas if tha draw s kind to them. aconnacht title mayb but thats cause connacht s poor .connacht champs play,n div 4 and sligo n galway head, rapidly for div.3 n 2 n us not far behind them. if we dont get something from cork game then connot see gett,n anything n monaghan . we wer ver lucky to bt. them n c,bar last year n they,l need to win to stay up as well. i feel ther s to many players thre wit baggage fr. 04,06, tha meath quarter final n tha hammer,n cork last yr. n league final. also this review about football n tha county, bit ajoke shouda not hav started wi tha county board. ther not a mention n any tha papers about ther roll n ta hammer,ns we,v got n croker. i certainly dont hold much faith of wat i,v seen so far.

  45. maybe its time for james horan to make hard calls if u look who really pulled mayo back from a mulling freeman and doherty some players have a lot of scars ronan mac in fairness stood up and andy moran . I do think we need a settled back line i would agree with looking at some of the under 21 kevin keane shane nally cathal freeman to bring on board. I like to see alan feeney in fullback the next day. whats puzzles me certain players are not given a lot of playin time and others tried and tested are exc parsons and peader gardner. That would dishearten any player on the panel such as james moran killcullen and others . I hope and do belief james horan will have learned what is best for mayo after last weekend. simple we need more physical players who will die for the mayo jersey no scars of been losers

  46. I agree with nally stand on Dillon.Ive never seen a man like him to go fifty yards with the ball and only gain 5.Hes on the ball so much and wastes so much of it.Also,i played with Sheridan at club for ten years and ive never seen a better free taker.Its baffles me why he doesnt have a coaching role to help our free takers considering the notion that a reliable place kicker is said to be worth 3 pts a game to a team.Horan,i believe has a statistician on his management team and nobody to coach players on such an integral part of the modern game.Thats astonishing.Finally,there must be some players somewhere in the county that can dish out a few hits.I remember Kilgallon,Ford,Maher,Collins.Guys that never hid when the going got rough.We have NOBODY that can do that.Go back through the years and find me a team thats won an all Ireland without a quality free taker or a few hard hitting players.We’re just not good enough lads.

  47. jeez I am amazed at the negativity on here after one loss.Going by alot of the comments on here you would think that James Horan shows up just before the game and picks the team and puts very little thought into how they are going to play.Of course JH knows that free taking and defending well are required for success and this idea of saying that certain players should never be let near the panel is absurd.I often think that when a player misses a few games then all of a sudden everyone thinks he is the missing link.I remember last year alot of supporters were saying that ronan mcgarrity should not be on the panel and now he is a player we can not do without.The league is a competion for trying out new players and the management are doing this so i am happy enough with progress so far.Rant over

  48. Spot on maigheo. The example of Ronan McGarrity is a good one. He was playing poorly last year and didn’t deserve his place alright but some wanted him off the panel for good. People talk about Maurice Sheridan too as if a bit of practice is all that’s needed for free-taking. Maurice practiced a phenomenal amount of the time but he had wonderful technique as well and talent at what he did. The ’45 issue is somewhat annoying but I don’t know too many counties that have guys who consistently put over 45s. I would be inclined though to leave it to Richie Feeney. He hasn’t kicked one yet but that’s a blip, he regularly sticks them over for Mitchels.

    On the panel, David Killeen, Kenny O’Malley and James Moran have been let go from the squad.

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