Far and near

Bike in Greece 2016

So it’s Thursday and the time is ticking remorselessly on towards the county’s All-Ireland SFC semi-final meeting with Tipperary on Sunday at Croke Park (throw-in 3.30pm). It’ll be our sixth semi-final appearance in a row while Tipp will be experiencing the rarified atmosphere of being in the last four for the first time in the modern era. It was all rather different when they last passed this way, back in 1935.

Tickets are, from what I can gather, selling well and it looks like the attendance at HQ for it will be in excess of 50,000. If that’s how it does pan out on the day, then it could even result in a bigger crowd next Sunday than the 54,277 who gathered for last weekend’s hurling semi-final between the Premier County and Galway.

This coming Sunday, though, it’s likely to be our support that’ll account for the bulk of those passing through the HQ turnstiles. Attendance levels at our matches have risen steadily round by round this summer and the word is that a big Green and Red showing will once again be on display at Croke Park this weekend.

I won’t be there among them for this one. For the second time this year (I didn’t get to Ruislip either) I’ll be missing a championship match involving us. This time it’s long-established holiday plans – for the only two-week window all summer that the whole lot of us were available to go – that have resulted in my absence on the day.

But, then again, missing All-Ireland semi-finals we’re in isn’t exactly a new experience for me. I wasn’t at the 1981, 1988, 1989, 1992 or 1993 ones, though for all of those aside from the first one I was living abroad. Sunday’s will, though, be the first I won’t have been able to get to since returning to live in Ireland twenty years ago.

I don’t, of course, have to go back that far to recall what it feels like – emotionally, as Miriam would say – to follow the action from afar on a big match day for the county. Last year we were also away on holidays when our quarter-final against Donegal was on so I remember clearly the pre-match build-up while away knowing I wouldn’t be there to see the game in the flesh. I’m back in the same territory once again, though not in the same location, twelve months on.

It’s true that nowadays it’s difficult to miss something you’re interested in even if you’re on the other side of the planet. The wonders of modern technology – iffy WiFi notwithstanding – mean that no person truly can claim to be an island, unless, I guess, they decide to leave their smartphone at home.

So although I’m away, I’m not, not really, even if the weather here is of the perfect summer variety every single day (which it is). I’ll see the game on Sunday and like last year I’ll be able to bash out a report on it afterwards. Business as usual, then, after a fashion, even if I’m reluctant enough to spend too much time on the laptop on a daily basis while over here.

Which, by the way, makes me all the more grateful to Darragh Berry for pitching in as he has done with a few well-judged pieces for the site. In my absence the last while, these guest posts have helped to keep the pot bubbling away happily. Darragh is, so he tells me, cooking up another morsel at the minute, which will be posted at some point ahead of Sunday.

And, of course, the rest of you are more than capable of keeping the lively debate continuing apace as our next do-or-die championship test approaches. Sure the place as good as runs itself nowadays, regardless of how near to or far from the action I happen to be. Long may that continue to be the case.

48 thoughts on “Far and near

  1. Enjoy the holiday WJ. Well deserved. We will all shout that little bit louder on Sunday in your absence.

  2. Enjoy WJ – was that picture taken today? You should run a competition to see who can guess where you are? Il guess America…California or Arizona.

  3. Nice one WJ. Time is ticking very slowly over here this week … how can it only be Thursday?!

    And well done Darragh as always – enjoying your contributions!

  4. You cute hoor WJ, taking in the sun in Tipp, that’s Slievenamon in the background!

  5. Not it all its Killarney I bet your up some trees checking out the Yerras to see what we could be up against in the final if they scrape past Dublin lol. But seriously Willie Joe enjoy your break and hopefully we will get the right result on Sunday. I’m thinking it won’t be easy this is a very good Tipp team but we can do it.

  6. Enjoy you holiday WJ. I hope to book a little trip myself on Sunday evening!
    On the team picked for the day, do we start Boyler and hope he doesn’t make a foul to get a card or worse or do we be cocky and start someone else instead? I would hate to be facing Kerry or Dublin without his physical bettering abilities. I hope that our players are told to be extra careful not to get straight red, just keep the cool and think of the big picture.

  7. Great article on lee in the times. He’s conced one point in this years championship while scoring 5 himself.

    I’m convinced he’s the best footballer in Ireland.

  8. Enjoy the hols WJ.

    What have Tipp going for them?:

    * Pedigree: Successful at minor and almost at U21 and club
    * Results – played two and beat one Division One team
    * Munster has to be regarded as a very strong province – Limerick no mugs either.
    * Swatted Galway away and shredded their strong? defence to ribbons
    * Won’t get too carried away – the hurlers will see to that.

    And Mayo?:

    * Rochy has a plan – I hope.

  9. @Catcol

    That’s it?
    -After six successive All Ireland semi finals.
    -Winning a Minor and U21 All Ireland in the last 3 years.
    -Some of the best footballers in the country and all you can say is “Rochy has a plan, I hope”.
    -It’s not the fucking hurling semi final we’re playing them in you know.

  10. Sure in hurling they only bet Galway provincial runners up by a point. In football they bet Galway provincial winners by 9 or 10 Surely by any logic that suggests Tipps footballers are better than their hurlers. Might be an idea to take a few camans with us to Croker on Sunday

  11. Reasons to be positive:

    Tyrone defender Tiernan McCann reckons Mayo are capable of winning the Sam Maguire this year but have some work to do to get there. “They have some excellent players. Cillian O’Connor, O’Shea, and Lee Keegan is really good too,” McCann told the Irish Independent.

    Tipperary’s Michael Quinlivan was on the Hill for Mayo and Tyrone. He said “Lee Keegan’s point with his left leg, under that sort of pressure, is one of the best scores of the championship. The one on the loop from Cillian O’Connor as well, an absolute monster. There was a lot of impressive performances on the Mayo side. There’s no denying that and we obviously do have our work cut out to try and curb the influence of a few of them players.”

    According to The Irish Times:
    Lee Keegan’s stats against Tyrone: In comparison to Sean Cavanagh’s nine touches, Keegan was involved in the play on 30 occasions before the Tyrone number 14 was dismissed on a second yellow card. The frustration of not being given an inch all afternoon finally boiling over.

    Scoring stats: The All-Ireland champions of 2012, 2013 and 2014 averaged 1-15 against Division One opposition over their respective league and championship campaigns. Mayo can boast the exact same scoring averages in those years. Last summer Mayo’s average championship tally was 2-17, just two points less than eventual champions Dublin’s (3-16).

    Defensive stats: Last year Mayo conceded nine goals in five championship games. They have conceded just three goals in six games so far this summer. So certainly if they can continue their defensive improvements, they may go a step, or two further than in the last two seasons. But key to that will be the deployment of their very talented man marker, Lee Keegan.

  12. Hse good post. The giving away of goals fucked us in last number of years. We need to be more solid at back hence why kmac got sweeping brush. I always felt we scored enough but did not kerp out enough. I’m not saying we have it perfected or anything but at least it us being addressed. Awful shame caff is injured. But that’s football

  13. I assume that we won’t see a team until tomorrow night. I expect the same starting 15 to be named as in n the programme the last day. However, how they’ll line out is open for discussion.
    Barrett in for Boyle?
    Big Barry to start as a roving midfielder? But who would make way? Who will pick up Quinlivan, given that he is 6-5?
    Is it nearly Sunday yet?

  14. WJ where was the pic taken? Enjoy your hols. It’s great to be heading to croke park in mid August. If we lose (which I don’t think we will) I will have to sell up and move out of Tipp! Maigheo Abú!

  15. Luigi an episode of fr Ted. Fr jack was drunk as an ass lol are those my feet he asked lol u must remember

  16. Quinlivan is 6’5!? Feck that’s awful tall!

    All the talk of Lee…yeah he’s doing well..but as they’d say down in Kerry.. ‘Show me your all Ireland medals!’

    I love our Mayo team as much as anyone else but after so many years of ‘close but yet so far’ I’d rather hear the plaudits and pats on the back AFTER we win something.

    It’s important to remember we haven’t even hit full throttle this year (in comparison to previous seasons). At best we’ve shown the odd glimpse. We fought like dogs and got a deserved bit of luck at the end against Tyrone…without ever threatening their keeper once during the 70 odd minutes.

    I’m hoping we’ll see a step up in performance on Sunday. We’ll need it.

  17. None. Just a bit of crack.u posed slot of questions in ur post. I just followed it up with that. It will be interesting to see how we line out. Few surprises no doubt

  18. I can’t believe it’s only Thursday evening…this waiting is tough. I’m feeling positively optimistic and cautiously cagey with this game in mind. I know we have the beating of any county and I fully expect a performance on Sunday. I believe in Mayo…a super team with a hell of a lot of pain and disappointment to atone for…whether it’s Tipp or Kerry or Dublin…let the hunger drive them. God let the game come soon…Maigheo go deo…

  19. Liam,you are right we have over come all our opponent’s easily enough,apart from Galway,where I think that we were trying to peak much later in the season,even Tyrone I felt we sere comfortable enough,and managed the game well,I will be very surprised if Tipp can live with us,and fully expect to be in Dublin for the final,I am really happy with team and management,just don’t know what people expect from this team,before every match we must take care,dont under estimate the opposition,when we have won ,we have beaten no one yet,well I fully expect to see them raise the cup in September,up mayo

  20. Poor weather forecast for sunday. Wont help quality of football or those sitting in first 30 rows in cusack

  21. Enjoy the holidays Willie Joe and don’t be worrying, I’m confident we’ll take care of business in your absence. Think the bike though is only a ploy to throw us off the scent. 🙂

  22. If Kerry or Dublin were playing Tipp what do you think the outcome would be? 10+ points I suggest. Are we in that league? Time will tell.
    One thing I can tell you now for sure is that we need to put our best foot forward on Sunday and from the very start. None of this under the radar stuff from now on. We really need to be perfecting our game and approaching peak performance at this stage. If we aren’t nearly there by now I would be very worried. We also need to be starting our best team including Colm Boyle.
    I expect a very professional performance on Sunday, with us winning fairly comfortably. If not then either Tipp are far better than I think or we have slipped a good bit.
    Mayo by 5+ easing up! Now there’s arrogance for ya!

  23. Oh btw WJ…….. enjoy the holliers. It’s good to get off the island now and again. A fella could develop a ferocious thirst in a climate like that.

  24. Have to say I’m surprised at the attendance expectation. Seems they’re expecting nearly 55,000 at this match. Mayo always bring a huge crowd, we all know that, but I didn’t think Tipperary would bring as many as they seem to be bringing. I see on Tickets.ie that the lower Davin and lower Cusack are now all gone and the upper Hogan, Cusack and Davin stands are all open.
    As I said in a previous post, one of my favourite experiences in Croke Park was in 2013 when Mayo had over 40,000 people there, the whole place seemed to be green and red, particularly in the second half when Mayo got on top.
    Hopefully, Sunday will bring a similar kind of experience.

  25. Cait,
    Keegan is Without doubt having a better year than any other half back in the game this year and will bag an All Star as sure as night follows day. For the past years I have seen many posters on here after defeat saying “they can have their titles if they won it that way” well keegan is now playing it “that way” and I say thank God Rockford has an equaliser to put on the field to neutral is the oppositions go to guys.

    Every team has players that will deconstruct well laid plans and the conendrum for managers is to occupy these link or playmaking talents with an additional urgent leak in the oil pump. Keegan has all the necessary skills to be the ultimate sand in the bearing wheel of a planned attacking strategy for an opposing team. I certainly don’t like to see him unfurl his operating tools beside his next victim when it is a Kerry player who has not been given the required anaesthetised margin of tolerance but when you are out there in that critical roll you have to expect to take antidote for the medicine you hope to inflict.

    I like Keegan as a player as I know all on this site do but I would hate to be pitted against him as it would be like being a rabbit in a hutch trying to get the business done with a well muscled mink gnawing at the twine securing the door. I know I need to do this job but if this guy gets through the rope I’m finished,, basically everything fails as he is the master of distraction and menace and the best players of the game have lost focus and dropped the ball in their efforts to exhort the perceived notion that I am king. The king will hold the crown and the pretenders will complain that they had it in their hands and were therefore entitled to keep it. This isn’t a marital proposal this is a test to examine your credentials to see if you are worthy to put your hands on the prize.

    In Kerry rumours are overflowing from the plans and scheming pot that suggest that Sheehan will play in goals for the first half of the game only to be replaced by a regular keeper so as to allow him to take up his midfield position when the opposition have tired appropriately, after all with Gough blowing the whistle there will be many many frees blown and the best dead ball kicker of the game will have to be on the field,, these are great stories to have floating out there. As long as the dubs are talking about plastic plans the more steel bridges we will build in the dark. Having the best cards doesn’t mean you win the game,, we are all climbing into the untested roller coaster cars in the dark, only when the velocity builds will we learn the integrity of out car,,

    Good luck on sunday

  26. Some newspaper journalist or TV program producer paints a pretty picture of one of our players and we all for it every time, hook line and sinker. Even though the scribe has little or no knowledge of that player. We collectively assume they must be the experts. The experts in my opinion go to club games around the county, They play and compete with their peers and companions from a young age. Their strenght and weaknesses are the talk of the parish by their adolescences. And you think the Dublin based journalists is the experts

  27. Almost eerie feeling in the run up to this game..Seems like everyone I know is going but no one is actually speaking about it..

  28. For all the lovely words about Keegan, the photo attached did him no service, but feeds the negative spin about him. Timeo timeo danaos et dona ferentes.

  29. Earlier in the week, I was posting a shocking taught for the some here, namely that Rochford might start Hennelly, I gave my reasons why, I won’t go into them again. Didn’t find universal acceptance among my fellow posters, to say the least , no doubt they too want the best for Mayo,. Some even pick the team and subs. I do too, but I keep these taughts under my hat, mostly, plus it would take too long to write down all my reasons for 1 to 15,… Something else, I would do, somewhat less controversial (more’s the pity).. I would start to Colm Boyle,.. But he might get a black card and then miss an All Ireland final, I can almost hear the Cry! (were we to win? ). The only reason for this and , I go completely along with what ‘Diehard,’ says is we don’t want to give any reason to Tipperary, that they may think we are taking them for granted. But then your risking a black card. True every player on the field has to deal with some risk of a black card. I would minimise the risk by, naming Boyle at No 6, he could stand there for the throw in, but after that he would play exclusively as an out and out attacking half forward. He had all the way nessary attributes, he has been pace, great ball carrier, I also think it might catch Tipperary somewhat by surprise. The player attacking almost never gets a black card, the player defending an attacking player is much more likely to pick up a black. Depending on how things are going, I would be looking to r withdraw Colm from the fray early in the second half. Your much more likely to get a black or red card, the later in the game, The Referee is usually running thin on patience with a few players at this stage. He also has given a few days verbal warnings at that stage as well . Fatigue is a factor in the making a clumsy or lasy tackle. . Any secconders?

  30. Kerry mightn’t beat Tipp by such a big score or at all after their confidence building run so I think people getting carried away. For me I’d be very happy for Mayo to play very well for most of the 70, fine tune their game some more and win the game by any margin even the smallest if Tipp put up huge resistance.
    Most of all semis are there to be won so any kind of victory is good and if it’s still short of where team or fans would like there’s 4 more weeks of fine tuning.
    Shout as if it’s do or die cause that’s exactly what it is.

  31. We have to start Boyle all 21 players we use Sunday are all more or less in the same position a straight red card mens automatic one match ban Boyle is long enough on the road to know to mind himself and this being the first time these two current teams play each other there is no baggage being carried over.

  32. Barry Moran may well start on Sunday for one reason; Tipp will play high diagonal balls to their FF line. We are potentially vulnerable to that so BM might do similar job to what he did against Donegal last year.

    I doubt if Tipp are bringing much support so if there’s 55,000 that’s some testament to our support.

    It’s our first championship match on Sunday since first Dublin match last year.

  33. Good man gamechanger. I,ll have what ever your drinking. Think that the first 10mins are crucial Sunday these lads have to be shown we,’re here to do a job your in our way so sorry but we, ve bigger things ahead now move aside. Have filled my boots on Kerry at 5/2 to beat the Dubs. Looking at yr.No earlier , wet gear going to be needed Sunday by the looks of things.

  34. No way on earth we’ll go into an semi-final without Boyler. Talismanic figure for us and no point resting him for a fixture we don’t have….yet.

  35. One thing about this game at the weekend, we really don’t want to be hanging on at the end of this game as we were against Tyrone and Westmeath, as Tipp would be a very dangerous team in that situation. They pretty much had to win both of their games against Cork and Derry in that fashion, in fact they almost had to win both games twice. They scored late goals in both of those matches. Maybe it goes back to that Minor All-Ireland win in 2011 against Dublin, when again they scored a late goal to win that.

    We want to see a confident, efficient and clinical display from our boys at the weekend. A display that shows we mean business right from the first whistle to the last whistle. We don’t want to go giving Tipp notions, as Dara O’Se would say, that they can prevail against us. Roll on the game!

  36. Agreed Boyle will play as otherwise wouldn’t be taking Tipp seriously. It would reek of arrogance and motivate Tipp. On the tall man marking strategy, could try to stop the supply and have plenty of cover back for the times the ball sticks. But with midfield one of their strong points might be easier said than done so yes Barry is a possibility. Intriguing in that we need one eye on tactics for final should we win. Practice to mark tall man relevant to Kerry useful and without one is relevant to Dublin. But then having one eye on final could make it easier to lose the semi.

  37. Boyler has to start, he’s a real leader and we need him on the battlefield. Don’t see too many changes, Parsons if fit should start with Vaughan moving to the bench. Reagan is another possible starter but I feel we’ll go with Doherty and keep him in reserve.

    Interesting to see who Keegan picks up – will it be Quinlavin as he moves in and out for kickouts and hopefully Tipp will have plenty of those ? But in any case I don’t see us change our sweeper, McLoughlin is growing into the role so I expect more of the same.

    1/5 Mayo are crazy odds and 9/2 Tipp are an insult. I expect a tight game, not sure that Tipp will go gung-ho either. Mayo to get there by 3 after a tough game.

  38. You’d think that the best thing to do would be to start Boyler and start Tom Parsons instead of Donal Vaughan in midfield. Then if for example Colm got a yellow card or was looking like he was skating on thin ice, Donie would be an able replacement for him at any stage during the game. He did very well in the Fermanagh match when he came on as a replacement for Paddy Durcan. While he probably did struggle a bit in the Tyrone game as Mattie Donnelly had a super match for Tyrone, scoring 3 points from play.

  39. In a similar position WJ, though only in London. I know the place is full of Irish boozers but if anyone could suggest a good Mayo spot I’d be grateful.

    By way of help to Mayo heads further a field the gaago.ie. service is mighty.

  40. It’s no wonder we had the tag of “nice guys” for so long when you read some of the posts here. We don’t wan’t to be “disrespectful”, that’d be “disrespectful”, you’d swear we were the Italian mob. I hear there is a medieval reenactment society somewhere in Westmeath that does jousting and all that noble shite, maybe some of you should think about joining it.
    I don’t want a fair fight, I wan’t us to be the same bar room brawlers we were against Tyrone. If you can bully the likes of them, a team synonymous with the dark arts, why in the name of god would you play nice with Tipperary. Let’s see how elegant and free flowing these bucks are when they’ve Keegan, Keane, Boyler and the likes terrorising them.
    Too many times we’ve been the nice guys, let’s be the ones who bring the gun to the knife fight.

  41. Exactly Liam, just look at the county with most All Irelands. Classy footballers with a serious dark arts streak when required. Choir boys win nothing and it’s great we are coming around to that way of thinking!!!

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