Fault lines

In the last twenty years, only seven counties have played in the All-Ireland Senior football final. Three of these teams, Dublin (8 wins from 8 appearances), Kerry (5 from 11) and Tyrone (4 from 5), have claimed Sam seventeen times between them in those twenty years, the remaining three going once each to Armagh, Cork and Donegal. Mayo (0 from 8 appearances) are the only one of the seven finalists in this time period that have not taken home Sam at least once. 

Going back through the years, we have come agonisingly close and are left with a litany of what ifs, but the bottom line is that we have always done something or omitted to do something that resulted in us failing to get over the line. And in the current year, we again ask what is the likelihood that we could finally break the glass ceiling.

We would, of course, have to actually get to the final – in the last twenty years, we have never played in three consecutive finals – and the route to this year’s one has the most difficult path through Connacht, with an alternative way through the now shark-infested waters of the qualifiers. 

But if we were to get there, it is statistically likely that we would have to beat two of Kerry, Dublin and Tyrone to emerge victorious. Is that likely? I contend that it is not, for the following reasons.

First, the other teams are relatively settled. We are not. This has two primary causes, one dependent on the other.

One cause is to do with our injuries. We do not know for certain what the cause of this is, but twelve of our top players are either nursing minor but persistent niggles or, in a few cases, are out until beyond the middle of July.

One wonders has the lack of a home training venue over the first few months of 2022 been a major factor here. It cannot have helped. Switching between hard and soft ground is tough on the hamstrings, the knees and the ankles. Doing it consistently over the cold, wet months of the league must be a factor.

Another cause for our unsettled team has been the need to bring on new players to the extent that they can be major players in the heat of championship battle. This has resulted in chopping and changing between the back and forward lines and has seen Aidan O’Shea playing twice at No. 6 and twice at No. 11.

Photo: Irish News

It is hard to get the best out of a major player like Aidan O’Shea if, by his early Thirties, we still do not know his best position. For my money, he is the best defensive midfielder in the country, blocking up the middle channel, turning over ball on his own 65 and starting the counter attacks. He is one of the hardest workers we have every had but he is not the playmaker we need at No. 11. Diarmuid O’Connor is, and Jack Carney is fast shaping up to be the next best in that position.

The same six backs need to consistently play together, two of whom must be man markers, two of whom are speed merchants who can break quickly with the ball and two who work like hell to close down spaces, so that opposition players get no time on the ball. Likewise, we need consistency in the forward selection. We did not have that last year coming into the All-Ireland, Tyrone did. Kerry had it in the League final this year, we didn’t. Result, we lost both finals.

A second reason we may struggle this year is that in matches we break too slowly. In the most recent lost finals, we were slow getting the ball out to the halfway line. When we got there, too often we passed the ball laterally and eventually tried a kick pass into a full forward line where two opposition sweepers had set up shop. Result? A turnover for the opposition.

In contrast, the Tyrone and Kerry teams moved the ball with 30 metre kick passes and hard running to our 45. If the channels were blocked at that stage, each ball carrier had at least two out-options, one of which was always running into a shooting position.

We don’t do that. We get the ball and wait for the runner. They create the runs and then choose the best offload option for a score. Result, we conceded two goals in both finals and failed to score a goal in either one.

A third issue for us is that our handling is poor. Too often, we lose possession during an attack. Passes have to be accurate and players in possession have to work harder to protect the ball. In the last two finals, these turnovers cost us dearly, turning promising attacks into potential opposition scores. We will not win tight matches if we do not sort this out – and fast.

A fourth reason is how we play the ball into our forwards.

A forward has three things to do to turn possession into a score on his own: he must turn to face the posts, make room for the shot and finally kick the ball accurately. The receiver of the ball in the inside forward line gets an extra chance if the ball is played in such a way that he can claim a mark.

However, our forwards too often get possession with their back to goal from a ball that hops in front of him. The best ball they can then play is a pop pass to a forward facing the right direction. However, we don’t do this enough and the forward then has a serious amount of hard work to do to make a score out of the attack.

In our last two finals, Kerry and Tyrone moved such ball quickly, creating several score chances. Result, two more finals left behind.

Photo: Irish Post

After the All-Ireland last year we spent a long winter ruing our failure to bring Sam home. Local journalists asked if the management had reflected on what went wrong. They were assured that they had.

However, the most recent result against Kerry showed that the same fault lines remain. Reflection might have taken place, but there is no evidence yet that the issues that existed in last year’s final have been resolved and looking back at our 0 from 8 record over the last 20 years, I really hope that I am proved wrong as the rest of the year unfolds. 

110 thoughts on “Fault lines

  1. Excellent Louis, you will have to do more guest spots here. Sean Rice had a very good piece too in this week’s paper.

  2. I believe that there is a difference between negativity and critical analysis, Deel River.
    There is a certain category of Mayo fan who believe that any critical analysis is too much.

    I found this piece to be very good and it should be the kind of report done by management after several years of failure on the biggest day.
    Very good analysis Louis. It brings up more questions than answers but the biggest question was posed at the end – have management learned from past mistakes? I genuinely believe that management has not and will not learn. Like Louis, I hope I’m terribly wrong.

  3. Derry GAA have invited their supporters to meet the players on Saturday. ‘Meet the management and players. Everyone welcome’. That is the way to keep fans onboard. Here our mamager dosent even speak to the local press/radio. I cannot see any new learnings since September.

  4. I would have to agree with that analysis.It’s not negative at all.It’s realistic based on what we are all seeing.I too believe Aido should be a defensive midfielder/ sweeper in front of Centre half back.It’s hard to think of ourselves as “ not learning from mistakes” but that appears to be the case and includes the positioning of Aido.We have to trust that we have learned something from last years AIF. I certainly hope so. But I think we are ( right now) looking at a repeat of 2018 because of the sheer number of injuries we have and also for all the reasons enumerated in your analysis.I would add that the side is still very young.I too would love to be proved wrong this year but ( barring numerous medical miracles)…????

  5. Interesting piece and a good read Management reflecting!!! Is it always down to management Maybe we just do not have the top class players to win the big one at this moment in time. We had super players in the middle of last decade but still couldn’t get over the line. We do not have as many super players now No doubt some may disagree. A few weeks ago someone here said Ryan was better than Clifford. Now Ryan has been great for us but Clifford he most certainly is not When you go through the team who are absolutely top class Leeroy was and still delivers in big games but he’s hardly the No 1 defender in country now Oisín has potential but yet to deliver Paddy is a super player but injured at the moment. Mattie could be But was quiet v Kerry Diarmuid has some great games but others not so great and is injured . Cillian brilliant for 10 years but recovering from injury Ryan extremely good for us. Tommy C potential but injured. Yet we keep competing with the best but still can’t get over the line.Management in my opinion doing a good job but not perfect either

  6. Great read Louis and an honest assessment.

    One observation though, Down played in 2010 final v Cork making it 8 teams and they would also make it another one of the finalists not to take home the big one.

  7. Very insightful and informative post louis and all spot on i would say. I dont think Mayo will win AL this year or get to final. I think most Mayo supporters would be of the same opinion. I dont think we will win the AL in rest of this decade either unless Mayo football as a collective changes. Its not just about current county management team ( Although sadly i dont think JH has the psychological confidence to lead mayo to an AL win but if he worked alongside S Rochford it might be possible) its about every manager and coach at every level in the county going back to the basics of Gaelic football skills. As you point out in your article Louis Mayo players are not just good enough at basic skills. All the focus is on physical conditioning, speed strength etc and as a result the basic are not good enough. Last nights under 20’s game in Carrick another example of that.
    For example why have we not produced a naturally scoring forward in a generation. Is it because they are not there or are not being nurtured and coached? I thinks its the latter.
    Limerick hurling was in a similar situation and they put in place a multi year plan at under age to develop hurlers. The results are evident to see. We need to do the same if we want to finally win an AL .

  8. First game is Galway Sunday week. We have chopped and changed, in part due to injuries but in part due to James wanting to give everyone a game. Keep the squad happy. Get over Galway, which I believe we will. Galway under Kevin Walsh I’d be more worried due to their setup. We always struggle against defensive teams but under Joyce, Galway are the complete opposite, very attacking and wide open in defence. Our forwards are gonna have so much space. I can’t see Padraic changing tactic now, if he does then don’t see how they will have a defensive plan in place. In the league, 2nd place probably flattered us. Apart from Dublin and Kildare games, the other games were a mixed bag and could have gone either way but when you are making 5/6 changes every game, you wont have stability. Get past Galway, that will give 5 of our first teamers to get back to full fitness. I think we will beat Galway 3-15 to 1-15.

  9. The main faults for Mayo loosing so many finals can be broken down as follows , some when we were just not good enough, some due to bad luck, but the main causes was poor team selection and wrong or no action by the Management teams.

  10. Agree with everything you write Louis, except AOS is not a definite starter for me.. Depends on who’s available, big match’s against big team’s in the heat of a Summer championship, I don’t really think that Aiden has the 70+ minutes in the tank.. Aiden for me is an excellent option to bring on a sub around the 50 minutes mark, his unparalleled strength, outstanding hands and ball handling ability could be a huge weapon for Mayo.. Another thing, bringing Aiden on in a big Championship Match is much better to animate the Mayo crowd, in comparison to taking him off, which might have the same effect on the opposition crowd and team.. And I think that any player wilting should be taken off, when you have fully fit an rearing to sub’s on the bench!

  11. Good article Louis.
    1. The lack of the play with the pass to the shooter coming on the loop, it’s so rare it’s an indictment of our coaching.
    2. We had a top class scoring toward, except he wasn’t a natural. Conor Mortimer practiced more by a huge margin than any other Mayo forward.
    When you’re young and supple you can practice huge skill hours injury free.
    Mortimer when very young stayed at the local pitch on one occasion from morning till afternoon. By contrast there’s still loads of club footballers only practice Tuesday, Thursday and the match the weekend.

  12. I actually enjoyed that read Louis but seems some interpret it that Mayo cannot defend, transition or attack. Apparently AOS isn’t good enough to start etc blah, blah.
    Mayo do not get to so many finals because they are poorer than so many teams……they get there because they are superior to all bar maybe one. Trust me being at the top table year after year even if we don’t win it is still preferable to decades when we weren’t competitive in Connacht. I have nothing but complete admiration for James Horan and the team. Keep it going lads!

  13. This year marks 10 years since the 2012 final v Donegal. What a decade of consistency and where have those 20 years gone?

    Great days and journeys which most counties would kill for. That said when you are in so many finals you have to go and take a few by hook or by crook.

    Will we be as in many finals in the next 10 years? I doubt it very much. If how we were to only reach one and win it that would be good enough for me.

    We go again next Sunday and yes the enthusiasm will be there but I have to say I’ve lost a bit of the spark or excitement that I usually have before the start of the championship. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s last years final but I feel tired…and I’m only a supporter.

  14. Only saying it today yew tree , that pre championship spark is just not there , perhaps it will ignite come Sunday week and I am looking forward to the game but just not quite the same excitement as years gone by . I think as mayo supporters we had only 3/4 parked the disappointment of the 21 final and then Tommy conroy was ruled out for the year and it was like a right hard kick in the balls .

  15. @yew_tree I asked that question before to Edwin on twitter. Would you have preferred the last 10 years of getting so close and not winning or winning one and then going into obscurity (Donegal as an example). Me personally I want us to win, but disappearing into the doldrums would be so much harder.

  16. Alan Kenny, after all we’ve being through, id gladly take winning just once and not win a Championship match for the next 70 years.
    Not very fair on the next few generations i guess, but they’d get used of it.

  17. I don’t know why actually winning an All Ireland would mean going in obscurity?.. Beats me. Mayo have a very big and a very good panel especially if it’s members are fully fit. It’s easy to dismiss a stated opinion re Aiden O Shea not being a DEFINITE starter with Blah Blah. It’s the management job to pick the team from those who are fully fit.. AOS has been a Definite starter and finisher with the exception of V Dublin last August for well over a decade… Are his most recent too class displays in Championship v Big Team’s, before or after the last big display in big Championship game’s, v Big Team’s of the likes of Kieth Higgins, Donal Vaughan, Colm Boyle, Andy Moran or Chris Barrett?… Those player’s were some of the best we ever had, but I remember them, not being definite starter’s and not even being brought on .

  18. As hard and all as it is but nobody should have an ounce of sympathy for Mayo, the only ones that should be felt sorry for are the young kids who don’t understand how grown men who should know better can continue to make the same mistakes over and over again and learn absolutely nothing.

    So lets not beat about the bush with this and start blaming curses and fairies, we have men who are very well looked after and are clearly out of their depth having their backs patted and people wonder why we can’t win an All-Ireland, come on.

    So if Mayo happened to win one of those finals under Rochford and lets not forget his finals were against much stronger opposition than Horan’s there is every likelihood that it would be another 70 years or more before Mayo would win another.

    I often ask people of note where do the roots of the tree start regarding the football culture of a county and the vast majority get it wrong, that’s how much they know, very little.

    We have plenty grey haired men in Mayo who think they know everything but actually they know f all when you start getting technical with them or how professional structures are put in place.

    We haven’t even a Centre of Excellence ffs, nothing but a pile of debt, that’s the know all grey haired men for you.

    There’s too much jaw jaw in Mayo and not enough work work.

  19. Rather harsh Viper .Most teams make mistakes even the ones that win.Enough written about the past.
    Right now have we 15 better than Aido.No.
    Have we enough scoring forwards.No. Does the manager make the right call at the right time..No.
    Have we a chance? Of course but don’t fancy our chances v Galway,Dublin,Tyrone or Kerry in the heat of battle this year.

  20. @Padraig O Neill, Oh I’m not referring to the team at all in any way shape or form.

    People know I do not criticize players, their role is far harder than any manager but a manager can strangle players and set them up in a way that they lack synergy and a player can then be unfairly criticized for this.

    I actually kept it very mellow.

  21. The thing that annoys me is that our excuse was and will be that we met/are meeting a ‘team of a generation’, ie Kerry in the noughties, Dublin over the past decade, and now Kerry again, with the greatest player of all time within their ranks.

    How is it the Armaghs, Corks, Tyrones etc can pick up All Irelands? We’re a lost cause really. We’ve only ourselves to blame. Mayo football.

  22. I’m all for being critical when it’s warranted but this post and a lot of the comments here are extremely defeatist!

    A lot of people here giving off that we don’t seem to have a settled team, but the same people would also be giving off saying that we’re not giving any new players a chance if Horan went with the same team for every game during the league.

    The league just gone was extremely positive in my opinion, tried out a lot of new players and built a very decent panel of players. Granted, the league final was very disappointing and an extremely poor performance but overall the league has to be looked on positively.

    Before a ball is kicked in the championship, everyone here is already writing us off, I really don’t get it!

    Viper, I’ve seen you commenting on a number of posts over the past few weeks, criticising a lot of people within Mayo GAA, and the manager especially. We would not be where we are today if it wasn’t for James Horan. Granted, we all know he’s made very questionable decisions on the line, but he is a damn good manager! In last years final, we missed 3 clear goal scoring opportunities, score one of them and we win the game, and everyone is calling James Horan a hero. The constant criticism of Horan from you and many others is quite baffling and very frustrating.

  23. And someone mentioning above that we have failed to produce a marquee scoring forward in a generation. Cillian O’Connor is the all time top scorer in the championship. My God some people are never satisfied

  24. @Deel river, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it but I am entitled to mine also so you should respect that.

    I have no issue with you putting Horan on a pedestal in the same way I respected the opinions of those who tried to tell me that ROD was the best player in the country and that I was wrong to say David Clifford was.

    I didn’t gloat about it or rub it in their faces afterwards though.

    For you Horan is the bees knees, and that’s fine.

    And you do actually confirm my point regarding back patting and where we are different is that I don’t allow emotions to cloud my judgment.

    I actually like James, and have said on numerous occasions that I hope he wins an All-Ireland but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t fire him.

    I’m sure Peter Keane is a nice man as well, Kerry got rid of him, no big deal, shit happens, it’s only an amateur game that the most of the world don’t care about.

  25. Who do the critics want to replace Horan with out of interest? People love pointing out everything he’s doing wrong (some of it valid) but I don’t see many better alternatives put forward.

    On Aidan O’Shea, it would be great to have the luxury of using him off the bench. However with Flynn injured, question marks over Diarmuid and the form of certain others, he has to start vs Galway for me.

    Some of the doomsday posts here are a bit much. We’ve been in the last 2 All Ireland finals and just came 2nd in the league despite using experimental teams all through. We have a strong team and panel capable of beating anyone on our day.

    Of course, like always, it’s Sam or bust this year so everyone is looking for perfection.

  26. Viper, you are entitled to your opinion, I never said you weren’t. I am not putting Horan on a pedestal. I’m just stating the fact that he is the best manager Mayo have had in a very long time. That’s not to say he doesn’t have any flaws, of course he does, but Mayo would not be any better without him. Again, I’ll go back to my point about last years final. 3 clear goal chances, all missed. Can’t blame Horan for that.

  27. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with critical analysis and one could argue that it’s the lack of it that contributes to Mayo’s woes.

    I said it at the time and I’ll say it again, losing to Tyrone was the straw that broke the camels back for all the realists.

    Throw in the antics on the sideline and we became a travelling circus so let nobody tell me I’m being over critical for telling the truth otherwise it’s only yes men that need apply.

  28. Well said Viper. I’m bloody sick of the back slapping and “hard luck” excuses. When it’s really mattered, we haven’t been good enough on the pitch and/or on the line. Until we accept that and demand more, we’re never winning Sam. And lest we forget, that has to be our target all the time. Forget connacht titles or leagues. Our target absolutely has to be an All-Ireland title.

  29. @Deel river, well as a matter of fact if I really wanted I could actually link the inability to take what looked to you clear goal chances and the style of play preferred by Horan.

    Look at the players Horan has had to work with, did he produce Lee Keegan did he ? Did he produce any of the great players we’ve had, no he did not, those would still have been great players under any manager.

    The question is did he get the most out of the great players we have and have had.

    He has acknowledged that he had “learnings” to take after last September, you recall that.

    I just find that unacceptable given the length he has been managing and the amount of finals he’s been in.

    It doesn’t mean he’s not a good man though but maybe the big day just gets to him, too many bad memories.

  30. I do agree we got so much wrong re Tyrone and Horan has made many mistakes ..his failure to deal with Kieran Donaghy in 14 the worst. Rochford brought us close and we should be open to the possibility of an outside manager.
    But here and now, with all the injuries ,suggesting Aido not in first 15 is daft.Are there 15 better in Mayo? Of course not.
    Horan does need to reflect but not telling everyone what he is thinking is not necessarily a fault.

  31. Viper, you think we did not have at least 3 clear goal scoring opportunities to win that game last September? I am not saying Horan set the team up the correct way, I know he didn’t, but regardless of the way he set the team up, the chances to score the goals were there and the players on the pitch didn’t take them!

    And your point about Lee Keegan, I would say Horan had a lot to do with his development, Keegan never played minor or u21 for Mayo, he started playing with Mayo in 2011 and within 2/3 years he was an all star, all under Horans watch.

    Stephen Rochford lost 2 all Ireland’s in a row, and made one of the worst managerial decisions I’ve ever seen in 2016 in changing the goalies, which ultimately was the losing of the game for us, That didn’t get half as much criticism.

    Horan has his flaws, I know he does, but not let anyone tell me there’s a better man out there now to manage this team

  32. @Deel river, But you can’t say we would have won the game had we taken any of the chances, you just can’t say that because you don’t know that.

    I mean I could make a similar argument for games that Mayo won and say if the opposition had taken their chances they’d have won but I wouldn’t because its a nonsense argument, I could also point to the Tyrone goal chances.

    But we should not deal in what-iffery.

    Stephen Rochford took us close against much stiffer opposition “Greatest Team Of all time” and all that.

    Again you cannot say changing the goalkeeper was the losing of the game without also taking into account the benefits of it regarding short v long kick outs and you also cannot say that we still wouldn’t have lost had Clarke been in goal.

    Horan having flaws is really not the issue, but flaws of that kind can be eradicated so the real issue is not eradicating the perceived flaws, that’s what tests the patience.

    Some people just can’t handle the pressure and it wreaks havoc with decision making while others thrive on pressure but unfortunately a manager needs to be able to handle the pressure of a final.

    And that’s one of the main reasons I’ve always recommended that when Mayo reach a final that extra backroom support is needed.

    Will anyone listen, they will in their bollix, because you know, the grey haired men know everything and back we go in the Mayo merry go round of hard luck stories.

  33. With the best will in the world, I simply cannot see us winning Sam this years and I feel that it could be another year or two before we really challenge again. I think that we will do well to win Connacht this year and even that could well be beyond us, especially if many of our injured players remain unavailable. We are in a period of transition and are still trying to establish a settled team and have probably overachieved these last few years. There is a lot of criticism lately directed at the players and Horan and, for me, some of it is unfair and over the top. In my humble opinion, there are many reasons why we have not won Sam including, sometimes not good enough, unlucky and bad referees decisions, but the main reason is that we have not had enough scoring forwards, compared to the winning teams. Mostly, we have had to rely on Cillian, as our main source of scores and often our only real threat and it is too easy for top well organized defences to negate the threat of one quality forward. So, it is most disappointing and I was really looking forward to seeing Cillian, Ryan and Tommy this year, with Diarmuid looking back to his best, until we lost Tommy, so, hopefully next year, and maybe we will have discovered another one or two more class forwards, by then. I don’t know why we don’t seem to produce as many top class forwards as other counties, but it needs to be addressed. Also, we have suffered from the lack of a top class full-back, which has also cost us dearly, so, hopefully, we can unearth one soon.

  34. Great article, the only comment I have is that you not sure where AoS best position is,
    Most mayo fans know exactly where that is!! ON THE BENCH.

  35. Great article.

    On Horan, I agree largely with Viper.

    Has done alot of for mayo in my opinion, deserves alot of credit, but year 8 now and still making the same mistakes as in year 2 – whether its Michael Murphy on front of goal 1 v 1 in 2012 or David Clifford 1v1 in 2022. The frustration is in the way we dont learn.

  36. Depressing read coming into a Bank Holiday weekend. Alot of valid points .
    I’m not the biggest fan of James Horans tactics on the line but have huge respect him .
    There seems to be alot sharpening the knives for JH for our expected “Not winning Sam” again this year …
    I would like to see a new manager in a year or 2 but not a fan of the sneaky digs and highlighted mistakes he has made .Especially on this blog and certain sections of the Mayo media …
    We have him now and may as well support him and the squad ..

    On a separate note …
    I see Donal Vaughan is commuting from Castlebar to Ballinrobe to play rugby now for Ballinrobe…!!

  37. Well if I recall correctly, James Horan did say his aim was to win an all-Ireland a few weeks after returning. If this is his last year, then he has to do it. I can’t see us doing much with all the injuries. While getting to the league final was nice, it would have been nicer to win the bloody thing rather to see that inept second half display.

  38. James Horan is in his 8th year and lost at least 3 finals that we should have won ( not all his fault but). Are we seriously saying he’s going to do it this year or he’s still the best man for the job? That if we somehow make it to the final he’ll suddenly after 7 years develop tactical awareness to make changes or listen to those around him? He did a lot for Mayo football but please we need someone else, and please don’t come out with the ‘be careful what you wish for’ BJ Padden line.

  39. Btw did anyone notice how our beloved Mayo GAA decided to screw parents bringing kids to the Galway match?
    You can’t purchase juvenile tickets for the stand, they’re only available for the terraces. So if you’re bringing 2 kids, you either pay €50 for them to sit in the stand or they sit in the uncovered terraces. So what if it’s raining they’re only kids, it’s not like they’re the future of Mayo GAA or anything like that!

  40. Surely this is an end of season debate though , I agree with viper on some of his points here which are valid but this is not the time imo . James Horan is manager and I have no doubt he still believes the side that he picks to go out and defend our Connacht title next Sunday is capable of retaining the Nestor cup . We really need to park last years anger for now . Our job is simple , get into mchale park and support the team and management to fucking beat Galway , noise and colour , put a bit of pride behind it to . The mchale park roar should be heard next Sunday , no excuses , been a while since a big game with full capacity allowed, new surface . Bring a positive energy and stand shoulder to shoulder with the cause of Mayo football . Stop being windy natured and show solidarity ffs. Several times we have heard players mention the crowd having an impact . I know you’ll have all the people say the crowd need the team to do something to rile them , I’ll counter that with the crowd can make a concentrated effort to raise the spirit, it costs nothing .

    I always revert to an article I read from Tomas o se a few years ago , whatever year they lost a game and had to go the qualifier route , he said when they took to the field , there was an almighty roar from the crowd and he knew then there was still a belief there .

  41. Depressing reading alright and maybe a few league wins bandaided the hurt and disappointment after the Tyrone loss in last year’s final.

    There is a huge sense of foreboding coming into Summer. Injuries make a win versus Galway or Roscommon or general progress a big ask. Mistakes in league final and lack of worry have left worry and a sense that we just won’t get to Kerry’s level.

    A semi final win versus Tipp and grasping a chance vs Dublin after an awful first 50 minutes hid the problems that we have seen against Tyrone and this season. Injuries are compounding those.

    James will not win an All Ireland for Mayo. He has done an amazing job but has had 8 goes. We can’t hide behind the cloak of transition either.

    Some big decisions likely coming in June/July when we are done.

  42. @MyBall you force me almost into being a whataboutery regarding ‘sneaky digs’ with your own dig at Donal Vaughan?
    We haven’t had the forwards. I dunno, we just don’t have that culture of practice.
    Kerry players solo with their left hand to their right foot, obviously there must be a benefit. That was handed down through skill culture.
    Now Kerry players are handing down the bounce solo for evasion or to steady up to shoot.
    Kerry players get their legs set before shooting with a steadying bounce solo.
    Do you see Mayo players use the bounce solo to steady up before shooting?
    We’ve been all in on running the ball down the pitch and we are way under coached on how to setup shooters in space facing goal.
    Way under coached on using a target man.
    All, 100% of our attacking play is the players playing what they see in front of them. But sure the players inside are playing to what they immediately see in posession downfield.
    The whole idea of plays or moves is that the move is prereheadesd
    We do not even have kickpass into a man inside who handpasses to a runner on the loop.
    We don’t have the handpass backdoor cut.
    We don’t have the work in a shooter on the loop from handpassed posession coming in from the wing.
    These should be several times a half situations.
    With our players playing what they see in the moment, well, sure the only obvious option open is a sideways or backwards handpass or a kickpass to an outnumbered or contested target.
    It’s not prerehearesed and coached, it’s simply not.
    @Viper, you keep mentioning this extra person, probably psychology or some finals preparation plan. But sure if the coaching of attacking moves is too weak, your idea won’t make much difference?

  43. The local media (in all its forms) have turned on Horan because he’s not giving interviews.
    They put out a negative slant against the manager, and some people pick up on that “feeling” and run with it.
    The media agenda should be seen for what it is.

    I couldn’t give a shite if Horan never tells the media a thing as long as the team wins.
    If/when they lose, criticism is fair enough and to be expected. But we haven’t played a championship game yet – we’re playing out arch rivals next weekend, so stop the fucking whinging and support Mayo!

  44. Well put Sean.

    The one thing that’s always clear reading through the comments is the passion is still there. Whether it’s coming through in frustration at the board, anger at recent (or old) mistakes on the line, swearing we’ll never put ourselves through it all again right before putting ourselves through it all again with a huge smile or unconditional love for the same fella we were screaming to be sent off in a club game we’re all still cracked on the green and red.

    I can’t wait.

  45. @JP, ah no I don’t do that, never have I said that all that’s missing is an extra person, what I have said though is that we need one man who is in charge of putting everything together regarding the recruitment of a strong management and coaching team and too many other aspects to mention here.

    So there is no quick fix but I don’t think the will is there in Mayo GAA to take a really professional approach to how to do things and really that’s the crux of the issue.

    Far to often I am hit with out and out straw man fallacy arguments, unnecessary fires which need to be put out.

    My view is crystal clear, I like James Horan and hope he does win an All-Ireland but I think he cannot take the pressures that the big day brings which leads to his ultimate downfall, I get the impression that he’s far to headstrong for his own good and consequently that damages our prospects.

    I am not convinced that he can change but I am also not convinced that Mayo GAA can open their minds either.

    I would like to see James Horan pay more attention to what is actually happening in a game, something you cannot do when you have the habit of spending too much time looking at the ground during games as opposed to what you should be doing.

    What message does that send to the players ?

    Of course James Horan has excellent attributes as well but for Mayo there really is only one piece of silverware they want and nothing convinces me that James Horan is the man to deliver that.

    I hope he proves me wrong, I really do.

  46. Anyway it’s Good Friday and I don’t eat meat today, so I won’t be feasting on my adversaries or commenting further.

    Nothing is more important than your families so go and do something nice and stop wasting your precious time on all things Mayo because it won’t change a damned thing anyway.

    Happy Easter.

  47. Good article Louis.
    I agree with nearly all your points and it’s hard to argue.I do think it’s a bit unbalanced as it’s only focused on the shortcomings,a kind of glass half empty view.I hope just before the match you’ll write part two and focus on the positives! I always really enjoy the guest slots from yourself and Darragh Berry.

    I’m a bit down hearted about the whole thing this summer as Sean Burke and a few other posters have mentioned. For me it’s all the injuries,I just can’t see past that.We don’t know if Robbie,DOC,Cillian or Paddy will start,what we do know is even if they do they won’t be match fit,I think that could be the knockout blow if not against Galway then maybe against Roscommon who are waiting the the long grass for whoever comes out of Castlebar.Id wonder if the qualifiers might be our best chance this year? There are less games than other years,if we could avoid either Donegal or Armagh the first game should be handy enough and that brings us into June,we bring on the newer players a bit whilst getting some more established guys back to full fitness,just a thought.

    On a side note,it’s grates a bit to see one poster and his constant agenda being pushed on here and trying to dominate the narrative.Depressingly consistent on here since September 11th 2021 yet dissappears when Mayo are doing well or there’s a sense of optimism with the fans.

    It’s blatant at this stage and has to be considered trolling at some point.The Russians were more subtle with their twitter and fb campaigns in the 2016 US election.

  48. Excellent article Louis. Found myself in agreement with all the points made. Happy Easter to one and all.

  49. I think that sums up what a lot of the Mayo support are feeling now, in my circle amyways. I’d say James Horan will go at end of our run unless he pulls off a miracle and wins the All Ireland! People are losing faith in the manager (thats 3 finals (20, 21 and league) in a row to lose in Croke Park . I always tune in to read Viper’s thoughts – keep posting. Its always good to hear lots of views.

  50. Someone asked why we haven’t we had a natural scoring forward in 20 years. I think the answer to that is a painful one.

    The likes of David Clifford aren’t created in a lab, someone spotted his talent at underage and he was encouraged and nurtured to become who he is today. Someone who is now head and shoulders above the rest and at 23, will only get even better.

    Not enough is being done at underage to encourage and nurture the kids who have the natural talent for kicking, and I think we are seeing the results at senior level of this mismanagement at underage. Speed and height may be a better winning formula for a kids team but looking at the bigger picture one would question if we have our priorities straight?

    The age old question arises, “what do Kerry do?”

    How many of our current crop of forwards would you trust to turn and blind shoot at an angle 40metres out and instinctively know where the posts are? Very few I’d wager.

  51. Great piece Louis well done. I have to admit i am a James Horan supporter i was full sure he would lead us to the promise land but I dont believe so now. Unfortunaetly nothing has been learned sincd last years all Ireland and i think the defeat to Kerry will have more repercussions than we think namely and early exit and a new management team in place by Autumn. There is no management team with a magic wand out there but surely there is someone after 70+ years that can come up with a plan to get out forwards scoring.

  52. My Ball,
    Donie is living in Ballinrobe for a considerable length of time now, so no commuting needed, about 300m from his house to the rugby pitch. He played a lot of rugby in his younger days and actually played very well for Ballinrobe rugby this season. Its over now so back commuting to Castlebar Mitchels.

  53. Well done TsuDhoNim on your in depth analysis of u20 game. If we are totally relient on handpassing we can even make the opposition look good. One player with vision on the senior panel is ROD and it sets him apart from other mortals. Maybe he should be taken out of the corner and into chf position. We have a ball winner/distributer in AOS, surely ff is the place for him v Galway.
    Meanwhile lets hope we see a change of tactics for the u20 game or we might make Sligo look too good..

  54. It’s a funny old world, maybe many people on this blog are just bored and looking for something or somebody to let off their anger.

    We are all experts after the games are over, it’s a different ball game to be able to react and read the situation in a game as it unfolds.

    Some people here seem to have all the solutions, maybe they should get into County management.

    I am fully in agreement with the current managements policy of keeping things very quiet as regards update s on the squad.
    The media love to make a story out of nothing.

    A win v Galway will change many people’s moods.

  55. I agree with your comment Sean Burke.
    This is an end of Season debate, and in my opinion should not be put up on this site right before the Championship, unfair to all involved.

  56. Looking beyond galway game at the bigger picture and going back to something Andy moran said previously but why don’t we produce creative attack players in mayo. I have found the u20 performances badly lacking in that dept too

    We have an endless supply of brilliant attacking ball carrying defenders for over 10 years now but we have never had a focus within the county on the skills, skills skills skills. Everything at underage level should he skills focused.
    Worry about the s&c later

    Everyone was talking about the phenom that is clifford after the kerry drubbing but look at the quality of the ball he was getting in, perfect weight on the money everytime. All the kerry forwards are scoring, all of them are 2 footed all of them can kick pass off either foot comfortably. How many of the mayo forwards could tick even 2 of those 3 boxes. If you don’t have the skills first you aint getting in

  57. Supermac, very good point regarding the skills, kicking with both feet etc.

    To be fair to all involved in Mayo underage management and academies, this is something which needs a firm policy from on high.

  58. We need to think back to where we were when James Horan took over. We were in an awful place. Knocked out by Longford and staring down the barrel of a very bleak era for Mayo football.

    He didn’t get us over the line on the big day but he brought us back to the top table again and made sure we were equipped to stay there – consistently competitive.

    Since he’s returned he has handled a difficult transition to a new squad. We’ve got our name back on the Nestor Cup and won a national title. Only a league but we don’t have enough of them to be too apathetic.

    Look, he’s made some mistakes. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. But overall I reckon he’s got more right than wrong. Given our record, every year we don’t win the top prize is viewed as a debilitating failure. That’s not always necessarily true, nor is it fair.

    Maybe the injuries will take their toll and put us in real bother against Galway. Or we might just find a way to use this game as a launchpad to get motoring again. Time will tell.

    Overall, we always tend to look over the fence admiringly at other managers. They’re all strategic geniuses in waiting. Perfectly poised to carry us to the promised land.

    It’s just not that simple. Or it hasn’t been for us (yet) anyway.

  59. @Supermac. Well said.
    I’ll say again. I have seen Clifford play in games where he was anonymous, and agreed, that Ryan O’Donoghue has been more consistent in his performances over the past two years.
    Examples were given of games where Clifford didn’t perform (probably due in some instances to opposition marking strategy).

    Of course we had no such strategy for the league final, or prep work done, or we didn’t even attempt to mark Clifford with somebody that could match him for pace. O’hora actually won several 50/50 balls from Clifford and did okay on the day, but unfortunately we didn’t do enough and we have form when it comes to losing finals from not shutting down dangermen. Maurice Fitz crucified us in 1997, all game long and nothing done that day either to nullify him. Of course that was under different management.

    I think Louis has written a seriously sobering piece and well argued points, that it are hard to disagree with. Very well written and laid out Louis.

    One of the most disappointing aspects of our playing style is, It’s painfully obvious how easy and fluently our opposition can move the ball up the field, especially in the final third of the pitch, while we break down repeatedly unless we go with rapid long ball in towards our forwards.

    We have at times in the past put teams to the sword with long searching passes in to our forwards.

    We have, on many occasions discovered how we repeatedly get turned over when trying to walk the ball the length of the pitch.

    Why do we keep reverting to a method which has left us short on the biggest stage, repeatedly in the recent past.

    It makes no sense.

  60. Donal Vaughan is entitled to play any sport anywhere he wishes. Good luck to him.. I don’t know too much about Club Rugby in Mayo, but I think I rather be playing with him rather than trying to stop him! .. I can remember a Gaelic Footballer getting confused, the Ref also got confused, and wouldn’t listen to his Sighted Umpires, and scoring a try in the 2010 Leinster Final.. the last time Dublin didn’t actually win Leinster… Louth won it really, but they gave the Cup to Meath in that particular Compromise Rules Game of Rugby Union/Gaelic Football Leinster Final which was tried out in 2010 .. Colm O Rourke conspicuously didn’t see an awful lot wrong about that on the Sunday Game, and didn’t think Meath should offer a replay… And after all Meath and Dublin player’s had often “Flaked Hell’s” out of each other in many Leinster Championship game’s, and even though what went on wasn’t strictly within the rules of Gaelic Football, Sportsmanship or even Civilization there was most importantly no whinging about who won the cup in the end… Back to the game of Rugby Union and Donal Vaughan, I’m sure that it’s a blessed relief to Donal that it’s not actually compulsory to run into tackle’s time and time again!

  61. Well said Rock. I think we’re in danger of forgetting our primary function as supporters – to SUPPORT, to help the morale of the team. I hope that on next Sunday week our cheers will raise the roof of the stand, assuring the team that we are with them through thick and thin. There used to be a great bond between the Mayo supporters and their team, but, reading some of the posts here, I don’t know if that’s true any more

  62. If the blog was nothing but positive messages about the team and well spun cliches, well that would be pretty boring.
    “Looking forward to the Galway game, should be one of a battle, hopefully we prevail ”
    Repeat above by 50 messages and what is one reading?
    Some of us like the more tactical and strategy type posts, but they’re often heavily shot down with bland platitudes
    “Get into county mgmt”
    “The negativity around here”
    “James Horan took us from nowhere in 2010”
    “We don’t see the training ”
    “Lots of other counties would love our success”
    Those five above are on repeat whenever there’s any tactical thread.
    A tactical thread will touch on negative topics.

  63. I think Louis excellent points have laid it out very fairly and realistically. Reading this morning about New York’s championship match v Mayo three years ago. Times Square, the huge travelling support; the banquet, the training camp, etc. Seems another 3 years lost on and off the field.

  64. As my better half is from kerry and having spent time there watching her nephews play Iwill tell you what kerry do MikieJ,
    “They practice.”

  65. Anyone hear that u16 players are not being allowed play with their clubs? There was a major backlash in Offaly gaa circles ( over their u14 developmental squad). Crazy stuff altogether.

  66. @Justin I asked the same question on Discord chat as the Mayo News people may know more. Sure how will some clubs manage without their best players? I know the underage girls county footballers are allowed play with their own clubs (u17 anyways).

  67. I seen where some u16 players are playinv Mayo games weekends the day after playing club games. Friday evening club games, county games early Saturday. Two games in 18 hours.

  68. does anybody know is there a curtain – raiser match preceeding the Mayo Galway clash on sunday week in Castlebar or is it a stand alone fixture.

  69. It seems there is a Mayo GAA fundraising event tonight in Mount Falcon, Ballina. I don’t recall seeing anything official on Mayo GAA facebook or twitter. The local club heard nothing either. Anyone on here going? It must be to raise funds for the upcoming Championship. Everything seems to be hush hush and secretive this weather!!

  70. Sean – there is such a vaccum of silence with anything concerning mayo gaa these times – so who knows! Derry GAA have the right idea – open up and invite everyone tomorrow to meet players and management.

  71. That doesn’t sound like a fundraising event, it even states in the report that it’s a private gathering. I’d agree with Sean, this shouldn’t have been made public – it’s nobody’s business if a group of individuals want to gather together privately.

  72. It’s hard disagree with most of this analysis but it does overlook the single biggest issue of in game performance on the day. If we are falling short of the standard required to win big games why then have we gotten to 8 finals in such a short period, including 10 semi finals in 11 years? This record suggests that in pure footballing terms we aren’t very far off, or at least that we haven’t been in recent times.

    To win a final you need the majority of the players producing an 8 out of 10 performance and one or two lads playing out of their skins. When has that happened for us in a final? The only true example is 2017 in what was arguably the highest standard match ever played. Our defining failure has been the inability to produce an ice cold performance on the big day. That is what Tyrone did last summer and which we obviously failed to.

    The psychological burden carried by Mayo players on All Ireland final day is immense. It now carries a meaning that transcends football. The issue goes far beyond the players. It’s not just the team that have tied up with tension when it matters most. The supporters have too.
    We could address all of the issues identified in this piece but it won’t matter if lads play below themselves on the day.

    Nobody has yet managed to come up with a solution to this problem – and I have almost zero knowledge on the issue – but it must involve a form of match preparation that reduces the psychological pressure of the event. It seems likely that strategies have been attempted to achieve this but the right approach has not been found. It’s hardly a coincidence that our 2017 performance was achieved with the help of Niamh Fitzpatrick. For the Mayo team, more than any other, mental preparation is at least as important as physical and footballing preparation.

  73. @P, .. Allot of truth in what you write. But for me it was a systems failure from the time we qualified for the All Ireland last September.. True as well Tyrone delivered on the big stage v Kerry and v Ourselves, but they didn’t have to be great v Ourselves in particular, not nearly as good as we were 2016 or 2017.. What I was particularly disappointed with in the league was our, not trying to do anything different v Tyrone in Omagh or v Kerry in the league final.. It’s patiently obvious that Mayo need to evolve at least ONE other way to play other than overwhelming depend on running the ball to attack, or to defend One on One…. I have a feeling that Galway will revert to something similar to the Kevin Walsh Galway Shawl for Sunday week.. Especially after conceding 1-20 to Roscommon in the Div Two decider.. The knives would be out for Padraig Joyce if he was to fail again v Mayo, especially when the very much maligned Kevin Walsh had so much success v Mayo, playing a game designed to deny a running team like Mayo.

  74. For posters calling for ‘open’ training sessions like they are supposedly going to do in Derry ,I seem to remember the 90s team sessions being open and resembling a carnival with many hundreds in attendance. This ‘circus’ was subsequently blamed for John Maughan failing to deliver Sam.
    Training sessions should be for training imo.

  75. Yes Leantimes, I expect Galway to park the bus in a still narrow and not very long McHale Park. They’ll figure that we won’t be able to score from distance, especially under pressure. They could well be right.

  76. To be fair to them @Leantimes, using the term loosely, they did try a few things against Kerry. Hard to say with a straight face given how those things failed, but they did try.

    We left PO’H one on one with David Clifford alright but we were playing a sweeper to start with, just not positioned on David. Enda Hession was back there but I couldn’t quite make out what the strategic goal was. I’d been meaning to watch back a replay of the final to see if I could figure it out but haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. He didn’t seem to be sitting on/near anyone specific, wasn’t covering the square specifically for goals and wasn’t aiming to overload around the middle so I’m guessing it was aimed at picking up runners from deep… but we were so overwhelmed around the middle 8 it was putting a band aid on a severed limb and didn’t pan out. The scoreboard didn’t look awful during the period but we’d been cut open plenty and could/should easily have been 10 or 12 down rather than just the 6. Wouldn’t fault Enda at all but I’d certainly say that experiment failed. That said, I don’t think playing Enda as a +1 on David would have resulted in a win either just a slightly different path to defeat on the day.

    We’d also started with a predominantly kicking game. It, again, just didn’t work as we’d have liked. Too many low quality kicks into lads under high pressure, or scarily often low quality kicks straight to a Kerry man, meant Foley, O’Sullivan and Morley were coming out ahead more often than not. You could see we were trying to mix it up between kicking and running but as ball after ball went wrong and the scoreboard was slipping further away from us you could see the fear causing more and more defaulting to running and a slower buildup in general (which was less successful).

    We lost the league final badly but not in the same way we’d ever lost before in a final, in my mind at least.

    – Not nearly enough energy (we looked heavy legged, I really hope intentionally so with a focus on Championship)
    – Not nearly enough pace (our middle 8 in the final couldn’t compete with our own preferred starting 8, where we still have questions if our starting 8 are ready for Kerry’s in terms of pace, energy and workrate. Hopefully… but who knows)
    – Poor match-ups (won’t dwell on this too much, given we’d a single defender on the bench in Donnacha, who was probably being held to play midfield for the crunch U20 Championship Galway game 3 days later, so we were very limited on options. Of just the personnel that played still question marks if we could have done better on those, especially with Loftus and Coen)
    – And, hopefully as a result of those things, a horribly off form execution of basics (no pressure kick pass straight to Morley for Clifford’s second goal and a horrid attempt at a handpass gone wrong for Foley’s goal when we were in very scorable positions epitomised the performance) and complete inability to win breaking ball or secondary ball.

    Plenty of question marks on the tactics from Omagh, we still seem to be baffled on how to breakdown blanket defenses – though that one looked like a zero energy performance, even poorer than the league final at times, after a heavy week where execution mistakes would have made any tactic look impotent, but the league final we weren’t really repeating the same old mistakes in my mind… except for the old faithful of not scoring enough from play which is often the end-result of other contributing factors rather than a symptom in and of itself.

    Nothing I saw against Kerry changes my mind on where I think we’re strong (other than Jordan’s injury hurting us there), where we have some issues and our chances of competing with the likes of Kerry come July. I certainly wouldn’t make us favourites this year but nobody would fancy playing us and we’re going to compete and be there or thereabouts.

    That said, potentially semantics. We weren’t good enough on the day. For many I’d guess that could be the ‘same old’.

  77. @TsuDhoNim, ..I managed to rewatch some of the league final and the match in Omagh, not easy viewing….PS..I really find the handle you are using. I think it’s the best and most original “Pseudonym” on this Blog!

  78. We have a very poor strike rate when kicking for scores


    A fine strike rate when it comes to hitting the woodwork


    A very poor recovery rate for shots that come back off the woodwork.

    Looking at rebounded shots in isolation.

    We never, ever, seem to be prepared for shots that come back out off the uprights or crossbar.

    You’re nearly guaranteed that there are no mayo players in position to pounce on rebounds. Often though, there will be 2 or 3 opposing players alert to the rebound.

    This is not a recent phenomenon and has happened under previous management as well.

    When looked at in isolation, it would point to no work or emphasis been placed on positioning of players in front of goals, in the chance that a ball might rebound, and having players ready to pounce and gobble up the rebound.

    If we say that football is a game of inches and that we have lost AI finals by the width of a cigarette paper, then doesn’t it seem mind boggling that a basic, such as alertness to rebounds (and just to point out, there have been many rebounds over the years), isn’t stressed or seemingly prepared for.

    If basics like this are not properly prepared for then it can be concluded that we are leaving our chances of winning the All Ireland to chance.

    These days, any team that leaves anything to chance, is not going to, and probably does not deserve to triumph.

  79. Joyce is under huge pressure in Galway. If he doesn’t win a Conn title his position will be on thin ice. Galway will hunt down Rochford and that would be very bad news for Mayo.

    Horan and Rochford are very different. A blend of both would be ideal. Mayo football needs Rochford. Does anyone in the country have his cv of experience and still under 45 yrs old!? This is ‘no-brainer’ territory for Mayo GAA.

  80. Ah come on folks. As stated in an earlier post some of these posts are post championship comments. Let them get on with it and see where we end up. As regards keeping the function quiet, not a chance in mayo. If we knew when those lads went to the toilet it would be reported

  81. And Roch would likely have Donal O’Faharta (u20 All Irl winning manager – and a guy who knows all the talent coming through in Galway underage for several years) and Divilly.

    Horan ain’t gonna be around forever. I’d like to see him have a crack with a fit Cillian, Tommy, Ryan, Doherty and with Diarmuid, Mattie, Paddy, Lee and Oisin. Horan also has enough credit in the bank that if this year fell apart thst if he wanted 2023, he’d be given it and understandably so. BUT Mayo GAA needs to plan ahead. Probably inevitable that Andy will be at the helm, but probably not for another 4 or 5 years. The likelihood then is that there will be a gap and Mayo need to be ready and strategically cute.

  82. The message I’m getting from people who were talking to ex players is that the concern over injuries is huge when talking about the Galway game . Maybe we are going to take a hit here and will have to prepare for the qualifiers, wouldn’t be season over I suppose but then again nobody truly knows the extent of our injury list either . If paddy and diarmuid are out I think we are in trouble but if both were fit it probably swings it back in our favour slightly .

  83. @ Liberal – there is nothing for Galway to figure out about our scoring abilities from distance under a blanket of pressure – they know that already !! They also know they have better forwards under the same circumstances.

  84. Yes 45, it probably will be the winning of the game. Like, where will our scores come from? Ryan will be bottled up, and after that……? Relying on an understandably unfit Cillian? Qualifiers I think. At least the likes of Jordan might have a chance of coming back in then.

  85. Cant see Mayo putting up a good show against Galway, even if we have a full fit panel to pick from, if you take a good look at the league, we could/should have been relegulated. Nothing learned since 2012, Murphy on his own destroyed us ,then Donaghy and now let Clifford destroy us in the same way , even though O Hora had a good game and won a lot of ball coming in but left without any kind of help or plan to stop Clifford. Galway have both Comer and Walsh that can do the same damage to us, what plan is there to stop them. going on past games NO Plan, when will we ever learn.

  86. Sligo support not happy with venue for under 20 final and I have to say I agree with them . Apart from it being their home game turn v Mayo , 500 seems a very low target for an under 20 Connacht final . I’d be pretty sure the last under 21/20 final I went home for in 16 there was at least 4k at it , stand in Sligo was full anyway .

  87. Cant understand why they wouldn’t play that u20 final Monday evening around 5 pm in either Markevick Park if it’s a home game for Sligo or Charlestown if its a home game for Mayo.
    Playing the final in COE really downgrades it.

  88. Give Horan a break. Andy Moran has proved nothing as a manager yet. Rochford was about to change goalie in the last 10 minutes of the drawn final and if did we would have won. We were losing all our own kickouts. Dublin not the same without cluxton.
    We are good enough to beat Galway.

  89. A lot of negative talk on the blog again, if we beat Galway by a point Sunday week, League Final is all forgotten about.

  90. Jesus, the negativity (in the responses to a good/provocative post by Louis).

    We wrapped up Division 1 status early and could afford to spend the rest of the time experimenting with personnel and positions. People seem to forget we destroyed Galway in Croker. Admittedly the dimensions of McHale Park are a bit of a worry, but surely motivation on the new pitch unveiling, has to be a factor for us.

    Plusses from the league: already well-rehearsed on the blog, but no harm in repeating them:

    * Rory Byrne – solid and dependable
    * Robbie – getting better all the time (fitness for Galway a slight worry, but Byrne’s presence reassuring)
    * McBrien – I thought he did very well against Tyrone
    * Plunkett – his scoring abilities have been rediscovered in the league
    * Jordan – has come on in leaps and bounds; surely available later on
    * Aidan Orme – has delivered; MOTM against Armagh, very good against Dublin, and his work for Ryan’s goal against Monaghan, was a thing of beauty
    * James Carr – one of the few, but important, plusses from the league final
    * Cillian – ditto
    * Darren McHale – ditto

    And, some league negatives:

    * Slippage among some established players
    * Over-reliance on lateral movement
    * Unforced errors
    * Have we lost our turnover mojo?
    * Goal shyness – we had a number of chances from throw ins, but the backward glance undid. us.
    * Making the best use of Aido – from the bench is best IMO, though Jordan’s absence may change that

  91. My god.
    Depressing reading here. Fucking hell.
    I guess it’s understandable that peoples confidence is brittle after no many years of near misses but Jesus – you’d swear we’d just been related to the Tailteann cup for the next 20 years the way some people are going on.
    Not saying there aren’t concerns but for me they are mainly around the injury crisis at the moment. The style of play issues – well it isn’t going to change much from what we saw in the league and if you look at the league as a whole there were some promising signs of change or tweaks at least.
    Read mark ronaldsons piece in the western it’s quite informative. From it I found out that Mayo were in the middle of an intense block of heavy training due to the close proximity of the Galway game. Kerry by contrast had 10 weeks after the league final to do their heavy training.
    He also said that Mayo apparently trained very hard the Friday before the league final and that was where Oisin Mullin picked up his injury.
    Another point of interest was mark saying that it’s impossible to do this heavy training during the championship so this was the only chance Mayo had before the Galway game.
    Mark played for Mayo for years so he’s not some bluffer – he knows the training regime of this side better than any blog posters.
    It all points to the fact that we never wanted to be in a league final at all.
    The injuries are a concern to me. I would also say that Horan does himself no favours by blocking out the local media. If you are getting guys like Ed McGreal, Mike Finnerty and Willie Joe frustrated by a lack of communication then maybe it’s gone a bit too far. Why put extra pressure on yourself by falling out with local media? Give the lads a few titbits of info to keep them happy and dial down the pressure on the team a bit in the long run. That’s media management 101. The GPA aren’t going to give a shit if Horan gives a generic update to the local press and hiding behind that dispute is counterproductive in the long run and only gives oxygen to idiots to fill the void.

  92. @Larry Duff, Nobody in their right mind would put players through heavy training two days before a final (regardless of whether they were too bothered about winning it or not), so I’d take that with a pinch of salt because if it was true then it wouldn’t be a wonder as to why players are dropping like flies.

  93. Sligo refusing to play the U20 final in Bekan next Wednesday as they are due a home game. I think they’re correct in fairness.

  94. Absolutely they are correct , connacht council are barkin mad half the time anyway. No drive about them to get crowds to games either , another big showdown next sunday between ourselves and galway and not a bit of initiative to fill up the ground .

  95. I suppose there’s no danger Sligo would play the game in Ennis?.. Would they drive through Mayo, the County of their opposition and go to Clare?.. No they wouldn’t, but Mayo drove through Galway and Clare to play Galway in Limerick.. A few years before that, in a back door game, Mayo drove through Westmeath to play Westmeath in Croke Park.. I think Sligo will rightly call the Connacht Council bluff, common sense and natural justice will prevail… The same would have happened if the Mayo County Board were similarly minded and stood up to the CCCC, instead of bringing Mayo fan’s long distances and play the games the should be at home, or nearer home.. eg both the Westmeath and Galway game’s I refer to should have been played in, neutral Hyde Park.. But the thousands of loyal Mayo fan’s have to be bled dry to fill the coffers of Croke Park… Money that was and still is used to disproportionately advantage Dublin (the pauper’s of the GAA).. Well done Sligo County Board, don’t let the men in grey suits walk over you!

  96. Larry Duff, I don’t think James Horan was ‘blocking out the media’ or ‘hiding behind that dispute’. IMO, i think it was very honourable that he took the side of the players in their dispute with HQ (which I believe has since been resolved), and that to me shows that there’s a good bond with him and the players.
    My own thinking is that aside from Harry an Jordan who are definitely out for Sunday week, we still have a strong squad, and should be well able for Galway, and we should get the upper hand.
    I watched them up close in hq, and if we mind a couple of their danger men, they’re no great shakes besides.
    And yes, I’m with Sligo and that U20 dispute too..

  97. The fundamental issue for why we don’t win all ireland finals is the amount of goals we concede.
    If you look at the last 10 AI finals there have been 12 matches incl. replays.
    The winners have condeded 5 goals a 0.42 average per match.
    Mayo played 7 final matches in the same timeframe incl. replays and conceded 12 goals average 1.71 per game. Mayo are simply too easy to score goals against, causes included goalkeeper blunders, no sweeper, player size mismatches etc. The issue goes further back into the mid 00s.
    From what I can see there has been no focus on fixing this issue. When Pat Gilroy came in with Dublin there was a huge focus on sorting out their defence that needs to be done with Mayo.

    If you concede a couple of goals in an AI final you have a mountain to climb.

  98. Nail on the head, Centrefield ! For all the great work Horan has done his obstinate refusal to have a defensive strategy has cost us and him All-Irelands. Every All-Ireland when Horan was manager, we’ve conceded 2 goals, 8 in all and scored only 1 ourselves. Many people view this as a problem with our forwards and yes it is a problem up front but if we stop conceding majors, we need to score a lot less to win.

    Similar to Gilroy, look at what Jack O’connor did when he came in as manager. With the best set of forwards in Ireland, the first thing he did was bring a defensive coach on board. Result – Kerry will more than likely win the All-Ireland this year and if they don’t it won’t be due to the concession of silly goals.

    Good defences win championships and until we address this naivety in our approach we can forget about Sam.

  99. Thanks for the comments, everyone. I have enjoyed the debate and how it reflected the passion that there is for Mayo football. The article was written in a blunt fashion as I feel that we need to ground our hopes in reality rather than too much optimism. As someone once said, it’s the hope that kills you!
    As a county that has been at the top table for so much of the last 20 years, it is striking that we don’t really frighten the other big beasts. We so often long for the day that we will cast off the shackles and devour one of the other top 4 teams. And we really need to do that to get the respect that we feel our county deserves.
    Can it be done? Of course it can. We have one of the best squads of individual footballers in the country. James Horan’s ability to constantly bring new players through is a Godsend to the county. The problem we have is that we are always a bit behind on where the game is. For a number of the early years in the past 20 years, we were always looking at who won the All-Ireland the year before and trying to develop a better version of THEIR game. We finally caught Dublin last year, but the game has now moved on. In fact, the criticisms I made about Mayo could just as easily have been written about the current Dublin team.
    I have over 20 years experience in coaching at club level and one of the things that always fascinates me is how the game continues to develop. While the pundits are becoming consumed at how a county might stop the Kerry machine in 2022, I think this is like the 3-card trick game. At the same time Jack O’Connor is trying to find another level, and when it is revealed, we will all look on and say “well feck them anyway, that should have been our year!”
    No. The team that develops the game will be the leader and is the one that is hardest to beat. If we are to cross the void, we have to develop the game ourselves and bring a puzzle to the table that others have to solve.
    Again I ask, can we do it? Again, I say we can. Top footballers can be coached really easily. The highest level team I ever coached was a college Freshers team and their speed at picking up new stuff was at a level higher than I had ever experienced at club level. You laid out the play once and they got it first time. Senior intercounty players are above this again.
    Of the four issues I alluded to in the original post, all can be fixed, but we also need to bring something extra as well that will have opposition managers and coaches scratching their heads. The day we bring this extra ingredient is the day we will get there.
    On a final note, it is somewhat apposite that I missed Down’s appearance in the 2010 decider, not for the final itself (which was a fairly tame affair), but for the magnificent performance they produced to blow Kerry away in their quarter final match that year. I was there that day but missed the first quarter as I thought they didn’t have a chance. Down won that contest by 6 but it really was a hammering as Kerry got a penalty near the end that made their score look more respectable. The totally unexpected performance from Down that day shows that a team can rise to the occasion if they have the strategy and the tactics worked out in advance.

    That’s our challenge.

    Up Mayo!

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