Favourites

Mayo offaly 1997

Photo: Inpho

Favourites. Odds-on, raging hot, bolted-on fancies to do it. In an All-Ireland semi-final? No matter how you cut it, this is new territory for us.

We haven’t – even in the modern era – come into every semi-final as the underdogs. Back in 2013 we were tipped to beat Tyrone and that’s what we eventually did. Were we slight favourites against Kerry a year later? I think we may have been but, no more than the rest of you, I’d prefer to draw a veil over that ghastly ending to our hopes in 2014.

The two times we downed the Dubs they were expected to make it to the final, in an era when they found it next to impossible to make it that far in the championship. I guess, then, that we need to go back to 2004 and Fermanagh for the last time we were strong favourites to make it through at the semi-final stage.

Anyone who was there twelve years ago will recall clearly how that one went. We were worse than awful in the drawn game and when James Gill was sent off shortly after the break we looked goosed.

We would have been had Tom Brewster brought his shooting boots with him but wide after second half wide from the Ernesiders kept us in the hunt. Eventually we somehow managed to scrape a draw and we improved sufficiently the second day to end their fairytale and send us into our first final appearance in seven years.

Oddly enough, that previous time we got to play for Sam – in 1997 – was also a year in which we were favoured to advance from the semi-final. In that pre-qualifier era, as Connacht champions we were rostered to play the Leinster winners. That year this challenge came in the shape of surprise packet League winners Offaly.

That was also the most recent year in which the Faithful County won Leinster. As someone who grew to love Gaelic football when Offaly were great, a part of me mourns for their absence at this time of year but that’s perhaps a story for another day, one where the sun sets far earlier in the evening.

We were expected to deal with Tommy Lyons’ charges that afternoon, a bizarre day in which the world was in a state of collective stupefaction at the overnight news from Paris of the untimely and sudden death of Princess Diana. Deal with them we did that day, despite shooting a shocking amount of wides, as enough attempts went over the bar for us to make it to September and that fateful meeting with Maurice Fitzgerald.

That’s it, I reckon. The others – Kerry in 1996, Dublin in 2006 and again in 2012 – were wins against the head for us. Tyrone in 1989? I wasn’t at that one, I wasn’t even in the country for it (as will be the case again this year) but I can’t imagine that we – who hadn’t been in a final since 1951 – would have been tipped to get by opponents who had got there, and should have won, just three years previous to then.

So, twice before in recent (and not so recent) years have we come into a semi-final as favourites and twice – that 2004 wobble notwithstanding – we’ve justified that tag and have gone on to contest the final. Losing both times, of course, but let’s not go down that road either.

This year is, though, different in that we’re extremely strong favourites to prevail, based no doubt on our strong track record in the championship since 2011. Everyone – ourselves included – expects us to win this one and, let’s face it, it would rank as the shock of the season, eclipsing Tipperary’s owns wins over Cork and Galway, if the Premier County were to beat us on Sunday week.

Clearly, it’s a match we should win but it’s one we absolutely have to treat with the utmost seriousness. If our very limited history of coping with penultimate round favouritism teaches us anything then surely it’s that going into this challenge assuming it’s won – which we seemed to do in 2004 – has the potential to be fatal.

Our 1997 semi-final win, by contrast, was one I feel we approached with a higher degree of caution. Even though our performance that day was ropey enough, it always looked like a winning one.

That has to be the prerequisite the next day. We don’t need to – and I think we won’t want to – shoot the lights out but we do need to establish fairly rapidly once the ball is thrown in that only one team is going to win this one. That’s what proper favourites do and that’s what we should be aiming for against Tipperary on Sunday week.

83 thoughts on “Favourites

  1. WJ, I would hazard a guess that we were slight favourites for the 1999 semi against Cork after taking down the reigning AI champions in a super Connacht final win. It turned out to be a disaster for us and it was probably one of our biggest non performances on a big day. Cork were poor that year, but we made them look good, but an equally poor Meath team went on to win a soft AI.

  2. Saw the funniest thing today. A guy I know wears one of those modern sports watches. Along with many other multiple functions it monitors your pulse rate on your wrist. He showed me a picture of the graphical readout that coincided with the last second back pass by AOS to Clarke against Tyrone. The spike in the graph was like a picture of the reek. Let’s hope for all our sake that Sunday week can be a little bit less stressful. Hon Mayo!

  3. Well said Willie Joe. No need to have any fear of this Tipperary team, but this match is a potential banana skin if the heads aren’t right. We need to tread carefully.

  4. Nice trip down memory lane there WJ. I do think that we will take this seriously and will want to put in a professional performance. Making sure we do the basic stuff right and leave them in no doubt that we are here to win .
    While your in the mood for memory lane just a thought about 96 and our closest brush with Sam was also an Olympic year. 36 our first win and Olympic year just a thought,!

  5. Kmaclegend
    Great story. I would say we all had the same pulse pattern at that moment!.
    By the way interesting note about Offaly team Martin Furlong who was the goalkeeper in 82 has 3 All Ireland medals I think 70, 71 & 82.
    Also I remember Sean Lorry who won with them in 82 and played with us in our famous draw with Dublin in 85.
    Go on the faithful!!

  6. Wow….some trip down memory lane ’89 semi was my first visit to Croker, I still have souvenir matches from Quiinns ….green and red…..some great days and some hearache since then. Bring on 21st August and in no doubt that bunch of lads will bring us to September.

  7. Serious trip down memory lane there! I remember getting up in the morning and finding out about events in Paris on teletext before getting on the bus to Dublin and watching us beat Offaly as a whipper-snapper in the canal terrace…..on to Sunday week, I’d snatch the hand off someone who offered me a one point victory at this stage! Not that I don’t think the guys will do it, and do it well, but at the end of the day semi-finals are for winning, and the more aces we hold up our sleeves for a final (please god we make it) the better.

    Christ August would be empty without this great group of men to follow – and this great blog to facilitate it. We all owe you massively for this WJ!!!!

  8. God, you’re really bringing us down memory lane with this post Willie Joe!
    Of all those semi finals, 96 was the greatest memory. Twenty years today actually. I was watching the highlights earlier. Good times! Horan’s goal the highlight.
    I remember going into 97 listening to how Offaly’s much vaunted full forward line of Claffey, Malone and Brady were going to destroy our aging full back line. So satisfying to see such a controlled performance never giving Offaly a chance. I remember Fallon and Costello in particular giving hell.
    Fermanagh……woeful the first day. Great atmosphere beforehand, I remember the entire stadium waving flags the first day before the teams were even out on the pitch. The second day I remember being elated at having won but worried deep down that we hadn’t put such a poor team to bed easier. I was right to be worried!
    Dublin ’06 – to my eternal shame couldn’t get a ticket. Amazing though.
    Dublin ’12 – brilliant first 50 mins. Last twenty (five) was like watching the last five minutes versus Tyrone over and over. Oh good God!
    Tyrone ’13. Probably one of my most favourite days in Croker (aside from ’96). Yes, we were expected to win and eventually got there after a poor first half. But the two teams winning, the fact that there were about forty thousand Mayo fans there, half of them with a flag, (#seaofgreenandred), the way they played in the second half – ah good times.
    Hopefully the Tipperary match falls into one of the above categories, and not the traumatic memories of the last two years (though I still say the performance in the second half of the drawn Kerry match was the best performance of this current Mayo team). Here’s hoping they add to the memories!!

  9. I’m with t bone on that sentiment. Going up last Saturday I was thinking what the fuck will we do till the fbd if we don’t win. But we did and thank god we will have plenty more to think about. I was watching a rocky film the other day. He made a great statement. ” it’s not how hard u can hit. It’s about how hard u can get hit and keep getting up and moving forward ” I automatically thought of mayo and it’s supporters. We have had some great days and some shite ones. But we keep coming back and we won’t take no for an answer

  10. Willie Joe I think ye have held the favourite tag a few tines in the recent past and ye have managed to stagger over the line with the exception of Galway, good teams win even when playing badly.

    Mayo just need to focus to get into the final and the management I have no doubt had a good look at Tipp. Tipp are a very exciting attacking team and play with their heart on their sleeve but unfortunately for this exhuberence comes a cost when you come up against an unmovable object, they will have to sarcrafice some of their attacking instinct on Sunday week. Mayo have been well warned with their style, they tattooed a Galway team that caught Mayo with a well timed scoring burst which was in truth against the flow of the tide in the game. Despite this Mayo were not exactly accelerating into the sunset against Galway and we’re making hard work of asserting their (favourites tag) expected superiority on the day. One only needs to look at the possible final score in the Galway Tipp quarter final to make sure you have visited the toilet, loaded both guns and have the bunker well stocked as these guys will over run the camp if anyone’s not tuned in.

    Galway probably were too focused on systems and defence and definitely didn’t expect this audacity to expect an actual victory. Tipp on the other handj just threw off the shackles and went for it and with all this nordy defensive s##t having crept into the Galway (and most others unfortunately) game they were caught cold with something they didn’t expect, it’s called football. There is a part of me that thinks that maybe the powers that be might have been moved that day by the expression of freedom and the willingness to to return to the mother tree of all things great about our game. Our game is about developing skills and enjoying the expression of raw talent and not spoiling them with the dreadful tactic of putting cement blocks on the skating ring to stop those who have worked on the talents and developed their ability to a level that inspire youth and take our breath with every leap or turn on the big days.

    I think Mayo will prevail as I presume the management will keep the minds focused on the recent Tipp result and coupled with the experience of this Mayo team they will not allow Tipp to run through them like a dose of salts. Lee keegan is mayo’s enforcer and the Tipp lads will meet a robust and abrasive player that will take the sting out of their most effective playmaker, I think he is an exceptional talent and a real filler for that far too long empty weapon holder.

    I also think should they prevail that the game will greatly benefit the managements perspective on the best selection when they meet the challengers in the colosseum in the Final as both Dublin and Kerry will attack with vigour and if ye met Tyrone and Donegal in the quarter and semi ye would be tested hugely but not in the style of either opponents on the 18th, it’s all to play for now, 80 or 160 odd minuted of football for all concerned, the winter is coming john Snow !

  11. Going down memory lane has always a bitter sweet memories for me. Living in Dublin I would never have missed a match. and where as we had some great days at headquarters we could never finish the job. What made it worse for me, a lot of my mates were either Dublin, Down or Kerry guys and they never made it easy for you after the inevitable loss on the big day. Good to know though that after all this time we have mellowed a bit and those very same guys are still my best mates.

    Having attended last years semi-final where we lost to Dublin in the replay one of these guys [promised that if we won the final he would arrange to have Sam pay a visit to my house. Sure enough one Sunday morning last February following a fund raising night in the local club a knock came to the door and there to my surprise was yer man with the Sam Maguire Cup.

  12. I must be getting old!! The first game I saw in Croke Park was the All-Ireland semi-finaI against Dublin which we drew (we lost the replay by a point). I was 17 years old at the time, accompanied by my late brother Jimmy who was 15. Our grandmother had arranged for Seamus Acton, brother of that great Mayo footballer Tom Acton, a neighbour in Ballina, to look out for us as we had not been many times in Dublin!

    That was the year Dublin introduced the “roving full forward” role for Kevin Heffernan. That then revolutionary tactic was supposed to derail the old catch and kick method of Kerry in the final. This was the era where players stuck rigidly to their positions on the field. But Kerry, as was their wont, won through on the day. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they do the same again against the Dubs on August 28.

    I find it hard to swallow that line from Stephen Rochford that Diarmuid OConnor was suffering from nothing more than cramp when he was taken off the last day. I would be surprised if he KICKED the ball more than a couple of times in that game. I would opine that it would be better to give him a rest the next day. We could also start without O’Boyle and slot in Donie Vaughan at centre-half with which he is well acquainted. Barry Moran or Tom Parsons would then fill his midfield role.But if things aren’t working out then we can bring on the full cavalry.

    Anyway here’s looking forward to a stress-free day …even though I know Tipp must be treated with the greatest respect!

  13. Lads we would all be looking back on last Saturday with a different attitude if Tyrone had brought their shooting boots. Poor performance in my opinion. Much better needed in the SF versus Tipp. Much better performance is possible. Don’t get carried away with the hype – we need to learn!!!

  14. If Tipp beat Galway in hurling on Sunday we have the prospect of a Tipp Hurling Football double and all the hype which goes with that. How would Tipp footballers handle the hype? Impossible to say but they would be coming from a position of nothing to lose whereas we would be in the Galway shoes in the QF. Unlike Galway, though, I think we have the experience to handle the situation but it is certainly a factor. Like Leicester across the water last spring that which is deemed impossible sometimes is possible. Personally I have some regret that we are not meeting Galway again as I think we would be giving them a lesson in “real” football. But I have to console myself with wondering [to my Galway friends, some of whom seem to be avoiding me at the moment] about what went wrong for them in the QF.

  15. We should remember that if we were to lose to Tipp then the most happy supporters out there after the Tipp supporters would be the Galway supporters, they would like nothing better than to see the team that knocked them out, do the same thing to us. That does not even bear thinking about.

    I would agree with your analysis there Gamechanger. At the end of the day if we cannot cope with the pace and running game of Tipp, there is no way that we’d be able to cope with the Dubs. If we cannot cope with the aerial threat of Tipp then there is no way that we’d be able to handle someone like Donaghy for Kerry in a final. Tipp have a good few strings to their bow and its up to us to handle each of those different types of strings. It’ll be very interesting to see how our management team will set us up for this game.

  16. time to embrace the favourites tag and beat who needs to be bet. another westmeath job please winning a shoot out by the odd point or two with a bit held back in reserve for the challenge that follows.

  17. Some wise words from our goalkeeper here:

    Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke has revealed that they have not got carried away by any of their performances this year. Clarke told the Western People that the remained clam when they lost to Galway in the Connacht SFC semi-final and that they have not gotten carried away with their successes since.

    Mayo are just one win away from another All-Ireland final appearance, but their goalkeeper feels they have plenty of work to do to get there. “The important thing was that we didn’t get too low when we lost to Galway; we were still in the championship,” said Clarke. “We won against Tyrone and likewise we didn’t get too high. It’s a fine line and balance. But there were a lot of questions asked both inside and outside the group and we’re happy we were able to answer some of them.”

    He added: “The Tipperary game is going to be a different challenge. All the talk since the last day is that they’re a fantastic free flowing footballing team. We have two weeks now to prepare again. Management will come up with a plan and we’ll start putting it into practice.”

  18. Agree Roger, a no frills, no controversy win would be ideal. Revert to single sweeper, give Barrett, parsons, loftus and b Moran some game time. Also if there is Any doubt over Diarmuid do not play him. Tipp won’t be under estimated but the ideal situation is when Jim Gavin or fitz sit down with their army of people who have observed Mayo for the final and they ask:
    What’s the likely team – not sure
    One sweeper or two – not sure
    Where will Aos play – not sure
    Well at least we’ll know when they name their team – not really, mayo usually make 2 late changes which change the way they set up.
    Unlike previous years Mayo are unpredictable!

  19. Just read few comments regarding mayo giving poor performance the last day. So tell me lads when we battle hard and get over the line that’s not good enough. When we thrash the opposition we learn nothing and so that’s not good enough either. What kind of performance would suit ye? We have played well and lost before. At least we are in the last 4. The comments after galway game were that there will be no need book the croke park hotel this year. We all know improvement from now on is imperative. All we gotta do is hang in there.

  20. Good man toughnup
    I like the Rocky analogy myself when you think about these guys and Mayo football in general and our supporters. It does annoy me when lazy pundits talk about mental fraility and so on. This is the mentally strongest bunch of guys that ever played the game. They keep coming back. Any other bunch would have taken the easy route and just given up. Also the fans are something else. It hit me in Ennis this year. We outnumbered the opposition by 10-1 and they were favourites!.
    You wherever there is a red and green flag there will be a Mayo person to follow it!!!

  21. The Cusack upper tier has been opened for this game and tickets went on sale in the past 24 hours. Looks like we are going to have a huge Mayo support there on the day.

  22. Dublin had a write off year in 2012, they’ll always be technical bookies favourites in a knock out match in this era but a large amount of pundits and fans across the country predicted us for that one

    But for Andy’s absence we probably would have been actual favourites tbh. Dublin scraped over the line against Laois and looked awful all year. Didn’t even make league semi

  23. Pat I was in ennis also. We nearly broke the sheeting off the stand every time mayo scored. A mighty day out. Talk about battling qualities. Members of that panel are now in the senior set up as u know. As bill shankley or someone famous like myself once said ” winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing ” that’s the picture painted by u 21 success. There is no way that Diarmuid o connor and Co will retire without celtic crosses in their locker. Not a hope

  24. It’ll be very interesting to see if someone like Conor Loftus will get some game time against Tipp, if we are going well. While it was great to see Lee kick those two super points against Tyrone, you still get the feeling that we’ll need that little bit extra up front to really push on. I would have preferred if it was one of our front men kicking those points as it’s hard to expect Lee to do that for us in all of the biggest games. We seen Conor Loftus take his goals really well in the U21 final and thats the kind of strikers you need on the big days. He is a player for the future alright and could even be a big player for the present as well, he does seem to have the right mentality. It was great to see Cillian in flying form the last day and Evan Regan will probably get his chance against Tipp also.

  25. David Coldrick named as the Ref for the Semi Final vs Tipp.

    Gough has been given the job of ensuring the poor Dubs don’t get picked on by Kerry while they ably dole out equivalent abuse, sly digs and off the ball blockings to the Kerrymen.

  26. The important thing is that character building proceeds! The deeper it is on the big day the better.You can’t buy it ….must be earned. In reality it comes down to hard work and willingness to go the bit extra …always was and ever will be. Simple as!!!
    A knock down,a score,a catch, a tackle, a timely substitution,that point,a particular save! And part as well is the appropriate bringing in of the new boys…at the right time.Its all happening!!! Onwards and up.

  27. Ooh my God!!! does that mean HQ are ready to wheel out uncle joe for the final? If the dubs beat us he will ride ye in the Final and if we win then he will ride us as he has never given us any kind of a break in the past. Willie Joe i don’t know if this is true perhaps you could enlighten me but I have heard that both mcquillan and Coldrick are living and working in the capital from well informed people. If this is true I think it’s a disgrace to have either of them referring Dublin games as I can only presume they have family going to Dublin games with their Dublin jerseys,,,,,

    There are plenty of good referees residing outside the capital that would not be influenced by the Hill roaring abuse at them, I know I would not like to drop my kids to school Monday morning having given a decision of a controversial nature against the dubs if they lost by a point,, This is the reality and I would not like a Leinster ref residing in Castlebar in charge of a Kerry Mayo final no more that ye would like if he was residing in Tralee. What are the chanced of a northern ref residing I’m Mayo in charge of Dublin v Mayo final, pretty slim imo, not good enough !

  28. Hear we have drawn the short straw for the Semi ; another Meath Ref.
    I said on this blog the last day and I will say it again ” Will someone tell Meath Referees that it was the Land Commission gave the land and not Mayo GAA”.
    After the one sided decisions in the Tyrone game, Tipperary will be happy with the choice of Referee.
    Maybe its only a rumour !!!!
    We will want be cute

  29. What I am saying – rather poorly – is that we should not get all gung-ho for beating Tyrone. Likewise we should not be all doom and gloom like after the Fermanagh and Galway games. We need to keep a level head. We need to be more mature in our reactions and hope that the players are doing the same thing. I’m sure they are.

  30. Lads I think we all need to lay off the referee debate. David Coldrick is in my opinion one of the best referees out there. And even if he has faults I don’t think he has ever shown bias in games I’ve seen him ref.

    No referee has lost us an All Ireland Final or Semi-Final yet and the day we start thinking that is the day our goose is cooked cause it means we’re looking for excuses.

  31. Turnip head – RANT WARNING here but while I would agree with you on Coldrick but there’s no doubt about it that Cormac Reilly was one absolute C Unit of a ref who screwed with us on more than one occasion.
    Vs Tyrone in 2009, he called back play for an “advantage” when we had 2 men clean through on Goal – how was that an advantage?. He let play continue and then decided to call it back when we were in a better position?. That was one of a few puzzling decisions on that particular day.
    It was he that got in Coldricks Ear to give Lee a Red for not even making contact with Buckley in the first game against Kerry in 2014, and there’s been enough said about what was either complete bias, or utterly incredible incompetence that clearly favoured one side in the replay against in Limerick.

    I agree we need to get over it, but I would disagree with you when you say “No referee has lost us an All Ireland Final or Semi-Final yet”. Reilly most certainly did. If there is anything to be thankful for its that Reilly has been dropped from the Refereeing panel and if there is to be justice, he’ll never be let referee another game again at any level.

    and now that I’ve had my “Spake” on the matter, let us try to put 2014 and Limerick to bed once and for all.

    Rant over.

  32. David Goldrick is a good ref and his Blackhall Gaels club is justifiably proud of his achievements.
    However no one can deny another Meath Refs decisions in the Tyrone game were one sided. Even heard Tyrone folks saying they had 16 on the team before Sean Kavanagh walked.
    Hope David Goldrick is even handed, that’s all we ask for.
    The only excuse we are prone to use is ‘The Curse’ and that’s nearly played out at thus stage.
    My most cherished memories are the ’89 Semi when we beat Tyrone, stayed for ages in Croker after the game with some old mates from St Colmans. The stewards eventually asked us to leave. Similarly on the last day of April this year in Cusack Park when we beat Cork in Under 21 Final, again last to leave. What a feeling !! Really hope to experience this feeling in September.
    Keep the faith.

  33. God lads, I think Coldrick is one of the best refs in the country, if not the best. No one gets every decision right but he gets more right than most. There are many refs out there I’m not a fan of but I’m quite happy with Coldrick, I have to say.

  34. Woohoo !!! the mighty O Donovan brothers have just done Ireland proud by winning two silver Olympic medals, creat Cork men and what an achievement for us all.

  35. Turnip head, I would agree, this blaming the ref is getting a bit old at this stage. There are good refs and bad ones out there for sure but the bad ones usually make poor decisions against both sides. Last Saturday the ref had a poor day but on hindsight we benifited from a lot of calls too. We are all prob biased but for me Mayos tackling has been average at best for a lot of games, leaving the hand in, high tackle, poor timing. In 2013 Horan had tackling down to an art form but that has slipped a little thus conceeding soft frees, from the stands in the heat of the moment it looks harsh but in reality alot of the frees against are probably justified.

    One of my pet hates lately is the booing from the Mayo crowd as soon as the ref makes a call that we dont like. What do people think is going to happen? The ref will not reverse his decision. Will it make the ref think twice about calling a free against a mayo man, or will it maybe create a bias in the refs mind against Mayo? The latter I would think.

  36. I’d say even the Mayo players themselves are sick of people going on about refs:

    http://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/gaa/football/seamus-oshea-referees-not-to-blame-for-mayos-losses-378655.html

    http://www.irishmirror.ie/sport/gaa/gaelic-football/gaelic-football-news/mayo-star-barry-moran-blaming-5863930

    http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/lee-keegan-interview-mayo-s-man-apart-on-how-gaelic-football-was-not-for-him-1.2587486

    This is what Lee Keegan said about the last few years in that interview:

    “Dublin were better than us in the end up last year, no arguments. They kicked the ball over the bar more times than we did. I never hold a grudge about these games, I never get so caught up in them that I can’t see who deserved to win and who didn’t. I never look back in a bitter way at anything – not last year, not 2014, not either of the All-Ireland finals. If we were good enough, we would have won. When we are, we will. Simple as.”

  37. Talking about dodgy ref decisions, Sean cavanagh got a wrong yellow in the sending off, he put his arm on aos arm which had the ball secured, as aos ran through seams arm slide upwards but it was not a yellow. It goes both ways most of the time.
    Apart from that shambles in limerick against Kerry, I don’t think we were ever robbed. That day was a disaster for the ref who was out of his depth or so it seemed.
    Anyway, forget the past and focus on getting Sam back home form the winter.

  38. Tickets are not available for the game online. Does this mean that they are opening up more spaces in another tier?

  39. Did Coldrick do the final last year or was it Kinsella does anyone know? I remember whoever it was having a very stellar game. Also the ref for our Dublin replay did a fine job. Presume Coldrick was one of the above?

    “Woohoo !!! the mighty O Donovan brothers have just done Ireland proud by winning two silver Olympic medals, creat Cork men and what an achievement for us all.”

    Hear hear, two legends and a breath of fresh air!

  40. @ Mayomad
    With regards crowds influencing refs, anyone who was in Tullamore last April for the U21 semi final will tell you that the crowd influenced that ref. He was after a few bogey decisions against Mayo when Diarmuíd ran up in front of the stand with three Dublin players literally hanging off him. The ref blew the whistle, much to everyone’s relief, only to watch dumbfounded as he gave it against Diarmuíd for over-carrying. I thought the roof would come off the stand such was the howls of indignation, including from the sizable Monaghan crowd and small Cork crowd. The ref clearly knew he had made a shite of things and gave us three frees in a row afterwards, including a questionable one for Diarmuíd that led to Irwin kicking the winning point.
    Since that day, I’m clearly in the boo the ref corner, although I think it’s one of the most difficult jobs known to man.
    With regards that heap of deception Reilly, HQ didn’t even have the bottle to drop him straight away from the elite roster, they waited a year before giving him the chop. To do it straight away would have been tantamount to admitting they were wrong, not something that the establishment does in Ireland.

  41. 100% agree Liam.I was also going to use the example in Tullamore.Letting the ref know he got something wrong (or even if it was near enough 50/50) does of course have an influence.

    The crowd has a massive part to play,whether it’s letting the ref know we’ll be on his back if there are bad calls against us or chanting/roaring at the right time to get our lads going.Anybody that doesn’t think these things have an influence isn’t living in the real world.

    On a related note,I reckon we could have our biggest Mayo crowd ever in Croke Park for this game.There is no shortage of tickets so anyone that wants to go can.I was thinking back to what was our biggest crowd before.I’d have to say against Tyrone in 2013 semi,maybe the first game with Meath in 96..Will be some sight anyway!

  42. Got me season tickets for this one…allocated section 307…not bad. I think it will be a small crowd for a SF.

  43. Liam, FW,im not saying the crowd doesnt have an effect, id be in favour of making as much noise as possible. Booing the ref at every opportunity can have a negative effect IMO. You pointed to one example in Tullamore. I have been to countless games at all levels where booing had little or no effect and I have been to games where booing seemed to make the ref even more pig headed. Booing a certain Mr Reilly in Limerick didn’t work out too well, that man seemed to get more and more determined to penalise Mayo as the game and booing went on. Refereeing is a tough and thankless job (for the life of me I dont know why anyone would do it). Im sure its 100times tougher when the crowd is on your back, some may break see the error of their ways and relax a little on a team, others may just say feck it I will show this crowd. Im just pointing out that booing a man constantly can come back to bite ya if he is stubborn enough. He is the one you dont boo in a big game. remember Limerick.

  44. Enjoyed reading the comments bout the refereeing. I remember myself in my playing days the more u grumbled to him the less he gave ya. But at the end of the day all roads lead back to the team. If they are good enough they should win.

  45. I played a fair bit of my club football in Meath and was once sent off by Coldrick for striking. My marker deliberately stood on my hand having blocked him down and I felt that was innacceptable. He saw it too and I’ve never forgiven him for it.

  46. With regards refereeing, I genuinely think the middle of a stadium has to be the loneliest place on earth when you know things are coming apart. If your a player having a howler you have the sanctuary of the dug out beckoning you to safety. Reilly didn’t set out to ride Mayo in Limerick, he was just incompetent and completely lost control of the game, something Kerry read quicker and took advantage of. His decisions all over the field that day were shocking, a point that was well pointed out by McStay on the Sunday Game. I’m not making excuses for him, it’s the clowns at the top who promoted an incompetent to that position that are really to blame.
    Anyway, there was a lesson for us in Limerick and that’s adaptability has to part of our skill set. Kerry adapted to the conditions of a lawless game quicker than us and it won them their 37th All Ireland.

  47. Liam,
    You reminded of a story I was told , by a great friend from Fermanagh about another great Tom Langan. A young lad from a good footballing county was arriving in London and picked up quickly by the boys. Named to play on Sunday , he had a stinker. On leaving the pitch he apologised to Tom. Toms reply, I don’t blame you but the c***s that picked you.

  48. Normal service resumed. In 306. Coldrick at one stage was the best ref by a distance, but he seems to have become a bit inconsistent and I have defo seen him favour the Dubs at times, but not a worry as it is Tipp we have to play. Can’t wait for next weekend

  49. Lads and lassies, *slightly* off topic but still about the match day. Local band from Mayo (Swinford) Everyday Solution, re-branding as “Tall Trees” will be playing in Croke Park at our semi final. Cracking up and coming band!

  50. We need video ref. It’s impossible to ref a game and get everything right without it. Bad decisions have decided who won the championship ( double bounce in 2011 before Dublin goal).
    I just don’t think the general gaa public want it. They like the ambiguity it’s just the culture. Totally different to rugby.

  51. Tyrone lad here, good luck for the rest of the year, hope yous go on and win it. Mayo deserves it and your supporters are fantastic. Support doesn’t win games but you should get to the final and Dublin/Kerry aren’t unbeatable. Good luck. Mayo’s a fantastic county, one of the best counties in Ireland and whether it’s this year or some other year I hope you get to enjoy winning the All-Ireland sooner or later.

  52. Thanks for those good wishes Conor, that is very decent of you. I have often heard the great Peter Canavan say that for years Tyrone were seen as a soft touch and the nearly men in Ulster but that group of players led by Canavan changed all of that. He led them to glory. We are in the same position now, for years known as the nearly men and many have seen us as a soft touch in years gone by. Hopefully we can shed that nearly men tag soon. Thanks again for your kind words. That’s what the GAA is all about.

  53. Referees are just another external factor over which you have no control. Part of success is meeting the challenges posed by these factors and dealing with them. If you are good enough that is what happens. Football matches are not played in a vacuum.

    Apologies if it seems as if I have been feasting recently on corporate goobledegook, but that is the reality when it comes to winning.

  54. Agree Berry – As the saying goes you have to be good enough to beat the referee as well as the opposition. Same will go for Sunday week – it’s within our own control to ensure that we don’t get drawn into a dogfight where a poor refereeing decision could dictate the outcome of the game. We need to set the agenda from the very beginning with the intensity and determination of the Tyrone game and break up the Tipp game plan by imposing our own. If we do that from the start we will well on the way to booking our place for Sept 18th.

  55. Thanks conor,good to see posters like you ,gamechanger,martin the dub,and many others from outside the county,wishing us luck,it is what makes the gaa great,great banter but when the game is over everything is fine.on another note ,I have seen that M Harte is having a meeting with his players to set out their goals for next year,it just goes to show the amount of ground our team and management had to cover,after only getting together at Christmas

  56. Play the ref who’s there on the day. If any decisions go against us get on with it, can’t be changed. Coldrick is one of the best and can’t remember any controversy around him so stop harping on about the uncontrollables.

    Good to hear Clarke’s analysis and in some ways yes if we make final our opponents will not be sure how we will set up.

    For other semi Kerry are in the long grass. In 2013 they were headed for victory against Dubs with 5 or 10 to go until MacCauley dived between 2 Kerry players to punch a ball into the danger area. It was a do or die moment which turned the game. Last year they out muscled Kerry on a wet day but Kerry will not forget the gouging nor their heavy league defeat so will not be short of motivation. Against Clare their backs were excellent and their forwards clicked just some of the time against poor opposition. I half expect an ambush especially as Dubs have only had 1 decent game this year. Kerry will have analysed Dubs strength and weaknesses and will come with a plan while they have been trying various players and systems. Like ourselves it will be hard to come up with a game plan as no one knows who will like out.

  57. Is Diarmuid Connolly suspended for the Kerry game? Personally I think it’s more of an advantage to Kerry to have him on the field with the probability of him getting the line. He has serious rage issues.

  58. NialMac83
    No he is not but I wouldn’t cry if he was, he is a major player for the Dubs and I think he is an absolutely class act. I know he has easy bells to ring but his raw talent is a sight to behold when he is on his game, both feet and top class tackle breaking and play making skills,,, I’d gladly take him.

  59. Ah come on Diarmuid Connolly is probably the best player in Ireland…whatever about his rage issues he is truly an unbelievable player

  60. Also Coldrick is a top referee…people need to lose this paranoia about referees…I mean the free count is high against Mayo in most games and that means that our tackling isn’t good enough

  61. Connolly has great skills. It’s great to be able to say that we have a man who can mark him. Not many teams can hold him. Trouble is if he don’t perform they have many other quality players who can win matches. They have defenders coming up the field untracked scoring goals. Dublin are hard to pin down.

  62. This Mayo team have been through the wars, unlike the 04 team that made hard work of Fermanagh. Fermanagh beat the All Ireland champs the year before so they were no “Chump Change” either. Tipperary are here on merit and so are Mayo. May the best team win.

  63. I’ve had Mayo written off as real contenders all year. I had them written off before the Tyrone game, I thought a tough Ulster team would steam-roller them after stumbling and staggering through the qualifiers.

    I was wrong. I’ll put my hands up now and admit it.

    Tipp are definitely find of the year, but face it, they’re a Div 3 team. Barring all but a total Mayo collapse, you’d expect them to make the final. (I will add that if there is a team capable of collapsing like that, it’s Mayo – two decades of being also rans created the conditions that make this possible).

    What’s forcing me to rethink Mayo has little to do with Players, Setup, Management or Playing style.

    It’s that first the first time in I can remember how long, they actually seem to be starting to believe they *can* win. I think the Tyrone game, like Dublin’s 2010 win over Tyrone at the same stage of the championship, was a watershed moment. Stuffing the Ulster Champions is no mean feat, in any year, under any conditions. You could see it by the player’s demeanor after the game, they knew what this meant.

    There have been alot of false dawns in recent years, and there may be one or two left to go, but I’d be surprised if Mayo didn’t win Same in the next three years, and not at all surprised to see them do it this year.

    All it really takes is one big game in the final. I see it in them, I wonder to they really, really see it in themselves.

  64. @BorderTown,
    I agree with your post bar one point and that’s the collapse. I think if one thing this team has proven over the last 5 years its that they are teak tough and while they may get beaten, I genuinely cannot fathom a situation that would see Colm Boyle, Keith Higgins, Diarmuíd O’Connor or anyone else would throw down arms and capitulate. I agree with everything else you said and was talking to a player in the days after the Tyrone game who confirmed your belief that it was a watershed. He actually said it was that team’s biggest ever Championship victory.
    Maigh Eo Abú

  65. As Peter Canavan said the fingerprints of Tony McEntee were all over their performance,as well as being tactical aware something Horan didnt consider necessary, replay v Kerry just one instance,McEntee’s team will never be caught out on fitness

  66. “I see it in them, I wonder do they really, I mean really see it in themselves”. Well put Border Town

    This Mayo team are well capable of putting all those false dawns to rest., as surely as morning follows a night. We have to just wait and see.

  67. It was a great win against tyrone but in all honesty I don’t think we were great and we nearly threw it away again by being stupid near the end. We survived but just about.
    So where are we now?
    Part of me says we are riding our luck and that we will eventually come unstuck. The other part says that if we could get our act together we are capable of one ginormous performance and win an all Ireland.
    The next day will tell us nothing. On the basis of what we have seen so far we will probably do what we have to do in order to win but little more. ( I only hope that is enough!) So if we get past Tipp we will go into the final with lots of questions hanging over us, with little expectation and no hype……….and very little pressure. What a time to throw off the shackles and throw caution to the wind. What a time to produce ONE big performance! Stranger things have happened.

  68. We seen another team this Summer that wore Red and Green that pretty much stumbled their way through a competition, Portugal. We all know how things turned out for them in the end in the Euros! A similar result for us at the end of the year would do us just fine. Roll on the next game!

  69. There are two referees I will never forgive and whom have most definitely cost us …. Pat Mc Enaney in 1996 & Cormac Reilly in 2014 Coldrick not on my Christmas card list either one of my first memories of him was against Derry in Derry a few years ago (7) was a disaster that day he was also side line ref for Fermanagh game just hope to God he saw the jersey pull & deliberate trip also ! Tipperary won’t be all sweetness & light either have a very good friend from limerick who said they’ve always hated them very mouthy & rough hope team Mayo are well tuned in which I’m sure they will be! might have Galway to thank for a lot yet imagine that ?

  70. @Liam, you have a point.

    But, the 2013 game was a collapse, it just happened on the sidelines, and not on the pitch.

    Consider for a moment, the closing stages of the game.
    O’Gara was crippled, and O’Carroll was concussed and stumbling about. In effect it was 15 V 13 for almost 15 minutes – and yet the management could not react to this and press home an enormous advantage.

    It baffles me to this day watching the replay.

  71. Mayo 51..Think WJ is sipping sangria somewhere..But he’s definitely away if I remember correctly..

  72. WJ is indeed away this week on a well-earned break.

    There will be plenty of updates in the local papers this week, and no doubt with the renewed interested in the team, there will be in the nationals too. And there is any amount of good GAA podcasts out there now too which is great news for news-hungry supporters like ourselves. So we should be fine for a few days!

    Here’s a nice piece from Tommy Conlon in yesterday’s Sunday Independent to whet the appetite for next weekend: http://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/tommy-conlon-mayos-rebuilding-effort-is-coming-together-as-the-stakes-grow-higher-34963253.html

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