Focus switches to Donegal match on Sunday

All-Ireland final 2013

Time stands still for none of us and so it’s already time to consign Sunday’s narrow defeat to Cork to the memory banks and switch the focus instead to this coming Sunday’s clash with Donegal at MacHale Park (throw-in 3pm).

It’s the final regulation round of this year’s League campaign and if we fail to progress to the play-offs it’ll also be our last competitive match for all of ten weeks before our scheduled Connacht semi-final meeting on June 14th with the winners of the New York/Galway/Leitrim menage-à-trois.  The prospect of such a long lay-off may mean that we approach this one with a strong determination to secure a result, though with the semi-finals scheduled for the following weekend we’d need to be thinking about making the decider (which is down for decision on April 26th) if we’re seriously looking to use the League to shorten that yawning gap until our first championship appearance.

The visitors have no such concerns, of course, as they’re rostered to face Tyrone in a preliminary round Ulster tie six weeks from Sunday. You could argue that Donegal won’t, as a result, be all that bothered about how their clash with us goes but I’m not so sure about that. Every county likes to have a spring gallop in Croke Park even if they’ve no intention of bursting a gut once they get there and the lads from the hills could, if they want, take it easy enough in the semis on Sunday week.

It was, of course, at HQ on that memorable day back in August 2013 that our paths last met. They came into that match as the reigning All-Ireland champions but left it utterly eviscerated after what was the most complete dismantling job I’ve ever seen a Mayo team inflict on opponents at Croke Park. Donegal were relegated from Division One that spring – we beat them by four points at MacHale Park in a match both sides really needed to win that March – which is why we haven’t encountered them in a competitive fixture since the year before last.

There’s sure to be another bumper crowd in Castlebar on Sunday. Sadly, though, I won’t be among them, as we’ve other plans made for the Easter break. I have, though, a guest contributor lined up for match reporting duties on the day and so I’ll have to make sure I have internet connectivity that evening to sort out getting the report up on the site.

The bookies have chalked us down as warm 4/7 favourites to prevail in this one but even though Donegal will have to do without the services of their talismanic captain Michael Murphy (suspended) on Sunday we’ll have to find a way through what’s likely to be another suffocating Ulster blanket. Will we manage to do this with sufficient regularity to claim the points and seal a place in the play-offs? Time to vote.

How will we do against Donegal?

  • Win (85%, 212 Votes)
  • Lose (8%, 21 Votes)
  • Draw (6%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 248

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38 thoughts on “Focus switches to Donegal match on Sunday

  1. Looking forward to the match. It will probably tell us a bit more about ourselves and i hope to see a strong performance to get us to croke park. If i was managers i would think that we are only starting to make their minds up about certain players now.
    A strong performance by Kirby, parsons and Keane would be a good step forward. We still need to nail down fb, cb, midfield, cf and ff.

  2. I fear this game will be very similar to the Tyrone game with all behind the ball so mayo will really need to be ready for the puke football again

  3. It’ll actually be very interesting to see if Donegal will go all defensive for this game or will they try to catch us on the hop as they did in the 2012 final and try to build up an early lead. Playing with the wind in the first half against Tyrone last week, they blew them away by amassing a big score. So whichever tactics Donegal employ, blanket defence, an aerial bombardment or the running game. We should be ready for all eventualities.

  4. It will be an interesting game from a Mayo perspective. I think it was Martin Carney on MWR the last day who said that the Cork performance was a baseline for the new management with this panel of players, and one would expect that players and management would be aware of this also. With that in mind id be hopeful of a performance that builds on last week.
    In many ways Donegal are ideal for us at this time as it may give us another test facing the blanket defence and any team with Paddy McBrearty and (albeit a less influental Colm McFadden) up front will be tested in the air with long balls. Id hope that Neil Gallagher will be fit as our midfield need the work aswell.
    Other than that as remember 51 has stated above another day out hopefully for Tom Parsons, Danny Kirby and Kevin Keane to increase competition within the squad.

  5. Just saw that one David Coldrick is down to referee the Donegal match!!

  6. A very finicky referee, my own viewing of him is games can be extremely stop start with him!!

  7. It’s a real pity that Michael Murphy won’t be playing on Sunday.

    This would have been an acid test for Kevin Keane; a good performance against this type of benchmark would send his confidence soaring, while a bad one would at least tell us something at an early stage of the season.

    Nevertheless he has done very little wrong so far IMO. I know one poster said he was dragged all over the place in Cork, but management had him out in the half back line for a while so that in itself was a challenge.

  8. Agree catcol. Keane could have benefited from the chance to see how far he has come since the 2012 final. He was dragged around quite a bit in Cork alright and I thought he didn’t look entirely comfortable in possession at times, but that’s something that can be worked on.

    He’s a more muscular alternative to Caff for full-back; that gives us options in that position. With Cunniffe and Higgins in the wings competition in the full-back line will be sharp and that can only be good for Mayo.

  9. The Tyrone game seems to have convinced our management that we need a convincing ball winner at full forward, hence Aiden’s positioning there and now Kirby’s introduction. The McGee’s will be a good test for whoever is there next Sunday, they are the most convincing duo at full back in the country. Letting the ball in early and long will enable our half backs to maintain their positions better and not get caught out as we were by Tyrone’s fast counter attack We also need better support for the ball winner than we had last Sunday and Aiden, if he is full forward, would do well to let the ball off to that support quickly. If he were to let the first few balls off quickly and a few scores resulted he would keep defenders guessing and would then find it easier to go for his own score. As it is he is a bit predictable.
    I would hope to see Parsons, Kirby and Barry Moran keep their places for Sunday regardless of who may be coming back from injury etc.
    I wonder is there any word of Conroy’s black card being contested? Almost all cards seem to be contested nowadays unless it is totally clearcut or, like Michael Murphy, you are glad to get it.

  10. Yes DavyJ, full back line competition will be sharp; would be good to see Barrett back quickly which would mean alternatives for all positions.

  11. AndyD, Aidan O’Shea (not “Aiden”) is a bit predictable? I can’t see how you come to that conclusion. I think he has been the most influential player in this year’s league for any county, which couldn’t be the case if he was predictable.

  12. Seemingly Paul Durcan is also a doubt for Sunday according to Hogan Stand. Apparently he was in a car crash at the weekend. Another big loss to Donegal it has to be said if he’s not fit for Sunday!

  13. I’m guessing, PJB, but I think what AndyD means is that once Aidan wins it, he tends to hold on to it, and if a shot isn’t on he goes into bulldoze mode. Against Donegal I can’t see that working because of the amount of bodies they like to pull back; he’ll just get surrounded and cough up possession.

    If he gets into the habit of winning it and immediately dishing it off to, say, Ronaldson or some support runner, then that’s what the defender will come to expect – and then Aidan might get more space to get a shot away himself later in the game.

  14. Murphy with 1-6 at the weekend, missing today, and possibly Durcan in goal. I would be extremely disappointed if we don’t win this. If we get a lead of 3 or 4 at all I expect us to win

    A Semi final place will be important for us

  15. I think we need another outing in advance of June. I’d be worried if lost this one, particularly given we’re at home, on the tail end of two defeats and had a really poor performance in front of our own against Dublin.

    This is a good test for the new management team ahead of the championship. Have they learned through the course of the league?

  16. Davy J, PJB Mayo,

    That’s exactly what I meant in saying Aidan is a bit predictable.
    Defenders love predictability, so much easier for them.

  17. PJB Mayo,

    I think Barry should keep his place for next Sunday on the basis of his performance against Cork. We cannot expect to get an idea of his longterm capabilities if he gets only an occasional game. That is the only way to get real competition for places.

  18. Surely the best way to acknowledge last Sunday’s full-on performance is to name an unchanged team this week. That team deserves to hit the field again.

    Kirby and Big Barry deserve to hold their places and get badly needed game time. Delighted to see Parsons get another go, he was very good against Kerry when he came on in Limerick last year, and if he can stay injury free he’s a serious athlete who can make a big contribution. He should be hitting his peak as a footballer at 26 so no need to serve any apprenticeship.

    Great to see the much maligned Cafferkey get back into the team, he’s a serious man marker with pace who can also steady that Full-back line. Corner-bach is his best position. Also glad to see the end of the Donie experiment, he’s not a Midfielder but is a great half-back with a big engine.

    Most peculiar league where our away form has been better than our home form. Time to put that right on Sunday.

  19. It’ll be very interesting to see what kind of a performance we will put in this week-end. So far under Noel and Pat we seem to have a good performance followed by a bad one. That phrase consistently competitive comes to mind. Its interesting to note that Donegal in their first season back in Division 1 in recent years, in 2012, went on to win the All-Ireland title that year. Yet we have spent many more years plying our trade in the top Division but have not won major silverware, thats something for us to think about as well. Why have we not made the experience of playing against the top teams count, yet Donegal did make it count, the first season they came up against the big boys in a number of seasons.

  20. The more blankets we face the better as far as I see. I think we will see blankets go leor this year so the more experience the team (including the younger guys) have of it the better.

    Also it would be good for the likes of Harrisson, Kirby and a few more of the fringe players to get some game time.

    And make no mistake Donegal will be a very tough nut to crack, home or away. It is a good time to play them for this group of payers. Tyrone are no way as bad as the performance they put in last Sunday. I think instead its a sign of how good Donegal are when they set their minds on how to manage the opposition and take out key players.

  21. HSE You should remember that this is a new management team on their first inter county competition. A bit unfair for people to try and use the same yardstick we used to measure JH this early in their term. Consistently competitive will come later and hopefully with some new stars on board to land the big prize. For Sunday my wish is for a big crowd of appreciative supporters. a good performance from a team with some of the less established members getting a run again. More experimenting is key in March and April. I believe we will win this one, and I feel we owe them one.

  22. I don’t go with the obsession of some with a settled team
    In the summer
    the form players that match the games needs should start
    Subs and starters should be used to playing together
    Subs can then impact
    Sunday is about process, which should on this occasion lead to product
    Looking forward to it

  23. Don’t think Donegal operate the blanket as much as other Ulster teams. They did in 2011 in some games but won AI in 2012 by playing reasonably good football, defeating Kerry, Cork and Mayo in the process. The blanket had become a very threadbare sheet by the time we played them in AIQFin 2013 and last year they played decent football, especially v Dubs in semi before coming up against the ultra blanket of Kerry in final.They have proved themselves an excellent team winning 3 Ulsters in 4 years. However I have always felt we were as good as them and would have been very confident if we got them in AIF last year. Am also confident about Sunday as I feel our need is greater and as Donegal are in championship action in mid May I don’t think they d be too pushed about extended league campaign.

  24. @ PJ, the point I was making was that we have won a game by 13 points then lost a game by 14 points, so we probably won’t get away with that from now on, performing in one game and then not performing in the next. In saying that we have seen a lot of very up and down results in all Divisions so we can only really look ahead to our next game. At the moment we shouldn’t be thinking about a rematch with Dublin etc. or how we would set-up in that game etc. If we lose to Donegal then all of our thoughts would have to turn to the Championship. Heres hoping that we will have another match to look forward to after this week-end. Roll on the game!

  25. winning is a habit so is losing they say.sunday is a game mayo need to win, i agree that if mayo are to learn more about themselves then it will be against the top teams in croke park.This team needs to make a statement and need to push themselves into a league semi final , anything less would be seen as a regressive step.Donegal are without their most influential man and goalkeeper, but will no doubt go for the jugular early on.
    one can talk all day about systems etc but its the team with the most players playing well will win out.The performance against cork will have restored some belief in mayo, but there has to be hudge drive , motivation and will to win the next day. Ten weeks off will only make this team cold, and to be fair they will learn little about themselves in connacht.
    Cork,kerry and dublin have raised the bar,mayo need to be man enough to clear it.

  26. @ F’Deelin, I found this on the Shannonside website:

    Connacht Minor League Fixtures 2015
    Round 4. Apr 4th Saturday

    Roscommon v Galway Kiltoom F Flynn (L) J Glavey, J Judge 5.30pm
    Mayo v Leitrim Ballaghderreen Alan Hearty (NY) Marty Duffy (U), V Hardiman 5.30pm
    Sligo v Longford Coolooney Dean O Connor (NY) J Henry (U), C Candon 5.30pm

  27. Looking forward to the trip back to Mayo for the weekend and the match on Sunday. Word on the street here in Donegal is that big Neil Gallagher is a major doubt for Sunday.
    If its true then they will be a bit short in midfield with Murphy out as well.
    That might suggest that there will be more of a blanket to contend with if Donegal struggle around the middle.
    Anyway looking forward to it and another outing for The Mayo Donegal mixed families support group!. see ye Sunday

  28. Donegal under 21s qualified tonight for Ulster final next Wednesday, I’d imagine that would also rule out Ryan mchugh for Sunday

  29. Just read reports in the Western of Connacht Minor League games, Mayo 1 = 9 to Rosc’s 1 = 11 and Mayo 5 = 7 to Galway’s 0 = 7. The Rosc result is the most interesting, I think, since they would have been short Roscommon CBS students who are in the upcoming Hogan Cup final. [They beat New Ross a few days after the league game]. Another indication of the Rossies growing power at underage level?
    I tried to get details of any other games in the Connacht GAA website but no luck. Not for the first time I came to the conclusion that it is the most useless website in the planet. It seems to have been completely redesigned since last year but why they bothered beats me. I understand that they are playing Leitrim in Ballagh on Sat evening but I’m afraid I won’t be able to get to it although the venue would normally be ideal for me.

  30. Just been listening to Liam McHale on Newstalk talking about the need for long kick passing to break down the blanket defence. He was also strongly suggesting that taking on an opponent should be the last option for a player in possession. According to Liam shooting should be the first option if that option is on, if not pass while taking the ball into contact or trying to beat an opponent should be a last option as if the opponent is beaten there are two or three defenders lined up to turn the ball over. The discussion began on the subject of Jim Gavin bringing a basketball coach into his Dublin set up to help them break down blanket defences. It was not a line I expected Liam to take but it is one I entirely agree with. I have mentioned here previously my opinion that Aidan O’Shea’s weakness is his tendency to try to bulldoze his way through a defence rather than deliver a quick pass. Delivering a quick pass does, as McHale said, demand coaching to get the timing and support play right.
    If, as seems probable, Donegal are without some of their stars on Sunday it is likely that they will be even more reliant on the blanket and it will be interesting to see if we have improved our ability to break it down.

  31. Just one change:

    Mayo Team: O’Malley, Caff, Keane, Higgins, Keegan, Boyle, Vaughan, Moran, Parsons, McLoughlin, AO’Shea, Doherty, Ronaldson, Kirby, Dillon

  32. The Mayo Management Team have made just one change to the team from that which was so narrowly beaten by Cork last Sunday in Pairc Ui Rinn. Kenneth O’Malley will replace David Clarke in goal with the rest of the team unchanged. The Mayo Senior Football Team to face Donegal this Sunday 5th April at 3.00p.m. at Elverys MacHale Park is as follows:

    1.) Kenneth O’Malley – Ballinrobe
    2.) Ger Cafferkey – Ballina Stephenites
    3.) Kevin Keane – Westport
    4.) Keith Higgins – Ballyhaunis (Capt.)
    5.) Lee Keegan – Westport
    6.) Colm Boyle – Davitts
    7.) Donal Vaughan – Ballinrobe
    8.) Barry Moran – Castlebar Mitchels
    9.) Tom Parsons – Charlestown Sarsfields
    10.) Kevin McLoughlin – Knockmore
    11.) Aidan O’Shea – Breaffy
    12.) Jason Doherty – Burrishoole
    13.) Mark Ronaldson – Shrule/Glencorrib
    14.) Danny Kirby – Castlebar Mitchels
    15.) Alan Dillon – Ballintubber

  33. Team named for Sunday, only the one change with O’Malley in for Clarke. I wonder how we look on the injury front?

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