Forget the past

AI final 2013 the end

Mayo Gaelic football is a bit of an enigma. In the last twenty years, it has achieved the longest unbroken run in the modern Division One of the league, it has won more championship semi-finals (6) than any other county except Kerry and yet a single Sam Maguire victory eludes it.

“Why, oh why?” we ask.

External commentators point to a variety of reasons: a fear of finals, a curse, bad luck, a poor refereeing performance, a row in the camp, etc. Many also suggest how to make the final step, but though many brave men have come and tried, none have succeeded.

Leaving Croke Park last September, I met some young Dubs that I coach. They were delighted to win, but even they could see the torture that I was suffering and to their credit, they resisted the temptation to rub it in. “Never mind” said one of them “there’s always next year!” But the thought of that didn’t do me any good – I have seen a lot of “next years” and had no reason to be optimistic that one such year would see me leaving Croke Park having witnessed Mayo taking the ultimate prize.

“Why, oh why?” I asked. “Why not Mayo?”

Some see Spring as a time of healing, I look to Winter for that. I concentrated my football time back at the club with the Minors and then the Juniors before emerging in the Spring with new hope. But this time it is hope tempered with reality. I have every expectation that we will get back into the shake-up this year – maybe even all the way to the final, but there are problems with the approach of the Mayo team. We only see them at times but they must be addressed if we are to avoid that horrible late-September-leaving-Croke Park feeling.

The first issue is that we are always playing catch-up. A few years ago (2011), we measured ourselves against the then All-Ireland champions, Cork. We played them at their own game and beat them. We repeated the dose with the Dubs (in 2012) and with Donegal last year.

We had caught up, but in each case, we then came up against teams that were on a mission and seemed to be destined to win the All-Ireland. They had each brought their own game further and we were still concentrating on beating the best from the previous year. In each case, we lost.

And I am now concerned that again this year, we seem to have taken the 2013 Dubs “you can score 4 but we’ll score more!” mantra. Yes, I really believe that by Summer we could beat the Dubs of 2013, but if we keep going the way we are going now, we may well still be behind the level needed for the big prize of 2014.

To get beyond this, we must stop thinking of last year’s opposition and concentrate on bringing more to our own party. This is about laying down the marker that we don’t care who we are playing – we just will not be beaten! A huge part of this is attitude (best displayed at present by both Lee Keegan and Colm Boyle) and James Horan has done a lot of good work on this – but it is also about structure and style of play, a factor that changed just too much during the course of the game in last year’s All Ireland Final. We must have a style and a structure, work to perfect them, and have the confidence to build our championship ambitions on them. And if it doesn’t work, at least we won’t be scratching our heads wondering why seemingly inexplicable decisions were made in the course of a game.

The second issue is about developing different attacking options. These would seem to be coming along nicely given the amount we have scored in the league to date and our running game is excellent, but it can be countered if over-relied upon. Jim Gavin did that last year when he pinned our attacking half-backs back in our own half, thereby leaving our forwards with no running support on which to initiate attacks. The following are some of things that would bring further purpose to our forward play:

  • Use the long ball to the full forward line (played brilliantly in Connacht last year, abandoned in Croke Park but beautifully resurrected by Freeman with his goal last Sunday);
  • Play a dominating No 11 (Cillian O’Connor was devastating in this role against Galway last year);
  • Play two fast utility wing-forwards like we did for the first part of the All-Ireland Final last year;
  • Play goal-hungry guys close to the target area (Doherty and Freeman have shown in recent weeks that they are two of them).

All of these force the opposition to defend against OUR game and takes their collective minds off playing THEIR game.

The third issue is at the back and again, work is required:

  • Work with Rob on decision making. He is a fine goalie, but he has to catch the ball (or punch it well away) when he comes for it;
  • Sort out our kickouts – On Sunday last, all 12 in the 1st half were broken (of which we subsequently won 7) and we won just 2 out of 8 in the 2nd half – an overall return of 45%! (hat-tip to Ed McGreal of the Mayo News for the stats);
  • Use match-ups more effectively. Does anyone else remember the marking job Shane McHale did on Connelly when we beat the Dubs in April 2012? And also, when it is not working, move the markers around (like Caff was moved on to Hurley last Sunday but not like when Caff was not moved off Brogan in the All-Ireland).
  • We need to resolve the No.6 issue – Donie is a fine footballer but he does not dominate the No.6 area and at times he gets dragged out of position leaving a big hole in our defence. Either he needs to change his style or someone else must play there. A No.6 must lead the defence; marshal his troops and issue orders as necessary. Running half forwards have to be prepared to pick up a wandering opposition No 11.

Addressing these three would put us in a better place. In the meantime we have the Dubs in our sights on Saturday week. They play a high tempo energy sapping game. They are constantly moving, they move the ball quickly, someone is calling for the ball as soon as a foul is blown, frees are taken immediately to a runner in space, kickouts are precise. But the high tempo game has drawbacks. Half way through their game with Kildare, they looked knackered and it was only when Kildare heads went down having missed three goals that they pushed on to win well. Their only other win was against Westmeath.

To beat them, the match-ups must be thought out in advance, marking must be tight, NO TURNOVERS allowed, defend tenaciously, attack relentlessly, protect the ball, pin them back in their own half, use a variety of attacking options and punish them with goals whenever possible. Dublin display an air of superiority in Croke Park, but put them on the back foot and anything can happen.

They beat us three times last year so it’s time to lay down a marker and begin building for the championship.

2013 is over. Welcome to 2014.

Keep the Faith!

100 thoughts on “Forget the past

  1. i also agree with that, dubs love to run forward at speed and one touch the ball to the back of the net, if our backs dont field the ball cleanly, it is important they spoil to keep the goals at bay, but i’m confident enough we’ll turn up. maigheo abú

  2. Very good piece. I agree we need to push on our own game and not use dub as a bench mark

  3. Enjoyed the piece. Some good points and well articulated. Agree especially about the long ball not being used enough in Croke park. Our attacking structure needs to improve. We need to create easier chances for our inside forwards, not Hail Mary shots from the corners or sidelines. We need to perfect a system where freeman/Andy / doc/whoever is getting on the ball with a bit of space in the scoring zone, i.e. 30 metres from goal and closer. That’s the responsibility of the whole team and the speed that they move the ball, right from the half/full back lines up through the field. Every extra solo we take in possession 80/90 yards from goal results in our inside forwards having a couple of yards less space and also less time to operate in when the ball reaches them. Against weak teams we get away with this because we have better footballers than most teams, but against the very top sides Dublin 13/ Donegal 12, we have been found wanting in this area. Let’s hope we improve this year.

  4. I agree with much of what you have to say, Four Goal McGee, but there are a few points I want to make. Regards markups and Ger Cafferkey many of our recent problems have come from using him to mark specific forwards taking him away from the full back position,
    Last Sunday was an example, he was assigned to mark Colm O’Neill who was playing in the corner. When he was moved back to his natural position of Full back our problems were solved. In the 2012 final Kevin Keane was given the job of marking Michael Murphy which left him effectively playing full back as Murphy did not adopt his usual role and the Mayo management expected. The same applied in the Kildare game where he was drawn out from the square and Tomás Connor took advantage. We never know until the game begins what tactics or positions opponents will adopt or who will actually start and to take a prescribed line re mark ups is not always best. If we are always moving away from our natural game we are conceding that our natural game is not good enough and starting with a marked psychological disadvantage. Then if things go wrong we suffer a double blow.
    Regards goal hungry forwards nobody betters Cillian O’Connor in that regard, He has to be corner forward, as close to goal as possible, as far as I am concerned. [He is not dominant enough in the air for full forward] Regards last summer v Galway every Mayo player was outstanding that day. Maybe we have no alternative on the 40 but I do not think so, Physique is another vital issue in modern football which leads me to fear that when championship time against the top teams comes round Mikey Sweeney will not feature as well as he has done in the last two games. Today he is a virtually unknown quantity as far as the opposition is concerned but come Aug or Sept next he will not be unknown. My full forward line for next summer, give that all are fit will feature three of Cillian O’Connor, Barry Moran, Alan Freeman and Andy Moran. They would be ideal to deal with long ball deliveries from outfield.
    At midfield the O’Shea’s are not as immobile as some would suggest. Rather their natural game is to wait for the traditional long kick out but I believe that they can adapt to the Cluxton kick out if needed.
    A wandering centre forward will prove a problem for whoever is at centre back and as you suggest that is a problem for other players, e.g. half forwards, to cover. But Donie Vaughan can be an equally big problem for the opposition with his attacking runs. The trick is not to run into tackles, rather release and go for the return. With the black card that tactic will pay big time for all teams. There is no alternative centreback around that I can see who can equal Donie in that regard.

  5. That’s an great piece FGM, which I agree with for the most part. Of all the issues you highlight, I believe the third one the backs, is the biggest one. We have conceded ten goals so far in the league, and we shouldn’t need reminding of how damaging goals are, and their impact on outcomes.
    You single out the number 6 as perhaps the pivotal role here, while I don’t disagree it’s pivotal, the number 3 is IMO the general, the one who should be marshaling the troops , barking out the orders, the guy who owns the effin square, the quarterback, the boss so to speak. Someone who the opposite player is weary of, somewhat doubtful about his ability to get anything from him.
    Granted, these types are rare, but when u find them, you’ll know it, and so too will the opposition.

  6. Very well written piece FGM. That’s a very good point about everyone talking about the Dubs, as being the team to beat this year. Playing to your own strengths is always the best policy rather than adapting your own game to counter the strengths of the opposition. I actually came across some youtube highlights of the 2004 All-Ireland final against Kerry recently and it was amazing that Kerry just kept playing long high balls into their forwards who had a field day against our backs. You’d love to see us using this tactic more often against the top teams. We actually did quite a bit of this against Donegal in the quarter-final game last year, getting the ball in as quickly as possible to our forwards and it worked very well in that game. When we move the ball at speed, we are at our best and very hard to stop.

  7. Great post Four Goal.

    I’m inclined to think that it is almost vital that we put it up to the Dubs and show them who da Boss. Fact is Dublin beat us three times out of three times in 2013. Mayo beat Dublin twice in 2012. In my opinion Mayo needs to bring Dublin back to earth or by beating them or acknowledge that the Dubs have moved on past us, if we loose.

    I realise that Dublin have lost away to Derry this year and to Cork at home but Mayo v Dublin is a different animal. I wait in hope that Dublin will field their strongest team, so that when Mayo beat them, Mayo will send a clear message to themselves and others. Mayo are getting “Bigger! Faster! Stronger!

  8. Good piece FGM .do u think over the last few years that we have used players on the starting 15 that really are too similar in style of play and some time we are accommading players and moving them Just to fit them. I can’t remember when we last played a game when we started 6 out and out natural forwards. By that I mean players who came on to the panel who play that position for their clubs. May be I,m old school but I feel we need to get a better balance

  9. I agree with 4 goal McGee. Last year is over. Again Andy D has fellows playing on past reputations. 2 O’Sheas midfield and Barry in forward line. This tune has been played over the past 3 years and its time to move on. We need footballers who can play as a team and also have vision. This present team has got a new step about them. We are scoring goals and points like never before. Our backs are now beginning to gel. I agree about Vaughan(a good athlete,not a good footballer). I think this could be our year and if we refrain from putting on players with PAST REPUTATIONS we will get over the finish line. As the song says ” Yesterday is dead and gone,etc)

  10. Well said. We all know our finals record…we can wallop in self pitty and look to the past (which will do nobody any good) or look forward. I am sure that’s what the team and management are doing. That said you feel they are under pressure this year to deliver assuming it’s JH’s last throw at it.

    On a side note: Was looking at the calendar there last night and holy smoke its only 6 weeks this Sunday to our opening Championship game with New York. I assume a few posters here like myself will be making the trip over. Anybody aware of any functions or get togethers planned over there?

  11. The changing of Ger on to Hurley was made by the player himself not by management.From where I view the game it was clear to see. Well done GER.

  12. A couple of observations.

    1. You say we should stop concentrating on the team that beat us last year and instead play our own game, yet spend most of the piece talking about how to counteract Dublin.

    2. Ger Cafferkey had a very good game on brogan last year. He beat him to several balls and neither goal was his fault.

    While I agree with playing our own game, it is also a good thing to learn from opposition. I dont see any issue with trying to incorporate goals into our game. Also, we scored a lot of goals last year which to me suggests we arent copying anyone but instead trying to develop our fotball.

    Personally, I would like to see mayo use their heads a bit more. We often get periods of dominance where we have 3-4 goal chances in a row. My thinking would be if you miss the first 2, put the next one over the bar, unless of course it is a 1 on 1 nailed on great chance. Missed goal chances give opponents a lift and when you have a period of dominance it is hugely important to keep ticking over with scores. It makes the opposition worry that bit more. Kerry over the last decade were always aware of little things like that. They knew to keep that bit of pressure on and it served them well. Mayo are one of the most dominating teams around. They go on runs where they win every ball for 9-10 minutes at a time, we should make more of that when it is happening.

  13. Good piece, especially agree with imposing our style on teams and using different forms of attack.

    But regarding the full back line you can’t have one man that will remain in that position, that day is gone. Forward movement means backs are drawn all over the place so all backs have to be flexible and fast.
    Ger caff is a terrific defender and I think he did a good job on Brogan in the AI, beating him to the ball on numerous occasions. I can only think of one point Brogan got that he beat Caff for, the rest were handed to him.
    Much the same applies to the No 6 role, it has changed completely. Name a current no 6 in the mould of tim Kenneally who took out everything that came down the middle? The game is too fast and too fluid, teams defend as a unit.
    What was said above is true, the dubs held our strongest line (half backs) and thus exposed the shortcomings of the forwards.

    At the end of every day it comes down to having forwards who will lose the fear and seize the day, thats all we’re missing….

  14. Ya that was a very good article. I agreed with a lot of it but…. Should mayo play long balls into the FF Line if the opposition are playing with a sweeper i.e. Donegal and Tyrone. Should mayo play Cillian at no 11 when we know he’s a huge threat inside? 6 goals in 105 minutes in championship football last year against London and Donegal tells us he’s a number 15…..

    The question I’d ask is should mayo play a sweeper to protect Caff, Cunniffe and probably Barrett? We have conceded some big scores in the league so My answer would be a big yes! Vaughan would be my man to do it. I don’t think he’s a 6 either… A back 6 of Cunniffe, Caff, Barrett, Boyle, Keegan, Drake/P Durcan (mitchels) is solid. Put Vaughan sweeping to pick up breaks and drive out with the others in tow would be hard for any team to play against…

    Midfield is working very well at the moment so I’d leave gibbons and A O Shea to continue in their development.

    Half forward line Mcloughlin, Higgins and Ritchie Feeney. All 3 can score, pick up breaks, tackle hard, cover back when Keegan et al are bombing forward and drive on in support…..

    With Vaughan sweeping and minding the house I’d pick him at 13. Have freeman and Cillian at 14 & 15….

    With replacements like Doherty, andy Moran, Dillon, Sweeney, Adam Gallagher, Conroy etc it’s a strong forward line to bring in. In the middle big Barry, S O Shea & parsons are there to call upon… In defence as cover we could have mchale, Harrison, drake and hopefully Alan Feeney….

    If the selection of the mayo team is correct them mayo will win Sam at a canter… Im that confident but I’m not saying my selection is right nor will it win the big one! but a solid base, hard working middle third and with potent attackers up front anything could happen…. I’ve been impressed with the players attitude in the last 3 games and there appears to be a lot of hunger and desire in the tank despite all the heartache….

    Sorry if I went on a little but we all know from the last two all Ireland’s that if tactics and selection aren’t right then it’s just going to be more hard times for everyone with green and red. That’s why the past cannot be forgotten about. Move on but never forget reasons why losses occur. It’s the only way to learn…

  15. Raz, I take your point about 6 out and out forwards. What we need in our forwards is a game plan that everyone buys into. In the All-Ireland last year, the forward division seemed to play as six individuals rather than a unit. The modern game has developed the wing back and wing forward positions as being “wing midfielders” that operate between the two 45m. That’s why Lee Keegan is constantly on the scoresheet, but Kevin McLoughlin is often foraging between our own 45 and half way. As a result, I’m more inclined to go with the most accurate lads in the front line with lads that can both make plays AND finish further out. However, I think that midfield is contributing to a lack of punch in the forwards. We have an abundance of quality centrefielders but their mobility has been found wanting on a few occasions and that takes from whatever plan we have further up the field.

    To me, the biggest problem is down the middle of defence. Ger had a great game at No.3 the last day, but if Robbie is not providing 100% confidence behind him, and if there is a hole in the defence in front of him, it greatly increases the difficulty of his job.

    And if we do not solve this, we leak goals – as can be seen from the fact that we have conceded 10 so far in this league campaign!

  16. Actually, I thought I had concentrated on our own game rather than on beating Dublin but I can see how you might have read it that way as I used many examples from Dublin games. The most important thing to do is to develop our own strategies and style. We have to force teams to play OUR game.

    And if we want to put down a marker, do it now and get it out of the system early, rather than allowing it to become a distraction during our championship season.

  17. Agree with you re Ger – he has taken a lot of undeserved flak for those two goals and had it not been for him, the winning margin would have been far more than a point.

    Great post FGMc and as usual some excellent contributions from the floor here.

  18. Stats show that if you turn over possession in your opponents half, i.e. your forwards tackle the opposition backs and win the ball, you have 2 passes and approx. 5 secs to get your shot off. Any longer than this and the defence have time to regroup, close down space and greatly reduce the chances of you creating a good scoring chance. If you build from your own defence you have a maximum of 5 passes and 10 seconds before the best scoring opprotunity is gone.

  19. Yeah, I hear he was constantly guiding Harrison throughout the entire game. Especially after he switched positions with him. “Next ball Brendan, get the next ball!” Good to see.

  20. “There is no alternative centreback around that I can see”, I don’t know AndyD. I think Vaughan works fine against teams that we expect to get the better of in midfield and when he can be allowed to break forward without much worry about defending. However, against the very best sides where there aer 4 or 5 top quality forwards I believe Vaughan is too loose. Horses for courses again. Vaughan for the games you know you are going to be on the front foot and Tom Cunniffe in the games you want to “lock down” your central defensive area. “We have alternatives at no.6. I believe apart from Cunniffe we could use Keegan (clean tackler and disciplined) or McHale there.

  21. Couldnt see vaughan as a sweeper myself. Id have keegan doing it before him and breaking up the field as a spare man when the opportunity allows. Wouldnt be gone on only 4 natural forwards on the pitch either, or feeney coming in for doherty who is looking very good of late. The only time Id consider a sweeper is against tyrone and dublin and that is purely tactical.

    My team would be the same 6 backs, AOS and Gibbons, Doherty, Higgins, McLoughlin, COC, Freeman, Dillon, with dillon dropping deep as a link man and the 3 hfs using their speed on the overlap. I think doherty is best not in the corner but ghosting in from the half-forward line, he is also an excellent tackler so it is hf line for me.

    Against dublin Id go with keegan in midfield and he would just beat them at their own game. Also, starting a third midfielder at corner forward and closing down the space in the middle would probably be a better option than a sweeper as it would stop it at source, put them on the backfoot and open up space inside. I think this would work well against them as their defence is shakey when there is space around them and ROC is over-rated. Bringing the likes of philly mcmahon out to deep water could cause them a lot of problems.

  22. TheMaestro,
    “COC, Freeman, Dillon, with dillon dropping deep as a link man and the 3 hfs using their speed on the overlap”
    Thank you. You just saved me alot of typing as that was going to be my next post. The best place Dillion can do a job for us now is as you stated. If he plays on the ’40 we will suffer the same fate as ’12 & ’13.

  23. The only deep water Philly McMahon will see on Saturday night is the swimming pool, Maestro – the straight red he got for that uppercut he delivered up in Celtic Park the last day means that he’ll be sitting out this one.

  24. He actually played there against Galway last year and it was his best game. We seen Freeman and Varley make hay inside that day and Im sure the bit of space, with dillon and mcloughlin firing in the artillary, was a factor in that. Also, it upsets a defence to have to play against it. If they dont follow him dillon will kick points all day, if they do then freeman 1 on 1 in front of the posts is something not many managers will relish. Dublin had andrews doing it in the final last year, and although barrett marked him well, the space left inside was a factor. Up the other end dublins half backs were dropped so deep that there was no space inside at all, and that was evident in the runs conroy was forced to make, i.e. out to the sideline.

  25. Dillion has many many positives attributes and still has much to offer the team, either as a squad player or for certain games, and his intelligence to see and move into space is one of them. If he was to withdraw from the corner forward position and float behind the half forward line (that can then retreat into midfield) but in front of the now 2 man full forward line he could be a real threat. Technically he is very good so if we can isolate him in a bit of space he can either kick points or, more importantly, place accurate foot passes to the inside forwards who should have a bit more room as he and his marker have moved out from the full forward line. He can also follow his own pass in and be available to receive a pass back out to him nearer goal. He lacks the physicality needed for the half forward line so to get the best out of him I think a roving corner forward role may be worth looking at.

  26. If you look at any of the top teams who have won the all Ireland they only have 3 or 4 natural forwards… Donegal had Murphy, McFadden & mcbrearty. Dublin last yr had brogan, Mannion, Connolly, Kilkenny. Cork have Hurley, o Neill, goulding & Kerrigan. Kerry had Gooch, O donoghue, o sullivans… other scorers in these teams in every game come from midfield or their half back line…. 4 scoring forwards is more than enough! The modern game has forwards as players working their balls off & allowing the midfield & half backs like Keegan & Boyle etc to bomb on contribute to the score board.

  27. Yup that’s about the best analysis of the All Ireland I have seen. That’s why there was so much space in the middle of the park as well. As you say Dublin withdrew the 1/2 back line as protection and opened up the space to their midfielders and 1/2 fws to run onto from Cluxtons kickouts.

    It also allowed them crowd us out in our FF line which was why scores from play were so hard to come by. Also becasue their 1/2 fw line were so deep they had loads of space in their FF line for the likes of Andrews to come out and play in that pocket.

    And I would see them using this tactic similarly the next day. How to counteract this is the question as its a serious amount of space for our guys to cover in the middle. Only way I can think of is to surrender possession and drop back our own 1/2 fw line to cover the runners.

    Then counter attack !

  28. “It also allowed them crowd us out in our FF line which was why scores from play were so hard to come by.”

    That and our unwillingness – or more accurately, inability – to take scores from distance.

    And that inability does not yet seem to have been addressed, and is my one major worry about us this year. We absolutely have to have this option – it’s a showstopper. Right now we’re still having to work the ball inside the 20m before we’ll shoot at goal and that will cost us in the end.

    If nothing else came out of our display at Croke Park the next night, I’d be happy to see serious progress made in this area. Start shooting from distance Mayo – it’s the only sure way to draw out the defenders, and it exponentially increases our scoring threat. Otherwise Dublin, Donegal etc. will just load bodies back and defend the 20m line in the knowledge that we won’t shoot from any further out.

  29. Another point on this.
    If Dublin do employ similar tactics the next day against us it will/did make life very difficult in the FF line for Freeman. He will probably have at least 2 guys to beat every time before getting off a shot. Also Keith Higgins will just run into fellas becasue it will be so crowded.

    We need players who can take points on the run from distance from right and left. Fellas who will pop it over the bar from 35/40 yards. If this was happening it would force Dublin to play out the field more and give the guys extra space inside.

    First of all who have we got who can do this ? Secondly how do you design a pocket to give them the extra time to get their aim off ? Need some sort of screen to keep the defense from getting in a block.

  30. I thought one big thing about last years final was the heat that day. My heart dropped a bit that morning when I realised how warm it was. I knew it wouldn’t suit our running game. Watching the final (months later when I could bear the pain a bit better) our lads had nothing left with 10 mins to go. Dublin were no better and I really believe that if the game had gone on a few more mins we could have won or got a draw.

    Dublin are very tactical and using the bench won them many games last year. Their matchups totally negated our half back line except Lee in patches. Last year in the league AOS was marked from behind by a big physical player from Ballyboden and all he did was break the ball jumping on AOS back. Equally Kevin Mc was man marked by a cornerback for the whole game. Things like that make the difference.
    Not sure Dublin will be as strong off the bench this year and losing Kilkenny is a big loss.
    Dublin still depend on Bernard Brogan too much and will be interesting to see how he gets on this year.

    Lastly lets keep an eye on the Rossies this year. They are progressing nicely and will be a handful unless we bring our A game. Lets win Connaught first before we talk of Croke park.

  31. They are progressing very nicely and will be a big handful. But they’re not in Dublin’s, Kerry’s or Donegal’s league Remember51.

    We will have a long day against them in the Hyde but this Mayo team is man enough for that challenge and will come through it.

  32. JPM, I’m trying to think of great scores we got from distance and am struggling. Jason Doherty’s against Dublin in the 2012 AISF springs to mind, and I remember Barry Moran chipping in with a couple, but if you’re talking about Ciaran McDonald-esque bombs from distance, it’s slim pickings.

    Of the current panel, Richie Feeney is the one guy who I think would have no hesitation shooting from out the field, but Richie’s far from first-choice at the moment. Hence the urgency to get this sorted. Not having that option makes us too easy to defend against.

    As for ‘designing a pocket’ – well, the quicker the ball in to the forward line, the more time they’re going to have to line up a shot. But our current running + offload game doesn’t lend itself to the ‘quick ball’ approach. Unless we mix it up a bit, we’re going to be very predictable again.

  33. Was actually thinking about next weeks game 51.

    I would to see us beat them on their own patch. Put a bit of fear into them and make the country sit up and know we have not gone away. Also I think Tyrone will beat Dublin in Omagh in the final match and I see Cork, Mayo/Dublin, Tyrone and Derry in the semis. So if we do beat them we have a great chance of winning the League as whoever wins this game will probably qualify.

    PS Fourgoal. You piece is very good and very revealing. I know it’s mostly about looking forward and how we should improve. But it’s fantastic that it has finally highlighted through the comments (to me anyway) the fundamental tactical reason we lost lat year.

  34. I completley disagree with you Maestro on point 2 above. To say neither goal was his fault, ..the facts tell the story. As the FULL BACK, One on One (some call it “isolated”) ..the FULL BACK should have cleared/punched the ball clear…Brogan should have got nothing, NOTHING! from it.(and thats not to say our goalkeeper wasnt at fault too). Based on his record of one on one’s, Brogan is hardly shaking in his boots at the thought of facing Ger Saturday week.
    Just go back and look at the facts over the past few years…and let me say this too…if it wasnt for an unbelievable save by Clarkeen in the 2012 semi aginst Dublin, when Ger was “isolated” with BB, (One on One) we’d never had made that final, for Dublin were on a rampage at the time. That save deflated them. Some people forget these facts.
    I’n really tired of this to be honest..for the facts and results tell a completly different story than the narrative peddled here and elsewhere by some. I want our Full Back to be the boss, own the effin patch; where any FF has to earn his score the hard way, not get soft goals. Despite the facts, I stil think Ger has the ability and if he does it consistently, along with a handful of other things going our way, we will win the All Ireland this year.
    Anyway, happy Friday everyone!

  35. Well, I’m going to be pissed if I dont have a good reason to come back for a week in September!

  36. Puckout I like it when I see a line worth repeating “At the end of every day it comes down to having forwards who will lose the fear and seize the day, thats all we’re missing…”.I believe this is why we did not win alright.

  37. Well even if he is far from first on the team Richie’s credentials for a spot have moved up significantly. There are probably a few more who can do it. as well e,g, Cillian, Kevin Mc and Andy spring to mind.

    The big problem against Dublin is that they operate the game is so fast. They are on top of you almost immediately so that’s why I threw out the suggestion of a pocket blocker of some sort to shield off their defender and give the likes of Richie, Cilian etc the extra couple of seconds to focus on taking the shot.

    Easier said than done though.

  38. Would Hennelly have come for that high ball in the 16th min in the all Ireland final if there was a sweeper playing in front of Caff? NO he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t need to. Would he have made the same mistake against Westmeath in the league this year if a sweeper was playing in front of the full back line? NO because he wouldn’t have to leave his line. Would Donegal have kicked high ball after high ball into Murphy and co in the 2012 final against us if there was a sweeper in our defence? NO because that would have been stupid!!! If the defence is protected any team has a platform to attack. Mayo have Barrett, Keegan, Boyle etc to drive on when the house is being minded.

    With the black card in now mayo know only too well that soft and cynical fouls will be punished. The black card against Ritchie in the club final maybe a blessing in disguise as he and his teammates know it won’t be tolerated. Therefore if u employ a sweeper system, defenders won’t need to be giving away silly frees and risking a black card because the help is with them. Mayo have conceded far too many scores in the league so far and it needs to be addressed. If we go man for man against the dubs or Tyrone we will get beaten, and maybe beaten badly.

  39. The Dubs are far from unbeatable so please stop bigging them up to be some sort of indestructable force. If Kildare could score goals instead of hitting the posts they would have beaten them by 5 or 6 points. Derry beat them already and Westmeath had them on the rack for long periods before eventually falling away. We have no fear of Croke Park either. We have won more games there than we have lost in recent times and the last 3 years it has been our second home.
    The way to beat Dublin is to sit deep with numbers crowding out the central scoring zone. Withdraw the half forwards into midfield and the midfield into the half back line and entice them up the pitch. Make them play down the wings, let them kick points from distance and tight angles but DO NOT let them near goal. Keep a clean sheet and you are 70% of the way there. It would be ugly to watch but winning ugly is still winning. Then, when we turnover ball or win possession we must attack at speed by playing direct ball into our full forward line when we have a one-on-one situation. The Dublin backs will either foul us resulting in a free in a scoreable position, or, our forwards will break free of their marker and go through on goal.
    It would require concentration, holding our shape, discipline in the tackle and determination to constantly track the runners as we would be effectively handing over possession to Dublin, but, if done correctly it will work.

  40. When Dublin lose the ball on their own attacks they will foul consistently high up the field. They have no problem with it. It won’t get a black card either as a simple push to the ground etc only gets a free from the ref. They have been doing it for a few years now. But it does slow the play down a lot and gives them time to re-group at back once more.

    You’re up against the wall again then from the 30 metre line in.

  41. al due respect patriot, but I dont see how any of that is relevent to my original point.

  42. “It would be ugly to watch but winning ugly is still winning.”(Pebblesmeller)

    Now that I agree with 😉

  43. I was just checking out some of the Dublin GAA forumns. I love doing that before games to see what their views are. They are playing Tyrone away in their last game so they’d really like to get the two points against us. Also they see us as their biggest threat this year, so they don’t want to give us any encouragement for the summer ahead, they want to see their strongest team available playing against us. They see our full-back line as being our weakest point and feel that they should get the ball into their full-forward line as quickly as possible. Also our lack of mobility in mid-field was mentioned and they feel that they should try to take our mid-fielders all over the field in the big Croker pitch, as they did in the All-Ireland final last year. Their U21 players will probably be rested for the game, as they have a Leinster final the following Wednesday. They actually feel that if they play the same team that has played the last few league games for them, that we will beat them quite easily. They hope to have some of their injured players back for this game. They have also being very impressed with Alan Freeman so far in the league and feel that Cillian O’Connor is our dangerman. It’s very interesting to check out their views anyway.

  44. Wonder will d Connolly be playing on Sat the way he played last mon day you swear he had won nothing mAyo need to have 2 men on him.

  45. The devil is in the detail. Some of the posts here have put the fear of god in me and I haven’t believed in god since 1976. Fuck lads ye are masters at atomising games to microscopic detail and I stand in awe and trepidation marvelling at your knowledge.

    At the AIF last year I couldn’t understand why Mayo were not pressuring Cluxton’s smug kickouts, Cluxton doesn’t like pressure when it’s put on him by opposing teams. Cluxtons revels in pressure when he does his “Clux Jog” up to take his nonchalent 45 fives, if it goes wide or over makes no difference to him, Clux will just Clux Jog back to the goals and continue on as if nothing ever happened. For verification check out what he did when he “eventually” kicked the winning point to beat Kerry in the AIF. Cluxton is not so happy when he is not in control, ie, when opposing teams pressure the fuck out of his kickouts. He panics and makes silly mistakes cos he’s in the danger of losing his raison detre and that is, his need to control.

    Anyways the point I think that I’m trying to make is that we know the whole country thinks that Mayo are very strong team with alot of talent etc etc But they lack the mental edge to cross over. Is there some truth in that? I don’t think so but I do think we should turn our perceived weakness into a strength

    We know how to target our opponents based on their physical attributes, let’s not hold back on targeting our opponents based on their mental attributes as well

    Despite all the brilliant breakdowns. Hang on a second the wife just walked into the room and asked what I was doing. Explained that I was trying to explain why Mayo lost the AIF, despite being arguably, the better team. Response from wife took less than 5 seconds and I quote. “Tell them next time to do something about the Dublin goalkeeper avoiding the two big Mayo boys in the middle” end quote, goodnight.

  46. Well thought out and written lead post FGM.

    I agree with most points. But in a follow-on ‘on the holes in the defence in the NL so far’, I firmly believe it is down mainly to Caff being dragged out of position and new blood being given time ( which is a necessity too). I say leave Caff back where he can dominate, regardless where his man goes. It won’t be long before the opposition will switch back to a more traditional FF.

    However, to play that confident game, you must have the players around fit and tuned in. We will have TC and Keith back in the corners, putting in place again the tightest defence of any side in 2013. Chris will join them later!

    Jim Gavin won the game plan prize in the AIF last year by putting enough pressure on our attacking half backs, so they couldn’t get forward. I’d say he decided on that after Tyrone did it successfully in the semi for the first 20 minutes, until Chris Barrett came through from corner-back twice to break the lock.

    Our backs had done it all through last year besides in the AIF and that period v Tyrone, providing overlap runs for our forwards. When that supply dried up, our forwards had forgotten how to forage hard for possession, how to hold on to it and finish under pressure.

    That along with our failure from about 20 minutes onwards to push forward and marshal Cluxton’s kick outs, was how Dublin best us.

    Of course you could say our failure to prepare for these, prepared us to fail. And taking Freezer off and other sideline errors like not pushing Keith forward when O’Gara was walking wounded, also helped us beat ourselves.

    I think we have much more strength in depth this year, and our forwards are shaping up. Kevin Mc is back, Cillian, Freezer and Doc are looking assured and dangerous. You then have Andy, Mikey Sweeney, Richie Feeney, Adam Gallagher, and Barry Moran battling for paces too.

    I agree that a variation of long ball and working it up would be great. Keep the opposition occupied and guessing is always a positive.

    Finally, I would like to see More Mayo players respect possession a lot more and cut down dramatically on turnovers, be they incomplete kick passes or giving 50:50 passes, or any cheap loss of the ball. Follow the basketball basic theory that possession is king because you need it to score, and if you have it, the opposition can’t score!

  47. Hi All,
    I hope to be in the company of the real 4GoalMcGee on the 29th and I am looking forward to having a few pints with the legend himself.

    Best of luck to Mayo on the 29th

    Kind Regards,
    Martin the Dub

  48. What a monologue of cliches I’m after reading in response to FGM. Every team runs, kicks, fields, misses scores, wins/ concedes turnovers, have attacking half-backs, play on hot/cold days and on and on – throw in ‘experience’ and I will really puke (Incidentally not a word about my hobby-horse ‘ball retention’)
    If advice to coaches could win an AIF we wouldn’t be where we heres to the status quo.

    Every intending senior player should meet/surpass a 60 and 100m sprint qualifying test, because a lack of pace, even in one position has a knock-on affeact on colleagues – Castlebar via St Vincents exemplified that. Mayo has too many already (contrary to the view of a contributor earlier this week that does not include Ger Cafferky whose pace is exceptional) and some contributors are advocates of even more.
    Good instinctive decision making is an attribute posessed by those with the x-factor, we need to embrace and recognise them. Deciding to keep posession of the ball rather than pandering to the .’drive forward’ brigade is totally neglected – remember the drawn AIF at minor level against Tyrone a few years ago and the post National League tile-year in the early 00s when Roscommon plundered a goal in injury time both the result of unforgiveable decision-making lapses and we are still doing it.
    Confusing score-makers with score-takers is another limitation I deduce, we speak as if they are interchagable – the former will get lucky on occasions while the latter will deliver on demand.
    Finally the concept of attacking half-backs is lamentable, as invariably they struggle back to their positions knackered after their exertions after invariably getting in the way of forwards. Midfielders and forwards need far superior skills to their backs colleagues so stop putting triangular pegs in octagonal holes.
    Thank to the Mayo senior and Minor squads and their respective mngt team for an exceptional 2013 and remember the pegs and holes for 2014.
    Finally for what its worth I fancy Roscommon to come out of Connaught this year, they have a reservoir of talent which is maturing under a shrewed coach.

  49. I really can’t see Roscommon beating Mayo this year. True they are improving but 21 points to 9 last year is going to be hard to turn around and
    Mayo aren’t complacent with Roscommon like they were with London or Leitrim.
    Roscommon are the second best in the province but still not at Mayos level. No doubt about it.

  50. Lets not get carried away with our achievements to date in 2014. We have beater a Kerry team in transition and with a few players like ourselves just getting back into things and a few not yet back, a Westmeath team destined for relegation before a ball was kicked in 2014 and a half strength Cork team also in transition. Our form is promising but we will have to move up several gears before we will be even in contention for Sam. We have a number of players who did not play any county football this year yet and a few more only making their way back. That is why I am proposing players on “past reputations”. I am also using my own judgement on players capabilities. I have long believed that Barry Moran is potentially our best full forward. On the admittedly rare occasions he has played there he has never let us down. The tragedy in the taking off of Alan Freeman in last year’s final is that he wasn’t replaced by Barry Moran. Many bloggers on this site are speaking of Alan Dillon as almost an automatic starter next summer. If that is not selecting on “past reputations” I do not know what is.
    He is the oldest player on the panel at c. 32, has had serious injury problems over the last two years and has had two poor All Ireland finals. Perhaps he will come back to his best but the odds of doing so to the extent that he will be a starter are, in my opinion, poor. He could however have a major impact as a second half sub. Similarly a lot of posters on this site are putting a lot of faith in a player who has never played a serious game of county football yet. Selecting on unearned reputation is even more dubious than selecting on past reputation. Our upcoming meeting with Dublin will tell us a lot, in particular our capacity for dealing with Cluxton’s kickouts. Re Donie Vaughan at centre back perhaps he is not great under pressure but in selecting a team we have to be positive and assume, if we have ambitions of winning an All Ireland, that we will not be under pressure. If things are not going our way we may have to adapt and change personnel but for heaven’s sake let us not start on that assumption.

  51. Why do you assume that because a player plays as a forward for his club he is a “natural forward” and that if he doesn’t play as a forward for his club he is not a “natural forward”? Many players are selected by their club in a position which is not their best because that is where the club team needs them most, e.g. a forward selected at midfield because the club does not have a natural midfielder for the position.

  52. Don’t know how you can justify giving Dillon a starting role and at the expense of a flying Jason docherty too.

  53. Patriot. U mention that 4 scoring forwards is enough and u picked out some from them top teams. Which 4 would to pick in the Mayo set up. Mind only 2 off them players u picked have not got alireland medals.

  54. It’s also unlikely that Diarmuid Connolly or Ger Brennan will be playing against Mayo.

  55. Maybe im wrong but im pretty sure it was cillian who played on the 40 v Galway and did dillion not play in the corner?

  56. I think you’re being a bit harsh on Ger there, Mister Mayor, in particular about the first goal in last year’s All-Ireland. If you look closely at it (it’s here, 3.50 mins in), it’s obvious the only reason the goal was scored was because Robbie left his line, giving Brogan the simple job of flicking the ball over the two of them into the empty net. If Robbie had stayed on his line Brogan wouldn’t have had that option and would instead have had to field the ball, turn and get a shot away and in all probability the goal wouldn’t have happened. While not an exact carbon copy, the first goal we conceded to Westmeath was very similar – high ball in, Robbie comes when he shouldn’t have, forward flicks it over him and defender.

    Not wanting to get on Robbie’s case or anything, but I’m increasingly concerned that he’s our only option between the sticks right now. I accept he’s equal to David Clarke as a shot-stopper but his kickouts are as one-dimensional as Clarke’s used to be. Almost every single time against Cork he hoofed the kickouts right down the middle and, as those stats from Ed McGreal that Fourgoal has alluded to, we didn’t do too well from this approach. If we assume that Dublin do their normal routine with kickouts (which will mean 90%+ possession for them on their restarts) then it’d be madness for us to simply boot the ball out into the middle and hope for the best, which appears to be the only strategy we’ve got for kickouts at the minute.

  57. Yes that is the first reason the first brogan goal was conceded but then you have to lay part of the blame with caff for not going mick Lyons on it and burstin the bladder of the ball in the process.

    I agree though that hennelly should of stayed put and the Westmeath goal was similar , maybe just maybe there’s a case for hennelly doesn’t have 100% faith in caff in dealing with the high ball.

    Again before it’s seen as an attack on caff, I like him in nearly every other situation a defender will see himself in, he is sticky and gets a hand in fast in most other situations.

  58. Neither, probably from wishful Roscommon lads.

    Does anyone know if young regan from ballina is training with Mayo senior?

  59. I presume that Hennelly made the call. He should organise his defence and is in control of the small square. If the goalkeeper calls it the Full Back has to allow him to deal with it otherwise its the Full backs issue and the goalie stays on his line.

    Now either Hennelly didn’t call for it, and went for it anwyay or else Cafferkey didn’t hear him. You give him the benefit of the doubt that he shouted for it in the final and wasn’t heard becasue of the noise around CP. But in the Westmeath game there was really no excuse.

    It’s something that needs to be sorted out. To my mind the most important position on the pitch is the goalkeeper. He is the one person who generally cannot ever afford a mistake and is the lat line of defence for every team. Also having confidence in your goalkeeper really helps the defence.

    Right now I’m not so sure that exists in the Mayo camp. It will surely be tested once again next weekend.

  60. I’ve been asking that question too. And also when will Chris Barrett be ready to return to action? No one seems to know..

  61. Interesting results in the Connacht U21 Football Championship today:

    Leitrim 0-9 Galway 0-8, Sligo 1-10 Roscommon 1-12

    It will be a Leitrim V Roscommon final.

  62. Delighted we’re not ‘Forgetting the past’, but rather attempting by analysis to understand and learn fro it!

    Paddy Power has Mayo at 9/2 for Sam behind the Dubs at 13/8. Cork are third in line at 13/2, with Kerry and Donegal, both at 8/1, with Tyrone at 9/1. 25/1 or better the rest. That’s about right I reckon, but if we beat the Dubs in Croker next weekend (and I think we will), the odds will shift.

    Rossie U21s beat Sligo as expected today but what a result for Leitrim in the other Semi, beating the reigning AI champions Galway by 9 pts. to 8.

  63. We scored goals and points for fun at times last year as well. 4 goals v Galway 5 v London and 4 more v Donegal. Also high points tally v Galway Ros Donegal and Tyrone

  64. I have to say that this Mick Lyons analogy is wearing rather thin at this stage. If you look at the video, it’s clear that Ger is sticking to Brogan tightly to make sure that he doesn’t gain clean possession (as Brogan managed to do in the 2012 semi-final when Ger got out in front of him – here at 12.50 mins). If Robbie hadn’t come rushing out, then flicking the ball in wouldn’t have been an option for Brogan as Robbie would have had that covered from his goal-line so Brogan would have had to claim clean possession and I’m not convinced he would have managed to do so given how Ger was positioned as the ball came in. Ger could, I suppose, have attempted a decapitation a la Mick Lyons but what use would that have served? It probably would have resulted in a penalty and a goal by different means.

  65. Think I’d prefer the penalty situation, always a chance it will be saved and then there’s the chance it might not of been awarded .

    Being critical of mick lyons analogy and then giving one yourself, come on willie joe,lol.

  66. I only mentioned it to highlight how irrelevant it was in the first place. The essential point I was making was that Ger did nothing wrong and that going all Mick Lyons would have been unlikely to lead to a better outcome.

  67. Don’t agree, a full back sees a high ball coming in like Paul flynns garyowen , there should only be one winner , he looked at it hanging, he was undecided before hennelly even made his move out , there was no runners to worry about , should of been one thought ,direct thinking / tunnel vision , get that o Neil’s out of there . The attacking player no matter who he is has a lot more work to do with a high ball one on one.

    That’s the way I see it and like I have already alluded to it still doesn’t gloss over the mistake hennelly made coming off his line either but I’m talking about what caff should of done.

  68. I’ve seen Alan Dillon’s injury is described as ‘Osteitis pubis’
    The remedy, as far as it goes I’m told is sustained rest & medical management.
    On top of that, I believe Alan has had an operation this year too.
    The bottom line is sadly, that I wouldn’t count on seeing a match fit Alan D this year, and certainly not with enough big match practice at the pace of the current game. We don’t want a ‘ take 2’ after last year, and frankly He deserves better for the service he gas given Mayo.

  69. Well said,Dillon has been a brilliant servant had some exceptional games semis and quaters especially . No harm in him being round the panel but I’d have my doubts he will be a starter .

  70. We’ll have to agree to differ on this one, Sean. Having watched that incident over and over again and looking at the movements of both Ger and Brogan, I think our man could have dealt with the situation fine had Hennelly not made his last-second decision (and if you look at it you can see he started his move very late) to come off his line. I don’t agree that Ger was undecided – short of reading his mind there’s simply no way of knowing this for definite – and I’d say he had every intention of clearing his lines. Sadly, there’s no way of knowing now what would have happened had Robbie stayed put, as he clearly should have done.

  71. Yep, would put Cunniffe ahead of Vaughan. When we lost Cunniffe in last years AIF we looked much more vunerable. That said, Vaughan’s a great guy to have – would make a good mobile sweeper or midfielder.

  72. In 2004 Kerry had Johnny Crowley, one of the best fielders in the game at corner forward against Gary Ruane, if I remember correctly. It was no contest and never was going to be a contest..

  73. Puckout, Where were you in 1977 when Bernard Brogan and Brian Mullins poured through the centre at will to destroy Kerry in the All Ireland semi? And where was Tim Kennelly?

  74. Having watched that Dublin goal again at leisure I am completely at a loss as to what a sweeper might have done to prevent it. I’m also pretty sure that Brogan had no idea that Hennelly was coming off his line to contest it. Of course if Hennelly had stayed on his line he would have saved it comfortably even if Brogan had got his flick on. The problem with coming off the line in this situation is that the goalie is often as likely to interfere with his defender as clear the ball.

  75. What has Roscommon’s “shrewd coach” achieved in county football to date. He has managed a few teams and I don’t thing he has a provencial title between them. It quite a while now since Laune Rangers win.
    The only way Roscommon can win Connacht this year is a catastrophic collapse or gross overconfidence by Mayo.

  76. WJ if Ger was out in front of Brogan in that clip @ ~12.50 mins that you reference from the 2012 AISF, it’s not at all clear to me. That was a 50/50 ball played in by I believe Kilkenny , Brogan clearly outfields Ger, turns on a dime and heads for goal, Clarke ( not Robbie ) reads the developing crisis very well and advances quickly to lessen the angle and space for brogan, and in doing so makes the save of the year IMO. Had he scored, it was probably curtains for us, but he didn’t for Clarkeen ( as my dad affectionately refers to him ) denies him and we push on to the final.
    The point is, the only thing on Ger’s mid there should be to deny Brogan possession, by punching or slapping that ball down. Ger got away with it that time, but didn’t last September.
    Now regarding the goal keeper situation, I think Clarke is a step ahead of Robbie and given a choice I would have him back ahead of Robbie, despite Robbie’s shot stopping and long range kicking ability. 10 goals allowed so far in this league! I think that tells a story.
    Someone above said the goalkeeper is the most important position on the field but I don’t think so. I happen to think it’s the full back, for it’s his job to be the boss, Marshall the defense, and lead by being ruthlessly mean. It permeates throughout the team when the Full Back is the boss. I still happen to think Ger has that ability, he showed it in 2012, lacked it in 2013, and the jury is still out on 2014.

  77. Yes I agree with u Andy . many forwards do play in midfield for there clubs but when they revert to county the transition is not a major change. But for a defender who has played the majority of his under age football and senior football in defense for his club and then play in a forward position for the county that is a major change.I just think we are a more defensive minded attack that other teams and when the test comes to take big score we lack that type of player in our forward division.
    Our half back line is probably the best in the country but I think we expect to much of them and as others have pointed out when they are held we are in bother.Does our half forward line get enough scores on the score board… no in my opinion. WJ can probably verify this … Keith Higgins has score only one point since he moved to centre half forward in 4 or 5 games of football… that to me is counter productive,,, Again only my thoughts on it….

  78. Yeah and it’s interesting to note that when he played at corner-back for Connacht against Ulster in the Railway cup final he scored two points from play. When he comes forward from the back he has a lot more space to operate in. We’d all love to see him hit form up there but so far he hasn’t really. With the injury now to Cathal Carolan, another option to add some pace in the no. 12 position, I wonder will that mean Keith will spend more time up-front. Although with Richie Feeney, Andy Moran and Adam Gallagher coming into the reckoning now, there are still a lot of options for the no. 11 and no. 12 positions. Cillian O’Connor is also a option at no. 11, as is Doc, who played very well against Cork. Maybe the last 10 or 15 minutes in a game would be the best time to move Keith up there, to do some damage against a tiring defence. I was looking at highlights of the Dublin v Kerry semi-final from last year and it was amazing that it was just score after score from play, from both teams, end to end scoring. Most of their scoring forwards chipping in with scores. I’d prefer to see more scorers up front, Adam Gallagher seems to be well able to take scores from play, which is what we need, it’d be very interesting to see how he’d get on in a big game in Croke Park.

  79. I suppose we shouldn’t forget the mistake that Ger made in the second half against Dublin, that was probably the biggest mistake that he made in that game. Letting the ball bounce over his head which left O’Gara straight through on goal. Only for Robbie’s great save that would have gone down as a very bad goal to give away. It’s interesting to note that in most of the big games, our keepers seem to have to make a lot of last ditch saves, do we just leave our goalies too exposed. You never seem to see Cluxton or the other top keepers have to make as many saves in the big games. In that final Robbie made a number of last ditch saves but Cluxton wasn’t troubled that much. Even the Castlebar Mitchels keeper made a lot of great saves too.

  80. Re: midfield I think gibbons in playing reasonably well…he just needs to keep his head when on the ball and not give away silly balls like in kerry game but was puck of them vs cork. Does anybody else see AOS taking the ball into the tackle like a bulldozer and coughing up vital possession? Teams are coping onto this and swarming him and he is not releasing in time and turning over vital possession. Also thought SOS didn’t do much vs cork when he came on and that attempted solo was disastrous…he too is coming back from.injury so I think horan needs to pick on form and there is plenty of competition there especially with barry coming back.
    Goalkeeper is another interesting area…clarke, hennelly or o malley come summer?
    Dont think mikey sweeney will make summer cut and think the forward line needs to be sorted as thats where we have been lacking in years gone by

  81. Agree with WJ. Hennelly had no business coming out and flick would not have been an option as goal would have been covered. Anyway on the whole hennelly was not to blame last September and had a fine game…just to add

  82. I wonder where the final will be played? Leitrim at home in any grade, can be hard to beat on their day. I remember in 2006 our senior team only won by one point in Carrick on Shannon. We then went on to the final that year.

  83. Lot of talk about Clarke here. Does anyone know where he is? Is he coming back and if so, when? I thought he got a bad hamstring injury but surely that wouldn’t keep him out for so long, or would it?

    What about O’Malley?

  84. Ger defended that ball in pretty well. Touch tight the whole way. Brogan got his hand to it but the ball came off Ger last. It was an OG essentially. His touch had taken the sting out of it and would have been a comfortable save if Rob had stayed on his line.

    Fact of the matter is, it was a great ball in. Not just hoofed in but flighted with the outside of the boot to keep it lower. Brogan fought tooth and nail to get something on it. It came down inside the 6 yard box, from a distance of almost 50m out. Hennelly reacted too late. Although the quality of the ball in didn’t make it an easy decision to rush out.

  85. Mayo McHale – “Extracting the urine” is a much more cultured way of expressing that sentiment. I like to think of myself as ‘posh’ !! 😉

  86. Thanks to everyone for an interesting debate. There were many differing views expressed here but getting to a winning feeling on the 3rd Sunday in September is what we all want.

    As supporters, all we can do now is encourage and support those who carry the flag for us. In the meantime, we live in hope.

    Keep the Faith!

  87. WJ, I wasnt referring to the upcoming league encounter 🙂

    Patriot, Im not convinced, you have omitted paul flynn and paddy andrews, both can score comfortably, particularly andrews, wasnt he close to being their top scorer in the league? Also, mayo dont have out and out scorers like brogan or mcfadden, therefore the sum of all parts needs to pick up the slack, we need 6 guys who can score. Now they need to be able to do more than that as regards working and tackling, but scoring is a requirment.

    Also, to the guy saying I omitted ‘docherty’ for dillon, I didnt, I selected him at wing forward – the position he has been producing that good form you were referring to.

  88. Interesting piece, and I’ve scanned through the responses so apologies if I missed it but I cant see any mention of our other issue, which is the lack of tactical ability of our management team, “on the fly”. To react during a game.
    Its been said lots of times before, but they failed on two big occasions, 1. Not realizing quickly enough that Donegal were NOT playing Michael Murphy as they had most of that season, which is the reason Kevin Keane was on him and were in fact going to resort to edge of the square route 1 ball. They had tried it three times in the first 5 minutes before it eventually came off and we didnt react. 2. Brian Hurley killed the Dublin full back line in the quarter final, with 15 minutes to go in the final we are in the game but need a plan B to try and win it, Barry Moran in full forward for that last period of time would have at least set us up for a chance. Neither of these major tactical changes were recognized by our management team. We can improve all we want between 1 and 22, but the sideline has to up their game as well. What has been done to improve those shortcomings? If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.

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