Game day – a win tonight would be great

The lads – and the ladies – are back in League action tonight. The ladies get the ball rolling this evening at Croke Park when they take on Dublin at 5pm while the lads lock horns with the four-in-a-row All-Ireland champions at 7pm.

It’s good to be back at Croke Park. The last time the lads played there was the 2017 All-Ireland final, as our early exit in the qualifiers last summer meant we never got the chance to appear at HQ then.

This outing, though, is just a League one in early springtime. It won’t be until we battle our way back to Croke Park in the championship that we can say we’re once again supping at the top table. For now, that just remains an ambition for us.

And while it’s the All-Ireland champions Dublin we’re up against at HQ this evening, they don’t represent the same kind of totemic opposition that they did in those shuddering Sam Maguire deciders in 2016 and 2017. They’re not long back training this year, they have several players still to return to action and this is far from a die-in-the-ditch contest.

That said, it is a game both counties have a keen desire to win. Dublin, clearly, would like to keep us under their thumb, a place – despite all our great battles with them – they’ve consigned us to ever since Jim Gavin became their manager. He’ll have no desire to see James Horan leave Croke Park tonight with a first victory for the county over Dublin since 2012 under his belt.

The inverse is, of course, true for us as well. We’ve made a great start to this year’s League but we know that the three wins we’ve racked up were against the weakest teams in the Division. Dublin – regardless of who lines out for them tonight – represent a much tougher test for James Horan’s improving side and victory over them would provide validation that we’re moving in the right direction.

I’ve no idea, I must admit, as to whether or not we will win tonight. My heart almost always says Yes ahead of matches involving us but I’m long enough watching games between ourselves and Dublin to know who tends to come out on top most often. The 1/3 odds on Dublin are there for a reason: they’re huge favourites to win tonight and win they should.

And yet our cause tonight is far from hopeless. While we’ve struggled to get any kind of expansive game going on our stodgy and cramped home ground, the display we put on in Omagh showed we’re well capable of having a cut on a pitch that favours greater pace and movement. A place, in other words, like Croke Park.

If we take the game to Dublin this evening and really go after them we could be in for a proper contest. While neither side will want to give it everything – it’s still only late February, after all – neither will want to back down from the challenge either.

The bottom line for us tonight is that we aim to be competitive from start to finish, regardless of how many of the young lads see action. If the newbies flourish then it’ll be a good night regardless of the result, if they go well and we get the win then that would really be great.

The best of luck to James and the lads tonight and good luck as well to Peter Leahy and the ladies team. Let’s win them both. Up Mayo.

73 thoughts on “Game day – a win tonight would be great

  1. Listening to “to win just once” full belt on repeat. Hon mayo. A win would set the tone. We would be back in the spotlight for sure.

  2. Willie Joe, delighted to see the blog and podcast referenced in Malachy Clerkin’s piece on the game in today’s Irish Times, the so called paper of record, well done.

    I have to say I am nervous about tonight’s game. Despite the early promise of this year’s league, I cant forget the trouncing we got at the same fixture two years ago. I also remember in Rochford’s first season we gave them a very competitive game in Castlebar on the back of an awful performance against Cork, when they were expected to annihilate us. We must be competitive this evening, win, loose or draw.
    I hope the ladies are likewise competitive.
    Safe travelling to all.

  3. If AOS is tiring this evening after 50 mins take him off. After giving his all, he was gased in Croker that last 3 or 4 times we played the dubs in big matches after 50 but never replaced. Due to his size, he tires more easily than others.
    Very frustrating to see. They do it in rugby when the big guys get tired. You won’t get away with it against the dubs in Croker. Sub off when nothing else to give regardless of who it is. It has cost us Sam in the past. Especially in 2017

  4. Aidan has learned to be smart with his workrate and last games better. Hence why Aidan drops back to the half backline for spells.
    To win tonight we need to keep a high tempo in this game from first minute. We have more work done and for once in my view will have a better bench.

  5. Looking forward to getting back to Croker this evening. It’s been too long since our last visit. Our last league game there was not pretty. We can give it a right go this time around as our fitness levels are way ahead this year thanks to our early exit last year. It should be helter skelter from the start and hopefully we can keep our discipline as it will be seriously tested. Best of luck to both teams!

  6. Best of luck to Mayo teams today,seeing as it’s the Dubs i will be happy if we have five or six to spare at the end,safe travel to all hopefully no injuries and up Mayo

  7. If AOS tires I would stick him in at ff. In there he would still be a big threat and keep a couple of Dub defenders locked down.

  8. I’d play aido at FF tonight ,full stop. I don’t really care how ridiculed that suggestion is or how simplistic it sounds , that Dublin FB line can be got at .

  9. Not to be overly simplistic, but no Cluxton means we will win more kick outs, giving us more chances. Take advantage of them lads!

  10. @head down stay going, maybe it’s time for heads up.
    One of the basic elements in football is being able to read the situation, Mayo we’re in a much different place this time back in 2017, I was at that league match v the Dubs, the Dubs are also at a different level at this moment than in Feb 2017, this levels the playing field big time, Mayo subs also much stronger.
    My advice to you is don’t be nervous, sure didn’t I tip Mayo to win already, there’s scores to be settled since the 2017 final, I will be in the Lower Cusack with 2 kids, if you don’t see me you will definitely hear me.

  11. It’s great to see the sap rising so early both in nature and with Mayo football, not sure what this means for the remainder of the season but as of now, we can only admire it all. The word here in the city is that this is one match the Dubs won’t want to lose and it would be a big shock to them were they to come out on the wrong end of the result tonight. With that in mind, we can expect a very physical match with Dublin trying to impose themselves from the off and hope to get an early goal or two before we have time to settle, well that’s the plan anyway – now wouldn’t it be just great were we to scupper their plans by throwing a spanner in the works of Jim Gavins machine?
    It may be only the League, or so all the shrewd managers seem to say these days, but you can bet there’s more to this match than the two points that are on offer for the winners of this one.

  12. Of course theres more to this game , we all try to play it down but it doesn’t make it true . Just seen the Dublin team , crikey that forward line it’s like a team full of Messi s and ronaldos .

  13. Important for Mayo that Ruane Treacy McDonagh and Reape can make an impression at this high level of intensity.
    Important test for management in how they utilise a strong bench.
    Bench mark game for Mayo in relation to where we are at this point in time.
    I expect we will be taking a lot of positives from tonight’s game. Enjoy

  14. I really hope reape has a stormer tonight. Of all the young players I’ve seen in club championship the last few years he’s the one I have the most hope for. If he bagged a goal or two against the dubs it would do wonders for his confidence. Bringing my Dublin missus to this one who’ll be proudly sporting a classic 1996 Mayo jersey!

  15. AOS is in the form of his life. He appears to be one of the fittest guys on the team right now.
    It seems to me that he has perfected the timing and placement of his passes/offload. Just getting them away that split second earlier and with more accuracy and decisiveness. He is pretty much unplayable with a good ref. I think Barry Cassidy was okay in that regard in his last match.
    I would keep him in the same middle third position unless he becomes totally gassed. I don’t see it happening though.
    I am looking forward to KMc and DOC coming on in the second half to really run at the Dubs, when they are tiring. Those two will also take a lot of the burden off Aidan.
    I reckon Mayo have the winning of this one if we continue to play with the same direct game that we have been playing in the league so far.

  16. Great to see 4 buses of kids going to match organised by Westport youth activities club. Well done to them. One of those kids .is my 10 year old son…he has seen Mayo play 8 times at croke park and never loose…..omen..!
    I expect to see changes to team. Maybe Coen or O Donoghue into FB line with Keith playing sweeper and Tracey dropping to bench. Also Diarmud in for Matthew Ruane in Midfield. I would like to see plunkett play as well….
    Enjoy the trip and game all…

  17. Not at all optimistic about tonight if I’m honest. Think both ladies and men’s teams could be on the end of bad beatings. And seeing the Dublin team worries me even more. If our hf line and their hb line start as listed then I think our 2 of our new hopes could have a night chasing shadows. Think JH needs to be very quick on trying to even up the match ups as best as possible so that our newbies are given a fair chance to impress and not have their confidence shattered. I’m a believer in easing players into senior football not throwing them into the deep end. Tonight that deep end is populated by sharks especially that hb line. We can’t expect our newbies who have only dipped their toe in the water to suddenly be able to compete with some of the absolute best players in the game.
    WJ says above if the newbies flourish then it’ll have been a good night regardless of the result. I agree but we have to give them a chance.

  18. After seeing the Dublin team name I don’t think we’ll beat them but I hope we give a good performance especially as we have a lot of young guys playing and I wish them well. No point harping on about all the advantages Dublin has after the Donegal
    Motion has been defeated.

  19. Totally agree backsoorsam , can’t help been annoyed by it though and the commentary from the likes of Sean Kelly on the motion . Hope Dublin win ten in a row now unless we ever win it .

  20. Donegal motion was badly constructed. No one was going to vote for a motion that forced Dublin to play their home games in Parnell Park. What they should have put forward was a motion that no county be allowed play their neutral game in the same stadium as their home game. Mayo v Dublin neutral game in Tullamore or Dublin v Kerry in Semple stadium.

  21. I’ve seen that pointed out Liam but I still don’t believe after such a convincing defeat it would of changed the outcome .

  22. I’d be very surprised if some county doesn’t put forward that motion in some form next year Sean. It would be very hard for Dublin or anyone to argue against it.

  23. They’re all sucking up to the Dubs it almost makes me as sick as the day sligo ref Marty Duffy was running the line a few years ago at the Kerry V Donegal all Ireland final. As soon as the game was over Duffy
    Who was supposed to be a nuetral impartial linesman ran straight over to Kieran Donaghy and gave a bemused Donaghy a big hug. I wonder what the Donegal people
    Thought of that.

  24. on route on dart from greystones to croker…my 9 yr old daughter and school friend from wicklow who is DIE HARD mayo….she goes there on hols every summer….reckon we edge it by 2 points tonight…..

  25. Couldn’t justify (to the wife) flying home for a league game but was sorely tempted.

    Will be watching from afar but throw a few guttural Hon Mayo’s in there for me!

  26. Just seen the Dublin team after coming back from the gym, if there was ever a time to beat them it’s now.
    That Dublin newcomer at midfield not good enough for this level.
    High ball and the mark will cause havoc inside Dublins 50 yard line.
    I agree the Dubs have named a very strong hf line, but look at Mayo’s half back line, well capable of doing damage, we need to exploit Murchans height deficit.
    It’s set up for the win, also very windy in Dublin today, not sure yet do that will affect the game.
    Even if Cluxton’s starts, how much football has he played this year.

  27. While the start of the league has been promising those turkeys in congress today bowing to John Costello would really make you lose all hope. The gaa has proven it has no interest in redressing the imbalances that exist and I think the years Dublin don’t win the all Ireland will be the exception. Anyways rant over, Up Mayo

  28. Hi All,
    Very mild and calm in Dublin at the minute but it’s forecast to get cold later. Best of luck to the 4 teams playing this evening and hope we get 2 great games. No excuses with our fitness tonight after a tough game v Kerry and a 2 week break and it would be great to see the young Mayo lads play really well. As for Congress today 36% v 64% speaks volumes.

    Kind Regards
    Martin the Dub

  29. I’m in Dublin right now Mayo88 and there’s not a breath of wind. Perfect conditions for the game. Diarmuid not named on subs bench which is slightly worrying. Expect Dubs to target this game with possible appearances from Cluxton and Connolly. Higgins to Captain the side on his 150th appearance for Mayo. The greatest player in the Green and Red ever in my opinion. Would like to see M Plunkett pick up Costello early on with Boyle to add muscle later on. Best of luck to the young lads up front.

  30. Not surprised by the vote in congress, but as Liam pointed out, it was poorly outlined and wasn’t viable in reality. IMO the rule is easily changed. As it stands, there is no ‘neutral game’ it’s a game in Croke Park. Change this to actually say neutral game and stipulate that all neutral games must be played outside both of the competing counties.

  31. @Martin the Dub, greetings…64% of delagetes , it certainly speaks volumes..64% in favor of UNFAIR advantage conferred on particular team at the expense of the other potential Super Eight’s contenders.. Well shame on the 64% , Fair play to Donegal for bringing up the proposal of a more equatable system for the Super Eight’s…. I asked a few days ago… who do these Delagetes / GAA decision makers actually repesent?… Well if you are sitting in Croke Park this afternoon, look around you.. See the Mayo supporter’s many thousand who will have travelled over 300 Miles round trip by maybe 1AM tommorow morning…The 64% certainly don’t repesent you, they don’t repesent the team you support. They will take your money, tell you where to go, when and where it suits themselves… Martin the Dub,knows well who and what the 64% repesent, those who have travelled a few miles on a Bus, Dart or Luas and the team they support…. God’s chosen people!

  32. Win, lose or draw tonight – what’s most important is that the new players that see game time, whether it be those who start or those who come in off the bench, learn and gain from the experience. Best of luck Mayo!

  33. Hi Leantimes…great first half in Croke Park. Given we will never know what Counties made up the 64% it’s probably not worth discussing. Also, I totally respect the miles that some Mayo fans have to travel but the Mayo people on the Dart, Luas and Bus earlier live and work up here too which I have no issue with but I don’t understand what point you are trying to make? Even the main man himself lives and works here and is an adopted St Vincent’s man.

    Kind Regards
    Martin the Dub

  34. @martin the dub.Youre a very welcome poster on here and you come across as a good and reasonable guy.The fact that dublin play 2 games in croke park and everyone else plays one is unfair.Theres simply no argument on that.

  35. In fairness guys, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of this.. the blame can hardly be laid at the door of the Dublin supporter

  36. In fairness it’s not the fault of Martin the Dub or any other Dublin supporter that Dublin get to
    Play all their games in Croke Park if we were given those advantages we’d take them
    Too but it does suck and it’s not a level playing field no matter what Congress or any individual says. For instance I know families that are going to the match tonight from Erris it will probably be 2 or 3 am
    Tonight before they get home and that after spending a ball of money on food and diesel ect.

  37. I don’t mind Dublin playing their HOME games in Croke Park, it is in Dublin after all. I really don’t care where they play in Leinster, that’s down to the other Counties in Leinster to sort out. The issues I do have are,
    Their should be a neutral round in the super 8s, not a Croke Park round.
    Dressing rooms should be choosen with a coin toss in the All Ireland series.
    I have a major issue with the hill 16 season tickets. One county should no have exclusive access to cheaper tickets in a specific location for the AI series. This season ticket format should be discontinued.

  38. Massive question marks over Horans in game management raise their head again
    Opened up time after time down the middle and makes no attempt to rectify it ????

    And the cooper yellow is exactly why black card rule hasn’t worked
    Stonewall black

  39. Halftime, Hennelly keeping Mayo just about alive, we need a better 2nd half, a few guys well of the pace, didn’t see what Keegan did for the black card.
    Still if you don’t score from a penalty probably don’t deserve to win.

  40. That should settle the goalkeeper question for a while,very poor decision making from the senior players,but still alive at half time so if they sort out a few things we should take them in the second half

  41. We’ve had plenty of chances ourselves and open ed up Dublin at the back but the difference is that they taken their chances and we hav’nt

  42. Cooper yellow is home town decision. Madness either it not a penalty or its a black card. Keegan was 3rd man tackle

  43. I’m away…missing my first game of the year (incl fbd’s) did be great to get some updates…

    What team started?

    Who is doing well?

    Who isn’t?


  44. I have to say I am a big Clarke fan, and he is my first preference goal keeper. But in fairness to Hennelly this evening he Had a great first half and has kept us in it. Hope I have nt put a hex on him now.

  45. Foolish blaming Horan It’s February in case some of you haven’t checked calendar He has gone with some inexperienced forwards and that’s exactly how they have looked No big deal but hopefully will be better in second half but I doubt it Hennelly as top scorer tells it’s own story Cillians absence so obvious Missing frees and penalty is a killer

  46. This ref is showing just why the black card was doomed to fail
    They don’t apply it correctly
    Ridiculous black for Seamie
    He want even looking at the player

  47. Oh dear,seems our bench is not as strong as we hoped,very poor performance of our goalkeeper was not in too form it would be five or six goals

  48. If we won ever one would have us for the all ireland now they will say we are gone I didn’t think we would have won so but anyway the new kids got a run out in HQ

  49. Disappointing performance tonight. Decent start but really never settled properly, particularly going forward. Fourteen wides is simply not good enough.

    A couple of guys really struggled tonight, and not just the newbies. I thought Keegan was way off the pace and had little or no impact. Aidan has his first poor game in a good while. Brian Reape has a bit of an awakening too in terms of the standard required.

    On the plus side – I was very impressed with Ruane. Very mobile, good distribution and kicked a good score. Fionn McDonagh also continued his upward trajectory. As for Robbie – excellent performance between the sticks.

    Sobering dose of reality but might not be any harm in the long run for James and the team.

  50. Time for people to stop talking rubbish about All Ireland’s and about it only being February.
    Hard to see many positives from that tonight ..
    What was it ?….3 points from play ?

  51. Hennelly motm for us. A lot of disappointing performances. Dublin should have would by a lot more. Not panicking yet but our Defence and middle looked to be overran at times. Ruane needs to break the line more saw it a couple of times but played Too laterally for me See him do the same with breaffy. Fionn Mcdonagh best of the new lads but still needs time to develop. Reape poor tonight. Looked off the pace Would have liked to have seen James Kelly come on but not to be. Two players black carded not good enough. We are beating ourselves lee Keagan needs to cope himself On.

  52. People will say that I’m going against the curve of opinion but I was happy with that performance tonight.. Not the result.. The performance. Coming from a base that I never expected us to win this game anyway.. I just wanted us to stay with them and had we converted the penalty and had a half reasonable ref we would be getting there. Not all bad and feeling optimistic for the year ahead

  53. Hard to watch that. Dublin looked in 2nd gear and won at their ease. Space we got against Tyrone and Cavan just wasnt there tonight. It was a real reality check for a few guys. Some of the misses and misplaced passes were really, really poor.
    Hard to take any positives but as mentioned by Rock I would persevere with Ruane and McDonagh. Thought they were decent tnight and looked like they can cut it at this level. Few of the established players had shockers tonight.

    Galway game now becomes an even big game. If we lose, then I think it confirms that we basically beat the 2 weakest teams in the league and got an poorly prepared Tyrone. If we can turn it around and beat Galway I would still see the graph as upwards. Dublin has given us hidings in the league before but we always close the gap by summer.Need a big performance next week to hopefully show this was just an ‘off’ night.

  54. Keith, Robbie,Fionn and Matty did well.Outside of that group it was well below standard.Dublin should have won that by 15.Not unexpected and no need to panic….a reality check.

  55. Keith didn’t do well. Great player but had a tough evening. People giving out about defence and midfield weren’t watching the same game as me. The half forward line were completely outshone and all of the decent ball going in came straight out

  56. No surprise in that result, that’s the difference in All Ireland – winning team, that confidence and arrogance that comes from winning 4 in a row.

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