Game day – another new beginning

After seven months waiting, we have at last a Mayo match to look forward to later on today. MacHale Park is the venue for our opening round game in Division One of this year’s National League, Galway provide the opposition and Cavan’s Joe McQuillan is the ref. Throw-in under the lights is 7.30pm and the match is being shown live on RTÉ2.

This evening’s clash against last year’s All-Ireland finalists – who field this evening with eleven of their starting fifteen from last July – represents the first competitive test for the new management under Kevin McStay. Pre-season has gone well for us, capped by a first FBD League title in over a decade, but now the real stuff begins.

And it starts in a way like never before, with a League season that abuts directly with the Championship campaign to follow. For this reason and because of the added importance of the League in the new fixtures structure, this game – like the six more to come at us in a rapid-fire way – is an important one.

It’s easy to paint a gloomy picture about this one. Galway’s pick looks way more experienced compared to ours, which, as Ed McGreal pointed out last night, sees Diarmuid O’Connor, at 28, the oldest player lining out for us. It doesn’t take an overly wild imagination to envisage us being a bit out of our depth tonight.

Holding that thought, you could then add to it by viewing next weekend’s trip to Armagh as one that might also be a fruitless one. That’s followed by a home clash with All-Ireland champions Kerry. You know where this line of thinking leads – it doesn’t take much to conjur up an early set of adverse results that sees us getting sucked into a battle to avoid relegation.

But a night for new beginnings isn’t one for those type of thoughts. Sure, we’re fielding a less experienced line-up than they are but the advisability of Joyce going so tooled up for an opening round League match in January has to be questioned. And should he really have gone with so many of the Moycullen lads, given all the winter ball they’ve played?

The great thing about sport is that all of these questions remained unanswered in advance of the contest getting underway. Once it does, we’ll have our response on these and other issues too.

For my own part, I’m enthused about this new start. We don’t, of course, know where it’s going to lead us but the mood inside the group appears to be positive and, with standards lower nationally since the time we went toe-to-toe with the great Dublin team, the summit doesn’t look as forbidding as it once did.

We’re a long way from the summit right now. In fact, we’re right down at the base of the mountain looking up but we’re also about to set off another another trek. I can’t wait for us to get going.

We have, of course, two Mayo matches on today, with the women in action first. They’re up against Kerry at the Connacht CoE, where they’re aiming to secure a first win in their NFL Division One campaign. That one is also being shown live, this time on TG4.

The best of luck to both Mayo teams today. Here’s to positive performances by both of them, here’s to two wins on home soil. Up Mayo.

68 thoughts on “Game day – another new beginning

  1. Go hiontach WJ. A lovely introduction to the new season.
    In agreement with you very positive for the ‘New Beginning’ as you stated above. Yes, a young team with plenty of talent and experience on the subs bench!
    Best of luck to the Kevin and the new management team.
    Go neiri le foireann Mhuigeo i gcónai
    Mhuigeo Abu!

  2. It’s going to be hard for management to find a balance early on. The temptation will be to protect the full back line tonight, which is fair enough because if we don’t we could see a reversal of the Tuam league result a couple of years ago. Comer etc will chomping tonight. Always are against us..
    But, I think what’s important tonight is to see a few names in the forward line that are there a while now stand up. We have had enough ball carriers and play makers the last few years. It would be great to see lads rack up a few scores tonight and give the other managers something to think about, otherwise we are a bit predictable up front.
    We are in very different places, and it’s very early days. Safe travelling to all

  3. A brave selection that both indicates a changing of the guard and a clear signal that form will feed selection.
    Sure Galway have a more experienced starting side picked, but at this time of the year fitness and hunger to prove themselves may trump that.
    We will certainly learn a lot tonight and in the next couple of league games. The very best to all our lads!

  4. Some complaining about mood, the players picked will be only dying to have a cut. That’s not our best 15 IMO it’s experimental. If it works and we win I’ll be happy because we’re blooding players. If we get roasted I won’t worry too much because it’s Jan 28 and we need to try new players.

  5. Best of luck to McStay & Co.
    New beginnings and new horizons.
    Lets hope this new journey provides as many memorable moments as the past decade.
    Good luck Mayo !

  6. Best of luck to Mayo this evening, hopefully it will be a good game with no injuries to either team,safe travels to all and it is the start of our quest for Sam

  7. @km79

    The 26 named doesn’t even nclude Paddy,Tommy,Plunkett,Robbie, and O Hora who would be certs to make the first 26 and
    Kevin Mc, Bryan Walsh and Jason Doc who could make the 26. Who on earth gets left out to accommodate them?
    There will be some very good players kicking their heels this year and our bench could be a real strength for us.
    Plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

  8. Is Aidan O Shea injured ? He has yet to start a game under Kevin McStay. Aidan O Shea should be playing full forward for Mayo he is a great fielder of the ball

  9. Kim79 do you or does anyone have the list of subs? Can’t seem to find them anywhere.

    Thanks Willie Joe, great job as always.
    I can’t wait for this evenings game, an I reckon it will be closer than some posters predict, an we might shade it.
    Up Mayo!

  10. looking forward to this, with weather conditions ok this could be a good performance. I’ll go for a 5pts plus win and hoping for a good tactical performance and no goal conceded…

  11. John Horan, Aido along with Cillian were away on holidays at the begining of January and so were late getting back into training. While they didn’t start games in FBD they were heavily involved in friendly games played. Both will be important players this season.

  12. Here we are again, January nearly down, a whole new season opening up, very fresh outlook, that they survive the division be their priority, come on mayo!! Anyways we ve the spuds devoured and we re heading out the door,safe journey to all of ye

  13. Delighted McStay was brave enough to start new generation of mayo footballers. Plenty of talent on bench also. This is exactly what these guys need.

  14. The Status Quo continues, the Referee giving nothing to Kildare v Dublin currently, blatant free not given to Kildare yet the Dubs given frees for very little.

  15. Ray Dempseys limerick got a bit of a hammering up in Derry, very tough division this year, will probably struggle to beat anyone

  16. Best of luck to our team and management tonight and let’s see a good performance and no injuries.

    Hup Mayo.

  17. Impossible job with Limerick. Without their hurlers that play football, they are going nowhere but back down to D3. Tailteann Cup is their level. Good evening for a game. The Loftus experiment at 6 doesn’t inspire me, but I’m sure managment knows best. Just cannot imagine him marking Seanie O’Shea or Shane Walsh if they were at 11.

  18. Two changes to the starting fifteen – David McBrien and Bob Tuohy in, Donnacha McHugh and Fionn McDonagh out. Kevin McLoughlin added to the subs, Fionn’s not in the match-day 26.

  19. If matches were played on paper we would have no chance tonight. They are not. Having said that Galway have a very fine team named. We could be ahead of them from a preparation perspective, but the fact they are playing quite a few Moycullen fellas who have plenty of football under their belts in winter. A really difficult test for us. We will have to play well to get anything out of it. Best of luck to new management. Maigh Eo abu

  20. It is just waiting for the second half ,no problem we will marmalise Galway in the second half,Mayo by eight

  21. How you pick Ruane for black in that scenario is beyond me. If that’s the way now though on kick outs it should be good but referees will be busy.

  22. Not a bad display by our young ones at all def not a wash out like I have been hearing last few days! What a goal from James carr.

    @MayoMayo1 our old friend is back at that awful decision was no way a black card!! Ryan O D such a class act!

    If we loose tonight I won’t be worried hasnt been a bad display at all by mayo a very young mayo team against a near full team that was in final last year and we still have some of our main guys to come back onwards &upwards either way!

  23. Good result for Galway as we dont look anywhere near full fitness at all. Pleased with the draw but so much to improve on. Mayo have some good players but need Conroy back. A draw was a fair result on what looked like a very slippy pitch.

  24. A draw a fair enough result. Great intensity to the match. Plenty to work on for mayo in terms of defence and attacking play. A lot of young players for mayo who performed really well. Great to see ROD back, a nice bit of experience off the bench. Overall a positive start for McStay and co.

  25. I think it was an even result much bettr 2nd half for mayo and what a piint by Ryan o D at the end I think a fair result.

    Only Jan and we still have Tommy c to come vack and others but I have to give credit to mayos young ones a lot said it would be wash out but it wasnt!

  26. Galway were very clever in there game management and are one of the most cynical teams around, and fair play to them.Mayo showed plenty of heart and intensity but unstructured and blunt in attach. Positives were Bob T, Jack coyne and the sharpness of Cillian when he came on.

  27. Great game of football from an entertainment point of view today. Clear to see mayo have put in a hard pre season as I thought we looked the much fitter team. Disappointing not to get the win as a result. Cillian very good when he came in, linked play well and showed great composure. Shame we never put a high ball in on AOS when he went in. Still the high ball on our own full back line a problem but for the first day out it wasn’t to bad a performance at all.

  28. Enjoyable game. When did a Mayo supporter ever say that before!!
    We could have lost it, might have won it but a draw was fair enough.
    Young lads showed well tonight. Cillian was bright and the sap is rising.
    Well done Mayo. Tús maith….
    Maigheo abú

  29. Totally agree with two comments above thought cillian is def coming back into form ..dissapointing not to get the result but I am glad mayo had energy &pace and showing signs of differnt kind of play like more kicking etc and they seem to have a new manager bounce good to see mcstay&rochford from sidelines encourging them thats the way it should be!

    Be really interesting when we have Tommy c back paddy durcan as capatain stuff to work on bit not a wash out by no means…

  30. Draw probably a fair result though our lads won’t be happy with two giveaways near the end coming out of defence.
    Conditions very tough so was hard for both teams to play ball.
    A good workout for both teams for January.
    From our POV I hope Finnerty’s injury isn’t serious

  31. What was our full back line? How was one of our smaller forwards contesting a high ball in our own box for Galway goal first half and then Galway box for a Mayo point in second.

  32. Delighted with that result, to go to Castlebar huge home crowd, new management, and to nearly win is all positive.
    The introduction of Cillian, Aian O Shea etc were big decisions. You could see how much work , fitness and conditioning Mayo have done.
    From A Galway point of view it will bring them on so much, Shane Walsh still a massive player for us but great to see so many new faces as well.

  33. Think both teams would have taken that pre match

    Typical late January fare, lots of rustiness and loose passes/poor shot selection, mixed in with some promising spells.. mayo extraordinarily fit for this time of year, understandably much more so than Galway

    Both have plenty to work on, still huge improvement in galway, especially when Walsh comes back.. both will be happy to take the point and move on to next week

    Cooke made a huge impression for Galway, he’s a brilliant addition

  34. Why was a forward defending a high ball for the first Galway goal? That was comical stuff.

  35. As an old man, if PJ Rilley was full back for Mayo there would have not have been a goal scored

  36. Good game for first round of league,
    Lots of stuff to work on but my one big gripe is : kicking the ball into the goalies hands is brutal stuff, 5 or six times, not alone is there a score missed but the opposition attacks straight away & nearly always scores. Full forward needs to be a real ball winner & cause a bit of panic in opposition defence, out from that Mayo played fairly good.

  37. The general feeling all week was that galway would win with a bit to spare.
    The fact that we battled back to get the draw, and that was no thanks to the ref, says a lot for the spirit and never-say-die attitude of the team and that will do me for now…

  38. Thought McBrein did very well on Comer, hopefully he stays injury free as he could be a big asset to our back line.

    I think both teams have plenty of room for improvement with Mayo probably 5 starters to come back into the team and Galway with Walsh.

    A draw a good result for both and two more wins should see both teams safe from relegation.

    Hope Rob Finnertys injury isn’t too serious.

  39. A draw. I don’t want it but I’ll take it.
    Early days with a new management squad and in essence we started with a very new looking team.
    I’ll try to resist going into the weeds and the grass but from my perspective Jordan, Enda Hession, Matty and Stephen Coen were the key players for us this evening. Ryan’s final score to draw the game was outstanding and needs no further plaudits. That said – he wouldn’t have been in my top 3 until that last kick of the game. Here’s a thing – if that’s an accurate reflection then that’s a young enough bunch for us to get a smidge giddy about.
    Outside of those I felt Touhy acquitted himself well and Loftus didn’t do too badly at 6 either.

    Our defence did better than I expected given the departures over the winter. McBrien did very well in my view and he’s going to be a very important player for us going forward.

    That said both our goals were totally avoidable and ultimately took the gloss off an otherwise good performance.

    For the record Marty’s Black card was one of the softest since that card has been introduced to the sport. I won’t go into the rest of McQuillans performance but at times I had to wonder how he came to the conclusions he did (which on the odd rare occasion we were beneficiaries). I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on most but Mattys black card was incredible. Anyway I’m sure our nearest neighbours are delighted with that decision as it kept one of our best players out of the game for a crucial period. .
    Improvements needed but play like that given we don’t have Paddy, Padraig or Robbie available and still take a draw against all Ireland finalists is acceptable.

  40. Thought Hession got on a huge amount of ball, Mcbrien impressive in 2nd half as was Coyne, Cillian offered a huge threat too. We’re missing a playmaker at centre half forward, not sure where Carneys best position is but def has a role to play. Don’t think Brickenden or Orme are up to it unfortunately, think we’ve better options have had a lot of chances, both struggled tonight. Pretty positive overall, win against Armagh next weekend and we’ll be in a great position

  41. Great result with a new team, essentially we are Knee deep in transition. Some comments above pure muck etc. a typical blog analysis from warrior’s that never kicked a ball. Bod Touhy, cillian cameo, fantastic, the future is growing just like back in 2011 it always does eventually. Galway came with the calvary but it wasn’t enough….

  42. Great result with a new team, essentially we are Knee deep in transition. Some comments above pure muck etc. a typical blog analysis from warrior’s that never kicked a ball. Bob
    Touhy, cillian cameo, fantastic, the future is growing just like back in 2011 it always does eventually. Galway came with the calvary but it wasn’t enough….

  43. Hard to see what the game plan was. Might help if we played someone at full forward. Carr out the field and Orme just used as a workhorse around the middle. 5 or 6 kicks landed into the goalkeepers hands and not a Mayo man in sight. Had we a player in there it would be fair to assume that we would have got something in return. Character as always is our only saving grace. Hopefully, somr sort of shape will come into our game going forward, I just didn’t see any tonight.

  44. The free to Galway at the end was a bad decision but in fairness Flynn’s wasn’t a free in and where we a bit fortuitous with the one on Ryan by Glynn aswell?

    These things usually balance out. Thought he got some poor ones both ways

    2 wins from 6 should do both now and anything else is a bonus so both will gladly take the draw and move on

  45. Delighted to get a point.Lots of positives from this new young team.Its a journey just begining and we a long way short of Galways experience.Joyce will be livid not getting the win.We will learn as we go.

  46. thatteamwontlast I’m glad Kevin Mcstay doesn’t think like you. He has said we’re not in transition

  47. That was an enjoyable evening. One thing about us is that we are always entertaining!

    SOme real positives this evening. Enda Hession really pushed on from defence, especially in the second half. Thought McBrien was solid at full back – got caught out a few times but in general did well. Bob Tuohy had a good game – wasnt afraid to get on the ball and go forward with it. He was curtailed a bit in the second half but overall he was good. Hopefully he gets a few more games

    But some not so goods also. Conor Loftus seemed a bit at sea defensively. I can see what they want him to do – he was getting on ball and bringing it forward but its leaving a gap in the defence. If the plan is to bring it forward maybe he would be better drifting back from half back line. For about 10 mins of the second half the sideline were in big discussions and seemed to keep changing minds. McHale came down to join Rochford and McStay and they seemed indesivie. Mulligan joined them after about 20 mins – they seemed to have to talk to each other too many times and we were slow making changes. Hopefully this was just getting to used to each other styles etc. Left footed forward – disapponted with Orme. Its a problem.

    All in all happy to get the point and with players to come back it was positive overall

  48. Highly entertaining! A very fair result, after alot of hard work on both sides in such weather. Good luck for the rest of the season, with no injuries.

  49. Pure muck it most certainly was not. Two teams going for it full tilt at the end of January providing a very entertaining contest .Well done to both of them. Bigger days ahead

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