Game day – big performance needed to deal with big challenge that awaits

Here we are. After months of waiting, the long-anticipated, high-octane start to this year’s Connacht championship is at last upon us. Later on today at MacHale Park in Castlebar our lads take the field against Galway. The match throws in at 4pm, Cork’s Conor Lane is the ref and the place will be heaving.

It’s worth bearing in mind that today’s encounter is but a provincial quarter-final one. And, unlike those storied clashes of yesteryear, it’s not in the strict sense of the word a must-win match. Regardless of how today’s game goes, we’ll both still be in the championship come sundown.

That said, how pretty we’re sitting tonight will depend on how we get on today. The direct route is always the best way to go and even though we’ve had oodles of fun – as well as the odd heart attack – negotiating our way through the qualifiers over the last two years, I think all of us would agree that it’d be far preferable to keep it on the straight and narrow this summer.

That, of course, is Galway’s aim as well. The neighbours rock into Castlebar today aiming to beat us for the third successive time in the championship, with all that warm praise for their Division One campaign this spring and plenty of positive previews from the pundits ringing in their ears.

Beating them today will be no easy task for us. We’re notoriously slow to get going in the championship, regardless of who we face early on, and another ponderous opening day today will surely see us once again dispatched to the byways of the qualifiers.

Add into the pot our abysmal record at MacHale Park, where we last won a competitive game in normal time almost exactly a year ago – when we beat Sligo in the opening round of last year’s Connacht championship – and where we rarely play at our best.

The middle of May isn’t normally the time of year you expect to see us having to put on a big performance. This year – due to this frankly insane championship draw – is different. Put simply, we need to put in a very strong and committed display today if we’re to get over this hugely tricky hurdle.

Will we do it? To be honest, I haven’t a clue. But I do know that Stephen Rochford and his players have had this date and this challenge in the forefront of their minds ever since the draw was made late last year. They understand the kind of test this match represents and they know what they have to do. That’s good enough for me.

For those of us looking on, there is – once again – a job of work to be done. We’re the most vociferous, passionate bunch of supporters on big days in Croke Park but we don’t always give it socks on home turf. Like the players, we take a bit of time to get into our stride. The same as the lads on the field, though, we don’t have that luxury this year.

An A game from the lads deserves A game support from those of us watching. We know, in particular from last year, how important our role is in proceedings so we need to give them the kind of support they’ll draw renewed strength from in what is sure to be an energy-sapping contest.

Right, then, we all know what we need to do. What I need to do first, and sharpish, is get out the door and get onto the road west. A long day lies ahead for us all but, we hope and expect, a satisfying one too.

Here’s to a big performance from the lads today at MacHale Park. Here’s to what is now a long overdue championship win over the neighbours. Onwards and upwards. Up Mayo.

71 thoughts on “Game day – big performance needed to deal with big challenge that awaits

  1. The nerves are kicking in already and I’m only a supporter. Time to start the pre match routine off to mass and for a big breakfast and then roar on the lads.

  2. I’m beyond excited here and as usual on the night before a game I didn’t have a great sleep. Safe driving to all travelling. I’ve everything crossed. I can’t wait to see our warriors in the green & red run on to the pitch. It’s at that point I become so overwhelmed with pride, joy and sheer excitement for what I hope will be a Mayo win. Maigheo Abu

  3. James Durcan and Cian Hanley named on our bench. Brannigan is on the Galway one.

  4. Yes WJ . Big performance needed . Agree that this date has been penciled in a long time back and would think their training has been adjusted to be a bit sharper than normal for this time of year . Let’s roar the lads on today ! Hitting the road straight after mass so will be down for junior match.Safe journey to all

  5. Safe journey willie joe.
    On the game we know very little about mayo can only be a good thing.
    Im expecting a big performance from aido.
    Mayo for a win.

  6. Still recovering from a day in Pearse Stadium yesterday with the girls… all the kiddies were disgusted when Ed didn’t come out for a second encore wearing the green and red! But Beoga stood alongside Ed and did Mayo proud! Passing through Ballindine at 1am and the sight of all the Mayo flags was something special… there will be a great welcome for our visitors tomorrow, but when they cross back over the border tomorrow evening they will look around, note the lack of Maroon and white flags and say to themselves “fecking hell, what happened to us there? We were supposed to walk it not have our asses handed to us!”
    Beware the wounded animal !
    Safe travels to all today!

  7. Wow. The atmosphere is going to be electric, I can sense the nervous excitement on here already. My heart is skipping beats just thinking about it. A good start for us is vital, and hopefully we will get that. Its payback time, Up Mayo, our warriors won’t be found wanting, Our mighty men by 2 points, Roar them home folks.

  8. Yeah it’s a very forward heavy bench. Regan, Dougie and DOC as well.

    Still expecting a last minute addition to the squad!

  9. Woke up this morning. That’s always a good start. Turned on the radio and the Gabrielle song Rise Aain came floating through the airways.
    “Look at my life
    look at heart,
    I have seen them fall apart
    Now I’m ready to rise again
    Look at my hopes
    Look at my dreamns
    Building bridges fro the scenes
    Yes I’m ready to rise again.

    I t left me in a way that I wanted to run clean through stone walls. I was thinking about the lads and know that they will be ready too. I set out soon here on what will be a 8 hour round trip. The wife thinks I’m completly bonkers. She told me that she will leave the light on. That’s a good thing. She’s one understanding lady. Last year was tough on and off the pitch, as life can be . Looking forward to this day for what seems like forever. Things are good. The light will be left on and this great Mayo are ready, Ready To Rise Again…

  10. Yes saw it on Facebook Hanley and James Durcan named on the bench, interesting…….

  11. Picture the scene. 17th September 2017 at about 17.10 hours.

    The Nally Stand in Crow Park (though i’d class it as a terrace meself). The final whistle has just gone. Cillians one came back off the bastarding post. Rock put his one over. Mayo are bet. All around me the Dubs are streaming out of Crow Park. Cant be bothered to wait for Cluckos speech. Also all around me are Mayo people. Broken and destroyed. Grown men in tears leaning on the safety barriers. On the grass we see Keegan in tears. 15 men in green and red are carried off on their shields.

    Today is the day we start to fix things and repair the good ship that is Mayo. We leave that hurt behind us and head off with hope. Never again and all that.

    Go to it Mayo.

  12. Fair play to you Joe and your understanding wife , This is the spirit of a proud Mayo people in following this great Mayo team . Have a safe journey Joe here and back .UP MAYO WHEREVER YOU GO

  13. Best of luck luck to the team today, We can do it but it will take a huge effort given Galway are further down the road regards this years training. It will be interesting to see if Galway handle the pressure. I’m not so sure they will.

    Unless there’s a good reason for it, I can’t understand leaving Crowe out. He grew and grew in the league and he was the solidity in defence all spring for me. It seems strange. I’ve always liked Caff but he just hadn’t got the yard of pace back since the injury.

    We’ve a big call to make this year regarding our bench. If we’re to progress, we need to hold the likes of Keith, Boyler, Seamie in reserve to close our matches. Boyler should however start today given the Galway border rivalry. Some will argue we won’t get far without these lads always starting. That remains to be seen, but one things for sure, we won’t be winning Sam without this kind of experience coming off the bench in big matches. That has always been our downfall and how Rochy manages these types is decisions and whether or not the experienced players accept them or not will be the question. Hopefully we show today that we still have enough in the tank to really compete this year and to have such decision headaches.
    Really trust in youth should be Rochys motto today.
    It wouldn’t surprise me to see Evan play a part today either.
    Good luck to all involved, it will
    Be a wild one.

  14. Wasn’t it said already that Crowe was sick all week, didn’t train and had to play out of position at FF for his Club last night as a result of this ?

  15. Km, just heard that last night. Makes sense. Hopefully recovered for our next outing!

  16. Km79, hadn’t heard that at all but fair enough, of course, if that’s the situation.
    It would seem very strange to leave him entirely out of the match day panel without a valid reason like this given his form.

  17. Heart is pumping green and red… will be watching from the heart of Gaelic football….mid Carlow… come on Mayo. Always proud of my home and our warriors. May the force be with us… Maigheo Abu

  18. Travelled Home for first round today and getting 7 AM ferry in the morning, had to be there! Galway are very very confident and I think they may have talked themselves into a corner as speaking to a couple of the Mayo lads, they are VERY up for this! I was pessimistic or cautious shall we say a for the past couple of months but as it gets closer, I would not be surprised if we run out winners by 4/5 points! I would be surprised not to see Cian Hanley play a part today, supposed to be very strong carrying ball in training, even though the call skills are slightly rusty! I think he will play as a sweeper further on in the championship! Barrett to pick up Comer!

  19. It will be close today hopefull mayo can do it if not we will still be there in sept ‘oshea in the indo wants galway to put mayo in the muck he also rekons their goalie no 3 in country he can never write a piece without mentioning kerry or family anyway hope we turn it up today and get the win

  20. Rage , rage ,rage against the dying of the light .

    And so ,once again , we stand at the foot of the mountain looking up .

    And unwelcome thoughts of under achievement and regret creep into my mind .

    We haven’t crossed the line .
    We haven’t got to Nirvana .
    We haven’t held the Sam Maguire cup as winners.

    These thoughts are imposters and to be honest they are other people’s thoughts . They are not mine .

    I’m sure the players must wonder what’s really up there when you reach the summit ? A great feeling of achievement certainly. A great view .

    But ultimately what is it ?

    It’s not really about a cup or a view.

    It’s more like an invitation.

    Reaching the summit means you feel invited , compelled to try for it again .That feeling , that view is ephemeral . But it is addictive. And the addiction creates the invitation to come back and try again . To be even more perfect .

    So , in that sense , it’s more about the effort. The stuff that lasts is/ are the people we become in the committed effort to achieve perfection . Which is unachievable anyway and maybe even unknowable .

    In a more real sense I firmly believe we ,as a county , have achieved more than we could ever have hoped for in such a short period of time .

    What this team have achieved together is simply monumental. The ethos , the legend that is Mayo is forever changed. Mayo are the right stuff !

    Even though we haven’t crossed that metaphorical and shadowy line this team have repeatedly shown all the characteristics of real winners .

    -Indefatigability in the face of repeated heartbreak
    -Passion and fierce commitment
    -A sense of true community

    These things collectively represent their rage , rage , rage against the dying of their light.

    This team have shown great passion their sport , for their team , for their mission , for their county and for their people.

    This is commitment of a very pure and rare kind .

    It’s not that transient feeling , that shadowy ephemeral but addictive feeling, but it sure is winning in all the ways that matter. In the ways of life.

    Pursuing a goal in an increasingly committed and increasingly better way ,year on year , that is pure winning.

    Loving something or someone ,that’s winning . A man from Sligo once said “ tis better to have loved and lost than never loved at all “

    Being prepared to put it out there and have your heart broken year after year despite the naysayers saying you’re finished . That’s winning .

    But most of all this team , these players ,should bask in the reflected love their fans have for them.

    They are by a country mile the most loved team I have ever known or supported ( and that includes the Boston Red Sox ) Mayo fans repeatedly putting their hearts out there to be ripped to shreds simply reflects the great love we have for this team .

    This should be a source of huge pride for these men of Mayo. And a great reflection of the honesty and decency of Mayo people.

    We love them because they are winners in all the ways that matter in life . They represent all the very best in people from anywhere on this earth.

    And they can keep inviting themselves back to do this for as long as they wish .

    Count me as a committed fan and one who is massively addicted to the cause.

    Mayo the legend has been changed forever. Continuing on this path together means this team are all winners in what matters. Winners in life.

  21. On current form, it’s hard to see past another Galway win. Following on from a magnificent run in the League, their confidence will be sky high and this is backed up by a teak tough and very hard-working team with a very solid defence and in Comer, they have a bull of a man who on his day is almost impossible to stop. For Mayo to have a chance, they will need everything to go right from the off, from keeper to full-forward and everyone in-between. Fingers crossed we can do it because going down the back door rout is far from ideal, for our already well-travelled heroes.

  22. I haven’t posted for a good while, doesn’t mean my interest has waned, if anything the opposite is the case. Mayo supporters, especially those of us living abroad, can never thank WJ often enough for running this blog. It’s now an integral part of the match day experience, the whole build-up and the day itself wouldn’t be the same without it. We could talk all day about the ifs and buts of today’s match but I think the outcome rests on one main thing. Mayo’s preparations over the past few years have been geared to peak on All Ireland final day and I have no doubt an August/September Mayo would beat Galway today by 5/6 points. However, this is May and our performances at this time of year are usually like those of a team at the beginning of their training programme. If this match is Mayo’s main focus since the draw was made, the big question is, have they, in such a short time, been able to get to the levels of fitness and conditioning necessary to beat Galway today. Fitness-wise they were well ahead of us during the league and it will take a Mayo performance that we have never seen in May before if we are to be in with a chance of winning today. Safe travelling to all and I really hope our heroes get the win which would set us up perfectly for the long road ahead.

  23. Safely ensconced in Castlebar. It’s a while since I’ve been this early for a game. Travelled with a neighbour from Galway. Too early to give him a dig?

  24. Mayo 4/5 favourite. Draw 15/2 and Galway11/8. Not everyone has us written off.

  25. Looking forward to this one. Very nervous about it. Feels like a knock out game. If our heads are at the game we can beat them. I expect messy, niggly, defensive game. Hon Mayo.

  26. Just heard this second 2 adults and one juvenile ticket going for grabs with Midwest radio. Go to the mwr cruiser at the game. Free tickets but person who can’t use them said dontate sinerhung to charity. Whoever asks for them first gets them.

  27. what happened to Crowe and Nally not in the 26 , both should be very near to first 15

  28. Rock , hit early and hit often . You literally can’t do enough of that . Apologize later.

  29. Should be a level game at least, mayo have kicked some screamers. If Galway introduce a little more attack in their strategy and bring comer into the game I think he will hurt ye badly, he’s a bull of a man and he has frightening pace along with everything else. O connors red was unfortunate as it was clearly unintentional but it was a very dangerous lead with his elbow so he can have little complaints.
    Good luck in the second half

  30. Red for O’Connor was well deserved. Reckless and very dangerous. Stupidity from him.

  31. Ooh God !! That looks like the end of parsons season as his knee was twisted very badly. I hope and pray I’m wrong

  32. This has been another very poor showing against Galway. Galway poor in the second half, kicking numerous wides and we still couldn’t capitalize.

  33. Diarmuid s Red was well deserved . Not harsh at all.
    Poor execution all day long . That’s what cost us .We had the possession . We had the chances .

  34. Very poor performance against a very average Galway team. O’Connors discipline cost us again. They should have learned from last Galway game. Subs all brought on too late to make in impact. Injury to Parsons a hammer blow. Game there for taking in 2nd half and we threw it away. A very long way back from this one!

  35. Man sent off again for dirty elbow into the face. Once again cost Mayo a win. Mayo parked the bus & paid a heavy price in the second half. Tough going now I’m afraid.

  36. I’m afraid it going to be a very short season blew it today. No one to blame but ourselves. Gutted

  37. Poor game. Was surprised how poor galway were but mayo’s fwds let them down with some terrible finishing. Higgins had a great game. What was DOC thinking?!!

  38. very strange tactics by Mayo in second half. A full back line all on yellow cards, strong wind with us and we sit back and let Galway have the ball. It was crying out for some high ball in and force mistakes or frees. We have learned nothing from the last 2 defeats to Galway.

  39. I love this team but could we have played any worse? Absolutely dreadful. Galway didn’t even play well.

  40. Its always an uphill struggle when we are a man down..Havent we learned anything from last years All Ireland???!!So frustrating.

  41. Great win for us but a poor match. We looked better with brannigan,burke, kelly on the pitch. Sad to see Parsons looking so badly injured. diarmuid o connor is a liability and that was a bad elbow on conroy. Plenty of work for Kevin Walsh now as we need more cohesion up front. Mayo still have a chance but its a long road to super8 now. Up Galway.

  42. Thought the supporters didn’t get behind the team enough today.

    We were facing the breeze in the first half but couldn’t push up to use that advantage in the second half because we were a man down. We had to concede the knockouts.

  43. Best wishes to parsons, looks a terrible injury. All true gaa folk wish him a full recovery.

  44. Tough game to watch today, mayo couldve been well ahead only for very easy wides, silly from o connor as many have already said, and could someone please tell me why david drake is being brought on as a sub.

  45. Hard to fault the lads. Played 50 minutes with 14 men and just lacked a forward or two. Galway deserved their victory over the whole game but I wouldn’t be jumping up and down booking hotels for September yet. I’d give my right eye to get a rattle at them with 15 men in August. Tom looked badly hurt.

  46. We talked before about composure before costing this team . Along with composure you need the basics of ball handling , passing and UN-crazy shot selection. All these elements were not the usual standard for this team today and you can’t compensate for that . I still love these guys. They’ll try again . We missed Lee , Diarmuid , Donie . We were flat in the second half.
    Keith, McLaughlin , and Chris Barrett ( second half) were our best performers. Playing this poorly we still could have won this match . Which brings me right back to the start of my paragraph .

  47. I think they need a year off there writing us off for here on I need a holiday after that game

  48. Graphic pics of parsons injury in Irish independant. Could be the end of Tom’s career by the look of it.

  49. Discipline.
    Poor shot selection.
    Too many years of top flight football made us look tired, plus being down a player.

  50. @Sonofapitch, David Drake is brought on because he has pace can break a tackle and dosent lose the ball, apart from that he doesn’t add much… Certainly if full fit Leroy is better, but Leeroy is injured, I think Vaughan is better, but I think he not at level of fitness he would like. Andy probably should have been subbed earlier.. A few bad decisions.. If Diarmuid was still on the pitch, maybe Andy would have been subbed earlier?… I taught Tom Parsons was our best player while on the pitch, I wish him well a a quick recovery… Our exuction of Chances was not as good as Galway… Very disappointed, still in Castlebar, no point in going near my Car where it’s parked until maybe tommorow.. Our senior’s like our junior’s who also gave it everything, the difference was the percentage of chances taken… Look disappointed does not describe my feelings really, but look at it like this, Class is Class, the ”statement of the Family of David Gavin, read out before the match was pure genuine’ CLASS ‘.. Sometimes even in defeat we have to acknowledge real class, same as Tom Parsons, defiant first pump to the crowd as he was carried off… Pure Class as well. Congratulations and Good luck to Galway now , but on another day, I wouldn’t put past the Rossi, ambushing the Tribesmen once again…. See ye all again, somewhere, sometime, jus don’t know where, and don’t know when..

  51. I agree . I think Roscommon could destroy this Galway team if they get going .

    Tom Parsons is total class . I Wish him the best in his prolonged recovery . Not career ending but he’ll be out for nine months +. We missed him badly today after he left . He will be back .

  52. I don’t think the Mayo Gaa Blog archive is going to be kind to Stephen Rochfords Connacht Championship record. Great win today, terrible performance but any win in Castlebar against Mayo is welcome. Some of these Galway guys like Kevin, Brannigan and Heaney have never lost to Mayo which similar to Aidan O’shea a few years ago counts for something. Think the subs won it for us. Finally any one saying about the road ahead for Mayo being impossible, nonsense, ye’ve just done that road….twice. Best of luck to Tom Parsons with his recovery, up Galway

  53. Wow that was a poor game of football but at the end of the day Galway deserved there victory so I would hope people on this site just relax give this guys the respect they deserve I not for a minute writing them off they deserve our respect there a lot football to be played yet we have to wait and see

  54. Swahili, I really welcome you saying Tom’s injury is not career ending. That is a positive.
    I was at the match but don’t know how how it happened even though I was looking at him.

  55. Best wishes to Tom Parsons , it’s a difficult time for Tom and his family, it puts everything in perspective…
    Disappointing day for Mayo all round it will be a tough road if we are to make it to the super 8’s now

  56. Also we have to stay positive like Keep the faith says. Big Mike is right. We are used to this route and it prob suits us. We are always cold in May. For me the worst thing today is Tom Parsons and what his injury means for him and Mayo’s chances going forward. But if it’s not career ending that is something to be thankful for.
    We are getting a lot of serious injuries recently.

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