Game day – drive it on

The 2022 National League campaign is already at the halfway stage. Indeed, once this weekend’s Round 4 matches are over, it’ll be past the halfway mark, with the pace picking up visibly week on week.

Today we welcome Armagh to Dr Hyde Park – this weekend’s temporary home venue for us – for what’s a meeting between two of the three teams who are still unbeaten in Division One this year. Meath’s David Coldrick is the ref and throw-in at the Roscommon venue is 2pm.

I think it’s fair to say that neither set of supporters would have thought at the start of the year that we’d both be sitting as prettily as we are at this stage. Armagh were on most people’s list of likely candidates for the drop this spring whereas our perennial struggles to stay up are ones we’ve all lived through in some shape or form and I probably wasn’t alone in believing we were likely to be faced with a similar battle this year.

Instead, we’re both close to safe after three rounds of matches and can start to think about pushing on in this League campaign.

From our perspective, this is all hugely welcome. Last September’s All-Ireland defeat was the worst final loss of the lot and, for many supporters, the notion of going again this spring felt, for the first time, like an impossibility.

Just as well James Horan and his players didn’t feel that way.

Football is, of course, a results business and so, first and foremost, what we’ve achieved in the three matches we’ve played to date is what sends us into this game in such high spirits. Hand in hand with the points on the board, though, is the visible evidence of our ever-deepening panel.

In our three games to date, we’ve used 29 players, many of them lads only starting out at inter-county level, as James continues to sift through the panel, giving as many players as possible priceless game time at this level.

Already we can see that the Mayo team of 2022 is a different animal from that of last year. A team – or, more accurately, a panel – with a better developed sense of purpose, a more defined playing style, a greater determination to dominate proceedings.

For that reason alone, it’s important that we continue to make progress as this Division One campaign progresses. Drawing with Donegal – undeservedly, let’s face it – was great, going up to Clones and beating Monaghan was even better and doing over Dublin with the minimum of fuss last Saturday night at Croke Park was better still. But now come the real challenges.

Armagh are a tough, direct and mobile outfit, a team in some ways like us and, also like us, a team that will come into Hyde Park feeling good about themselves. They’ll respect us but they won’t fear us. And, for sure, they’ll travel in the expectation that they’re well capable of turning us over.

We’ll need to raise our performance from Croke Park if we’re to get a result today. But, with trips to Tralee and Omagh to come after today, a rising performance arc is what we need if we’re going to make the Division One shake-up.

So, as we head to our temporary home today, it has to be with the aim of driving on in this League campaign. Winning is something we’re getting very used to nowadays – the only competitive match we’ve lost since the start of last year was the All-Ireland final – so another injection of that winning feeling today would be very welcome and would keep us moving towards summer in the right frame of mind.

Right, it’ll soon be time to head for the land of the Rossies, on a day when we’ve no quarrel at all with them as, instead, we’re off to raid the orchard.

Let’s be having them apples. Let’s drive this on. Up Mayo.

62 thoughts on “Game day – drive it on

  1. We need these points to be absolutely safe.Lose this and you have Kerry and Tyrone games that we can easily lose and that would leave us at risk.Especoally if Dublin win all their games…which they could

  2. Gutted I can’t make this one, but looking forward to tuning into Midwest and Patreon for updates. Looking at our starting 15 and our bench, I can only see a Mayo win. But we’ll respect Armagh, and they’ll pose a significant challenge and it could go down to the wire.

    I’m fascinated to see who picks up Rian O’Neill. Looking at our starting 15, it’s gotta be Lee, but if so he’ll have his hands full. Brendan Harrison would be a more natural fit I think. I think young Brickenden doesn’t yet have enough experience for it but I’d love to be proved wrong.

    Safe travelling to all.

  3. Willie Joe. You can be so pessimistic sometimes! I never thought for one second that we might face the drop again this year. We have the greatest bunch of warriors in our panel of players. There was a 2 page article on Pierce Higgins in yesterday’s Examiner which puts sport into perspective . Mayo should win today but if they don’t , I won’t lose sleep tonight

  4. I read that piece in the Examiner Michaelincork, a great read which almost had me in tears. Mighty men those Higgins lads..
    I like the Irish Examiner in general, i feel when reporting on us, it’s impartial enough (when we’re not facing Munster opposition that is) and I think, they never goes too hard on us, as opposed to some of the other national broad sheets.
    Good luck to Mayo today. I’m looking forward to two form teams locking horns, and checking out our debutants too. It hould be an entertaining day at least.
    I have mixed memories and some strange ones to do with Hyde pk, I’ll share with ye over a pint some day.
    Safe travels all..Up Mayo!

  5. Another game for learning, while lucky to get the draw with Donegal, we learned that the team have the resilience to go again, against Monaghan and Dublin we showed that the newer players are learning to close games out from our experienced players, today I think that we will learn how strong is our defence, finding this out versus Armagh and then Kerry should have us in a strong position to face Galway in April.

  6. Don’t think Mayo defence is strong enough today to stop Armagh, some good defenders on the bench, so hope they are introduced early if needed.

  7. We’d need a plan for O Neill who’s close to unmarkable. Brickenden not experienced enough in FB so has to be Lee or Oisin. If Lee then we need help in the air (CHB sweeping) as O Neill is tall. The other player who seems to drive them on is Jarlath Og. Campbell good forward off bench but hasn’t great pace at this stage of his career and can be man marked especially by a Mayo sub if we watch him. We have a lot more impact subs so if we’re any way close I’d expect us to finish stronger and take the points.

  8. Looking forward to seeing how we get on in this one. I think we will win but Armagh are a good side and proved it this year. They are in with a shot of winning the Ulster championship.
    If we win this game it would be great as we can go into the tough Kerry, Tyrone and Kildare games without fearing the drop.
    Up Mayo

  9. Good luck to Mayo..it’s a difficult match to call
    Armagh’s firness levels and conditioning are superb
    They have been training extremely hard off season. Sessions have been intense and extremely competitive. No surprise they have hit the ground sprinting. It should be as Mcstay love to say ,a humdinger. Come on Mayo

  10. Hennelly has tweaked hamstring
    No harm for Byrne to get a game I suppose but it’s disruptive this late

  11. Only following on Twitter but Irwin and Brickenden getting whipped off after 25 min – sounds like a tough afternoon so far

  12. Irwin injured as per midwest, a queried bloodsub initially (?), but may now be replaced fully by Kev Mcloughlin.

  13. Talk about ‘old dogs for the hard road’ – O’Shea, Durcan, O’Hora, dug us out of trouble there. Orme very good also.

  14. Colm Boyle a breath of fresh air on Mid west commentary, knowledgeable, articulate and a welcome change.Well done Mayo on digging it out, great win.

  15. Some win and what a way to win it. Walking along the Hyde turf now its in serious good shape for winter football.

  16. No offence to Martin carney but he’s from the Colm o rourke and spillane era and I think the modern game has passed some of these guys by a bit in terms of offering quality punditry compared to the younger guys (time waits for no man I suppose and hard to compete with lads that were playing last year when you haven’t played for 30 or 40 years). Boyler is on a different level completely as co commentator.
    Exciting to hear about Aidan Orme performance. Having a turnover specialist like that is worth it’s weight in gold.

  17. A great come back win , but yet again we continue to keep “giving” possession away needlessly in the opposition half with wayward / soft passes .Don’t get me wrong we won plenty of turnovers ourselves but they were fought for especially by Aiden Orme , not the gifts we kept giving to a fast breaking Armagh side

  18. Good win. Hope we wrap the senior lads up now and focus on April! No more injuries needed.

    Boyler was excellent. As comfortable on the mic as he was on the ball.

    Who was the full back he mentioned?

  19. Flu bound in Dublin. How did that game go on without me?

    Jesus, that was a win and a half. Five without reply!

    Boyler brilliant on Co-commentary

  20. Meath official was very slow to give black cards for blatant pulling down of Mayo players.

  21. Moose 79, McBrien was the full-back Boyler mentioned. Said he’s had a very bad run with injury but if we could get him fit, he could be our Full-back for the next ten years ! High praise indeed from a man in the know !
    Great dig it out win today.

  22. Paddy durcan is a rolls royce, what a footballer. I often forget to vote for him in the motm poll just because i take it as a given he will be brilliant, wont be making that mistake today

  23. Never mind, answered my own question with a bit of research, TG4 showing Galway and Wexford NHL, looks we’ll have to rely on the 5 minutes on the Sunday Game and the shite punditry which wont tell anyone anything

  24. Not a great display but a very good win., time to start fielding best team for last few games, at this stage its obvious that a few will not make the grade after numerous chances.

  25. Feck the league.. mind some of our nailed on starters a break ( like Paddy / Lee ) and strengthen our bench by giving fringe players the start .. Great to grind out the win …. Every game is a learning curve for championship

  26. Well done Rory Byrne.Not easy to come in cold like that having played very little intercounty football and get a bad start in goal where it’s all so obvious.
    He played very well overall.
    It’s important that he gets Time he can be called on at any moment

  27. Not great performance today but good to get the win. Would agree to give our seasoned performers a rest until Galway game. Great position to be in that we can try out a few other players for last 3 games of league.

  28. @Willie Joe.. I think you will have to swap Rory Byrne for Robbie Hennelly on the ballot paper!

  29. Was anyone at the match ses how did Loftus, Ffion and Irwin got on? Can see they didn’t get scores but how where the overall performances for them?

  30. Irwin was doing well until he got injured, not on long enough to give a rating. Fionn does not seem to have the pace at this level. Loftus looked a bit lost in half forward line. Irwin looked best of the 3.

  31. Exile
    Loftus was poor and rightly subbed at HT
    Irwin was showing well but blood subbed half through first half and didn’t return
    Fionn sadly again was poor as I held out high hopes for him . He was subbed midway through second half

  32. that’s a real with Fionn Km79, I’m sure many on the blog would love to see him kick on – particularly after watching the 2019 highlights again where he was great value

  33. Positives:
    -James starts two 18 year olds in their leaving cert year and beats the form team of the league. It shows our strength in depth.
    -Mayo win a highly attritional match against a packed defence.

    Negatives:
    – we’re still missing 2 scoring half forwards. It’s a big problem and we’ll be found out later if it’s not sorted. We can’t rely in Ryan alone.

  34. Agree with poster above that an awful lot goes through Ryan . It will be a real help hopefully when Cillian comes back as he’s a marked man right now .

    Huge shout at end when o hora stripped the ball off the armagh player. What a beast of tackler he is .

    Thought ref was very poor and fell far too often for armagh going down with hand on shoulder. Jarlath of burns being a prime example throughout game . One ball he fell while challenging Flynn on kickout. Still not sure what free was for .

    Armagh will be a big challenge in summer, really good players all over that team

    Anyone clock how long the sin bin was actually for as soon as it happened armagh were dropping like flies to use up the 10 mins. That rule needs to be sorted as all teams at it now . Faking injuries then running away after a minute

  35. I thought Aidan Orme was excellent today, showed well and won good ball. Flynn is settling well into midfield and O’Donoghue seemed to behave blown out whatever bad petrol he has in his tank last weekend.
    But there were some performances that weren’t as good as I would have hoped. I thought Conor Loftus and Aam Callinan’s wing near the stand in the first half was too easy for Armagh to make progress on, and I predicted that half time that they’d be replaced. Not the best day ever for Keegan and Mullin either.
    But this team have some spirit, to score the last 5 points to win like that was sweet.
    And fair play to Rory Byrne. I was watching
    Robbie indicate a problem with his right leg, and it couldn’t have been anymore than 5 mins before the anthem, so Byrne had little time to prepare. Got caught out with what must have been a complete fluke in the first minute, but the two balls he took in the 2nd half, with that wind, took some courage to take in the manner he did.

  36. A number of positives from the game and again some lessons learned. Ultimately we got 15 scores, a much vaunted Armagh got 11 scores, we were quite patient and did not want to lose. Our experience is getting us across the line but the will to win is still strong.

    I thought that Flynn was very impressive, did plenty hidden work to track back and make himself available. Diarmuid is settling well into role, Orme is becoming more confident and the end game suited Carney who got involved. Byrne was confident under the high ball although there was one that he almost misjudged. Overall a very competitive game and I will take that in terms of getting ready for Galway.

  37. MOTM will probably go to Durcan. But I think O Se had a huge influence when he came on and was crucial in slowing Armagh down.

    Apart from not scoring enough particularly the full forward line the wing forward positions are a worry.

    Countless times today the ball broke and not a Mayo man to win the break. Where two or three lads compete for a ball 9 out of 10 times the ball will break. Everytime today and previously we have failed to win those breaking balls. It’ s an aspect of our game we need to improve on because it’s simple football cleaning those balls and allows you go forward quickly.

    Orme is good can win his own ball but like the Monaghan he’s reluctant to take the percentage shots. A couple of easy scores were passed by him, the mark he scored was an easier score.

    The max we can get from the remaining games is six points. Three should be enough for a league final.

    Other posters have rightly pointed out this win was about the old dogs. But then again that’s why they’re there.

  38. Kickams man I wouldn’t be overly concerned about the scoring of our full forward line . I wasn’t at the game but going by MW it sounded like Armagh had everyone behind the ball .

    I think credit is due as I don’t believe in previous league games we would not have won a game like this so I am taking a lot of positives out of this game .

  39. Armagh are a very decent outfit no doubt about that but too much was read into them beating Dublin, as it turns out anyone and everyone can beat Dublin these days.

    They defeated a Tyrone team who were miles behind them in preparation and then they could only manage a draw with Monaghan, granted they were robbed.

    And today they lost to us even though it wasn’t our best day at the office by any stretch so I wouldn’t really use Armagh as a yardstick in all honesty.

    Kerry will be the real yardstick.

    Today was all about getting the points and I’m not so sure we’d have this many points on the board if we were playing at the old McHale Park.

  40. O Hora is some player when he gets warmed up, he would need a Club match before he plays for the County as he need half an hour to get going at full throttle.

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