Game day – it all starts again

The long, long closed season at inter-county level is finally over. An absolute avalanche of matches is heading in our direction now, starting at Pearse Stadium this afternoon. Tyrone’s Seán Hurson has the whistle for today’s National League opener against Galway, which gets underway at 1.45pm. The game is live on TG4.

Last night’s Division One results – which saw home reversals for both Kerry and Dublin – underlined what a dogfight it’s going to be in the top tier this year. Every point racked up will be hard earned and while many of us would be happy enough if we dodged qualifying for the Division One decider this time round, equally not too many want to see us repeat what happened to us the year after we last won this title, when we tumbled through the relegation trapdoor.

So the points on offer today are important but so too is the kind of performance we deliver. Despite all the breezy talk from management about how last year wasn’t really all that bad (but it was, certainly the way we unravelled at the end) and how well we’ve prepared for the start of this year’s campaign, that talk has to be matched by some tangible on-field evidence that we’ve addressed the causes of our shortcomings last year and are better equipped for the heat of battle when it really counts this year.

How today goes won’t, of course, make or break us in that regard. Last year we could have made genuine claims about being the form team in the country in the spring but any such boasts were negated by the way our summer campaign careered wildly out of control, ending with the twelve-point humbling we suffered against Dublin.

This means that today has to be the first step on the road towards the high summer, with everything building towards what we all fervently hope we’re capable of doing then.

There’s some chatter in the wings pre-match about possible changes to the named team, with some or all of the trio who have Sigerson commitments possibly not starting. While that isn’t ideal, what’s key this spring is that we’re not afraid to blood new players because we simply have to improve our squad depth before the real action gets going.

Last year we experimented very little and ultimately paid a very heavy price for this. Even though using less experienced players might appear risky, it has to be done and, as Monaghan showed last night by tossing in three new lads at Croke Park, it can pay dividends.

There’s not a whole load more to be said. We won’t field a full-strength team later on and neither will they. The wind will blow the way it always does in Salthill – I’m in the vicinity already and it’s blowing hard enough now – and there’s expected to be some rain as well, though perhaps not as much as was forecast leading up to today.

And we can be sure it’ll be hot and heavy out on the field this afternoon once the ball is thrown in. It always is when it’s us against the neighbours, even in late January.

Yes, it’s great to have the football back and it’ll be better still if we can start the year with a win. Up Mayo.

134 thoughts on “Game day – it all starts again

  1. Good luck today in salthill. Twill be windy as usual so anything could happen. Great to see bob touhy in midfield but i hope he is paired with jordan and coen sits on bench. He needs seasoned midfielder with him

  2. 4 ballinrobe players on the bench, for a intermediate team that’s mad, the wind will play a massive part today, good luck to the team.

  3. An excellent opportunity for Mayo to bag 2 points and steal a march on Dublin and Kerry our two next opponents. A strong team named but won’t be surprised if we see a couple of changes given Sigerson commitments. Conditions will be typical for Salthill so probably a game of two halves. Delighted to see Fergal back and Tuohy needs to get a good run of games to see what he is capable of. Looking out at Pearse Stadium from across the road where we have a Mayo enclave in the heart of enemy territory! Popping down to have a look at Up for the match at Blackrock Cottage. Mayo to win by 3!

  4. Best of luck to Mayo and safe travel to all. For family reasons I can’t be there but hopefully enough of the faithful will make their way to the windy venue and roar our lads on.
    Máigh Eo Abú!

  5. Ontheroad13, i’d agree that does seem a bit mad. Be interesting to see if they make an impression.

    Reape will be under pressure today, can see Daly and co pumping lots of long ball in to Comer. Coin toss will be interesting, if Galway win it they’ll go with the wind and hope to clog us up second half.
    The usual feigning of injuries to waste time. Try keep count of evertime a Galway player holds their head when playing against the wind.

  6. Wouldn’t know much about the ballinrobe lads named other than Diarmuid Duffy.

    @margie – One other thing Galway do well and they are well within their right to do it as no ref pulled them on it yet but when a team make a turnover and are on a break they foul with a tug of jersey of hold up a player, it slows down the fast break and allows them get players back. It would be great to see refs lay down a marker with this and give a card early doors if it happens.

  7. Great to see Plunkett back,I hope he plays some part.
    Cillian and Towey/Quinn will start instead of Ryan and Tommy is my guess

  8. Whoever wins the toss should play with the wind first half, no doubt. There’s a good a chance it eases off significantly in the second half.

  9. Not a clue what to expect this year. Let’s hope we get off to a good start today. Good luck Mayo.

  10. good looking team /panel, only ones really missing are D O Connor, O Hora and Hessin, strange how Ballinrobe has so many players on the panel but if they are good enough they are good enough.

  11. Honestly sell it off and put a load of apartments on the full site and develop Tuam stadium. Dragging Connaught counties on a regular basis across the 7th most congested city in Europe. There’s no big cultural loss, Pearse wasn’t used for inter county for decades.

  12. The eternal battle, I’m far from Galway and Mayo today but the mother says its lashing rain and a fair wind so another dour wind dictated match in Salthill is on the cards. We should play in Ballinasloe with its now proximity to the motorway or in Tuam like we played ye for decades. After last nights matches I realised I have zero idea how todays match will play out. I hope for no injuries to either side and a fair game and that Galway win but to be honest i’ve no idea what to expect.

  13. Aaron McDonnell is speedy half back who played a lot lot of underage football with Mayo thru all age groups, same age as Oisin Mullin, David McBrien and Rory Brickenden and played school football with Ballinrobe CS with Mullin and Enda Hession and Tommy Conroy
    James Murphy a towering midfielder, aged 28 had a good club championship.
    Kevin Quinn was on the same minor panel as James Carr and Darran Quinn back in 2015, probably was intermediate player of the year,

    A lot of flexibility on the bench. Looking forward to the game. Mayo by 2

  14. That mayo bench
    I’m embarrassed for us as a county
    All time low
    Longford 2010 level year inbound

  15. All joking aside and ive seen it suggested Castlebar is as bad for the wind , well thats just nonsense , this place is not a football venue the weather conditions are far too bad more than they are decent for whatever reason that is . Tuam is where the galway county ground should be . Football the loser again today is my prediction .

  16. Retcut: OMG let’s give the young players a chance!
    We need to get another 6 players especially scoring forwards. Give them plenty playing time in league!
    Go neiri le foireann Mhuigeo inniu
    Mhuigeo Abu!
    Bìgi linn!

  17. @Retrocut bit harsh there on the bench let’s just see how they go..

    TG4 coverage is much better then Rte actually glad it’s on tg4!

    Best of luck guys..

  18. We’ve been worse places injury wise in fairness.

    Far too much experience in that 26 for things to sink as low as Longford.

  19. @Retrocut.. we need to try new players to strengthen our panel for championship.
    This is the place to see whether they can make the cut or not . Christ , give them a chance

  20. @Clare – TG4 is actually a little too professional for me today.

    On TG4 they all just wrap up appropriately for the weather.

    RTE seem to have a car trunk of different branded props to turn to five minutes before going live.

    Is it Martin Carney on Midwest today?
    I feel guilty expecting a man of his age to perform in conditions like today.
    We can’t keep expect this of our football poets – we need to lock them away in a sterile room someplace and wheel them out when we need them.
    Like Virgin are doing with Brian Kerr.

  21. First game of season I’m going to give management the benefit of the doubt. Not sure what’s up with some players, I can see Diarmuid o Connor and Matt Ruane extra time to recharge even if they weren’t injured. Don’t need to see Conor loftus or Darren Mchale. I would be wondering were is Fionn. McDonagh, Frank Irwin and Enda Hession. Also James McCormack part of last years panel but never made a match day panel so is he ever going to be given a game. Could say the same for Ruairi Keane. The new recruit are a bit older than usual, would have like Diarmuid Duffy to stay with the U20s and use Fenton Kelly with the senior setup.

    We only have to use 5, I think we will get by.

  22. Comer out in these conditions a huge boost, think definitely tilts odds our way. The double on ladies and men’s looking good was 4.9/1.

  23. To be honest gizmobob I heard orme opted out but nothing about Fionn McDonagh. Funny in the not to distance past the lamberts Colm and Mark Moran, Oisin McLaughlin and Fionn McDonagh were the future of Mayo football. Where are they now?
    Is Rory Brickenden the only Westport player on the Mayo panel, times have changed.

    Great news for young Reid and his club hope he does well there is plenty of fight in that young pup.

  24. Comer out for Galway as well. No excuse for not winning this now. Galway down a lot of good players.

  25. Comer out swings things.
    He’s our key man not Shane.
    Was surprised he was named as heard he didn’t play against Meath a fortnight ago.
    As usual – the wind in Pearse going to make this a game of two halves.

  26. When U get the ball in a crowded square, you need to be able to kick the ball with either foot. A basic skill

  27. Every time Eoghan drills it in low it’s a great sign – that’s been coming through over the last two seasons. Hopefully something we can do later in the year when it really matters!

  28. What does Ryan o’donoghue have to do to get a free.
    I think Refs have made certain unfair predetermined judgements about him.

  29. Ref was correct in giving the black card but it shouldn’t have gotten that far! How the hell did he not give ROD a free immediately beforehand?

    Ridiculous.

  30. Mayo fitter and quicker to every ball makes one wonder what Galway was up too over the pre-season prep for the league.

  31. Ryan’s issue is the likes of early foul against him for holding defenders arm to make it look a foul.
    Refs seem.have him tagged for those type fouls and probably presumed he done same there, when he didn’t.

  32. Agreed on Boland – only caught in possession once so far and chipping in. Agreed on both points re RoD Dathi.

    Hard to properly see the full detail, but the backs look pretty solid at this stage as well.

  33. Galway with their pulls on the jersey to stop the fast breaks. Hopefully refs cop onto it soon.

    Good half from Mayo

  34. Really impressive from 1 to 15, so goof having boland back lads his kick passing into the full forward is so good.

  35. Delighted with that first half Sam calinan holding number 6 down well and we were right to have reape in the number 1 spot hope he stays there..

    Even if we loose happy with how we are playing so far

  36. Young Reid looks like a veteran…very assured on the ball. So far so good. Pedal to the metal now.

  37. Very good from Mayo.
    Better tempo and look fitter and more hungry.
    Quick one twos,good movement and off the shoulder running with pace.
    Excellent game management and possession football to run down the clock on the black card,that kind of in game smarts has been missing in the past.
    Conversation rate is where it needs to be too.

  38. Pretty pathetic performance from our lads.
    Could get ugly in the second half with that breeze.
    It’s long been held that when Comer doesn’t play – Galway don’t play and signs on today.
    We look to have very few leaders which is the biggest worry.
    McDaid, Sean Kelly, Liam Silke, Comer will all improve us. But sure you can’t rely on having everyone fit – we could be without them all for a game come championship.
    Niall Daly and Cein D’arcy given a
    chance today and proved they are not up to this level.
    Fitzgerald and Kelly in the fullback line similar (thought to be fair to Kelly he is not a corner back).
    Liam O Conghaile the only bright spark.

  39. Four ahead and with the strong wind advantage 2nd half it’s a matter of closing this game out now. 1st half have proved how daft of a decision it was to not select Fergal Boland on the panel last year.

  40. Agreed with that 2 hops – there was one bit where he was under pressure, nearly popped a hand pass instinctively and realised he had time to take a solo which got him some more space – great to see stuff like that.

    Touhy’s score was good, and seems like the breaking ball good as well.

    Calinan at 6 was great – even if Galway weren’t at the races for the 1st half, it’s still great experience for him.

    All in all, nothing to complain about at this stage.

  41. @Galwayman that Galway team today missing mcDaid, Kelly, comer, silke, finnerty …all key players. I’d not be reading into this match at all.

    We have a much stronger team out and it’s showing. Still not sure why we’ve gone out so strong in late January tbh.

  42. @mayomagic, I’d love if Mike Finnerty had the courage to ask McStay what in the name of sweet Jesus was he thinking when leaving Boland off the panel last year. Makes me really doubt his judgement. I think Boland has had a hand in 1-4 of Mayo’s 1-6 already.

  43. wonderfull freshness about this, some nice movement, quick pacey. Couple of missed chances that would have put us out the gate. Young lads doing very very well

  44. Mayo looking good in attack considering we are against the breeze in that half. Some nice play. Galway defence absolutely terrible. Shane Walsh needs Comer on the field for him to play well. So frustrating to watch him at times. Can’t see anything other then a comfortable win from here

  45. My 4.9/1 double looking better and better.
    Don’t blame management going strong today when knew Galway were going to be weakened.
    Two points today takes off a lot of pressure. One more win could be enough with head to head to stay up. So gives more time to trial lads.
    We do seem fitter than Galway also.

  46. Not reading to much into it either but it’s great to see our guys playing well

    Only early days but bringing back fergal Bowland was a great call and also Sam calinan is doing great at 6 and also Bob Touhy..

    yes Galway may have a weaker team out but that is just an exsuce. We can only play against what lines out in front of us..

  47. Mayonaze – Mayo are missing Diarmuid, Ruane, Cillian, Hession, Carr and a few more.

    Neither team is at full tilt so hard to look too much into whatever way this result plays out.

  48. @Tony Freeman to be fair only Diarmuid and Ruane will probably be first choice. 12 of the Mayo team that started the All-Ireland Quarter final starting today. Galway have only half a first choice starting today and their best defenders out.

  49. Joyce can have no cause to criticise the referee today. Sean Hurson trying to make up for all PJs perceived grievances.

  50. @Chesneychet we are hardly flying now Galway have caught up a bit always exsuces wonder what PJS exsuce will be if ye do loose this one…

  51. Tommy Conroy struggled when on the field. Don’t know if we’ll ever see his full potential tbh.

  52. Great win and the penalty at end by cillian O Connor just an added bonus early days for sure lots to be positive about and 2 points!

  53. Sorry Clare, I’m just annoyed. Terrible from us,can’t even string a pass together. Mayo look very fit as usual. Enjoy the win, ye will probably see us again at some stage, probably beat us too. Safe home all.

  54. Galway were very poor, one or two players that were promising a few years ago have slipped completely.
    Nice to see Mayo moving the ball with the foot, also Mayo defence very good in that close in tackle.

  55. @ FW – I’m actually looking forward to hearing what he has to say. He definitely wont be giving Mayo any credit.

  56. Closed the game out comfortably again motoring well the prep before the league have the players in serious shape. As for Galway so poor those stepping in for the injured players don’t look Div 1 standard.

  57. A few observations.

    Mayo attack looks sharp and we look really fit. Similar to last year in that regard.

    Nice movement of the ball. Boland a big part of that. Beggars belief why he was dropped last year.

    Galway absolutely shocking. Not fit and at times not even interested. Walsh does the flashy stuff but won’t roll his sleeves up at all.

    Galway also unfit and have plenty to work on. Granted they are missing a few but so are mayo.

  58. @Chesneychet ah no worries.. Galway will be back up at the top again at the business end this year I’m sure I wouldn’t be worrying about that game only early days sure!

  59. Good win. Galway well off the pace. New lads very good. Backs really solid and comfortable on the ball.
    Fair play to Boland. Bit of hope up the middle now with lads coming through. Still a bit lacking on long distance shooting but I’m not going to be critical of any effort put in today. In terms of the league, a very good result. Points on board.

  60. Delighted seeing towey chipping in with 2 lovely scores because he’s a player I believe we should be using much more a brilliant scorer and a great ball winner inside.

  61. I suppose they couldnt have kept up the pace of the 1st half but good day all round. Defensively excellent with no goal chance given. New lads done very well and great team performance overall. Aiden probably a small bit off but very solid from everyone else. Delighted for Fergal and Carney also today who I felt needed to push on bit..Game given to quite a few so has to be seen as a good 1st day out. Always nice to beat the neighbours

  62. Reid, Boland, Towey and Duffy were the big bonuses for me today. The usual suspects doing their usual stuff so it’s good to show others can contribute

  63. Very good performance, a bit sloppy for a while in the 2nd half, finished well!! Can’t wait to hear excuses from PJ, and Barry C during the week on the podcast!! ??

  64. I don’t know Clare we look very off the pace and it has to be a cause for concern. There is no guarantee that McDaid, Comer and Kelly will be fit. Mayo in a better place. If I may comment ye should target survival and then take the foot off the pedal. Easier said than done I suppose . Galway are staring a relegation battle in the face and hard to believe how unfit some of the lads looked maybe Damien’s fat camp has more members than he let on to Wooly.

  65. As good as we were in the first half the second half was very poor.why in gods name did we continue taking the ball into contact and taking pot shots when there was loads of space inside shown by Paul Towey’s two points but still a lot of positives Conor Reid and bob tuohy had good spells and Sam callinan generally good but has to learn when to offload.poor Tommy conroy just not at the races though.even his handling now is very poor.but anytime you beat Galway by 8 in salthill is a good day

  66. I expected it to be tight,but we played quite well I thought that there was signs of Corofin style in our play,kept the ball well and passed it very well ,so I believe that we could have a very good year

  67. Very good win. Hard to understand Galway today. they didn’t seem interested to be honest

  68. Overall happy with the start, the more points we get early the more players we can tryout later. Would put out a strong side against Dublin. Fergal Boland very intelligent player and the nearest thing we have to Kevin Mcloughlin. Conor Reid should be happy with his league debut, management pulled him after he got his yellow card but I had no problem with what he got the card for. Callinan looked comfortable at CHB and we looked strong down the middle. Diarmuid Duffy looked at home so management were right to include him and he can only get better. Still things to work on and players to come back.

  69. Fair play to Ryan in wanting to take all the frees but it should be pre planned who takes the long rangers when Cillian is not on , and that would be Reape/Hennelly. Got away with it today but needs to be sorted.
    Very good full back line today. Brickenden has staked a strong claim for inclusion;ong term as has Said, at 6. Far more assured looking as compared to end of last season.

  70. Delighted for Eoghan McLaughlin. So many “fans” wouldn’t even have him in the team, but look what he just demonstrated what he’s capable of doing today. Yes he makes the odd mistake and can be frustrating at times, but he brings so much to the table by running at defenders, you can see panic setting in the opposition when he runs at them.

  71. Should Tommy Conroy be tried out the half forward line? Not a natural finisher like towey & the inside line is a confidence game which he lacks right now

  72. The movement and positional awareness of our team today was top drawer, but Galway had neither the players nor the structure to exploit any weaknesses today.

    Our defence looked the best in the league today, but the Galway forward line and their plan to exploit was way below Division 1 level.

    They setup against us like a Louth or Cork – and we showed exactly why you won’t beat us consistently that way, unless you have the forwards to back it up.

  73. Everyone played well including all our subs but paddy durcan, Sam callinan and fergal boland where my top 3 performers, just looking at our back 7 including goalkeeper I honestly don’t see anyone getting into that if all are fit, maybe enda hession when he’s back but I love the look of our defence today, mcbrien, brickenden and callian are all powerhouse players.

  74. Fergal Boland is a smart player. He has great natural intelligence about space and about where to put the ball.
    It’s the kind of smarts hurling players have when playing a competitive game at speed against equally speedy, talented opponents.
    So pleased he’s there. He can only really benefit Mayo.
    He also has the confidence and level head to get a score when the game is very tight.

  75. I wouldn’t mess too much with that hf line until we reach 6 points. I’d leave Tommy till colleges finish,we have enough cover. Reintroduce him for last few games of league. He just needs to regain his confidence.

  76. @Mayo45, people who give out about McLaughlin starting haven’t a clue. He’s crucial to the Mayo attack.

    I have to say I much prefer the team without Coen. Everyone goes forward at pace, no delaying on the ball.

  77. Reserving judgement until later in the year. We were all delighted with the style of play and look of the team this time last year and then it spectacularly fell apart in the summer. Until they are able to do it against the top teams when everyone’s fitness levels are equal, it’s no use getting excited.

  78. @GBXI, McLaughlin may suit the style of play and is very direct and quick in a attack but he is sloppy at times with the ball and his kicking is very poor as seen today where he had one very poor effort in the first half. Would not start coen if to replace him but he doesnt have to start if Durcan is a available.

  79. I see a few comments about the number of Ballinrobe players in the squad,I believe that some years ago that Stephen Rochford done volunteering with the underage players in Ballinrobe,it appears to be paying off

  80. Jeez, give Conroy a bit of time. I just came off the pitch and the conditions were soggy, mucky, wet. He’ll come good yet.

    Sam was good but agree he needs to stop running into traffic.

    January football folks. It’ll have absolutely zero bearing in the summer. Galway missing very key players today in Kelly, McDaid and Comer. The positives for me was that we looked interested and Reid and Duffy got well involved. Towey kicked two nice scorers. It’s a big year for him.

  81. It’ll be really interesting to see how we approach next weekend.

    You’d fancy that 15 to get 2 points against the Dubs – and they should be a better test than Galway were today.

    But the two points earned and the manner ease a lot of pressure – and it’s now starting to look a great day to give some debuts.

  82. Corick doesn’t he live there, train there and kids play there still?
    It’s a wonder they couldn’t do better in intermediate, with 4 county standard players.

    Good to get the two points early, three more may do, and allow give more time to lads.

    Hopefully the 4 lads come through the sigerson games wednesday, 4 games in 11 years in these condition can be a recipe for injuries as I thought we learnt before with Tommy.

  83. No i hope Sam keeps running because thats his strength and he punches holes in opposition defence when he runs into traffic its usually because he has no support, but saying that I’m just all positive today haha.

  84. @fhifty, he’s nowhere near as sloppy as people him out to be. He missed a tough shot into the wind but scored a crucial goal, not for the first time either. He is a massive outlet when we need to get forward and forces the opposition to spend a lot of time thinking about him. His reputation has only grown after today. Galway would beg to have him instead of either of their half backs.

  85. I love the sign behind Kevin in the interview that’s now up online…I think some of the Galway lads took it to heart!!

  86. Any win in D1 away from home is a hard thing.

    Mayo very impressive this afternoon they do love the league really consistent team.

    Paddy Durcan is a smashing footballer.

    Expect the same next Sat and good beating for Dublin.

  87. Hi Wiiie Joe. That was a good first league game win. Boland was excellent as were our full back line but there is no need for Reape to be coming so far outfield look what happened in Tralee last night.

  88. I’m not seeing too many getting carried away.
    And we are perfectly entitled to be pretty satisfied with today’s work.

  89. I am very pleased with the result and especially the performance, albeit that Galway were poor. We looked very sharp and well organized with good movement and quick passing. Hard to judge with how poor Galway were, but our defensive structure looked much tighter. If you take our younger players, 25 and under, Coyne, McBrien, Brickenden, Callinan, Tuohy, Reid, Carney, Flynn, Duffy and Tommy, who mostly did well-these lads are still developing and growing into this level, so the future looks promising. Brickenden beginning to look the part, Callinan is made for CHB, as I knew he would be, Tuohy a star of the future, Carney a good game and beginning to realize his potential. Boland is intelligent-I loved his Kerry style hop to wrong foot the defender, before kicking a point. Towey a few nice points too. Generally good from Mclaughlin-good goal, bad wide and one bad misplaced pass. Great to see so many tall players around the middle third to help gain possession. Great to see Plunkett back. I was not overly confident about this game, but, without getting carried away, this is a good start and eases the pressure-this division is tough and points are hard to come by. I am more hopeful now about the season ahead and hope we don’t lapse back into that turgid slow lateral passing stuff.

  90. It was at under age that Stephen Rochford was involved, I don’t believe that we i blame him for the actual team,it just shows what our management team can actually achieve when they have some time with our team,rather than a few weeks

  91. I’d say it’s worth going with a strong team again for Dublin, if you could get 4 points on the board by round 2 you’d have to be pretty unlucky to be in trouble by the end. Also a decent chance to see how the backs perform, and how we do against a defensive set up in MacHale Park.

  92. Not again corrick 🙂 They had full year last year like every other management team and main thing they done player development wise bar introduce Tuohy was axe poor Boland.
    Good result today as you, I and most people here predicted in poll, especially after the team was announced.

  93. Probably Exile, before seeing Dublin yesterday I would probably have said mix the team up v Dubs, but based on their display last night they are behind us fitness wise so good opportunity to get 4pts to allow get time into likes of Quinn, McHale etc.

  94. @GBXI shows just how strong mayos options at the back are that a player who is people believe shouldnt play for us walks into that galway team.

  95. Would people agree the physically strongest team we have togged since 2017? There was nowhere on the field you weren’t close to someone strong.

  96. We looked really good today. Maybe it was how bad Galway were. Think Jack Carney really settling in now. Fergal Boland adds a great link up in our play and good for a few scores as well. Tuohy and Reid did well and we did really well picking up loose ball. Will see how we look against Dubs. Onwards and upwards.

  97. @mayonaze & Clare…the sign read “running prohibited” also translated into Irish…made me laugh anyway!

  98. Great result today. Gets the season off to a good start.

    Some good posts on the blog on issues that are hopefully addressed down the line.. Number one is the free taking. All Ireland’s can be won or lost on the outcome of a free. No good players and the team bursting a gut to win a free and then switching off. ROD kicking from an impossible distance is a switch-off to me. Hopefully we’ll see better decision making around frees in future.

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