Game day – it all starts here

Over five months on from our final competitive outing of 2019 James Horan’s Mayo team tonight take the field in their first meaningful game of 2020. A tasty one it is too, with Donegal the opposition at MacCumhaill Park this evening in the opening round of this year’s National League Division One campaign.

Ref David Coldrick is set to throw the ball in at Ballybofey at 7.15 tonight. The match will be broadcast live on Eir Sports 2, a channel which is now also available in Virgin Media land.

The start of this League campaign is slightly different for us. This time, for the first time in close to two decades, we’re defending the title, one we won in such thrilling fashion at Croke Park in March last year.

Tonight’s team is a much changed one from the side that beat Kerry to lift the title last spring. Part of that change is on the experienced side, with David Clarke back between the sticks and Tom Parsons starting a competitive match for the first time since 2016. The bulk of the change, however, comes from the introduction of new talent.

Oisin Mullin, Jordan Flynn, Bryan Walsh and Ryan O’Donoghue are all set to make their League debuts tonight. Padraig O’Hora has just one run-out off the bench in the 2016 League under his belt while James Carr – a player with solid Championship experience to his name – has only played in one League game to date, last year’s final.

It’s a big night for all of the new lads. While Donegal will also be tipping inexperienced players in at the deep end tonight they’ll be making their debuts on home turf at a venue where Donegal rarely lose, against opponents who have yet to beat them on their soil.

That points inevitably to the likelihood that it’ll be tough for us to secure a positive result in tonight’s game. We can certainly expect a tough battle against opponents who always front up in resolute fashion. If we get anything from this game we’ll definitely have earned it.

I’m sitting this one out myself, my changed circumstances this year meaning that I’m having to pick and choose more carefully the matches I get to. But it’s live on TV, with Mike Finnerty and Billy Joe Padden behind the mic – sure that’s halfway to it being like the podcast with pictures.

Safe travelling to all heading up the road this evening. By the way, if you haven’t yet listened to our League preview of the podcast – which, as well as Mike and Billy Joe (and Ed and Ger), also features special guest Stephen Rochford – then it would make an excellent audio companion for you on the trip north. You’ll find it here.

Best of luck to James and the lads tonight. Good luck too to the county’s U20s, who face Louth today in the Leo Murphy Cup final at Carrick-on-Shannon, and the hurlers, who open their NHL Division 2A campaign against Kerry at MacHale Park this afternoon. Both of those matches throw in at 2pm today.

Good luck to the lot of them. Up Mayo.

49 thoughts on “Game day – it all starts here

  1. Great to be back in game mode.

    Really hope Tom P can get a good league behind him. If we can get him back moving well, then gives us the option to release Aidan O’Shea or Mattie further forward.

    Looking forward to seeing how some of the new lads handle the step up.

  2. Best of luck to all the lads and lassies playing this weekend for the county. And well done to the county board for being big enough to apologize for calling Tim O Leary names. Looks like a cold and windy evening for football, fans, wear the woolies and gloves.

  3. Good win for the U-20s against Louth. Led from the start and never really looked like relinquishing their control.

  4. Very excited about this game and I wish all the best to our new debutantes. Can’t wait to see Oisín Mullins in action…… a future star I have no doubt it. Congrats to our under 20’s who had a great win today…the future looks bright. Does anbody have the subs list for today’s game?
    Come on Mayo!!

  5. It feels like a new beginning, with peace breaking out off the pitch and, then, a host of great young players coming through. Mayo are certainly underrated due to the collapse in the semi-final last year. That was sheer fatigue and injuries… but this is overlooked by the Dublin media.

    Speaking of which, does anyone know how Jason Doherty is coming along?

  6. Asked same question on Jason earlier in the week apparently rehab going good but not back for a while yet.
    Seems like a long time since that evening in Castlebar.
    I hope we can get a lead and hold it this year

  7. Lads – Mike Finnerty has an in-depth piece with Jason Doherty in this week’s Mayo News, with full details on how his rehab is going. It’s well worth a read.

  8. It does seem like a fresh start now that all is resolved between the board and Tim O’Leary. A corner is turned, fair play to both of them for sorting it out, we all want the same thing after all.

    We need 3 wins to stay up, I personally think James is really targeting the Dublin match next weekend, for various reasons. Not expecting us to win tonight. Hope everyone keeps calm on here if we do lose to Donegal. Lots of new players in and combinations to be tried. The way it should be. Great to see Keith named as a sub, an absolute warrior for his County, to be still at it at 35.

  9. According to most of the newspaper scribblers, Donegal are going to win tonight’s match but I think it’ll be far tighter than people think. Overall, the display against Galway was promising enough for the first outing of the season – 3 mistakes led directly to 3 Galway points. In the first half, too many kick passes in to our forwards weren’t accurate enough or were over-ambitious but that improved in the second half. Regarding individual performances, Jordan Flynn did more than enough to earn his place, he fielded a few lovely balls with a vice-like grip and distributed well. Fergal Boland is improving all the time, one of his weaknesses was he was too easily knocked off the ball but he didn’t lose one ball against Galway, he’s much more attack minded now and scored a few lovely points.

    Diarmuid O’Connor got on a lot of ball but he’s a head-down type of player when he has the ball. He was on one of his slow lateral solos when one of our forwards made a great run into acres of space but no pass came and a potential goal chance missed. I hope he becomes more of a team player as the season progresses.

    I think it’ll be a draw or a narrow Mayo win tonight.

  10. Fortunate to be only two down at the break. Donegal have kicked a sight of ball wide or (worse) into the keepers hands. Boland is doing well, and Reape when he gets some supply. Went a long time without a score after Carr’s goal.

  11. Donegal could be out of sight by now only for their wastefulness in front of the posts. We’re getting eaten on our restarts and it’s hard to see where we’re going to get the scores from – James Carr’s goal was a fluke, a lovely one but no way was he going for it. We’ll be doing well to get anything out of this one now.

  12. We’re going to need Aido in around the middle, and probably the guilt of Kev inside. We need some ball to stick.

  13. Our young forwards look a bit light and easily dispossessed. Our midfield wiped out. O’Hora looks promising.

  14. Mayo are a bit on the slow side with kick outs, Goalie needs 3 or 4 options, second half will tell alot about this team tonight but it will be close enough finish

  15. Much better second half from Mayo but we’ve left ourselves too much to do.

    Let’s be very honest here – the kick-outs have absolutely killed us tonight.

  16. Only it’s nighttime you’d have to call that daylight robbery. What a goal by James Durcan! No way did we deserve anything out of that game but we’ll take the point with more than a little bit of glee.

  17. Floodlight robbery WJ!!
    We will take it.
    Overall there were some big performances from new guys.
    Hope James Carr is ok.

  18. Great finish to the game,well done to James Durcan ,easy game next week so all is well with Mayo

  19. Great result well done Mayo and fair play to the young lads. Donegal must be sickened they should have won in fairness. Michael Murphy is a class act if only his father had stayed In Ballina.

  20. Had to follow that on the rte live feed, great result for what was an experimental team! Habitually avoiding defeat is a great thing to cultivate. If we win the matches we’re supposed to win and eke anything out of the other fixtures whilst refreshing the panel this will be a great league for us.

  21. Very happy in the end.
    Well done J Durcan. He proved me wrong – said when he was coming on I’d hate to be paddys twin. Impressed with Conroy and O Hora and I have to say I like Jordan Flynn’s power.
    Great to be back at it. Seems like an age.
    Brolly grrrrrrrr. Nearly actually did one tv appearance without annoying me until his last sentence ruined it all.

  22. Great result .That is exactly what I wanted .The lads playing without fear and that is exactly why we got the draw .Horan part 1 always brought a blitz for spells in games and you could see that early in second half we upped the tempo .Ok its early in season bit that is how you want to play .Yes there was mistakes and I think O Shea coming on had a massive influence on given the young lads the confidence and we also brought some more physicality to our game .Conroy impressed me to night when he came on .It may well be a very important point. Not many teams get any sort of a result in Donegal so well done to them .

  23. Great result for an experimental team, lots of promising performances from the young lads!

  24. That feels a bit like a win.

    Didn’t play well at all but we stuck in there. It looked at half-time like we were only really hanging on, and would be put away with ease.

    The introduction of Kev and Aido steadied the ship and we had much more ball in the second period. We still didn’t get level though and it looked like it was gone when James Durcan fouled for their late free (after which his Donegal opponent fired a stream of abuse at him).

    But we went again, moved the ball slickly through the middle and James Durcan (with a bit of good fortune) went for goal and stuck it in the top corner.

    It’s a point we scarcely deserve but we’ll take it with both hands. Paddy Durcan (as usual) was prominent in the second half, and O’Hora was really combative. I thought Boland did well all through, as did young Mullin.

    Tommy Conroy was really impressive when he came on. Kev and Zippy added real impetus to our attacking play, and I suppose James D did alright with 1.03!

    It’s a point away in Bofey! We’ll take it.

  25. That goal reminds me of Brogan in 85.

    Could it be the best goal we’ve scored since then?

  26. very lucky to get a draw, Donegal best team by a mile, kick outs still a very big problem ,at least all frees were converted tonight. Midfield very poor first half, need Aiden and Ruane and D O Connor around the middle , Flynn promising but what is his best position. A point gained and very good second half.

  27. Very lucky Draw (almost said Win). Donegal wastefulness in 1st half cost them big time,
    Kickouts an issue again. 7 of our own lost in first half alone. Must be well in double figures for full game.
    Ball just does not stick in the FF line – A little disappointed with Carr and Reape – lost a lot of ball that went in. We need some kind of target man in there.
    James Durcan and Tommy Conroy both a big improvement. James has really bulked up.
    Mullen, O’Hora and Flynn – fairly good but lost possession too. Look like they could be up to this level though
    EO’D and B Walsh – struggled a bit at this level of phsicality but need more experience at this level

  28. As my daughter says… typical Mayo. I’m chuffed they drew although we should have been too far behind. But fair play to our lads for plugging away and keeping at it! Come on Mayo…confidence, self belief and for god’s sake do something about the kick outs…

  29. Donegal should have been home and hosed and half time but credit must go to management for making early changes which were the difference in the second half.
    For those who keep calling for AOS to be moved from midfield need to rewatch that second half. He provided the platform which enabled the comeback, AOS does his best work in the middle, is more influential there, end of story.
    Special mention to Tommy Conroy and James Durcan, both looked really dangerous

  30. Well done Mayo,the never say die attitude got us a draw which we hardly deserved but we made our own bit of luck and supersub James D delivered. Of the newer lads I was most impressed with O Hora. He looked right at home and looked for work & good distribution. Of the forwards definitely James Durkin delivered. You couldn’t say the new forwards played badly but maybe tried too hard to impress. I’d agree Aido & Kevin Mc steadied the ship & yes we will have more nervous moments with our keepers. Also good to see Zippy back. Bring on the Dubs.

  31. Great result with such a young team. That could be a vital point come the end of the league. That will definetly feel like a loss to donegal.

  32. I dunno how we got anything out of that but a super point gained! Thought midfield were extremely poor first half, nobody could lay a glove on Murphy, he was everywhere. Actually thought Reape did ok, would be a little pissed off I were him. Think with a few games o donoughue could be the chf we’ve been lacking, picked out some super passes. Boland did ok, Walsh pretty quiet, Diarmuid improved a lot in 2nd half. O hora a bit rough around the edges but def an option given a few more games. Thought Conroy was outstanding and caused huge problems, fair play to James Durcan also, took some courage to go for that, great to see. Kick outs as mentioned were a huge problem. I think leave as is for Dublin and Kerry games but def need to give byrne couple games, poss against Meath and Monaghan. Team selection vs the dubs be v interesting, hopefully Eoin o Donoughue will be back, badly needed back there. Diarmuid to track Fenton all over the place

  33. Both James Carr and Brian Reape need to show more determination and strength when going for the ball especially considering they are two big men. Some good ball went in in the first half that should have been won by the lads inside. They will have to improve this part of their game if they are going to make it.

  34. Smash and grab draw. 19 scores to 15 without stating the obvious the goals were huge game changers and let’s be honest the first goal was a point effort.

    Can’t fault the effort and pure gritt with theses Mayo lads and they don’t know when they are beat. With Jim Gavin gone I have a feeling Mayo will get a first win over Dublin since 2012.

  35. Mayomad…I’m one who has been talking about switching AOS from midfield but I’ve always says he’s really effective at provincial grounds. On the dry sod in August and particularly now as he’s 30, he doesn’t have the pace to keep up with players. He’ll continue to do a job, a very good job to a certain level but it’s a long time since he has dominated midfield against a top team in the latter stages of championship.

    I think he has great attributes which as he gets older (and the gap in pace increases) can be utilised to our advantage. If Horan is going to play him in the middle third then we need lads like Ruane and O’connor around him…and Parsons if he recovers his pre-injury form.

    Great to snatch a result like that. Not bothered we didn’t play all that well. It’s January! You don’t want to see your team in form. You want glimpses of class from new/peripheral players. Getting a point from ballybofey given the circumstances is psychologically beneficial.

  36. Great game and clean sheet by Clarke yet again. A goalkeeper must first and foremost stop goals and be confident and solid under the high ball, kick outs are a secondary concern. There is not much point having great kick outs if you are unable to do your primary function as a goalkeeper, ie stop goals! The whole country is trying to emulate Cluxton in recent years and his abilitys are now seen as the norm for goalkeeping, but there is only one Cluxton. In Clarke we have the best shot stopper in the country, why are we constantly trying to fix something that isn’t broken? It’s up to the outfield players to win the kick out, that’s their primary task and not the goalkeepers fault if they don’t.

  37. Only January and a good result poor performance but all worked hard and got result…midfield poor,full forward line poor and kick out very poor…
    People tend to forget a good accurate kick out is vital because it secures primary possession and we were on the back foot tonight because of poor kick outs…a better team would have destroyed us in first half and unless it’s addressed then we will continue to be found out unfortunately

  38. Agree with a lot of that Auldstock. When Clarke goes we’ll realise how class he was. A superb goalkeeper.

  39. Another draw in Ballb’fey hey!
    No bother, I’ll take it all day.
    Had to rely on Michael D. and young Reape from Knockmore on MWR for the commentary but that goal at the end must have been brilliant for the Mayo fans there.
    In fairness, we have sickend Donegal a fair bit since 2012.

  40. Hard to understand how people still aren’t getting the kickout issue. Clarke is a brilliant shot-stopper, no question, but we will continue to be found out on kickouts. The kickout provides the platform for everything and the fact that we couldn’t secure possession from ours today was a huge reason we struggled to get a foothold in the game. Forwards can’t score if they aren’t being fed possession. If Donegal had been more accurate in their shooting, they could have had the game wrapped up at half time. We are in for hidings against Dublin and Kerry until this problem is sorted out and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be sorted in the near future. Watching Dublin and Kerry and comparing it to our game, it was a different league.
    It was good to get the draw on the back of a poor performance, but Donegal kept us in it with their terrible shooting more than us clawing our way back.
    Having nightmares about Clifford in McHale Park in a few weeks already.

  41. Absolutely agree with previous post..possession is everything in Gaelic football and kick out gives an opportunity to gain free possession with accurate restarts…not hoofing the ball out when it becomes 50/50
    Having nightmares about how the better teams will push up and take their chances unlike donegal tonight

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