Game day – let’s dance

Earlier this year it was like the football would never start and that, even if it did, we’d be stuck at home watching it all on TV. But now today we’re back in an All-Ireland semi-final, facing Dublin at Croke Park where 24,000 punters are being allowed attend.

It’s not, I know, the old pre-Covid world we once inhabited. But it’s not half-bad either. It’s great to be going to HQ today to shout for Mayo.

Those who get there by mid-afternoon will have more shouting to do as the women are also in All-Ireland semi-final action today. While this piece concentrates on the men’s game later on in the evening, it’s important to note that the women also have an all-or-nothing clash against Dublin at the big house today.

The men’s team are facing familiar opponents this evening. A county that has had our number for the last nine years, a team that no matter how much we put it up to them – and we did – always had an answer.

But time moves on. Our team today – we still don’t have a starting fifteen named and, even if it was, we couldn’t be sure if all of them will start – is a much-changed one from the side that went toe-to-toe with Dublin in the 2017 final.

Only four of the team that started that day are likely to feature for us this evening. By contrast, the bulk of the lads who were involved in the pre-Christmas All-Ireland last year will be in the thick of it again this time.

There’s a sense this year that the dial is shifting. Dublin haven’t blown teams away in Leinster the way they did in recent years and they don’t appear to be firing in the same remorseless manner as they’ve done for much of the past decade.

But, of course, they’re still winning and winning well. They’re still the champions. Still the team that’ll get greeted back onto the pitch for the second half with that David Bowie beat.

So, while they might be slightly on the wane, it’s also the surely the case that Dublin are still operating at an extremely high level. To keep winning All-Irelands they don’t have to continue to be the best team ever, they just have to remain better than everyone else.

While giving us a decent shot at an upset this evening, all the major pundits have stuck with the herd and plumped for a Dublin win. They’re probably right too – when you look at it in a hard-headed way, it’s difficult to make a compelling case for why we’ll prevail over them.

But that doesn’t stop us heading to Croker – I had to pinch myself for a minute there just to confirm that this is what’s on the agenda for later today – with plenty of confidence in our lads. We know they’ll show up, we know they’ll set up in a way that gives us the best chance of winning – however high-wire that may be – and we know they’ll give everything in the pursuit of victory.

Who could ask for more? The easy path, one taken by far too many in recent years, is to prostrate yourself in front of the blue altar and proclaim how incredibly brilliant the current champions are.

We’ve never done that and we never will. We respect Dublin highly – we’d be fools not to – but we’d love nothing better than to knock them off their perch.

We’ve tried to do this against them repeatedly since 2012 but every time – often with agonising closeness – we’ve come up short. It would be easy to throw your hat at it and walk away but we haven’t. We’ve kept coming back, we’ve kept banging on that door.

Many of the old warriors who took that fight to them the most are no longer in our ranks. But we’ve now got a bunch of new braves, equally keen to do so. This, surely, is what James Horan meant when he said his ambition was to make us consistently competitive.

Will this be the day when we finally get the better of them? I’ve no idea but I do know that if it’s not it won’t be for the want of trying.

And if it’s not, then we’ll brush ourselves down and go again. But we’re not thinking of that outcome now. Now, as we ready for the battle, our eyes are once more on the prize, which today is dethroning the six-in-a-row champions.

It’s a big prize, one worth putting it all on the line for.

So let’s get to it. Let’s dance. Up Mayo.

84 thoughts on “Game day – let’s dance

  1. Shout to my great friend Jimmy Rimmer! I do hope he got a ticket, but if not he’ll be tugging away in Mick Byrne’s. Up Mayo!!

  2. One thing for sure, they will definitely leave it all on the pitch and that’s all they can do! Will it be enough? I think it will be. Its going to be a cracker.
    Best of luck Mayo

  3. This old crack people are saying “ah sure Mayo will go with hope”, has to change.
    Any team should walk onto a field with full belief that they will win.
    Go out and get scores not afraid to concede scores.
    Self confidence is everything in Sport.

  4. Didn’t sleep much last night. It’s a big ask but we’re not without hope.

    Up Mayo. Always.

  5. Rock, I’d gladly swop you hope for a fully fit Mullen and O’Connor. As for hope, I hope that the rest of the squad are ok, I hope mayo are still toe to toe at 70 mins, and I hope today doesn’t take the gloss off the return to div 1 and a Connacht title,

  6. Great to have two games to look forward to. Didn’t manage to get a ticket but my good neighbours here in Kerry have invited myself and the clan for pizza and banter. Not often we’d be cheering for the same team. The craic is always great – this is what it’s all about.

    Safe journey to all you lucky ones. Mhaigheo Abú !!

  7. Small and Murchan back for Dublin..Mullen out for us…swings it Dublin’s way.

    Also people need to understand their bench is better than ours.

    Conroy needs to play for 70 minutes, O Sea needs to lead and DOC needs a good game.

    We have a chance though.

    I’m sick losing to them.

  8. Safe journey to all today and I hope ye win this one big time.

    Dublin are getting a serious level of grief about their campaign thus far in this years championship and rightly so as they are no longer savaging opposition with a blitzkrieg level of chaos and efficiency. While I have to agree that they are definitely operating at a level below what we have come to expect of them we have to acknowledge that they are still winning games by significant margins.

    In 2009 we met the dubs in Croker after staggering and stumbling our way there with string of hapless encounters with teams that we would have been expected to swat aside but only managed to steal victory From the jaws of defeat in a few of them. We went to Croker a dead man walking according to all including many of our own supporters and everything changed with a collective awakening and we mauled them.

    Dublin look almost bored thus far and it was notable how Rock showed open annoyance when he was taken off recently and is something that would never happen under Gavin so there definitely is a loosening of important bolts in the set up. If there was ever an occasion to focus the dubs it is meeting mayo today and I fear that they might click and put on a display that gives us all a wake up call as to why they have six finals won in a row.

    With that said Mayo played great ball in the second half of the Galway game and would really put it up to any team in that form, they simply can’t play as they did in the first half as even a lacklustre Dublin would turn ye over never mind a reinvigorated team would so I pray ye play your best this evening and get through this challenge and get to the final. My support will rest on the winners of the other semi final if it’s us then we’ll …. The very best of luck and the ref might do ye a few favours today as the GAA HQ are all hoping for a dublin defeat as their geographical and gifted financial advantages are now a real threat to the game on a national level, like Nike say “JUST DO IT”

  9. Goals win matches. Surly we have learned from our harsh lessons from this great Dublin Team.
    Stop them scoring goals and Mayo will win. On the other hand We need to score 2 to 3 goals Today to win. We have the players, we love playing in Croke Park the spaces suits our running game. It’s in these fast paced attacks from our half backs that we must seriously hurt the Dublin defence. A player coming at speed tearing into the Dubs aka Mattie, Paddy, Lee (Oisin please god), Eoin, offloading the killer pass. Aidan must be stationed at 14 and Stay there. No wandering out of the Full Forward line. He must be our go to Player. Kick a few high bombs in early on and Test Cmerford at the very least Aido could tap it onto Tommy or another on coming Train like Darren, Diarmuid or Ryan. It will take 2 Dubs to mark Aidan thus creating space inside. Will James use this tactic? We need to bring something different and mix up the play as much as we can.
    Stop the Dubs scoring goals and Unleash our Runners to go for 75 minutes while emptying the bench. The game is there for the taking so let’s pressure Cmerford from the start.
    Mayo by 2.

  10. Best wishes to our women and men today in Croke Park. Play with controlled ferocity but above all play with cuteness. Keep the ball, not necessarily waiting for openings, (as openings are not the product of waiting – quite the contrary on most occasions) but to retain possession (as Dublin is so good at)
    Playing gung-ho looks good but has proven problematical to date. However if we decide to let it rip then go man to man (woman to woman) – now that would be a statement of superiority.

  11. Where’s my Genfit jersey? She says I brought it up to Dublin last December just in case ……oh I’m so envious of all you with tickets today but she who must be obeyed……anyway. Safe travelling and Up Mayo

  12. I have 2 Upper Cusack tickets available if anyone is interested. They are in section 715 so they are in the corner where the Davin meets the Cusack.
    My number is 0864125331.

  13. Today is Saturday a semifinal in croke Park the nerves are gone I can’t handle this lark. This game is big we’re playing the dubs. Croker will be buzzing and also the pubs. It’s an evening game after the ladies. No teams announced yet this feels kinda shady. Roll on the hours, already it’s nearly six. Let’s hope near the end we’re still in the mix. We’ve met the ref before his name is Conor Lane lets hope today he won’t again cause us pain. I’m feeling confident the boys will pull through. A goal for Tommy and maybe even two. We’re missing great players for various reasons. Nothing new in this it happens most seasons. We’ll soldier on with the boys that we got. Let’s hope today their form it is hot. Good luck to all the game is there to be won. I believe this can be our day in the sun. Sorry if I bored you by writing this verse. But wouldn’t it be great if we can end this curse I’ll finish now and watch the game by the fire. This is our time let’s go and win Sam Maguire safe journey to all by car or by tram. And never forget MAYO For SAM.

  14. Could put James Carr to full forward to start, all depending how his form is in training, and station Aidan at 11. That gives us the muscle for the long ball option all day (Carr has the legs for 70mins I would think), with the bonus of Aido being able to forage further out, but not too far out where he’ll get gassed by Fenton and Mccarthy after 30mins. He’ll link play from 11. This is a potential way for us to get goals today.

    As Kevin Mc stay stated, in all Mayo’s championship matches against Dubs in last decade we’ve never managed to score more than one goal. Amazing stat. That says it all.

  15. Hi Guys,
    I have a couple of tickets available.
    Davin/ Hogan stand end.
    My number is 087 904 2424

  16. Dublin will be a different outfit at 6pm this evening.Dont be fooled.Still we have a chance ….we are in it again

  17. Gamechanger, we’re wise enough now not to expext ref’s to hand us semi finals, as you’re suggesting might happen today. You must be getting mixed up with your own county. (See Limerick semi 2014 for reference).

  18. Best of luck to those travelling today .. shout loud and proud for all of us who are not going to be in attendance ..up Mayo !!

  19. Best of luck to our lads and lassies today. I think both teams will give a better performance than the last time they played their Dublin opponents. Our men conceded two very soft goals in last year’s final but we were still in contention with 10 minutes of normal time to go, our tank was empty at that stage and unfortunately the subs we brought on weren’t able to contribute much. We’re in better overall shape than last year, our younger players have one more year of invaluable experience and despite our injuries I think we’ll run Dublin very close today.

    Regarding our ladies, we were well beaten by Dublin in the league match a few months ago but we have improved in nearly every match since then, we’re still not at their level, nobody is, but I’m looking forward to further improvement, and you never know, if Dublin have an off day we could grab a win.
    Thanks WJ for providing us with this wonderful resource of all things Mayo GAA, it really does make big game day, and any game day, so much more enjoyable.
    Of course thanks also to our two teams doing battle today, they have brightened up our lives in these awful times we live in. There are many counties who would give their right arm to be in our position.

  20. Eoghan and Kevin mcloughlin down has 7 and 11. Brendan Harrison named on the bench. No mullin. Would have liked eoghan to come in when game loosen up. I’ve a good feeling about Darren McHale today. Come on mayo

  21. @Liberal role in the Tie, I like your idea of a Twin Towers Attack of Aidan and James . That would really stir up a hornets nest inside so long as our half backs did bomb in the high ball. Also James is a goal getter and a great baller of a man. Hope he plays today from the start. Dublin will not have factored this in. Would also allow Aido to help at Midfield if required.
    Good luck to our Ladies Team Today.
    Safe travelling to All.
    Mayo for Sam.

  22. If Oisin is out we’ve gotta try something. Where else will goals come from? We’ll know at 7.30 tonight

  23. Wet up here since morning. Doesn’t look like it’s going to lift for the day either, though there’s a good while yet before throw-in.

  24. It’s been great to see all the sorting of tickets people have been doing here the last few days. One story to add on this topic – two tickets from Elvery’s landed in my lap last night and I was able to sort two good Mayo supporters as a result.

  25. Team I believe is ( according to a picture of a programme from the refcomeon Instagram page ):
    Hennelly
    O Hora Keegan Plunkett
    Durcan Coen E McLaughlin
    Ruane Loftus
    O Connor K McLaughlin D McHale
    Conroy O Shea O Donoghue

  26. 1 Hennelly, 2 o,Hora. 3 Keegan. 4 Plumkett. 5 Durkin 6 coen. 7 McLaughlin. 8 Ruane 9 loftus 10 o,connor 11 McLaughlin 12 McHale 13 Conroy 14 o,shea 15 Donohue..

  27. My god the arrogance and disrespect coming off Tomas Ó Sé in the independent today! No doubt he’ll stand by it because we’ll probably come up short. He even had a dig at Cillian for not doing it on the big occasion!

  28. Thanks @NancyParsons I got a ticket in the end. Haven’t missed a championship game now for over 30 years so wasn’t goin to miss this one. I’ll be back in Byrnes bar tomorrow for a few black-white heads!! ? Mayo by 3

  29. Where can you see full bench? Fuck it anyways without Mullin I just can’t see it happening, my nerves are gone.

  30. Five minutes on the internet Quayman and you’ll get the full details. Don’t have time to put up the list myself but a screenshot of the full team from the match programme is online so easy to locate and if anyone wants to post details they can fire ahead.

  31. Obviously we are keeping Oisín safe for the final. Seriously though it is a major blow He has been brilliant for us since he came into team. Losing Cillian earlier and now Oisín leaves us with a mountain to climb.Anyway no point feeling sorry for ourselves We simply have to go for it and compete to the best of our ability Maigh Eo abu.

  32. There’s no great surprise in that selection and I’d expect that team to start. A lot of lads with very little experience of big games are going to have to deliver top class performances today. By 7:30 this evening we will certainly know what they are made of. It’s a big ask of those lads but also a big opportunity to make a name for themselves.

  33. That’s what I was thinking looking at it km79. With all the talk of more strength and depth on the panel, Cillain and Oisin being injured and having to be replaced really weakens the whole setup. It’s a massive ask to get a result today. We can only hope.

  34. Calm down lads. As I see it Eoghan is coming in for Oisin. What a sub to have! We will still start with 15 great men . Up Mayo

  35. I see murchan not down to start for Dublin number 24 on the programme. Bit surprised to see rock and Costello starting together. How fit is John small we need to run him early.

  36. Bench is Byrne Boyle Harrison hession Coyne o’shea Durkin Walsh Flynn Coen Carr. Hopefully that helps you quayman.

  37. Surprised o see hessian not starting, he provides much needed pace in our defense, looking at that defense today outside of Durcan and mcgloughin there seems to be a lack of speedsters which may come back to haunt us.

  38. Their bench is no where near what it was. Whom are there match winners here?

    It’s 15v15 at 18:00.

    Focus on our positives, that’s what the team will doing. We can absolutely win this.

    The flag is flying high in South Dublin.

    The kids are togged, born in The Coombe but Mayo at heart.

    Up. Mayo.

  39. It was my birthday ? yesterday but saving the Alcohol for tonight’s celebration.
    Its a day where players are going to get away with that bit more because of the wet conditions here in Dublin.
    We cannot allow that small fella Murchan carrying the ball up the pitch, heavy shoulder will stick him into the Croker mud.
    Powerful guys will be needed around the middle to get the ball into the scoring zone.
    The studs better be right.

  40. The news on Oisin is quite deflating, but no time to feel sorry for ourselves. Eoghan is a great replacement, although we’ll miss his impact from the bench.
    Gert to see Harry back on the bench.
    Let’s fucking tear into them this evening, leave nothing behind. We can do this. Up Mayo.

    On a side note, anyone who wants to get even more into the mood for the game, there are a couple of great articles in the Times. Malachy Clerkin on that 2017 final and Keith Duggan on James Horan.
    No surprise that such great pieces of writing are coming from those two, they’re the best around.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/a-drama-in-10-acts-remembering-dublin-and-mayo-s-greatest-battle-1.4646250

    https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/unshakeable-james-horan-taking-mayo-on-a-mission-1.4645703

  41. We need to beat them in the first half if we’re to beat them now. An almost impossible task. Almost. Can our young buck’s stand the pace for 80 odd mins. Youth is on their side so one plus there.

  42. Why are people so worried about the bench? Boyle, Harrison, Hessian, Walsh, Carr C. OShea, Coen, Flynn. Its as good a bench as we ever had going to Croke Park. Mullin is a loss but still very confident for today.

  43. Thanks Willie Joe for such a great service here on the blog. Great to be able to get tickets to genuine Mayo fans.
    A friend has 1 Hill ticket and asked me to post it.
    087 904 2424.

  44. If this rain continues I won’t be worrying about the pace of the Dubs, it will be difficult conditions for both teams.
    A different game now for sure.
    Ideal for causing panic in a backline.

  45. Dublin 2015 Semi unquestionably much stronger than now however we had more top drawer players then also:
    2015 semi:
    Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon (1-02), R O’Carroll, J Cooper; J McCarthy (0-01), C O’Sullivan, J McCaffrey; B Fenton (0-01), D Bastick; P Flynn, D Connolly, C Kilkenny (0-02); B Brogan (1-01), P Andrews (0-05), D Rock (0-02, 0-02f).
    Subs: MD Macauley for Bastick, M Fitzsimons for Cooper, A Brogan for Flynn, K McManamon (1-01) for Rock, E Lowndes for Connolly, J Small for B Brogan.

  46. On a wet day anything can happen. We need a big game out of Aiden today. If he is gonna be at ff I hope they have practiced how to use him properly. For me his best work is as a deep lying midfielder. Tackling and blocking up channels. Its gonna be great game. The team who scores the most will win. Best of luck to all

  47. Where are the scores needed in the last 15 minutes coming from on that bench Mayomad ?
    It’s not a strong bench . I hope there are a few suprises when we see the players who are togged later on !
    Still think we have a chance but obviously would be happier to see Mullin out there

  48. I’m not sure a wet day suits us that much. Granted we are well used to playing in the rain but the Croke Park pitch can be difficult / slippery underfoot and the footwear has to be right. Keeping on your feet today in defence is crucial. Any slips could be cruelly punished. It’s different to most other playing surfaces. It’s a day for mistakes – and hopefully they will be the ones to suffer.

  49. On the way to The Big Smoke with hope for
    Mayo in tonight’s game ,
    Missing Oisin is a huge loss with Cillian out as well but if the players who we have playing were
    not up to their best then having the two lads would not be the difference.
    A big night for the likes of Tommy, Darren, Ryan .
    and we need a huge game from Diarmuid
    If Mayo lose the press will say this Dublin team are still the greatest ever.
    If Mayo win the press will say this Dublin team are rubbish.
    Come on Mayo let’s do this.

  50. Hard to believe how many tickets are still flying around!! And still only 24k. Great to see everyone sorting each other out and Willie joe allowing it. Fair play to everyone.. getting the Jersey sorted here. 2 born in Dublin kids but they will have the mayo Jersey on today!
    The excitement this team and the team of the past has brought us has been something special. Absolute mountain to climb today but these lads will give it everything. I cannot wait to hit drumcondra around 3 o clock. Enjoy the match everyone wherever you are. Up mayo!

  51. Its been a long wait gor gane day but its finally here! Best of luck to both Mayo teams we can be sure they will give everything. I hope the ladies are competitive but you would have to expect they will be well besten.
    For the men’s game i thing Dublin will win all things being equal but perhaps not everything is equal. For us to win everything has to go right and we have to put in an awesome performance for 70 minutes plus. We will have to match Dublin with goals. I think we will concede and most nulify them with goals ourselves. Our FF line needs to deliver about 2-6 or so if we are going to win. We have lost 4 of our stars from last years final with no real star quslity replacements. And we were well beaten by Dublin last year more than the scoreboard reflected. A lot of focus on Conroy and E Mcloughlin as match winners for us but both were easily shut down by Dublin last year. We only have a purple patch second half performance from both of them this yrar to suggest it will be different. Perhaps Darren Mchale could deliver something and Carr if he got a bit of confidence early. A early goal would make a huge difference for us i think.
    One thing i wonder about is Dublin hunger baed on their being a little off this year so far and the number of guys leaving the panel. Also Rocks reaction o being substituted was very un Dublin like. So maybe everything is absolutely perfect in the Dublin camp. 0ne thing for sure is Mayo will have been thinking about this game all year and James will have them ready and we are guaranteed a performance but will it be enough. The head says no ,the heart always says yes…all winning runs no matter how long they go on or how good the team is have to come to an end sometimes….M haigh Eo abu…

    .

  52. My final thoughts before the match ( 5 hours to go) –
    I’m proud to be a Mayoman
    I’m proud of this team and all the teams I’ve seen before them
    I’m proud of my fellow Mayo supporters, through thick and thin you always believe
    I’m proud to living in a city ( Galway) with people who love to beat us but alway wish us well when they are not around (at least the people I know anyway)
    I’m proud to support Galway when we are not around ( hurling mainly)
    And no matter what happens today I’ll be here again next year please god !

    Lastly, to all of you travelling today, take care on the roads, it’s a pisser of a day for driving, win, loose or draw get back home safely.

    My brand new Samsung smart TVS, which I haven’t a clue how to use (replays available, different angles etc.) will get some bollicking between 6 and 8 this evening. I might even retreat to my trusty 20+ year old Panasonic in the “second” room just in case I press the wrong button at the wrong time.

    BELIEVE !

  53. KM79, D. Coen, Walsh and Carr in particular are well able to get scores, but we need to be in the game in those final 15mins no point looking to a bench when we are 5-6 pts down. All year everyone is saying how strong a panel we have, we loose two players and now we have no bench, something doesn’t add up there.

  54. Best of luck lads and lassies today, safe driving to all who lucky to sit in Croker. Shout shout as loud as ye can for us!!
    Let’s win 1st Final (semi) and onn to 2nd big one on Sept 4th. BELIEVE……

  55. Agree with you, Mairead. We will shout extra loud for all the Mayo fans who are not in Croker and I’m sure you will all be shouting on the team from kitchens, living rooms and sitting rooms all over the county and further.
    I give Mayo a real chance today. I think Mayo will win by 3 points.
    James Horan has not been asleep last year or this. He has been planning. I believe there were different plays being worked out and practised over the last year especially. We got glimpses of this in the games in Connacht (Leitrim, Sligo, Galway). If we go at them with intent today we can punch holes.
    I also believe we need to go early and hard and rack up a score. We want to stun them and have them chasing, not controlling.
    I’m v happy to see Brendan H there.
    About scores, we can get a spread of scores. We have seen this before.
    About scores late on, let’s hope (1) we have got ahead earlier and aren’t desperate at that stage and (2) I have the idea we could release Keegan to a freer role if we bring on Boyler (or Harrison).
    Lee has the legs to go for 70 mins and could do damage if released from man marking. That’s effectively an extra ‘sub’ and one who can score.
    A friend also said – if it goes to extra time, it’s a leveller too. I asked why – he said everyone would be tired then.
    At any rate, we have to topple these guys (I too am sick of losing to them) and today is the day to do it.

  56. Best of luck to both Mayo teams today.. Shocking news that as of now Tyrone have apparently pulled out of the championship, the curse of Covid.. All patrons of Mayo and Dublin traveling please take care, driving and social distancing on an evening of high drama and emotion, unfortunately the incidence of Covid in Ireland is the highest since last January when Ireland unfortunately had the highest incidence of new Covid infections in the world.. Anyway that bad news aside both Mayo and Dublin x 2 have the small matter of each other to think about.. My head is wrecked, rumor and counter rumor, Whatsapp messages, and phone calls with the Gospel truth of what’s going to happen, possibly some mind games going on. Can’t wait for the action to begin, hopefully I will lose my nerves when it all starts.. Go’wan the Swan and Comon Mayo!

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