Game day – major challenge, massive opportunity

Today’s the day. We’re back on the big stage, with a huge challenge facing us this afternoon at Croke Park but one that also presents us with a great opportunity in this year’s Championship.

Five-in-a-row chasing Dublin are, rightly, strong favourites to beat us today. Why would it be otherwise? We haven’t taken them down in the Championship since we did so at the same stage back in 2012. We’ve never got the measure of them, no matter how hard we’ve tried, in the Gavin era.

Today gives us one more chance, as we lock horns with them in the race for Sam for the first time since we came up agonisingly short against them in the 2017 final. They’ve added another All-Ireland title to their roll of honour since then while we were pronounced by some to be finished as real challengers.

Well, we’re not finished. We may have lost twice already this summer, surviving several near-death experiences on the way and suffering a bad hosing down in Killarney, but we’re still standing.

We’re also coming to Croke Park with considerable momentum behind us. We weren’t fancied to beat Donegal last weekend but we brought grit, determination and ferocious hard work into that one and we got our reward.

We’ll need that and more today. Like last Saturday the weather today is set to be on the wet and windy side and, like then, we’ll need to brew up our own storm at Croke Park.

With Dublin striding ever closer to footballing immortality, our first job today is to make sure we stay in this game. Dublin’s average winning margin in this year’s Championship is just under 15 points and we’ve all seen how efficiently they can put teams to the sword. We’ve seen too how we can lose our way in games so we simply cannot afford an opening like the horror one we endured at Fitzgerald Stadium last month.

Assuming we succeed in this initial task, then we have to sow doubts in the minds of Dublin’s and their supporters. This is an all-hands-to-the-pump exercise for all Mayo people at Croke Park – we’ve all a part to play here, regardless of whether it’s on the pitch or ringed around it.

We all know what it’s like to be in the hunt against Dublin coming down the closing stretch. But we know too all about the disappointment of letting them slip past us by the narrowest of margins at the finishing line. We need to use that – as well as the alarm bells that will, by then, be ringing loudly about the five-in-a-row slipping away – as motivation to finish the job.

As has been the case so often this summer, I haven’t a clue how we’ll get on today. I think we can be fairly confident, though, that lads will give their all and more in pursuit of victory. As those of us roaring them on will need to do the same too.

Best of luck to James and the lads today, as well as to the Minors and the ladies, all of whom face huge Championship tests this afternoon as well. We’ve work to do. Let’s go do it. Up Mayo.

25 thoughts on “Game day – major challenge, massive opportunity

  1. Time for nerves of steel on and off the pitch. Win lose or draw we are not finished and a Mayo team will come back again next year with the same resolve hunger and fight. Enjoy today our 8th All Ireland Semi Final In 9 years and what ever happens let’s salute our men in Green and Red who have given everything for the cause. Dia is Muire Linn.Maigh Eo Abu

  2. Team names on the mayogaa website

    Mayo travel to Croke Park this evening to face Dublin in the All Ireland Semi-Final at 5pm.

    The team named shows two changes from the win over Donegal last Saturday with Kevin McLoughlin & Fergal Boland replacing Keith Higgins & Jason Doherty.

    1. Robert Hennelly – Breaffy

    2. Chris Barrett – Belmullet

    3. Brendan Harrison – Aghamore

    4. Stephen Coen – Hollymount/Carramore

    5. Lee Keegan – Westport

    6. Colm Boyle – Davitts

    7. Patrick Durcan – Castlebar Mitchels(C)

    8. Aidan O’Shea – Breaffy

    9. Seamus O’Shea – Breaffy

    10. Fionn McDonagh – Westport

    11. Kevin McLoughlin – Knockmore

    12. Fergal Boland – Aghamore

    13. Cillian O’Connor – Ballintubber

    14. Darren Coen – Hollymount/Carramore

    15. James Carr – Ardagh

  3. Willie joe. It’s great to have your blog to read on a day such as this. I’m on an island off the Spanish coast soaking up a bit of sun. And rain. How I’d love to be in croke park today but don’t tell that to the missus. At least I’ll have Sky go back at the hotel later Hope to see you all at the final. And finally Willie joe thank you for all your efforts in running this blog which is much appreciated I’m sure by mayo people living abroad. Maigheo abu. Michaelinspain

  4. We are not going to bend a knee or take a step back here today on the field or in the stands. Today is the day and next year can wait.

  5. Nerves kicking in now. I’ve every confidence in this team. Tiredness is the only issue I’d be worried about. Need a good start. Dublin will try to blitz us early on and if they build up a big lead. Itl be nearly impossible to claw back. One thing we have now that we didn’t have in other years is a very strong bench. Serious competition to even be one of the 5 subs to be brought on. This will be crucial from the 50th minute mark. But Mayo have never feared the Dubs and that wont change today.

  6. Safe travels to all supporters may this be the day we prove that we are the best,thank you Willie Joe once again for your wonderful blog,hopefully we will be still standing for the final up Mayo

  7. Woke up this morning, with thoughts of heading to the 1966 All Ireland Minor final, my first visit to Croke Park, which Mayo won. 53 years later the nerves are still the same. The hope, excitement, tensions are never far away. One thing for sure today, I know these lads will give their all on the field and the supporters will give their all through their voices. NERER GIVE UP NEVER GIVE IN.

  8. Nerves, excitement, hope. The team will leave it all on the field so we need to make sure we do in the stands, the hill, the nally, where ever you are. We can do this!!! Up MAYO

  9. Just after watching most of the 2017 final but switched it off when Lee Keegan was denied a penalty in the 63rd minutes, a blatant foul from Kilkenny was committed well in the square.
    The key for Mayo today will be bringing on athletic subs that can carry and run with the ball late on, 4 or 5 not 1 or 2 as in 2017 final
    The new kickout rule will work to Dublin disadvantage today.
    When the Dubs change a forward, Mayo need to have a direct sub to be placed on him, no point in having a tired man up against fresh legs.
    In 2017 final alot of Mayo players got tired on 50 minutes, but Lee Keegan’s goal on 53 mins gave them a big lift.
    Some Mayo players are fitter now than 2 years ago, ie, Colm Boyle.
    Some Dublin guys were wrecked on 60 mins, Brian Fenton being one.
    All in all this will be a very hard fought contest, but in the back of my mind I’m wondering how much does the GAA want the Dubs to win the 5 in a row, such decisions have gone against Mayo in the past.
    Mayo are a better unit now than in 16 and 17.

  10. Today will be a special day, Today will be a day we see grown men cry. Today we will have a team of Seamus Darby’s …

    Come on MAYO !!!

  11. “Well, we’re not finished.”

    Good wishes to all of you. Looking forward to adding my voice to the other roars, whoops and hollers later. We can do it. Up Mayo!

  12. The one thing I know for certain today is those lads will give it absolutely everything…and you know what that may be just enough..get behind the team today like never before…COME ON MAYO

  13. On the train now and gorging on the pod from Bowes and the standard gem from Keith Duggan in the Times.

    Weather forecast looks good – a rain sodden mess. This should help contribute to primary strategic objective – organised chaos.

  14. Just comparing those 2 panels – IMO MAYO have an excellent chance.

    Forget about the conditions, man for man Mayo will prove to have more desire. What’s needed now is Composure. I’ve no doubt the prize is very attainable..

  15. This game has the potential to turn nasty. The stakes are very high for both teams. A loss for Dublin would be a very hard pill to swallow. A loss for Mayo will see the end of some of our greatest players and that won’t be easy to take either. A tame exit is unlikely! Add in the weather conditions, the likelihood of a very physical battle plus a fierce rivalry and a ref who tends ‘let the game flow’ and you have all the ingredients for war to break out.

  16. Lads and Lassies –

    My brother and his wife had made a last minute decision to travel to Croker. They’ve just had their first kid so their procrastination has been forgiven (reluctantly) within the family.

    We’re now in need of two tickets (together). If anyone has a couple to spare I’d be happy to take them off your hands. I’ll be up in the capital early so can meet up wherever is convenient etc.

  17. Would love to see Treacy & Durcan (James) on the bench as they have the pace to spreadeagle Dublin in 2nd half. Pace is the most important attribute when facing the Dubs. Best wishes also to our Minors & Ladies.

  18. I got sorted FDBinashui but thank you for the offer.

    I got an offer of lower Hogan and that suits as they’re accompanying my old man and his mobility is limited so walking around to the Cusack isn’t great for him.

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