Game day – no pressure today

It’s a rare and rather strange situation in Gaelic football to be faced with a competitive match in which there’s absolutely no pressure on either side to get a result. That’s the position both ourselves and Meath find ourselves in today.

A large part of this is the GAA’s own doing. Had they rewarded the North and South divisional winners with a home semi-final then today’s game would be one that would be definitely worth winning but they didn’t do this. And because it’s as clear as muck who’ll finish where in the South division there’s no point trying to game the outcome of the contest in MacHale Park either in the hope that you might end up with an easier semi-final.

As an aside, the GAA have made a total hames of the arrangements for the League semi-final ties. Home advantage for these very important promotion/relegation matches is apparently going to be given to teams who only played one match at home in the group round of games.

But in a one-off game of this kind, home advantage is potentially a major leg-up and it’d be much fairer to play these games at neutral venues. Sometimes you really do wonder why the GAA get decisions like this so obviously wrong but they do, and often.

Anyway, I digress but it’s easy to do so when faced with today’s contest at MacHale Park. When faced as we are today with a competitive match that isn’t a must-win one, it’s easy for the mind to wander.

Today’s game offers the chance to see a number of players who either haven’t featured before or who haven’t been seen for a while. It would be great if some of the lads coming really shone this afternoon, thereby making a few of James Horan’s selection decisions for the Championship a lot tougher.

Aside from that, there’s little more to say about today’s contest. As ever, the hope has to be that the team performs well and it’d be no harm either if we won the game and so kept this short winning streak going as we gear up for that promotion decider in a fortnight and then the knockout Connacht SFC meeting with Sligo two weeks after that.

Photo: @MayoGAA

Today also sees the first outing for the 2021 version of the alternative Mayo jersey. Based on a design submitted by six year-old Aoife Dunne, you’ll find more about the new jersey here. Congrats to Aoife on winning the design competition and seeing her idea for the jersey become reality.

The reality I’d like to see a bit later on today is an improved showing from us on last weekend and a win over the Royals, who last tasted victory against us at MacHale Park way back in 1962. That was also in Division Two of the League, a match, incidentally, played six months before I was born.

There you go – I knew I’d find a reason for us to want to win today: never in my lifetime have we lost to today’s opposition at MacHale Park and we’re not going to start now. And I didn’t even have to mention 1996 either.

Let’s do this. Up Mayo.

71 thoughts on “Game day – no pressure today

  1. Best of luck today Mayo.
    We really need everyone to be chomping to get the Jersey and then we can complete with the big guns.

  2. It’s a very different world that we live in today compared to 1962 but that said when it comes to playing meath, nothing has changed, we will always want to beat the feckers.. dead rubber or not. Com’n Mayo. Best of luck to all involved today

  3. Yes, we should (but we don’t seem to), carry a strong grudge against Meath for ‘96, and also for ‘88 and ‘67. JH should still be sore over ‘96. Meath will probably be more motivated because of their recent defeats by us, games they could well have won.

    Don’t really like the blue in the jersey. Of course, if she were my daughter (or granddaughter), I’d be praising her to the skies!

  4. Best of luck to mayo today. It’s important to get a winning streak going and keep it going, whether there’s anything at stake or not.
    We’ve being looking for E O’D, Carr & Towey to start for quite a while now so really hope those lads hit the ground running. I also expect to see Rory Byrne get at least a half. Up Mayo.

  5. Catcol me being colour blind as well I thought that was a shade of green, anyhow whatever colour it is I’m sure we’ll win

  6. For some weird reason, today feels like a championship game to me.

    Best of luck to all.

  7. Any word on Aidans injury? Haven’t seen any updates at all about it. With the long break He’d surely need some time before championship to get up to speed.

  8. Winning is a habit and all that.

    Big chance for Eoin O’Donoghue today. Lots of us have been calling for him to get a run.

  9. He’s still on the mend, JPM. The Mayo News reported this week that Jason Doherty is good to go (and may even make the 26 today) but that Brendan Harrison still has a bit to go.

  10. Interesting to see boland at 7. He has sound judgement and distribution. Could be great asset as sweeper. Good engine also.

  11. If Brendan Harrison still has a bit to go yet – its hard to see him making a significant contribution come championship time. He hasn’t played in over 12 months and it’s hard to see where he can get the games to bring him up to match sharpness. Hopefully he will be back a bit quicker

  12. SouthMayoExile, I totally agree with you, and a fully fit Harrison would be massive.
    The result doesn’t matter for progression in the League but winning does matter. It’s a mentality and we should always go out to win, especially at home.
    Another home win today and another step in the rebuilding of a Mayo fortress – Fort McHale!!
    Hon Mayo!!

  13. We have only ourselves to blame for 96….an AI thrown away especially the first day …but the second day also. We lacked belief both days but of course Meath got every bit of luck going.

    Still no reason for us to hold a grudge against them!

    I hope we avoid Cork in the playoff…they have more talent than either Clare or Kildare

  14. Mayo GAA have now tweeted the match day 26 – here. Spoiler alert: Aido is back!

    Here’s the subs list:
    16. Rory Byrne
    17. Colm Boyle
    18. Rory Brickenden
    19. Eoghan McLaughlin
    20. Aidan O’Shea
    21. Jordan Flynn
    22. Jack Carney
    23. Darren Coen
    24. Conor O’Shea
    25. Ryan O’Donoghue
    26. Tommy Conroy

    Most notable omission from the 26 is Paddy Durcan. No Kevin McLoughlin, Conor Loftus or Aidan Orme either.

    Obviously this could change (in particular the starting team) between now and 1.45pm …

  15. If Mayo and Clare win today when and where will they meet in the league semi final Willie Joe

  16. Mayo’s colours have been green and red since the beginning. Why now blue and red?

  17. When is two weekends from now, James, but I’ve no idea where. Notwithstanding what I said about home advantage for a promotion play-off, Cusack Park in Ennis is a particularly happy hunting ground for us.

  18. Mayo GAA have just confirmed two changes to the starting fifteen – Jack Carney gets his full debut in place of Fionn McDonagh and Ryan O’Donoghue starts instead of Paul Towey.

  19. EOD and Towey interest me most today. Think there’s a spot in the Full Back line so I’d love to see EOD make a strong claim today.
    Towey looked v good, if a bit small, last year but class forwards are hard to find so would be good if he could announce something today also.
    Hate losing to Meath but not end of world if we go down today in that you wouldn’t know whether winning or losing is an advantage.
    Meath will target us for goals so big thing would be a clean sheet or at most concession of one.
    Good to see Andy togging again.

  20. Dead right in your comments WJ that the reward for topping your section of the league should be a home semi final Then every game is worthwhile At the moment there’s no way of knowing whether we’re better off coming first or second Like some others I would like to avoid Cork in semi but in two hours time Cork could even be knocked out That’s the glorious uncertainty of sport Anyway good luck to all involved It is always good to beat Meath.

  21. This games done lads, our reserves hockeying their reserves.
    Whip off cillian at ht and wrap him in cotton wool, no need for him to be out there

    Also give sub goalie the 2nd half, we need a good look at another goalie

  22. The ref seems intent on sending Keegan off. 3 fouls and none of them should have been given.

  23. And that ladies and gentlemen is why I’ve been goin on so much about James Carr.

    Rusty start. 2-1 then. Superb point and his 2nd goal.. a lot would have tapped it over.

    You want to see forwards look for the goal option. I go back to the AIF when cillian took a mark real close in which was pretty much 1 v 1 defender. Also, today, Boland looking good and took a nice point but we had a clear overlap if he had played the simple pass inside to an unmarked team mate.

    Bit of a challenge match feel since our 2nd goal.

    And the ref is literally giving meath frees anytime the ball goes into our full back line!? Wtf!? Maybe he is McEnaney in disguise

  24. The ref!!!! What’s bloody new WJ??! Wonder will they even address it on Sunday Game.

  25. I think it’s a coin flip for home advantage or the 2 teams can agree on a neutral venue.

  26. Decent performance today. 2nd half was a nothingness really but our defence again looked vulnerable and leaky. The mesth 2nd goal was a dreadful one to give away. If you’re a defender you should be raging over it. Not sure our defensive mentality is angry enough.

  27. Thought Horan might have brought Diarmuid and Mattie both off with 15 mins to go.

  28. Defence looked very creaky when Meath ran at them. Don’t seem to have won any one-on-one balls in second half.

    Like the look of Towey. Darren McHale had a good first half, ditto James Carr. FB line v iffy and that looked strongest line on paper.

  29. Actually feel sorry for Cork. Beat Clare today, away from home, same number of points. They’re in a relegation dogfight with Wmeath, who are on NUL points. Meanwhile Clare get to play All Ireland finalists in promotion semi.

  30. We had only Paddy D missing from the defense today, so we had 6 of 7 , including GK, togged out. Yet we coughed up 2 goals and as many goal chances once more. Its very worrying. Is there anyone in the management team with defending experience?

  31. Cheer up lads we did what we had to do James should have done this and James should have done that etc etc He introduced lots of players. We won our three games with no great fuss. We scored well though we did concede a bit alright Can only play what’s in front of you and we were best team in Division by far. Onwards and upwards

  32. Agreed ‘To win just once’. Although I do feel we’re still a nice bit behind Kerry and Dublin.

  33. Carr was good in first half but is a frustrating player. He takes on those 50% point chances which look great when they go over but are real killers when missed in championship games. Its something you very rarely see Dublin players do,, shooting from close to the sideline or near impossible angles. Hope its something that Ciaran Mac is working on with him

    2 goals conceded also, First one especially soft where we had plenty of time to check the player and give away a free instead,

  34. It was a handy enough win.
    We were the only team In the province to win this weekend.
    Clare is a much improved team, but we should beat them and return to Div. 1 football again.

  35. Not decided yet James – will be decided by a coin toss as both teams have played at home twice already

  36. If we are a ‘nice bit’ behind Dublin and Kerry then how do you see that gap being closed? Both of them have had much more underage success than us in recent years.

    I actually dont believe we are that far behind. We weren’t far off Dublin last year and we played awfully poor in the 2nd half. Kerry? Most would have them a nudge above us. Why? Because of their 5 in a row minors coming through and because they are ‘Kerry’ but I dont think their squad of players is any better than ours. What you do with those players, how you manage them and set them up are what’s key.

    I have always maintained a defensive/counter attacking game suits Mayo well. We’ve never done it properly. The 2016 final was closest. If Jimmy McGuiness had been Mayo manager from 12-16 I’m pretty sure he’s have gotten us over the line. I still believe our current panel has what it takes to win an All Ireland this year or next while Lee, Aidan, Cillian are still doing it a d while Oisin is assured of being here. Why can’t we. If we can sort out the gaps in defence (not sure Horan will) and keep the vast majority injury free then we can beat any team. But the style we’ve been playing with so far over the past year also leaves us very vulnerable and allows lesser quality teams threaten us. Goals goals goals…tipp missed sitters in the semi. We lost the AIF because of them and in the league so far we’ve let in 5 against poor sides. It’s our achilles heel and shouldn’t be because we have lots of talented individual players back there but the structure isnt working. If it’s not addressed then we’ll win nothing. If it is, then we can win it all.

  37. Like a good training session or middling challenge match. Good to see panel get a run out .. Mid field bedding in well but feel we may need Aiden knocking about out their at times .
    Galway and the Rossies both played well and these games against top opponents will bring them on

  38. Centre back is the problem put a solid player like AOS there, problem solved. Its cost us repeatedly over the last few years, its why we lost our division 1 status last year and again today a ‘buckshee’ Meath team ran through the middle and scored two goals.

    Until a holding player is found at 6; who can tackle, close the spaces and anticipate attacks we will continue to cough up goals.

  39. That’s crazy if true, Our time has come, and I don’t doubt but it is. I don’t mind our having to play in Ennis but this game surely is made for a neutral venue, which would be the fairest on both teams too.

  40. Aidan O’Shea cannot be played centre half back. If we play Galway the first thing they’ll do is put Shane Walsh at 11. I think he’ll be named centre half forward this year with licence to help out in midfield and cover for Ruane/Diarmuid when they drive forward.

  41. Don’t think Kerry were great today, I don’t see any reason we can’t match them, Rosscomon did well in midfield and they never put pressure on like we do.
    If we play to are pontential and we have most games I think we will beat Rosscomon or Galway, just think we do the basic better than them.
    Would be worried about are defensive set up but did well today.
    Also Hennely kickout a major plus, did well again

  42. Anything outside of div one is poor . Galway and ros put in two solid shifts today against best teams in the country, you can see the difference today in the hits . I’d worry it wont stand to any of our newish lads goin into a connacht final with div two football only under their name .

    Anyway ,some lovely footballers we’ve seen come through , all to be welcomed .

    Overall though I’m of the opinion James Horan defensive strategy or lack of is 100% never going to win an all Ireland, great man and done wonders for mayo football but unless he develops a new tactical plan to stop leaking goals ie a sweeper or two I’m afraid we are just going to keep coming up short .

    One more thing although James Carr wasnt brilliant he still got 2-1 and showed again he has the potential to be an absolute star . He needs more and more game time

  43. I know it’s madness Willie Joe in this day and age to be relying on a coin toss instead of the group winner of div2 north and south having home advantage for the semis, which now that I think of it would probably make too much sense for the GAA to allow and would lead to the resident GAA coin tosser being redundant!
    That’s what the examiner are saying is the procedure though unless both counties can decide on a neutral venue between them!

  44. We simply do not have good enough defenders to play man to man. been the case for about 20 years now.
    Need a sweeper end of story.
    im not happy with the GK position either not being opened up to competition. But hey let’s keep doing the same things so that we get similar results again at the business end of things

  45. Agreed, Centrefield and Sean Burke. We have to sort out our defensive frailties, pronto.

  46. The backs overall performance in the 3 games wasn’t fantastic but then look at all the high scoring for all teams in all divisions, the attitude seems to be just go for it. There is no way Mayo, or any other team will be as open come championship.

    3/3 and hopefully 4/4. Huge panel there now

    I don’t have the stars (Wille Joe) but our scoring and also concession of scores from the 3 games played so far may be a record!!

    On to Clare.

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