Game day – strange return to the fray

We were supposed to face Galway in this year’s National League back in March. They were on top of Division One, we were struggling to avoid relegation. Defeat to the neighbours would seal our demotion from the top tier.

Seven months on, those factors are still the same. Even if nothing else is.

At 2pm in Tuam Stadium today, we can, for a short time, forget about everything else that’s happening in the world in the crazy times we’re living through right now. Today we can focus on the football.

We can’t be there, of course, as the game – like all matches for the foreseeable future – is being played behind closed doors. A competitive fixture involving Mayo that isn’t attended by a huge following – that’s certainly a new departure. The match is, though, being broadcast live on TG4.

Both counties have named experimental teams and in both cases we can’t be sure how many of those who’ve been named to start will actually line out. We’ll find all that out, I guess, shortly before throw-in later on.

How will today’s game go? You’re guess is as good as mine, I’m afraid. I’ve no idea how much prep we’ve put in, still less what Galway have been doing.

Were the match played as scheduled in March, Galway would have been raging favourites. They were the form team in the country back then, we were flailing badly.

We were missing key players then too, notably Cillian O’Connor, who’d last lined out for us in the All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin the previous August. Cillian is back for us today, as are Mattie Ruane and Fionn McDonagh, neither of whom featured for us in the spring as well. Their return is a boost, though Jason Doherty’s latest cruel injury is an undoubted blow for us.

While the focus today will be on the League points we need to claim if we’re to have a shot at avoiding the drop, this unprecedented winter inter-county season, which sees us in Connacht Championship action in just two weeks time, means that some, if not most, of our planning is aimed at the knockout campaign that faces us next month.

So, even though today’s match is important in its own right, it needs to be viewed in the context of what lies ahead. And, of course, if we’re talking about context, nothing can, in the end, be fully considered without taking into account the pandemic times we’re all living through.

But, as I said at the top, we can, at least for a short while today, shut all that out. Today there’s a football match to be played and, we hope, won by the team in Green and Red. We’re off again, after a fashion. Up Mayo.

107 thoughts on “Game day – strange return to the fray

  1. Great excitement to see us back in action today. Would love us to lay down a marker for the Championship, and win today..Our next meeting with the Tribesmen could be the Connacht Final.

  2. More than conflicted about the game today. I really don’t think it should be going ahead and am disappointed in the GAA for not calling a halt to proceedings given the current circumstances.

    Having said this, we’re playing Galway so it’s difficult not to tune into the game. Especially as it’s been a while since we watched the lads. With no form guide it’s difficult to tell where we are.

    No Shane Walsh for Galway helps us but I’m pretty sure Comer will start. If he does I’d expect one P O’Hora to amble in beside him.

    We need the win more than Galway. That might be enough for today.

  3. So great to have this game to look forward to this afternoon. Its brilliant to have those 2 hours of gaa coverage to escape what at this stage is an overwhelming deluge from every media platform it seems. I’m not sure how many more weekends of football we’ll see but a pot of tea and to sit down and roar on your county against the ole enemy is something i will relish. Thanks Willie Joe as well for all the great podcasts over the last while, your doing a great job. Look after yourselves everyone

  4. Like everyone else I don’t know what to expect today but am looking forward to seeing the Green and Red back in action. Two dummy teams named so expect lots of changes before throw in. A win means a lot more to Mayo than Galway given our positions in the table and we don’t want to go down without a fight. We certainly don’t want to be trading places with the Rossies! I was impressed by their second half performance against Armagh. Dodgy penalty but they took full advantage given the opportunity. Leitrim unable to field a team so what about their meeting with us in 2 weeks? Will there be a Championship?

    Best of luck to the lads today and hoping we can get the two points.

  5. With a deluge of naysayers trying to get the gaa banned for the year all I can say is at the moment we cannot go to pubs restaurants attend games visit loved ones and all we have is the few games for the next six weeks to enjoy hopefully if the right precautions are taken I cannot see why we cannot see out the rest of the season and for all those who are disgusted that the gaa is continuing don’t watch the games

  6. The real Old Firm match is on today!. Very excited to see how we go. Still expecting a Galway win, im sure Joyce will change at least 2 players before throw in. Hopefully we do the same. I’ll stick with the gut and say Galway by 5 🙁

  7. Very strong Galway bench according to the programme! Padraig O’Hora, Keith Higgins and Darren Coen on ours.

  8. It’s a real lottery today given the surreal circumstances we are in. Not sure about the team named but we are in transition and that takes time patience and courage. I wonder where the scores will come from in that team. I wonder what kind of shape Cillian is in. He seemed to be out of sorts a bit in the club championship. I expect AOS to put in a MOM performance for us. Expect a depressing few weeks for us football wise. But saying that a draw today and a Tyrone loss to donegal would still leave us standing for next week. Safe travelling to the sofa everyone for the game!!

  9. I hope I’m wrong here but the form of COC, DOC, McDonagh and Ruane was average to poor in the county championship. Not one of them made the team of the championship. 5 Westport players in the squad and not one from Knockmore, Hmmm?

  10. Form means nothing in a game like this. Mayo v galway throws the firm out the window and opens the door to a rip roaring contest. For me Darren coen starts along with o hora. Can any one put up subs please ?

  11. Rory Byrne
    B Walsh
    J Durcan
    R O’Donoghue
    D Coen

  12. For two glorious hours in front of the TV listening to Mid West coming through the speakers. A win today would set us up nicely for the week ahead and put a pep in everyone’s step. Haven’t seen the programme so don’t know what the subs are but am hoping there’s a few Knockmore guys in there. Let’s hope we can start today as we mean to go on and cut out the defensive mistakes that sees us conceding 2 goals a game

  13. Galway subs:
    Bernard Power
    James Foley
    Sean Mulkerrin
    Gary O’Donnell
    Matthias Barrett
    Tom Flynn
    Gary Sice
    Adrian Varley
    Liam Costello
    Shane Walsh
    Damien Comer

  14. We should All be thanking these two Teams today as they prepare for a battle in these turbulent times.We should for once be full of praise for the GAA in organizing and getting these games played. Here’s hoping the Championship goes ahead and Mayo will be contesting again another All Ireland Final.
    Enough from the doom and gloom merchants. Mayo are back today so let’s get behind these lads and support them.
    As for the Match today I think Mayo will win as its back to the wall time again and We seem to play better in these scenarios. In my opinion would we not be better starting our more experienced lads Keith, Tom, Kevin, Colm and Darren and introducing the new lads into the game as we build a lead for such an important match. We need new blood but maybe wean them in over the course of a game for experience sometimes starting an important game like this one can place a huge burden on young lads.
    Anyway the best of luck to All the lads who start and on the bench. The game will be won from the whole panel. Mayo to win today and new young lads to get some vital play time.
    Go neirigh an tads le Mhuigheo,

  15. Shane Walsh and comer on subs bench??…..its all juat a huge smoke screen!!! Expect skin and hair to fly now. In fairness though Horan has for sure named a dummy team as well. Can’t wait ?

  16. Knew fine well comer would be involved but Walsh too how can he go from touch n go to make championship to on the bench today ? It was either a blatant lie or a misprint in programme .

  17. Joyce and Killererin were well known over the years as being trickster…within the rules of course. I played against them several times I think during a county final they sprang a supposedly ‘injured PJ’ from the line during the national anthem!

  18. Best of luck to Mayo today hopefully we will prevail,hope players from both sides escape injuries,and looking forward to the championship,thank you Willie Joe for keeping us up to speed with all that is happening

  19. Very excited for this game. Thanks Willie Joe for keeping the blog going during all this. It has helped an awful lot of people so fair play amd much appreciated!
    On to the game I can’t help but feel that Galways bench will have a greater impact than ours. But it’ll be just fantastic to see the lads back in the Green n Red!

  20. Hi, Just to confirm my faith in JH and management now rather than after the game.

    The Knockmore players will have their day.

    It is such a boost to have the game to watch and commentary from Midwest.

    Nearly there now.

  21. Best of luck to James and the lads selected,
    It’s great to lose ourselves in football for a bit.
    I’d expect a few changes on both teams before throw in,i think O Hora and D Coen will come in

  22. I think comer and flynn to start we need to win this put them back in there box it will be hard listen to them if they put down to division 2 but I’m sure james has a few aces left ?

  23. I have to admit but it’s great to be looking forward to a live game to get underway shortly.

  24. Looking good so far

    No surprise there’s a lot of westport lads in, as the club have steadily produced talent for a good few years now. Knockmores time will come.

  25. Good pace but really open so far. Like a challenge match. Hardly a hand being laid on attackers

  26. Best half of ball we have produced in years, every player winning their individual battle. Mighty stuff

    Fair to say mark Moran is putting his hand up today

  27. Well… this looks a lot more pleasing than I thought. Looks like we’re going to give them a right paddling.

    Thrilled with our newbies.

  28. Shane Walsh and Damien Comer make Galway a completely different animal. Huge losses for them. Both make them tick.

  29. Loftus is nearly beating the Tribesmen by by himself. A really impressive performance.

    If Mullen could finish a little better, he’d be unstoppable. His workrate and speed are really something to behold.

    Clearly Jimmy was sent into the Galway camp as an act of of Sabotage…

  30. Embarrassing from Galwaygaa.. Our goalkeeper should have been pulled after 10 mins, Mayo way sharper , fitter, and want it more..
    They can really put Joyce to bed today in this second half and show him up for been very inept..

  31. Wow… some first half. More of the same for the second half please…. super movement especially up front.

  32. Mark Moran looks the real deal whatever Ciaran McDonald has been doing with the forwards let him keep
    Doing it

  33. Even worse than I thought we have obviously no interest. The goalie is a disgrace and Sean Andy back in 3 a horror show. Will worry Roscommon but we will be moving to level 4.5 tomorrow so thats it for the year. Hope Galway at least try in 2nd half.

  34. Very impressive, really enjoyable. New lads standing out especially Mark Moran and Oisin Mullin. None look out of place and Eoghan Mclaughlin looks really good as well. Have the TV down and Martin Carney doing a good job on commentary.

  35. Revenge for the humiliation Galway gave us in ’82 Connacht final in Tuam. They showed us no mercy that day.
    Do not ease up lads!
    We cannot beat them by enough.

  36. Wow
    Sensational stuff . Horan has got it spot on. The county board need to do everything in their power to keep Oisin Mullin in the country

  37. Absolutely clinical performance. The speed and pace is brilliant. Newbies look the business. Now if Donegal beats Tyrone we just need to beat Tyrone next week.

  38. Some half. Mullin and Moran the standouts.
    We need to keep going, no let up. It may well come down to points difference for relegation (if the games actually go ahead next week), so every point could be vital.

  39. And they said we have no forwards in mayo ciaran mc is working his magic have we found our own james mcarty in conor Loftus pitty we can’t here the mayo roar

  40. Oisin mullin is a sensation.
    Would love to have him in the fb line the HB line and midfield

    All the young uns flying here.
    Stick with them, speed is king

  41. Very fluid, plenty of movement with pace, 3 under 20’s and 2 under 21’s on the team more on the bench and we have no talent going through. Think these young players benefited from have have senior county players with the clubs in the summer. James Horan is off to a good start with his new team building, no sign of 7-8 senior players not even on the bench.

  42. …and it’s an example to why I’ve regularly said AOS at 14 is the way forward. New dimension to the team. Mite not work every day but he can be a unique weapon in there.

    This is challenge match stuff tho so today’s result comes with a major health warning.

    Joyce is all about championship and galway will be a different animal IF we meet again. Walsh and Comer and completely different midfield duo.

  43. Fantastic
    You will have an easy night tonight Willie Joe
    Scoring forwards , no keeper debate and no intruders 😀

  44. Smelled blood with a weak Galway team and put them to the sword. That’s what we needed to do.
    Now move on.

  45. Mayo looking strong but its hard to know what to make of that. I doubt the next round of games will go ahead but who knows at this stage. Hopefully we meet again in the Connaught final but perhaps the 2021 one!

  46. On that performance Galway need all the old, unemployed and former greats as managers around. Alex, Arsene, Micko, Jim Gavin, etc’
    Somebody mentioned the ’82 Connacht Final. I thought we got over that in 2013 in Salthill championship match.

  47. Blue skies in Castlebar and a Mayo team.fired up..Best Sunday in a long time..Cannot underestimate the lift that these games give to people of all ages at this time..

  48. It was like a challenge. We looked good but it’s a million miles off championship mentality

  49. We need donegal to beat Tyrone and a draw would keep us up the next day …when ever that will be!

  50. If donegal win it’s in our own hands next day . If not we are dependent on other results. Draw would be okay aswell..

  51. Great to get the win. But Galway wont be as poor again. If the season continues we need to tighten the centre back position, Galway got all if not most of their scores through the middle of our defence. That’s being a problem for us prior to the freeze in fixtures.

    Anyway, I know some if ye on here were questioning C Loftus, what you think now?

  52. While the footage wasn’t great, that looked a phantom Tyrone penalty. Could be huge decision in this match and could be our downfall if Tyrone win.
    Donegal the better team so far

  53. Kickhams man I was 1 of those who called for more from loftus and fair play he delivered. U can only play what’s in front of ya and the job got done in fine style.

  54. Disgracfull comment needs to be deleted immediately… WORST I have ever seen on the blog

  55. Surely better if Donegal lose. Are they not playing Kerry on Saturday. If they beat Kerry, we will know what we need on Sunday against Tyrone?

  56. Apologies, all – I’ve had my head stuck in the match report hour. I’ve dealt with that comment now. I fail to understand the motivation of someone to post something like that. But, of course, the online world – including relating to Mayo GAA – has its quota of seriously warped individuals.

  57. Not fully sure Castlebarred but I thought if donegal win and then next week we beat Tyrone we’ll have more points than Tyrone so both they and meath drop out?? Correct me if I’m wrong somebody.
    Its been so long now since I’ve looked at the permutations!

  58. A great result, had a feeling we’d win but never thought we’d get a result like that. Well done to all involved. We need to keep a lid on things though, that was just a league game played at challenge match pace for the most part. We need to go out and beat Tyrone next week, today’s result will mean nothing if we don’t. Our newer players showed well which gives a lot of hope for the future.

    In order for Mayo to be at the top table for the next decade, we NEED to keep a hold of Mullin. He will be our most important player for the next decade. Losing him to the AFL would be a tragedy for Mayo Football.

    Anyway, onto Tyrone we go. We’re not safe yet.

  59. If donegal win today and we beat Tyrone next week we are safe. If donegal lose today we Donegal and Monaghan could all end up on 7 pts and then scoring difference comes in ? Donegal would be okay but it’s very close between us and Monaghan.

  60. Great win and well done all the young lads. Good day for Mayo football and good to have the mood lifted. Nice to ignore the latter day talking up of Galway and remind Padraig Joyce what the green and red jersey looks like.

  61. Yes I think you are right liberal role as regards Mayo staying up if Mayo win.

    Monaghan play Meath and not sure that Tyrone will go down.
    Mayo may have a better scoring difference than Monaghan if Meath were to win and then Monaghan would go down even if Mayo were to lose to Tyrone. Nearly there.

    Hope someone will put this better than me.

  62. Sorry that is not totally correct. Monaghan would beat us on head to head.

    However if Donegal. Mayo and Monaghan were on 5pts then scoring difference applies. One assumes Kerry will bt

    The best thing for us is to beat Tyrone and then it will probably be as you say.

  63. kickhams, you’re right, have never doubted Conor loftus ability with a ball. He can do things that others can’t, always felt that he best position was at 11 where his vision could best be used. Never saw him as a corner forward. He has had problems with injuries and never had a run in the team, he played in the FBD league at 11 and was taken off at half time not sure the reason.felt today he had one of his best games in a more open roll. To have two foot passers like loftus and Mark Moran in the team is a sight to behold. Early ball is key. There will be days when the marking will be tighter and space limited, mcguinness may spend a few more sessions with that Galway defense but i do feel they will be a different outfit in a few weeks, they have players to come back. Its been a great day for all involved.

  64. Promising from Moran and loftus. For sure, but really, Galway weren’t at the races at all today..they were way off mentally, so sloppy which is indicative of lads not tuned in & heavy training… and for Moran in particular, you cant judge a lad after one match.

    Got to get the 2pts. Move on.

  65. Bizarre win. Galway obviously in heavy training.
    Great to see young lads coming through. Conroy and Mullin the stand outs. Strength and conditioning guys have their work done!
    Tyrone next week should be a victory. They’re at home but more importantly, Tyrone have nothing to play for and have Championship the week after.

  66. So a win vs Tyrone keeps us up, anything else and we’re down. Conor McKenna looked very dangerous so need a plan for him

  67. I’m reading off the same page as mayonaze as in that game as good as it was to beat Galway , they were shocking and missing star men who would completely change the dynamic of the team . Tyrone will be extremely hard beat next week but it will also give the likes of Moran a taste of really packed defence .

  68. Just play what is in front of us,if we win the next game we stay up that is all that matters,then we started the championship

  69. 14,500 hits today already. Welcome back everyone, it’s great to have football to talk about again, even better to have a win over the neighbours to look back on.

  70. Well, I don’t think even the most optimistic of Mayo fans saw that result coming! Always great to bate the neighbours and in some style too, remember that we didn’t win in Tuam for 46 years at one point.

    Huge performances from Mark Moran, Mullen, Conor Loftus, Aido and Paddy Durcs in particular. Maybe the Mayo production line hasn’t ground to a halt after all?

    We should enjoy this for today and park it though, because Galway will be a different animal if or when we meet them in the championship, and ultimately this will count for nothing anyway if we don’t get a result against Tyrone.

    And as for that one particular comment, it never ceases to amaze how people can post stuff like that. Just a reminder to everyone that both you and Willie Joe are potentially liable for anything you post here, so think twice before launching into any claims that could get yourself into trouble.

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