Game day – this one’s important

It’s high summer, with the longest day of the year fast approaching, but today we’re involved in a crunch match in the National League. Our match against Clare today at Cusack Park (throw-in 1.45pm) is a Division Two semi-final but the main prize on offer today isn’t a slot in the decider – there won’t be one – as instead it’s a place in Division One of the League for next year.

That’s a big prize, the destination of which will impact the winners of it, not just this year but next year and perhaps the one after too. For both of today’s teams, it’s definitely a prize worth seizing today.

We head for Ennis as strong favourites. So we should – Division One is our normal habitat, the place where we expect to be, and, having contested three All-Ireland finals in the last six years, we know plenty about competing at the highest level in the game. Of course we’re fancied to win today.

But being favoured to win and actually going out and doing it are two very different things. Clare have home advantage for this one-off, winner-takes-all tie and Colm Collins has fashioned a team that consistently punches above its weight and that’s very hard to beat. They’ll be hard to beat today.

It’ll be difficult for us today for another reason. We all saw how Kerry laid waste to Tyrone yesterday evening and in two weeks from now Clare have to face them in the Munster SFC quarter-final. Kerry will win that game – Kerry know that, Clare know that, the whole world knows that.

This means that Clare’s inter-county year is set to end in exactly a fortnight from now. If they already know and accept that Kerry will be a bridge too far for them this summer, this means they have to be looking at today’s game as the one from which they’ll have a better chance to get tangible reward.

That makes the Banner lads very dangerous from our perspective. They’ll treat this game like a full-throated Championship encounter and will lay into us in this kind of mindset. If we don’t reciprocate in kind we could be in for a rude awakening in Ennis this afternoon.

Our alarming tendency to cough up soft goals is an obvious worry. Clare have yet to concede a goal in this year’s League, whereas we’ve conceded five of them in the three games we’ve played. If Clare break through for a goal or two today – and we all know what a danger this is – we’re going to find it hard to get the result we need.

So, we head into this one with a few worrisome things to ponder. But, make no mistake, they’ll be worried too. They know all about the likes of Oisín Mullin, Lee Keegan, Paddy Durcan, Mattie Ruane, Diarmuid O’Connor, Tommy Conroy and Cillian O’Connor and they’ll be fully aware about the damage all these lads can do.

They’ll also know we’ve got Aidan O’Shea in reserve if needs be. And they’ll know that there are other lads in our ranks, lads who might not be household names just yet but who could inflict pain on them too.

Ultimately, when you look at our match-day panel and, in particular, the significant big match experience that still resides in our ranks, you’d have to think we have the necessary talent and strength in depth to do the business today. I expect we will but I also expect that it’ll be far from easy and that, if we come into the game undercooked to any degree, we’ll find ourselves in the toughest of battles.

Last year we lost our Division One status because we weren’t able, when push came to shove, to win games when we really needed to. Today we get the chance to put that right and to win back our top tier status. But only if we win a game we need to win.

This one’s important. This is a game we need to win, one we’re well capable of winning. Let’s go win it. Up Mayo.

99 thoughts on “Game day – this one’s important

  1. This is a really big game for us today. Not just for the current team, but for the next generation of players about to come through. We need to be in Division One if we expect these guys to push on and improve – individually and collectively.

    There’s something on the line and so that’s why I fully expect us to show up and perform this afternoon.

    Mayo by five.

  2. This one is very important to the team and probably financially aswell.

    Clarke and Barret are huge losses.
    Horan needs to get a handle on the defence or bring in a defensive coach. Turning top class wingbacks into corner backs is not the answer. How many players on the panel play in the FB line for their clubs

  3. Relegation last year was a disaster and it will have slowed out development of players.They just don’t learn as much playing Westmeath and Kerry or Dublin.We will let in the standard goals today I expect….can we score enough to compensate??
    They have not conceded!

  4. That Clare full-back line hasn’t faced the calibre of Cillian or Tommy C. Major test of that track record coming up for them.

    I get the concern about deploying Keegan and Mullin at the back, but I really don’t think Horan has much choice at the moment.

  5. We should be winning today by 7/8 pts. A Clare man said to me if mayo stop Tubridy they stop Clare (probably not that simple). Looking forward to the game and see how the newer lads do. Keep the faith posters.

  6. Dear Willie joe. You have summed it up well!! We must and should win today . No soft goals please. Thankfully we have good forwards and a strong bench . Mayo to win by plus 6. I think 5/6 is reasonable odds despite my dislike of taking odds on . Up Mayo

  7. Jason Doherty played the full 70 for Burrishoole last night v Westport. Westport won well, but Jason scored 1-5 of Burrishooles 1-7

  8. A few things are certain for me today .
    1. The team named will have at least 2 changes . One in half back and half forward lines .
    2. We will give up goal chances and concede at least one .
    3. We will win after a scare by a few points …….

  9. This is a Must win game for Mayo Today. The prize on offer is too big to let slip through our grasp. What are Mayo doing at training sessions either in games or in Backs v Forwards in relation to defending? We have conceded far too many goals for a Top flight County operating in Division 2. Why has this not been addressed. for every goal scored against us we have to score 3 individual points using Time up in games(thats if we dont score goals straight after conceding one) Have we not learned from last years All Ireland Final?? A goal scored against us in 40 seconds??
    There is no use having the best Midfielders, Forwards on a team if we are leaking goals in our defence. I hope Mayo have addressed this issue and will spring any new tactics on Clare Today. Stop leaking Goals and we will win. I expect a win Today ,the whole County does and we will join the high table in Division 1 next year where we belong.

  10. I expect Keegan to pick up Tubridy today. A big game and a key man marking role for Lee usually brings out the very best in him.

  11. Great to be back in division 1 after just 33 weeks away from it.

    It was 231 days ago that we went down. Some feared we would languish for years in the lower divisions. Not at all. It must be one of the shortest time spans outside the top flight in history.

  12. Ha? Is the match over already?

    If we don’t get out of the traps early you can be sure this will be a long difficult encounter. This is all Ireland final for Clare, consider they may even be thinking the chance to get to Div 1 may not even be around next year when they’ll have to play 7 matches and have Cork presumably in a better place and an Armagh or Roscommon also. As someone already said the unkindness of the munster championship draw means that’s almost over before it’s started. It’s the perfect recipe for the underdog and despite what anyone says, the undercurrent amongst our media and fans is complacency.
    I mean if we were playing Kildare in Newbridge today to go up what would people be thinking?
    Clare beat them a couple of weeks ago.

  13. I will reserve comment until I have seen the full game today as yo the best position of certain players.

    Defensive football for the past 15 years had cancelled out the one on one in defence particularly the full back line, there is only a few natural corner backs in the Country, mainly Dublin players.

    I said if before Keith Higgins played in the wrong position for years

  14. Plus, we’re a mile away from knowing our best starting 15. Fact is we’re a long way off the top 2 at the moment. As such, Clare have a great chance of turning us over.

  15. Perfect weather for a game. Although the heat at this time of the day will really sap the players energy. I expect Mayo to win but will make hard work of it. I’m going for 2-17 to 1-15. Expect Mayo’s superior fitness levels to help them pull away in last 15 minutes.

  16. Can anyone explain the logic of this nonsense of naming dummy teams. The changes are announced an hour before so gives the opposition plenty of time to plan for the new players in.and it’s not as if clare don’t know the strenghts of aido and Kevin mc.
    The thing that really gets me is how it is for the players named who know they are not starting..seems disrespectful to them but maybe I’m wrong.

  17. We will win well. But this thing about players not learning in division 2 is interesting. Management or players do not seem to have learned about defending the goal or access to it.

    We have no business talking about playing and developing against Dublin and Kerry but yet we’re conceding 2 goals against Westmeath.

    The last four games including December’s final We have conceded 7 goals.

    That could have been us against Kerry last night letting in 6.

    So, division 2 has taught us nothing really. Apart from the win today the big aspect to watch is the concession of goals.

    If we don’t concede today it will be a small bonus.

  18. Two changes to the bench as well in addition to those two switches to the starting fifteen. Conor Loftus and Jack Carney are added to the subs, replacing Conor O’Shea and Fionn McDonagh.

  19. Clare will try to suck us into a dogfight, if they do it’ll be 50/50 who wins. If we play at a high tempo, move the ball on before we’re tackled, then I don’t think they can stay with us. Best of luck to our lads. Great people down in that part of the country, hope their day will come but not today.

  20. Good luck Mayo and enjoy the game everybody! I’m feeling nervous already.

    Great to hear that news about Jason above, Paddy Joe JT!

    It’s super to be in the situation today that there’s something really valuable to play for. Fingers crossed.

  21. Willie Joe the rule with having to name your team on a Thursday is where the problem is.

  22. Hopefully DOC’s hamstring didn’t go – just caught him pull up in the corner of the shot

  23. That’s goal was poetry in motion. Aido, mcloughlin and Cillian all very good so far.

  24. Well, the good news is the game is already won. The bad news is Diarmuid’s and Cillian’s injuries. We can only hope neither are too bad. Diarmuid’s is a hamstring problem so that could be serious. No idea how Cillian is.

  25. We are playing with the intensity of a division 1 team, movement of the ball is very impressive, we will have enough for Sligo and Leitrim without the O’Connors, more than happy with that first half,

  26. Praying it’s not related to the knees! The game’s been well controlled and no goals against us today as a bonus. Big tactical impacts if either brother is out for a while

  27. Cillian looked like calf tear or possibly hamstring. Both 6 to 8 weeks if no complications. Worst case would be Achilles but don’t think so. Massive loss

  28. Didn’t see Diarmuid’s but cillians looked like a calf strain. That’s a 4 – 6 week lay off.

  29. 6 weeks today to a potential Connacht final. We shouldn’t need the O’Connors to get over Sligo or Leitrim – no disrespect intended, but we would need them for a Connacht final. Most hamstrings take 4-8 weeks.
    Cillian looked like a medial knee ligament sprain, 6-8 week recovery for a grade 2, less for a grade 1, more for a grade 3 but that’s unlikely as it happened out of contact

  30. Disaster with both Cillian and Diarmiid injured. Clare poor. It very worrying to see Cillian going down with no one near him Briilliant link up between Tommy and Oisin for the goal.

  31. Appaling goals, both with the same fault.
    Complete lack of a full back. Lack of a player who can field a ball in his own square. How many more times will we be caught out like this.

  32. The usual 2 goals conceded while our back still attack…

    This game should be over long ago

  33. All the good play could be in vain if The Big Hole in defense can’t be fixed.

  34. Game management on and off the pitch lacking again . We refuse to learn . Will we ever give Rory Byrne a few minutes on the pitch just in case he is needed !

  35. Our full back line are there to be absolutely roasted. Surprised Clare aren’t punting more hail Mary balls in.

  36. Seems crazy to be saying this after we have gotten promoted and such a good first half but
    That’s a worrying and potentially very damaging match for a few reasons
    We can see now 100% that Horan will not change

    Went entirely as predicted !

  37. Horan looked fuming at the final whistle there when cameras went on him though

  38. Well done Mayo back in Division 1.
    How many Division 4 teams would be happy
    with the defensive display ?.

  39. And with the two O’Connors now in the sick bay it could be an even shorter summer than expected.

  40. We are gone a long way back. Its sad to see. We will get a trimming at some stage this year. Good footballers coming through though so that’s positive. Hopefully next manager will have a defensive game plan. Probably get slayed for saying that but it’s the same ol same ol every year.

  41. I actually think that AOS was at fault for the two goals, while the first half was great, we started to get found out in the second when Clare upped the tempo, hard to make sense of the second half performance,

    Disappointed with a few of the players but on the flip side, Towey did reasonably well. Still plenty to work on, but promotion secured which was always the main ask.

  42. I know we won – but deflated after it. A game of two halves for sure. The two O’Connors injured, two.of our most important players. 2 easy goals conceded. Defence pulled in all directions. Horan has an awful lot of work to before championship. Shudderng to think what the Kerry forwards would do to.us after last night’s display.

  43. There was nobody at fault for the first goal bar the keeper . If we are relying on someone other than the keeper to catch a high ball 3 yards from his own goal line then maybe we should be looking at another keeper ……..but there are no other keepers in the county apparently

  44. You have to love this craic “towey did well ” whilst nobody remembers James Carr scoring 2-1 last time out given no game time.

  45. The Kerry forwards are the least of our worries, Mayolass. If we get to meet them this year we first have to win Connacht and then beat Dublin. Can you see us doing that this summer?

  46. Very poor performance by the sideline in particular.. a few big names should have been taken off, that was rubbish.. don’t know why Ryan O Donohue was taken off and why two players one very big name in particular were left on .. Kevin McLoughlin was my MotM , . wishing a very quick recovery to both O’Conner brothers.. Lee, Oisin, Paddy D , Ryan O Donohue, S Coen and Tommy Conroy had all decent enough games…

  47. The old problem. Soft goals conceded. Lucky I saw 5to 1 cillian first goal scorer when I visited paddy powers before match. Thank you Cillian and may I wish you and your brother speedy recoveries

  48. Don’t like to be too critical, after all we’re back in Division 1, but imagine what Dublin, Kerry, Donegal, Tyrone, Monaghan, Armagh or Galway would do that defence.

  49. Age old problem of mayo switching off when in full control, taking the foot off the gas when the opposition is almost beaten, almost. Mayo need a sports psychologist in the set up.

  50. We got out of trouble there!
    Positives:
    – We won and we’re back in Division 1
    – Cane through a tough and hard game that tested us everywhere.
    – 13 different scorers for Mayo
    – More serious county game time for some of the inexperienced lads
    – When we were patient and waited fir gaps and runners, we scored.

    Negatives
    – We really have to stop teams scoring so much against us.
    – Injuries to Diarmaid and Cillian.
    – Too many times we were inpatient and gave up ball softly.

  51. Defence.

    Defence.

    Defence.

    Training for the next 2 weeks and if we beat sligo, training after that needs to be about defending. Our tactic today was to drop everyone back. It had some use 1st half but the evidence is there after 4 games against teams who arent within a country mile of even thinking about All Irelands, that we are weak at the back and there’s no excuse for it because we have the individuals. It’s just clear as day that things arent working back there and unfortunately for all of us we have zero chance of winning an All Ireland with things as they are at the back.

  52. Hennelly did catch the ball before the first goal, but the 6’6″ Clare lad punched it out of his hands.

    Assuming Hennelly gave the call then Aidan should have been blocking blocking off the Clare man from challenging for the ball.

  53. So he can only come and catch the ball 3 yards out if he is not going to be challenged ?
    Right so
    No issues that have been evident for years …….

  54. KM79 Robbie did make a balls of that ball in but the defenders did absolutely nothing to screen/block the inrushing forward – they were also at fault.

    Sean Burke, we lost our free taker, therefore Towey was the natural replacement today, I like James Carr but Towey was the right replacement for Cillian.

    Have to tip my cap to Clare’s accuracy today too – outrageous long distance scores

  55. We have embraced this culture of attacking defenders and it’s gone to the extreme , no better sight than seeing wing backs or whatever flying up the field but if you refuse to adopt a sweeper system it creates an imbalance . Just having bodies back is no addition either , you have to have a role in some kind of system .

  56. Km79. Well predicted very close to your earlier post. Sometimes the big half time lead can give false sense of security for the 2nd half. Cillian injury is disastrous. On the positive side they put up another big score again today very accurate

  57. We also dont appear settled there. Perhaps too many new faces, and lads in different positions come week to the next. Let’s assume we win our next two, Horan needs a settled back 6. Fellas need to be comfortable playing with one another. To date it’s like a bunch of lads thrown together for the 1st time.

  58. No goalkeeper in the country should be left 1 on 1 with a big midfielder like that. You’re asking for trouble if that’s the tactic.

  59. Some posters had rightly predicted we’d concede two silly goals, two utterly preventable goals. It played out. It will play out in the next match, and the next after that and so on…
    Oisin Mullin needs to immediately be taken out of the backline. With Diarmuid o’connor injured there’s a half chance of blooding Oisin in MF, especially given we should still beat sligo and Leitrim. Full back line is a huge worry and I can’t readily identify any players on the bench who’d do a job there. Lee did well today but we need him in his best position of 5. Looked like he played more outfield today in a man marking role. Which he’s obviously suited to.

    James’s biggest headache tonight should be how to redesign an effective FB line. Our team needs to be built FROM HERE. SIMPLE.

  60. The Clare defence was brilliant in the second half and laid the foundation for their comeback.
    The opposite could be said for our guys who appear to have no structure to their defensive setup.
    We’ll get away with it against Sligo and Leitrim but that’s about it
    Fingers crossed that the two O’Connors
    will be ok ?

  61. Playing keep ball does not suit us as it usually ends in a turnover. Was anybody picking up Tubridy? A lot of loose marking and bad block downs. Oisin is not a fullback and played most of the game out the field. Hard to know what our best starting 15 will be come championship. One thing for sure if Cillian is out we will really struggle up front.

  62. Apart from one decent intervention shortly after being introduced, Jordon Flynn really struggled today. I think its still a year or two too early for him yet management are persisting with him despite a number of similar performances.

  63. Very worrying second half performance,we seemed to be lacking leadership after cillian went off injured I’d be very worried going into championship after that second half display

  64. Back in division 1 but my God did we make hard work of it in the sevond half.Even AFTER the second Clare goal was scored there wasn’t a single Mayo defender back on their next attack..A third goal at that point would have been a disaster..

  65. Agreed with Sean burke.
    As entertaining as it is watching fullbacks attacking at will its incredibly naive, where are the dogs in defence like Barrett, Higgins who love tackling and defending.

    Imagine if we played that way against kerry or somebody, would be a massacre.
    Clare aren’t even a high scoring team but they lucked 2-18 today

    Delighted to have promotion sealed without much fuss but there are lots of question marks

  66. I wouldn’t read to much into today, we were in full control first half, all the changes I think unbalanced us abit, job done, Clare always hard to beat at home, Kerry have struggled at times with them

  67. Had Mayo been as bad in the first half as we were in the second and as good in the second as we were in the first people here would be lauding our performance We were very good in the first half and I would expect that subconsciously they thought the game was won at half time and the humid conditions took their toll hence our poorer second half performance Losing the O Connors is extremely worrying and second half defending equally worrying But we achieved promotion which was our goal in the league plus we blooded more players Posters here talking about what Dublin Kerry would do to us need to get real We are well behind them have played second division football and are a team in transition . We play a lovely brand of football but we will have to tweak it from a defensive point of view going forward. So well done to the Mayo team and management Four wins from four in high scoring enjoyable games. Tougher tests ahead but onwards and upwards.

  68. A lot of work to do for sure for the next 2 weeks. It was nervy at the end. I cannot believe two easy goals conceded again and 2 18 is a serious amount for opposition to score. Surely they had been working on this in training up to now. The worry now about Cillian and Diarmuidm (Am I on moderation WJ?)

  69. I’d hope both Cillian and Diarmuids injuries might not be to bad. They looked like soft tissue injuries and would be expecting them back for the connaught final.. assuming we get there of course. In all fairness the first half display from Mayo was really really good and people can’t say it wasn’t. Great intensity, tight at the back, ferocious tackling, great support play with running off the shoulder and very few wides. We need to show that for a full game and as we progress through each championship game that will come. The second has was poor and lots to work on. Division 1 achieved let’s move on

  70. I don’t envy James Horan trying to rebuild our defence I hope he and his management team have a serious look at it over the next two weeks. Anyway he has brought us back up to division one and that’s enough for now. Well done to him and the lads and good to hear Harrison and Doherty got game time with their clubs last night it’s never easy to come back from injury. Best wishes to Diarmuid + cillian

  71. MOTM poll is up. Apologies – it was ready to go an hour ago but I omitted to stick it in its usual place. Match report should be up within the half-hour.

  72. I’m happy enough with that game although it was heart attack territory in the last fifteen minutes or so. We could certainly have lost if Clare managed another goal close to full time.
    There are a lot of things to fix, for sure.
    Horan has not perfected his game plan yet with the team. It’s not slick enough yet in such a way that it can work effortlessly. Clare, with toughness, a mammoth effort, tenacity and intensity were able to push through us and knock us off track and out of kilter in the second half.
    We also need insurance policies in his game plan, that is, something to secure the back if and when we need it.
    I saw we needed the old dogs today – Cillian, AOS, Kevin Mc, Lee.
    Our young lads are still light, and tough, physical Clare players were able to push them off the ball often in the second half at crucial times. That’s inexperience, and our young lads need to develop teak toughness.
    We were very very vulnerable from the Clare kick out. That’s not good enough.
    Hennelly’s kickouts were amazing – like rockets. For that crazy first Clare goal – the one that started Clare on their comeback, the tall strong Clare no 8 was loitering at the corner of goal, received a great ball from a side line and just popped it into goal. *I bet that or a version of it was practised in Clare training.* Something similar won Cork the game against Kerry last year. Con O’C is always lurking right up on the goal line in Dublin games to put it straight in the net. It’s extremely hard in my view to mitigate against these types of goal scoring tactics. I’d love to know a method as it would knock Con off song. Diarmuid O’C regularly loiters on the side of goal to palm one in stealthily for Mayo from a dropping ball.
    Mayo are still a work in progress.
    I think Lee is back sharp and in good form this year. This augurs well.
    Regarding our vulnerability on the Clare counter attack, we scored little in the second half while Clare were scoring much easier. What I want to say here is we must engage in turnovers and dispossession. This is something we can and must do.
    I would be wary of Galway in Connacht.

  73. Galway showed some inexperience to be caught in the end, I thought that they were the better team but did not take their chances, will be hard to pull it off in extra time

  74. We would be livid if we were 6 points up with 5 mins to go and let a team like Monaghan back to draw. We are not the only ones with problems in defence!

  75. For clare first goal was the no8 not inside the square before the ball, as it was a free kick. A lot of bad decisions taken by the subs in 2nd half, inexperience possibly

  76. It was always going to be a massive ask to replace Barrett and Higgins in defence. We still play like we have them two in defence who would have been two of the best man markers in the game. The new lads need time and protection but Horan won’t change his all out attack. Against the best teams, the way we play we always end up fading in last 10 minutes. Happened against Dublin last year. Horan will persist with the man to man defending but there needs to be periods in the game where they don’t burst forward and someone needs to sweep. When it got to 70th minute, Mayo kept the ball for around 2 minutes. This is what they should have been doing earlier. Just suck the life out of the opposition but instead we continued to attack and let Clare have so much possession and allow them to build confidence. Alot of work to do.

  77. Why was the Clare fullback not blackcarded for taking down Cillian for the penalty-or am I missing something….

  78. Now I don’t want to hear any more about competition in Connaught championship,we are playing lower division teams,we will win the Nestor cup,after that it will be senior football,up Mayo

  79. In my opinion you’re not missing anything ‘opt2misteek’
    The rule was quoted in The42 a few weeks ago when Roscommon suffered 2 black cards plus 2 penalties….

    ‘The new rule introduced to Gaelic football in 2021 sees a penalty awarded for a cynical foul “on an attacking player with a goal-scoring opportunity” that takes place inside the 20m line or the semi-circle. A black card and 10-minute sin-bin is also applied to the offender’

    There is some room for referee discretion in interpreting the word “cynical” but the Roscommon incidents looked no more or less cynical to me than the Cillian takedown today.

    On a more positive note, I thought referee Gough did a good job today in Monaghan game. There are still a few good ones.

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