Game day – this would be a great one to win

We’re racing through this year’s League campaign and by this evening four rounds of matches will be played. Today’s clash with Monaghan up in Clones is no more or no less important than any of our other Division One matches this year but, all the same, a win today would represent a significant statement by us.

We’re underdogs heading to St Tiernach’s Park today. That’s understandable – they’ve cut a nice dash in their three matches to date while we’ve largely stuttered and stumbled along in our opening three games.

That said, we’re both coming into this Round 4 match with the same number of League points – three each – on the board. We both have the same gnawing fears right now about getting dragged into a dogfight to avoid the drop and, equally, we both have the same opportunity today to push on towards top tier safety.

We’ve a good recent record against the Farneymen at today’s venue, having won League matches against them there in both 2018 and 2016.

While the former was a delightful Round 1 smash-and-grab success that came courtesy of a late Paddy Durcan point, the latter was a real backs-to-the-wall must-win encounter. We lost our opening three matches that spring and a loss in Clones would surely have seen us heading out of Division One. But we won, thanks to two long-distance frees converted by Robbie Hennelly.

Monaghan’s Round 1 win at MacHale Park in 2017 is their only League success over us since they last returned to the top division. We beat them last year – on the day we qualified for the League final – and we also gave them a right thumping in Castlebar in 2015.

All of which means they’ll be fairly wary of us. I think we often discount this factor when we play teams – Tyrone and Donegal would come into this bracket, Kerry (though only in the League) as well – against whom we have a good record.

Because of our past record against Monaghan, they’ll go into this game with at least some expectation that they’ll lose. And so we should reciprocate with a firm belief that we’ll win.

And we can win. Not because we take the field with a settled team – we’re far from being in that situation right now – but because, as the spring campaign progresses each year, we tend to start putting in increasingly committed performances. Today would be the perfect day to put in the first one in 2020.

With all the switching and shifting it’s difficult to be sure about how the selected team will gel. We’ll be looking for further encouraging signs from both Padraig O’Hora and Oisín Mullin in the full-back line, while hoping that Eoghan MacLaughlin can announce his arrival on the first fifteen in the right kind of way and expecting Aidan O’Shea – who captains the team today – to exert dominance around the middle.

But it’s up front where we need to see more purpose and incisiveness. We’re simply not scoring enough so far this year and that needs to change. That change has to start today.

Fergal Boland has been chipping in with a few points every game but others, notably Diarmuid O’Connor, Ryan O’Donoghue and James Carr, need to start weighing in on the board to greater effect. The returning Darren Coen will hopefully give us greater thrust inside and will also, most likely, be entrusted with the troublesome free-taking duties.

Surveying the line-up, then, there are plenty of unanswered questions about the team we’re going with but sure isn’t that the case most match days in spring? Today’s the day for the lads who’ve been picked to go out and answer those questions and, in the process, buttress further a fine recent record against today’s opponents.

For a change, I’m heading to this one from the west, having been in Mayo for the weekend so I’ll be taking the same route to Clones as most of the rest of you. It’s a bit of a cross-country trek, on dodgy enough roads in spots, so, as ever, it’s best to take care on the way. While listening to the Monaghan preview episode of the podcast, needless to say. That’s here.

Right, it’s time to get ready and then time to hit the road. Clones here we come, with League points on our mind and victory the target we’re aiming at. Back later with all the usual post-match reports and the rest. Up Mayo.

46 thoughts on “Game day – this would be a great one to win

  1. This is a big game for both sides. It’s either a relegation battle or a push to the top of the league. For that reason I expect us to attack the game and win.

  2. I agree with you Willie Joe about us being slow starters in the league but we do have 3 points despite the ragged performances to date. I am expecting a much more cohesive display today as we are heading towards the business end of things.

    Dublin took a leaf out of the Tyrone playbook in getting Murphy a second yellow. Won’t hear too much about that one I bet. Heading for Clones shortly. Up Mayo.

  3. I think ragged performance was to be expected given injury list and newbies. But overall I’m delighted with how things are shaping up. They have showed grit and determination and to have 3 points is not bad at all. Our away record is good so I give us every chance today. Our tackling must be good today as they have 2 of the very best freetakers in the business. Best if luck to all travelling today. And the question is who will be our super sub today lol ?

  4. All true, WJ. Win and we probably need one more point to secure Division 1 status. Lose and we will be in a dog fight with Donegal who also have a tough run in. Losers of Galway vs Tyrone will be in the dog fight also. Id take the draw.
    Match deferred on TG4. Safe travels and Up Mayo.

  5. I think we can very well get a reault today .Monaghan always raises their game against the Dubs .I can see Monaghan playing more defensive against us than they were in Croker as they will feel it wont suit us and keep scores nice and tight .But if we are patient and keep our own back line tight win our fair share of the breaking ball the win is there for us .Mayo and an Ireland win will be a great result .Best of luck to the lads .Hon Mayo .

  6. Unfortunately unable to make this game, as you say WJ, we have a good record against them. I think that we are better than them and will go further in the championship but they seem to have a more settled team at this time and fitness may be ahead of us at this time.

    Lets see how it goes and what we learn from the match, best of luck to the team and safe travels to all.

  7. I don’t pay much heed to previous meetings between the teams. I think teams are well prepared mentally for the here and now. Monaghan will be tough to beat and we are a mix of experience and relatively untried players.
    Can someone post the subs bench from the program please. They could have a lot to say in this tie and maybe give us the edge.

  8. Yeah exactly, previous meetings mean nothing today. Monaghan are flying fitness wise and are far more settled. We’ll need to have a vastly improved performance to get anything out of this. Just watch the treatment McGloughlin will get all game (if he starts). Hope Lee can put the shackles on McManus. Darren Coen could clean up from Marks if he gets the right ball, heres hoping.

  9. MayoDunphy, there is no McGloughlin on the Mayo team.
    For a player who has been around for the guts of 10 years, it’s amazing how many people don’t know Kevin’s surname.

  10. I’d say Ryan wylie will be all over Kevin mcloughlin today so coen and Carr will have to step up.

    In terms of mcmanus id say o’hora probably the best man to pick him up 2day. I want to see leeroy get back to being a front foot attacking wingback

    Stakes are high here today. Win and that should be us safe id say, we can start looking up the table and relaxing a bit. Lose, and we are almost certainly in a dogfight, likely with tyrone, to avoid going down

    Meath are already toast. They ain’t beating anybody in div 1

  11. Bench
    R Byrne
    J Stretton
    J Coyne
    J McCormack
    D McBrien
    E McLoughlin
    E ODonoghue
    T Parsons
    J Durcan
    J Flynn
    C Treacy
    T Conroy

  12. Interesting subs bench and I don’t mean to start world war 3 on here but where is David Clarke and who is D Mc Brien and J Coyne

  13. Both played in u20 this year in full back line. Coyne corner back from Ballyhaunis. McBrien full back from Westport. Best of luck to all the young lads lining out today for Mayo. Conditions might be a bit easier this week with no gale force winds to deal with.

  14. So if Eoghan Mc Laughlin is down as a starter today, who is the E .Mc Laughlin listed among the subs I wonder? Maybe a misprint!

  15. Thanks Deja Vu.
    String subs bench. I get the feeling this game will be won in final quarter. Good to see Byrne promoted to subs bench. It’s the one position we haven’t experimented with. A lot at stake here….

  16. Watching Galway play Tyrone has rekindled my interest in football, very good all around, movement, footpasses, defending, awareness, scores and power, will be hard bet on Connacht this year.

  17. Flynn needs to learn how to stay on the pitch. His indiscipline is costing the team. It did against Dublin and it has done again today.

    We are being taught a lesson now. Disappointing second half.

  18. Not a great game at all for us, the backs got carved open a few times (we’ll definitely miss Boyle), and the Flynn’s red card cost us when the game was still in the melting pot. Still plenty of action to go though.

  19. As expected, the monaghan championship team do the bizz in February.

    We’re as good as relegated now, can’t see a vast improvement in 6 days, to take kerry or even Galway after that.

    Blooding youth is hard, but it has to be done. They’ll all come on in leaps and bounds for this D1 exposure. Carved open down the defence again is worrying.

  20. No one wants relegation, obviously. We still have 3 games to go and it’ll very likely come down to the last game v tyrone.

    That being said, I wouldn’t see relegation as a disaster. Donegal and Tyrone both there (div 2) in recent years and are still All Ireland contenders. It would be a disaster if we didn’t manage to bounce back up convincingly straight away. One season in Div 2, which is quite competitive, could gel and galvanize a new(ish) team…it could also likely build morale, confidence and nothing beats winning games.

    Anyway, let’s not throw the towel in just yet.

    Yes, Horan is trying blood new players, lads in their 1st and 2nd seasons…but we desperately need to see a defensive structure. We were like a sieve today at the back. Our discipline in the league has been awful. And despite Boland and ROD going ok so far in the league, the truth is we’ve been toothless and completely uncoordinated in attack but bar last season’s league, we’ve had similar defensive and offensive issues in the league.

  21. We are now 20/1 to win Sam…for the first time in a decade Galway are now shorter odds than us.

    Horan has to build and give lads a go, which he is doing and while we have a decent panel the reality is that unlike in 2011, the calibre and number of young players coming through is not as high. Stems from our decline at underage over the last decade. This needs big focus now for those at the helm of Mayo GAA.

  22. We were a kick of a ball away from.relegation in Ballybofey not too long ago..The form that Galway are in makes it difficult to see us getting any points away to them..Kerry are Kerry..Tyrone wont be for the faint hearted..Cathal Mc Shane seemed to sustain a serious injury today which is a disaster for him and the team..He is a superb footballer..Flynn’s card seems to be marked Im afraid..

  23. Galway and Roscommon have had a better quality player coming through this last 3/4 years that is the harsh reality and the players we have had playing at the top level since 2011/12 are near impossible to replace for a county like ours, they were a once in a lifetime type bucks . It could be a Barron spell for a whileen but I think we all knew this was coming , it’s not to say some of these youngsters won’t be massive players in the years ahead but at this present moment after looking at them on and off the last couple of years they have a long way to go .

    Is there really an excuse for shabby defending anyway , first goal today I think we had three on one at some stage and he still managed to goal eventually. It’s pretty scary to think how Kerry could open us up next sat and they don’t do sentiment like.

  24. We can’t afford to have players being sent off getting red cards it’s an issue James Horan needs to address fairly rapid as they’d say in Ballinarobe

  25. Don’t think there is any need for pessimism,I felt we played well missed a lot of scores,come summer we will be a different team some good players to return,get money on at twenty to one we are only going to get better

  26. I said it before how some of the best scoring forwards in Club football are not involved in the County panel yet how some of the same forwards can keep getting chances yet don’t deliver I just can’t understand it .How players like Neil Douglas, Adam Gallagher, James Shaughnessy, Peter Naughton and Jack Reilly can’t make the current squad is a disgrace.In my opinion Neil Douglas with Cillian O’Connor is the best finisher in the County in club football and I think its a disgrace how he has never not got a right run of games watching our forwards today.Even under Rochy who did at least have him in 2 years ago, he never got a right run of games to establish himself.Anytime I have watched Mitchels Douglas has always been better than James Durcan,We have a forward I won’t name in the panel that cant even stand out for his club at Intermediate level. Horan seems to me just to be going for players with speed rather than the best naturally talented footballers in my opinion.It was good to see Darren Coen and Paul Towey playing today, I think with more game time they will get better as they are natural scoring forwards of which we really really lack in this squad.I think we will be relegated to Divison 2 and might just struggle past Roscommon in the championship ,but cannot see us beating Galway in a Connacht Final at all unless things change in the Forwards.Dublin, Kerry ,Donegal and Galway for the All Ireland Semi Finals this year for me.

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