Game day: time to defeat the Dubs

Five months have now passed since our most recent showdown in last year’s replayed All-Ireland final but tonight our lads get to renew acquaintances with Dublin. The League has less of a life-and-death vibe to it than does the championship and it’s in Round 4 of this year’s NFL Division One campaign that the two counties lock horns this evening. Throw-in at Croke Park is set for 7pm.

We’re coming into this one on a nice little run of form. After that disappointing opening round defeat to Monaghan at the start of last month, we righted ourselves – despite an alarmingly flat first half performance – down in Tralee against Kerry and then followed this up with a facile win over an abject Roscommon back at MacHale Park last weekend.

The four points we’ve garnered from the opening three rounds puts us in second spot in the Division One table going into this weekend’s round of matches. We’re level on points with Dublin but that scutching of the Rossies gives us the edge on Jim Gavin’s men on points difference.

They’ve taken a different approach to gathering the four points they’ve got. Unbeaten in their first three games – undefeated, to be precise, for two whole years now, a run that stretches to 32 matches at this stage – Dublin have won one and drawn the other two matches they’ve played this spring. Their win came on the opening day up in Breffni Park against newly-promoted Cavan, while they had to come from five down late on to nick a draw against Tyrone at Croke Park. They then played out another draw against Ulster opposition, away to Donegal, last weekend.

Dublin have performed with an uncharacteristic air of uncertainty about them so far in this League campaign. Despite this, though, they remain unbeaten, having played against three of the four Ulster sides in the Division. We’ve cut a bit more of a dash ourselves but we’ve also lost one from three and we’ve David Clarke and the Tralee woodwork to thank for the fact that it’s only once we’ve gone under this spring.

If we’re to extend our winning run this evening, we’ll definitely have to end the open door policy we’ve had at the back. If we allow the opposition forward line the freedom to skip unimpeded into the danger zone in the way that we did against Kerry and Roscommon, then we’ll only have ourselves to blame for what will surely happen to us on the scoreboard.

A tighter defence means fewer options in attack, of course, and it’s balancing these contrasting needs that is forever the conundrum for us. One of the real positives the last night against Roscommon, however, was the variety we showed in attack – with the majority of our scores from play and twelve different players posting scores – and we’ll need this unpredictability again tonight if we’re to record a winning total in this clash.

Much has been made in the run-up to this fixture of Dublin’s long-running unbeaten streak, with some pointing to the poetic justice it would involve were we the ones to put an end to it. While this would, for sure, be sweet we need to bear in mind that it’s only the first week in March and it is only the League. A win tonight would do nothing to make up for all those big day defeats we’ve suffered at their hands in recent years. It would, though, represent a small downpayment towards full retribution.

More than anything else, a win this evening would – as Mickey Conroy pointed out yesterday – represent an achievement in its own right, a monkey off our backs, proof that we can beat a team that always has had our number when the chips have truly been down in recent years. There’s no Sam on offer, of course, this evening but a win in this one may, just may, ease our path towards claiming it, if and when tonight’s opposition are barring our path to glory once more come September.

Tonight we have the chance to strike the first blow ahead of such a possible showdown. Let’s take it. Up Mayo!

64 thoughts on “Game day: time to defeat the Dubs

  1. T’ wouldn’t look too good on the cv if that team were to beat us tonight! Can you imagine the smirk on Gavin’s face afterwards? Not the end of the world but!!!
    I think with that in mind our boys will do well to forget about the opposition and produce the football they have within them selves regardless of wind rain muck Dubs or whatever! It is time to drive some big nails home!

  2. Every time Mayo play I can’t wait to see the team selected. It’s only now occurred to me that the team announced is never the team that plays! So why am I fooling myself? Or why is the Mayo management trying to fool me? Jim Gavin knows – and EVERY ONE else knows – that the Mayo team announced last night is not the one that will play this evening. The Dubs line-up will also be changed. Yet fans will fork out for programmes with fake teams! Could I suggest that managers stop this farce NOW???

  3. No hiding the fact this is a bigger game for us than Dublin. we need to start beating them and it would be sweet to end their run. It may be only the league but don’t anyone tell me if Dublin slot in 3 goals tonight and give us a hiding without some key players it won’t matter? This is a game we need to win.

  4. With Eoghan O’Gara named at FF it makes sense to have more size in the FB line. I assume Parsons is back now having served the ban. Is it a likely move to pull Vaughan back and insert Tom P along with Jason Gibbons into a mobile midfield.

    Also I would like to see Danny Kirby get a crack at FF against the Dubs. He has made a bit of a name for himself for playing there for Castlebar. Maybe no harm for him or the team to see how he fares up to the likes of Fitzimonns and McMahon.

  5. Last night’s posts had a thread about returning club player Keegan playing or not. IMO it’s nowhere near the same as U21’s playing at that code, Sigerson and senior. Keegan in the form of his life last year so would imagine he’d be raring to get on the pitch every time. S&C will have a very good handle on what impact the extended season will have had. There’s a science to it (called sports science). So let them decide. The other argument made is wrap stars in cotton wool. I don’t buy it either. Every county loses a few players every year to injury. Let the players play any game they’re picked in for club and County and trust the experts in the setup to make a call.

  6. The first thing that I will do when I get into Croke Park will be to get my hands on a programme and see who Dublin have in reserve. We know by now that Dublin pretty much finish with their strongest team on the field. You could say that over the last few years it has been the players that they have brought off their bench that have killed us in the end. So will we have any plans in place for this, i.e. will we hold a couple of our big players in reserve to counteract this. We seen the players that we brought on against Roscommon do well, even though the game was pretty much over at that stage. We need our subs to make a big impact as well in this game. At times it’s almost like Dublin just do enough to stay in the game and then they let their fresh players off the bench finish off their opponents. Something for us to ponder on.

    I’m sick of seeing photos in the build-up to Dublin v Mayo games of our players been protrayed as the main aggressors against Dublin. The Indo and RTE pretty much always seem to have a picture of Lee Keegan holding onto Diarmuid Connolly’s jersey etc. For example they would never show a picture of Michael Darragh MacAuley grabbing Cillian O’Connor around the neck, as he did in the drawn All-Ireland final. The next time I see a picture I want it to be of a Mayo player finding the back of the Dublin net. I would also prefer after the game if the talk was about the great football that we played rather than talk about off the ball clashes etc. Best of luck to all involved, it would be great to get a win!

  7. Time to seize the opportunity and beat the Dubs while they are going through this wobble and finally put a doubt in their minds.
    Mayo havent beaten them since 2012. Whatever team or subs that play tonite, I hope they deliver and attack from everywhere, ie make their full back line work and keep them isolated. I am looking forward to this match, it will tell alot.

  8. The only argument for holding certain lads back is to give new lads a chance. Boland won’t be dropped because he’s consistently playing well. That means COS, Loftus, Irwin and Kirby have to play out of their skins to get a jersey. Regan still showing promise and still hasn’t fully delivered. The other 4 could rightly ask the management can I get the same number of chances as Regan. IMO he’s preferred because of pace and left footed frees. While his returns from play have been low for CF he’s won quite a lot of frees from cynical opposition. Kirby is good but we have too many midfielders and can he keep a fit AOS out of the team? Kirby for FF? One option to get forward balance is Diarmaid as a midfielder. That frees up 1 forward position.
    IMO Loftus is the one who can make that star leap and keep out another star. The great teams have that, Kilkenny hurlers, Kerry dropped Crowley the guy who did all the damage in 2004 when Gooch came on the scene at 19. Dublin have O Gara, McMenamon and Andrews, may well drop Flynn and give Costello or Scilly that jersey with the talented but inconsistent Mannion there as well. Brogan will be an impact sub at best this year freeing one space for that crew.
    A big boost would be for one of these guys to be so good they keep Andy out of the starting 15. Loftus best chance of that for me. Doherty’s jersey is there for the taking and the newbies should be mad to grab it.

  9. Ah lads when is the penny going to drop with supporters – its not about the 15 named to start but rather the 20 that will play, the timing of their introduction and so much more besides. Although it is an old fashioned hobby to engage in trotting out your preferred starting 15, that day is long since gone for the management teams in charge of the top tier counties – Dublin are so dangerous again tonight not because of their starting 15 but because of the impact that Kevin McM, Costello, Flynn and others will have on the game. As are we and there is no need to name them – so there is every likelihood that we will start with 14 out of 15 of that team and same too for the Dubs – the real meat in team selection is what team is on the pitch for the final third.

  10. Was hopeful that the game v ros last week would set us up nicely for this one, however that turned out to be no more intense than a pitch opening challenge. Worryingly Clarke deservedly motm. Is he single handedly papering over the cracks? Monaghan, Kerry and ros created about 13 goal chances between them taking only 2 of those. Where has the sweeper system gone? Have we decided to abandon the sweeper because Clarke is in such good form? Is the league not the place to be perfecting your system of play? Please don’t give that crap bout not showing your hand etc. Tyrone played Dubs and showed them what they’re in for should they meet later in the year. They used their system, they know it works v the dubs and they have that confidence now of knowing how to play/beat them. What system are we playing tonight? Who knows?
    Maybe I got out the wrong side of the bed this morning, or maybe I’m worrying too much that we may give Dublin 4 or 5 goal chances.

  11. We can afford to play Cillian CHF this year if Loftus or someone else shows up as a goal scorer. Andy can get us goals at important times but is not what you’d label a poacher.
    Would it be worth starting Loftus ahead of Andy tonight or do we need Andy starting to make sure FF line gets into the game?
    Playing Cillian at CHF this year may mean no starting place for AOS. The pace of our attacks was super last week, be good to see if it can be partially replicated tonight.

  12. U should read John Fogarty in the examiner this morning. Good article. Didn’t realise that Gavin refused to present the POTY award to Keegan, complete break with tradition. Perhaps it was discussed in these pages but I didn’t see it. What a classless bollix. Mr Gavin should learn to lose with a bit of dignity

  13. There seems to be a line going through here that thinks JD has his best days behind him that his jersey is up for grabs well the man that takes and holds on to that jersey has a fight on their hands. JD was our free taker and scoring forward before COC his role has changed since and he now slots in where he is told if he were left in the ff line he can and would score from play the amount of work that he gets through in a game isn’t always appreciated. The man that covers the ground and puts in the hits like DW for kerry doesn’t get the recognition but it is a vital role in any team. So before anyone goes measuring up for JD jersey let them be sure they are ready for the hard slog and battles ahead.

  14. The dub biased media have shown up their true colours today. Independent in particular.
    Mayo name ” formidable side” while downplaying the dub team. Are you joking me? David vs Goliath and Goliath has problems with his underpants stuck up his — and may be susceptible to a beating. Don’t believe a word of it, the dubs definitely will not Mayo to be the team to lower their flag in their home ground in front of the crowd on hill 16. Sure there’ll be no clapping the hands above the heads to show appreciation to their fans who have travelled so far to see them.

  15. Doherty is a huge loss for us this evening

    However, still confident of an upset. Lumping on Mayo at 13/8

  16. I was wondering when the media would rock up with some owl load a crap.

    Its about time the “Aiden O’ Shea dive for the penalty which robbed Fermanagh of victory” last July got another mention and a 16 page spread in one of the nationals.

    Come on Martin. You’re slipping up fella.

    Was hoping for a front 6 of

    O’Connor, Boland O’Connor, Loftus, Moran, Irwin. Not neccessarily in that positional order but whatever suited best.

  17. Not a bad day up here in dublin ,
    Made good time from the west ,
    Less than 5 hours to show time , cmon mayo

  18. As I’ve said before Doherty is our most accurate player from play in the last 5 years so I’m not sure that his jersey is as up for grabs as people think. I guess the big question is wether we’ll play the sweeper and if we do what will it do to our attack? If we don’t are we going to be as open as previous games? My thinking is no if we have a gibbons/parsons midfield. Want to see a performance and hopefully more improvement. The only disaster would be if they beat us with half a team. I’d expect two very strong teams to take the field tho. It’s fantastic travelling to games with such an air of excitement in early March, wouldn’t want to support anyone else!!!!

  19. Waiting to board the plane. ..ah not so sure about this evening. Watched Ros game on Gaago. Was impress with movement of the ball to be honest. Different tatics this evening. .. prediction is -3″dublin with COLDRICK at the helm . Hon mayo

  20. Don’t worry about Doherty not playing, plenty of new guys to come and hopefully give Dublin something different to think about. All forms of attack with quick ball played to the forwards closest to the Dubs goal will be the orders from the boss. Hope the ref has a good / fair game.

  21. Im probably going against the opinion of alot of posters here, but, im hoping we go out an literally flake them, I dont care about the result (obviously a win would be nice). I want to see cheap shots on McMahon, Small and Cooper in particular. We cant do it in Summer, so I pray we go out and give it to them from the start. This is an ongoing war after all. Time to lay down a few physical markers!…over to you Vaughan!.

  22. Juan,
    I can understand your frustration and anger at getting at some of those players, I would be that way inclined also, but I hope Mayo come with the attitude of playing fast / smart football and not get dragged into anything that may warrant a black or red card. No doubt it will be tense before and early in the match ably assisted by a hostile Hill support.

  23. That’s correct, Mayonaze, great boost for Galway, and hopefully it will work out well for him. Remember him playing v Kerry in ’08 quarter final in monsoon conditions – his performance was breathtaking. More than likely will be used as an impact sub this year, but will be a great role model for the younger lads! Anyway, best of luck to Mayo tonight – this is where the season really begins in earnest, bring home the bacon!

  24. The best of luck to Michael Meehan,a classy footballer but it’s a tall order for him.

    I have backed Mayo ht/ft at 100-30,thank you very much.

    I want to see Mayo take the initiative here and ramp up the physical exchanges ,no prisoners taken,get dirty!Target players like Fenton,Rock and Kilkenny,see what they have got under their finger nails.
    No sweeper and go toe to toe with Dublin,play with no fear and go for it.

  25. That’s perfect Regina , I will be outside hotel wearing a purple rain mac , have two kids with me

  26. Subs for today:
    Mayo subs: Robert Hennelly, Brendan Harrison, Caolan Crowe, Michael Plunkett, Eoghan O’Reilly, Lee Keegan, Shane Nally, Conor Loftus, Conor O’Shea, Liam Irwin, Tom Parsons.
    Dublin subs v Mayo: Evan Comerford, Colm Basquel, Shane Carthy, Paul Flynn, Robert McDaid, Kevin McManamon, Conor Mullaly, Eoin O’Brien, Emmet Ó Conghaile, Ciaran Reddin, Jack Smith.

  27. looking forward to the game now , Hope its a cracker… On a side delighted for Michael Meehan an absolute pleasure to watch and a gentleman..

  28. “Ah Now” I couldn’t agree more with your comments. Tyrone play to a system from January to September and know their roles so well. Mayo arsing around playing 15 on 15 one week and playing a sweeper the next. It’s not fair on McLoughlin being shoved around either. If we don’t play a sweeper tonight we will be in trouble. [Deleted]. Also think the dogs on the street know Drake won’t start tonight, it’s pointless and disrespectful naming him in the team.
    I think we will tear in to them tonight, make it hard for ourselves but win by 2. Safe trip to all travelling.

  29. Okay, September Santa – let’s call a spade a spade. This particular spade involves telling you you can’t make statements like that about named players. Please bear in mind for future reference.

  30. Hurry on in there Sinead 37. The place looks a bit vacant without you.You’ll have to represent a lot of us from down here ,stuck in the muck and drownded with the wet!

  31. Surprised about Kirby, maybe he’s injured, maybe purpose is to try out Irwin.
    On the Doherty debate I think he’s as honest as the day is long but his scoring stats last year flatter a bit.. augmented by at least 2 goals. We all know he can score but like Diarmaid and Kevin Mc his workload diminishes his scoring chances ( though his conversion rate is high). Of the 3 he’s 3rd in the pecking order. As Boland is in very good form he’s jumping ahead of the pack for wing forward.Doc always tries hard but not always very prominent. Very good in drawn Dublin game and quieter in replay.
    So for that reason I’m saying there are several options for Doc’s position as Diarmaid and Kevin Mc unlikely to be out of any starting 15. AOS will be targeting 11 and 14 jerseys or any jersey he can get on return.
    DOC could be the corner forward sub if any new lads don’t stand up but better on the wing as not lightening fast. Simply a combination of hard work and ability determines who gets picked. He’s marginally ahead of most of the contenders but just that and many on here want to see new talent come through. As he’s out for this game, whoever gets that jersey needs to grab it with both hands and try and keep him on the bench.

  32. I count that 4/5 goal chances Dublin have had in the first half. Another half to go but very flat and disjointed from our lads….

    It’s only March;)

  33. Clueless so far .. giving up goal chances for fun .. it’s not as of we don’t know what Fenton is capable of .. it’s not an evening for nice football .. it’s an evening for counter attackin football ..
    Has passing to goals .. not hopeful long balls in .. hope mgmt step up

  34. Tough night at the office Dublin look to have so many options and out forwards don’t seem to have a plan it’s sad really

  35. I urge everybody not to overreact just as i would had we won. Its only a league game in early march. I would say however that the Dubs made it look easy at times.

  36. Have to say thats as bad as I have seen for a long time Totally outclassed by a brilliant team. But we were desperate. Dont think any of our forwards scored from play. Have to play more defensive and try to prevent scores because we are not capable of outscoring good teams in a high scoring game Credit to Clarke, Boyle and Higgins for fighting to the death. Dont think anyone else emerged with much credit. Just one other point. Can see now the thinking behind replacing goalie for last years replay even if it didnt work. Its clear Dubs really target Clarkes kickouts. A terrible reality check for us tonight. I know its only march and the league but Dublin are so superior to us and that sort of a result wont do our psychological well being any good Glad Cavan lost because we should be capable of staying above them and Ros

  37. Sorry Willy Joe didn’t know I wasn’t aloud give my opinion. All I said was I thought they weren’t good enough (was nothing personal). There has been a lot worse things said about players on this blog in the past so don’t understand what the problem is.

  38. I thought Stephen Coen was Mayo man of the match. He was okay. Defense were opened up. Beaten at midfield. Our own kickout well beaten.
    Our forwards out powered.
    Andy cannot get open against Dublin. That yard of pace he is missing kills him when against the likes of Fitzsimmons.
    One aspect that was disappointing. Very little game time for our young forwards in a match where our forwards were well beaten.
    Clearly we missed the power of the OSheas.
    Dublin are just chunkier and faster. We cannot beat Dublin carrying players who are well beaten on pace.

  39. Jp that is my view about rochford he will not take mayo any were i hope i am worng that game is hard to take for me because i know we are better then that donegal and tyrone will run true us some thing not right back line and middle needs to be fixed long before tonight

  40. Let’s not call a spade a digging implement. For family reasons I couldn’t be in Dublin this evening but I’ve just had a number of texts from Mayo and Dublin supporters. One of whom, my brother, came from Abu Dhabi to shout for Mayo against his Dublin wife who sat beside him.
    David Clarke’s heroics in Castlebar masked the fact that the Rossies would not have been flatttered had they beaten us. He performed to a similar level tonight.
    I know I will incur the wrath of many when I say that the words “trimming” (which a few on this blog and hereabouts enjoyed using in relation to our accounting for Roscommon) and “embarrassing ” can very fairly be used to describe the rout which unfolded on Jones’ Road this evening.

  41. Firstly talk of Rochford having to go is just stupid, its one league game. We were poor but we have had some very poor league performances in the recent past so its not the end of the world, a little perspective.

    The things I would take from tonight, that was not a second string Dublin side, there was some serious young talent out there and some established dublin players are in serious trouble of losing their place.

    You simply cant go toe to toe with Dublin, they are far superior in an open game, Donegal and Tyrone are getting close beacuse they are ultra defensive. We need to be tight at the back like last year but add to that quicker more accurate counter attacking.

    Fenton to the best midfielder in the country, no team can go man on man with him simply beacuse no team including mayo have a player who can match him.

    Clarke was awsome tonight in shot stopping and commanding his area, the penalty stop was insane. However his kickouts are a real problem there is know hiding it and it needs to be addressed. Dublin really attacked it and made hay. The decision on playing Robbie last year can be understood though it didnt work either. Clarke cant change his kicking style in a couple of months so some thinking outside the box os required on the kickout strategy.

    A very poor night but will not have a major bearing on the summer, neither would a mayo win have a bearing on the summer.

  42. No one denies it was a trimming and I also think a very poor night by management.
    – Lee Keegan on OGara (bad call, you’d laugh at that call pre-match)
    – Kicking game into full forward line on a wet night
    – Andy isolated against speedster Fitzsimmons
    – No structure to the team in defense or attack.
    What needs to be solved quickly.
    1. Power up the team with returnees
    2. Release Lee Keegan from man marking. It’s an an absolute concede the initiative move that we need to dispense with. We’re not presenting enough of an attacking threat allowing Dublin flood onto us.
    Even still it looks like a two year project to close the gap to Dublin. If so the young players need more gametime than they are getting.

  43. JP – I would also add that Hennelly being number 2 is highly questionable as if Clarke picks up an injury he’s no 1 again.

  44. On the keeper I have liked the look of Patrick OMalleys kickouts. He has a trajectory like Hennelly. Decent shot stopper too.
    We need a lift. We already have it.
    St. Colmans won the Connaught Senior A title earlier today beating St. Attractas of Tubbercurry 2-8 to 8 pts after being 0-5 down after 20 mins.

  45. No words! But at least it’s only March and not the depressing disappointment of Autumn. My husband’s Dublin friend was at the match and two Mayo women in front of him shouted Mayo on to the last second. He thought the team were not deserving of such support. I disagree. It was one atrocious night. It is only March. Keep positive everyone.

  46. Dublin were ready for us. They were motivated by the test we presented after a couple of indifferent games by themselves.

    We took it as just another game and didn’t leave our comfort zone collectively.

    A 33 game unbeaten run doesn’t happen by accident. We could have put everything in and lost by a smaller margin. It might be just as well to stand back at this point in time, rather than helping to conceal the monster.

    I still think they can be caught on any given day. That’s the nature of sport.

  47. Spare a thoughts, posters, for people such as my brother who travelled from Abu Dhabi for this game. Unfortunately for him, he did so in the company of his Dublin born (and supporting) wife.
    By any measure we got a terrible trimming tonight. Dublin have a queue of players hoping to get on that team. We have the OSheas.
    David Clarke’s heroics in Castlebar saved us from a beating by the much maligned Rossies.
    Watch out.

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