Green, orange and red

There’s been a fair bit of looking back since this year’s All-Ireland final but in this guest piece John Cuffe discusses this year’s campaign, and the lessons we need to learn from it, in the context of the two seasons that preceded it.



The start of the 2010 GAA Grand Prix saw the Mayo car caught in a pile-up on the grid. As smoke belched from the exhaust and as oil leaked all over, the green and red car stalled. Less fashionable models like Sligo and Longford, both Formula Three and Four vehicles, wrecked the Formula One model.

2011 GAA Grand Prix

On the grid for the start of the 2011 GAA Grand Prix stood many shiny models. Three in particular stood out, the sky blue racer of Dublin, the green and gold of Donegal and the old reliable, the green and red of Mayo. The three racers were managed respectively by Pat Gilroy, Jimmy McGuiness and James Horan.

Earlier that year the Dublin County Board launched their strategic plan. It was called The Blue Wave (pdf copy here). Its goals were multi-focused but three stood out loud and clear. Number One was to win a Senior All-Ireland every three years. Number Two was the win a Minor All-Ireland every three years. Number Three was to win an All-Ireland U21 title every five years.

For Gilroy the clock was running and the message was subliminal but clear. Already their U21s had docked successfully and Pat was in year three of his tenure. McGuiness bore no such weighty expectations. But he possessed a singular determination to forge this Donegal outfit into his own mould. Whilst the Dublin County Board runs like a business with it attendant structures, Donegal would fall into the “a year at a time” category.

Jimmy knew this and seized the team to do as he wished with them. Over in Mayo, and after four years becalmed in the Doldrums, James Horan now managed their football fortunes. Dark, deep and silent, Horan was an unknown at county management level. His Ballintubber had displayed the requirements of modernity – functional, fit and playing to a plan suited to winning rather than entertaining. That was a shift from the Mayo ethic where style is king.

The green light flashed and Mayo set off on their league laps. Patience was abundant, the new man deserved time to find his feet and rhythm. The highlight of the league campaign was the game against Dublin in Croke Park. After twenty-two minutes Dublin had torn Titanic length holes in the Mayo defence.  They led by 4-4 to 0-3. I leaned over and whispered to my daughter “we could ship twelve goals before this ends”.

Dublin Mayo 2011

In adversity men either crumble or fight. Alan Freeman threw caution to the wind and started to run behind the Dublin full-back line, soon Doherty joined him and a fight back started. Mayo got a tail wind, the twelve-goal pasting receded and the Dublin car looked to have run out of fuel. Sean Murray two weeks earlier had Kerry’s Donaghy in his pocket. Such was Freeman’s display that Murray soon lost his spot on their team.

The final score showed the best and worst of Mayo. Dublin 4-15 Mayo 3-13. And yet after drawing level we succumbed to Ger Loughnane’s belief: we were afraid to win. An open goal was squandered at the death but respect was salvaged and that was a big step forward.

On the grid for the championship and as the green light flashed, Mayo almost stalled. A trip to London – logistically, tactically and football-wise – near blew our engine. Employing a sweeper whose then free corner-back opponent kicked two points backfired. Ironically it was the very score we trailed with minutes left. But the Mayo players held the head, kicked the points and closed out the near-embarrassment in extra-time.

The games against Galway and Roscommon were played in winter type conditions. However a shape and form was coming on the team. Cillian O’Connor stepped up to the plate. Nineteen but with a middleweight’s body, the boy could kick frees and play ball. Not even a crazy decision where Collins the referee overturned a decision to award a Mayo free, because he deemed O’Connor to be wasting time, put him off his stride. One minute of the second half was gone and Mayo trailed by three, insane.

Cork got mangled in the quarter-final; simple really, Mayo tore at them after a nervy start. Aidan O’Shea flattened Noel O’Leary; I think it was Richie Feeney who railroaded Eoin Cadogen. Thus in one fell swoop, Cork’s two enforcers were sorted. That allowed us to free up space for a tearaway goal from McLoughlin. It felt good to watch, it felt good to be a Mayo man. The reigning All-Ireland champions were gone.

The semi-final in retrospect showed how far we had come, considering the low base we started at. However the orange light started to flash early and by the end the red light was glaring. Kerry seemed to score easier than Mayo. An excellent goal from O’Connor was nulled when a ball into the goal area was botched. The Gooch grabbed the result of the mayhem and promptly sorted it by sticking the ball in our roof.

We were on the right circuit; we had a good car and drivers. Time in the pits would see the engine tuned to a higher level. On the third Sunday of September Steven Cluxton launched himself into history. Taking time all the time that a rugby ten would get, Cluxton sent Kerry home with a rare final day defeat. Had Mr Collins from Cork been there would he have thrown up that ball à la COC in the Hyde?

One law for us and one law for the rest it seems. Pat Gilroy fulfilled The Blue Wave mission statement. Mr McGuiness perfected a defensive formation that had the traditionalists pulling out their hair and Mr Horan had breathed life and colour into the Mayo car.

2012 GAA Grand Prix

With improvement comes expectation. The same cars lined the grid for the 2012 race. Once more the Dublin, Donegal and Mayo cars attracted a lot of attention. Donegal carried an air of menace with them. Mayo stuttered in the league, orange lights coming on here and there. A visit from Dublin on a foggy night exposed a lot of threadbare tyres. That game was postponed and the job done in the pits was to work wonders. Prior to that, though, Donegal showed us they meant business. They presented us with a problem. Down to fourteen men, they ran us ragged up there where Michael Murphy ran amuck. Flickering orange and red lights that needed seeing to pronto.

Dublin came to town on the last day of March and Mayo ate them 0-20 to 0-8. The fog had dissipated. This was as good a display I ever saw from Mayo since 1967. McHale at three, Geraghty in mid and Barry at fourteen wasn’t what Dublin expected but the boys acquitted themselves superbly.

Kerry fell under the Mayo car wheels in the semi and a final beckoned. A Mr. Deegan refereed it. Back in 2011 in a league match in Castlebar he awarded a rather soft penalty to Kerry. Certainly as a Mayo follower I never saw us get them type. Now he was to play a central role in our fortunes. Lee Keegan was fouled from my perspective. The ball tumbled away and Cork countered. It hit a post and fell down to Walsh who walloped it home.

Cork Mayo NFLfinal 2012

Instead of one ahead, we were now four behind. Vaughan got savaged on a run. The twins whom Mayo sorted a year earlier were now wreaking revenge. O’Leary and Cadogan were going to town and we were letting them. RTÉ and Brolly had a lot to say about the Vaughan incident. Mayo slipped up in not dealing with that on the night, not in a regional paper the following January.

The championship grid saw us get two golfing gimmies. Leitrim got a beating and Sligo got slip-streamed without us using up energy. The Leitrim game saw Conor Mort slip from us. Controversy raged for a while but a comprehensive beating handed out to Down salved that issue. Let me say this, Conor Mortimer owes Mayo nothing and whilst his departure wasn’t a crowning glory neither should it blind us to his service.

A red light flickered against Down but went off as quick. It was ignored but shouldn’t have been. Down were there for the taking, a Donegal mauling had left them vulnerable but the old fox Benny Coulter led his Mayo marker a merry chase. Benny lined at 14 but wandered and scored 1-1 and laid on another. Jimmy McGuiness would have noted that.

The semi-final win over Dublin meant that we had now knocked out in successive years the reigning All-Ireland champions. I sang “The Green and Red of Mayo” at the end with my girls, as a summer’s evening enveloped us in Croker but doubts lingered. The red light had flashed and stayed on longer than I would have liked.

Leading by ten points on the 59th minute, Mayo collapsed. A shift of MacAuley to mid for them allowed them to outscore us 0-10 points to 0-1 until the end. David Clarke has boots as big as Paschal McConnell and saved a one-on-one with Brogan where a goal looked certain. The first sixty minutes was what we focused on but others looked at the last ten.

Donegal, home of my mother, were our opponents in the final. I won’t put a bone in it, I expected Mayo to win and win comfortably. The one thing McGuinness didn’t want was a team who had players who could play football and who were fit enough to do it. Cian O’Neill was the man who overhauled the Mayo engine and the improvement was clear.

Now though the red light that glowed in the last ten against Dublin lit up again. Before we could pull into the pits we were 2-1 down. Between the 61st minute v Dublin and the 8th against Donegal we had conceded 2-11 with a return of a single point. That oil leaking was fatal to any engine. Oh we “won” what was left of the match but in truth Donegal played it on their terms. Lacey, a wing back, was unmarked for two interventions at the outset. The first bounced wide, the second wound up in our net. Keane was the scapegoat but I didn’t notice any Mayo man chasing Lacey as he surveyed the clear track ahead.

Our old friend Deegan was to intervene again. Cillian was dragged back by the shirt but he mustn’t have seen it. I did, forty five yards away and in the crowd.  The ball travelled up the pitch, go on… finish it out for me…yes, it hit a post, bounced down and was finished into our net. This was on the eighth minute; the similar scenario in the League final was in the fifty-fifth moment. Same result, though, the Mayo car shunted into the chicane.

AIF 2012

The engine that was tuned needed the master touch of a top mechanic. The red light that flashed was ignored, the oil levels not topped up. Almost lost in the last ten minutes v Dublin and lost in the first ten v Donegal. Harsh but true. Decisions that might have been painful were not made and when you drive the red and green car praise will be showered on you. That should also include any legitimate criticism. We blew the engine and the best chance of an All-Ireland ever. This wasn’t Kerry, heck it wasn’t even Meath or Cork. This was Donegal, six times Ulster champions.

In the garage after as the car was overhauled and all the data read, the green and red team had a great Grand Prix. Two national finals contested, refereeing decisions not favourable to them but when were they ever. And yet a lingering, nagging feeling that a hard call there, or a leap of faith here, we could have been double champions. Two in a row Connacht titles and an FBD would have to do. The decision not to go to the New York was wrong. I don’t want to hear excuses.

2013 GAA Grand Prix

“The best Mayo team since 1951” they said. “They are not like other Mayo teams” others said. I railed. You’re the best when you win the big guy. And this mantra, propagated by many Mayo people I have to say, that these guys possessed mental steel that other Mayo lads and teams didn’t, insulted fine players who had travelled the road ahead of them.

Donie Buckley upped the ante and the engine. The league was nothing to write home about other than the red light of the destruction wreaked by Bernard Brogan seemed to be classified as the warm glow of a flickering orange light. Once more Donegal were mastered by Jimmy but Dublin brought in Jim Gavin. In doing so they ripped up the Mark 1 2011 version car and added some heft under the bonnet as an offensive drive was proposed. Mayo were now where they were in 1996/97. Get back to the big drive and finish and lap the circuit this time with the chequered flag fluttering.

Galway Mayo final score

Galway ran into a flying set of rotors and never recovered in Salthill. Roscommon got ran over in Castlebar but a few orange lights indicated that the engine was not sparking everywhere. Three awful misses for goals were dismissed as part of a master plan almost. London had outed two Connacht cars but were ran off the road by a resolute Mayo that saw Cillian O’Connor back.

Donegal got what they should have a year earlier. Mayo in their faces, Mayo in their fuel lines, Mayo in their pit stops. For the third successive year Mayo had eliminated the previous All-Ireland champions. We were All-Ireland champions at eliminating All-Ireland champions. Confidence in the car, driver, and engine was at an all-time high. Tyrone were the first to put some sand in the petrol.

A team who ran scores from everywhere now depended on a replacement corner-back and an attacking wing-back to keep them in half-time touch. Orange lights flashed. Then the crisis eased. Freeman assumed leadership status and drove us on but an alarming free or two were missed by others after COC’s departure and that would have repercussions down the line.

The final saw Cillian O’Connor back from shoulder injury. Fully fit and at the wheel, Mayo and Cillian would have been unstoppable. The front tyres also had two others coming back from injury, Andy Moran and Alan Dillon who seemed restricted all year. Also in the spare tyre department was a top ace who had nursed an injury. Mickey Conroy firing on all cylinders would have given Dublin plenty to do.

The story is simple. Five first half gilt-edged chances to keep us a lap ahead were spurned. A high ball into the square drew the needed fuel from our tanks. A stupid turnover not contested led to that mess. We never learn. The second half hadn’t the required daylight for the tyres to stop wearing out. When we needed bold and a dash to pass on the corners we were solid but not adventurous. Towards the end as the laps were run down and that sick feeling the red light gives, we were camped under the Hogan Stand like a rugby team unable to make the necessary yards.

At the death we needed to crash all the lights to cause mayhem but instead we parked the car like a pensioner, safe, solid and no cigar. This one would go down bad. The referee, though no genius, couldn’t be blamed. This time we had to look at ourselves. As the car was rolled into the pits we departed the stadium.

2013 final 2

That night I watched us again on TV.  Same old, same old same old things. Turn overs, no chasing back, men who freeze on the big day. Where the natural habitat of the Mayo soul was needed, a bit of careless driving and madness, instead we got caution and old bread. Once more back to the garage, another refit and another Grand Prix ahead.

For this car to cross the line cold decisions have to be made at all levels – by the Board, by the manager, by the players and importantly, also by the followers. Voices have to be listened to. No one man, no single entity will push this car across the line. Forwards have to be found, and forwards have to be let go. Either the reserve defenders are good enough or if not then show them the door.

We lose a right corner-back and we replace him with a centre-forward. Try that with the Gooch below in Kerry and see how long you’ll last. We need a man to mark the square once and for all; we need a man to block the six. The present incumbents are adaptable and useful elsewhere in the system. Your status on the pitch should never be immunity from removal from that pitch when the time is right.

In closing I will refer you to the motto of The Blue Wave. It is simple. “What Gets Measured Gets Done”. We actually could have achieved The Blue Wave’s objectives but sadly I never heard them articulated, publicly at least. This car is capable of winning the Grand Prix but the clock is running and other cars are modifying. It would be sad if the chance was now to slide off the circuit.

51 thoughts on “Green, orange and red

  1. Good stuff,

    But as of today we don’t know if we have a driver, and who the pit crew are. Dublin and co will be getting set for next year already, we’re still too gutted to think about it and 2 massive final losses can seep into any players mind, dillon has lost 4 allirelands and how many league finals? It’s horrible, nobody deserves to go down like that but unless there’s fresh thinking for 2014 we can rest assured that Mayo will be good enough for a repeat of 2013 and level all before us up to when it really counts. Bigger, stronger men needed up front, at least 2 of them. And they don’t need to be geniuses, look at Dublin.

  2. The most depressing thing is Donegal and Dublin were there for the taking in both finals. They both didn’t play to their max. Silly mistakes from us in key moments and yet again key players do not perform in a final. I just hope the team is not mentally damaged like the 96/97 team seemed to be.

    We do however have a younger team this time around but I just can’t see us winning Sam next year. I hope I am wrong though.

  3. Excellent piece John I’m afraid Dillon doesn’t have the engine anymore he has been as reliable as a ToyotaAvensis (except in finals ) but time waits for no man we need to find scoring forwards or we will never win Sam it’s as simple as that

  4. “Three in particular stood out, the sky blue racer of Dublin, the green and gold of Donegal and the old reliable, the green and red of Mayo.”

    ….ahem, John, I would have said the “unreliable but fan favorite” 😉

    Nevertheless, I enjoyed your musings..couple of other observations on your piece.

    I thought the F1 analogy was good, although had it been F1, the pit/crew chief would have almost certainly been fired after the last race.

    “Forwards have to be found, and forwards have to be let go” Very true…we need at least two who can score, cause serious hassle for any defense.

    “We need a man to mark the square once and for all”

    Very true…we need a Boss man here. Someone who owns the effing area, and makes no bones about it. Lays down the law, his own law, by his own way. By doing that, such a man will get talked about, be feared by others and ultimately dominate all who come to threaten him, on his front lawn. Suggestions? I’m all ears.

  5. John Cuffe, that is a piece of sheer genius, and I mean that. It is a privilege to have a poster like you on here. The whole thing sums everything up accurately.
    The terrible thing in Mayo is , will anyone heed as they reposition the Red and Green glasses once more. A comment I have heard from so many neutral people, with no axe to grind, “Mayo didn’t play, they didn’t turn up”.
    The question that no one is asking or looking for an answer for is, “WHY?” This is the most important question!!! If we don’t find the answer, we will have many more years in the wilderness, (losing two All Ireland finals is the wilderness).
    I heard a quip last week, “Mayo are going for three in a row, in the wrong direction”. Not nice to hear!!!

  6. Mister Mayor the man to boss the square is Shane McHale Did you ever see a Knockmore man back from anyone ? Incidentally I am not from Knockmore.With Cunniffe and Barret in the corners this line should make life difficult for most.

  7. Here’s my two cents as to WHY?

    I think we have the the coaching, nutrition, strength&conditioning and medical side of things spot on. We are lacking the ability to make crucial in game adjustments which you need to be able to do at the business end, you can get away with it playing poorer opposition but not when it comes down to the crunch.

    As good as James is, and he’s top notch in my opinion. I think he needs a bit of help with in game adjustments.

    Take Gavin, he has 5 lads dotted around Croke Park linked up to him on his Ipad giving him real time stats as to how the game is last 3 kickouts that has gone towards Keegan…word then passed to Cluxton to switch sides. He then, along with his selectors are able to make decisions based on hard evidence.

    If we improve our in game decisions on the line, we’ve a right good chance

  8. No Mister Mayor, it’s not where it’s going, it’s where it’s gone. I asked a long time ago how many men had Horan dotted around the stadium in direct contact with him. This is just basic stuff, give yourself every chance of winning, its 2013 not 1970.

    Maybe he just decided to do what he done in the Tyrone game and “let the lads figure it out for themselves”.

    Mayo need to wake up a bit when it comes to smart tactics or they are wasting their time even trying to win Sam.

    You can’t blame the orchestra if the conductor arrives without his baton.

  9. Sneer all you like, those are facts. We’ve made huge advances in terms of s&c, nutrition in the last few years…I’d say you would have laughed at some of the things being done now if you heard about it a few years ago too. The “there were no hamstrings in my day” brigade has to get with the times.

  10. Joe Mc, isn’t that what we’re all asking and have been asking for years, why, why, why. Sadly that’s the conundrum with Mayo teams, we’re capable of beating the best in the land on our way to the final and then we freeze with the winning post in sight. I’ve no doubt there’s lots of reasons thrown about that might explain our failings on the big occasions. Certainly the lack of fire power up front, and some poor decision making on the sideline, will be two of the reasons on everyone’s list, but I have no doubt that the hype and huge weight of expectation, that comes from the many years of waiting, is the biggest stumbling block that’s preventing us getting over the line – crack this and the sky could be the limit…..

  11. Think you’re still missing it a little lads, not physical. Nothing can function without this !!!

  12. @Alf, jeez relax man..I wasnt havin a go. I happen to live in an area of the world that’s dominated by many professional sports codes, where such things are part and parcel of the game plan…I wasn’t sneering, I was serious.

    Think NFL as in American….in those games, every down, every play is drilled into those teams….nothing and I mean nothing, is left to chance. They use all the advantages they can leverage, including technology such as headphones, iPads, video analysis, etc. Every play is analyzed from the stands; communicated the sideline and adjustments are made instantly.
    Yes, the NFL is a very different game, for instance, the way the plays are called and run etc, but the concept is the same…recognize your or your opponent’s weakness, adjust accordingly and execute immediately!
    Time to get serious about this lads.

  13. Mister Mayor, a question. Could you picture an NFL team not turning up or playing badly in the Superbowl? If so, why, and what would be the repercussions?

    Before anyone comments, I know that they are Professionals but what I am talking about applies to every sportsperson in the world, Amateur and Professional. No exceptions!!!

  14. I would say Horan had no one in the stand.How else could you explain how he left Higgins on the injured O Gara at the end of the game.O Gara could hardly walk never mind run.The likes of o Shea even could have been brought back to allow Higgins to get forward but my guess is Horan was watching where the ball was and that was a long way from where Higgins was I’m afraid.

  15. You can have the best car, best engine and what ever else in the Grand prix, but if you dont have a quality driver you,ll win sweet feck all…….cannot get away from it, game[all ire.] was lost on the line, simply my opinion and if the driver does,t take mistakes on board for next year we will come up short again……………….

  16. Sure Joe, professionals or not, it can happen from time to time. In recent years however, the Super bowls have been competitive, tight affairs with only a FG or TD between the teams (that is btw, one play!).

    Given our situation, I can’t help but draw analogies between us and the Buffalo Bills, more so as long suffering supporters than the actual sports.
    The Buffalo Bills lost four Super bowls, in a row, in the early nineties. Some record! Two of those losses were back to back against Dallas.
    Interestingly, they were considered a great team, their QB was a hero to many (still is, super guy) and their coach at the time, Marv Levy was much loved and didn’t lose his job, even after losing the 4’th super bowl. That was then; this is now…it sure wouldn’t happen today.

  17. Might not be the man to boss the square, but he has been superb at number 6 for Knockmore lately. He could be tried out there at least.

  18. Time to let this go. Seems a lot on here blame Horan and want him to go, I think it would be a mistake.
    Ok he hasn’t delivered the big one yet but he can bring us there as he has proved in the past.
    I think what Joe Mac is alluding to is that the whole squad and JH need the ‘want to win’ mentality and as 2014 beckons ‘failure is not an option’
    The fabric of the side is there, just a few new threads needed.
    MaighEo Abú

  19. Great piece of writing John Cuffe. Maybe a contributing factor to our crash in the 2013 AIF was due to a 62 year old elephant wandering onto the track and then bang. (totally agree with Joe Mc,Mayo McHale ). Maybe we should be in Formula Ford rather than Formula 1.

  20. People this isnt life or death – its only a game. My ego, all too often, identifies with Mayo winning an All Ireland Senior Football title, again. Such an occurance would of course enable me to strut around my adopted county as if I had in some way contributed to the success. in addition I would, no doubt, assume such a success had conferred upon me a superiority vis a vis less successful counties.
    The truth of course is that my mind has once again taken me over to the detriment of other counties’ supporters – I need to rejoice when they win even if its at the expense of my beloved Mayo and therin lies the challenge, alas I havent mastered it yet but it acts as a brake on the excessive highs / lows I experienced throughout the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s Up Mayo

  21. Good comment there Mayo Exile. The mind causes many
    problems, especially when there are none there!!

  22. JJ, I think many people blame Horan for the simple reason that they could not fathom out most of the changes he made and the ones he didn’t make. These questions aren’t just been asked on forums like this but in the media as well.

    If it turns out that he didn’t have watchers in direct communication with him during the game, then this for me would be beyond belief. Perhaps someone who has watched the game since may be able to confirm this, it was obvious Jim Gavin was well wired up.

    These are the simple things that matter on final day, the grains of rice.

    Added to that we have the widespread rumours that all was not well in the camp leading up to the game.

    He then insinuated publicly that the ref told three players that there would be time for another play after the final free and he also had a cheap shot at Jim Gavin which is also well documented.

  23. I accept what you say Tom but i think it will be easier and
    better for the team and all concerned that Horan and the team get
    the chance to learn from mistakes made rather than any extreme
    upheaval in the set up as it is. A few new players is needed to
    bolster our choices and chances but a complete change could set
    everything achieved so far, back years, we are not far away and all
    that’s needed is as Joe Mac stated, the hunger to finish it. A
    hunger that I feel would have been fulfilled if COC had been 100%
    fit for the final, whether it’s a curse or not we were sorely left
    lacking when his shoulder went against Tyrone, I think we all
    worried about this and the imbalance it would cause in the run up
    to the final, I think the team was conscious of it as well , we did
    after all contest an AI final dogged with injuries up front. Any
    way we have to leave it behind us now but in doing so we need to
    learn from it and stop getting in our own way to land Sam. MaighEo

  24. Would be very interesting to know Tom61 how the players feel about their own performance on the day. Regardless of rumours of player decent, or bad calls on the line, these fifteen guys who took to the field would have been as well prepared as any Mayo team gone before. Why so many of them performed way below par when the big prize was there for the taking we’ll never know, but it might be interesting to hear their views on this sometime …

  25. Most of it could be put down to big day nerves, glancing at that big scoreboard when you are a few points up and day dreaming for that split second, or when you are a few points down and contemplating defeat , enough time to make you lose focus and concentration.

    If your mind isn’t right you begin to do very strange things, simple everyday tasks become very difficult. That ball becomes like a bar of soap, the golf club becomes very slippery etc.

    You must think of nothing else only the task put in front of you and you certainly must not go in with the thought of winning, and all that goes with it, that will come in its own time.

    Not everyone will suffer this way, thankfully. Certain players thrive on the big stage but unfortunately we seem to have more than our fair share over the years who have frozen on the big day.

    They go into the game with the best of intentions of course and it would be unfair to criticize any player for being nervous.

    I would be surprised if any player would tell you now that his nervousness had a drastic effect on his performance but the reality is that it does.

    Winning one would change everything.

  26. Well laid out piece John, reinforcing what we already know. Just one quibble with “the grand prix” analogy. In the final can the winning driver finish first even if he’s placed third or fourth, providing he has enough grand prix points gathered from previous races? Mayo freudian slip perhaps?

    I do agree with the tech talk and am a big fan of The NFL. The Patriots have always been my team. In 91, I believe they finished with 1 and 15 season. That’s 1 win and 15 losses, to the man in the street and they didn’t win their first ever superbowl until 01. You gotta start winning sometime, if you’re good enough.

    I do think that on the penultimate day you wouln’t want to many voices shouting in your ear.

    Personally I didn’t need any wires hanging out of me to see that if we can prevent Cluxton from controlling the game we could have won. Kerry did it to some degree in the semi and at times had Clutxon dancing around between the posts like a woman with a weak bladder at the end of a queue for the loo.

    Time will tell. Away to do that Hi Ho thing.

  27. Lads the stats technology is used by the team and James has two stats men feeding info to him from ipads.

  28. The final day has taken on a death wish. My black cat Angel could tell that psychologically we will generally coast to the last day, however she would scratch her head on figuring out that last day freeze.

    Someone needs to get inside heads on that day. A clue over the years I hear is that the various Mayo teams are told they are not like other ones who preceded them…ergo…they don’t have the baggage of final day loss. Not true. Go through the team and its littered with heavy final day loss. Players have ranged between 1-4 All Ireland senior final losses, 1-4 League finals, 1/2 U21 finals, 1/2 Minor finals. I know…yes we won the 2006 U21.

    I used to get cross withe term “bottler” that was insultingly flung at us. However strange as it may seem, it had a kind of comfort. If we could “un-bottle” the final day fall then we would be winners. Now I am afraid we will get the term “flat track bullies”. Flat track bullies steam everything ahead of them…up to a point and then get overtaken for the big rosette. Now that would be a dangerous place to go, a glass ceiling that needs smashing.

    The minor teams of 2008-2009 had me in a quandary. Were they a good team overachieving or a very good team underachieving. I look at the seniors and the same principle applies.

  29. I think we’re at last getting to the main cause of our many losses in finals. It’s difficult enough to beat the opposition on the big day, as every team having gotten this far want to take home the big prize. But on top of all that Mayo teams have to deal with the losers tag that has haunted them over the years, this is in my opinion the biggest challenge now facing them.

  30. Stone Cold Steve Austin, it’s nots stats men with ipads that are needed on All-Ireland final day, its good readers of the game with a better vantage point than the manager, far too little time for stats men compiling data and relaying it to the manager, simple earpiece is all that’s needed.

    Did anyone notice if Horan had an earpiece at all?

  31. The more finals Mayo lose the more the sight of the Green and Red shirts lifts the opposition. Might be time to consider the shirt to at this stage.

  32. Piece in today’s Irish examiner makes it clear Horan will stay. The Ballintubber man met county board officials last week to review the season and will meet with them again tomorrow night in Castlebar where he will discuss next season’s plans.

    Horan’s future in the job has been in doubt since September’s one-point loss to Dublin in the All-Ireland final. However, the Irish Examiner understands he never intended to step down.

    It is believed the various personal issues highlighted as possible impediments to his role were minimal factors and were quickly addressed.

    Speculation grew following last week’s meeting where the issue of his future was not discussed but it is understood both parties believed he wouldremain in the role.

    Tomorrow’s meeting with county board chairman Paddy McNicholas, vice-chairman Mike Connelly, secretary Vincent Neary, treasurer JP Lambe and PRO Aiden McLoughlin will finalise any outstanding issues from last season and centre on the make-up of Horan’s backroom team for next season. This process has been repeated each year of the former All Star’s tenure.

    Horan is also believed to have met with his backroom team at the weekend and is awaiting full confirmation of their availability next season. There are expected to be changes, though as yet it is unclear whether James Nallen, who has given three years’ exceptional service to the set-up, can commit. However the majority of the team, including Donie Buckley, Tom Prendergast and Ed Coughlan, will remain in place.

  33. A month on today and I am still as baffled as I was when the final whistle went.

    What happened? Never have I known such an anti-climax (no smart remarks please) and while I think there was a certain comfort in the past in trying to figure out what went wrong – even last year, it was pretty easy to pinpoint – this year it’s just bewildering, and because we’re back here again so soon, for us as supporters it almost feels pointless (though I don’t believe it is). I still can’t figure out how we didn’t win.

    It’s a welcome development over the last three years to hear us talking about coasting to the final, but that blasted final fence gets us every bloody time. Some thick oaf of a Dub came up to our group after the final and took great joy in shaking his fists while shouting in our faces. “Youse bottlers! Youse handed it to us on a plate!” I was too busy wiping his spit off my cheek to retort or indeed correct his grammar but god, that was the lowest point in a journey that’s had its share of highs and lows. “Bottler” is a phrase I detest – given the work those fellas put in, they don’t deserve that – but watching the last ten minutes, it was like they didn’t realise just how close to their grasp it was (which makes it all the more bewildering).

    Anyway, the news that Horan is pretty much certain to stay on will steady the ship and hopefully apply some balm to the wounds. I hope …

    John, that was a great read and I loved the analogy, even if I did wince more than once.

  34. Dublin have an advantage as they have their men in the stands in the same positions at every league and Championship game in Croke park. Much easier to do in game stat analysis when their is continuity.

  35. Much as I enjoyed your piece John, I think this post is the more relevant one. The problem is psychological.

    Yes, James Horan made some strange decisions as we know, the most damaging being the withdrawal of Freeman and the relocation of Higgins.

    But again I ask the question I asked on here some weeks ago: when Andy Moran got the goal, and the game was level with a full 20 minutes to go, where was the character required to push on and win?

    We can’t be good enough to keep getting to finals, yet not good enough to not win any of them. Whether we like it or not, Mayo teams are flaky on the biggest day and the statistics prove that that reputation is deserved. That is not going to change until a Mayo team collectively man up when the big day comes.

    This team remains very capable and competitive. But we either find a few forwards who are going to stand up like men when the Final is there to be won, or else we keep losing finals and thinking we’re great for getting to them.

  36. Hi Anne-Marie,
    That Dub fan does not represent us all, most of us are okay.


  37. Ann-Marie, he has a point though, surely. FFS 7 finals in 24 years and losing them all. You know, something not right.

  38. Well I know it Martin, and I’d never claim that to be the case. Indeed, and your own posts here in the lead-up and after the final are proof of the fact that genuine supporters behave with a lot more class. Every county has supporters they wouldn’t like representing them, ourselves included. I just happened to run into the latter kind on the day, unfortunately.

    F’deelin, we might have left it behind us, but it’s a horrible term and I wonder how many here would turn around and say that to a player’s face?

  39. Many thanks for your kind response Anne-Marie and you are right every county has fans that would be better off staying at home and shouting at the TV. I know from experience how much losing hurts and its very hard to get over, Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone, Cork they all bet us and bet us easy over the last few years but you guys have a great team and they will be back no doubt. All the best to the Mayo fans….

    Kind Regards,
    Martin the Dub

  40. No i woud be glad for him to stay but he has to acknol. and accept hes made mistakes and learns from them or he,ll end up in the same boat as john maughan…the nearly man.

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