Happy New Year

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The new year is finally with us and, with it, the focus turns forcefully in a forward direction. Last year was what it was, this year is a whole new one, replete with a fresh set of challenges and opportunities.

For the Mayo footballers the first challenge of 2024 – of sorts, as it’s only a pre-season kickabout in the Dome – comes this Sunday. (NOT Saturday as I claimed more than once on the Final Whistle pod recorded after the charity match the other day). London are the opponents for an FBD quarter-final encounter that afternoon, which throws is at Bekan at 1pm.

Tickets for Sunday’s game go on sale online at 3pm today and the link for the Universe platform is here.

Saturday’s charity game is sure to have whetted supporters’ appetites for live inter-county action so there’s likely to be a decent crowd under cover at the game on Sunday.

We’ll be recording our first Final Whistle podcast of 2024 at the Dome on Sunday, just over a week after recording our last one of 2023 at the same venue. It truly is the podcast that never sleeps.

So, for footballer players and supporters, as well as everyone else, it’s all about to start again. Here’s to another year of action, at a time of the year when we’re allowed slightly more fanciful dreams than normal. Happy New Year all.

101 thoughts on “Happy New Year

  1. Best wishes to you John for 2024 and also to all Mayo teams.
    Because of circumstances and living in Dublin, I’ve been unable to attend matches during the old year. The blog and the podcast have been a wonderful way to keep up to date on the goings-on. Míle buíochas!

  2. Happy New Year all and thanks for operating the blog Willie Joe.
    This is my championship team, the team I would pick. My selection criteria :
    1. Consistent players in skills, scoring, passing, rarely below 7/10.
    2. Pace at the highest average level for full game
    3. Physicality and size
    4. An impact bench
    5. Eye on the future
    6. Scores from the half forward line
    Colm Reape
    Jack Coyne Rory Brickendon Eoin O’Donoghue
    Paddy Durcan Diarmuid O’Connor Enda Hession
    David McBrien Jack Carney
    Bob Tuohy. Ryan O’Donoghue Jordan Flynn
    Kevin Quinn. TBC. Tommy Conroy
    Subs :
    Aidan OShea
    Cillian O’Connor
    Stephen Coen
    Eoghan McLoughlin
    Sam Callinane
    Matthew Ruane
    Jordan Flynn scores well at 12 and that is difficult to get.
    Bob Tuohy has a trend of scoring on the burst and he’ll be hard stopped a few months down the line with his big frame and stride.
    I don’t anyone starting who is slow.
    14 jersey is TBC as no candidate has had the game time to grab that jersey yet.
    I like David McBrien at midfield to break lines in modern well setup defences. When David McBrien is on the burst he is our least likely player to get bottled up.
    Breaking lines from midfield is a big thing.
    We need go forward players, there is no room for safe recycling.

  3. Happy New Year Willie Joe – so much thanks for your work, day in day out. Oh, and you’ve a job as well! Truly, we are blessed.

    Interesting team that JP and good arguments. I note FrosTTH’s comments too, and they are not to be dismissed.

    What about Michael Plunkett? He seems to have recovered from injury, but I don’t hear any talk about him. He’s a guy who can score when he moves up the field. Plenty of experience too!

    On Brickenden, is he really the answer at FB? I haven’t seen enough of him overall, but wasn’t very impressed in the county QF against Breaffy. O’Shea was all over him that day. Even the highlights I saw from the Dome, showed Aidan doing some very good things – that flick was a beauty and Hennelly had to make a save for the ages to deny him.

  4. @Catcol

    Plunkett needs game time in the fbd or national league just to show everyone what he can offer again. If we could get him primed for a real cut at 2025, I would consider it a really positive 2024.

    Brickenden needs to establish himself first and foremost as McBrien’s backup at fullback. Once he’s done that we can look at playing them together. With Rory’s pedigree to date he may be able to achieve this over the League campaign, and we could hopefully use Connacht to try McBrien in new positions.

    I think JPs suggestion of midfield is really interesting for McBrien – given how well Donnacha McHugh slotted in there on Saturday – and you would expect David to be able to perform something similar but with the benefits of a few extra years. League might prove a big enough test for Donnacha in 2023 – and giving David that role for a Connacht campaign could prove inspired.

  5. I really think we need to leave David mcbrien at full back where he is a commanding presence. We have not had a commanding full back since Kevin Cahill. I hope kevin Mcstay leaves him there to develop and stop this fannying about moving him to midfield. Full back is a vital position on any team. Happy New year to all.

  6. Happy new year all; best wishes for 2024.

    Agree with that Jimbo. We’ve had an issue with full back throughout the last decade or more. Let’s stick with the man who has had an excellent season there rather than moving him around the field to positions where he is brountried at inter-county level. We’re also likely to be changing up our no. 4 versus last season, which would be another argument for continuity at 3.

  7. @InTheCity

    When you say no. 4, can I ask what exactly you mean here, because although he wasn’t given the jersey towards the end of the season, I’d have Sam Callinan as doing a good job at no. 4 last year; but I’m not entirely sure that’s his best position – whereas someone like Enda Hession has good experience in there already.

    Eoin O’Donoghue, Plunkett and O’Hora have some experience but are maybe unknown quantities under McStay.

    Ciaran Boland is keeping Callinan out of that jersey at club level.

    Guys like Ruairi Keane, Sean Morahan could get some gametime if they do well in training.

    And it might be a jersey you might give to a Donnacha McHugh, just to get him on the pitch to further his development, or a Stephen Coen, if you are trying to get more experience into the backline.

    So maybe that would be my rough outline leading into 2023.

  8. Cheers, FTH. I think we’re saying similar things-the third person in the first choice full back line now might be Callinan but might be someone else; O’Hora started there versus Dublin after all. There’s many, as you mention, who could get a run out in thr league. Whoever starts in the championship, they’ll still be learning the position at inter-county level. This would make moving McBrien an even bigger risk, for me.

  9. @InTheCity

    I agree but this isn’t quite fair;

    “Whoever starts in the championship, they’ll still be learning the position at inter-county level.”

    – O’Hora has an all star in that position, Enda Hession I think a young player of the year nomination, Sam Callinan would have in previous years probably expected one last year, and Plunkett got good time in that jersey in 2021.

    Hession for me has played that left full back line position most impressively for me. There are arguments for pushing either himself or Callinan further forward but I’d be surprised if both of them are accommodated in the half back line.

    O’Hora needs a new role IMO – I think he’s an excellent option to bring off the bench and add a burst of energy to a line of the field.

    If Plunkett gets back in for me it’s probably this 4 jersey, and iirc he was quite effective in shoring up the defence and keeping out goals in 2021 – but for me this is more a spare man at the back job and I’m not convinced that is your number 4 at the business end of the season.

    I’d let Ciaran Boland hold onto that jersey for as long as he can, and a bit like Rory Brickenden and Colm Reape, I’ll have a least idea of what Connacht might look like should they prove successful in their efforts in the league. Goalies are obviously one to one but now reason why Brickenden and McBrien couldn’t each start two games and together in the fifth over the Connacht and group stage games.

    I’d be maybe hoping for something similar from guys like Frank Irwin, Donnacha McHugh, Bob Touhy and maybe even more established players like James Carr.

    I guess I’m breaking the player pool into groups based on their importance and planning my individual trophy campaigns on what these groups need, and hopefully balance success in 2024, with preparing for 2025 and subsequent years.

  10. Happy New Year folks,

    We all start a fresh again and hope to be there come July.

    Mayo will be very dangerous this year I think.

    McStay will have learnt alot last year.

    I said last year that Mayo would win the league but I don’t think Mayo willbe to pushed about the league this year.

    Looking forward to our meeting in Tralee, Always a good night under lights.

  11. Have a good year Willie Joe and try and bring the Mayo seniors with you! I was listening to one of the Brogans (Dublin) on RTE during the week and like all his family members and some RTE commentators, never mentions Mayo connections but instead replaces it with the maternal Kerry side of things. Is this a touch Cromwellian or something else?

  12. Happy New Year Willie Joe and thanks for all your efforts. I won’t make an effort to pick my championship team-too many imponderables for me at the moment. What I would like to see, in the FBD and League is different and new players being tried in positions where we are a bit weak. Brickenden given chances at FB as cover, and if does well, could allow us to try McBrien at CH, another problem position(altho’I would be reluctant to move him from FB, which has been a problem position almost all my life. I would like to Callinan tried at 6 and think he could fit the bill and maybe McHugh. We are really short in midfield, and give game time there to Carney, Tuohy, Irwin and McHugh. Scoring half-forwards are thin on the ground and maybe Touhy, Irwin and try R `O D at CF.

  13. I imagine we will see a host of new faces in the FBD with a sprinkling of established players to guide them.
    The real action will be in the intercounty challenge games, a note of caution on those as they will probably be against division 2 or 3 teams.

  14. After last year I’m not going to be getting excited about league form Sam is where it’s at.. I’m still optimistic as always but I don’t think the league will be on mcstay and the guys top priority. They will want to stay safe so I don’t mind if we loose one or two in league but then go all out for Sam that would make us much happier ha!

    I’d say we will beat Dublin in league Just as revenge for quarters anyway haha. Galway will be interesting as always as the opener ha!

    Anyone know if the London game is on gaa go?

  15. Brickenden is a good option to have back but I’m not sure I can what everyone else here is seeing in terms of him being a nailed on starter and improvement on what’s there.

    A fine athlete alright but I have seen him get plenty of roastings when marking good players, even at club, and I have never seen anything of note from him in his county appearances thus far

    As always, happy to be proven wrong on this.

  16. We spent years putting our best half backs into the full back line. We now finally find a full back who looks like he could be a solid option for the next 10+ years and people want to move him out into the half back line.

  17. We should only be considering moving McBrien from full back, if Rory Brickenden grows into a player who looks a solid option at fullback for the next 5+ years. He needs minutes to do that, and with McBrien’s injury we don’t want to be flogging him too hard too early – as much as he could benefit from another run in the team like last season.

    @Clare – I think it may be on the Connacht GAA website or something like that.

  18. Another man worth a look in around the full back line would be Rouri Keane, especially in fbd outings. I think he could figure for us going forward as could his clubmate Ethan Henry around the middle diamond.

  19. Brickenden has a bit to go yet. Like Supermac said, I’ve not seen anything yet, to suggest he’ll be a starter in 2024. Listening to Boyler recently on breaking through to the senior team, it can take a few years. Brickenden has bulked up and his conditioning has improved. He definitely looks the part now but it’s all about performances. We still need to see him reach a level where he earns the right to be discussed as a starter. I hope he becomes the player we all want him to become.

    I watched all of the match in the dome and he was given MOTM but I don’t know how he got it over others. Yes, he did ok but I was very surprised when he was selected. Good for his morale. This is a big year for him, as it is for several players who have been on the periphery for a season or two.

    What’s the story with Hession and Plunkett?? No sign of them

  20. @2hops, yes Ruairí Keane looks like a traditional defender and worth a shot during find for sure. Henry has loads of ability but his conditioning looks a bit off. He struggled to get into the game the last day.

  21. Keane definitely worth FBD time – I felt he showed well at times on Saturday, but maybe didn’t show the same ability to really influence a game over a protracted period – like Ciaran Boland did in the first half.

    I’d have Boland penciled in for a league run ATM; with maybe Keane and Morahan competing for a look in over the course of the league campaign.

  22. Some of the best corner backs focus 100% on marking their player and keeping him quite and out of the game. We could probably do with at least one of these types of corner backs – specialised man markers. They mightn’t touch the ball 2-3 times during a game.
    We tend to pick too many attacking corner backs who go up the field at every opportunity leaving us wide open then at the back.

  23. Thanks for letting me know @frost the hammer!

    Heard Ryan O D got a knock coming off towards end of charity match anyone know if serious?

    @mayonaze I would say hession & plunkett just not available yet for the time of year was reape wasn’t available either hession is crucial for us so hopefully he avoids injury this year..

  24. If McBreen is a full back and he looks the making of one leave him there for God Sake , enough mistakes made in last few years trying to make Keegan O Hora and others into full backs. If you have a good man for a position leave hime there and find a new man for other problem positions.

  25. Granted @mayonaze the charity game passed them by a little but age profile is good and both had very good club season and we’re top underage county players so it’s there to be rediscovered imo.

  26. There was logic in playing Keegan in some games in the league in the full back line because as our main man marker his man was frequently put to full forward and a huge difference playing in full back and half back lines.
    Lots of lads have changed from half back line to the forwards, eg Andy Moran and 2 we will never forget Brendan Reilly and Colm Coyle for Meath.

  27. @Southmayo Exile – I think the role you are referring to is the kind of one Chris Barrett did so successfully in recent years but I always associate with Tom Cunniffe.

    I’m not entirely sure we know yet which of our young defenders could emerge to fill that void – my jury is still out wrt Coyne, Callinan, McBrien and even Enda Hession – although Enda does look to trending more towards a Keith Higgins type.

    And maybe to shoe horn Eoin O’Donoghue in here, because I think a lot of people are looking at him to perform this role – he’s done well in the past in that role but it’s his contribution with the ball where he has been falling down.

    @Clare – I wouldn’t be too worried about Ryan at present; The impression I’m getting in interviews his like to have the space to give Sigerson a right crack this year.

    Tommy Conroy on the other hand I get the feeling would prefer to focus on Mayo atm.

    @mayonaze – I’d imagine we’ll get at least a brief injury update leading into the London, but it is that time of year where you never really know until you see them on the field.

  28. @frost the hammer good to know..

    Yeah think Tommy conroy is more concentrated on mayo to this year heard him in an interview and he said he couldn’t give his best last year as wasn’t back to his full self after injury and was dissapointed by how we exited and said he’s feeling more confident every match he plays and getting back to his old self after injury..

    We will just have to see how eoin O o’donoghue goes because he’s got no game time at all we can’t judge but it’s great he’s back and putting his hand up to play for mayo!

  29. Southmayoexile – fair point. Every team needs a couple of defenders who thrive off nullifying the forward. That’s their buzz and they can be crucial players. We also need a few lads too who can launch a counter attach, but they have to have pace. In fact, pace is absolutely critical in the modern game; especially in a bigger pitch like Croke Pk!

    Eoghan McLaughlin is a real example. Lightening pace over ten yards and that is a weapon which can open up an opposition. To use a rugby term, a ‘line breaker’. Eoghan gives Mayo that. He needs to fine tune his skills, still. He is prone to giving possession away with a stray pass but can make up for it offensively. For this reason you could see him tried as a roving and defensive wing forward so that if he makes a mistake it’s more likely to be in circumstances where it’s further up the pitch and with more teammates goal side of him. He made a few bursts the last day which really opened up the other side. He can create goal scoring opportunities.

  30. I see the blog is testing positive for the “Feeney-19” virus again, this time its the Brickenden variant. Jesus lads, you’d swear poor Brickenden was pulling up trees in the games he actually played in. I read on another thread he has seirious pace? What is this based on?. Look at the league final in 2022, he was left for dust to every ball. McBrien on all KNOWN form is our starting full back. Finally a FB with great size, speed and likes the pulling and grabbing. If its not broke don’t fix it. Brickenden has alot to prove to push aside McBrien.

    I read alot of optimistic posts after the charity match, to be fair its nice to see new faces and glimmers of hope starting to pop up. But as another poster said, the real season starts in April. Will management learn the lessons from last year?? If a certain natural half forward starts at CHB again, I think i’ll watch cricket for the year!.

  31. Just to clarify my earlier comment, I never suggested that Brickenden should push McBrien out of full-back, as I feel McBrien has the potential to make that spot his own and we hav’nt had a decent FB for 5 decades or more. What I am suggesting is that Brickenden be given game time, especially in the league to see how he fills the role, as if McBrien is out injured for a period, we need have a tried and trusted replacement. Also, perhaps McBrien or, indeed, Brickenden could solve another problem and vital position at CH.

  32. No one is seriously suggesting moving McBrien from full back, unless Brickenden steps up and shows he can perform that role to a high level.

    But at same time, you do need to at least have some idea of what you are going to do should any player exceed or achieve the level you have challenged them to reach.

    Rory Brickenden could be pulling up trees in March, and you cannot simply turn around to him and say “it’s only March and you have already achieved your goals for the year. Put your feet up, and let David take it from here”.

  33. I don’t think anyone was really suggestion moving mcbrien from full back but as frost the hammer said you need to have other ideas and have back ups to.

    I think David mcbrien will be even better this year he’s some player!

    Brickendon has some improving to do and not much game time but I’d say hell make the bench at least.

  34. Brickenden as a squad player sure. No more than the returning EOD, players need to be looked at in the league. Strangely for me I couldn’t give a hoot if we got relegated this year (think its a big possibility), as long as the league is being used in the correct way. Big blocks of hard training in order to have us fresh and raring to go in April. I’d like to see something kept up our sleeve aswell tactics wise. We all know McStay was gung-ho for the league last year. Im hoping he has the sense to keep the powder dry this year. My dream scenario is showing f’all and just about managing to stay up, knowing we will be fresh for the real stuff.

  35. To clarify and I’ll include Lee Keegan in this.
    If we had a line breaking midfielder with size and pace, then I don’t want to move David McBrien out of full back.
    Now, in the modern game, numbers tend to be back, so there is less of the 1 v 1 danger for a full back.
    What I seen last year and what I seen is fatally ignore the positive with Lee Keegan is that a line breaking midfielder is huge.
    The corollary is that not having a linebreaking midfielder results in far too much lateral and backwards passing. It results in less goal opportunities.
    We had David McBrien at full back, Dublin ignored taking him on and still beat us by a big margin.
    What was the two prime reasons for Dublin’s margin?
    1. Too many attacking type defenders around our goal. Both errors were errors that would never be made by in my view a pure stopper defender.
    2. In the second half Mccarthy and Fenton started to rampage and we had no counter point. Our play became very stale, Dublin choked us out of it.
    If we really minimise that defensive blunder weakness with selection and have a runner like David McBrien I see us being more competitive.
    The value of a James Mccarthy is in bursting through the lines and disrupting the set defence.

  36. @Margie

    But playing McBrien at fullback from day one is hardly keeping your “powder dry”.

    If you want to show “f all” in the league, you need to be focused on developing players for the years ahead.

    You are not articulating your points well enough, and as a result your thoughts are coming across as contradictory to the rest of us;

    McBrien number 1, and not prioritising the league; but what does that look like?
    Who will play fullback when we visit Tralee or host the Rossies for example?

  37. BTW just also to comeback to what Southmayo exile posted, I think our best defensive setups have been with a mix of attacking and stopping defenders. For me last year there was only one pure stopper in our defence. That’s too few.
    You need that ‘carry out’ role, and Jack Coyne does that job well. The four absolutely must be a career stopper.
    The six must be a stopper as first role. Dublin and Kerry get this balance right.
    Eoin Murchain is the carry out and Mick Fitzsimmons is the stopper. John Small at six is a stopper.

  38. For me the ideal scenario is get the 6 points safely in the bag as quickly as possible and then experiment properly, unlike last year when we continued to flog the same group week in week out for the duration of league and in to championship . I can’t see this approach repeated this time.

  39. We must at least stay safe in the league this year it gets dangerous when you drop down to division 2 now that the league is connected to Sam mcguire.

    I don’t think we will get relegated we are just as good as any of the teams in division 1 if not better then some of them.

    I think we will beat Dublin, maybe kerry (kerry will be out for revenge ha but then we will beat kerry in championship :p haha ) ,Derry yes Galway and maybe loose to Tyrone.

    I don’t think we will be to bothered about the league this year at all after last year but there is no way mcstay and Co will let us get relegated or they will do their very best to make sure we stay safe and we will we won’t get relegated can’t see that happening.

  40. Would a brief summary be helpful here;

    I have three main discussions occurring on the Blog currently;

    1.) Goalkeeper – largely petering out; Concenus (appears at least): Focus on getting Robbie fit and ready for an AI run in, give Reape the time he needs to develop over the league and early championship, and if the fixtures allow it begin blooding a new young keeper.

    2.) Defensive structures debate, focused on the full back line – still being engaged with – could benefit from some coordination of terminology – a lot of needless comments are created because people are unsure what exactly commenters mean when they use terms like “no. 4” and “Spare man”.

    3.) A more general conversation on the approach we should take for 2024 – seems to be focusing in on a specific approach to the league.

    Hopefully that helps

  41. I’d have start strong and aim for 2 points from the first two league games;
    Write off the Kerry and Tyrone entirely results wise;
    Beat the Rossies;
    2 points from the last two games to stay up; fingers crossed.

  42. @frost the hammer agree with you then we hammer kerry and Tyrone out the gate in championship :p Ok maybe not hammer but beat them well :p haha

  43. @Clare

    If we meet Kerry or Tyrone it’s definitely HAMMER TIME.

    Sorry; I’ve always wanted to say that, and you did tee me up for it.

  44. @JP – Do you mean the league plan?

    I think that Galway is a big game and we can’t be seen to back down. Salthill will make it a lottery though, so we are going to need to field a physically well prepared side, and that’d be a mix of guys coming through the FBD and returning seniors – this isn’t a game for your Paul Toweys; and I’d love to see some like Luke Feeney play a game like this – I think he’ll develop to be a right bull.

    Salthill weather makes the actual result of that game a lottery – but hopefully we can carry a lot of that the fruits of the Galway into the next game, Dublin in Castlebar – strong side maybe 3-4 changes.

    The goal would be two points from these opening games and the two week break; 0 points would be relegation form, 4 possible league final. Draws just make things confusing.

    Next two games are Kerry and Tyrone away and both will almost certainly be spoiled by the weather. I’d actually look to put entirely different 15s out for these two games.

    Roscommon is the third of that run of games and that’s a must win really. We should be aiming for two points from the last two games anyway, and the Roscommon will decide how badly we’re going to need those points.

    That’d be my rough plan ATM.
    I have 6 points that will be decided by the weather, and 8 points that might not.
    6 points to stay up – win 75% of your weather unaffected games. Every point you gain in maelstroms eases the pressure and gives you space to make a mistake, get lucky in them and we could make a League Final, and if we do we go out and try to win the thing – a trophy is a trophy and nobody should be beating us regularly in finals or at Croke Park.

  45. @frost the hammer very funny just realised what I did there haha

    But in all honesty I think we will loose a few games in the league not because we can’t match it better then any team in division 1 we care and can but because the guys will have a learnt a lot from last year so will mcstay and he’s a shrewd manager.

    I think last year mcstay felt he had to prove something from the get go coming into the job.

    Hearing interviews from Ryan O D, Tommy conroy they are still reeling from last year I feel don’t blame I’m sure others in team are to they will stay safe in division 1 and come bouncing in championship and we will at least make a semi I’m pretty optimistic anyway but that has to be the plan….

  46. To give you all a laugh this rossie guy I know asked me on a date I was going to go but then he said mayo are absolutely shite and even worse fans and very entitled I mean now he crossed the line there to be fair hahaha

    @Gizmo ah I’m not worried at all about donegal who did they play? Like letrim in a challenge match I think letrim are hardly Dublin /kerry /ourselves ha wait unt the real stuff happens Jimmy won’t be winning matches… Ha

  47. But armagh have been slipping anyway and they were slipping last year to.. I wouldn’t fear donegal at all!

  48. I looked at the Armagh team and did not recognise any player.
    Having said that I think McGuiness will come up with something new.

  49. I fee we should use FBD and League to try out players and experiment in systems and positions, in so far as possible-this year has to be all about the Championship and everything should be geared towards that. It would be ideal to get a few early wins in the League as that would allow us more scope to experiment, blood new players etc.. Conversely, a few early defeats would leave us under pressure. It is difficult to predict the League-we can win any game and lose any game and many games tend to be close, weather can be a levelling factor as also how seriously each team takes the competition. I think that there is a fair chance that we could be relegated, assuming that we don’t go Gung-ho, like last year and I personally would not lose any sleep if that is the case. The emphasis should be on strengthening the positions where we are weak and improving the depth and standard of the panel.

  50. That was an Armagh under 20 team , even manager was not in Ballybofey, think the senior team had a challenge against Dublin last night. Nothing new from McGuinness in that game.

  51. If it was the armagh under 20 team then I would expect any senior team to beat them as I said wouldn’t be worried doubt donegal won’t make the quarters for Sam to be honest out of ulster making quarters it’ll be Tyrone and derry..

  52. I see off the ball have declared Galway as the team to beat this year before a ball is thrown in. Ger Gilroy thinks they are way better now than they were last year and they will hammer Mayo in the championship.

    Its honestly Rinse and Repeat every year since about 2016

  53. @JKEL88 – the hammer jokes have been going down well so I guess; does Ger know that the Hammer is on Mayo’s side?

    But in general I can where Ger is coming from – if you zoom out and look at the big picture Galway stack up reasonably well to Dublin and Kerry – it’s really us that had the measure of them consistently last year.

    The thing is though Mayo are always the team to watch come, simply because of the correlation between knocking us out of the championship and winning the all Ireland, but if you are a journalist then you can’t just be giving Mayo as your team watch year on year.

    If Galway can just avoid us this year; you would probably expect something similar to our trend, and an exit to the all Ireland champs.

    I’d imagine that if you ran the numbers since 2010 then the most common championship exits for all teams would be something like this;

    1. Defeat to All Ireland champs.
    2. Defeat to Mayo.
    3. Defeat to Kerry.
    4. Defeat to Dublin.

    And as I always like to keep track of who has won our most recent meetings, going into 2024 it’s – Dublin, Roscommon, Monaghan and Longford.

  54. I saw that Armagh team and my instant reaction was; they’re on their team holiday.

    But tbh if they were able to arrange a challenge closer to home, they were probably, at this time of year, right to focus on that.

    Maybe Billy Joe might know if word had leaked out to the locals in advance?

  55. Good to see fans are getting into new-season mode but we seem to be spending a lot of time focusing on keeper and full back……..Two of the few positions that are adequately covered. We have 3 good keepers and a first and second choice full back. Plenty of other areas that are more in need of bolstering

  56. @JKEL88 oh God really…

    Sure Galway where the team to beat last year and oh in the final in 22 but sure they will fall again this year to I’d say.

    I just don’t get the wile thing about Galway overrated team.

    People probably have Galway favourites over us in the first league game but mayo will win it by 5 or so I’d say even in salt hill but weather is a huge factor.

    Wonder how the Donegal & Dublin challenge match went if true??

    Great to see it all kicking off again anyway haha.

  57. @JoeG – which line do you think we should be focusing on? And is the focus there on new faces, or developing what we have?

  58. @Clare

    Galway might have beaten us last year had we allowed an actual game of football to break out.

    As Ger actually always says “Never give a sucker an even break”.

  59. Frost the hammer but they didn’t beat us did they? They lost to us twice and drew in the very first game with us you’d swear Galway had beaten us and won the league the way people go on about them.

    @JKEL88 thanks for the link!

    I’d try and ignore Ger gilroy can’t stand the man if I’m honest he’s always against mayo never gives a chance and writes us off every chance he gets so I’d take that with a pinch of salt!

    There’s no chance Galway would hammer us when have Galway ever hammered us? We have gotten the better of Galway & PJ most times Ger Gilroy has something against mayo and he’d only be delighted and hopeful that Galway would hammer us but he’s dreaming cause that’ll never happen!

  60. @Clare

    Connacht Championship | Preliminary Round
    Galway 2-10 Mayo 0-9
    Pearse Stadium, Galway, 20/5/2007

    But before that it was what I believe was my very first game as a fan;
    Connacht Championship | Final
    Galway 0-17 Mayo 1-7
    St Jarlath’s Park, Tuam, 23/7/1995

    And I still hate the name Val Daly.

    I have Mayo at 7 or more points 4 or 5 times I think over the same period; I’m manually filtering out FBD games.

    With the pick of these;

    Connacht Championship | Quarter-Final
    Galway 0-11 Mayo 4-16
    Pearse Stadium, Galway, 19/5/2013

    National Football League Division 1 | Round 6
    Galway 0-17 Mayo 3-23
    St Jarlath’s Park, Tuam, 18/10/2020

  61. @frost the hammer thanks for that info..

    Yeah like just because Galway made one final in how many years and blew it they are the team to beat??

    Come off it if that was we would be called bottlers. Galway won’t win an all Ireland before mayo and that’s not because I have green & red tinted glasses on haha..

  62. @Clare, The blog appreciates that you stuck to your principles and didn’t go on that date with the Mayo bashing Rossie. Young blogsterr, this is a stripes earned moment 🙂

  63. @JP haha ah thanks thought it was funny ha!

    I honestly think we are a much better team then Galway. Always style of play is pretty boring and tibbe fair mayo are really entertaining & exciting in an open game and when we are at our best..

    Ger Gilroy is an absolute clown he’s a dub liner isn’t he? Typical.. A clown for saying Galway would hammer us sure think he forgot that Galway lost to us twice last year unreal..!

  64. No serious sports media figure would throw around hammer in relation to Galway Mayo the last number of years.
    I would say it’s clickbait commentary really.

  65. @JP for sure definetly is I’d take it with a pinch of salt as I said ha!

    I’d say the weather in salthill around the end of Jan will not be great so it plays a huge factor we need to beat Galway / Dublin for points and to stay safe and for principal reasons to haha but the other games in league I wouldn’t be to worried about the results just get the 6 points as soon as possible.. and then try out players!

  66. I think alot of the national media are growing tired of the mayo story.we simply have to win an all Ireland at this stage to gain any real respect.very little point comparing previous mayo Galway results.they have periods of dominance over each other but it can flip very quickly.Galway got caught messing about in their final group game last year and would have avoided us last year and who knows then .our general performances in last year’s championship was extremely poor and we have to find ball winning midfielders to have any chance this year.Dublin have Brian Fenton as an out ball .Galway have Paul conroy however much longer he plays on but Peter Cooke seems an able replacement.we got absolutely distroyed on kickouts in salthill last year.we played for ten minutes.got ahead and then spent the last few minutes with the ball flying around our penalty area with no one taking command but very often results between mayo and Galway are flipped the following year

  67. @1985, Cooke is a doubt for Galway this year. More likely he’ll be in the US. But they have plenty of players in that middle third, McDaid, Tierney (very good in the air) and a couple of younger lads, MCLoughlin and O’Neill. You’re right, we got cleaned out in midfield last year in Salthill on kickouts. Only for Diarmuid we’d have lost that day. Big question marks over our midfield. We need lads who can win primary possession.

  68. I also heard Cooke might not be available for Galway this year.

    The national media maybe sick of mayos story but by God have we not been entertaining and we never give up either. I don’t care at all anymore I’m sure neither do the players we are all well used to the slaghing by now!

    Yes we need to win an all Ireland to get respect but I don’t care anymore as I said what anyone thinks of us. And so what if media are getting sick of us no reason to say false statements that Galway would hammer us…

    Could say the same about us last year getting caught against Cork if we hadn’t gotten caught
    against Cork it could have been a whole
    difference story.

    Galway were the exact same
    just exusuces saying that about Galway getting
    caught in their final group game your good enough or your not and Galway weren’t good enough last year end of so I don’t see why they are the team to beat.

  69. Claire it’s everyone’s right to have an opinion.if that gilroy lad thinks Galway will hammer us then he is entitled to say that.he may be right and he may be wrong.I am mayo through and through but I can except other opinions .Galway beat us comprehensively in 2007 after we had been in the 2006 all Ireland final.yea it was great to beat Galway twice last year but neither win was exactly convincing where on both occasions we failed to control the final minutes and ended up hanging on for dear life

  70. And I have no reason to make excuses for Galway.we totally collapsed against cork though where as Galway tried to play keep ball in final minute and lost possession

  71. @1985 don’t think I ever said you didn’t have a right to an opinion did I?!! where did I once say you couldn’t have an opinion? Its a blog where everyone can opinions and I certainly never said you couldn’t have an opinion I was simply replying to yours with my own opinion,!!

    Well Galway still lost even though they tried to play their boring style of keep position goes to show they can’t actually play an open game like we can.

  72. And Ger Gilroy can of course say his opinion on mayo like he always says mayo won’t cut it or mayo will get hammered he’s like a clone of Joe brolly. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

  73. Well no you don’t have to like it but making a prediction on a game is hardly making a false statement.maybe he believes that Galway will hammer us this year or maybe he is trying to wind up mayo supporters but who cares

  74. Well saying that Galway would hammer us by no evidence of that at all even from last year is a false statement to me anyway.

    Yeah I don’t care either I’m just saying hi saying Galway would hammer us is over the top that’s all.

  75. FrostTheHammer. I’d say the middle eight needs a fair bit of work. We don’t win enough primary possession or indeed breaking ball. We’re too easily attacked through the central channel. We don’t move the ball forward with speed and fluency and that area hasn’t been giving enough scores other than a few from Jordan Flynn.

  76. Not that one game is ever enough to judge a team and whilst Armagh had a weak side out, I just have a gut feeling that Donegal will cause problems this year.

    Rest assured McGuinness would have weighed up the decision to come back and must have confidence that the players are there for another All Ireland. Donegal already have 2/3 sharp forwards that could trouble any county and no doubt McGuinness will tighten up the defence.

    I reckon a neutral would back Donegal for a tilt at the All Ireland over Mayo if it came to it. There could be one hell of a bounce in the camp with new management and a point to prove after last year. Tbh I’d like to avoid them.

    We know Kerry and Dublin will be there or thereabouts, I think Derry will be competitive and Donegal too. We can be competitive against all of them on our day but can we beat 3 of them to win an AI as the new structure will probably require us to do that??

  77. Question is will mcguinness use the same game plan as last time or has he something else to offer

  78. @Green & Red donegal played an under 20 side for God’s sake.. You’d swear that they played a top team by they way they are going on…

    The Armagh under 20 side did actually quite well against a senior team in fairness to the Armagh under 20 side them you have donegal people saying it was disrespect of armagh to give play an under 20s team it was a challenge match!

    You can’t read anything into those same way you can’t judge the league..

    Ah now a neutral would back donegal over mayo for the all Ireland this year? I don’t know if we will win it this year but cetanily donegal won’t…

    People in donegal seem to think that just cause mcginess is back they will have Sam they are deluded if I’m honest they just don’t have the players since they lost some of their best no way are donegal a better team then us.

    I’d say yes Dublin are ahead of us I’d fear Derry a beat but we could beat them, Tyrone are always off as physical but by God we are not wise then donegal and I know plenty of neutrals who said donegal won’t get to quarters let alone win Sam!

  79. Way too early in the season to be getting wound up about who might be better than who in 6 months time…chill and enjoy fbd and national league and then we can start with the daft predictions , would be my take on it.

  80. I doubt Galway would hammer Mayo, surely the result would probably be a 1 point win or loss. Cooke I believe is gone for 2024 hope not but heard it from a few people. Silke is back as is Molloy and McHugh. Galway were undone by injuries as crucial times last year so Joyce has his excuse but he should not be be flogging Kelly and Comer in meaningless league games. Then giving it away to Armagh while trying to run down the clock shows again they have not learned! I am sceptical he can get the best out of a decent panel in 2024 but I suppose the jury is out and a bad 2024 and Joyce is probably gone.
    We should never have been playing Mayo who gave it everything but came unstuck in the next game which was I think only a week later. I dont think its in Galway or Mayo interests to be putting themselves in the position to basically play a savage Connaught final to progress as the injury and fatigue factor will prevent either advancing much further as seen in Mayo limping out of the championship.
    The league for me is just about avoiding relegation and seeing if we can find players as its just not going to cut it to breeze through the league and fizzle out when it matters. If Galway can limit the injuries and its a big if then we will have a say in the championship.

  81. 1985 – I think a lot of the old structure to McGuinnesses playing style is evident in today’s game. It certainly is with the successful teams. There is a great myth that goes around that Dublin aren’t defensive. By god they are, the difference is the speed of their attack with the ball.

    I think Donegal will be a powerful counter attacking side and will cause a lot of problems too. They’re also in a beneficial position being in Div 2 so Jim will have plenty of time to work out different ideas and players without the fear of being relegated.

    Clare I don’t think you read my first comment at all.

  82. Green and red I agree but the last time mcguinness had Murphy and McFadden up front.I don’t think they have that sort of quality forward presently

  83. Just because I don’t agree with your comment doesn’t mean I didn’t read it… Of course I did.

    Donegal don’t have the players since Michael Murphy left and to say they will cause problems for other teams this year after them beating an under 20 Armagh side in a challenge match is ridiculous.

  84. I think green and red was saying that he wasn’t judging Donegal on one game beating Armagh.it was a general comment

  85. Yeah fair enough that not judging on one game and that. But I just don’t see donegal being a threat this year maybe next year but they don’t have the players in my opinion let’s see how they go but I’d definetly fear Derry or Tyrone or even monaghan over them.

  86. @JoeG

    Deserves a more detailed response, but I think when we got that balance right last year we played good football, and I liked what I saw on Saturday.

    I wanted to see a real pacy new option in the half back line, other than Eoghan McLaughlin – and Fahey might be that.

    I’m entirely sure what jersey he might get, but I was impressed with what Donnacha McHugh brought (and iirc he started in Killarney – possibly his final start,?)

    Bob Touhy continued to show his potential, and Frank Irwin was steady, and from what I’ve gathered from the club championship, he being maintaining a good, but not spectacular level of performance.

    And the number of options we have looks pretty good. There are at least another new 3 options in both the half back and half forward line, that looked FBD ready.

    The All Stars use of Aidan was really interesting.

    The negative would be that doesn’t look like there’s a straight up old school or Brian Fenton like midfielder in there. And right now I wouldn’t rule out seeing Conor O’Shea there again.

  87. I think making predictions at this stage of the season about who is better than and who will beat who is completely pointless, because there are so many unknowns. All we can probably say with any confidence is that Dublin and Kerry will be involved at the business end again. Derry, if the progress and show a bit of improvement have potential and may be the shake-up. For the rest, including Mayo, we really need to wait until the League ends to give us some idea of who other likely contenders might be.

  88. FrostTheHammer. I agree entirely with what you say especially about Fahey who looked impressive. However I’m not convinced we really ever got the balance right last year despite some good looking results in the league and the group game in Killarney because what happened against Roscommon, Louth, Cork and Dublin make the Kerry win look like a bit of a flash in the pan. I genuinely don’t think we’re a million miles away and we certainly seem to have loads of potential but I reckon judgement on how we’re progressing
    should be reserved until the end of the league. We won’t learn much in charity and FBD games in the Dome in January tbh.

  89. Just from what I’ve observed of Donegal over the last threeseasons they are capable of having a competitive team. The forwards are Patrick McBrearty, Oisin Gallen and Michael Langan.
    Then ball carriers in Ryan McHugh, Eoin McHugh, Eoin Ban Gallagher.
    Good man marker in Stephen McNenamin.
    Good goalkeeper in Shaun Patton.
    If Patrick McBrearty is fit he can really lift their forward line.
    Under the radar, but if GAA had a transfer market the really in the know talent scouts would buy three players from Donegal in order.
    1. Oisin Gallen. I’ve followed him, he’s a top forward who can have a big year.
    2. Michael Langan. Adaptable player who can play midfield or half forward and can score.
    3. Eoin Ban Gallagher. He is one of the best defenders in the country.
    Now, where do I think is there likely level? If say in or around top 6. They’ve had a lot of issues having their best 15 on the field. Can be hard shake off that kind of seasonal malaise.

  90. https://www.gaa.ie/football/news/ryan-o-donoghue-positive-about-mayo-s-chances-in-2024/?fbclid=IwAR146aDfd27dUKNWdt71nPceUlBlPoWWfqhGPjGh_QarTzWeCpRrU0fKXBc

    Great article from Ryan O D and one bit from him in it :

    ‘of course I wouldn’t my life on hold and putting everything in mayo if I didn’t think we are one of the top teams in the country’

    He’s spot on we are still one of the top teams even after last year’s dissapointing exit we will come again this year and be at the business end!

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