In the film Heat we have an iconic coming together of two greats in what’s known as the Restaurant Scene. De Niro, the bad guy, Pacino, the cop, come face to face. They talk, the scene is mesmerising. Both, though on opposite sides, have a lot in common. I suspect they even like each other.

Towards the end of that iconic shoot,  Pacino tells his foe that though they broke bread and coffee together, he, Pacino would put him “down” if he had to. De Niro looks back, pauses as he fiddles with a napkin and says that there is another side to that coin. What if he, De Niro, is cornered: what will he do? Looking Al in the eye, Robert says that yes, they talked like two old buddies, but if it was a choice of jail and freedom, Pacino the cop would go down.

We are in the restaurant scene now. We have spoken and taken action, we have given it our best shot. So too have Dublin.

Sunday September 18th was the most surreal day ever for me. We witnessed a battle that will in time be seen across the ages as mighty. We never flinched. The announcement of seven additional minutes had all the Mayos in my section standing up. We believed we wouldn’t lose.

Now we must believe we will win. Dublin got the other side of De Niro’s coin. They threw the sink at us – yes, they did. We grabbed it and flung it back. The photo that summed it all up for me wasn’t Connolly’s  torn  jersey, or Boyle’s airborne tackle on Small, it was Diarmuid O’Connor dragging the same Dublin player away from the crash zone. The look on his face, the grip of his hands showed he was in town for war.

Photo: Western People/David Farrell

Dublin in those last surreal moments took on the faded colour and pallor of the condemned man. They paled visibly in front of us. History was been made by us as it was being snatched from them. The ropes saved them from crashing out of the ring. The leaden heavy grey sky mirrored their inner turmoil.

However come Saturday next all that counts for nothing. Alan Brogan thinks that the bear was poked. Really, Alan – which one. Dublin is it? His inference being that they will fire on all cylinders and correct the wrong they see visited upon them. If only it were that easy, son.

I spent the last year as Doubting Thomas Cuffe, awaiting the crack, awaiting the edifice called Mayo to crumble. A moderate league gave credence to my theory. Galway went a long way proving it.

And then a strange thing happened. No, Mayo didn’t explode into technicolor brilliance. Instead they spluttered along like a dodgy engine bringing you home with the dashboard lights dimming by the moment. But the old engine got you home.

Eamonn O’Hara said if Mayo beat Tyrone then Tipperary would be in the All-Ireland final.  The old engine chugged along, Dillon at 3 to add to the confusion, really no full-back. A meltdown of seismic proportions for Mickey Harte, Sean Cavanagh and Tyrone saw Mayo prevail. O’Hara’s prophecy was shredded as Mayo did just enough to oust Tipperary where again our capacity to play a false full-back flummoxed the best of their brains.

Kerry and Dublin played a classic, according to the Dublin and Kerry press luvvies. That was the “real” final.  Only Mayo once more refused to play Patsy to the on rushing Blue Wave. Ground was stood, hits given and taken, jerseys sundered and bones crunched. When the dust settled , or in this case, the mist cleared, awkward and ugly Mayo still stood … unbowed.

Saturday the sink will be flung once more. Like a disrespected Don, like a scorned lover, Dublin will be in from the start. Brogan, McManamon, Flynn and MDMA will be smarting from the short crook and hook. Philly didn’t really feature the last day. So be prepared from the off. It won’t be pretty.

This is where the management team earn their corn. It is my belief that the core that drives the team comes from within the player group themselves. So we come with something that cannot be bought – balls and guts. Dublin’s midfield got the upper hand the last day: that’s not a criticism, it’s a fact. We need to nullify that area.

Our kick-out strategy gives them a 50% chance on most restarts. High and hanging like the ones in the last fifteen minutes the last day will kill us on Saturday. We have to eradicate that.

Yes, our goalie made great saves. I would expect no less – it’s his job. The two ping-pong own goals came from not having a designated 3 bossing the square. Look back at the photos. The keeper is out after making great saves but our entire back line is running inwards.

With both sides looking for those invisible inches and with Dublin expected to find them, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were the ones to pose the questions? Remember two mighty fetches by Big Barry against Tipperary at a crucial stage: they sapped the Munster men. Recall the deployment of Dillon against Tyrone and their inability to figure what the hell was happening.

Dublin have the benefit of 78 minutes against us to right it. We have the same amount of minutes to look back on too.

Cody, Boylan, Loughnane and a younger Harte pulled the magical rabbit out when needed. We need the same conjuring trick. This replay will be won not be changing the aftershave but by wearing a new suit of clothes.


Photo: MichaelMaye.com

The heat is on. We have spoken and met. We have done battle. On Saturday we go to war again and to end it once and for all. May all who sail on our good ship find then what we most desire.

64 thoughts on “Heat

  1. Ok . Last post from me until after saturday . Firstly thanks WJ for all your work on the blog. These are special times for Mayo football . I won’t get into match ups or analysing . I just want to say that I am so proud of this group of lads and as someone living outside the county so proud of my home county . I believe we as supporters have matured so much through experience and disappointment , both of which makes us stronger . Next saturday I think we have to get behind this special group like never before !. Things will go against us and Dublin will have their periods of dominance. Maybe we will get that bit of luck sometimes needed to win an All Ireland but please let’s play our part not just for us but for former players and officials but also those who didn’t live to get this opportunity that we have next saturday, . Best of luck on the ticket hunt and safe journey to all. Mayo forever !

  2. It’s from a song:

    So boys cling together in all kinds of weather
    ‘Don’t show the white feather’ wherever you go
    be like a brother and help one another
    like the true hearted men from the County Mayo

  3. Watched match again tonight. We need to tighten up at back, Dubs walked through us in first half. Clarke kept us in game. Would put Keane in at FB. Aidan needs a big game. A lot more composure required up front. Brogran was terrible, can’t see him starting next day. Some sensational rumours circulating about trouble in Dublin camp tonight.

  4. Just outside ballagh can you elaborate on these rumours?
    Would it be to do with Kilkenny and Connolly arguing over sideline at end?

  5. Steady on, justoutsideballagh – while I’m less concerned about rumours relating to the opposition being mentioned here, this really isn’t the place for repeating unfounded tittle-tattle so unless you have some solid corroboration for any such claim it might be as well to leave it there. Not least given that it could be a story being put about deliberately, as the Kerry lads are so often wont to do.

  6. There was wild rumours circulating about Mayo team after defeat to Galway so sometimes rumours can galvanise a team!!!

  7. Ok WJ, far more serious stuff than that but will wait and see if it becomes fact as opposed to a well sourced rumour at this point

  8. dublin ain’t as hot as they were. There scoring records show that. Brogan this time last year scored 5.16. This year it’s 1.9. Hard to keep it up year on year. We need to work on our own game. I want to know how much trouble can we bring to Dublin camp on Saturday. Their midfielders cannot be left untracked.

    I believe if will be tight game again. Our games with dublin usually are. Let’s get our own house in order and give it one hell of a lash. We can do it. We will do it. Composure composure please while in possession. No need to try impossible passes. Recycle. Keep control. Collect sam.

  9. Never mind rumours. There us a well known fact circulating in the dublin camp that mayo are coming for sam and won’t say no. Fact Willie Joe ?

  10. Even if these rumours you speak of are true nobody is going to get carried away. I say it’s mind games anyway. We need to stay focused no matter what, and not get excited about what’s happening with the opposition. It’s absolutely irrelevant whatever is going on with them. F*ck them. F*ck the media. F*ck everyone who wants to see us fail. Let’s show them next Saturday what we’re made of.

  11. Can we save the sensational for our performance on Saturday!!Love a bit of news as much as the next person ( if not more)but let’s stick to our own and ignore those outside the bubble..

  12. Apologies John..should have complimented your piece before I started gibbering about rumours..Sums up eloquently our season so far..

  13. We should know our fair share about bollocks rumours at this point lads. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a heated exchange of words in the Dublin dressing room after last weekend, but I’d take any rumours of proper serious trouble with a pinch of salt.

  14. Balls guts……..and hunger. The latter is a big factor!.
    By the way someone posted on here about the Dublin jerseys tearing easy. I didn’t take it seriously but if you look at this photo plus Connolly I am becoming to wonder

  15. Wonderful article John Cuffe….great build up and punch throughout.
    The most pleasing aspects of our performance last week were the immense step up in the tackle and the ability to get the ball forward.
    A bit more precision and timing and we can be readying for the greatest invasion of that Holy Ground ever seen!

  16. The next day I’d love to see more of those low passes. Colm Boyle had a nice one. Parsons had a few. Aidan setup Donie. We have the players who can show well and win ball.
    I think we will run our bench 5 minutes earlier.
    In the middle of the second half I thought we were letting them out 5% easier from defence. Lads were tired. Likes of Stephen Coen and Conor OShea can bring a bit of pace in around the 55 min mark.

  17. Time to start ramping up the supporters again. Dubs were really put out with our display from the stands last time out. Need to replicate that or go beyond it if we can.

  18. WeareMayo
    Ceide Fields, five and a half millennia old
    Great Famine 1845 -population of Mayo fell by 30%, over 100,000 died in Mayo
    Michael Davitt 1879- National Land League of Mayo was formed- The famine was reported then to be even worse than in 1845
    Emigration- from 1926 until 1956 the population of Mayo dropped from 172,000 to 133,000
    International Airport -1986 Monsignor Horan
    Mary Robinson, first female president of Ireland -1990
    Against all types of adversity Mayo will always come through and this will be the case on Saturday 1st October 2016. Why? Because WeareMayo.

  19. Weather forecast at this point is for heavy rain on Sat. That said I really am amused at national journalist “experts” saying Mayo should be praying for rain.

  20. John,always enjoy your excellent piece,this is up with your best,I believe we have the brightest young manager around in Stephen,but also very strong willed,because he got someone as strong as himself to back him up,I kept the faith all through,and am not going to lose it now,when a team pass their peak they drop very quickly,Kerry eighty two,Galway sixty seven,Dublin are past their peak,Mayo by at least six

  21. Rumour going round the Dublin camp is that their fans are flakey and even the thought of rain is freaking them out.

  22. And Grainne Uaile and St Patrick, the mountains hills rivers and lakes and the Greenways, beaches rocks and cliffs, the byways and the bogs, the headlands and the inlets,the plains , the bay’s and the seas. They all yell out for a great brat of green and red to cover all of this land.

  23. I agree I think the supporters really need to rally and we should aim to go beyond last time!
    Think it was Tomas O Sé that said in his article that one of the differences with the replay is the when you get to the park it’s empty as no minor game etc . . Hopefully all the Mayo support will in well on time to shout the men onto the pitch. Maigheo go Deo.

  24. Yet again another excellent piece by John Cuffe. I always enjoy your contributions John and the skilled way you put your thoughts to words. A gift indeed.

    I’m not for budging on my long held belief that we will win on Saturday. These lads will not be beaten, no matter what. We’ve had enough of hard-luck, patronizing pats on the back from the media “experts”, people telling us that they’d all love to see us win it, etc etc. All that counts for nothing. That’s all bullshit. Deserve has nothing to do with it. Wanting it, has nothing to do with it. You have to go and fucking TAKE IT! You have to do whatever it takes to win it because It’s not going to be handed to you. Our lads are prepared to do that.

    That cursed cup will be raised aloft a Mayo mans head come Saturday evening. Hail, rain or shine.

  25. Stay low, Go fast
    Kill first, Die last,
    One shot, One kill
    No luck, All skill

    That picture is my screen saver…

  26. Some find John Cuffe a bit gloomy but not me. One of the finest contributors here and today’s piece up to his usual standard of excellence.

  27. The rain didn’t seem to bother Dublin last year when the beat Kerry in the final.
    Rain hail or shine won’t favour one team over the other.

    If a couple of our players step up by 5%-10% then we have a great chance of ending the long barren spell.
    It’s close I feel.
    Don’t fear the dubs at all.
    I was in the hill last week & the supporters were really shocked at how many Mayo people were in the Hill.
    Our support there & all around the stadium really affected their supporters.
    Make no doubt they fear us unlike most other counties.

  28. The day is nearing and the excitement is palpable in all corners of the country. This is a strange Final as the entire country have an increased level of interest in its outcome. I would think that all GAA folk outside of Dublin want Mayo to crash through this God damn sixty five year old glass ceiling and march from Crole Park to Croagh Patrick with Sam Maguire in their fist and put it down at the top of the reek so all of Mayo celebrate as one.

    Like all All Ireland winners Mayo will need to sweet talk Lady Luck as very few finals are won without her. I’m not sure if it was the pressure of the final or whether Dean Rock just had an off day but it is highly unlikely he will be as bad next Saturday, I’m not sure what he missed but if he only got a 50% return it would almost have negated the requirement of Mayos freakish own goals to get the Dubs to the finishing line. Mayo will have to be careful with their tackling and Rock will not be the only Dub who thinks he has a point to prove on Saturday.

    I’m sure that some here would prefer a dry day but I hope it’s anything but, the dubs have six very stylish forwards that will hurt any team if things go their way and a wet day will favour the backs (on both sides) and require players to fight on their backs to win. Mayo hit the dubs on the 18th like a freight train and they didn’t know how to respond, to fail to register a score for over thirty minutes was unbelievable and Mayo had a bus say in that failure but nonetheless the dubs created several dangerous opportunities.

    Point I’m making is the dubs probably have the best forward unit in Ireland when their team support them in the way they do, Mayo too have great forwards but they are not as dangerous as dublins, simple as. For this reason I believe if Mayo slow down the pace of the game and hit them as hard as the rules allow in the tackle it will unsettle them and allow ye to start dictating the game. The dubs are great at that very facet of the game and run opposition tagged when they have the reigns in their hands, Connolly and young Fenton are leaders and Fenton kept them in the game in the drawn game. Personally I think he is by far and away the best midfielder in the country. Perhaps a curveball like starting Conor O Shea on him with the specific task of doing a Lee Keegan on him would nullify his influence.

    Anyway I wish ye well and I hope ye get this campaign over the line, 65 years is a long time and these great players won’t need the bugle boy to sound the retreat as we all know. I hope Lady Luck is as kind to ye on Saturday as he was to the Dubs on the 18th. as Padi used to say “a grain of rice will tip the scales” so every action and reaction results in a conclusion. One point will win the game and that will do me fine!! Good luck and safe journey to all.

  29. Gamechanger I’m not sure that Rock had such a bad day rather the frees he was getting were not in his favoured spot of 20 yards in front of the posts.
    What he did get was outside of his range and he was forced to shoot as when outside if his range he usually goes short and passes it to one of his team mates. That avenue was shut down for him on the day and he was forced to shoot. It did really show him up and no doubt missing those sapped his confidence a bit and probably put him off his game a little.
    If you look at where he has been taking his scores from, i think you’ll note that his stat of 93% could quite probably be replicated by any other decent free taker in the country if they were to get as many from the same positions.
    Mayo did not concede many frees within his scoring range and there his much vaunted scoring prowess was worthless as he had to kick from a bigger distance and at angles, not straight in front of the posts.
    While conditions will have some impact, I think he was found out a little on the day.

  30. Nice post Gamechanger. Yer not alone on that Conor OShea idea. But he hasnt had a start in the major games so far. I think he would have came on the last day but Dillon got injured using a sub. I see Conor OShea as a big threat late on. With ball in hand he is quick for a big man. He can shoot with either foot on the run. Late on he could really tip that scale in the final 15 minutes.
    I like the idea of hard driving versatile footballers like Coen and OShea being used late on. They can catch kickouts, pass, tackle hard and take an odd score.

  31. Inbetweener, Grainne Uaile, what was so good about her?. She done the bidding for Elizabeth the first of England, for her own enrichment,and the impoverishment of. the people of Mayo. Her descendants, enriched themselves further by engaging in the ‘Slave trade’ “bringing slaves from West Africa to the New World. Her. direct dependant.’ Dennis the Rope’ ‘had hundreds of’ United Irish Men: hung.. That’s the facts… . Mayo have their heroes and heroines,.. But unfortunately we. also produced, murderers and villans. In the case of Grainne Uaile, her deeds were detrimental to the ordinary people of. Mayo,.Facts are Facts!

  32. He knocked over 8 frees and two 45s against Kerry, I know a few of those frees were tappovers but his kicking was top class, I think he only missed one. Against ye I think he only scored from one dead ball and in any mans language that’s a bad day at the office. I won’t shed any tears if he stinks out Croke Park on Saturday evening but I’ll put my house on a massive improvement from him and one or two more as well.

  33. Agree Rock will be more on song as will the rest of the dub forwards. Expect a backlash.

    I don’t see the weather being as much a factor. Everyone saying Mayo need a wet pitch meaning if it’s dry they’ll be psyched up to prove doubters wrong and equally, the dubs will want to show they can play in the rain!!

  34. What struck me most about Rock’s kicking during the drawn game was the way he seemed to “stab” at the ball, moreso than following through, as would be his usual style.

    This could partly be down to the conditions (and not wanting to slip and fall on his arse), or because he was carrying a small knock (the strapping on his knee was telling in this regard).

    Woeful start aside, he finished up with 0-4, Three frees and one from play.

    Having watched the game a few times (and often still none the wiser as to what was going on), I can say that both sides need to sharpen up on tackling – there was some reckless stuff going on. By my reckoning, there could have been 4 or 5 black cards handed out.

    It’s a point of improvement relevant to both camps.

  35. Agree with that Jaden and theres every possibility someone will get the line in the first 20 minutes the next day

  36. I dont agree that Rock had a bad day at all. The frees he missed were not in a good position, this was down to the impressive defensive display from Mayo, which I expect again this weekend. In open play I think Rock is average enough and is the weakest of the Dublin Forwards. If Cluxton could still hit the long range frees id expect Rock to be still sitting on the bench.

    Dublin will be better the next day going forward (not that much better though) as I expect Andrews to start with McManaman back to super sub Status. I dont see a big improvemnet form Rock unless Mayo revert to conceeding soft scorable frees.

  37. Well researched Leantimes and regardless of what is believed she got up to or digging more deeply and exposing her complete life’s work,it always appeared to me that she was quite a gal…fact!!! and that she de hardly be satisfied to continue on in her times merely competing and being handed scraps from anybody’s table. Grainne would have grabbed all and shagged off! Just the spirit we could do with on Saturday!

  38. If ever there’s a bad day to learn something WJ I haven’t met it. This is more than a blog, it’s a lifestyle.

  39. I fully agree with FDB and Mayomad as regards the worth of the boy Rock. He’s been part of a team that’s been organised to work well together for quite a while.Its what has them where they are …still on the top! Their teamwork covers up much of the imperfection that surfaces in individuals who are ploughing away on their own! The above posters are pointing to the fact that the Mayo Men got into the Dub engine room and disabled some of the constituent parts.
    Sat, we need that door broken down and all within flithered!!
    C’mon , The Mayo Men!

  40. Willie Joe and Inbetweener, All this history will have no revalance at all on Saturday evening. It’s time for some ‘Real Hero’s & Real Heroics’ We will support our ‘Army’ just as we did on. Sunday 18th September, only we too will have to be even louder, if that’s possible. The noise level and support was something to behold that day. Keep our powder dry until 4.50 pm on Saturday, then! Explosions of noise and colour, Our warriors on the pitch, using ‘Head & Heart’ “will do the rest. Com’on Mayo!

  41. Tell me about it, Liam! You’re right of course on the point about learning something new every day. Or, as the old saying goes, the longer you live the more you eat.

  42. On the tackling, I have watched the game back twice now and I cannot see much difference in out tackling on Sunday and that in the Tyrone and tipp game where the ref couldn’t keep his whistle out of his mouth. Now I would def be on the side of lane here although he did miss some obvious stuff.

  43. Great piece John and the start of that film may be a bit like the collisions we can expect in the first quarter on Sunday. We have been warned about Fenton so I expect a strong response. Something from Left- field is needed to throw the Dubs off course and I think Rochford and his right hand man can deliver this. Being too predictable has been our downfall too often.

  44. Super stuff John. Always a treat to sit down and read your writings. I enjoyed the piece in the Western too.

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