Hello 2017


The sun’s up and shining, a bright blue sky out there on the first day of 2017. Last year and all that happened – as well as all that didn’t happen – is over with, a new year of new possibilities lies undiscovered before us.

It’s a significant year for the blog too because a month from now it’ll be a full ten years on the go. Hold off on the birthday wishes for now, though – I’ll be doing a few things around the start of February to mark this milestone.

With the New Year starting, the action will soon be underway once more. The first Mayo team to take the field in the shiny new jerseys will be Mike Solan’s U21s, who play Derry in the first round of the pre-season North-West Cup. That match is on next Saturday (7th) and it is apparently a home fixture but I can’t find any details of where or when it’s on.

The first senior inter-county match of the year for us takes place this day week, in the form of that hardy January staple of the FBD League. Our opening FBD match this year throws in at MacHale Park at 2pm next Sunday, where NUIG provide the opposition.

The 2016 senior panel are, of course, jetting off shortly for some winter sun in South Africa so the NUIG match next Sunday will provide an opportunity for several fringe players to show what they can do. The first game of the year where the full panel – including, once more, a fit-again Ger Cafferkey – will be available for selection is in a fortnight’s time. That one is against IT Sligo and it throws in at 2pm in James Stephens Park, Ballina.

We go again? No choice but to, I guess.  It’s a new year after all.

43 thoughts on “Hello 2017

  1. First day of the year and even more filled with optimism based on a few things :
    1. The sheer volume and quality of talent we have at under 24.
    2. How competitive we finished the year
    3. The number of people I’m talking to whose attitude is “Let’s roll I can take a lot more”
    More than the senior Fbd and league my big interest are the u21s and Louisburgh for some reason. Just think it would be a great example of a club getting back on it’s feet through hard work if they can make the final.

  2. It’s time to give players like Douglas,Loftus Boland, Kenny,Irwin and Reap lots of gametime. I heard that NUIG have a good team this year and recently got promoted to division1 so we should keep a close eye on how Eoin Ó Donohoe and Adam Gallagher get on.

  3. Happy new year all, sure what else would we be at, there’ll soon be a street in the evenings, fanatics u bet, we are Mayo and we’re in this thing together, maigheoabu

  4. We are Mayo and we havn’t gone away you know.

    Now get out of our way. We are coming through and we wont be stopped. Step aside or be trodden underfoot.

  5. Nice one mayomagic, thanks for that. That’ll kick the year off nicely.

    Happy new year to you all. Despite the misery of the past couple of months, I think the bug is finally back. Mad for road now!

  6. Well I have my winter woollies aired and ready to go! God only knows what 2017 will bring but one thing is for sure – I’ll be there whenever the red and green take to the field.
    Happy new year to WJ and everyone who follow Mayo and still dare to dream.

  7. It’s only a matter of going up and collecting Sam this year no one to beat us!!!
    As well to start the year being optimistic anyway!!!

  8. Sure what else would you be doing on a Sunday,I know I will be there at the weekend supporting the lads again,At this stage it is nearly part of our Religion.

  9. Was hoping the 2 Balla lads Flanagan and Duffy might make the FBD though Duffy still U20 has plenty of time to prove himself with U21s. I have no worries for goalkeeper with Clarke no 1 and Hennelly 2 and Robbie O Malley could challenge both if in the Country. But would have to expect only a season or 2 left for Clarke given the commitment GAA players have to give. And kickouts being such a big part of the game would be good to see if Flanagan can cut it in FBD / league.

  10. Happy to see all the other lads many who have been mentioned on the blog as prospects. Would like to see Akram wing forward as he has serious pace though he might be a bit raw yet it’s more with a view to following season.

    Also I think in league our lack of x factor class in forwards could be resolved by playing either P Durcan or Keith in half forwards during league with the latter as sweeper and as I think his days as corner back are getting numbered. Be good to have more than Kevin Mc ready to fill the role. Durcan also has a serious engine along with his pace and don’t forget Kevin Mc started his Mayo days as a half back. One of those lads in forwards means AOS may have to settle for impact sub role this year.
    Hall reputed to be a real talent of which we have too many in the backs but if he emerges as I suspect he will then it makes sense to convert a back or 2 preferably the paciest of them.
    Irwin is probably the best long range free taker in Mayo and would be serious asset but we’ve had no pure speedster in FF line since Mort. Diarmaid might work. COS seems to need to play further out. Loftus maybe the quickest of the emerging forwards so let’s hope he adds another 10% and becomes a terror to opposition at senior level.

  11. @Shuffly Balla have another young midfielder Colm Murphy he got injured same as Barry Duffy in 2015 against Galway in the 2016 minor championship. He had been going really well in the early season games.
    You don’t mention Rory Byrne who will surely get the Fbd goalkeeping slot.
    Pacy forwards you have Loftus, Reape and Regan. The only defender I’d be comfortable converting is Patrick Durcan. He has accuracy and an unstoppable burst of pace.
    But generally the only experiment I’d like to see this year is Lee Keegan at midfield. We’ve never seen it at county level. He could be our Mattie Donnelly type midfielder.

  12. In keeping with all these positive new year vibes – I predict 2x Senior All Ireland titles by 2020. Our current squad can and will land the big one within the next two years while they still have time on their side. Fast forward to 2020 and at least 12 of the All Ireland winning U21 squad should be established senior players by that stage with the likes of Paddy Durcan, Brendan Harrison, Evan Regan, Conor O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor, Lee Keegan, Aidan O’Shea and Jason Doherty still in the 26-30 age bracket. Who would bet against a team with such a mix talent not winning at least one more ?? Exciting time ahead 🙂

  13. On the goalkeeper, I haven’t seen much club football so not in position to judge Byrne apart from Corofin game where I would say his kick outs aren’t at modern intercounty level. I’ve heard no one critical of his bread and butter goalkeeping but Flanagan may be more dynamic in the long run. Also plays in forwards for Balla and very good there from what I’ve heard. Cluxton has set the bar and it’s a big ask to be both a great Goalie and great at kickouts / frees. Cluxton has retained the later but perhaps not the former attribute. In Clarke we have a fella thats superior in pure goalkeeping. But beyond him Hennelly is very good most but not all of the time and O Malley presumably still abroad so the no 2/3 between Byrne and Flanagan. I expect Hennelly will stay no 2 come summer but Byrne deserves a chance as Flanagan got a try in last year’s FBD. Each could be given a game I’m the league but possibly better as subs if any game already won or lost.

  14. 45 what will decide Mayos faith in the years ahead is how the likes of Colm Boyle,Keith Higgins,Andy Moran etc will be replaced.

    One has to thread very carefully with any underage success as you would be doing well to get 4 or 5 establish seniors out of any successful U21 team nevermind 12 players and don’t forget prior to 2016 Mayos U21s didn’t reach a Connacht final since 2009.

  15. MO2017 – I agree with you fully there as these lads will be a truly incalculable loss to Mayo football when the time comes for them to hang up their boots.

    But if we can maintain our Division 1 status and successfully bring through players like Flanagan, O’Donoghue, Cunniffe, Kenny, Hall, Akram, Coen, Ruane, Plunkett, Irwin, Loftus, O’Connor and possibly a few others (Reape etc. ?) over the next few years then we have all the ingredients keep ourselves in a very good place. Of course, this will all be predicated on also maintaining a top class management team at the helm. These lads are proven winners and there is no doubt that they can replicate their successes at senior level in time to come.

  16. Happy new year to all,
    Mayo will bring the fight again in 2017 I have no doubt, they are a wonderful team and the loss of Last years AIF in the first game was as bewildering as it was heartbreaking from a neutral perspective. Perhaps that team needs a little arrogance in the major Championship clashes, time and time again they have dropped the keys to the door of the keep after battling so savagely to reach it.
    Now the decks are clear and the slate is clean, every man on every team has the same dream, for some that dream will will be over in early summer and for more it will remain alive until late August and for a lucky few ’til September 17th. I wish your great team every good fortune this year and I hope they show that little bit of arrogance and unlock the door to their Valhalla.
    We are very fortunate supporters to be able to enjoy such great days with family and friends. When we look back at our lived lives those days will form strong memories and will build an important life bridge for those that start a new when we reach the autumn of our lives.
    The Dubs have their flag on the summit, now let the games begin and I bid ye every good wish in your province, after that well !!, you know yourself, 2017 is here and the percussion of the war drum can be heard if you listen carefully.

  17. Happy New Year to WJ and all followers of the Green and Red. Nice one Gamechanger you have summed it up perfectly for one and all. Happy New Year to you and all that follow your beloved kingdom. Now 12 senior players from a successful U21 team is a very big ask. I would settle for 4 or 5 at best. But remember there are great options available outside that particular squad.

  18. I hear the senior team are heading to south Africa, does anyone know what city they are going to? Are they going to do any exhibition game or is it just a relaxing break?

  19. Development wise I think we are in for a good period if you look from minor to u21 to Senior. There is now a lot of expertise in place at all three levels. Four levels if you include U16.
    Michael Solan is Barry Solans brother so you would assume that expertise is getting down to U21 in terms of developing the players.
    Damian Gavin the Minor managers is heavily qualified in fitness, coaching and youth development.
    This is all leading into a Senior team that is highly competitive and didn’t have quite that development pipeline from minor/U21 in it’s formation.
    2017 is the first year the 2016 U21’s will be getting close to being match day Seniors.
    2018 you could foresee the toughest it’s ever been competition for places to make the match day 26. Most of the established seniors will still be primed fit and the young players will be around 22-23. There’s a big development difference between a 23 year old player with two seasons on the panel and a fresh onto the panel 21 year old.

  20. It’s not realistic to expect 12 guys in a team to make the jump from u21 to senior. 5 or 6 would be a great return.
    Cillian O’Connor, Brendan Harisson and Paddy Durcan didn’t even win a connacht medal at u21 level so it doesn’t mean everything.

  21. Totally non Mayo related note here – what’s Joe brollys problem with enda mcnulty?? Just read yet another Sunday independent column from Joe bashing mcnulty, I mean I’m not particularly a fan of mcnultys sports psychology approach but he’s trying to make a living at the end of the day, and being constantly ridiculed by a high profile figure has to be rather wearisome after a while? Must be some personal beef there.

    All the more ironic given that Joe made the independent publish an apology to him following a recent critical column by Tommy Conlon about himself in the same paper. Seems to me joes got very thin skin for a man who throws around so much mud at everyone else. I suppose it’s nothing we don’t already know here in Mayo anyway.

  22. A lot of Brolly’s crusades against particular individuals seem to be quite personal. Who becomes obsessed with taking someone down in this manner unless there is something personal going on?

  23. Happy New Year to one and all and particularly to you Willie Joe with a big thank you for the invaluable work you do for Mayo GAA and its football mad supporters.

    We’ve every chance in 2017 so really looking forward to the year ahead. 2016 was a heartbreaking year but it’s done now and no point in looking back apart from lessons that can be learned, Everything else is pointless, Roll on the FBD !

  24. Joe Brolly won his AllIreland in 1993 . He should just shut up and focus on his day job at this stage.

  25. Good stuff there Mac’s… on Brolly’s thin skin.

    Didn’t, couldn’t read his piece on McNulty, coming just a week after his arm twisting of the Sindo on Conlon’s attack. What a society we live in where columnists and media wafflers wield such power.

  26. Happy new year to willie joe ,the contributors and readers of the blog. I am really looking forward to starting off again next sunday.I think that 2017 will finally be mayo’s year to win the sam maguire cup.

  27. Folks, regarding players coming through do we have a potential specialist full-back outside of Cafferky? It’s a key position and we seem a bit short here.

  28. Gamechanger, brilliant comment as usual, you sure you’re not John b keanes’ young lad? Good luck to the kingdom in Munster, and with the help of god one of us will take that flag off them. (Preferably us).

  29. Looking forward to the season ahead. As is customary at this time of year, I try and pick my team for the year ahead (probably a futile exercise). Hopefully we will have Caff back. I think he will come back in to the full back line, thus now we have two specialist man markers (Caff & Harrison). Kevin Mc excelled in the sweeper role, so will probably be asked to fulfill that role again.

    This I hope, will release Higgins further up the field (possibly with Durcan moving to wing forward if none of the younger forwards in the squad establish themselves into the team this year).

    Unsure as to where to station Vaughan (he had a stellar year and really surprised me, he simply has to play if he carries that form into this season).

    Where do we play Aidan O Shea? Maybe a return to his old midfield berth, where he is most effective, though has he got the engine?

    Cillian and Diarmuid are probably our most accurate shooters, we need to get them on the ball in positions where they can shoot from. Diarmuid works so hard in defense (and he is brilliant at it) but he is lethal at the other end. I would like to see Cillian at 11, with Diarmuid playing more of a forward role, as opposed to the all action box to box role.

    One thing that Dublin have mastered is the use of the squad. Every player in their squad is aware that it is a squad game, they may be on the bench but it is for the benefit of the team. There are days when Dublin finish with a stronger team than they start with. This is a huge part of their success. Maybe we need to adopt an approach like that.

    Lots to ponder, but lots to look forward to. Happy new year to all!!

  30. Happy new year everyone and thanks again Willie Joe for running this wonderful blog. Looking forward to Castlebar on Sunday. Just wondering what sort of team will we have out with the majority of the panel in South Africa, hope the lads enjoy their break they deserve it

  31. Cairde Maigh Eo ticket – Check
    Winter coat – check
    Insulated gloves – check
    Double socks – check
    Flask for soup – check
    Mayo scarf – check
    Huge hope – check
    Expectations – no. None. Too battered in previous years

  32. Coog3
    I assure you I am not,, I don’t know who will land the prize but who ever does will have blooded knuckles and a sense of relief at having survived some outrageous battle. These are our games, parish v parish, club v club. The bond or defensive retreat that developes between the competing teams and the expectant or hopeful supporters is somehow divorced when the county colours fly. Then it becomes something different, the guy who’s lights you want to punch out at the local derby becomes an ally and with adrenalin pumping through your veins their previous indiscretions are somehow brushed into some kind of compartmentalised neutral competition zone. Now he or she are you and the men wearing your colours are yours, that is why our games are so tribal.
    I can’t wait,,,

  33. Always enjoy your contributions gamechanger,along with martin the dub and various others from outside our great county best of luck to you all apart from when you are playing our beloved Mayo,it is a great pleasure to meet at matches have wicked banter and shake hands wnen the game is over,it is what makes the gaa,hopefully this will be Mayos year but no pundit or referee will beat us it is in our hands so they must show no mercy to other teams,it is time enough for mercy when the game is over

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