Holiday postcard 4: the team

PlaneWe’ve got to that point in the holiday where we’re thinking about those end-of-holiday issues like packing the suitcases, booking the taxi to the airport and wondering if the return flight will be delayed like the one on the way out was. In other words, our Italian sojourn is almost over and, by extension, the Connacht final is almost upon us.

As everyone knows, you can’t really have a Connacht final without a team announcement and the team has just been announced. Here it is:

MAYO (Connacht SFC final v Galway, 19/7/2009): Kenneth O’Malley; Liam O’Malley, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Peadar Gardiner, Trevor Howley, Andy Moran; David Heaney, Ronan McGarrity; Pat Harte, Trevor Mortimer, Alan Dillon; Aidan Kilcoyne, Barry Moran, Aidan O’Shea.

So, as you can see, those rumours about Ronan taking part in training over the weekend and being okay to play on Sunday were correct. He’s named to start in midfield in a team that’s the same as the one that was announced in advance of the Roscommon game. On that occasion, of course, Liam O’Malley failed a fitness test so Donal Vaughan started instead of him and the Burrishoole man will, I understand, need to undergo another such test prior to throw-in on Sunday. Unsurprisingly, Ronan will need to do the same and I guess if he’s cleared for take-off at that point, he might need to play with some kind of face protection gear.

Ronan’s return to action is a pretty sensational development (albeit a well trailed one) and, even if he doesn’t line out, the knowledge that he’s there in reserve (which I guess might be what happens in practice) will strengthen our hand in Salthill quite significantly. In contrast, Liam O’Malley’s return to the starting fifteen is no great surprise and, of course, if he’s not fit to line out then Donal Vaughan will, as he showed against Roscommon, be a more than adequate replacement. Barry Moran’s injury scare turned out to be no more than that and so the Twin Towers get another run-out, with Aidan Kilcoyne rewarded for his blistering opening 15 minutes in McHale Park by keeping his place in the corner to the exclusion of Conor.

In summary, then, it’s minimal change from the Roscommon game, which I guess is only to be expected after such a result the last day. Needless to say, there’ll be all kinds of Galway-centric match-ups to be sorted out on the day, most notably the one that’ll surely see Keith Higgins picking up Meehan, but we can wait till the day itself to see how these sub-plots unfold.

While we’re on the topic of teams, the minor side to face Roscommon in the curtain-raiser at Pearse Stadium on Sunday has also been announced this evening. Here it is:

MAYO (Connacht MFC final v Roscommon, 19/7/2009): Michael Slingerman; Michael Walsh, Keith Rogers, Dean Gavin; Keelan Crowe, Shane McDermott, Ciaran Charlton; Danny Kirby, Alex Corduff; Andrew Farrell, Darren Coen, Fergal Durkin; Brian Ruttledge, Aidan Walsh (captain), Cillian O’Connor.

That’s your lot: I’m now off to enjoy the small sliver of time that’s left of the holidays. Talk to you again as soon as that Northern rain has started to fall on my shoulders once more.

10 thoughts on “Holiday postcard 4: the team

  1. great stuff wj how you get your hands on these pieces of information so quckly is unbelievable..harsh on donal vaughan i feel,its sh*t or bust for trevor howely..Rumour has it dillon is a doubt?? any one have ant updates

  2. Its going to be tight! Afraid to call it…
    Heard John Duggan on the radio this morning predicting Mayo as dark horses for the all-ireland. That kind of talk does us no good. We havnt had a proper game yet!

  3. apparrently mc garrity definitely in and o malley defo out.. word has it james nallen to be recalled??

  4. Its important to consider the form in 2009 for both teams. We finished the league stronger than they did and looked more impressive in the Semi. Would we have looked as poor against Sligo as they did? I doubt it.

    While challenge matches cannot be relied on our performance against Dublin in May looks more impressive with each Dublin win.

    So on the 2009 form we should win, narrowly. However if they get back to the kind of performance they had against Kerry last August (doubtful though), we will be in trouble.

  5. Any news on the Galway team yet. Rumors around that Declan Meehan was named in there full foward line.

  6. Galway (SF v Mayo): A Faherty; N Coyne, F Hanley, D Burke; G Bradshaw, D Blake, G Sice; P Conroy, N Coleman; J Bergin, P Joyce, N Joyce; S Armstrong, M Meehan, D Meehan. (From Galway hoganstand site)
    spot on mossy that forward 6 look impressive we have it all to do I just hope Mc G is fit to play a meaningful part we will need to be at full tilt for this one

  7. I would say that D Meehan will drop back and act as a sweeper infront of our full foward line. Galway are worried about our big FF line. this will leave more room for Meehan and armstrong in the FF line.

  8. In trying to come up with a sensible assessment of our chances on Sunday, I got a chance to have another look at the Sligo/Galway game. A few interesting things were extracted from this.

    Firstly, Galway only caught 3 clean balls at centerfield in the entire game. On kick outs, Sligo won most of them, particularly in the first half. In general, centre field possession was second phase and broke about 60/40 in favour of Sligo. Secondly, the busiest man on the field – by a long shot – was Joe Bergin. He had a hand in several of Galway’s attacks. Next in terms of possession were Armstrong and P Joyce. Ironically, O’Donnell was equal in terms of possession with Bergin up until he got his straight red. Thirdly, Galway passed the ball twice as much with foot passes as they did with hand passes- though the hand pass came into play more in he second half. Only one score was fisted. Of the passes made, about 85% of them were completed. With this in mind, it was surprising that free taking by Galway out the field was alarmly wayward. One sideline and six frees were kicked straight back to Sligo men.

    Fourthly, Galway gave away twice as many frees as Sligo in the first half. This was reversed in the second half. Fifthly, despite the fact that 13 out of Galway’s starting 15 were over six foot, high balls into the small Sligo full forward line often broke even.
    Finally, the Galway forwards were very fast on the ball and played a 2 man FF line for long periods of the game. As a result, there was lots of room whenever a Galway forward was one on one with his marker, usually resulting in a Galway score.

    So what does all of that mean in terms of next Sunday?

    Well, it shows that having a high fielder in centrefield would potentially result in a lot of possession which could quickly become route one ball into the Mayo FF line. If Ronan is fit, he will be the man for this job. If not, then Harte maybe is the man (as suggested by Willie Joe). Heaney is the ideal man for winning the loose ball in this sector, but if we add in the tidy up role that Harte usually plays we would would really tie up the sector. If we need someone else in this tidy up role then Willie Joe’s suggestion of using BJP is right on the money. Like a previous contributor, I expect D Meehan to operate very deep to close down the space available to Killer and Dillon. I’m not too concerned about this as we can also run at them and Galway were clearly uncomfortable with Sligo attacking like this.

    The Galway forwards need close marking. P Joyce is not as fast on longer attacking runs as he used to be, but he is very quick over 10 yards, and that is enough to leave his marker behind. Armstrong was good against Sligo, but the marking (or total lack thereof) for the goal at the end, makes you wonder how good he would be if he was really tightly marked. M Meehan got 2 points from play (and 2 from frees) and he seemed to be unsure of where he was playing.

    So they are a strange sort of outfit. They don’t have a big full forward though Bergin (6’4”) drifted in there a few times and they have a tendency to entirely rotate the six forwards at times. However, I think that such a tactic confused themselves more than Sligo.
    So who should pick up who?

    Well, Keith is a good man on M Meehan, I would put Liam O’Malley on Nicky Joyce and Gardiner on Bergin (he is good on wandering playmakers – ask Brian Dooher!). Cafferkey is the man for Armstrong and Howley for P Joyce. I would assign Andy to D Meehan with strict instructions not to follow him beyond midfield. If Meehan then decides to set up camp on our 20 metre line, then I would be inclined to think that (as he is 5’8”) we should persist in the tactic of raining down high balls on our two big lads. Holding Andy behind midfield would ensure that the one to one situations that can be so damaging would be greatly reduced.

    To be honest, I think we can cover most of the options that Galway can produce. Short of the onset of a crisis of confidence, I think that we have enough firepower to see them off. But they are a proud county, they are at home and they will raise their game for us. Most of the games between us are close affairs, but like most people I am hopeful that our lads tear into them from the start and throw everything that we have at them. If we have any notions of playing football into the late summer, we should play with confidence.

    And a word to the supporters. Last year in McHale Park, the Mayo crowd was more nervous than the visitors. This year, we need to get behind the team and let them know what it means to all of us. The last time we played here in the championship, we went away quietly with out spirits down. Let’s make sure we go away this time as Connaught champions, with everyone knowing that we’re no soft touch and that Mayo football is the standard to which others must aspire.

    Keep the Faith!

  9. Excellent stuff FourGoal – I started my own preview on the plane on the way back and I’ll post it in a minute but it pales beside your own analysis.

    The point about our role as supporters bears repeating, though, and is absolutely correct. The lads need to know we’re there in numbers and are right behind them tomorrow – we should all be aiming to leave Pearse Stadium as very hoarse Connacht champions!

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