Solid opening win for Pat and Noel

Mayo v NUIG Jan 2015

Photo: @MayoGAA

Having sworn blind coming out of Limerick last August that I was retiring from this supporter’s business, here I was rolling up to Castlebar on the 3rd of January to write up a match report on the first round of our FBD league campaign. According to my (non-Mayo) spouse, you can’t keep a good Mayo person down. So armed with everything from thermal socks to fleece lined jacket, I joined the 1,500 or so other Mayo patrons on a bright, dry, but nonetheless nippy afternoon in MacHale Park.

Mayo, hoping for a repeat of their three-point victory over the same opponents this time last year, started with three total newcomers to the inter-county scene: Darren McHugh (Hollymount/Carramore) at right corner-back, Caolan Crowe (Garrymore) at centre-back, and Alex Corduff (Ballina) at midfield. Fringe players from last year also got a run out with Stephen Coen at left corner-back and a somewhat bulkier Adam Gallagher at centre half-forward. Former players in the guise of the heralded Evan Regan (right corner-forward), Neil Douglas (right half-forward) and the still light-looking Mark Ronaldson (left corner-forward) are also now back in the mix.

The old hand was still very much visible though, with Hennelly, Cafferkey, Keane, Barrett, Gibbons, Conroy and Doherty all in the starting line-up with Clarke, Barry Moran, McLoughlin, Vaughan and Freeman making up the bench alongside Keith Rogers and Mikey Sweeney. Therefore no sign yet of Cunniffe, Andy Moran, Dillon, the O’Connor brothers (U21 and Colleges), Feeney (College), Higgins, Keegan, Boyle, the O’Shea brothers, Harrison, Varley or Parsons, nor any new players from the 2013 or 2014 vintage of minors, or the Under 21s who were in action yesterday.

Our new management team were out in force, though, with Noel stoic on the sidelines with our new Maor Foirne, to be joined by Pat who spent the first half watching the action unfold from a different vantage point. Maurice Sheridan provided the Mayo interest on the NUIG sideline, along with seven Mayo men in their extended playing panel.

With Michael Conroy as stand-in captain, Mayo started playing into the sunny Albany end, keeping four forwards inside their ’45 with Douglas and Conroy dropping deep on the flanks. At the rear, it appeared to be a continuation with the policy of man-on-man in the full back line – to the extent that Stephen Coen spent much of the second half following his man out the field. All in all, there doesn’t appear to be any dramatic tactical variations from the previous seasons.

The opening ten minutes were characterised by lateral hand-passing and soloing, little shooting and just two pointed frees from the boot of Galway man Peadar Ó Griofa, who would finish the afternoon with an astonishing 1-7 of NUIG’s total, all from frees bar the goal. What followed then was some quick-fire scoring from Mayo, who racked up seven points in eight minutes.

Neil Douglas opened Mayo’s account from 30 yards, before firing over another from the resulting kickout. Darren McHugh burst forward from corner-back to level up the scores at 0-3 apiece. Jason Doherty put one over on the turn after good work from Caolan Crowe before Evan Regan pointed a free won from a turnover from the right hand side. Michael Conroy then hit a skyscraper with Mark Ronaldson getting in the act too, leaving Mayo four points to the good at 0-7 to 0-3, and surprisingly no wides kicked in the first half.

Despite Jason Gibbons lording it at midfield, Mayo’s good work was at danger of being undone, though, conceding frees regularly following direct running from the Galway men. NUIG got their first point from play in the 20th minute after some unsettling soloing in the full-back line by Michael Conroy resulted in a turnover. This was followed by a point from Comer, a couple of frees, and then some indecision under a high ball into the full-back line saw the ball drop to Ó Griofa who buried it into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

This six-point swing was compounded by a questionable black card for Jason Doherty on the stroke of half-time for a hand trip. Although Neil Douglas responded by sending over a skyscraper point, it left Mayo two points behind at half time, 1-7 to 0-8.

Mayo started the second half with Rogers, Sweeney and Freeman coming on as substitutes, but the fresh legs didn’t seem to prevent some uninspiring kickouts and wayward shooting in the opening ten minutes. Nothing of note was happening outside of Neil Douglas manfully shipping two heavy tackles and making a fine block, until out of nowhere Alan Freeman managed to retain a difficult high ball, before fisting it through the full back’s legs. The ball made its way across to Mark Ronaldson who trickled the ball over the line to put Mayo ahead 1-8 to 1-7. Following a pointed free from Ó Griofa, the game went through a long period of scorelessness, before Regan nailed a difficult free from the right hand side, having missed an easier one moments earlier.

NUIG scored again before Mayo produced the score of the game. Barry Moran, on for a ten-minute cameo, fielded a kickout straight from Hennelly, turned and kicked it to Neil Douglas who turned and fired it over the bar – three kicks from end to end. Unfortunately Douglas hurt himself in the act, which resulted in the forward being replaced by the returning Ger Cafferkey. We then stretched our lead following a marauding run from Chris Barrett, and that gap was extended to three points when Regan swung over another fine free from 45 metres.

With time running out, however, Mayo were put on the back foot by some direct running from NUIG. Rogers had to haul a man down to prevent a goal chance, and following that pointed free, Damian Comer found himself one on one with Robbie Hennelly who closed him down fantastically to block the ball. NUIG spurned another goal chance before Adam Gallagher and Ó Griofa traded frees. Mayo closed out the five minutes of injury to win by two points, but not as convincingly as they could be happy with.

Overall, positive showings from Jason Gibbons, Caolan Crowe and Chris Barrett. Regan and Gallagher showed good hands and strength but were always winning the ball going away from goal. Alex Corduff showed his inexperience by throwing himself in too often, while Coen, Keane, McHugh and Cafferkey were solid but unspectacular in the backline. Doherty, Sweeney and Ronaldson were willing in the forward line but finding it difficult to make the ball stick – Freeman posed more danger when he came on. Man of the match, though, is reserved for Neil Douglas, who showed bravery and heart in shipping heavy tackles and making blocks, vision and technique with some stylish kick passes into the full-forward line, and a finisher’s instinct with four points from play.

So the cobwebs of winter are blown away with a hard-fought win, and we have two more home FBD matches against IT Sligo (in Ballina) and Roscommon (MacHale Park) before the long trip down to Kerry in the Allianz League opener on the 1st of February. Sure, isn’t it like we were never away?

Mayo: Robbie Hennelly; Darren McHugh (0-1), Ger Cafferkey, Stephen Coen; Chris Barrett (0-1), Caolan Crowe,Kevin Keane; Jason Gibbons, Alex Corduff; Neil Douglas (0-4), Adam Gallagher (0-1, free), Michael Conroy (0-1); Evan Regan (0-3, frees), Jason Doherty (0-1), Mark Ronaldson (1-1). Subs: Alan Freeman for Doherty (black card, HT), Keith Rogers for Cafferkey (HT), Mikey Sweeney for Conroy (HT), Barry Moran for Corduff (50 mins), Ger Cafferkey for Douglas (injured, 51 mins).

NUIG scorers: Sean Moran (0-1), Cristoir Davey (0-1), Damien Comer (0-1), Peadar Ó Griofa, (1-7, seven frees), Kevin Gibbons (0-1, free).

40 thoughts on “Solid opening win for Pat and Noel

  1. Great to see new faces and a good run out for the seasoned campaigners. I think somebody mentioned ages ago on this that we should go out and physically beat kerry around the pitch (result irrelevant) in the league opener, i would agree 100% with that. Lets lay down a marker for bigger days ahead, take a couple of red cards and kick the shit out of them.

  2. Hi All,
    Firstly a very happy new year to all the good people of Mayo and secondly well done on a winning start like ourselves. I wish Mayo the very best of luck in 2015 and no doubt we will be talking during the year. Its great to have the football back……..

    Kind Regards,
    Martin the Dub

  3. Douglas, Gallagher and Barry Moran were the lads who really stood out for me.Wasn’t going to be a spectacular performance by any means for this time of year.We looked dodgy enough when we were ran at and under high ball.We were 7 points to 3 up and we let NUIG come back to go in at the break down by 2. Its early in the season and lads will be coming back but we have to stop conceding leads.

  4. Agree that Douglas and Barry moran were excellent. I also thought stephen coen was very good indeed. Lovely day for football and fair to the galway lads they gave it a great lash.

  5. How was Mickey C? had a very bright showing at half forward when he came on v kerry in the replay. One of our better players that day, his ball carrying was immense. From many I’ve been talking to, I’m not alone in thinking that his future for Mayo lies out the field

    Good to see Barrett playing well, RHB is far and away his best position. I would have thought Donie’s days as a half back in the Green and Red were finished after last year, I would much rather him further up the pitch myself

  6. Conroy in my opinion is better out the field. Reminds me of a young Michael Donnelon 🙂

  7. My first FBD, I’m afraid to admit, and not a bad start.
    Agree about players Douglas, Freeman, Moran, Reagan Crowe impressing
    Conroy I thought had a good half with intelligent intervention

  8. Great report Digits. Was at the game also and I was impressed by Crowe in the half back line, Regan in the second half and McHugh in the first. Regan impressed with his free taking and very unselfishly squared the ball to Ronaldson for the goal when he could have gone himself. Crowe looks to have the pace, power and bulk to operate at this level and carried the ball forward very well. McHugh looks a tight tenaciousness marker and took his point well. However, yet again we conceded a goal from a high ball in to our full back line and continuously fouled in very scorable areas of the field. I counted 6 times in the first half (they scored 5 points from the frees) and 4 times (scored 2) in the second. Silly sloppy frees in front of goal ranging from 30 to 40 yards out. With a free taker of Peadar O’Griofas ability that is as good as scores on the board. Corduff did well also but my man of the match was Douglas with 4 points from play, one that fell short and he used the ball very efficiently.

  9. Fair play to the 1500 or so who turned up… but we need to keep it in context, this game will have as much relevance come June to our championship hopes as how much Turkey I ate over Christmas….. Leitrim won this for the last two years I think and they also won today by 10. But they will be nowhere near the running for Connaught let alone anything else.

  10. @Mch, apologies for not remembering it was yourself who originally posted….would love to see our lads get stuck in to them, fingers crossed they will 🙂

  11. Good start to the season. I thought that Douglas was the stand out player with four great points from play. Great to see so many new faces and to see the veterns playing so well (conroy especially). I thought Barry was a bit off the pace. Other than the three balls he caught from kickouts he didn’t do much else. Anyways onwards and upwards

  12. Definitely agree with you mayomaningalway (on Conroy), very effective and underrated ball carrier, his running from deep with possession vs Kerry was a huge asset. Game often passes him by in the corner. Himself and Doc should be competing for the 12 spot for me. Hopefully Adam Gallagher can compete with K McL for 10. Competition for spaces will be vital.

    COC obviously is an auto starter at 14, and in my eyes the 15 shirt is Dillon’s to lose. Hopefully Ronaldson, Freeman, M.Sweeney and Regan can all make a huge claim for the 13 shirt.

    AOS and Vaughan fighting for 11, with the two also battling for midfield with Parsons, Gibbons, Moran, SOS (and Donie obviously in contention in the half back line too)

    Our midfield was off colour in the replay and our forward line has long been questioned, but looking at that we potentially have some serious options.

    To be completely honest we should be cantering to an AI Quarter and definitely making at least a semi with that sort of strength in depth

    Up Mayo

  13. Forgot Andy Moran of course, who I can’t see starting but can play a massive role off the bench

    I do think it’s a year too soon for Diarmuid O’Connor though, but certainly one for the future!

  14. I was impressed with NUIG who were perhaps a shade unlucky not to be going home with a victory under their belts.

    Very early days so no point in complaining or finding faults as yet as these FBD matches are little more than good training sessions and trial and error.

    Douglas though looks likely to be in contention for some league appearances.

  15. Good man digits, excellent and very detailed match report.

    Always good to start a win, no matter how insignificant it will be in the long run.
    Delighted to see Douglas play well, a player I’ve always rated.

  16. Well done Digits on your excellent match report. I thought the crowd was huge for the opening game. Much more than 1500 people, possibly double that. Douglas and Crowe tried very hard. January is a difficult month to play good football still it is great to have something to shout about again. I want to wish WJ and your family a happy new Year. Keep op the good work

  17. Thanks for all the generous comments folks. It’s difficult to estimate attendances, especially when they don’t announce them!

  18. Happy new year to W J and everyone. I want to say congratulations to Noel & Pat and the Mayo team to day. Also a great report on the match by Digits, well done. I was really impressed with Douglas ( best forward on the pitch) Gibbons at midfield, easily the pick of all the midfielders. Caolan Crowe also a sterling performance. On the negative we seem to have nobody who can catch a dropping ball in the forward line. Gibbons kicked some beauties into the forwards but alas we had nobody to catch them. I was a little take aback by Mikey Sweeney, a little bit selfish and trying for his own score when he should have passed it to a player in better position. Also we gave away a few silly frees that almost caught us out. Anyway a win is a win.

  19. Good report and well appreciated by an exile like meself and those who couldn’t attend. I did get to follow it via MWR on the net but as always here is the true place to get the real views.
    Always good to start with a win, though as many has stated it is the FDB but we have to start somewhere and this is as good as it can be, I prefer when it’s by a point or two as more can be learned from them.
    Our national broadcaster doesn’t give much space to those early games but I was left scratching my head when they stated that Cork had routed their opponents MIC (Cork 7-20 Mary I 0-04) until I caught on and realised that the I after Mary stood for Immaculate and wasn’t the leading digit of ten.
    Thanks also to Martin the Dub for his good wishes as always (above)…..a true sportsman and I wish him well also…………until the gloves have to come off.
    I agree with the sentiments shown by a few of the posters above that we make sure we have the gloves off in our first League game below in Kerry and rough them up as much as possible. They got away with a lot of shite last year and it’s our only chance to pay them a bit back before the real business starts later in the year, we have to beat them in every way including the score and if he appears put the Donkey out to grass.
    MaighEo Abu

  20. Great report Digits, well done.

    Pretty happy with that result for an FBD game on 4th January. Of course there was sloppiness and mistakes – I’d expect nothing else at this point – but I think there were far more positives than negatives given who was togged out and the fact that NUIG are further down the training road than us with the Sigerson in their sights.

    I thought Neil Douglas was superb and I wasn’t surprised, either – I hope he can replicate that form again and push for a place. Conroy for me was another notable – I thought he had a great game, looked very comfortable at 12 (and WJ, you’ll be delighted to hear he stayed very much upright throughout!).

    Nice to see Chris Barrett looking sharp too, and good to see Barry back in action. Noel & Pat according to an interview on MWR earlier reckon maybe 5 or 6 of the 20 who were on the S&C programme will possibly make to step up to the senior panel – might sound low but it’ll stand to all of them, and 5/6 new faces would be no mean feat in an already decent panel.

    I thought it was a decent crowd for an FBD game – I’d reckon around 3,000 but then as Digits says, impossible to estimate accurately really – was hoping they’d announce it.

    All in all, very happy with that and looking forward to seeing more new faces and having a game on the doorstep next weekend. Great to be back in the swing of it.

  21. The most enjoyable FBD game I’ve ever been at anyways. A nice, tight, competitive game with everyone trying their utmost to win. Dougie was excellent as stated above. Robbie’s kickouts I thought were a very high standard and he made one cracking save. Wouldn’t be overly confident with Regan taking frees and honestly thought our full forward line struggled today from open play. Mickey Conroy did well, pulled the strings with Dougie in the first half. Hope both feature again next week. Hopefully the same level of competitiveness remains and it sets up a proper match with the rossies in 2 weeks. Can’t beat games with a bit of bite and the more games our fringe players get, the better. So here’s hoping for 2 more wins and a final appearance!

  22. A moderately interesting outing, much as might be expected for the first FBD outing, I thought. But seeing as NUIG seemed to be bereft of any established senior county players I would not get too excited yet. It is good to see a good turnout of supporters and if we find ourselves in a tie break with the Rossies for a final place I can see the logic of the venue switch from Ballyhaunis.

  23. Well done Mayo, hope we use this competition to test players for important positions we were short on last year.

  24. Good start but has little bearing on anything meaningful. I would not worry about results in this competition one bit but rather performances of certain fringe/new players that could make an impact later in the year.

    Douglas was impressive, Conroy, Gallagher done well. Gibbons when he ran down the middle looked good but his passing let him down but some of that could be blowing away the Christmas Turkey.

    McHugh done well at corner back and kicked a nice point. I don’t think Coen is suited to corner back. He is too attack minded and was caught out badly for the NUIG goal.
    I was also impressed by Crowe. Even Regan came into life towards the end but I was not impressed yet but will give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Lets see where these lads are at the end of the FBD and how many make a league panel.

    Great crowd in, I reckon closer to 3,000 as Ann Marie said. The fact that kids were let in for free probably meant giving an official attendance was impossible.

    On to Ballina next Sunday. Great to be out and about and see so many familiar faces yesterday.

  25. Always good to start the new year with a win, even if it counts for zero in the big plan of things. The new players, now having tasted victory with the County will want more of the same, and that can only be a good thing, even though when one sees the number of regulars that were missing you wonders how many of them will still be around come the summer. Hopefully they will be given every chance to prove themselves and not be cast on the scrap heap after one or two games.

    Finding a formula though to defend a lead would seem to be a must going forward, and that is something that must be worked by new Management from the off. It’s no use building up a good lead only to see it being whittled away in the wink of an eye, and this is what seems to happen all too frequently. It’s no use either blaming the full back line, when the opposition are coming at you in waves and half the defenders are still in the oppositions half of the field. Solving this conundrum with Mayo would be a must before we get into the serious business later on in the year.

    And by the way Digits, that was a smashing report, on a par with anything I’ve ever read and made one feel as though they were there, good work !

  26. 8,436 people turned up to the McKenna Cup game between Armagh and Tyrone yesterday and lack of staffing on the turnstiles meant the game was delayed by half an hour. Kieran McGeeney was not happy and said it was beyond belief that a game would be held up “because people turn up late”.

    And we thought we had a decent attendance!

  27. How come there was an official attendance given of 8,436 for a McKenna Cup game and none for an FBD game? By my reckonong too the attendance yesterday in McHale was nearer 3,000 if not slightly more.

    I know kids went in same stiles as paying adults, (and a lot of people got in the “players” gate) but still they would know how many people went through the turnstiles on the day.

  28. Enjoyed the game yesterday. Not a bad performance from the college boys even though some of them seemed a bit sore. That is the problem with football this time of the year. Either players are not match fit but also some are involved in pretty heavy training and many have multiple games played already this week. At least one player played in Westmeath Saturday and a full half yesterday. Try that Stephen Hunt! The big difference in the teams is how well the Mayo team were able to take the big hits from the students who to be fair to them definitely tried to eke out a result. Douglas was good and showed enough to warrant a try out in the league – whether he is strong enough for county standard remains to be seen. His vision yesterday was very good with some lovely long kick passes to better placed colleagues.

  29. Ann Marie,

    I’m not sure whether the 8,000 plus who turned up to see Armagh v Tyrone were there for the football or the handbags. Comments beforehand from some players would have upped the ante. Predictably they got a bit of both. Also I’m not too sure that NUIG brought a lot of support yesterday so it’s not a great comparison.
    Regards counting numbers, as tickets were issued on a computerised system figures should have been available instantly.
    Also re some other posters suggestion that we should go into the Kerry league game with a rather warlike approach. I do not see this approach being of any benefit. It would only result in Mayo being in referee’s limelight if we meet later in the summer. Certainly our players should not allow themselves be pushed around or intimidated but to go out with a confrontational or over physical attitude would be self defeating. I have never seen this approach work in over 50 years following football even though I have often seen it tried.

  30. Agree with posters – a fine report from Digits.

    Does anyone have any details of the Hastings Cup game – particularly the team selection and substitutions?

  31. Neil Douglas in the green and red and it’s good to see. He’s just a really good footballer. Smart in possession and distribution, accurate too. Playing tidy football with Mitchells a good while now and I feel a real contender for a place when the summer comes.

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