In the shadows


Over the course of this decade we’ve become used to being in the limelight. Every year from 2011 to 2017 we were one of the main stories of the summer, frequently the most compelling one. We were box office.

Even last year, when our involvement in the Championship was cut short and we missed out on the novelty of the first year of the Super Eights, we were still an essential part of the story. Would Newbridge or Nowhere have got the same kind of traction if we weren’t involved? And of, course, when we headed for nowhere in Newbridge’s aftermath, we were treated to all those overly-hasty eulogies for the team’s demise.

With the League triumph this spring followed by the partying with Marty in New York, the soap opera has continued this year too. But following the defeat to Roscommon and our banishment once again to the qualifiers, we’ve suddenly found that, in Round 2 at least, we’re no longer the most gripping storyline of the summer.

RTÉ did, it’s true, take a swipe at us today – I’m not going to link to the story, it’s a pile of old nonsense which has no merit whatsoever so there’s no reason to point anyone in the direction of it – but that’s the first piece written about us all week. Aside from the news about Mattie Ruane’s unfortunate injury, we’ve attracted little or no media attention of late and there’s been no word from the camp, either from James Horan or from anyone else on the backroom or playing sides.

Even the game itself has failed to attract media attention in the days leading up to it. There are three provincial football finals on this weekend and it’s only natural that it’s on these contests that the focus is being trained. Kerry and Cork are set to contest the Munster final on Saturday evening, with the throw-in at Páirc Uí Chaoimh set for 7pm, as is our game up at Páirc Esler.

So no media attention, no TV coverage, no news about the team and, most likely, a smaller number of Mayo supporters at the game. This makes it a qualifier contest like no other for us, one played well away from the media’s gaze, one which many supporters of the team will be following on Midwest or via score updates on social media rather than roaring the team on from the terraces.

Will this changed environment prove to be a positive or negative for us in Newry? To be honest, it’s difficult to know.

I think the absence of focus on us in the lead-up to the game is a good thing and I feel it’s no harm either that the game isn’t being broadcast. Being outshouted by the opposition, though, will be a novelty for us in the qualifiers and it’s unclear if that will force our lads into their shell or instead push them on to greater effort.

What is clear, however, is that all of the heavy lifting on Saturday night will have to be done by the players and by James and his colleagues on the sideline.

But, sure, isn’t that the way it always is, I hear you retort. Yes, but so often – think the Fermanagh, Kildare and Derry qualifiers at MacHale Park, the Clare game in Ennis, the Cork match in Limerick, the two Kerry semi-finals – the huge, raucous Mayo crowd acted like a veritable Sixteenth Man.

While the team won’t be devoid of support in Newry, they’re unlikely to have that kind of cacophonous backing either, which makes this in every sense a qualifier test that is very different from all the others we’ve experienced in recent years.

And all the more dangerous for us because of it.

163 thoughts on “In the shadows

  1. It looks like it hasn’t taken alot to weed out the fair weather support that has grown since 2011.

    Sad if the expected reduced numbers come to pass in Newry. Those of there will just have to shout louder.

  2. If ever our bucks needed us, its this game. And we must bring lots of noise, colour and flags! Great article Willie Joe. That was some victory in 1985…rip Mick Burke.

  3. Well I’m going and I don’t often get to make it to away matches. I’m ready to make noise. I’m going on a supporters bus organised by another Mayo supporter. They are coming from Galway and collecting me along the way. Not to late for others to try and organise buses.

  4. Down have won Sam five times since we last did. We are going to need a performance thats dogged and determined

    from the lads. N one of the `shilly -shalling` as CJ Haughey used to say. Gonna head on there early on Sat. I think

    they will need the strong spine as I would expect some rough stuff if things do not go their way. I`m not expecting

    it to be pretty on – or -off the field.

  5. Don’t think it’s fair to call family’s that can’t manage a 7 to 9 hour return trip on a Saturday night fair weather supporters. I’ll be there but I sure don’t judge those who can’t make it.

  6. Some people can make it some people cant. Thats just the way it is, no judgement. Lets focus on quality not quantity. Smaller but louder…. Im going and Im fully intend roaring the lads on…. every block, every score, every turnover. Lets help them get the show back on the road!

  7. When can we get on to talking about this game. Unbelievable amount of moaning on the blog and across Mayo for last couple of weeks. We need to see the lads back on the pitch to get the wheels back on the band wagon. Hup Mayo!

  8. If having to sit this one out because sometime real life is more important and more demanding than football makes me a “fair-weather supporter” despite not having missed a game in almost two years, so be it, I’m guilty as charged! Put me in chains and send me down!

    But at least those of us who can’t be there can relax knowing that the better supporters are there carrying the load. Good man Ger Bohan!

    Wish they’d announce the team …

  9. There may be reduced numbers going and no one should judge those who can’t make it. I know diehards who can’t go because of the throw in time. For those of us going, be loud and proud, leave everything in the terraces and stands. Let the lads know we are with them each step of the way. Hopefully those large flags are behind the goals again, bring the colour if you can, vocal and colourful support can’t be underestimated. Up Mayo!

  10. Myself and my wife are lucky we can go to the match but we have the utmost respect for those who cannot make it this time around. Im glad it’s a low key build up and it’s no harm us not being “box office” in fact I’m sick of us being box office and everyone’s second favorite team let Roscommon and Donegal be the media’s darlings this year and let them be box office a nice low key run to the super eights and squeeze into an all Ireland semi final would suit me just fine

  11. Way Out West…I can confirm there will be big flags behind the goals 😉 It’s a pity more Mayo supporters dont bring a flag. Remember the 90’s? Class.

  12. “The manner of defeat could have been predicted though; dominate the middle of the field, own the ball and kick wide after wide after wide”. RTE acticle todays website.

    In all fairness to RTE that in a nutshell is why Mayo have not won in the modern era. So many wides from scorable positions. Its easy to just dismiss it like Willie Joe did with a “it’s a pile of old nonsense which has no merit whatsoever” but to those watching on from other counties Mayo did enough to win an All-Ireland but the poor kicking and shot selection did for them.

  13. Listen lads, mayo are 1/6 to win this one. Get a grip on yourselves.
    It’s a question of how we win this game so that we can repair some of the damage the defeat to the Rossies did to us.
    This game is an ideal and maybe last opportunity to start the new guys and give them a taste of championship football.
    A strong bench will ensure a strong finish.and if we can’t win, werent going anywhere anyway.
    Trust in the new young lads for this one..
    Maybe there should be a special Sam Maguire trophy made of bog wood for the best supporters. Wed win that Sam every year ….

  14. For anyone making the long journey north please see below from Buttercrane Shopping Centre.
    There is a parking offer on for people attending the match on 22nd June. Upon arrival make your way to the car park office situated at the pedestrian doors of the ground floor multistory and present your match ticket or to avail of the free parking. The car park will remain open for 1hour after the match finishes.
    Customer Service
    Buttercrane Shopping Centre

    Same in the Quays Shopping Centre

  15. It doesn’t bother me who’s going to the match and who isn’t going.
    I hope all that go have a safe journey and a great evening.
    I hope anyone tuning in at home enjoys the match, and no leppin around the kitchen either.

    The amount of furniture that’s flithered around the county by people who stay at home and listen to the match on the wireless runs in to millions. Leppin around the house for 70 or 80 minutes flithering before and after them.

    There was 52 chairs, 3 tables and a dressing table destroyed in Lahardane alone during the New York match.

    Yea can stay at home if yea want, but the leppin around the house is going to have to stop, and stop fairly fecken lively.

  16. @Chesneychet.

    Mayo are the National League Champions.

    Your cartoon comment suits the cartoon article you refer too.

  17. One or two people have some cheek calling people
    Who cannot travel to Newry on Saturday fair weather fans fair play to you if you can go I hope you enjoy it as I will please God but the championship is not a race to see who can go to the most matches nor does anyone on the Mayo team expect supporters to go to every single game. I went to New York 5
    Years ago for the NY game but I couldn’t afford to go this year so rather put the house in debt with a credit union loan I stayed at home and was happy for fans that could go and wished them well and knew they’d have a brilliant time like I did in 2014. Nobody should feel bad or ashamed or any less of a Mayo supporter if they cannot go on Saturday we all go when we can and we support the team as best as we can and nobody has the right to label anyone.

  18. I agree WJ ‘re Rte nonsense writing, comparing us to Love Island and soap opera. Some cheek.
    We who have given the best games in the last 7 years championship. Reading that crap makes me so so mad.
    Best of luck to James and lads Sat even.
    Let’s show them we’re far from over.
    Step up onto the green platform all.!!!

  19. I myself am fortunate in that I’m in a position to be able to go on Saturday. I will be there to cheer the team on as best I can. Following Mayo has given me some of the best days of my life and we truly are privileged to have such a dedicated and hard-working group representing our county. What would the last decade have been like if we didn’t have these adventures keeping us busy from Spring through Autumn?

    But I certainly wouldn’t judge anyone for not travelling on Saturday. At the end of the day we all have to realise, believe it or not, that it is just a game of football between 30 lads kicking a ball around a field. It is not life-or-death and it is not mandatory for every non-‘fair-weather’ Mayo supporter to attend every single game. Life gets in the way sometimes and family/work/health come first. That’s the way it should be. Lord knows I’ve missed a few games down through the years because it just didn’t suit me to go. Did I feel bad about it? Did I ****. Why would I, and why should anyone else? Give me the person who prioritises the important things instead of travelling across the entire country at the drop of a hat. It’s about finding the balance.

    Anyway, WJ – I saw that link on RTE today and didn’t bother clicking it, we’ve had enough hack journalism over the past month from the likes of Breheny and Brolly, no need to waste time reading any more nonsense. All that matters now is what is going to happen on the pitch from 7pm Saturday onwards. God it’s been a long few weeks…

  20. Boys pull together in all sorts of weather, never show the white feather wherever you go, be like a brother and help one another, like true hearted men from County Maigheo Eo. Therefore, no moaning about the players, the management or the genuine people who can’t make it on Saturday. We will all have to share the load over the next five weekends, so go there, if you can and give it everything like the mighty men who represent us on the field of play.

  21. Ultair, thank you, I like your post and the sentiment. I’d love to get to every game but can’t for 101 reasons. I know one young man who is/was a faithful supporter who, sadly, is going through difficult mental health issues. He has no interest now and I find that very sad to see. But feckit lads and ladies we all love this Mayo team. They’ve given us such excitement and thrill through the years. I love their commitment and dedication and I wish they could go out and just win win win…till they bring home the big one.
    But I’ll be roaring at the radio and throwing furniture all over the place and my heart will race with excitement and it’ll rise with passion and pride. Let’s stick together and send positive energy to our lads. And send it too to this young Mayo man who is in a dark place. Thanks Mayo folk. We’ll rise together… always.

  22. The media, ie, RTÉ and Irish Independent are obviously bored at the moment, there is little or no excitement in the football championship, Dubs doing as they have done for 5 years now, they will build up one or two Counties chances of competing with the Dubs, they need a bit of dirt to dish out. RTÉ are looking for something to generate some viewing. Many of the RTÉ staff will be starting their holiday next week it will continue until end of August.
    Any scandal Re Diarmuid Connolly?.

  23. That is a great article WJ and so true. Only time will tell. I don’t mind who is going or staying. These guys have given me unforgettable days on the road supporting them. Waiting since the end of June last year. Am I going, am I what.

  24. I just want to say that Ger Bohan’s and Anne Marie’s comments regarding so called ‘fair weather supporters’ are way out of order.

  25. There was nothing wrong with Anne-Marie’s comments
    liamontherun I think you might have misphrased what you were trying to say?

  26. Support or no support, if the players and management heads are not 100 % focused, not much people can do from viewing on in the stands.
    Shit or bust starting from Saturday evening.
    I cannot name 3 players from this Down team, surely a win is inevitable.

  27. She agreed with Ger Bohan’s comments and said that ‘the better supporters will be there carrying the load’ backdoorsam.

  28. @Mayo 88…in fairness to Diarmuid Connolly.., He’s still making headlines for all the right reasons… Two Goals in his last Club appearance…

  29. I agreed with ger bohan the die hard mayo supporters will be there regardless if the game is at 7 or 2 in the morning .
    Best of luck James and the team.

  30. Sometimes I feel that the supporters on here over emphasise their impact on the team. Important..of course. But the players themselves are experienced, motivated and focused enough to play to their potential despite what goes on in the crowd. If the result of the game was dependant on noise from supporters then we’d have picked up a fair few all Irelands in the last decade alone.

  31. I think there was some sarcasm in Anne-Marie’s post that didn’t get picked up…

  32. There will be more people in Páirc Esler than was in Thomond Park when Munster beat the All Blacks… and certainly more than was actually in the GPO in Easter Week 1916. .. But conciderably less than the amount claiming to be either of them! So well in excess of ???? Answers on a postcard please!

  33. @liamontherunsince51 I think you need to put the wings in, turn on the sarcasm detector and maybe a quick apology to Anne Marie.

  34. Ah feck you anyway Revillino , couldn’t keep your mouth shut about the awful carry on in Lahardane during the New York match. We didn’t notice for 10 days the amount of damage done, due to a massive hangover. We all know it was Sonny Walsh, as he was the only person that didn’t go, but he’s not a bad buck. Anyway five of those chairs were in Devanney’s and nearly shagged anyway.

  35. Alan Brogans latest article in the Indo was a queazy read.

    He is now calling this Dublin team the All time great team.

    He bemoans the fact that nobody has asked him on the street for his opinion on how the Leinster final will go. That’s because no one gives a shit Alan.

    The shy unassuming Alan then supplements his queazy article with a picture of none other than himself in action.

    He also manages to stick in a picture of Jim Gavin. I think it’s Jim Gavin, although it could be a picture of a hawk. I find it hard to tell the difference between the two.

    He does mention the last time Dublin were beaten in Leinster by Meath 650 years ago and goes on to explain how that was a flook with unparalleled Meath shooting which resulted in 5 goals for Meath.

    He does point out that between goals and points Dublin actually got more scores that day.

    Had Meath not beaten them that day they would now be 923 years undefeated in Leinster.

    Isn’t it great to sit back on the big chair and turn on Rte (€160 per annum) with an Irish Independant on your lap (€3 approx) having a panel of gobshites staring out from the tube and a couple of grave diggers looking up from the paper and the whole lot of them kindly educating us at how great Dublin are and how inferior everybody else should feel.

    The Liffey stinks.

  36. I think Mayo will win on Saturday but it’s not a foregone conclusion by any matter. The question is what Mayo team will turn up? The one that preformed so fantastically o 3 AL final days and crushed Roscommon and Kerry in croke park etc or the one who turned up against Roscommon last , Galway for years now, Dublin in the league, arc. Mayo could be flat on Saturday whatever the terms means! But if we are we could go out. We are not going to win AL this year but hopefully we will nake Croke park. One thing is certain that at the very least one Mayo legend will retire at end of Campaign and I suspect a few more may as Well. I sincerely hope it’s not in humiliation….if you are considering whether or not to travel remember those Mayo legends who it could possibly but hopefully not their last time donning the green and red which theyvhave done with distinction for so long…..Mgaigh Eo Abu….

  37. Lahanman, you’re 100% right and it’s something I’ve been thinking about. If the unthinkable happens on Saturday it could well be the last time we see some of the greatest to ever wear the green and red jersey in the jersey!

    Anyways can’t be thinking like that now, teams I’d like to see:

    Barrett Harrison
    Durcan plunkett keegan
    Diarmuid O’Shea
    Mcloughlin Doherty Mcdonagh
    Carr Cillian Coen

    Higgins sweeping in front of the full back line. Plenty of back up on the bench, run them early.

  38. There are lots of committed supporters who cant travel for a variety of reasons, it is not for any of us to judge. Ye without sin cast the first stone, I am travelling this weekend, but there were plenty times I couldn’t when I was a ably represented by some of those that can’t make it this weekend. Those that can travel should be glad that we can, and there is no need to look down their noses at those that cant. As sure as God made little apples those tables will turn.

  39. Oh will ye give over feeling sorry for yourselves , what are ya worried about , some people are more extreme , most people miss now and again , some are just ridiculous , each to their own . I was sat beside three women from castlebar on the way down to the ros game , they were coming back from a concert , take that , I think it was . Anyway in conversation with them , one of them had travelled to New York for the game but not alone wasn’t going to the game v ros in her hometown she wasn’t even aware there was a game till she the jerseys at Houston , I kid ya not , no judgement from me I just that’s mad haha.

    Will the team be announced tomorrow ?

  40. NiallMc 1983.

    You seem to have Higgins sweeping in front of a 2 man full back line ?
    Did you mean to have a 3rd man back on the full back line ?

  41. We should have won at least one All Ireland in the last seven years. For a variety and a combination of reasons we didn’t. Nothing lasts forever. Football, like life and the seasons, is cyclical. The pendulum has swung and we no longer are masters in our own province. Nor have we been for some time. Many of our supporters/followers ( I need to tread warily here, if posts during the last few days are anything to go by) are finding it difficult to accept, much less embrace, this new reality. We may well beat Down. But, quite frankly, the moaning and whining about Newry and 7.00pm now replaced by the latest debate on what constitutes a real supporter is getting tiresome and annoying. All of this, to my mind, speaks of a frustration. The sooner a team is announced the better. That would give us an avenue through which we might move forward and leave all this nonsense and shitetalk behind us.

  42. We are a great team we should be expecting to top our super 8 group or come second if Dublin is in it, anything else is falling short in my opinion. No defeated soft talk! EOD in Kerry is delecate injured again. Maybe we need to bite to bullet show intent any bring in ROD to give us options. Dublin are under as much pressure as anybody this year to break a glass ceiling. We need to blow Down away and make a statement of our ability !
    Mayo for Sam!

  43. Liam, there were 10,000 in Thurles last year. 6 or 7000 in New York.

    Appreciate people have commitments but a big reduction in those numbers seems to me to be people not arsed because we lost a game.

  44. Ger Bohan, people miss games for various reasons, not everyone can make every game, that’s life, I believe Willie Joe himself couldn’t make the Ros game for a very good reason. I wont make this one myself due to previous plans, some people can’t tavel and yes some people can’t be arsed going to Newry for 7pm throw in. It doesn’t make them any less of a Mayo supporter. If you feel superior for making the trip then fair play to ya.

  45. We’re out if the country, the only match we missed since Kildare.
    Please support those might men.. loud and proud.
    Best of luck to each and every member of the squad and management.


  46. Whoever is travelling to Newry is their business.

    Whoever isn’t going is nobody else’s business.

    Mind your own business.

  47. Team I’d like to see start: Clarke,
    O;Donoghue, Crowe, Higgins:
    Keegan, Plunkett, Durcan,
    Aido, DOC,
    Regan, Doherty, Boland
    Coen, Moran.
    That leaves Cillian, Barrett, Boyle, Vaughan, Harrison, Tracey, Loftus as genuine impact players. Carr and McDonagh if fit. Diskin and Hennelly to make up the 26. Moran to start for his ball winning ability, Cillian to come on for Regan and the rest played by ear.

  48. Apology accepted Liamontherunsince51 … no hard feelings 😀 This place cracks me up at times.

    The sooner Saturday is over – hopefully with a win in the bag, the better.

    Revellino, you’re a howl. In defence of Alan Brogan though I don’t think he gets to choose the photos, but then again, he’s a Dub, so who knows?

  49. That’s correct, Mayomad – I was at a family wedding that day. Two rounds of the Super 8s will also be an issue for me but, like everyone else, I am, of course, only thinking about Round 2 of the qualifiers right now.

  50. Can’t make it because of a trip arranged months ago.

    Best of luck to the team and everyone travelling.

    Hoping there will be a Round 3 match to look forward to. 🙂

  51. I’d never judge anyone for not going. And those of us who are going are no martyrs. Far from it in fact. These are wonderful days out and if you’re able to go let it be as much for enjoyment as it is for support. Follow the thrills, good, bad or indifferent. Have a great day.

  52. I know Mayo will beat Down next Saturday night. The only fear I have is do the lads have the energy and the hunger to go through the back door again?
    Look at the hunger the Rossies had v Galway. Its a long time since we played like that.
    There are certain players on this Mayo Team whi have given it all Year after Year and I just wonder are some legs gone?
    We have to be realistic. Do we have enough of a panel to get to the Super 8s? Can we improve on almost every facet of the game since the Roscommon game? Are we just kidding ourselves that we can win an All Ireland?
    I think we took our eyes off Roscommon and came in under cooked. We were concentrating on a Connaught Final v Galway. Roscommon were by far the hungrier.
    Basic Errors on the pitch and Sideline I hope have been addressed at training. Have we sorted out
    Re Starts?
    Shot Selection?
    Down will test us no doubt. This is our defining game of 2019. Win and we are back, lose and thats it over for another year.
    As Alan Dillon said “ there is nowhere to hide”
    I hope we have learned our lessons of the past few years has the players and James?
    Now is the time to stand up to RTE, Joe Brolly the Indo and all the other Amradans.
    Safe travelling to All to Newry I cant make it but I will be tuned into MWR.
    Mayo to win, our Goalkeeper to find his men, our Midfielders to soar high and our Forwards to
    Lets get behind these fantastic Mayo Warriors and Roar our voices out.
    Mhuigheo Abu.

  53. Wilma Rudolph

    “Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”

  54. Some amount of manure written on here tonight. I think a certain poster is just trying to wind ye up, some of ye are falling into the trap. Im lucky to be able to go Saturday, plenty a people cant for a 1000 reasons, its not their fault. Those of us there will shout for ye.

    I heard we trained in Bangor last week, which i was told is the same pitch dimensions as pairc esler. Nice attention to detail by Horan if its true. I’d like to stephen coen start this one, either as MF or CHB, he’s a horse of a young buck and his strength will be needed. Anyone remember him turning Anthony Maher upside down against Kerry? Have a feeling he’ll be Ruanes replacement.

  55. Wasn’t going to go but after reading some of the stuff posted on here and the fear of being accused the dreaded “fair weather supporter” tag, I rang my mate here in south Dublin, himself a good Down man and we’re heading up the M1on Saturday evening with a Dublin man on toe for good measure. For what it’s worth, he thinks Down have a great chance of winning this one as they’re on their home patch, I don’t agree, the cobwebs from the New York trip are well and truly blown away at this stage and I have no doubt it will be a much more focused team that will take to the field next Saturday evening. It won’t be easy but I’m very confident of a win.

  56. “Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss.”
    – Doug Williams

  57. It’s time to draw a line in the sand now about throw in time and ability of fans to get to newry. I’m heading to newry from dublin, even getting my brother in law to travel with me who’s from Laois originally. I want to see Mayo do a professional job and beat Down well. They have had a month of training, and those a vs b games must be absolute belters of games as ruane could testify to. I think Tally will employ a double blanket, so we need to run hard and draw frees, and convert these so we build a lead. Down will have to ditch the double blanket and we will make hay then on the counter attack. We are Mayo, and we are in this together.

  58. “In this together” apart from the ones who aren’t travelling.

    I jest of course.

  59. Hi All,

    Me thinks it is good for team announcement to be delayed. Reading the Down Gaa site etc, it would appear that Down are really looking forward to this game and they take the Christy Ring Cup seriously too. They were the break through team from Ulster and am sure they will be fanatically supported for the duration of the game! They also seem to think that they have a range of options in the forwards.
    Notice a following on blog for Stephen Coen to play. It is exciting just wondering who will be chosen. No idea myself who is best but i do hope that they staye overnight within 40 miles of Newry. So exciting and that is before the Draw on Monday.

  60. Team named on program should be announced this morning but we might have to wait until tomorrow evening to see who starts. Big talking points will be who’s in goal, will he stick with Robbie for his kickouts. Will Coen or Murray be trusted to start midfield. Will Cillian start.

    Best of luck to Sligo U17s this evening. A win for them against Roscommon and Mayo would be in Connacht semi final next week.

  61. Shaneire thanks for the parking info. And Revellino that post on the Al Brogan article is mighty:)

  62. If Cillian is not fit for full game I think Loftus or Carr should be there for frees. No free taker against Roscommon cost us the game.

  63. RTE1 , RTE 2 , TV3 , EIR channels , TG4 , BBC NI before you even mention SKY .
    Yet only 3 games being shown this weekend when there are loads being played.
    The GAAs TV policy needs to be completely revisited.

  64. The Heather is Rising.
    Just catching up here this morning with posts and came across yours. I agree with your every syllable. You reflect my thoughts completely. You lay it out in very simple terms. It’s the most relevant post I’ve read in a while.

  65. Jesus will ye ever F&@k up with the supporter crap….it’s childish. All that matters is what happens on the field.

    I hope we go with youth here…it’s about building for the future. Talk of starting, taking off and brining Andy Moran back on again is absolutely ridiculous talk.

  66. Roger Milla. Sky have the rights to show the qualifers. No one else. So instead of showing one from round 2 they’re showing two from round 3 on the 29th. The Gaa has no input to what games Sky or RTE shows. BBC NI has only the rights to show Ulster championship games.

  67. I won’t be announcing the team until later.

    I have a few suprises.

    It’s only fair anyway that I introduce the 8 new starters to the rest of the panel before I announce the team publicly.

  68. Read the offending article and it really isn’t very offensive at all. Only the bit at the end about the Ros game wides which is a bit simplistic. I actually thought we played well against Ros but the free taking and gifted 2nd goal were the difference.

  69. My only worry moving on from that game is insufficient cover at the back. Also would like to see Harrison back to his best. A few posters would put Plunkett in CHB but for me Vaughan, Boyle and Higgins are the warriors we could use there. A few others saying S Coen in midfield but he’s not a free scorer nor is SOS whereas Diarmaid is. That frees up a forward slot. I would play EOD if training well and play Keith CHB / sweeper.

  70. I see it continuously referenced about Keith Higgins as a sweeper. The whole idea of a sweeper is that they act like a defensive quarter back both defensively and in counter attack. Now, Keith has the counter attack part nailed, but the primary duty of a sweeper is defensive. Keith has never shown that elite defensive mindset, so why would we play him sweeper? He has many instances of ball watching instead of covering where the danger is so in my view he is not suited to being a sweeper.
    Michael Plunkett is worth sticking with at centre back. Being a two sided player and a good passer of the ball I believe we need to be brave and stick with him over the next number of years. He is getting better all the time. We need a kickpasser at six, not players whose first instinct is to run the ball.

  71. What JP said. Plunkett wasn’t great last time out but a vote of confidence here could be important down the line.

  72. Is that Mayo supporters bus from Galway coming through Athlone as I’ve an event there Saturday at AIT. Going to the game and staying in Dublin Saturday night. Want to minimise driving for environment and it would only be myself in the car otherwise.

  73. I wouldn’t start Plunkett at chb, give him a wing half back and let him earn his right to more commanding chb. Was switched in roscommon game. James McCormack should also be batting for start up call.
    Will be interesting team. Normally announced before now so maybe waiting on fitness calls. Will some poster put up the subs for the rest of us when they get hold of a program.

  74. I would agree with JP, Higgins isn’t a CHB. Who ever is played there must have good distribution by kick passing and be able to hold position in front of the FB, the CHB can’t go missing (out of position from continually attacking) which will happen if Keith is there. IMO I would stick with Plunket at 6, another option would be KMc who played that position for club but little chance of Horan going that way.

  75. Gutted to be missing this, have a family event on down south that evening, was hoping to combine both if it was an earlier throw in. I really think Down will put it up to us but hoping we can scrape through it by a couple points. Few people have suggested Stephen Coen in midifield, completely disagree, have seen him play there at u21 level and a couple times at senior level and the position does not suit him, however I think he could do a good job at full back, allowing Harrison to swtich to his best position in the corner. I really think we need to let a few young lads off the leash here, they are either good enough or they aren’t. Have placed COC at CHF, played quite a bit here for Horan in 2013/2014 and was very effective, might create a bit more space for him and he is also an excellent kickpasser of the ball, plus we may need long range shooters if they employe the double sweeper as expected. There’s no way our elder players are going to be able to get through 5 games in 5 weeks potentially. If we can’t change around our starting 15 with 3-4 changes per game through the qualifiers and Super 8s we have no business in being there TBH. Will be very interesting to see what Horan does at midfield, would be happy with DOC going in there but wouldn’t be too disappointed if he decides to throw Murray in at the deep end. Still maintain we would have beaten the Rossies if we had COC on the field even for frees alone, don’t think it’s all as doom and gloom as people have made it out to be, people seem to be ignoring the amount of scoring chances we created that day which was impressive even if we didn’t convert them, few tweaks here and there and a bit of smartness on the sideline and we won’t be far off.


    Subs-Hennelly, Vaughan, Murray, Higgins, Moran, Barrett, McLoughlin, Doherty, Regan, Loftus, Reape/McDonagh

  76. 1, hennelly 2,Barrett,3 Harrison,4 higgins 5,durcan 6,boyle, 7 keegan, 8 D o’conner, 9 A o’shea, 10 mcdonagh, 11 doherty, 12 mcloughlin, 13 carr, 14 D coen, 15 C o’conner. If Cillian can’t start i think we have to go with regan for the free kick’s as the down back six will concede a lot of free’s. boyle for his positional sense is vital.Over all i think mayo will have to much for this down team but we need to hold the for the first 20mins then puss on.

  77. I disagree with the other posters on Higgins. He’s our best player at mopping up all over the place. The reason it causes problems in some games is he’s doing that from corner back (not sweeper) where if there’s a man free elsewhere in opposition forwards or a ball in over the top we’re vulnerable. Not the tightest man marker because over the years if opponent able to win the ball Higgins relies on his pace to get back. Rarely beaten one on one but can be in bother if caught on the wrong side as he’s not big. Higgins is also our best long range kick passer with low trajectory and pace on the ball.
    There’s some merit in staying with Plunkett but if having another quiet game like the Ros one sub him off. The question is who is better EOD or Plunkett / Mccormack. My hunch would be EOD and Higgins can’t be dropped so I would prefer a tight CB and sweeper type CHB.

  78. My starting 15 would be

    1 Clarke 2 Barrett 3 Harrison 4 EOD 5 Keegan 6 Higgins 7 Durcan 8 AOS 9 DOC 10 Boland 11 McLoughlin 12 McDonagh or J Doc 13 Carr 14 Coen 15 COC or Regan

    Anyone suggesting Kevin Mc shouldn’t start makes no sense to me. In our top 5 performers in nearly every game. Can play almost anywhere. Hoping for some more lovely scores from Coen.

  79. Shuffly Deck, I might agree with Playing Higgins as a sweeper provided a no 6 is in front of him, not as a 6 himself, he ventures forward too often to play that position. I’m sorry but I can’t agree with you on Higgins being the best long range kick passer. There is little or no evidence of this as Keith almost always runs the ball from defence, I honestly can’t recall a time he has hit an accurate long ball forward.

  80. @Mayomad, The best Mayo pass in years was Keith Higgins to Michael Conroy against Dublin in 2012. Conroy was almost surprised by the ball, it travelled 60 yards like an arrow. Unfortunately Michael Conroy fumbled it.
    Higgins was coming up the left side and hit a long bullet ball up the wing to Conroy, an unreal pass.

  81. Thank you Source of the Robe. I hope the idea of knock out football from here in will focus both players and Management. Surly this is the way Mayo should play ALL the time? We have one of the Finest Football squads in the Country now lets go out and Shoot Down Down!
    Mhuigheo Abu.

  82. Thanks, Sean. In the interests of transparency and, in line with policy that it’s okay to discuss issues that have already been published elsewhere, that Connaught Telegraph story with team details is here. Like the rest of you, I’ve no idea if the team list they’ve published is accurate or not but you’d have to think that it is.

  83. JP, I don’t think referencing one example 7 years ago proves Keith is the best kick passer on the team. I could mention AOS pass to Ruane in league final as an example of an exceptional pass but I wouldn’t regard AOS as the best passer on the team. A sweeper or CHB would need to be able to play numerous accurate kick passes throughout a game, they don’t need to be spectacular but they do need to be accurate, quick and set up mayo on the offensive. Higgins hasn’t shown this is part of his game as he nearly always runs the ball. The closest player on the team that fits the description is Boland but he isn’t going to play defence.

  84. I’m thinking Loftus will take any frees from 35 ish inwards ? I really like him as a footballer , love his silky style . I always had a vision of him , Cillian and Evan regan lighting up our forward play .

  85. Looks an ok team but I am disappointed that there is no sign of Cillisn Anyway if that’s the team the very best of luck to it It is very experienced and James probably reckons that is what’s needed in the tricky assignment that is Down away

  86. By all accounts, Coen is a top class free taker club wise, behind only Cillian and Dougie?

  87. I like that team (if it starts). Would prefer to see Cillian starting, their could be a change before throw in yet.

  88. @Mayomad, Was just giving an instance of an extremely good pass. It was said couldn’t recall him giving one. Agree, I don’t think he’s the best kickpasser in the team.

  89. Apologies JP, I was more referring to the earlier comment made about Keith being best passer on the team.

  90. Good to see Clarke back would be good to see Schlingerman on the panel too. Not sure why Regan is dropped he had one of his better games against
    Roscommon Anyway good luck to the team panel and management I’ll be there in Newry to cheer them on safe journey to all traveling

  91. Boland dropped is very harsh imo. He played well against Rossies I thought. Great to see McDonagh back in the fold. Bit surprised that full back line stayed the same. Would have liked Coen in, I’d say there’ll be changes to the team as is the norm nowadays.

  92. 5 changes. Hennelly,Plunkett,Ruane,Boland and Regan out and in are Clarke,Boyle,McDonagh,Loftus and Moran. McDonagh the only starter that is new to championship football so Horan is very much going with a tried and trusted line up for this knock out championship game

  93. If the leaked team is the one that starts then I would have serious reservations about our season.
    Firstly, Horan has constantly repeated the mantra that jerseys must be earned, and that he and his management select sides based on what they see in games and training. If that is the case, how can he possibly select Barrett, Higgins and McLoughlin after their display v Roscommon?
    Secondly, if he is not prepared to give younger players, eg Eoin O’Donoghue, McCormack, Carr or Treacy, a run in a championship game v a 3rd division team then it doesn’t look too promising for those lads if we make it through to much tougher assignments. Starting the 35 year old Andy Moran???
    Finally, all of the above will be irrelevant anyway unless Horan displays a much improved performance on the line, eg his use and the timing of substitutions plus his reluctance to change defensive shape during a game. I am not saying I don’t fancy us to win but, to me, that is a fairly uninspiring line up.

  94. It is strange that our local radio station has not announced the team. It must not be official yet. This sounds a bit strange to me. I think we loyal supporters should know both the team and substitutes at this stage. If that is the team I must say it is a bit too Conservative for me.

  95. In fairness Pebblemeller and I don’t know this for sure but you may have not seen them in training since the Ross game I’d imagine between training A v B games and challenge matches they have got together 10 to 12 times since Ross game I’d definitely say JH is wary of this game hence so many experienced players I agree some of them did not shine last day out but itt looks like we already have 5 changes

  96. If that is the team it sums up the reality of the situation. Only 2 new faces from last year’s and a reliance on older generation who cannot deliver full 70 minutes..

  97. Very worried about Cillian and his ongoing injury problems. 4 weeks from Roscommon and still no sign of our previous captain and unreplaceble free taker. JH said immediately after the Roscommon game he was only 5/6 days away which I thought was a very strange response. If Cillian isn’t on the pitch at some stage on Saturday evening we will struggle.

  98. If we are relying on 35 year old Andy Moran to start then God help our chances of winning anything this I have the utmost respect for Andy but surely to God there has to be someone younger coming through that we can start and leave Andy for the last 20 minutes how can a 35 year old compete with a 20 year old defender? Ok he has more experience And is a bit cuter but unless Horan fits him with rocket boots then it’s hard for him to compete. I don’t know we are eventually have to give the young lads a chance it might not be pretty for a few years but it’s the only way forward. And as for all this in it together bullshit the county board don’t give a fig about us we have to rely on the Connaught Telegraph to release the team that was leaked to them.

  99. We could be playing Tyrone next week. Surely that’s when you need experience….you have to trust the yung guys and give them opportunity to develop. There will be no choice next year but to play them! Hmm

  100. Im not Horans biggest fan, but I think he’s took the right option in going for experience in this one. We’re going up to a teak tough northern atmosphere, and older heads are the better choice. All well and good saying, fill the team full of youth, its only a D3 team, but have we not learned the league means nothing. The 2 relegated teams from D1 are in provincial finals, 1 already the provincial champion. If he started the youth and we got bet, it’d be “why didnt he go for experience” if we go on to lose anyway it’ll be vice versa. Plunkett looked nervous v the ros on his home ground, so his omission is correct. Boland probably loses out due to his size, he’d be bet up a stick in Newry, but he’ll shine in other games. Its very much a horses for courses selection, and the right one by James.

  101. Just to be clear I didn’t say said was the best passer, I said best “long” range passer. I’ve seen a few of these not just the one referred to. Also able to score from outside the 45 on rare occasions. Just because he chooses to run more often doesn’t mean he’s not capable of it and who would people say is better to kick a 40m+ pass. I’ll also point out he’s the most accurate long range punch passer able to accurately reach a player 20m+ away. Yes natural instinct is to run and that too can punch holes in opposition. Running is better percentage as you already have the ball. Either way I say he’s a better asset at CHB.

  102. Just thinking, if I were Horan, I would need a few good defenders in the centre half back line, therefore I would not pick Durcan as a defender, he does better work on the attack, for me hasn’t done his job ever while on the back foot.

  103. I suspect he’s going with how lads are performing in training with one exception Loftus for Boland who looked good any game he played this year. That’s probably because he’s changing the right footed free taking to Loftus who’s probably better than Doherty from the wrong side. We bemoaned the free taking last day so that choice may settle us. On the other wing it suits left footer McDonagh who’s also done well. Unfortunate for Fergal. Inside it’s important to get a good start so we disable the double blanket as early as possible, hence experience picked. Anyone saying McLoughlin should be dropped after 1 quiet game is way off the mark. Any time he got the ball v Ros he made good use if it and had at least 1 trademark killer pass inside. The only other quiet game he had in recent years was league final when he was fouled non stop with officials not fully copping onto it.

  104. @shufflydeck, nearly 100% positive that I got the last place on that bus. 16 seater.

  105. Pebblemeller in all fairness unless you are at all training sessions and A v B games i don’t think you can question Barrett, Higgins and McLoughlin reference jerseys must be earned. We need to trust james and the management on team selections as they are watching this group 4 to 5 times a week. We as mayo supporters love gossip let’s wait and see what team takes the field. lets stop the shit talk.

  106. Thanks for the update Sinead. If anyone else going from Galway not on the bus willing to pull in at Athlone let me know.

  107. Just thinking again, I am one that needs convincing over everything, basically don’t always believe what I hear and see in the media.
    1, Has Cillian Ó Connor really been injured for all of 2019, so far ?
    2, That team list released by the Connaught Telegraph, will 3 of those players really start?
    3, Will C O Connor start v Down?
    4, Did Mayo / Horan really under estimate Roscommon 4 weeks ago, the league encounter in Jan / Feb was a tight affair with a 1 point win for Mayo.

    I suppose my queries will be answered tomorrow evening.
    I expect a win with the midfield over powering their Down counterparts.

    I see drama in the later qualifier round v Galway.

  108. Still no left sided freetaker on the team and heaven only knows what plunkett and boland did wrong against Roscommon..lots of others played far worse and seem to be automatically selected

  109. We will have to wait for the official announcement. I’ll believe the team selection when I see that.
    I’m personally very happy – if it’s true – that we’re going with experienced heads starting for this one (nothing against our new guys). That’s Clarke in goal, Andy starting and Boyle starting. They’ll steady the ship and, one would think, have the smarts and the tenacity to get us up and running. We need steadiness and effectiveness here to get motoring, to instil confidence and steady our nerves – we had an unexpected loss last time out, Down will be licking their lips for this match, Paddy Tally will have his team geared up with a plan, this is knockout football, we’ve had instances of being shaky in early qualifier games, and lower division teams in 2016 and 2017 have often fancied their changes to have a go at us (rightly or wrongly).

    Unlike some posters, I’m very pleased Andy is starting. He’s crafty on the ball if let, he’ll create confidence in those around him and Down won’t relish marking him. What’s the issue? For me, if he’s on the team we should use him. I’m not thinking about next year – we use our effective players now, as and when needed, and Andy is one of our trumps, when on form.

    I’m happy we’re going under the radar for this and there’s little noise. That helps steady the nerves too. Let’s go about things quietly and just work the results, if we can.

    If we can go on, it will indeed be a team effort, across matches, between young and older players. I’m happy to see the younger players later in the Down game if we get out on top and in future qualifier games if we get moving.

    I’m delighted, if true, that Loftus is getting a run.

    I wonder too about Cillian but not enough to be worried. I read in the Mayo News two weeks ago that he had a small additional bit of surgery last month to accelerate recovery from his procedure a few months ago. I thought at the time that this would mean some more time until he was ready to play. He’s in the hands of experts and that’s good.

    Best wishes to everyone. Let’s do some breathing exercises and then enjoy the match. Maigh Eo abú!

  110. So 3 of our six forwards scored from play the last day, their reward, 2 of them dropped. Really hoping that ain’t the team.

  111. Just a Thought – Why is it unprofessional from the Connacht Telegraph? Croke Park have had the team since yesterday morning to meet printing deadlines. I’m fairly Down officals (if they wanted to) would also have access to it at this stage. The team should be out in the public domain at this late stage.

    What I can’t figure out is why Mayo GAA haven’t offically announced it? What’s to be gained by witholding it until 24 hours before the game when you’ve already submitted it to Croke Park? Oure daftness if you ask me..

    A stop to all this woud be Croke Park setting deadlines for team submissions as is the case now and then Croke Park to release teams once deadline passes.

  112. According to a local radio station there is still no official announcement of team.

  113. i strongly suspect that Cillian O’Connor will start in place of Andy but team named otherwise will start

    If the team named does start (and i dont think it will) then i would echo Pebblesmellers sentiments above, back again to the old guard like Higgins,boyler, clarke and Andy doesnt send out a great message going forward, none of them played well in the league, how many years can we keep defaulting to that same group. Cant imagine too many teams playing across the country this weekend would have a higher age profile

    On the upside though it is a strong team and should have plenty to get over Down and progress.
    Also, delighted to see McDonagh back and happy to see DOC at midfield too in what is his best position

  114. There is a car park opposite the buttercrane shopping center (across the canal) its the closest 1 to the pitch about 10 minute walk and its 40p for all day parking on Saturday.
    For food there’s the flagstaff Inn on the Dublin Road. The canal court along the quays. Art Barfunkle on monaghan St is a really good tapas style restaurant and opposite it is friar tucks fast-food (best chicken bgr anywhere)

  115. WJ you should call your next blog In the dark as no official team named yet. Don’t think that is the team that will start. May be program lineout but will change.

  116. Form temporary class permanent Pebbles,

    Barrett,Higgins,McLoughlin,Moran still happen to be some of the best players Mayo have and if the likes of McCormack,Carr,Treacy get to close to becoming established county players who can inspiring those around them they will be will doing very well.

    The time for experimenting is over, not the league anyone this is knock out championship football and Horan is picking what he feels is his best available 15 for selection

  117. Can I ask will it be possible to buy tickets at the ground tomorrow night? Thanks.

  118. I reckon the connaught telegraph are not on the money there with that team at all…I really have my doubts ?

  119. Agree with Supermac. Think Andy’s a decoy and we’ll see COC. I also expect a majority of the subs to be the youngsters after the game’s been put to bed.

  120. Doesnt look good for our minors, Roscommon scoring their third goal, now 3-3 to 0-6 against Sligo, Galway 5 up against Lietrim.

  121. Can’t understand the goalkeeper change,or EOD or S Coen,our best number six not starting,however onwards and upwards,up Mayo

  122. Just wondering has anyone seen the Down team? I haven’t and it makes me wonder why we expect our lads to show their hand so soon. I’d be really disappointed if we don’t have a better mix of new/young fellas and the experience…but time will tell. Mayo … time to box smart!!

  123. Time will tell if that’s the correct team named or not OR indeed will it be the team that starts .. Really don’t care if it was the Mayo News , Mayo advertiser or what paper ” leaked” the story of team sheet sent to printer for program ..
    Personally wouldn’t have a problem with that team . Its not about performance or what score we put up .Its about winning and moving on .

  124. I couldn’t understand our change of goalkeeper last January
    I completely understand the change back
    It was madness
    Can’t believe there is still even a debate
    In for kick outs and long range frees I’ll hear back
    Worked out well last game

    Clarke is our best keeper
    He was won us many more big games than he had lost us
    The same can’t be said for Hennelly

    It’s not a slight on him. Clarke is just better
    If he doesn’t start I’ve no faith in Horan
    He has to admit his mistake by putting our best keeper back in goals

  125. Looking forward to seeing the match tomorrow. Easy commute for me. Hope they make it harder . Will bring my roar and my flag tomorrow evening.

  126. Fair play to Sligo…so we get another bite… hope we make good use of it… well done Sligo…

  127. Nice slice of luck for a change . Absolutely delighted with that , obviously they will have their work cut out to beat Sligo but it’s a chance of progress . Hup Mayo

  128. thanks for that, if we could win that one we would be sure of the quarter finals.

  129. Venue hasn’t been fixed for Castlebar yet according to Connacht GAA. Will be confirmed tomorrow.

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