James in the news

James Horan

Nature abhors a vacuum and all that, which is why I reckon that debate about the merits or otherwise of the panellists on The Sunday Game has taken legs in the way it has. It passes the time, I suppose, and there’s still plenty of time to while away before the 8th of June.

There’s more than enough stuff to fill the vacuum today, though, to which some of you have already alluded. In fact, James Horan is all over the papers today, arising from his interview in this week’s Western People and a similar in-depth interview with James is also in today’s Mayo News.

I haven’t got links to either of these pieces (though obviously you can get your hands on paper or digital variants of either or both if you want) but the resultant coverage I’ve come across is here – Irish Times, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, RTÉ, Hogan StandLive Gaelic.

I don’t have that much time to dwell on all this at the minute but I think it’s easy enough to see the wood from the proverbial trees on the issues that arise from it.

First off is the New York event where, to be honest, it looks as if all sides to the argument have a point. The County Board needed to fundraise (our lot aren’t the Dublin County Board, after all, swimming in that tsunami of cash so fundraising is a necessary evil), the fans paid their dollars and many – especially, one assumes, the ex-pats – would have liked to have seen the players while James had to make sure his squad was fully focused on the match.

The bottom line, surely, is that the players were facing into a championship match and so James was absolutely correct to insist that pre-match social events of any kind were out of bounds for the playing party. It all sounds like a bit of a cock-up, to be honest, but nothing worth going to war about and one assumes that when this meeting takes place with the County Board on it that’s the last we’ll hear about it.

A more serious issue is the story put about by the Connaught Telegraph about a rift between James and Donie Buckley, with James denying furiously that there’s any substance to this allegation. It’s worth bearing in mind that this is the same paper that ran that shameful, scurrilous hatchet-job on the manager in the aftermath of last year’s All-Ireland and has been sniping at him constantly ever since.

For my money, I think that James’ explanation about how he and Donie split the training between the players based at home and those in Dublin rings true and I reckon that this is just more shit-stirring from a paper that seriously needs to cop itself on.

Finally, the best bit of news I’ve seen out of all of today’s reports is the one buried away at the end (of the Indo one) which is that David Clarke is back in action. That, folks, is seriously good news.

119 thoughts on “James in the news

  1. Disgraceful piece from the Conn last week. But they have a habit of churning out total and utter shite. Shameful. What’s worse is there are people who bloody believe it! Well done James.

    Delighted to see Davey AND Kenny back in action! Our options are getting bigger!

  2. great news on Clarke, delighted.

    the bit about the division of training rings true alright which means the journo should be pulled up if he cannot prove his story.

  3. I have to say, if the county board had gone about their fundraising efforts in New York with any degree of transparency, with the entrance fees to each event clearly communicated in advance (it’s not like they didn’t have enough time in advance of the trip) and an accurate version of expectations they might have come out of this debacle with a whole lot more in the coffers both in terms of cash and goodwill.

    Instead they have managed to alienate team, manager and supporters in one fell swoop which by their own standards is a pretty impressive feat. A meet and greet on the Friday night before our first Championship game? Horan was absolutely correct – players should have been focusing on the game and I would expect nothing less from him or from the set-up.

    Supporters too know the deal – they know we’re not exactly flush in Mayo, and that flying out to New York isn’t cheap. What I don’t think the county board appreciate is that most decent-minded fans don’t begrudge the team that brings them such enjoyment year in year out a few quid to offset those costs (team and management costs at least!). What decent-minded fans do mind, however, is poor communication, half-arsed organisation and being taken for fools. I hate criticising – it’s easy to criticise and hurl from the ditches – but sometimes it’s warranted, and honest to god, the ineptitude and shitehawkery displayed at times would try the patience of the most patient of supporters.

    As for the “journalism” that has made such headlines – it’s easy knowing it’s silly season and there isn’t a lot going on. The writer in question has form and will be overjoyed with the headlines he has generated this week. Our team and management have enough to be getting on with without dealing with that sort of pathetic codswallop.

    On another note, genuinely delighted for David Clarke – if he never played another county game again I’m thrilled for him on a personal level that he’s back togging out. But I’d be reluctant to see Rob dropped on the basis of this,and I reckon Clarke will have to fight for his place along with the rest of them.

    Thinking of taking a detour to the Hyde on the way back to Dublin from Galway on Sunday (it’s kinda on the way, right?) A month is far too long to go without live football …

  4. Anne-Marie, you speak the truth. My thoughts exactly on both the county boards organisation skills? and Horans correct decision to keep his team away from the event. As for The Connaught, my thoughts on that rag have been expressed elsewhere, and in the past, so I won’t rant all over again.
    It was noticeable that the Sunday night fund-raiser for the team itself, organised by The Oldcastle I think, was “greeted” with disdain by the county board. The organiser making it crystal clear that all funds raised went directly to the team/management.
    Do the words county board, piss-up and brewery mean anything???

  5. That’s interesting, Pebblesmeller.Given the fact that the charge wasn’t advertised in advance (I only heard about it via word of mouth in Connolly’s on Saturday night) and it was advertised at $50 in the programme (with no specification on where the funds were going) I gave it a wide berth. Which was a pity, because it was probably the part I was looking forward to the most.

    I’ve heard tales of other ineptitude that I won’t post here, but “piss-up and brewery” along with “comedy of errors” are exactly what spring to mind. Basil Fawlty would have seemed competent in comparison.

    Anyway, let’s not let it take away from the bigger picture which was a memorable occasion in Gaelic Park and fantastic weekend with great people in New York 🙂

  6. The big problem with theMayo meet and greet is that it was held in a small place for the crowd expected, someone made a pile of money or else had badly misjudged the crowd that was travelling. I was chatting a lad that attended it, he left, too crowded and nobody would disagree. Astoria Manor would have been the best idea, on the night of the game!!!
    Like the last time. Lots of room and the players weren’t trapped in a crowded place. A good night for all and none of the nonsense that went on in Gaelic Park during the game, a disgrace and very dangerous if the truth is told.
    That Connaught paper reporter is a bit of a fool, he ruined his own reputation and has alienated people from buying the paper, a paper won’t refuse ink but a customer can refuse to buy a paper.
    Horan and co should say no more about it and let Dublin take the headlines again, being champions an all.

  7. Also from Twitter today, from the Connaught Telegraph:

    “James Horan denies suggestions made in the Connaught Telegraph about Mayo rift, writes Colm Keys in today’s Irish Indo [linked]”.

    So the CT are tweeting a story where James is saying what they wrote originally was “disgraceful” and “complete lies”. It’s as if they’re almost proud at being called out over it.

  8. Whilst I understand that the pre-match fundraiser may not have been handled the best and that communication may have been poor I think people should be more careful of the language they use to describe the actions of unpaid volunteers. Supporters support. Don’t become like soccer fans. I am sure that any decision made by the county board was made with every good intention with pressure from all sides. Sometimes these pressures produce decisions that may be proven and seen as wrong in hindsight. As the OP states it is not worth going to war. We go to war together not against each other. For gods sake they are entitled to get things wrong. No need to hang them!

  9. that leads me to believe there are two likely scenarios then WJ ,

    1 they stand by their original story and James was attempting to deny the rift today even though it actually did happen( which is fair enough from James by the way , managers do this all the time ! )

    2 the journalist has ran a false story and they are delighted with the press it is receiving.

    in which case,

    1 lets see if the CT take this further and print a reply to James


    2 CT is a complete and utter rag

  10. It’s as clear as the substitution of Freeman , the switching of Higgins and the non appearance of Feeney in the All Ireland final. I’m still waiting for an explanation . But we live in a either you are with us or against us scenario. Let’s see what the Connacht TELEGRAPH retorts with before slagging people off

  11. The only thing that’s worse than being talked about is not being talked about, the newspaper in question is gathering a fair bit of focus on itself. Drama over nothing but it still sells.
    Michael o Leary would be proud of them, charging to use toilets on his planes was a ploy to get the people talking, they were talking even in America about it, the fact that it was a ploy went over the heads of most people, but he still got Ryanair mentioned in a million conversations.
    Mayo should be making headlines about a new sponsor with deep pockets but here we are talking about lies in a local paper. God bless us, it’s not like we haven’t enough of a battle ahead of us in 2014.

  12. The omens are not good for 2014. Very similar trajectory to Donegal last season.

  13. facetheball – All we have to go on so far is the league, you can disregard NY.
    Last year Donegal got relegated from the league.
    This year Mayo got to the league semi.
    How is that a very similar trajectory will you tell me?!

  14. “But rest assured and be certain of this – we have learned from that performance and that won’t happen this team again in 2014” (in reference to the Derry match). This I would say is one of the boldest and most positive statements I’ve ever heard from James Horan and I believe it tells us a lot about where he’s at. He’s either indirectly saying that they more or less threw that match, or he’s sending out a direct challenge to his players, no more fucking around, seize the moment lads – as it’s now or never….

  15. Thats such BS from that guy in the Connaught.With people like that on board no wonder they’re going under.

  16. No-one is hanging anyone, Sinabhfuil, and if it’s my post you’re referring to, I did acknowledge the work put in by members of the county board, and that it’s not the easiest of jobs. But neither is it rocket science and a little thought and planning does go a long way. Supporters support, indeed. In fact, a substantial number of supporters shelled out a substantial amount of money to travel to New York to support the team, but were still expected to shell out on three consecutive nights if they wanted to attend official functions which were then not as advertised. The choice is always there, of course but it’s just a shame, because it could have been handled so much better. But I hope they’ll learn from it.

    Anyway, that’s my final word on the matter (I swear)- onwards and upwards. 🙂 It won’t stop me supporting the efforts of the team in future which is ultimately in my book what being a “supporter” is about, and indeed, it wouldn’t prevent me from putting my hand in my pocket in future until our fairy godsponsor emerges from the moneyed vaults.

    WJ, I spotted that tweet by the Connaught Telegraph earlier. Instant unfollow! I do agree that we have bigger battles to be fighting than squabbling within the county with local journos with vivid imaginations, limited insight and no influence. It’s important to point out that the vast majority of local journalism is fair and supportive of the team, and giving this lad – or these rumours – oxygen will do nothing to help the cause.

    Even if there was a falling out – so bloody what? It’s not like Mayo are the first team to have some conflict within the camp, but it’s not like anyone can question the commitment of either to the cause, and sometimes a bit of conflict (if indeed there even was any) can go a long way towards clearing the way forward. No big deal at the start of May. And if it is as Horan says, and this is a non-story, we’re making a big deal about absolutely nothing, though it will be interesting to see what the Contel come back with.

    Everyone loves a bit of gossip, but did we not have enough of that last September? Let’s get behind our team and management for god’s sake and as Sinabhuil says let’s go to war together, not against each other.

  17. Sure I t’s all a trial run for JH’s new Sir Alex distraction tactic, to take the pressure off the players!
    And sure the Conn Tel boyo is just the mouse in the cage. Or maybe not – he could just be the accidental village idiot?

  18. I agree with a lot of what you are saying here Anne Marie The CT havE long bit short on the quality I look for in a newspaper. Their talents might be better employed in a different field IMO. tHE MESSAGE FROM jh WAS VERY POSITIVE AND REMINDS ME OF A SIMILAR MESSAGE HE HAD BEFORE THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME LAST YEAR.

    Anne Marie I agree with the points you are making here. You are talking a lot of sense. The CT story is not surprising. What surprises me is that people in Mayo are still buying this stuff with their hard earned money. Its a long time since they got any of mine. The standard they set for themselves is well short of what I find acceptable. The story from JH is positive for the coming year. It reminds me what he was saying before the start of last years championship. I am looking to another long and successful summer.

  19. yipee great stuff on clarkey, missed that huge frame of his around the squad, Rob doing his job and now we have options, is it june yet ?. is it june yet .? is it june yet ? ,

  20. I see the Western is also reporting that Shane McHale damaged a shoulder and ‘faces a lengthy period on the sidelines’. Not good news.

  21. Ah the good old C B . I attended the ” banquet ” the night of the match in 04 and Jack from the CB praised Johnny from the C B and Johnny praised Jack in return. The players, meanwhile sat at a table looking completely bored, young men , probably in New York for the first time and their match won , had to sit and listen to such scutter. I would have loved if I’d been good enough to wear the Mayo jersey, but I was glad that I could leave when I pleased that night and did before the meal , unlike the players who had to grin and bear it.If they had just played in a kip like the Hyde, at least they could shag off home.

  22. Connacht tellygraph a joke of a paper and that chap is a joke of a journalist. He wants his name in the news and decides that a bit of notoriety is the best way to do it. That paper has form on such matters. Way back in 1982 after Mayo were hammered in Connacht final by Galway they took the mature decision not to print the Mayo team photograph to “prevent further embarrassment” (their words) How kind of them. That article by the supposed journalist after the AI Final was pathetic. And in response to an earlier post does JH really have to explain to us his reasons for making every call and decision. Yes we may not agree with some of them but he is the manager and he makes the calls. What next .He will need our permission to put on a sub or drop or promote a player to the panel. We would be some joke then. Let the man do his job. In my humble opinion he has not done too bad a job so far.

  23. The Connaught Telegraph has been published every week (with the exception of one week during the winter of 47), since 1828. It is a local paper for local people. It covers alot of other news events outside of sports. The Connaught is under receivership at the present time and I for one hope that it will continue to stay in print for another 200 years. It saddens me to hear people refer to this local institution as a “rag” based on one article which some people disagree with. Don’t slam the whole paper based on one reporters views. That just makes people sound like knuckle draggers. The Connaught Telegraph has provided a lifeline for generations of people throughout the centuries. Long may it contnue.

  24. Jesus, we badly need a game to talk about!!! As WJ said above “Nature abhors a vacuum” and we are filling this curent vacuum by digging up old news and getting tetchy about it. We are losing our heads over an article written by an odious little journo in a local newspaper. If people feel as strongly as I did about it, well the best thing to do is not to buy it. Personnally, I’m delighted Horan said what he said and I’m even happier when he said “But rest assured and be certain of this – we have learned from that performance and that won’t happen this team again in 2014” This is so unlike him to be bullish and can only be a positive thing.
    Now, we need to move on please, before we all start wrestling around on the floor arguing over the county board, the connaught telegraph, the New York “shake-down”, the price of beef, the weather, water charges, etc. And don’t get me started on the elections!!!!!
    Anybody notice how Darren Coen was 7 from 7 at the weekend? Cillian got 8pts , 5 from play and Ritchie got 3.

  25. Back to that JH interview in the Western. Lots of little nuggets there away from the stuff that caught the media attention:

    * On Chris Barrett – ‘he is getting closer with every passing day’
    * Barry Moran back in 3 weeks

    * On the mood – he was practically jumping out of his skin. Go see the training sessions, returning players and youth are a great infusion, guys can’t wait for championship to start

    * Specifically mentions Tom Parsons (twice), Adam Gallagher, David Drake, Mikey Sweeney and Darren Coen


  26. Anne-marie when ya say it was probably the bit ya were looking forward to most,did you actually think the mayo team panel were going ta show up at that on the eve of a championship match

  27. Joe Ruane, people dont “disagree” with the article , people doubt the veracity of the article!

    I used the word rag but I qualified it, please read again.

    On a much brighter note Oisin McConville called Mayo as the AI CHampion on the second captains podcast its well worth a listen.
    He also singled out Mikie Sweeney for praise. Looking forward to the game on Sunday now so we can see our next opponent.

  28. So what Pebblesmeller if guys want to have a bit of rant from time to time. Sure isn’t that what this wonderful Blog is all about, and so long as we keep between the hedges as Willie Joe might say, sure what’s the harm in it…..

  29. Roger, my comment was not leveled at you alone. My comment was aimed at those furrowed bound scribes of wisdom who labelled the Connaught Telegraph a shameful, shite, joke of a rag. This seems to me to be a bit over the top critique of a proud publication which has been in existence for almost 200 years . This onslaught of abuse seems to be solely in response to the veracity of the report from the CT on whether their may exist a rift within Mayo management.

    I did read over your earlier comment Roger and it reads to me like “if James is telling the truth that’s sound. If James is talking shite that’s sound as well, but if the CT made an inaccurate report then the entire publication is a complete and total rag.

    I do agree that it is not helpful to the Mayo cause this year if falsehoods are presented as facts and reporters should be held to account if that is the case. Lets just see what happens and show a small bit of respect to a publication which has survived almost 200 years and was a life line for many of our parents and grandparents and great great grand parents etc, even if they were not as smart and clever as some of our posters here.

  30. Joe, my issue with the Connaught Telegraph, and I am perfectly entitled to air it whether you agree with it or not, is the tone and angle of Aiden Henrys piece after last years All Ireland. Nothing else. It was nothing short of disgraceful and how any fair thinking editor allowed it to go to print is beyond me.

    Ask the relevant questions by all means, why was Feeney not used? why were all the subs not used? why did you take off Freeman after 27mins? But to turn it into an article of unsubstatiated gossip-mongering from a journalist that has previous history with overly negative opinions of Mayo football (the same man tipped against Mayo in every round of the Connaught championship last year) and to do so when he knew damn well that the players and management were in a very vulnerable position.

    As regards “show a small bit of respect to a publication”, well I voted with my pocket and instead, every since then, I buy the wonderful Mayo News. However if that journalist showed a little more respect to the players and managment back in September well then his paper would not be embroilled in all of this now.

    The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

  31. An Spailpín has a Mayo preview up on his blog. See links on the right above for those that don’t know it.

  32. that was the crux of my argument Joe Ruane apart from one thing , an article doesnt not appear fully formed on the sports page of a paper. it has to be edited and as such the editor takes responsibility for its content.

    if the journalist is happy with his source and the editor is as well then i say fair play to them. Thats when i think that James is entitled to spoof that they are making it up in order to protect his camp. all sports managers do this.

    but if the journalist is making up the story and the editor is happy to run such a made up story then that really is a whole different ballgame , the former editors of the CT going back over the last 200 years would be the first men to tell you that this is not on at all and that the lack of respect to the publication is not being shown on this site but rather by the management of the paper itself.

  33. Roger the paper printed the story because they believe it to be true.

    James has denied that it is. Personally I believe James, but it wouldn’t be the first time somebody denied a newspaper story that had foundation. By making an opinion based upon what you believe the case to be you are doing the paper as much of a disservice as you think they are doing the management.

    A bit of a barney in the camp would be no surprise, and might have been exactly what was needed to give everybody a kick to focus on Summer football. Groups of 35 guys are going to have fall outs and it’s not always bad.

    Move on and beat the Rossies is what I say!

  34. Regardless of how long it has existed, it printed blatant lies. And this is not for the first time I’ve seen lazy and disrespectful journalism from this paper. It’s insulting to think someone could get paid to write such garbage.

  35. Alot of unhappy fans alright in Connollys on the Sat night before the game myself included, no cover charge of 20 USD was advertised…was a bit Irish asking for it at the door. The bar on the second floor was so packed I couldn’t even get a drink and myself and a few other left…very badly organized and coupled with the fiasco up the the cock up at the Golf Course with the young kids makes you wonder who was in charge at all.

  36. Lads and ladies, does anyone really believe that everything is “grand” in the mayo camp? or in any of the top teams camps? Seriously?…cop on. There’s probably some truth to that story…however it’s probably embellished.
    Its a streesful job. I would put money on it that there is tension most of the time, and disagreements from time to time. IMO, this is normal and healthy. Do we really want Donnie Buckley or anyone else to be a yes man only? Hardly. I would want him to be honest and brave in his training and feedback to his fellow selectors and his manager. And it’s reasonable to expect them (manager and selectors) to disagree on tactics, strategy or even team selection from time to time. Jaysus, I work well with my colleagues on a daily basis but occasionally we disagree on decisions, but take the emotion out of the decisions and keep your eye on the prize. IMO, that wil lead to success.

  37. Kevin Mc stay has tipped Mayo to beat the dubs this year for all Ireland success In today’s evening Herald also a good piece inside about who will be Winners and losers. Mayo her come out well in this.

  38. Oh Jazus!!!!
    Is there any auld challenge match or something before we eat the arses down off each other over nothing.
    I am surprised at the injury reports. I thought Chris Barrett was a long way off a comeback because of a recurring injury. Also Barry Moran who seems to have taken quite a heavy hit at training. If they are as good as some seem to think then that’s great news.
    As regards mcStay tipping Mayo I wish to hell he hadn’t ……..I’d prefer to stay out of the limelight as long as possible. Scrape by Ros ( or Leitrim)……..struggle against Galway……..pip Cork…..get a pox lucky win against Tyrone……..and annihilate the Dubs in the final. Then I’d enjoy a bit of the limelight or any other type of light!!!
    I must go now and take me tablets!

  39. Pat Spillane reckons we’re the only ones capable of beating Dublin. All we need now is Brolly to come back on board and we’re rightly fecked. 😉

  40. Well according to bookies the dubs are unbeatable would love mayo to get them at quater final stage and beat then that’s where they be very cocky.

  41. JH’s comments are really bullish about not repeating the mistakes made in the league and good to hear, he usually plays things down a bit.
    What really was great to hear from him though, was his recognizing and taking on board the problems we have/ had in defence, this imo is where we need to improve drastically if we are serious about a bid for Sam this year.
    When viewing the stats from the league we were top scorers but we gave away a shedload.

  42. Good to hear James emphatic statement that Mayo have learned from the mistakes of the past. Phew, that took awhile. Anyways, proof, pudding and ating will tell the tale.

    I’d prefer Mayo to be seen as the team who choked against Dublin and were soundly beaten by full strenght Derry, who went on to earn the right to be trounced by the deserving winners Dublin. That’s where Mayo are at the moment from where I’m sitting. Tipping them to win the AIF based on this years form is hyperbolic bullshit.

    Can that change? Yipee aye A, it can. Let’s just keep our cool and do our talking on the field, one game at a time.

  43. Interesting news about Gavin Duffy. Reckon it will generate lots of discussion on this site.David Brady on Off The Ball reckons Gavin trained with panel last night and impressed big time.

  44. Is it really true Duffy trained with mayo the last few days?? Fascinating if so, love to see how he would get on

  45. Ya heard it meself earlier on news talk – the oracle DB has spoken….once again !!

  46. If that’s the case, it makes no sense to me. No club football in over a decade!
    It might be another over active imagination at work in the Conn Tel.

    On another point, is there a real chance that JH didn’t play Mikey Sweeney in NY because he actually rates him behind Enda Varley and some others. The word in the north of the county is that he is willing to sacrifice the most intelligent player in the squad, and one that a blind man can see completes the inside line with Freezer and Cillian.

    Could our manager be doing stupid things like pushing Kevin Mc in to the corner, when the world knows he’s a great 10, and needs the space.

    Could it be that his loyalty is set to be our undoing again, because it was his choice to give Andy the captaincy again this year, and he now feels he’ll have to start him no matter how poorly he’s playing, and I take no pleasure in hat.

    Could it also be he is banking totally on Alan Dillon to get back to his form of a few years ago and steer the forwards from 11?

    Could JH actually feck it up again with blind loyalty and no real change in the forwards when the going gets tough?

  47. It was his uncommitted loyalty to Dillon that led to him starting and finishing last year’s final anyway. And seriously, did Brady need to broadcast to all and sundry that Duffy is training with the panel?

  48. Gavin Duffy played minor midfield with James Gill in 1999. Gill would be considered over the hill, so where are we going with Duffy???…….

  49. Id be much pleased if James and the lads could focus on getting the lads rite mentally and physically without all this shite in the news. Can someone explain what this exercise is with Duffy because thats all it will be just an exercise.

  50. Gavin Duffy is probably has better strength and conditioning than any other member of the mayo squad, as Ann maire said he’s been playing professional rugby since 2000 or 2001! Could be a very useful panal member, I think the management team would be foolish not to give him a try out, after all, what have we to lose in giving him a look in!!!!

  51. Dead right Anne Marie re the laughable comparison between Gill and Duffy^^^

    Absolutely delighted with the Duffy news

    He’ll be a serious addition. How many GAA players will be carrying close to 16 stone in muscle? Also he’ll be a massive help training wise you’d imagine, especially on the strength and conditioning front. He’d be some beast running full flow at a defence. Superb news

  52. Statement Re: Gavin Duffy – Mayo Senior Team

    The Mayo County Board can tonight confirm that former Connacht Rugy Captain and former Mayo G.A.A. Minor Player Gavin Duffy has joined up with the Mayo Senior Football Squad.

    James Horan recently met with Duffy and on Tuesday night the former rugby star joined up with the rest of the squad for a training session. Mayo Senior Football Manager James Horan confirmed (Gavin Duffy was invited down to join up with the squad for a couple of weeks where the management will have a look at him to see where he is at.) James Horan also confirmed that Duffy is a (professional athlete who brings great leadership and a presence to the squad.)

    Gavin Duffy has always claimed that we would love to play with his county and has previously lined out with the Mayo Minor Football Team. The Mayo County Board are delighted to see a player of the calibre of Gavin Duffy linked with the Mayo Senior Football Team and hopefully will remain a permanent presence in the Mayo Senior Football Team setup.

  53. First off, the Gavin Duffy thing is definitely true. Supposed to have ‘stood out’ in training last night, never mind fit in!
    I don’t agree with the ‘just an exercise’ thing. Why not try it out? He’s a professional athlete, in peak physical condition. He has three or four months to get his skill levels right. He won’t be starting against Roscommon, or even Galway if it comes to that, but come August? With three months training behind him? Not the worst sub to have, to put in at centre forward or even full forward.
    And even if it doesn’t work out – why not try it? What’s to be lost? We are on here talking about the lack of new faces – this is definitely worth a shot in my book. Even thinking of the different attitude he’d bring, in terms of experience etc., it’s worth trying out.
    Positives lads!!

  54. Mayomaningalway, yeah calling up Duffy is solely a PR stunt and to “get in the news”

    You’re having a laugh, can’t see how it’s a big deal. He’ll be the fittest player in the squad and the strongest. Apparently was flying in training tues, has plenty time get his eye in (can’t see him featuring v Ros)

    Could be a masterstroke by Horan. As I say he’ll no doubt bring good strength and conditioning ideas with him too

    I’d honestly much rather a physical beast and athlete like Duffy lining out than some of those forwards that lined out and came on in champ last year

  55. Good man Horan’s Brigade you sum it up perfectly!

    I honestly can’t see what there is to lose like? It doesn’t work out/he gets injured, he just doesn’t play! Simple

    Of course some always love a good rant over anything

  56. Can’t see how after more than a decade without Gaelic football, he can make it in the game at the highest level today.

    He’s obviously on a downhill trajectory too when as one of their three captains, he couldn’t make his regular place with Connacht Rugby this year. In the modern rugby game, the backs take a lot of punishment, suffering injuries, wear and tear, and he’s no exception.

    And now the Co Board has joined in the madness with an official statement on the CB site.

    We could possibly have great old legends Gavin, Andy and Alan (GAA) and all way off championship pace in the wide open spaces of Croker, if the lunatics are allowed to continue running the asylum with blindfolds on!

  57. And to be quite honest, I think this has given a bit of a boost to Mayo. There was a quiet air of doom and gloom after the Derry match, and people (myself very much included) were worrying about a bit of staleness creeping, along with a perceived lack of hunger. This might just be the excitement needed to kickstart the campaign. People are already getting excited over it and the possibilities it could present. Even if it doesn’t work out, the benefits of such a move are too good to ignore,

  58. Thank God James isn’t as negative as some of those on here and is actually willing to give something like this a go. Shock horror I know, but if it doesn’t work out (like some expect) he actually doesn’t have to play would you believe

    Can only see this being a good thing myself. He’ll be a good influence on the players too you’d imagine. May even get involved in some of the coaching. Many forget but aswell as playing for Connacht for obviously a very long time, he spent a few years in the English Premiership and also went to a World Cup 7 years ago. He’ll have been exposed to the highest quality training methods over his career in professional sport.

    Regardless, plenty of technically lacking players are excelling at the top level in GAA today. The current footballer of the year can barely solo properly and can barely hit a barn door in front of goal. Duffy is a phenomenal athlete and is the strongest player you’ll see all year on a GAA pitch. Great news, and delighted it’s affecting my own county 🙂

  59. He’s reputed to be an excellent fielder and with his strength and conditioning could be a very useful asset in the backs under the high ball and wont shirk a challenge. He is also more of a worry for our opponents as an unknown quantity.
    If he helps carry us over the line (and not the ball) then it’s worth a go……………(couldn’t sat ‘try’,,, now, could I ???)
    MaighEo Abu

  60. The similarities between playing in the backs in rugby and in a gaelic team committed to a fast running attacking game has a certain credibility. Whether Gavin Duffy can translate his attacking prowess into a Gaelic formation remains to be seen but it is an intriguing possibility. It might just work although I am a bit skeptical. Nonetheless it can’t do any harm to give it a go in training and see what happens. Go for it is what I say.

  61. The fact he’s just finished being a full time pro could be beneficial too

    I mean he can devote a lot of time now to working on his football (skill-wise), a lot more than the guys working day jobs. I’ve no idea what his plans career-wise are after rugby but if he could become a “full-time footballer” as such over the next few months anyway it’d be a big boost and give him more time work on his skills.

    Also, The fact he’s fresh just out of rugby too is a big help as strength and conditioning are not an issue whatsoever. Different if he was retired a while maybe

  62. Good move by the county to bring Duffy in. Id expect him to take share the physical and conditioning duties with Ed Coughlan in due course too

  63. Ciaran, I could well believe that you won’t be so charitable to management for all this nonsense come August and September.
    The reason for that is that you reap then, what you sow now.
    As if we haven’t enough problems, with three forward positions far from sorted, and loyal persistence along some lines that didn’t deliver last year, regardless of poor performances.
    All we need is another extra piece that doesn’t fit in the jigsaw!

  64. The connacht website has duffy at 6 foot 1 and just shy of 15 stone. He will bring serious physicality to mayos attacking game.

  65. “The connacht website has duffy at 6 foot 1 and just shy of 15 stone”

    Jesus H Monkeyballs, that is a big man. An athlete like that will certainly be an addition to any squad. It’s not as if his position on the rugby field isn’t transferrable anyways. I think it is. I could see him playing half back, he’d have great power and ability to “break the line”.

    Who knows? We’ll see how it goes.

  66. Wouldn’t he make some animal of a full back!Just what would be needed no need for a wild amount of skill.Just make a hoop of the full foreward catch an odd ball and get rid of it quickly . Remember Mick Lyons he could hardly kick the ball but he was the most feared full back of his generation. Ya I’d put him straight in at full back.Well done James!

  67. Woah hold on a second there PJ… You’re on about dropping the best feckin full back in the country for him! Lets steady on a bit!

  68. Duffy’s roughly the same build as AOS and no doubt a good fielder too.
    I have to think this is a positive move – keeps thing fresh, adds competition.
    Could provide good cover at FF,MF or FB.
    It would be worse to hear about someone leaving the panel as happened in Donegal !

  69. Cloud9, are you always this pessimistic, or are you just having a bad day? 🙂 We berate the management for sticking with the “tried and tested”, yet when they dare to show some innovation, we castigate them just as strongly.

    You no more know whether or not he won’t fit the jigsaw than I do, until management try it out. He might never line out for us, but what do we have to lose? Nothing, as far as I’m concerned. If it even injects a different perspective and some new energy into the setup, then I’m sold.

  70. Lads I think the duffy thoughts are quite extraordinary! Read through the blog and the crticism of players like AOS who take the ball into tackle and did so in NY… this is not rugby union. I think eric miller had a run with dublin and was dropped. ..and they are AI champions. We need to focus on natural ability especially in forwards. That is where we are falling down and not in lads who love the contact…we need natural forwards

  71. Duffy is a real addition to this Mayo setup, no question about it. He has to be streets ahead in fitness and strength, professional athlete vs part time lads?
    He’s a mayo man so football is in the DNA, and he will be fine with a few months practice with the round ball, look how the Aussies can take to it so naturally.
    Let him at it, he’s a professional athlete coming in to help out a team that he loves.
    Good for Gavin and better for Mayo.

  72. Was just reading the statement on the Mayo Gaa home page..I guess they don’t use spell checker before they publish?
    “…confirm that former Connacht Rugy Captain and”…… Rugy…Wtf? Even my dopey iPad spell checks!
    This follows the press release prior for the NYC trip about the fundraiser in “Manhatton”..(shaking my head here)

    The introduction of Duffy at this stage is in my opinion bizarre. I don’t know much about him to be honest, but from what I hear his physical prowess and conditioning is great! but it’s more than reasonable to question his football skills and ability having been apparently away from football for so long.
    Needless to say, FB in rugby union and FB in gaa football are very different so I’ll take a wait and see on this.
    But I won’t get too excited just yet. However, if the CB had come out and announced Pierce Hanley was joining the squad, well, that would be something! Wishful thinking.

  73. @David I completely disagree with ur professional vs amateur comment. It is a well known FACT that gaelic footballers are as fit if not fitter than soccer/rugby players and fitness is not one dimensional. In fact I’ve seen fit men who played rugby/did marathons come to gaelic football sessions and struggle as its a different type of short sharp but non stop intensity. Think about it gavin duffy is a full back in rugby so he gets plenty of time between phases to catch a breather. If he was playing wing back or any position on a gaa pitch he would not so I will reserve judgement

  74. MDMA isn’t exactly the most skillful footballer in the country. Serious engine, pace, strength… He’s player of the year isn’t he?

    I can’t see Duffy making any championship starting 15 but who knows? The game isn’t what it once was and all around athletes are replacing the more traditional notion of classy footballers. An experiment, but why not…

  75. I think Duffy it is worth a try. Saw him at the Stoop in 2004 playing in a Harlequins versus Bath English Premiership game. Bath were winning in injury time. Duffy stormed over the line to score a late try to steal it for Quins. That day he was was sharing the pitch with World Cup winners and internationals from all over the planet and yet he did not look out of place.

    I remember feeling extremely proud of a young man who a few years earlier had lined out for Mayo Minors. Saw him play for Connaught against Quins at the Stoop 2 years ago and was really impressed by his physique. That was Connaught’s first Heineken Cup game ever and they ran Quins close at their home ground with Duffy scoring another try. I also remember him coming on late for Ireland in the Six Nations at Murrayfield and scoring a dashing try. He certainly was not fazed by the big time or playing with or against big names. He did not seem to hide when the pressure was cranked up, not that any Mayo man would.    


    It is definitely worth looking into in my opinion. No contracts have been signed.

  76. I’m not sure how i sit with this one. On one hand i’m saying its a good thing that Gavin Duffy has been asked to train with the squad. He brings with him vast experience as a professional athlete with lots of ideas. He has a decent size and has obviously got all the strength and conditioning needed (apart from the gaa sharpness – patterns of running etc).

    On the other side at the top table where Mayo are, it is hard to just come in and resume where you left off over a decade ago. As another poster has said Eric Miller trained with a Dublin development squad a number of years ago but his time was up in terms of Gaelic Football. I also know from family connections in Louth that Rob Kearney played a bit of club senior championship football a couple of years ago and it didn’t work out there either.

    So the Jury is out for me. I’m sure it was a boost to the lads at training to see Gavin Duffy roll up to training the other night, and if that helps improve performance i’m all for it. Maybe he could help out in the background ala Bernard Dunne/Michael Carruth with Dublin. I’ll be keeping an eye on Salthills games reports in the coming weeks. One things for sure its kick started my championship thoughts. If its doing this for me, imagine how the players are feeling.

  77. This reminds me of when Utd signed Henrik Larsson on a 3 month deal towards the end of the players career. Ferguson always said that Larssons biggest contribution was in the dressing room and on the training ground. Larsson brought a different way of viewing things and it helped to keep things fresh.
    The physical attributes that we can assume Duffy will bring to the squad are only a fraction of the total package. This is an athlete that has been immersed in the professional culture of rugby for 13 years. Home and abroad. At the professional level it is as much about mental preparation and mind training as it is about strength & conditioning and the focus and input that he can bring to the squad, viewing things through his professional rugby career, can only benefit the set-up.
    Horan has often been quoted as saying that the players have a huge input into how things are ran and that feedback and player contribution are sought by the management (not bad for a dictator!!!) so I imagine that Duffy will be given an opportunity to air his views on training/preparation/mind-set etc. and might have a different fresh slant on things that may make up the inches that we need to win the All Ireland.
    I can see where the intensity and pace of football would be different to rugby. However if Duffy is positioned in an area of the field where the distances covered, and more importantly the intensity of the distances being covered, are less than in other areas of the field then that problem could be overcome. Me, I’d park him at no.6. 6’1″ 15st with great hands and I’d give him strict instructions that anything coming down your channel gets dropped. End of. Force the attacks down the wings where the percentages of scoring are much less.
    Maybe Duffy might never line out for Mayo, maybe he will, time will tell. One thing is for certain Diarmuid Connolly wont be holding him by the geansai and dragging him around the place! And do people really think that he has not handled a round ball since 1999? I train U14’s and at times we use tennis balls and rugby balls as well as footballs.
    I think this could be a great move by management and is yet another example of how stubborn, dictatorial, set-in-his-ways Horan is 🙂

  78. I have to say I think it’s a good addition. As people have said already he’s been invited along for a few training sessions to see how it goes, not a huge deal in a lot of respects. Lads are on/off the training panel a fair bit from Jan to the early part of the Championship. He is plainly fit and in top condition. He has played a bit for Salthill/Knocknacarra over the past few years as well I believe, along with being one of the stand-out players of that minor team that shows he obviously has football ability. Of course there would be some work to get him up to a high skill level and fitting in with the patterns of play but it’s definitely something worth a go.

  79. Anne-Marie you sum it up perfectly above

    People would complain about anything tbh. If he brought back a 25-year old Ciaran Mac at his peak you’d have some going on about how it’d “unsettle a panel”

    The comparisons between himself and Miller are daft- a back-row forward and a utility back are worlds apart. Miller was always far too heavy to make it as much more than a decent club GAA player.

    Duffy would be well ahead of him in terms of pace, agility, spring and the likes which are key attributes of a GAA player. Miller was conditioned to run short distances and tackle, tackle, tackle. No kicking game, no running from deep, no jumping to catch a ball (bar being lifted in a line-out), stuff Duffy excelled at in his Rugby career

    I think some people assume Duffy is now starting Centre Forward for the year or something and that’s that!

    It really shows the negativity in some people. Such a harmless development, having a lad train with a team for a few weeks and you have lads predicting a August demise already!!! 😀 😀 If it doesn’t work out he doesn’t have to play. Bizarre I know. Different if Horan came out and said I’m dropping a few players and having Duffy in at CF no questions asked. I could understand negativity then

    I’m going to be positive about it anyway, it’s a far better feeling

  80. What club would be he be registered with? Doesnt he have to play for a club in the county to play for Mayo? If hes registered with Salthill then he cant play for Mayo, can he?
    Or is it that they just want him training with the panel and he wont be considered for selection?

    I think hes a great addition, to play full back at the level he has you have to have serious ball skills and a great boot. I would have no doubt he would be well able to play. However, we need forwards and I’m not sure if he would be at a sufficent standard to add anything in the forwards for us, but theres only one way to find out.
    I think its a great idea, and it certainly doesnt weaken us

  81. This isn’t just some bog-standard rugby player who has been parachuted into the squad, he has played midfield in an AI minor final and has played professionally for the past 14 years. It will be a fascinating experiment and Horan is to be commended for giving him the opportunity. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself but just think of the possibilities, playing with the oval ball at the at highest level for years didn’t stop Tadhg Kennelly winning an AI with Kerry!

  82. I’ve deleted that comment, GBXI – as you should know well by now, the rule is that you play the ball not the man when challenging what someone has to say.

  83. @east cork exile
    Club doesn’t matter. Cian Burke on the U21s this year is with Ballymun originally from Ardnaree.
    Emyln Mulligan will play for Leitrim even though playing with St Brigids in Dublin

  84. He’s from Mayo. He doesn’t need to be registered with a club in Mayo. Many examples of this – Declan Darcy, Gordon Morley off the top of my head.
    As pointed out by a few other posters the comparisons with Eric Miller are nonsense – back row forward versus a utility back. Completely different skill set.

  85. Pk,

    There’s a difference between pro and amateur, time to devote to training means the pros have by and large to be fitter. That’s all I’m sayin.

  86. As for position, CF and FF are the obvious choices, wouldn’t mind throwing him in as a 3rd man midfielder though, there to clear up breaking ball and instructed to just run at opposition.

    It’ll be very interesting to see how he develops. If he doesn’t show much over next few weeks, cut him from panel fair enough. If he shows well, keep him on. Simple. Personally think latter will happen, he’s a top, top athlete and as I’ve said has a lot of time on his hands to devote to improving as a player over the next few weeks.

    Regardless of what happens, I hope he stays on for a few years in some capacity. He’d have been exposed to the highest quality training, nutrition and preparation methods over the years being a pro-athlete, you’d imagine he’d have great knowledge to share with the team. Even if he doesn’t make it as a player, he could play a large role as a member of the back-room team.

  87. I just checked out Gavin’s profile on LinkedIn. He has studied a degree in strength and conditioning as well as his professional experiences on the pitch.
    This is a master stroke by Horan. An expert in the area, 14 years playing at the highest level. Dressing room focus with Mayo blood pumping through his veins.
    Just take time out to imagine that versus the Dubs. Then relax. We are in control….

  88. I will elaborate, WJ, now that I have a little more time. I don’t think the comments below should be deleted or anything (be great if they were though!), but definitely should be called up on the overly negative, inaccurate, borderline abusive comments that they are – given the popularity of this blog.


    1. “Could JH actually feck it up again with blind loyalty and no real change in the forwards when the going gets tough?”

    2. “We could possibly have great old legends Gavin, Andy and Alan (GAA) and all way off championship pace in the wide open spaces of Croker, if the lunatics are allowed to continue running the asylum with blindfolds on!”

    3. “On another point, is there a real chance that JH didn’t play Mikey Sweeney in NY because he actually rates him behind Enda Varley and some others. The word in the north of the county is that he is willing to sacrifice the most intelligent player in the squad, and one that a blind man can see completes the inside line with Freezer and Cillian.”

    The first quote, suggests Horan has messed up (on more than one occasion) as manager by being overly loyal to certain forwards. This is patently not true, and I’ve yet to hear any reasonable commentator suggest Mayo have any forwards good enough in reserve to challenge the ones who started the AI last year. Not to mention the fact that Horan has proven he is well able to make a decision when the so called “going gets tough”.

    The second quote is a dig at both players (Dillon & Moran) and management which is just idiotic (hence my last, deleted comment). The idea that Moran doesn’t deserve his place even though he was our best forward in the final last year and is clearly an inspirational figure in the squad, or that Dillon (2 time All Star) and hugely talented player, doesn’t have anything to offer the team.

    The final quote is, to put it nicely, trolling of the highest order. Sweeney was injured, that’s why he didn’t play in NY – proving ‘the word in the North of the county’ is a lie. Enda Varley, and I am far from his biggest fan, has proven on a number of occasions that he offers this Mayo panel something from the bench and he has been around the Mayo panel for years now. There is one year in age between Sweeney and Varley yet Sweeney has barely played a championship game for the seniors versus the 15+ I’d guess Varley has. The reason for that is, up until now at least, no Mayo management team has seen him as being good enough. Sweeney may have/will improve to become a starter for the seniors but it’s unlikely based on what he has shown so far.

  89. That’s fine, GBXI, thanks for taking the time to respond in the way that you have. I’d agree with much of what you’ve said there.

  90. Anne-Marie, to answer your question about if I’m always so pessimistic or was I just having a bad day yesterday? It’s neither really, and I’m usually a glass half full sort.

    However, this great blog usually provides great balance of views and you could say that’s the oxygen of the site, as our common goal to see Mayo football succeed at all levels is the heart and soul of it. And unfortunately, there’s no short answer to your question, but I will try to explain my thinking.

    I’ve nothing what so ever against Gavin Duffy – he’s a very nice fella. I spoke with him on two occasions and you’re right, he will be well conditioned and strong but as Pebblesmeller (I think) said, Gaelic football at the very top level has different demands. He may well fit in and it would be great if he did, but his more likely influence is freshening up training, some ideas from the professional rugby ranks and some positive phycological

    My annoyance is with the direction or rather lack of it, that we are seeing at the moment from management. Most of us seasoned followers on this site would say that our finds of the FBD and National League campaigns have been more strength in depth in the backs – Harrison and McHale in particular, and with Keith hopefully restored, and Chris on the way back, that is looking very positive. As is having the problem of choosing between four of the best midfielders in the country in our squad – more real options, including the arrival of Jason Gibbons in to the big time!

    However, the great old elephant in the corner hasn’t gone away – our forward line.
    What has progressed in this Department.

    Kevin Mc was getting back to his best at 10 ( back to his great 2012 form) and he was shifted to a more confined role at 13 – what’s that all about?
    Along with Freezer at 14 and Cillian at 15, those three look like certs to me for the next round and beyond.

    Now for the what I think will decide if we finally banish the drought since ’51 from our heads – the filling of jerseys: 11, 12, and 13.

    Doc has been given ever chance and has failed to grasp the nettle and progress, which saddens me, because he has the ability and build to do it, but isn’t progressing at all.

    Andy (again very sad to say) is not progressing with his pace over the first 10-15 yards and he’s resorted to going out looking for safe 5 yard fist passes from lads in better positions than himself (reminds you of how Ciaran Mc used to slow play down). Very worrying, and please don’t say it’s early days yet!

    The Keith experiment in the forwards was a dismal failure – he scored more from the backs in a similar number of games last year and in the half forward line, he didn’t create havoc In opposition defences or create scores for other players. He’s a great attacking back so let him get on with what he does best.

    Richie Feeney got a half in the troublesome 12 shirt in New York and he deserves a couple of more run outs from the start there in challenges and for the As v the Bs in training.

    But am I right in saying that of the new forward talent to put a hand up, Mikey Sweeney has impressed in the games he played in the corner. His ball winning has been great considering he’s not the tallest of players, his intelligent decision making, passing and scoring has in my book, him as our 15 along with Freezer and Cillian, based on current form.
    But after not starting him in NY, putting Varley (and everyone else too) in ahead of him, is JH about to freeze him out in favour of Andy or a.n.other? It would be a major error. On current form, I’d start Sweeney and as the opposition tires, I bring Andy in for the last quarter.

    That leaves, the No.11 shirt. Is JH banking on Dillon getting back to his best of four years ago and staying fit? I’d love to see it happen but the odds are against it.

    Of the next generation of great forward prospects, Young O’Shea look a great prospect based on the NY performance but I wouldn’t rush him in to the big time this year.
    Adam Gallagher is one for the future too but needs to beef-up in the gym over the coming winter – as he was bullied out of it v Kerry and Ros U-21s too.

    So Ann-Marie, my frustration comes from the belief that currently, JH may not make the changes necessary in those remaining forward positions, and we may get the same old, same ol, below par forward unit due to an over reliance on loyalty, rather than reality and form. And I just see the Gavin Duffy addition as a distraction from the main unfinished business!

    You can’t win Sam without a game plan (just look at Donegal and Dublin in the last two years). What is our 2014 game plan?

    The glass is still half full but we need to see serious direction and intent in the next round!

  91. But sure Cloud9, you yourself have ruled out almost all our forward options for this year bar Mikey Sweeney and maybe Richie Feeney!
    So what do you expect James Horan to do!? There are no top drawer forwards in Mayo that are not in the panel. He has to work with what’s there.

  92. GBXI, I like to deal in facts and I believe I have back mine up.

    First of all it is untrue to say Sweeney was injured in NY – he was not, and that’s a fact!!

    I just wonder where you were for the AIF last year and you still figure that JH made the right calls with the starting forwards and the substitutions he made. God, some people forget very fast! I come from the school that believes we learn from mistakes, and don’t repeat them. In that regard, he’s now sitting with and conferring with fellow selectors these days, instead of standing alone and making decisions on the sideline.

    On Andy Moran and Alan Dillon – my position is very clear. If Andy can get back to his pre-injury form and similar for Alan, they would make any team in the land, and I would welcome that. The fact is Andy isn’t showing signs of it yet, and It’s much too early to say about Alan. I stick by the fact that it’s today’s best form team we need, not reputations from days gone by! It’s the Gavin way today, and the only way to success!

    Anything else, I’d say I’ve covered in my reply to Ann-Marie above.

  93. Tubberman, I’ve not ruled out anyone except laid out the landscape as I see it.
    No one has all the answers, but we need a game plan and a lot more structure to our forwards.

    If the next round was next Sunday, I’d respectfully suggest the following (if Caff, Kevin Mc, and Freezer have recovered fully):
    1. Hennelly,
    2. Cunniffe,
    3. Cafferkey, (McHale if Caff. Injured)
    4. Higgins,
    5. Keegan,
    6. Boyle or Vaughan,
    7. Vaughan or Boyle,
    8. A O’Shea,
    9. Gibbons, (S. O’Shea for AOS or Gibbons I during second half?)
    10. McLoughlin,
    11. A.N.Other ? ( possibly Parsons with Dillon in the second-half?)
    12. Feeney,
    13. Sweeney, (A.Moran for Sweeney or Freezer in the second-half?)
    14. Freezer, (Possible B. Moran if a Freezer injured – just based on Castlebar run)
    15. C.O’Connor,

  94. I’m genuinely excited by this… I see him as a half back. It just fits!

  95. That’s a considered reply Cloud9 and I have to admit I would certainly share some of your concerns. In particular the question of learning from our mistakes in the past, and the apparent loyalty to players we may feel are not producing the goods, but as you say yourself, no-one has all the answers and I would honestly rather reserve my judgement until we are in the thick of championship – and I won’t be shy on giving them then. I do love the debate as you well know and I’ve learned a thing or two about football here from people I don’t always agree with.

    I have no objections to Andy getting the captaincy. He is a born leader on and off the field and in my eyes he was the only man for the job this year. Whether he should be starting every game however is another question and one I hope we don’t have to ask for much longer as we progress, but I don’t feel that his captaincy necessarily means he has to start.

    While at the time I was underwhelmed by the idea of Gallagher being sacrificed for Dillon in NY, more and more I feel we need options and while he may not be the player he once was (not that I can say that with any certainty either) we are not exactly flush with options in our half forward line and I now think that giving him game time was the right decision. I don’t think Horan is banking on anything here – he is doing the sensible thing and giving us as many options as possible which is prudent given how unlucky we were with injuries last year. As for playing Sweeney over Varley, I can only hope you’re wrong, because (with no disrespect to Varley) I feel Sweeney should be an integral part of this team from now on.

    I don’t agree that adding Duffy to the panel is a “distraction tactic” as you put it, and I think you’re being a little harsh both on him (I reckon he’ll still show a couple of our current twentysomethings a bit about pace and fitness) and the management. There’s far too much professionalism in the set-up for gimmicks and Horan is not exactly the type to court publicity. In fact if anything this puts more pressure on the team and management and I’d wager that Horan was none to impressed that the news was announced after a single training session. There is no way IMO that Duffy was introduced to the squad at a team training night just like that on spec without someone doing their homework on him first, and I believe that if they didn’t feel he had something to offer, he wouldn’t be there.

    True, he’s played no club football in over a decade, but he is supremely fit, has a natural flair for the game and I can’t imagine it’s been ten years since he picked up a football. Ultimately, no-one in their right mind would regard a 32 year-old just out of an intense rugby career to be the Messiah, but given his nature and personality, having him in the camp will do nothing to lower morale and may even help Mayo to develop a different perspective.

    It’s hard to keep faith with the current setup sometimes and in the wake of the Derry game I can tell you my positivity was wavering – that game cast a shadow over New York for me and I’ll admit to being a bit worried after that game too. Some of the positioning this year (especially Higgins – while I think it was worth persevering with, I’m still not sold on it) has made my heart sink a bit too but I’m just hoping it’s part of a bigger plan. Or any plan! So I have no blind faith either, just blind hope like the rest of us 🙂

  96. Anne-Marie, ‘blind hope’ – I like it!
    And as I said my glass is still half full with regard to Mayo football, but we have to call it as we see it. JH has to pick the form players like Jim Gavin does, and I too look forward to him doing so.
    And the way you put it, I can’t really disagree with anything you’ve said.
    You know, you should have signed up with the United Nations when you were in NY.

  97. I think it’s great to have Gavin on board and fair play to James for asking him. Of course we don’t know how this will go, but if you don’t try you’ll never know.Can you imagine the boost this must be to the panel , that he wants to be part of it. They will know that he can see something in them. He would be an ambitious man and didn’t come on board , so he could tell his grand kids he played for Mayo. If he was free in 2010 , would he have come aboard . Anyway best of luck to him and as someone said earlier, it’s better to see one coming , rather than leaving. I’d say a few other counties are hoping this doesn’t work out.

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