Jekyll and Hyde

Yesterday’s league defeat to Down certainly rocked us back on our heels a bit. Here’s what John Cuffe has to say on where we find ourselves in its aftermath.

Finishing a thirty-year sentence for a crime I never committed, my ear was glued to the radio as Mayo and Donegal battled out the closing stages of the 2007 league final. John Maughan was the match summariser. As Donegal got the choke tackle on us John opined that this was due to the strength of their subs bench.

He was correct. What puzzled me was the fact that in the three previous years we contested 2 senior, 2 U21, and 1 club All-Ireland finals. Yet our bench was weak, only in Mayo could this happen. The last week saw the Tom-Tom drums beating in the Mayo jungle. However let’s not blame the much maligned fans. This was from the players, and sources within the power structures that govern the team.

Aiden O’Shea told all and sundry how hard we had become, how tough we were to beat, how talented a squad we were. Reaching a league final or semi, an unnamed source told the fawning but laughing press would be worth 80k to the hard pressed county. Now 80k is about as useful to Mayo as 80k would be to whatever Eurocrat is running Greece at the moment.

My daughter put a tweet app on my phone. My god, what I have been missing over the years? The players put down their jersey number on their tagline and tell us earth-shattering secrets like “Just up and had a piss” or “Finished in gym and heading to buy the Herald” or “meeting physio for leg rub… wink wink”. Now if they need to tell the nation such things then ring Joe or ring the Samaritans but please have your piss in private…I am not interested.

I enter my seventh decade in August. I love Mayo but stopped buying the propaganda around 1992.  I got sense even though my wife says I got dafter. But I got sense in a sporting context. This current Mayo squad have not a single player capable of beating their marker…not one. Last year we drew with Down then recent and narrowly beaten All-Ireland finalists. We then beat Cork in the championship who had earlier walloped Down. Yesterday Down popped back up. Where does that leave us?

The fog saved us from a hiding a few weeks ago. Armagh were shown up yesterday for where they are currently at, thus wiping away some of the gloss of our recent victory up there. And yet we persist making the sum of our scattered parts greater than the reality. (Does that make sense…I am after reading it twice and am not sure!) Have we players fighting for six forward slots or have we players fighting for four starting slots? Theirin lies one of the problems.

GAA is the modern form of the great cattle runs and battles of times past. Queen Maeve and the Tain and that type of stuff, pride in the place etc. In achieving greatness a certain madness and hardness is required. Francie Bellew, Mick Lyons, Páidi Ó Sé, Paddy McCormack, Brian Dooher, the McMahons, oh I could go on, were hard. Strangely they never felt the need to broadcast it. They simply did the little things good and when the sword had to be drawn and that might not be often, then they whipped it out and did the necessary. We have much to learn.

Our strength comes from clever players operating a “Mayo” type game like against Cork last year, Dublin 2006, and Kerry 1996. No point aping the rest because we don’t do “bad” good. A former Mayo player once wrote along the lines of “if Mayo want a defender who leaves his opponent’s teeth on the ground then they better get somebody else”. Noble and to be admired but could he not have stayed silent on his modus operandi? Why not pretend that if a little rearranging has to be done then it’s a club worth using? Imagine going golfing and telling your pal that you would not use the driver to tee off; you would rather use the putter?

So we have had another mad swing. Despair and fog against the Dubs, league glory and cash in the attic against Armagh and now relegation battle after losing to Down. In truth we are mid-table and in truth James Horan will now have decisions to make and chart a way forward. I admire the man but big things need big men to do them. James knows the honeymoon ended yesterday and life at the kitchen table can get tedious unless the family play their part.

Focal Scoir: The ref…..since 1948 we have been piped, swissed and shafted. Obviously it’s not a priority within the corridors of power in Mayo. Let’s be clear on this….Cork, Kerry, Dublin, Meath or Tyrone would not be treated in such a manner.

40 thoughts on “Jekyll and Hyde

  1. There is some method in his madness tubberman. I’m not on Twitter myself but as an intercounty player you’d want to have a bit more cop on as you are in the public eye, and you’re going to get bitten in the arse if you talk the talk and dont walk the walk…a shut mouth catches no flies!

    John I wouldnt agree with you with the comment that ‘This current Mayo squad have not a single player capable of beating their marker…not one’. I think the 2 Morans have great heart and are capable, maybe Dillon on his day but we do have too many players who are great when you’re winning but when the chips are down go into hiding.

  2. Mort very lucky he didn,t get a red card, when he bumped the ref!! But that proves how inconsistent the ref was…

  3. Patrickken, I think Dillon’s greatest days in the green and red may be behind him. I hope I’m proven wrong though and he has stormers for the rest of the year.

  4. People, this the month of March. Did we have the best goalie playing yesterday? We are all learning including the selectors and o’Shea does not have to prove anything. He should not have god involved at all. The ref had a poor game we agree but appeared to be correct on this occasion. May is the time to start worrying – we will have a settled team then.

    Let us beat Galway on Wednesday in the u 21 and move on again.

  5. John you are too negative. Any team who loses a player early will probably lose any match. Its early yet. No point flying in March. Mid table will do us. We have two good wins so far and are doing alright. Lets keep the heads and stay positive.

  6. A bit too gloomy John. We can’t be that bad. Moran and Cillian O’Connor are well capabale of beating their man. Don’t panic just yet

  7. Jeez I hate to write this but that article is the biggest load of rubbish that has ever been posted on this forum.We got beaten in a league game in march.Catch a grip

  8. I’d salvage Andy Moran & Keith Higgins (despite biting badly on 2 dummies y’day!)…and Maybe Cafferkey & Vaughan but the sooner Cillian & Danny Kirby rejoin the better.A big lad like A.O’S shouldn’t need to take cheapshots to earn a reputation (v Paul Galvin & y’days “effort”.My biggest gripe is the sight of Cluxton coming up (& Hennelly) when 45’s & closer are automatic scores for every other county…the only 1 I’d trust is C.O’C I suppose but it’s worrying!

  9. Well said John, for a great piece of work. I know where you are coming from on this. I love Mayo as much as you do, its the mediocrity that has always got me. Roll on the opening round of the U21 game and a new beginning.

  10. John, you write well and you are a passionate Mayo supporter and that I respect a lot but I have to agree with the rest of the lads here – your article is a bit harsh.
    Having said that I do agree that players are better off saying nothing and delivering plenty on the field. I also agree we are a mid-table team at present and will do well to stay mid-table come April.
    It will take time and patience to build this group of lads into real contenders but I believe that this can be done in two to three years if they stick at it. After all they are quite young and many good teams in the past have had to fall a few times before getting over the finish line eventually. Hard knocks and disappointment are all part of the learning process and it is important to be patient and persistent and to learn as we go.

    And what you might well ask do we learn? Well two very basic things for a start:
    1. Convert your frees
    2. Don’t get sent off
    If we had done that yesterday we would have been in a different place today ie top of the table!

  11. F’Deelin with his recent form you might be right…he’d want to pull his socks up.

    And people saying John is a bit harsh, might want to wake up and ask how many of our players would make other county teams? Well only a handful in my opinion. There have only been a few who have been consistent so far in the league and a few more more who have been consistently bad! The reality is we have an easy draw in Connacht and could reach an All Ireland quarter, dare I say it a semi-final but at the minute we are not near the top 5 in the country. Lets hope we find some form but some lads need a good kick up the backside, need to start playing ball and put up or shut up.

    Our full back line remains a weakness, only a few players have been consistent and I think that unless JH makes a few radical changes in the backs and forwards the lack of competition for places will present problems. On any given day not all 15 will fire, players get suspensions/injuries so a strong 20+ panel is required…we dont have that!

  12. Not all is lost, Mayo need to dust themselves down & go at Donegal all hands to the wheel, Sunday we missed Kevin Mc Loughlin,s ability to cover the pitch with 14 men. Also James Horan took too long to throw on another big man in the middle eg Seamus O Shea, who played a stormer for about 25 minutes, we had alot of scorable frees but failed to convert enough, altough Conner had another good day from frees, I think Freeman needs to score his first frees or his confidence seems to wilt. Bringing up the goalie dosent give the air of authority that you need, great when it works, but as was the case Sunday feeds into the lack of momentum that you need to generate when getting scoring chances. Also on Sunday theese were the most diffficult of frees of the afternoon awarded to Mayo & their seemed to be an air of desperation to them because Freeman was missing very scorable frees. Freeman is a very good player that can score from distance both from play and frees but needs to get more conviction & confidence behind him when the first one or two go wide. But Mayo have other options in Cillian o Conner. Also on Sunday we could have done with a big full foward eg Danny Kirby because Down played an extra man back in the half back line making it very difficult to pass our way trough to our full foward line that in any case werent scoring from play apart from the exellent piont after 10 secconds wonderfully set up by Adain O Shea, who started very well but deprived the Mayo team of his considerable services due to his own actions, no good blaming the ref or linesman, seen the incident, I taught he would have to be very lucky to avoid red, lets hope he learns from the incident because last thing this very talented footballer needs is to get a reputation akin to Paul Galvin who has walked a number of times, also he could become a target for some more cynical players to engineer a sinario to get him sent off in the future. So my opinion the glass is just a little less full than last week but plenty of work to be done, March is not a bad time to lose a match, remember last year we were nearly beat by London, we learned pretty quick from that near miss, we can do the same again, so onwards & upwards.

  13. i’ll agree with lob it in , march not a bad time to lose a match. i thought lessons had been learned by the armagh game from the dublin game, so lets hope the same happens here

  14. 3 matches into the league. 2 wins and one loss – that’s a 66% win rate. Diehard called it correctly; convert your frees and play with 15 men.

    It’s too early to lambast this team. There are bigger tests ahead over the coming weeks – Cork, Kerry, & Dublin. All recent All Ireland winners. You will recall that last year we were applauding the new found grit and aggression that this team brought to Croker. Ok AOS lost the head but isn’t it better that he learns from this in March rather than August. Cillian O’Connor and Mortimer in either corner with Freeman at 14 will cause problems for any top tier team. The onus is on the others to get the supply in first time with no fluting around! Dillon would be my choice for an impact sub.

  15. As the priest once said “Just a thought lads” Next week we will be making hay again…I hope !

  16. we’re a gas breed, one good win in armagh and all is rosy, one bad win at home and we’re total crap. As disappointed as i was last sunday ill hold fire until after the donegal game. its a real must win game so lets see how the lads to react and take it from there. For the moment im gonna put last sunday down to players & managements reaction( or lack ) to the crisis of losing a key player. Hopefully they will learn and have a plan in place for when this might happen again. We will have 15 players on the field next sunday again playing an average donegal team so we should have more of an idea of our true worth come 5PM on Sunday. Im really looking forward to seeing how we respond

  17. Did the guy writing up this actually realise that Mayo had some injuries coming into the game, and were not allowed use any players on the U21 panel… hence the perceived weak bench?
    Why do I feel I have to spell this out?
    Only in Mayo could this happen

  18. I really think the “big full forward” option needs to be explored. Barry was started there in the Laois match, but he is not a natural forward. I think that Aidan O’Shea has matured enough footballing wise to be given an opportunity there, but is he needed in midfield. Lob it in mentioned Danny Kirby – I’ve never seen him in the flesh so I can’t comment,what about those who have seen him – is he full forward material?

  19. If it’s size and physical presence we need, then I think Danny could well feature come summer. I also liked the look of Darren Coen, who got a few runs in the FBD, and who may also be on the panel over the coming months, though I doubt he’ll be close to making the team. We definitely need more physicality, though – as PJ has been saying to me repeatedly, we cannot afford two non-physical players like McLoughlin and Dillon in the HF line and I’d say the same goes for Mort and Enda Varley in the FF line too.

  20. Wouldn’t be over ally worried about the Down match, yes, we need to win our home games but the real test is the response against Donegal. We should come out going hammer and tongs at them if we have anything about us at all. Do that and we’ve got a chance of going somewhere this year, fold and I’m afraid we might be in for more of the same old same old. Tis early yet but we have to win this one to be fairly sure of staying up which should always be job 1 in Division 1. People might say thats setting your sights too low but I don’t agree, its a very tight division with (generally) lots of good teams, so to develop you need to be there. Win next week and if we manage to beat one of Cork, Dublin and Kerry theres a chance we could still be in the semis given the way everyone seems to be beating everyone else to a certain extent.

  21. I disagree with us not being near the top 5 teams in the country. Apart from Kerry, Cork and Tyrone it’s fairly even. You’ve the likes of us, Kildare, Donegal Tyrone, Down all on a similar level.

    The challenge last year was to get into the group. The challenge now is to push out of it and challenge the top 3 on a consistent basis. I’d give Horan and this group of players this year and next to see if we are capable. Players like O’Connor, A O’Se, Doherty, Varley, Freeman, Vaughan and Keegan can all improve in this time. If they do we’ll be in good shape, if not we’ll be treading water again.

  22. I like many mayo supporters no tat there is alot a work ahead for james horan and his management team and when they get there chance let them blood a few new players in to his team and lets see where tat takes us.There has been some really over the top comments about some players of late tat makes me think are these people geniune mayo supporters at all.WE don’t need people to keep reminding of the negitive shit.We need to get behind our team and support them through thick and thin. ””””’roll on sunday ,,,,,,, but i,ll be in mchale parke tomorrow evening2 see the under21’s

  23. John,i couldnt agree more with you,an excellent piece of writing.Ive said time and time again on this site that any inter county footballer worth his salt has to be able to win his own ball.Other than Andy Moran i dont think we have one in the foward line.We are simply not physically strong enough there.Mortimer and Freeman are both nice footballers but when exchanges get tough it doesnt suit them.People can go on about negativity but this is reality.Id love to come on here and compare our fowards to gooch,mcdonnell and all the top tier marksmen but we are miles behind these guys.People can argue for O connors rosy future and hes going to be decent but what will kill is that he has no pace and that will prevent him from being on par with the aforementioned.Im sure John Cuffe saw midfield greats like TJ Kilgallon and Mchale (to mention a few) play.The O Sheas wouldnt lace their boots.After the Dublin game i chatted with a few ex players and guys involved in teams for a long time and the overriding feeling is that they are not county standard and would not make any decent team.Again i wish i could say there were brilliant but unfortunately there not even though they try hard.People go on about the way Kerry play football and conduct themselves but believe me they take no shite down there and if the fans arent impressed with performances they let players know.We are too nice.The old argument that these lads are only amateurs and all that crap is gone.These guys can make plenty of money with endorsements and sponsorship so us who are paying serious money to watch them are entitled to give them grief when deserved.Maybe the talent isnt in the county.Wicklow produced Kevin O Brien,Tipperary produced Declan Browne,Longford produced Padraig Davis.These are counties with zero pedigree and they nurtured these class players over the last 20 years.E

  24. To finish,We couldnt produce a foward of that calibre over the same span of time.When we had one like Mcdonald he started playing him at 11 because we had no one else.Either theres something wrong with the selection process or we dont have the players.Saying that,ill watch and support Mayo for the rest of my days and hope to see sam in the county some day.

  25. Brighton lets just draft a letter to croke park informing them that because all our players are shite wer’e not goin playin any more……..ever.will someone ever pick up those half-empty glasses and throw them in the skip and for jasas sake will wan a ye tell those fukin hurlers on that lush green grassy knoll to have a little respect for our team that bust their balls week in week out! If I sound pissed off at the attitude of some of our posters..well, YEA I’M FUKIN DISGUSTED

  26. sound opt2…. hey i agree wit u about the posts . WE have enough of twats running down our team from outside the county besides our own lot chippin in

  27. This evening let us move on i.e., beat Galway in the Under 21 Championship.

    Why are we always blaming Referees (John Cuffe since 1948, above) They don’t “bate” us all the time..

    Two wins – to-night and Sunday and we will be on a high again.

  28. “John you are too negative. Any team who loses a player early will probably lose any match” Well not today…

    “Did the guy writing up this actually realise that Mayo had some injuries coming into the game, and were not allowed use any players on the U21 panel… hence the perceived weak bench?
    Why do I feel I have to spell this out?
    Only in Mayo could this happen”

    Well Buddy…whats the excuse this week?

  29. Just after reading comments,dated 12th & 13th March…many were well wide of the mark. Perhaps,it’s time to pay tribute to J H & Co-a little encouragement might help. Some players had lost confidence. A team takes time & patience to blend. A positive result on Sunday could light a fire!!!! Optimistic. Well done WJ, PJ ,& Clan.

  30. Thats the exact problem with this blog lately WillieJoe. You are giving yahoo’s a podium for outlandish and uncalled for criticism one week, only for them to turn around and do the opposite another week – and it cant even be checked?

    There is no balance in opinion on here, apart from one or two like An Spailpin; its a pure pantomime. Mayo are either hero’s or villains, and this blog fuels that extremism. There is no balance.

  31. CiderMan – I obviously reject that completely. You can’t make personal attacks on other contributors – which is why I had to delete your previous comment – but you’re perfectly free to take issue with what others (whom I’d prefer you don’t label “yahoos” by the way) have said.

    I don’t recall you having made any attempt to contribute in any meaningful way to any debate here or to pull anyone up on any viewpoint you disagree with. If you want to improve the debate then it’s probably better for you to take part in it (respecting the house rules as you do so as I expect all contributors to do) rather than simply moaning from the sidelines.

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