Keith Higgins our MOTM from yesterday


Photo: Irish Examiner

The votes are in on our final Man of the Match poll for 2014 and, by a wide margin, the winner of this one is Keith Higgins. If there were many dispassionate neutral supporters in the Gaelic Grounds yesterday evening I’m sure that they found Keith’s tussle with Kerry danger man James O’Donoghue to be utterly compelling. We simply wanted our man to win every dogfight that took place between the two of them and, even though O’Donoghue ended up with 2-6 to his name, only four points of that came from open play.

Keith wins the MOTM award with 44% of the vote, with Cillian O’Connor – another standout performer on the night – coming in second with 27% of the vote, while there was also support for Aidan O’Shea (7%), Andy Moran (5%) and Jason Doherty (4%). All of them made very significant contributions to last night’s heartbreaking finale to our 2014 season but so too did all the other lads who featured for us down in the Gaelic Grounds. Warriors all.

36 thoughts on “Keith Higgins our MOTM from yesterday

  1. Best corner back in the Country according to Tomas O Se tonight, a shoe in for an All Star

  2. An outstanding player. As good a defender as there is in Ireland. His blocks yesterday were sensational.

  3. I would say the best Mayo player of the last 8 years and the best I’ve seen since McDonald. He’ll win his 3rd All Star in a row in November to go with his Young Player of the Year in 06′ and captain of an AI winning U21 team. I hope to God he gets his senior AI next year.

  4. I really think that it would be such a tragedy if Keith Higgins does not win an All-Ireland medal. Of any player he really deserves to have one. Even at the very end of the game he was coming forward trying to set up a goal. He is a class act and I would say probably one of the all time great Mayo footballers. I think that every GAA fan in the country would have great time for him too. Well done Keith, you are a legend!

  5. At last Kevin mc stay nails his colours to the mast and calls out the Ref , oh and put in the job application to boot.
    Donegal aren’t dead and neither are mayo ,we won’t turn into a bad team overnight. We got some awesome footballers who will make us proud again
    Next year like this year. A massive thanks to James Horan , top player top manager , and our brave footballers.

  6. A class act he is . He is as sure to get an all star as mc stay is to get the vacant job . I would assume the county board have some homework done on finding a replacement in the last few months . James was certain to finish up when we were eliminated. Hopefully things will move swiftly and the new manager will be in place before 1st October so as to get winter programmes in place for members of the extended panel and possible new members and also to build a strong back room team . JH is a tough act to follow. The professionalism he has brought to the set up is unreal and the only issue I can see arising which would delay an appointment is the negotiations on funds required to run a successful inter county panel.

  7. Sorry lads, Keith was unreal Saturday, I have no worries for the future of football in mayo what with the heroism shown all over the park. He was our man of the match for Sure ,

  8. Keith Higgins, Brilliant, just Brilliant. Whatever about future management we are blessed to have the likes of Zippy and go forward and 2015 hasn’t started yet.
    MaighEo Abú

  9. Tribute to Alan Mulholland last night in his defence of Mayo against Brolly. He seemed genuinely hurt that we were out and that says a lot for Connacht football unity.
    Mc Stay tonight was also honest in his summation of the refereeing of one C. Reilly( can’t spell out his first name as it may cause offence,being a four letter word).
    As it is a new thread and after trying all day to let the events over the last two days sink in, I think Mc Stay would be the one to carry forward the great work James Horan has done. He is one of our own, he has a very good knowledge of the modern game, he’s a proven winner in management and he has that cool persona that is needed to carry the Mayo Brand.
    I would be concerned however, if he were to carry the McHale element with him, I think we can do without that and that would be the first test of McStay………..Will he put Mayo before Mc Hale ???
    MaighEo Abú

  10. McStay was involved in the senior setup in 1994/5. He was the trainer at the time with A.Eagan as manager. It ended with a trashing by Galway in the Connaught final.

  11. Well done Keith Higgins. You were superb yesterday. You all were. Your poll WJ has revealed an interesting point. The top spot has been rotated quite a lot over the last few months. We have had MOTM awarded at different times to Cillian, Aidan, Colm, Lee, Kevin Mc, Alan Freeman, Alan Dillon, Andy with close finishes by Seamie, Tom Cunniffe, Ger Caff, Jason Doc, Jason Gibbons, Adam Gallagher and others. James spoke recently about the many leaders and new voices in the dressing room. This is a powerful resource and I’ve no doubt will be harnessed by a new management team. The bravery and courage shown over the last 2 weeks was a source of great pride to every supporter of the Green and Red. Horan’s legacy is one of pride restored.

  12. We’ll deserved Kieth,one of the finest to wear the Green and Red with pride.I just hope whoever takes over that all the players will row in behind them,ye can be sure we as supporters will.I as a proud Mayo man along with my wife and three children have had 4 great years following ye and are more than ready for 4 more,have a break lads,rest and we’ll all go together again,Maigheo Abu

  13. Keith Higgins was outstanding. I believe it was only a few weeks ago that the gooch himself said that Higgins was by far the best he has ever faced. I think JOD might agree.

    Cillian deserves great accolades as well and looking back will be disappointed with his behavior at the end. He was also outstanding and i hope the card doesn’t cost him an all star.

  14. Behaviour at the end was sheer frustration at the unbelievable behaviour of Kerry players with on STAR shaming himself

  15. I don’t think Mayo people have much faith in mchale. Nice guy and a great footballer but hasn’t much to bring to the table as regards management. I don’t think McStay would get the job if he wants mchale with him.

  16. Still very pissed off! Even more so since seeing it on telly.
    The most disappointing part of Saturday was losing the midfield area. If we even got 50/50 there we would have won easily and Donaghy wouldn’t have been a decisive factor. James Horan has done wonders for us and made us a proud county again but should have had at least a plan B for Donaghy. It also surprized me that he started Barry Moran despite not getting one minute in the previous two games. The other decisive factor was that our half backs hadn’t recovered after the massive effort of the previous Sunday. As well the Kerry half forwards pulled and dragged them to stop them at source and were not punished by the ref. we needed to move AOS to midfield when it became obvious we were losing that battle. Then he got injured! Poxy luck.
    As regards the ref he made one huge decision – not issuing the black card after the penalty. 14 Kerry men would not have beaten us.

  17. Keith is my favourite Mayo player maybe of all my time watching Mayo. Top top player.

    I would advise people stay clear of the Indo and Mr.Mcgee today.

  18. Hold on lads, lets not appoint McStay just yet. The most important thing for us now is what we do next, we still have an excellent panel and I think there is alot more really good talent available to us that a new man can bring in. We’ve had a conveyor belt of minor talent getting to all ireland semis and finals the last 5-6 years so the players are there.
    A new man is likley to get 2 years, thats enough time for that person to drive us to Sam or ruin our current batch.
    We need to be really, really careful here and think hard on it, we also need to act fast but it needs to be the right decision.
    Personally, I dont like the “celebrity bannestoir”, someone like K Mc is likely to be savvy enough to know that if he does take the Mayo job that he needs to keep in with the media, would he be strong enough to focus solely on the job and not be working to give the right soundbites so that he can slot back into the cushy number when the Mayo job runs its course?
    You’d also question his head when he not so long ago put in for the KIldare job, dogs on the street knew JH was gone this year win,lose or draw. So if his goal was Mayo manager why was he doing that? You’d question the logic.
    Looking at the template we used for James, is there a club manager who has done good work in the county who could be elevated? Pat Holmes perhaps? I know he has done it before and it didnt end well but he is the only man to lead us to win a national final over the last 30 odd years and based on his success with Castlebar might have learned alot.
    Enda Gilvarry? I dont think success at minor guarantees success at senior, they are completely different animals but hes worth an interview.
    And then the outside manager, I dont think that model works either to be honest, the modern day successes seem to be all home grown talent so better off sticking with that template, but even though it causes logistical difficulties, what about Jack O’Connor? As much as I detest the yearrahs after our recent encounters with them, despite having some good friends there, hes a proven winner who could be the man to get us over the line.

  19. The effort put in by our lads was immense over the last 2 weekends. Proud of them all. Higgins is a warrior and I think is captain material for next season.

    On the next manager assuming its McStay I would like to see Noel Connelly in his backroom team.

    On to 2015…

  20. Possible options for the Mayo job are;
    Noel Connelly – did well with the u-21’s a few years back. Good solid guy with a passion for the game. Question is will his job allow him the time that is required?
    John Maughan – had two attempts, a backward step big time
    Pat Holme – Been there done that not a success
    Kevin McStay – Baggage as Mchale would be involved, don’t know if he wants it for the right reasons. Agree with the comment regarding the Kildare job. I think he would take any job if offered.
    Liam McHale – Not a manager of men, best suited to coaching but Clare was not a success.
    Martin Carney – No conviction, his current job suits him with RTE!
    Anthony McGarry – Did well with Ballintubber after James Horan; won both league and Championship with them.
    Peter Ford – Did well with Sligo some years ago.Not doing so well with Ballintubber currently
    David Brady – All talk thus far, no experience and very head strong
    James Nallan – A possibility, a very intelligent guy and he has the right job as he is a lecturer at NUIG with summer off.
    Walsh – Will get the Galway job if he wants it and if not why not?
    Enda Gilvarry – Hugh difference between Minors and Seniors, but has done very well with the minors and deserves an interview
    Jack O’Connor – Can’t commit to this job from Kerry, there is too much time involved, logistically its not an option apart from anything else.
    Ray Dempsey – Some success with the minor prior to E. Gilvarry, again should be talked too.
    Pat Fallon – Was linked to the Galway job last time, is involved with Barna in Galway

    The next manager needs to take the positives from the JH tenure ie Ed Coughlan and Donel Buckley must be retained. Bring something extras like team selections, developing a bigger panel, tactics, ability to read the game and respond quickly in a pressure environment, take advice from selectors, develop a method of beating the other top teams Dublin, Donegal & Kerry.
    Of the four main contenders for 2015, Mayo have as good a panel as any and there are additional players which can be added such as E. Regan, E. Handley, P Handley, Gallagher, Coen, Carolan, D. OConnor etc etc etc.

    However its in the hands of the Co Bord, which does not inspire confidence that the right man will be selected.

  21. Either Kevin McStay or Noel Connelly would be top of my list. Each would have their respective strengths and weaknesses as managers. It’ll be interesting to see the final list of applicants for the role and how it all unfolds over the coming months. Regardless of who get the job of successor to James it will likely be a poisoned chalice. The lads have given so much over the past 3 years in particular that the physical and emotional damage of 3 AI’s that got away will inevitably take its toll. The backbone of this team will be in the 28-30 year range next year coupled with the rising force of young talented teams like Kerry, Tyrone, Armagh, Cork, Kildare, Galway not to mention a very wounded Dublin side, I think it will be very hard for our lads to be able to pick themselves up and launch any sort of serious challenge in the next couple of years. There is some young talent to be gleaned from our minor teams of recent years but unfortunately no new Brogan, Cooper, Walsh, O’Donoghue on the horizon to join Cillian up front and give the team that little bit of extra pep and firepower for a fresh assault in 2015.

  22. Don’t follow other counties too much but have to say this guy is pure class. I couldn’t believe how agile and quick a player could be. Great balance and center of gravity coupled with enormous hunger. You guys are lucky to have him. So sorry not to see him in the final.

  23. Along with Cillian he’s just irreplaceable.
    Not only can he man mark the best in the game, he is a launching pad for endless attacks. Does he ever have a bad game? And always plays the game in the right spirit.
    One of the best footballers of his generation.
    As Marty Morrissey said when announcing the team
    “Keith Higgins quite simply a brillant footballer”

  24. In the interest of continuity , maybe James Nallen could be a good choice.he knows the setup and could possibly keep the back room team together .

  25. Keith is a real superstar. Don’t bank on the All Star2014 in but he truly deserves one. One of our finest ever.

  26. Really suprised at O Connor marked down by supporters here as player of the year. He did well – maybe even very well at times but he was about 5 or 6th best Mayo player this year. He is a media darling no doubt about it. Ciaran Whelan on RTE certainly loves him and would give him man of the match for turning up. Remember his MoM against the Ros for 5 pretty straight forward frees on the day. But some hard cold facts on the player that is percieved to be Mayos marquee forward doesn’t present as dramatic a picture.

    In 5 championship games against Ros, Galway, Cork and Kerry *2, O’ connor managed a good but not awe inspring 1-11 from play (<3pts per game). That compares with 1-8 by Jason Doherty and 1-7 by Andy Moran (who played probably less than 50% of the game time).

    Compare that with Kerrys 'marquee' forward who was marked by the undoubted best back in the Coutnry in Higgins – James O' Donoghue. In one less championship game he managed 2-20s (6.5pts a game) from play, including 1-7 from play against Higgins.

    As an outsider I am incredulous of the fact that Andy Moran hasn't even featured on the list below – a big game player that came through big time whenever the questions were asked. That is marquee material even if it is no marquee in the O' Dongohue sense of the word.

    Top 5 Mayo players in order this year for me.

    1. Keith HIggins
    2. Aidan O Shea
    3. Andy Moran
    4. Colm Boyle
    5. Cillian O' Connor/ Seamie O Shea

    O Connor will probably get an all star but i'm not convinced he deserves one over the likes of McManus, O Dongohue, the much maligned but always delivering on the big day McFadden, maybe Donaghy if he plays as well in the final and a few more too.

  27. Outsider – you’re entitled to your views (though I would point you towards house rule no.8 which forbids trash-talking of individual players – what you’ve said strays a bit too close to that for my liking) but I doubt if I’m alone among Mayo supporters in rejecting out of hand what you’ve asserted in relation to Cillian O’Connor.

    He may not score as much from play as others (you’ve referenced James O’Donoghue – now there’s a media darling if there ever was one) but Cillian isn’t that type of forward. Unlike O’Donoghue and others Cillian does an enormous amount of work in foraging and forcing turnovers, in the process creating scores for others. For example, virtually every time he touched the ball in the drawn game against Kerry he either scored or set someone else up for a score.

    Secondly, you may not appreciate this but scores from placed balls count as well. Cillian is unquestionably the best freetaker there is at the minute and has been a highly effective and consistent freetaker since he broke into the senior team as a 19 year-old three years ago.

    He’s also going to end up, for the second year running (despite two shoulder dislocations last summer), as the top scorer in the championship. And, yes, he should get a long overdue and well deserved All-Star this year.

  28. @ Willie Joe

    I am surprised that rating a player as in the top 5 best players of the year for a very successful team could constitute trash talking a player. If it is then I’m afraid the bar has been set well above the a level of one trying to dissaude bad taste to one that only promotes all out positive progaganda. It a question of having perspective v hyperbole.

    The point I am getting at is it is extremely difficult to win an All-Ireland without a free scoring marquee forward – it is why i think Donegal will struggle to beat Kerry this year – what Murphy and McFadden were doing in that regard in 2012, they are not doing enough of this year and its a lot to ask Ryan McHugh to deliver another 8pt from play performance in the final…if he does then he is entering the realms of marquee himself. O’ Connor may well become that player – I just don’t think he is there yet and I think ultimately Mayo will need that sort of player to get them over the line.

    With respect to free taking – of course they are important – but a top county team you have to take for granted frees and penalties are going to be scored (I can’t remember seeing too many penalties missed in fact since the ball moved in 2 yards). I don’t have any stats on O’ Connors frees but I would be surprised if his scores to wides ratio is not pretty much in line with 10 or 15 top free takers from other counties. I won’t begrudge O Connor an All Star I just think if you see a big performance in the final by either Donaghy or McFadden or Gaieny he could be waiting another year.

  29. Outsider – it wasn’t that I was referring to when I mentioned trash-talking, as well you know – go back and look at what you wrote again if you’re in doubt.

    You could be right about the free scoring (as opposed to scoring frees!) forward bit if we are to get over the line but it wasn’t our inability to score that did for us this year, and in particular in Limerick, where the ref, Moran’s dominance at midfield and our inability to curb Donaghy (in that order, I’d suggest) were of more importance in determining the eventual result.

    Also, I’m not sure you can take penalties or frees for granted (especially the latter but Hennelly’s save from Walsh in the Connacht final show that they’re not always a gimme either) and while I don’t have the stats to back it up I’d be very surprised if Cillian wasn’t right up there in his conversion rates. I’d repeat the point that he’s going to finish as the championship’s top scorer for the second year in a row this year, which underlines how important he is to us in this respect.

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