Kingdom challenge coming into view

Image: @MayoGAA

It’s midweek already and so as the Monaghan match slips below the horizon in the rearview mirror the next hurdle facing us starts to loom up ahead. A big hurdle it is too: Kerry, under the lights at Austin Stack Park in Tralee on Saturday evening (throw-in 7pm).

The Kingdom got off to a flying start last Sunday, coming away from the long trip up to Letterkenny with two League points in the bag. That 2-17 to 1-17 shootout win over Donegal was notable in that, as Eamonn Fitzmaurice cheerfully admitted afterwards, it was the first time in five years that Kerry had managed to secure a first round League victory. Maybe that stat puts our own setback last Saturday night into some context.

Like ourselves, Kerry melded youth and experience in their line-up for their opening spring fixture and, no more than ourselves, they’ve got a few players club-tied at the minute as well. They still have considerable firepower up front, though, with Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue in harness together in the full-forward line. It was the Dingle man – subsequently voted Football Player of the Week – who did most of the damage to Donegal the last day with his two well-taken goals. Both gents will need close watching down in Tralee.

There’s no news yet, of course, about team details for the game. I’d imagine we’ll do the same as last week and name our team on Friday evening. It might, then, be an idea to let that outrage loose now, folks, about not naming our subs when we do so as I doubt we’ll be changing established practice on that front anytime soon.

I’ve just had a shifty round the Kerry GAA site and they’ve no word as yet either on when they plan to make their team announcement. When they do, though, it won’t feature Shane Enright, as the combative Tarbet clubman was withdrawn in Letterkenny suffering from concussion following an accidental clash of heads with Donegal’s Michael Murphy.

The only firm news about the match-day line-up, then, concerns the ref. The man in charge for this one is Armagh’s Padraig Hughes, an official we last encountered when we played Dublin in the second round of last year’s League campaign.

We’ve a decent record in recent years against Kerry in the League. They beat us fairly well, 2-13 to 0-14, at MacHale Park last March, which was our fourth defeat in five starts in last year’s NFL campaign. That win for the Kingdown was, however, their first for a while over us.

We had an easy enough victory over them in Killarney the previous February, running out winners by 2-11 to 0-10, but that was a first round game and it was the Kerry lads’ first competitive outing since capturing the All-Ireland the previous September. We can all recall – all too well – how our close encounters with them in the summer of 2014 fared out but that spring we beat them by 2-15 to 1-13 at MacHale Park and the previous year we were well on top against them in an opening round tie, also at MacHale Park, keeping them scoreless in the second half as we won by 0-15 to 1-6.

The bookies haven’t much time for our good form against Kerry at this time of year, understandable given our contrasting fortunes last weekend. Paddy Power have installed the home team as hot 1/2 favourites to do the business against us on Saturday night. What do you reckon about how this one will go?

How will we do against Kerry?

  • Lose (58%, 257 Votes)
  • Win (33%, 144 Votes)
  • Draw (9%, 42 Votes)

Total Voters: 443

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51 thoughts on “Kingdom challenge coming into view

  1. Would be hoping for a response and a solid performance. Would like to see more game time for the newbies, and expect that Donie and Boland will both start again. I think the criticism Kirby has gotten has been totally unwarranted. I don’t think he played particularly badly at all. Had quite a few possessions in the first half and rarely gave the ball away. Got one absolutely massive mark as well.

    I would like to see Liam Irwin get some game time. And we really, really need Evan and Alan Freeman to grab the bull by the horns.

    If there is even a slight chance that Diarmuid has a knock, I wouldn’t like to see him at all. Hopefully he is over that injury now.

    Cillian, I thought, was looking very good on Saturday and I’m excited to see him in action again. He won most, if not all, of the ball directed towards him.

    Looking forward to the trip!

  2. It’s a very difficult match for us. Kerry have a better panel available right now despite Crokes in the club.
    If we are close and a few new players show well then that is not bad. Kerry cutting loose like they did against Donegal, we need to avoid that at all costs.

  3. Willie Joe, interesting to read above where you said that Shane Enright won`t be available for Kerry because of concussion he suffered last weekend.
    I was only reading yesterday, that David Murray of Roscommon and Mattie Donnelly of Tyrone, both suffered concussion in their match last weekend.
    Both are unlikely to start for their respective counties this weekend.

    It highlights again, the issue of head injuries in sport.
    Re the Gaa, are there set procedures in place re the amount of recovery time for a player who suffers concussion, or is it left to the discretion of the various counties, and their own medical staff.

    It highlights again, the issue of head injuries in sport.

  4. There are procedures on concussion management in the GAA, Observer 2 (details are here) and this includes a return to play protocol. This doesn’t lay down any hard and fast timelines for how long a player should wait before returning to play (and the lack of such firm dates arguably make the protocols a bit woolly) but, from the looks of it, concussion is something that the GAA are onto. Which, of course, they should be as it’s a brain injury.

  5. I want to see Aidan O Se (Whenever he comes back) in midfield this year. The forward experiment has failed in my opinion. I hope Rochford and co are working on an attacking plan because watching Mayo going forward is like watching Liverpool lately….pressing is slow, too lateral and not quick enough.

    Now if there are any Liverpool FC fans here maybe we should setup a help group 😉

  6. For us to be competitive on Saturday we need a proper midfield.The Hughes brothers won the match for Monaghan last Saturday. Hopefully Parsons will be fit enough to start but we badly need one of the O’Sheas in midfield as well. Without them Mayo lose a monopoly of possession and cutting edge.

    Kirby is a much improved footballer and should be tried at full forward instead of Freeman.and surely somebody can shape Evan Regan into the scoring footballer that he seems capable of being. I would love to see him receiving the ball a lot and running at backs. He seems to be trying too hard at the moment and his positioning is not great. He looks like a Peter Canavan on occasions but is too often out of the game or losing the ball. We badly need a new force in the forwards who can readily turn and knock over scores and has a smell for a goal. I haven’t given up on Regan yet but he needs tutoring.

  7. I really hope some new forwards are started on Saturday…..some fellas simply have to be given the chance to prove themselves and now is the time to do it.

    Kerry were leading Donegal by 9 points or more last weekend before making a few changes and I note the bookies’ odds…….let’s hope the cobwebs have been shaken off our lads!

  8. Does anyone have info on the Conor Loftus situation, or Chris Barrett for that matter?

    Here’s what Mike Finnerty wrote in the Mayo News on 24th January regarding the many injuries (and some marriages!) in the camp; details on most of them except the above mentioned:

    “Conor Loftus has also been sidelined since the start of the year with an injury.
    Definitely out of Mayo’s game against Monaghan are Brendan Harrison and Ger Cafferkey, who are both following rehabilitation programmes, while Chris Barrett and Michael Hall are also both on the long-term injured list.
    Alan Dillon and Barry Moran are unlikely to be considered for selection after only returning from their respective honeymoons last weekend.
    However, the news is more positive on both Colm Boyle and Alan Freeman, both of whom sat out the game against Roscommon.
    Boyle was believed to be carrying a slight knock and wasn’t risked while Freeman was stood down due to feeling unwell.
    Caolan Crowe also didn’t start last weekend’s match due to an ankle injury”.

  9. I hope that we see some sort of forward plan against Kerry. It’s rochford second year now. Surely he must have something planned? It’s so frustrating watching them. Every score is so hard to get.

    The backs will be in for a long night if we line out like we did the last with no sweeper. Need a better return from midfield otherwise Moran will be launching in ball non stop into o’donoughe, geaney and savage who won’t shy away from going for the goals.

  10. A handy enough one for Mayo. Kerry wont be too bothered as they have 2 pints already in the bag.

    Dont rule out either the cute hoorism of them having one eye already on August’s semi final with ourselves. Letting Mayo win in the league meeting in February so that in the build up to the All Ireland semi final they will talk us up saying ” sure Mayo beat us in the league last time we played them in February and Mayo are favourites in August” etc etc. Only for them to ambush us in Croke Park in August and set up a final meeting with their bitter rivals Tyrone.

  11. I hope that we can get a few of our hardier buckos back in harness for next weekend as Tralee, on the evidence of last weekend both in MacHale and Letterkenny, does not look like a good place for introducing newbies. However I do hope to see Freeman, Regan and Newcombe included from the start as I see little benefit in bringing in a player for one game and dropping him next time out. Boland, on the other hand with a run of four games behind him, has pretty much established himself in the panel for now.

  12. I be that Regan, and Freeman have had enough chances, cannot win fifty fifty ball, I am sorry because they have tried so hard , Boland needs another year of s and c, so it looks like we won’t have a much different line out from las year, hopefully Loftus comes back fit and well, the two O Sheas are badly needed I hear people calling for new fowards to be given a chance, but I don’t believe we have any better out there

  13. We have become obsessed in Mayo with S&C to the point where skillfull forwards are neglected….Its a forward coach or coaches that are needed not more weightlifting
    I hope we start the same team again last weekend should have brought us on in match sharpness….I would then bring on subs a lot earlier and use all 6 expect a much improved Mayo perfirmance may not be enough to claim the points though.
    I cannot remember the last time we won a Sat evening throwin….

  14. Boland is built like a hurler. He’s a strong, fit and capable lad having played senior hurling with Toreen and Mayo. I think s and c in football can be way over the top. Gooch never needed to be huge. Strong core and a brilliant brain.

  15. Fully agree with you Freespoon…….and don’t agree with comments above that we need the two osheas back……..SOS in my view is worth his place…..Aidan has failed to live up to the hype…….I’d use him as an impact sub at this stage.

  16. I certainly agree with utilising the subs bench earlier. We had a super subs bencjh last weekend that would have won the match had they been brought into the action early enough..parsons o connor irwin moran…

  17. Live streaming the draw is a great idea. Well done to all concerned. I hope it becomes the norm in the future. It brings the summer season a step nearer at the end of the winter. I have no doubt that Stephen and co will play a similar team to what was played last Saturday. In February he in will be looking for hard work and honest endeavor from all, and I saw plenty of it on Saturday night. Some of our warriors need a break in Jan and Feb. Opportunity beckons for some, and a time to learn against the best in the land for others. Time to watch all those guys we were wishing to see last summer come off the bench. April is the month to make the big calls and it is fast approaching. Be patient and give the lads a chance.

  18. Grainne,

    Strength is needed, do you not see diarmiad Connolly of Dublin? How can you expect a normal sized player to mark that type muscle? and cast your mind back to our top scorer, mort the younger, how easily he was stopped by a kerry defender whereas a fella like Andy or cillian have the power to break the grip and leave an opponent wincing from a belt.
    Strength is definitely required at the top level.

  19. I think we have a massive task on our hands on Saturday evening. Read an article with Paul Geaney saying Kerry are back playing on hard ground a lot earlier than usual this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are targeting the league. They have to change their style to compete with Dublin.
    Whoever said this is a “handy” game hasn’t a clue. There is a rivalry built up from the two semi final games also.
    I fear for donie at cornerback with that Kerry full forward line. Also expecting a much better performance from Stephen Coen who I thought was very average against Monaghan. The extra week should bring on Vaughan/Boyler and I would like to see the Irwin starting at full forward instead of Freeman.
    Would be great to come out of there with a win but realistically a 4/5 point defeat looks more likely.

  20. Leg strength and speed is the main thing should be developed over the years. Kerrys Pat Flanagan has been very good at developing that for them over the years, he is an ex sprinter.
    We all have a different proportion of muscle fibres convertable to fast twitch fibres determined genetically. Then you can train for speed to convert them over a long period.
    Taking part in long distance stamina activities will actively inhibit this. May even convert to slow twitch. People who trained a few years in cross country usually struggle to develop explosiveness later on.

  21. As they say variety is the spice of life. We seen Dublin bring on Cormac Costello (to look at him he’d nearly still pass for a minor player) in the All-Ireland final replay when the Mayo defenders were getting tired and he popped over 3 points from play for them. For us you feel that we just don’t seem to get the balance right. You’d think that we should have brought on someone like Conor Loftus in either the drawn All-Ireland final or in the replay. Even just to give us something a little bit different.

    Just look back at the Monaghan match, we had Boland, Kevin Mc, Jason Doc and Diarmuid all on the field up front towards the end of the game when we needed to get scores on the board. When Diarmuid came on he replaced Evan Regan when you think that he probably should have replaced Jason Doc or Kevin Mc. Then you would have preferred to see Liam Irwin or someone like him replace Regan, i.e. try to get the balance right between scorers and workers. Irwin might have banged in a goal for us late in the game.

  22. We need to start at the back and do whatever is needed to put the clamps on Geaney and O Donoghue. Use McLoughlin as sweeper. Stop them and we have a decent chance.
    We need a strong midfield – Parsons and either Kirby or one of the O Sheas. Win this area or break even at least.
    It’s down then to the forwards. It’s step up or step down altogether for a couple of lads. I would stick with Boland, Freeman and Regan for the first half and chance what happens. Change at halftime if needed.
    I don’t expect to win but 1/2 odds is tempting!

  23. Keith Higgins was the best corner back in Ireland for about five years but unfortunately Father Time is catching up with him . Forwards are now more able to slip by him leaving him floundering. McManus outmuscled him leaving him on the ground as he set up the Monaghan goal. When we tried Keith in the forwards in the past he shone – why not try him there again? He still has the lightening speed over a short distance and would bring some zip to an attack that, on last Saturday’s evidence, is badly needed.

  24. When we tried Keith in the forwards before our defence suffered and we were conceding soft goals. It’s hard to know who’d be a manager eh?

  25. I would have liked to have seen Keith tried on the half-back line during this league campaign but we have so many half-back options it would be hard to see him getting a place there in the summer team. We are missing so many players in the full-back line at the moment (Harrison, Caff, Keane, Barrett, Barry Moran-palyed there against Tipp as a sweeper, Cunniffe gone as well) we almost have to play him back there in these games for a bit of experience.

    That’s probably why Paddy Durcan has been played back there as well, due to the lack of options but again like Keith, Paddy’s main strengths are going forward from the defence. Maybe if Keegan is given a run out in midfield, when he comes back, there might be still an option of playing Keith on the half-back line in Lee’s position.

    I often thought that late in games, might be the best time to push Keith into a more advanced position. For example in the last game against Monaghan, they could have brought on a defender in the last 10 minutes and took off Jason Doc or Kevin Mc and pushed Keith into a more advanced role, breaking forward from midfield (Paddy could play in that position too late in games). Something different anyway to take advantage of us having an extra man. I remember Keith scoring a great goal against Tyrone in the league, late in the game a few years ago. It would be something different to see anyway as we have been a bit stale the last few years in our league games.

  26. Think people expect way too much of County teams in February! We had 1 of our standard bearers in defence playing in position v Monaghan. Keith Higgins and Paddy Durkin are a lot of things but fb Higgins is not either is Durkin a cb. Newcombe was very good and hopefully will show that throughout the league. Regan and freeman are getting the ire of supporters, some deserving and some not. Several times freeman won ball when 3 Monaghan men were tackling him, problem was, no mayo man in support. Same happened to cillian and Boland. Duirmuid and tom p have to start, I’d like to see both in midfield, if for nothing else at least try to run the Kerry midfield and tire them. Kirby is not a county midfielder, but could be of use in around the square. Every new January and February brings unrealistic expectations for that time of year when in reality the team starts with the training wheels on until at least march. I’m traveling down to Kerry thinking we will get something out of the game, perhaps a draw!

  27. For a long time now, we have needed a different approach in our forward division. The use of sweepers has meant that those in the full-forward line always have to contend with an extra man when the ball comes in. As a result, no matter who in in the front line, it is difficult for them to win clean ball. On this site, it is common to hear comments on who is NOT the man for full forward and it is my contention that this will continue to be the case until we make some changes in the way we attack generally.
    Too often, our backs turn over ball only to see progress slow down as the attack reaches midfield. A few seconds of a delay around the middle gives the opposition defence a chance to set up, resulting in few (if any) options except to carry the ball through the defence and rely on drawing a foul. We did that too often last Saturday. In addition, when someone came out of the full forward line, drawing his man with him, there was no quick ball with a planned runner into the space to exploit the gap created when we win the ball back.
    For the last few years, I have been concerned with our forward play generally. The lads given the 10 to 15 shirts rarely play as a unit. They put in some great individual shifts at times, but coordination is lacking. I’m convinced that it is not the skill or the ability of the individual players that is lacking. It seems to me to be a lack of coaching of the forwards as a unit.
    Sorting this out is the big task for this year and is essential if we are to progress from last year.
    I’m hopeful that we will do just that, but we need to start seeing evidence soon. Saturday in Tralee would be a good place to begin.

    Keep the Faith!

  28. Would agree with that four goal. Of the top four teams I’v always thought we most relied on individual brilliance rather than teamwork.
    The attacking play is usually not coordinated.
    Lee Keegans goal was a suprise for us. Kerry have scored many of those layoff to a runner goals. Even our lack of simple plays like a runner coming crossfield on the loop and shooting quickly. We can’t even get Aidan teed up on the run facing goals. The attacking teamwork and speed of attack are more important than any one individual forward we need to find.

  29. There is alot of bad decision making…aimless balls, players not looking up to see where the space is or who (if anyone) is making the run. We don’t except to see free flowing football this time of year but I feel our forward play has been going downhill the last season or two.

  30. Going back to the years of Maughan in 04 and Moran in 06 our forward play has been our Achilles heel. Back then we had Conor Mortimer who only decided to pass when he was bet himself and only to certain players.
    With all due respect to Brian Maloney and James Gill they wouldn’t make a Mayo panel nowadays.
    I think we must use the league to give Boland+Irwin time to bed in even if they don’t make the championship side. Boland is a creator and scorer.Irwin has something that is rare in Mayo, he has an eye for a goal. Can’t be depending on Andy Moran forever, we must think of the future. And the league is the time to do that.

  31. Irwin, Conor OShea and Boland were playing tough Sigerson games yesterday. The proper thing to do is not start them Saturday. One full days rest is nothing.

  32. Going on past experience, I expect that the team named will be the team that started the last day. On the day, there will be changes in the starting line up. SR did this a lot last year.

  33. I agree with September Santa (such a username the Lord save us Santa at Christmas is bad enough lol) I’d like to see the birth of a new attacking plan on Saturday night where we are counting on our forwards to score as opposed to depending on our wing backs to score

  34. Lot of good comments here regarding forward play. The unit is more important than the individuals in my view also. Agree with four goal and JP. Need to see some evidence of improvement in this department during the league. When big games come, our scores are so hard fought and hard earned compared to Dublin and that counts in the end, especially in the last ten minutes of games when play becomes more broken and there is a heap of subs on the pitch on both sides. Rochford also needs to somehow extract more effectiveness from AOS in the big games.

  35. Absolutely agree there 4 goals regarding the transition to attack. It should be our goal for 2017 and it is a big task to sort it out.

  36. On the subject of forward play. This was something rochford was credited for in corrofins run to the all-Ireland. Rochford himself he will try to implement this style with mayo.

    I haven’t seen any sign of this yet but I don’t know if it’s because rochford has changed his mind, the players aren’t following his plan or he has realized they aren’t good enough footballers to execute this plan.

    I’m still hopeful we will see some new tactic up front yet. Maybe the Monaghan was blowing off the cobwebs. There might be more structure in Kerry.

  37. Agree with all who say get more men on the ball up front where scoring happens. This failing is beginning to feel like a terminal disease. Its remarkable that we’ve gotten so far so often with an attacking force that just hasn’t had enough answers and is there a point in repeating the fact? Not much, except that it kinda focuses the mind on what could be and how beneficial even a smidgen of a degree of progress in this area would be to our chances! Let’s not be looking for too much too quick!

  38. Cillian and Diarmuid are probably our best scoring forwards. The problem is how do you keep them or any dangerous forward closer to the opposition goal. Cillian has often found himself back in his own full back line.
    Teams like Dublin encourage their defenders to go forward, particularly those marking ‘marquee’ forwards. The forward has little option but to track the back or else his man will cause havoc further up the field. Dublin did this to Gooch and he ended up acting as a very inept defender instead of the class forward which he is. Dublin were dead happy to have him away from the danger area. Very clever if you have the players capable of doing it! They do the same to Cillian and Aidan.
    A plan to counter this and leave your most lethal forwards up front is the key. Just how you do that I’m not entirely sure but crack this one and we are a long way towards putting up serious scores.

  39. I agree fully JP about giving them lads a rest for tomorrow’s game after Sligerson.
    I think often the problem with Mayo is we have one or two good scoring forwards which can be easy for the opposition to target. E.G: Cillian being double marked in games. With Dublin and Kerry they always have someone else to pick up the pieces when someone isn’t firing. For example Brogan/Flynn not doing it this year, the others stepped up.
    I think Mayo need to give these young scoring forwards like Irwin (possibly Reape/Loftus) a good chance in the league to prepare them for the heat of Croker.

  40. Just arrived. 301km in 4hr 28mins. Beautiful drive down but by God you’d want patience going through Adare. Safe trip.

  41. Diehard, you raise the issue of our forwards having to track back to our defense when their marker goes forward.
    What would happen if our forward stays put and relies on our defense (including our sweeper) to do their job, dispossess the rampaging defender and hit a quick ball up to our loose forward. Old fashioned concept I know (and possibly naive to boot in the context of the modern game) but surely one or two of our six forwards should be instructed not to go beyond our 45 for spells during a game under any circumstances and then rotate with other forwards if the opposition cops on to what they are doing.

  42. I agree with a lot of the above We have never had a top class forward unit Top quality individuals yes but never the kind of unit that consistently runs up big scores/ We always seem to be working harder for our scores than other top teams/

    As for tomorrow I am afraid Kerry seem to be more forward then us and are taking the league more seriously than in the past. Therefore can only see one result leaving us with two defeats and the Roscommon game a must win. Best of luck to the lads and safe travelling to all those heading south.

  43. @SeamusThornton, I think you’re right. We need to keep a couple of forwards up front at all times. The trick is making sure it’s the right two forwards – the danger men! If for instance Cillian or Aidan or Diarmuid was told not to pass his own 45 then another forward would have to act as a ‘tracker’ to chase down the attacking back. In the modern possession game you really cannot allow an extra man coming forward.

  44. The Kerry team for tomorrow:

    1 Brian Kelly Killarney Legion
    2. Ronan Shanahan Austin Stacks
    3. Mark Griffin St Michaels-Foilmore
    4. Killian Young Renard
    5. Jonathan Lyne Killarney Legion
    6. Peter Crowley (C) Laune Rangers
    7. Tadhg Morley Templenoe
    8. David Moran Kerins O’Rahillys
    9. Jack Barry Na Gaeil
    10. Adrian Spillane Templenoe
    11. Paul Murphy Rathmore
    12. Donnchadh Walsh Cromane
    13. Jack Savage Kerins O’Rahillys
    14. Paul Geaney Dingle
    15. James O’Donoghue Killarney Legion

    16. Brendan Kealy Kilcummin
    17. Tom O’Sullivan Dingle
    18. Jason Foley Ballydonoghue
    19. Michael Geaney Dingle
    20. Barry John Keane Kerins O’Rahillys
    21. Barry O’Sullivan Dingle
    22. Brendan O’Sullivan Valentia
    23. Conor Keane Killarney Legion
    24. Conor Geaney Dingle
    25. Gavin Crowley Templenoe
    26. Denis Daly St Marys

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