Laois 0-8 Mayo 1-11: sluggish start but points secured

On the opening night of a new league season, it was only to be expected that a number of things weren’t working properly tonight. Like the scoreboard (which failed to register our final point). And ref Rory Hickey’s brain. And our midfield. And Laois’s effort at a blanket defence. But, hey, it’s only early February and we’re off and running in the 2012 NFL so it can’t be counted as a bad night’s work overall.

We had six points to spare over the home team at the end of tonight’s NFL Division One clash and while we were arguably full value for that margin of a win, such an outcome wasn’t exactly written in the stars with half an hour gone. We’d played wretchedly up till then, with Laois quicker and more inventive on the ball, but the 1-1 salvo we hit them with just before half-time turned the contest on its head and we kicked on well from there in the second half to seal the points with considerable ease.

I made it to O’Moore Park more than half an hour before throw-in, the floodlit ground clearly visible from the motorway even before we’d turned off it. I had my little Dub in tow, who, given the way the evening panned out, was more than happy not to be in Croker to witness Kerry’s rather hollow win over his heroes. He was in our camp tonight but I’ve no doubt that he’ll be back with the Jacks when I bring him to McHale Park next weekend.

The opening quarter of tonight’s match was fairly keenly contested, with both sides probing unsuccessfully for the game’s opening score, which meant that a full seven minutes were on the clock before Ross Munnelly – whom Richie Feeney appeared to be affording too much freedom in those early exchanges – got the first point of the evening.

Barry Moran belted over a point from play in reply soon after but then Alan Dillon blasted over (picture above courtesy of Mayo Mick) with the goal at his mercy having been played in by Conor Mortimer in a move initiated deep by Richie Feeney.  “That should have been a goal”, I said to the little lad. “Couda, shouda, wouda” he muttered in reply.

A key point about that sweeping move was the intelligent advantage played by ref Rory Hickey who let the play develop when Conor was fouled in passing the ball into Alan Dillon. That, however, was about the only clever thing that the hapless Clare official did tonight as he proceeded to ruin the flow of the game, pulling for all sorts of imaginery infractions by both sides. Tonight’s match isn’t the first one I’ve seen Rory Hickey ruin and I doubt if it’ll be the last either.

But the ref wasn’t the reason we fell three points in arrears over the following ten minutes. Laois were defending deep and breaking in numbers, we were failing to make any impact in the middle third and looking more than a little loose at the back. Ger Cafferkey was having a testing time of it in the company of Padraig Clancy and when the two of them fell over each other going for a ball (which resulted in a free for Laois, from which they got their second point) Ger came off second best and had to retire early. Eoghan Reilly came in to replace the Ballinaman and, on the whole, he did okay in the position.

Laois looked like they might really turn the screw on us before half-time but then we got the stroke of luck we needed. Alan Freeman was sent clear and although he obviously had only one aim when shooting his effort took a wicked deflection off a defender and cannoned past the helpless ‘keeper into the net. Our next attack led to a close-in free which Conor converted to give us the lead for the first time.

In the lads trooped at half-time, having played really poorly over the course of the opening half but where they’d somehow managed to finish with their noses in front. I know it’s to some extent the art of predicting past events but it did seem then that if we put our collective foot on the gas at all in the second half we’d have more than enough in us to take the spoils.

And that, in a nutshell, was what happened. Although they recorded the half’s opening point (from a comically incorrect free award), our workrate had visibly gone up a few notches and even though midfield remained a problem, we were increasingly able to get the ball forward and once we did were able to do damage with it.

Kevin McLoughlin punched through the blanket cover to free up Conor who hooked it over and then Alan Freeman launched a stunner with the outside of his boot from thirty yards or so to put us two clear. At the other end, Keith Higgins provided a great cameo of our increased workrate by skilfully dispossessing his man and initiating another attack for us.

Jason Doherty and Enda Varley came on for us around this time, with the former replacing Pat Harte (with Barry Moran coming out to midfield as we rejigged our formation) while Enda Varley came on for Andy Moran. The changes worked too as our attacks began to yield more fruit.

They got their final point of the evening when they reacted quickest to recycle the ball following yet another Hail Mary effort but this free from Conor followed by another Alan Freeman point, the Aghamore man making light of the blanket cover, stretched our lead to four.

We defended resolutely and with great discipline from their next few attacks (knowing that any hand placed on a man, however imaginery, might be enough to result in a free in) and instead it was us who added to our tally, with Enda Varley knocking over two trademark spectaculars to seal our six-point win.

Tonight’s performance was obviously a patchy one and James and the lads will be well aware that significant improvement will be needed before the Dubs roll into town next weekend. I’m sure, though, that they’ll be delighted to win despite the raggedness of much of the display and will be doubly happy to have a win on the road under their belts already.

Positives for us tonight were the displays put in by the likes of David Clarke, Lee Keegan, Keith Higgins, Donal Vaughan, Richie Feeney, Kevin McLoughlin, Alan Freeman and Conor Mortimer. The latter was particularly impressive, weighing in with five points on an evening where he repeatedly took the fight to the Laois rearguard.

Midfield would be main worry for me arising from tonight. The pairing of Seamus O’Shea and Pat Harte is the fifth one we’ve used so far this year and both were replaced before the end this evening. Our inability to win quality ball around the middle was compounded by a general looseness in this area when they had the ball and while this latter problem was sorted in the second half, we never came close to breaking even in the midfield stakes at any stage tonight.

So, it was a case of positives and negatives for us tonight but it’d surely be overly pessimistic to stress the latter ahead of the former. If our target is a top four finish in this year’s league, we’ve made a good start in this direction tonight and we’ll now be looking to make further progress down this road when we square up to the All-Ireland champions at McHale Park this night week. Another interesting evening under the lights beckons then and that’s even before we clap eyes on these famous commemorative jerseys.

Mayo: David Clarke; Lee Keegan, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Peadar Gardiner, Donal Vaughan, Richie Feeney; Seamus O’Shea, Pat Harte; Kevin McLoughlin, Alan Freeman (1-2), Alan Dillon (0-1); Conor Mortimer (0-5, three frees), Barry Moran (0-1), Andy Moran. Subs: Eoghan Reilly for Cafferkey, Jason Doherty for Harte, Enda Varley (0-2) for Andy Moran, Danny Geraghty for O’Shea.

 

33 thoughts on “Laois 0-8 Mayo 1-11: sluggish start but points secured

  1. Fine away win well done to the lads but it’s almost certain on that showing Laois are the worst team in the Division.

    Dublin didn’t look up to much tonight there for the taking next weekend.

  2. Well done mayo. Laois tried hard early and mayo done the usual thing, let them run riot but they couldn’t score. Dublin next, they know how to score so let’s see how long it takes us to get motoring.

  3. Sounds like midfield and the full back line were the weak links tonight but a good win nevertheless. Clarke seems to have had a good game. Hennelly will do well to displace him.

  4. Well done Mayo tonight on a good workmanlike performance. Nice to see a good Mayo following at the game tonight as always.Very important 2 points away from home and gets us off to a great start.We were very slow out of the blocks tonight as usual and let Laois into their stride for the first twenty minutes. We were fortunate that the Laois forwards kicked a massive amount of wides from scorable distances or else we would have been in trouble early on. Padraig Clancy gave Ger Cafferkey a torrid time from the beginning and won practically every ball that was kicked into him. To Mayo’s credit they never panicked and had patience. The goal before half time was a perfect tonic and we were unlucky not to have scored a second when Mort lost his footing when one on one with the keeper.

    Positives:
    Didnt panic in the first half when Laois were pumping balls into Clancy and winning possession with ease. Picked off some fantastic scores from play especially Freemans spectacular long range point from the wing.The backs tackled ferociously in the closing stages and won a lot of 50 50 ball. Donal Vaughan put in some great tackles tonight and got stuck in at every occasion. Substitutes were hungry when they came on and made a big difference.David Clarke didnt put a foot wrong-delighted he is back as he is the best option between the posts. Mort looked sharp enough and will improve with every game. Kevin Mc Loughlin not at his best tonight but the run he made through the centre was worth the admission fee alone. He has some future in the Mayo jersey. Lastly, our freetaking was of a very high standard throughout the game in difficult conditions.

    The main negative for me was the lack of an effective midfield partnership and this was evident in the FBD League also. We didnt make one clean catch throughout the sixty minutes and were outmuscled when fielding the ball every time. We were reduced to short kick outs and living off scrappy breaking ball which wont cut it come championship time. We dont have a remotely settled look at at midfield and need to work on this throughout the next six rounds of the league.
    Andy Moran and Alan Dillon looked off the pace at times and need more match practice. We also had a tendency to hold onto the ball at the back and throw a series of hospital passes which ultimately ended up in a number of turnovers and concession of scorable frees.We need to do more work on breaking tackles coming out of defence.

    I hate singling out a referee after a match but I felt that it definitely merits reflection after the performance tonight.The game was by no means niggly or a dirty game yet every five minutes a player was booked for some minor infraction or another. Rory Hickey made a complete mess of referreeing this game from start to finish. There was no consistency in his decision making and some of the frees awarded on both sides beggared belief. He refused to let the game flow and ruined it for me as a spectacle.

    Well done James Horan and the backroom team tonight. A great start to 2012.

    Roll on the Dubs

    Maigh Eo Abu

  5. LAST SEASON MAYO LEFT OUT BARRY MORAN AND TOM PARSONS.Mayo need a outstanding fielder and pacy midfielder like t.p to augment and solidify attacking options.BRING HIM BACK AND MAYO WIL BE A REAL CONTENDER FOR SAM.

  6. solid enough performance and valuable two points . Struggled at midfield throughout, but we re up and running. Good to see big Mayo support there tonight.

  7. Agree with jammcnich, no midfield.The O Shea brothers are quickly becoming the new Maher brothers.At least Sean Maher had the great TJ Kilgallon to cover for him.We need a pairing that complements each other.We didnt get a remedy tonight with A O Sheas replacement either.There must be a footballing midfielder in Mayo somewhere!

  8. tom parsons? i think aiden o se is a better bet to win a ball in midfield, himself and maybe mcgarrity or seamie. hopefully someone will step forward and be able to dominate in midfield. tom parsons would be very welcome if he could do the job in my opinion.

  9. Well done. Two points in the bag against a team whom may have thought they would have gotten the two points. Great tweets form WJ and a cohort of Mayo’s last night. Positive, positive , positive (Sli Nua).

    The area where we seemed to labour in can be rectified ie midfield and fullback. Better to find it out now and remedy it as the league goes on.

    I read Brehenys 50 thingy thing about the league. He has it bad about Mayo for sure. Trying to shame us because we drew Leitrim in the Connacht SF or maybe London? (he cutely ignores that had we not beaten Cork last year , Kerry would/could have reached an All Ireland final without leaving Munster). This is what he says about us for the league.

    “14 That Mayo are not relegated from Division 1 or, alternately, that Galway are promoted from Division 2. Otherwise, Connacht would not be represented in the top tier next year, scarcely an ideal situation for the West or, indeed, the game in general.”

    So Martin dont worry about us a stór, we are thick skinned when we have to be. Mayo were known as the “league specialists” once upon a time before teams like Kildare and Dublin came along. We rank only behind Kerry in terms of league wins. And we have contested 3 league finals since 2001. Now if I was Martin I would concentrate on why McGeeney and Kildare have not a similar record (the league Martin…I know ….if Kildare were in Connacht they would have won ten All Irelands and if my aunt had ball she’d….”

    Strangely they are so myopic over here that poor old Wexford who have as good if not better record than Kildare are treated as if they operate in….whisper it….Connacht, forgotten and unnoticed.

  10. Unless Tom Parsons has improved both his attitude on the field and his playing ability significantly in the last 12 months there is no place for him in the Mayo setup. Hopefully McGarrity can get his fitness sorted as I think he still has a lot to offer us. Aidan O’Shea can improve us in that position too and I think, if there is to be a place for Barry Moran on the team, it will be in the middle rather than at full forward.

    Well done to the lads tonight, it’s good to hear how well our backs played and I especially like that, on nights where Dillon and Moran are not firing on all cylinders, we have the likes of Freeman, Mort and Varley who are well able to step up – and three or four more exciting young forwards on the fringes as well.

    While we would expect to beat Laois comfortably in Castlebar or a neutral venue, a six point win in Portlaoise is an impressive result.

  11. Good summary wj. Mid field is a problem that we can address but I’d be more worried about full back. Don’t think eoin is the answer at all. Caff pulled the hamstring so out for next week you would imagine. Worth giving Kevin keane a go?

  12. A lot of talk about our midfield—do not forget that OLoughlin was the best club footballer in Dublin championship this year.
    Barry Moran did well from poor quality ball.
    I thught Freeman was outstanding.
    Mayo supporters outnumbered the Laoise ones.
    It was a big ask to land Reilly in at FB but he adopted well.

  13. Great win and great work from all the #mayogaa tweeters as usual. Laois will catch someone out , it’s good to have points on the board , let’s beat the dubs now

  14. Jr don’t agree with you on Reilly. He will prob be put in there next sat and we will find out all we need to know about him then I guess.

  15. I don’t agree about o Reilly either. He was very shaky when he came in last night. I’ve seen Cillian o Connor do more than well on him when they are marking each other and I’m afraid he is not the answer for Mayo at inter county level

    Great to see freeman, Conor and Varley firing over good scores. I hope freeman brings his league form into the championship!!! Mcloughlin, Higgins and Vaughan had good days out.

    With regard to Vaughan I think he has to be tried at midfield. He is a box to box player and he will pick up breaks, hit hard and as we saw against Kerry last year he can score. I’d like to see either Barry Moran or a o Shea alongside him. Keegan isn’t a corner back, end of. He could fill the no 6 position as he hits hard and is good going forward. While their is serious competition bow in the forwards, Horan has work to do in the backs and midfield. Tom Parsons is certainly not the answer!!! The Dublin game will tell alot.

  16. A good win. We can’t really complain too much when we beat a fellow Div 1 team away by 6 points.
    As for midfield, I think we need McGarrity back in there. He’s by far the best fielder of a ball we have. Someone like Harte or S O’Shea would compliment him well.
    What’s the story with McGarrity anyway, any timescale on when he’s due back?
    Parsons? Not for me. Unless there’s been a dramatic change in his form. He had enough chances previously.
    Forwards look good, great competition in there. Mort looks hungry, that year out of action could be the making of him. He’s no longer guaranteed a starting place, and he’s playing like he knows that.

  17. I apologise in advance for my marathon comments over the coming season!

    Some comments in general first, mostly in response to MayofaninKK’s excellent post. Some agreements and disagreements:

    – I wouldn’t say that Clancy won everything against Cafferkey. He may have won the initial aerial battles against him due to his extra height, but Cafferkey did well in dispossessing him/putting him off. HOWEVER, we are fortunate that Clancy is not a natural forward – he did not possess the ability to make his dominance count and allowed Cafferkey to recover. IF we are faced with a “giant” footballing full forward in the upcoming season, we will need a Plan B who will be able to physically compete in the air.

    – WJ commented sometime this week about Clarke booting all his kicks down the middle – which seemed to be the case last night. The short kick outs were mixed – no point kicking them to players who are marked like that one he kicked to Feeney last night in the first half. If we are going to use the short kick option we need to A. Have proper movement which leaves a player free in 20 yards of space and B. Only use the short kick out option then.

    – Hospital passes at the back – few heart in the mouth moments last night. Fist passes across the face of your goal in front of your opponents – very risky.

    – Fitness looked good. In fact, there were some occasions where I felt we checked back last night when we could have motored on and shrugged off the tackle – we had the legs for it.

    – Attitude, Tackling and positioning was good (with 1 notable exception)- they seemed to have continued on from where they left off last year.

    – Discipline was good, apart from two yellow cards for throwing the ball away – we have to learn to put up with frustrating refereeing decisions.

    – Shooting was good, wide count was low – I’d say we had about 5 or 6 wides/balls kicked short over the 70 minutes.

    – I have to praise the way in general we looked to deliver it from the 45/midfield line into the forward line – HOWEVER the quality of ball will need to improve significantly – there was a lot of ball overhit last night. The inside forward line did well considering the quality of ball.

    – Horan and O’Neill were good at shouting corrective measures from the line – they communicated their message well.

  18. No need to apologise at all, Digits – good analysis, which I’d agree wholeheartedly with.

    As regards the backline, I don’t think they performed all that badly on the whole last night. As Digits says, Cafferkey lost the first few aerial battles with Clancy but didn’t get roasted after that before he went off injured. And Eoghan Reilly did fine so I’d expect him to start there against the Dubs. He’s more of a corner man, for sure, but if Cafferkey is out (I think it’s a hamstring pull so he probably is) then unless someone like Alan Feeney gets called up or Kevin Keane gets pitched right in, Eoghan is the obvious choice.

    Two further things about the backs last night – for all the possession that Laois had around the middle (70?) they only scored eight points all night and David Clarke didn’t have to make a single shot stop. Also, when a team is losing that badly at midfield, the backline is always going to come under pressure and I thought the likes of Lee Keegan (who was great), Keith Higgins, Donal Vaughan and Richie Feeney all stood out and became more dominant as the night went on.

    It’s a pity Aidan O’Shea is injured (unlikely to be back for the Dubs game, twisted ankle in the Sigerson I’m hearing) as I’d nearly give him and big Barry a go there the next evening. Donal Vaughan would be an interesting option and I’m sure he could do it but I’d be loath to shift him from 6 now that he’s so solid there. The midfield pairing will obviously be a major talking point ahead of the Dublin game, it’ll be interesting to see what James tries next in this area. A comeback by Ronan McGarrity is the obvious answer at some point – I’m not sure what the story is with him right now, injury- and fitness-wise, though.

  19. No way I’d even consider moving Vaughan out of centre back. We’ve finally found a successor to Jimmy Nallen so leave him where he is.

    Midfield is a concern but no is the time of year to work these issues out. To be fair the two O’Sheas were immense last year in the semi against Cork. And I still think A O’Shea’s best position is on the 40. I’d like to see a half forward line of McLoughlin, O’Shea and Dillon.

  20. Great to read everyones different opinions on the game, gives a good overview to those of us not on Irish shores!

    I haven’t seen us in action at all this season but there seems to be universal agreement that we have a problem at midfield. This surprises me because I thought we had an decent midfield last summer, doing ok against kerry while dominating corks “greatest midfield of all time.” I wouldn’t like to see mcGarrity involved until championship time. He’s an experienced player, we know what he can do and we don’t need to be risking him getting injured in wintery league games. Similar to Trevor Mortimer last year who had a great championship despite not featuring in the league. Ronan will be needed next summer whether he starts or comes off the bench.

    Speaking of Trevor, will he be available this season too??

    I have a feeling Conor Mort is in for a big season this year, still the most natural forward in the county, and a proven championship player. He will be very valuable as the year goes on.
    Good full backs are quiet rare in the modern game but most All Ireland champions have a top class one (Rory O Carroll, Michael Shields, Marc O Se to name a few). Kildare also have current All Star Mick Foley. Most of the serious contenders have an excellent number 3, and this would worry me a little heading towards summer. I think Cafferkey has the potential to be very good- he did a decent job on Donaghy last year remember, but whether he is an All Ireland winning standard full back remains to be seen.

    Good to see some of the promising minors from recent years getting a run out, anyone know what is the story with Shane Nally from Garrymore, he was the captain in 08 and an outstanding player at that level? Is he on the intercounty scene right now, I think he played some FBD games last year.

    Finally Ive noticed a bit of anti Kildare sentiment arising on these boards in recent times, I was curious as to why this is, Ive always liked Kildare as a football team; they love their football and are very well supported, I could understand more if it was Meath or even the Jackeens!

  21. With regard to ronan McGarrity I know that the Mayo set up were very disappointed in McGarritys attitude and lack of fire when he came on last year against Kerry. That’s probably the reason for his omission so far. If his club form is good and he outshines some county players he could come into the reckoning again. That’s what Horan said in a recent interview.

  22. Ronan McGarrity has just returned to Jogging himself to get his fitness levels up. No problems with his attitude havent a clue where you heard that from.

  23. Was in portlaoise and was not at all impressed wit it at all.Same old same old but in saying tat never believed we would lose the game at any stage .I think it was vital 2 gain the points and james will realise tat certain players will have2 up their game big time 2 remain in the team or even in the squad.Certain players may not be in their position of choice but we have the remainder of the league to put tat right. James Horans teams have a scoring average of 7points per half . He needs ta up this average to be a serious contender for any inter county tital

  24. From a source that knows what it going on I know the senior set up were livid and disappointed at ronans attitude when he came on against Kerry. They expected him to do more and he didn’t. He didn’t impress for Ballina against ballintubber and breaffy in last years club championships and his form has dipped.

    If McGarrity impresses for Ballina in the early rounds of the club league and championship I’m sure he will get the call.

  25. David Clarke was outstanding – as good as an extra full back. Alan Dillon did an amount of work. We have a problem at mid field. Dublin will not be unbeatable in Castlebar.

    Did you read on the programme of the game that Mid West personality Micheal Commins is President of the Colt Club which is located about three miles from O’Moore Parkl

  26. Comment Part 2:

    – Yet again, we make a slow start. We can’t keep giving teams leads.

    – Laois only scored 3 points from play last night, and only I think one of those was from a forward. Conversely, 4 of our starting forwards plus Varley scored from play. All our points came from our forwards.

    – Goal chances – We had 4 goal chances last night, and took 1. Twice we blasted over, one was a miskick (largely due to the pitch I think), and the other we scored. If a forward is clean through on goal as the picture above shows, all you have to do is place is out of the keepers reach, which is a “controlled” shot.

    – Midfield – A testament to how poor Laois were was that we lost midfield consistently and we still won by 6 points. A lot of the discussion here has centred on the personnel involved, but how about tactically? It’s clearly not our strongest area, so what can we do tactically to improve our chances here?

    And some player based comments:

    David Clarke – Very assured performance, dealt with the high balls well, and kicked well. Did he make a point blank save at one point or was that a defender, I can’t remeber.

    Keith Higgins – Standard performance, would love to see him at half back along with Vaughan and Keegan, as I think someone commented here before.

    Eoghan Reilly – Had a difficult task against someone much taller than him, and would like to see him at corner back. What position does he play his club football for?

    Lee Keegan – Hit a thundering shoulder (incorrectly blown up) in the 2nd half. Pretty sure he had a tight game and his man was subbed. As commented above, would like to see him in the half back line.

    Peadar Gardiner – Had a solid game, is it reasonable to say the trademark runs up the line aren’t in the legs anymore? Similiar to last year, good to have in and around the team.

    Donie Vaughan – Very good game at centre half, looking very at home, and worked really hard, and held their attack up well from the half back line – forced Laois to kick it in high. One area needs to improve on is his delivery – few wayward passes coughed up possession.

    Richie Feeney – Big question mark over his performance last night. I don’t know what the story was there. Seemed to spend half the match hanging out on his own near the touchline. His marker Ross Munnelly went all over the pitch to get ball and move it on, and wasn’t tracked. Was Feeney told to let him go? If so, why have a spare man out near the touchline and not acting as some sort of sweeper?

    Seamie O’Shea – Had a decent game, but didn’t catch much clean ball. Similiarly to his brother, needs to know when to deliver and when to carry. I would be happy enough to see him continue at midfield.

    Patrick Harte – I hadn’t seen Pat play in some time so was looking forward to seeing him in action once more. Positives – he looked comfortable on the ball and didn’t cough up possession. Negatives – he tended to pass sideways rather than forwards, didn’t fare too well in the aerial duels and most importantly, couldn’t get tackles in. On more than one occasion he was tracking the ball carrier and didn’t get any closer than 2 metres, allowing a free kick into our back line. Big improvement needed.

    Kevin McLoughlin – Did ok. Didn’t get under the breaks as much as needed to, and some passes overhit. Acted well as a linkman and made a fine fetch to set up a point late on.

    Alan Freeman – Did well, kicked some fine scores including one beauty with the outside of the right that I was lucky to be right behind to fully appreciate it. Glad to see him out on the 40. Got lucky with the goal, but deserved it. Probably his best position.

    Alan Dillon – Had a decent showing, but I have some concerns over his long term position in the starting 15. Dillon is at his best when the game is open, and I think we have other options we could use in the half forward line more suited to get involved in the midfield battle.

    Conor Mortimer – Cute hoor. Unlucky with his goal effort. Good freetaking. Booked for throwing the ball away. Still possibly a bit light? At least he wasn’t on the floor as much. Good to have him back.

    Barry Moran – Did well with limited ball in. Concerned that he isn’t a natural forward, it showed in his performance last night. His turning circle when he gets the ball is laboured and was blocked down a few times. Put in a great effort though. I agree with the “big man on the square” tactic, but would prefer to see the now trimmer Aidan O’Shea given another shot there.

    Andy Moran – Performed well with the limited ball that went in. His ability to gain possession of the ball is admirable, and delighted to see him there. Happy with the current forward setup, tactically, would like to see some tweaks in the personnel though.

    Subs:

    Doherty – Can’t remember him getting involved too much?

    Geraghty and O’Connor – Last minute subs – would like to see O’Connor tried in the half forward line in place of Dillon – he showed he wasn’t afraid of the fight last year and his two footedness would be an asset when delivery into the full forward line is so crucial.

    Varley – Looked very powerful for a corner forward. Two magnificent points from distance. Get the ball, turn, bang. Had a decent showing last season and needs more consistentcy this season – can he sustain it for 70 minutes over the course of a campaign?

    Food for thought, and Horan must be tapping his fingers together trying to move all the pieces of the puzzle into position.

  27. I agree that we have a problem at full back but it is a lack of size more than football ability. Any modern full back needs to be 6′ 3″ at least to compete in the air with the Donaghy’s etc.
    However do you remember Matt Gallagher against Vinny Murphy in the 1992 All Ireland final? He conceded every high ball to Murphy and then took it from him or prevented him from using it. If we cannot find the big man then maybe plan B is the other option. We do not seem to be making any effort at trying to convert outfield players into full backs as often happens elsewhere. Another problem is that too often Mayo players are not naturally competitive when it comes to stopping opponents – we tend to allow them to play as we like to be allowed do ourselves.
    Thiis I think is a particular problem with Ronan McGarrity when things are not going well. He does not seem to graft, harry and hastle. Example 2010 NFL final v Cork. The same applies regards Tom Parsons.
    Still, all in all, I am more optimisic this year than for many a long year and after 50 years or so following Mayo am tending to get a bit more cautious re expectations every passing year.

  28. digits,cil’s best position is as near to goal as possible-he,s our most lethal finisher. Was at game y/day-anyone else see that Conor Mortimer was shoved off the ball far too easily by an average corner back.Hate to think what would happen at the business end of the season

  29. Midfield!!! We have who we have and now its a question of how best to use them. Personally I would try Barry Moran and Seamie O Shea with the potential to throw in Harte or even Kirby or move Aidan O Shea out (if he starts). As well we could play three or four midfielders depending on how the lads were doing or on the needs on the day. Lots of options available so I wouldnt get too despondent. But we do need to settle on something fairly soon and give the chosen two a chance to settle into the position during the league.
    As regards Tom Parsons I would love to see him there because of his natural talent. However, I feel he has a lot to prove first before you could hand him a jersey. That said I think it might have been a mistake to drop him from the panel entirely.
    McGarrity was a good midfielder but I fear his heart might no longer be in it. If thats the case its a pity but this kind of thing happens to players and there isnt much anyone can do only move on.

  30. Nice report Digits. I would have the same concerns as you and see a role for some of the… ahem…older 20 something lads ….as impact subs, either to close a game out and lift the crowd or drag us back into a match. Younger men need the time now to stamp their mark on this Mayo team , they are the future. having said that , the older/not so old lads have a part to play but they are not vital to the cause.

  31. Surprised that nobody has commented on Freeman’s very poor display for the first 30 minutes. In fact I was sitting near the Mayo bench and Horan was giving him plenty. The goal and then his dispossession in the corner that led to a free saved him from being subbed. He had a very good game after that but you have to expect more from a player in such an important position. He will be marking Ger Brennan on Sat night – Freeman is not into the physical side of the game – he won’t have a choice on Sat night!

    Mortimer had a fine game. The guy scored 5 points and caused mayhem every time the ball came near him. Don’t get hung up on his physique – he has proven he can handle the digs. McLoughlin is a small man and it doesn’t hinder his performances?

    Midfield needs work. The big issue here however was not 8&9 vs. 8&9 but how many breaking balls we lost. This is the responsibility of the half backs/forwards. The days of Willie Joe plucking them out of the sky are over. It’s all about dirty ball nowadays. Parsons definitely NOT the answer for the middle. Seamus O’Shea will come good – I thought he used the ball well and like his brother he is very hard to stop when running straight. Harte needs to work on fitness but its only February.

    Barry Moran is an awkward forward and shouldn’t be played there – he is very uncomfortable with his back to goal. I haven’t seen him play at MF but he strikes me as slow and laboured. Even when he popped over a point I thought he kicked it with his weaker foot! P Clancy from Laois is another example of this but I guess Laois have their own problems!

    Varley is a real talent and is a great impact sub. Bottom line is that a forwards first instinct when they win the ball should always be – ‘where are the posts?’ Unfortunately this is what lets Dillon down. He needs to put the head down and back himself to score. Too much running sideways and holding the play up. This kills momentum. He is a great footballer so has the talent to change his style.

    Vaughan at 6 is solid. He has great presence and he reads the game very well. He should be winning more breaking ball though.

  32. I agree with your solid comments on the game First Generation Dub. The game against the Dubs will give James a better insight on the vulnerable positions on the team. and no doubt they are at centrefield mainly, I was in Portlaoise and came away with an expectation that we may get a good run in the League, yes first match of the league, under lights, a heavy pitch, a cold night, and we performed very well.

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