Let’s not take things for granted

Nestor 2013

Four in a row. Whether it is four points in succession, four wins on the trot, four provincial titles in a row or four All-Ireland titles back to back it is a nice thing to be able to say.

This Sunday Mayo welcome the old enemy Galway to our own hunting ground in MacHale Park as James Horan and his men go in search of a fourth Connaught title in succession.

Many people, both in Mayo and from outside the county, will tell you that a Connaught title means nothing anymore. That it is all about winning Sam Maguire or nothing at all. I do not buy into that belief for one second.

Four provincial titles in a row is something that Mayo have not been able to do since the heady years for 1948 to 1951 when they reached three All-Ireland finals, coming out on top in the latter two of those showpiece games.

Keith Higgins has spoken in the past few days about how much it still means to him to win a Connaught title and you can be damn sure that there are many more in the squad who will say the same thing.

Think of the likes of Robbie Hennelly who has not been a part of the three in a row up to this point, Jason Gibbons who hasn’t played in any of the finals so far and the young guns of Diarmuid O’Connor and Conor O’Shea who have zero senior Connaught titles.

Not to even mention just how much Gavin Duffy will want to get a senior medal with Mayo!

As Mayo supporters we have, in general, been spoiled over the past 20 years or so with the amount of Connaught titles the Green and Red have brought home with them. Considering the lean years of the late Sixties through to the late Eighties there is no reason that we should start taking these titles for granted.

The best way to win an All-Ireland, especially for  Mayo considering we just don’t do the qualifiers regardless of how many rounds we are involved in, is through the front door. Winning is a habit and winning a Connaught title gives everyone a huge boost heading into August and Croke Park because we will be heading there as champions of Connaught.

At the end of the day the All-Ireland championship is all about stages. The first stage is to ensure that you are kings of your own kingdom and over the past few years Mayo have proven themselves to be the undisputed kings of the kingdom of Connaught.

Dublin have won nine of the last ten Leinster titles but every one of their players will tell you that winning this year’s title will be just as satisfying and important as the rest. Kerry win an average of one Munster title every two years yet they were delighted to take home that trophy last Sunday. And you only need to look at any game in the Ulster championship to see just how important it is to be considered the best up there.

Galway are the one team above everyone else who would take the most joy in knocking Mayo from their perch in Connaught and are the one team that would pain me the most to see ending James Horan’s unbeaten run in the province.

Having not won a provincial title in five years, and having watched their record number of titles being overhauled by their nearest and dearest enemy will have Galway more than ready to try and claim a 45th Nestor Cup.

The Mayo players and supporters need to be ready to match the intensity and desire to win that Galway will bring with them to Castlebar this Sunday. Keith Higgins’s remarks suggest to me that the players are ready for that. As supporters we must stand up, be counted and not take this game or this trophy for granted.

You can listen to Mike, and all the CRC sports team, every Saturday at 2pm on ‘Over The Bar’ on CRCfm as well as during the week on ‘The Grapevine’ where he does the sports analysis every day.

This Saturday there are special guests looking ahead to the Connaught final, including Mayo GAA legends John O’Mahony and Martin Carney alongside interviews with James Horan, Keith Higgins, Cian Hanley and Enda Gilvarry.

Follow Mike on twitter at @kellymike87 or via @crcfmsport.

16 thoughts on “Let’s not take things for granted

  1. Well done Mike Kelly, I really enjoyed reading your piece, I think that you have hit the nail on the head. I have noticed from reading some of the forums lately a lot of talk has been about who we’d like to play in a quarter-final or a semi-final etc., we shouldn’t be getting ahead of ourselves. As you said we can’t take things for granted. Sunday’s game is all that matters at the moment, all roads lead to Castlebar!

  2. Good man mike, I enjoyed the read. I’d be satisfied with a one point win, with no injuries on the back of an average performance. Keep things simmering, nowhere close to the boil. It’s all about September.

  3. Average performance will not beat Galway, we need to shake off the performance against Derry and Roscommon and get back on track on Sunday. Otherwise Galway will be only too delighted to take advantage of what have been very flat performances in our last two big games!

  4. Great piece Mike. Keep up the good work on CRC too, quality analysis.

  5. Absolutley spot on, I was of the “All Ireland” or nothing camp coming into the start of the year but since then have managed to get some sense. Not sure if it was the dose of reality in the Hyde or the fact that its Galway in a Connacht Final has brought me back to the 80s when it was the “be all and end all” – win and it guaranteed a year of walking around with the chest out back in boarding school in Galway, lose and it was hide for the first few weeks back, but whatever it is I see this game and nothing beyond it.
    Achieving a 4 in a row and beating Galway to do it would be a wonderous thing, I dont know if we actually can win an All Ireland with this great bunch of players, so at this stage to be honest, I think winning this would nearly do me and anything that comes after is a great bonus. it would be a magnificent achievement by James Horan to win 4 in a row and that would be some record, to go undefeated in your province as a manager.
    I am, however, extremely nervous about this. Anyway harking back to last year is comparing and contrasting to an irrelvant game.
    8 Galway players from last years team will more than likley not start the next day
    Those that are their in their place are infinetly better players
    Fiontan O’C must be a stone heavier and twenty times better than he was last year when the O’Sheas toyed with him, he and his midfield partner have all ireland medals in their back pockets (do all ireland winners keep their medals anywhere else I wonder?)
    Their forward line, if they get good ball arent too far away from top class, and will NOT miss the chances that Roscommon had.
    I expect Galway to do a Kerry on it and drop the likes of Conroy back to have more bodies around the midfield area and to win breaking ball, then fast ball into Walsh and the other forwards. We dont like when it gets congested and Cunniffe being potentially out or at least not at full fitness is a big concern.
    We have a very good team, however I dont think any of us can say we have come on and improved since last year, maybe we have and we’ll know that after this match but as for now it doesnt look like it. They have.
    this will be a very tight one, make no mistake. So if come in around half 3ish on Sunday we’re Connacht Champions for the 45th time and have done the 4 in a row all of us should damn well thank our lucky stars, God, St. Patrick, James Horan and all the team as we might not see this again in our lifetimes.
    Best of luck lads, we are all behind ye!

  6. Isn’t it great to see a bit of realism creeping in here, but why does it take a Mike Kelly piece to do that? I reckon we’ve been spoiled in recent years and one day sooner maybe than we would like, this whole thing could come crashing down. I’m sure the Manager and players know this quiet well too – as one bad day at the office is all it takes. Lets hope that bad is still a bit away !!!

  7. Well done Mike Kelly That was a great piece. You hit the nail on the head for sure. I have never counted myself in the “All Ireland title or nothing brigade”. I count success as winning a provential title and getting to Croke Park. Only when we achieve this goal can we truly measure ourselves against other teams. I remember that 2 in a row with JOM and we jumped up and down on the spot with joy. The Connacht title in 2004 after a 5 year gap was greeted with scenes of great joy. In the early eighties the first title in a decade had sensible neighbors heading for the bookies and backing the Mayo team to go all the way. James Horam and his management team are the best we ever had. Not 100% all the time but always in the high Ninties IMO. This Mayo team are the best team I have seen in my time. If they manage the elusive 4 in a row on Sunday I will stand and salute this great team and savor the moment

  8. Rumors on another site that this willl be the team named; presume that AOS is in as an auxiliary midfielder and wont stay at 11:

    Rob Hennelly
    Chris Barrett
    Ger Cafferkey
    Keith Higgins
    Lee Keegan
    Colm Boyle
    Donie Vaughan
    Barry Moran
    Seamus O Shea
    Kevin McLoughlin
    Aidan O Shea
    Jason Doc
    Alan Dillon
    Andy Moran
    Cillian O Connor

  9. East Cork Exile
    Surprised if Barry starts.Also surprised if Freeman doesnt.
    Mike Kelly…Good article and purpose is maybe to dampen down expectations which is no harm.Honestly though I will be gutted if we win Connact and dont go much further.Actually I will be gutted if we dont win All Ireland.Might not be popular or even realistic or whatever but it is how a lot of us feel .
    Thanks for thoughtful article Mike.

  10. I predicted last year that the game in Pearse Stadium would be very tight. So much for my ability to predict!
    The same again this year. I really don’t know what shape we are in right now and I reckon very few outside the team setup itself actually do. So Sunday will be very revealing for me – whether we still have the appetite for it or are we worn out – who will start and who will come on – whether Andy Moran and Alan Dillon are still a force at IC level – which forwards will step up and make a difference – Gavin Duffy – what new players will step up – will be try a blanket defence (which I absolutely believe we should) etc etc…….
    The beauty of football is that we really don’t know – it’s a funny old game and anything can happen on a given day. Hopefully, we will see something on Sunday that will excite all our supporters and give everyone a lift.

  11. I see Martin Breheny is up to his usual Galway PRO shite in the Independent, dont know why I expect anything different at this stage. His “when the formbook was shredded” section at the end of the article somehow manages to list all of the times over the recent years when Galway somehow to manage to “shock” Mayo but conveniently doesn’t list when the opposite happened, e.g 1999 when they were all ireland champions and we beat them in Tuam Stadium – that surely has to be the biggest of recent memory, 2004 in Castlebar or last year even.
    Hes some yoke

    http://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/tribalism-the-biggest-threat-to-mayo-reign-30420678.html

  12. Great piece – but there’s one point I’d have to take up on, the idea that Mayo ‘don’t do the qualifiers’. I really don’t like this attitude or idea that is out there. My view on this is that the qualifiers came in just after the last period where there was more than one potential All-Ireland winner in the provincen (late 1990s). Since then there has been at most one team in Connacht capable of going all the way. From 2001-2003 that team was Galway, since then either that team has been Mayo or there has been no contender within the province.

    For this reason, anytime Mayo have been AI contenders we have won the province and the years we didn’t win Connacht we were poor anyway, hence the below average qualifier record. Someday soon though, maybe even this year, a new contender will step forward and beat us and we will need to use the qualifiers to compete in the All Ireland Series. It is madness to suggest that, had we fallen against London in 2011, Sligo in 2012 or Roscommon a few weeks ago, we should have just packed it in for the year, The same will apply if we lose on Sunday. The qualifiers give stronger teams like us a second route to the All-Ireland series and shouldn’t be dismissed as something for other teams only. We should be well able to take them on if needs be.

  13. A Connaught title is always a great achievement and a proud title that goes into the history books for ever. However this one is even more special for us. We are actually going for four in a row! This is a very rare occurrence and would be a magnificent thing to achieve. When Counties start talking about four in a row I think of Kilkenny hurling in the Noughties. Their run seemed endless. I pictured Shefflin on a Zimmer frame talking about his 68th Leinster title. This is new territory for us and we will be facing the old enemy who are still smarting after last years beating. From their point of view they will be determined to put things right.

    Be in no doubt – This is a huge game.

  14. Great piece Mike and every word true.
    I dont’ fear Galway but I do respect them and unless we are locked and loaded right from the off then Sunday could be another struggle.

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