London a defeat in all but name

I wasn’t in Ruislip last weekend but I know a man who was and so I’m delighted to give the floor to Edwin McGreal who provides his thoughts on the match and what it could mean for the remainder of our championship campaign.

I don’t mean to be condescending to anyone who wasn’t in Ruislip on Sunday but you really had to be there to appreciate just how bad Mayo were and just how close they came to arguably the greatest shock in GAA history.

This wasn’t one of those games where the gallant outsider was a nuisance for fifty minutes before the more accomplished team moved through the gears and did what they needed to and no more. No, London led by two points with three minutes to go and we were staring into the abyss and too many Mayo footballers didn’t know how to find the way out. I thought we were gone. Many more did too. James Horan was visibly ageing on the sideline. The County Board officials were too.

Praise has been heaped at a couple of Mayo footballers who steadied the ship, Trevor Mortimer and Kevin McLoughlin especially for the points they kicked. But McLoughlin’s score in particular was mainly the result of some lax defending from London and was in fact a goal chance. That London let him into that position at that stage of that game speaks of their inexperience, not Mayo’s experience.

Even when McLoughlin levelled the game for Mayo, we were still on incredibly shaky ground. Andy Moran had a 30 metre free, 20 yards left of centre to push us in front. He missed it. More surreal was the last Mayo free, from a similar position. Moran stood aside, Alan Freeman had already missed a kick and Alan Dillon was on the sideline. Mayo ‘keeper Robbie Hennelly was coming forward to take it. Instead it was handed to Jason Doherty, whose confidence was hardly sky high and is far from a regular free-taker. He kicked it wide. It is a pity Hennelly didn’t come up, put it over because it would serve to show perfectly how at sea Mayo were – their ‘keeper needing to point a free from a position most club forwards in the county would expect to point. That is how fragile and vulnerable Mayo looked.

The final whistle arrived, Mayo were able to gather themselves and London probably realised their chance was gone. Andy Moran, to be fair, took the game by the scruff of the neck and kicked three excellent points and despite the concession of a goal before half-time, Mayo saw it out.

But be under no illusions, Mayo didn’t control the last few minutes of normal time. Sure, they had possession, but they didn’t look like a team you knew would see off London. They  were on the ropes and were spared a knockout blow as much by London’s inability to throw one as Mayo’s ability to dodge it.

It’s worth saying that on another day Mayo could have won this game by 20 points. Such a statement should not be too surprising. London are, after all, the team who only beat Kilkenny in the League. At times there was a gulf in ability in the first half. But Mayo often took the wrong option, turned over bad ball and didn’t enjoy a lot of luck – Aidan Campbell’s penalty hit the post, London scored a goal from a rebound. Reasons like that have seen Sunday dismissed as ‘one of those days’. But, while there is something in that, what worried me was how, once Mayo were in a bit of a battle coming into the final quarter, they showed little enough know-how about how to excavate themselves from it. I’ve heard some people say a lot of the players didn’t want to know.

That’s wrong. Of course they did, they care more than any of us. But doubts crept in, players looked shaky and Mayo, for not the first time in recent years, looked very vulnerable out there.

Andy Moran said as much afterwards, it wasn’t that Mayo dug themselves out, it was that Mayo played poorly and whereas last year Sligo took advantage of that, London didn’t just have the same ability or know-how to do likewise.

So where does this leave us? I’ve read with some interest interpretations of the game on various online forums and in some newspapers from people who weren’t there about the positives of this game. They vary from saying that this was a wake-up call, that we’ve discovered a lot more about ourselves than if we won by 15 points, that it will be good to go under the radar against Galway and that it won’t have much significance for the Galway game because ‘form goes out the window because there’s only ever a kick of the ball between Mayo and Galway’.

Was it a wake-up call? I’m not so sure that it was in a good way. Sure, we won’t be complacent against Galway. But were we going to be anyway? I’d be more concerned about the London game sowing self-doubt in players. This is a new year with a new manager but the players must be asking questions – are the same confidence and leadership problems still there? Have they inflicted the new players in the squad now as well? Galway, for their part, will feel that if they are close to Mayo with 15 minutes to go that they’ll be more mentally able down the home stretch.

Have we discovered more about ourselves? In ways, yes. The sweeper system needs work. It was ridiculous to play it against London with the benefit of hindsight. And worse still to persist with it for as long as James Horan did on Sunday with Trevor Howley’s man Barry Comer playing havoc by pushing on. Midfield didn’t function terribly well either on Sunday. But what have we really learned? Have a go at picking the team for the Galway game there and it won’t be easy. After seven league games and one championship game we’re as far away as we’ve been all year as to what our best team is. Sunday might have been a learning experience but sometimes the lessons can’t be dealt with in the short-term, especially if those lessons create more doubts than certainties. Sure, it is better to have work to do before the Galway game than halfway through it – the woeful attempt to make a full-back out of Kieran Conroy and a corner-back out of Colm Boyle in 2008 anyone? – but the work that needs to be done is significant. It is June and we have little shape to our team.

We’ll be coming in under the radar, I hear. Typical Irish sleevenism. Write your own chances off and talk up the opposition and the London game has given us license to do as much. No country feels the need to do this quite like the Irish. I’d sooner we were red-hot favourites based on being the better team than underdogs because of the flaws apparent on Sunday last. It says something when a Galway team who were relegated in the league, who we beat comfortably in Tuam, are going to be some people’s favourites in McHale Park. Except they aren’t favourites with Paddy Power, who obviously wasn’t in London either.

And last, but by no means least, ‘form goes out the window because there’s only ever a kick of the ball between Mayo and Galway’. That’s another myth in my humble opinion. Think back over the Mayo v Galway championship clashes this century. Put how many times have Mayo come out on top in these ‘kick of the balls’ games. There’s been eight jousts, Galway have won five, Mayo three. Of those, our 2004 win was the most convincing – a six point win. Mayo broke for home early and finished Galway off. In 2006 we did win a tight game by virtue of Conor Mortimer’s superb injury-time free. That, to me, was the only game where we properly won a tight game. What about 2009? Sure, Peadar Gardiner came up with a wonderful injury time winner but we had led by seven with fifteen minutes to go. The point I am making is this – in tight Mayo v Galway games, it is usually the Tribesmen who have the wherewithal to eke out the result. They couldn’t manage that in 2009 after their draining comeback. But their wins in 2002, ’03, ’05 and ’08 were all tight ones. Only 2007’s humiliation of Mayo in Pearse Stadium was more comfortable. If Mayo had hard work ahead of them to win a tight game against Galway as it was, what will it be like with the effects of Ruislip still lingering in their minds?

Can we beat Galway? Yes. Andy Moran rightly made the point that Mayo are capable of mixing it with a lot of teams when they find their groove. But if the game on June 26 is level with five to go, who would your money be on? Time will tell if I’m being overly pessimistic but, to use that word again, Mayo’s vulnerable nature was all too apparent last Sunday. It is hard to be confident. James Horan has a month ahead of him which will define his first year in charge. If he has Mayo confident, assured and triumphant on June 26 he will have gone a long way towards proving himself as an inter-county manager.

43 thoughts on “London a defeat in all but name

  1. From the horses mouth,thanks Edwin. I wont be pessimistic. I will be a realist. Before Mayo pull out of this self fulfilling nose dive lots of things have to change.

    The players and the managers are the shop window that displays us as a county. James Horan cuts from the cloth he has. The players do their best. A man who won something of note told me recently, there are no hidden gems of Mayo footballers out there. What we see in JOMs reign and now James Horan’s is what what we got.

    Mayo has problems with the entire structure of club football. Six club finals between 1994-2005 and none since. We produce a certain type of footballer. Why? Why has the club scene gone stale? It hasn’t you say. Why no team back in Croke Park March 17th since 2005 then.

    Good clubs and good counties return and win often and with regularity. Crossmaglen broke through in 1997. They are the current champs. Nemo are eternal. Kerry are. Cork stopped acting the goat. Tyrone are the template. We copy instead of leading. Why? Soon if this nose dive continues we will be back where Cavan are. Last All Ireland minor final in 1959 I think.

    Its not a coincidence that Mayo have run into the sand when the players produced by three excellent managers went of the scene. In 1991 Martin Carney took a good minor team to Croke Park. In 2005/05 he did likewise with two U21 teams.

    JP Kean scooped the bay with the minors of 1995-2001. Kevin McStay had a stellar U21 team 2001. The players produced by those three served the cause well. Interestingly none of the three are involved at a serious level in Mayo football today. As the priest says, just a thought.

  2. Good piece Edwin, I’m one of those that wasn’t there last weekend so I’m loathe to give any opinion. Based on what I’ve read there are massive concerns that can’t be ignored around the team’s mental frailties when a game becomes a battle but I’m going to judge this years management team and players on the games that “matter” being Galway as a starting point.
    Here’s hoping the Galway game is in the melting pot in the last 10 minutes and this mayo team pull through with some of the younger players coming to the fore and hopefully the team can gain some confidence that can start to repair some of the damage from previous years.

    Ontheroad, I understand your concerns about player quality but you’re probably ignoring the recent minor finals we were in in your above comments. I think that fundamentally Andy Moran’s point is right, we do have the players to mix it with the best but as highlighted by Edwin’s article do they have the mentality to pull it out when it becomes a battle and based on the evidence at the moment the answer to the second part is no.

  3. I had my doubts about the appointment of James Horan from the outset (the success of other young managers in recent years doesn’t make this a guaranteed formula). My confidence diminished throughout the league and I found it alarming that it took 45 minutes fit any changes to be made to a team suffering a humiliation in Croke park. The manager, I observed, as I did in London on Sunday appeared to lack leadership, authority and crucially the ability to make decisions. (the introduction of a couple of players, particularly Trev Mort were a success but not too much credit there as ANYTHING would have been better than what was on the field up to that point). We experimented in thrckeagud and tried many players out yet four players, three in thr starting 15 did not kick a single ball in the league!

    Finally, as Roy keane might say, fail to prepare, prepare to fail. If might be little known, but mayo’ s travel arrangements were a joke. Everyone knew 5 years ago that we were playing London this year at this time. Pity the county board could not book flights in time. Mayo players had to get a bus to Galway, fly to Waterford, fly from Waterford to southend and get a bus to London. All this thr day before the match!!

    Preparation of the manager have to be questioned too from looking at one simple incident. When Mayo were awarded the penalty for a foot block, a number of players were looking around them and even arguing about who would take the penalty. Eventually alan freeman, Dillon and andy Moran walked away leaving it to Aidan campbell. This despite, to my recollection, the one penalty we got in the league was taken and scored by andy. SURELY a well prepared team should know EXACTLY who takes a penalty, who is second in line and third etc….

    And let’s not even start about free taking…..!!!

  4. “Pity the county board could not book flights in time. Mayo players had to get a bus to Galway, fly to Waterford, fly from Waterford to southend and get a bus to London. All this thr day before the match!!” Quote from D above.

    In the words of Ashley Cole “You gatta be taking the p***” Surely this cannot have happened! Would love to have been a fly on the wall when that was being mapped out. Hope they dont fly to Sligo, then Shannon, then Philidelphia and finally Washington when they next play New York.

  5. The mayo county board are a joke they are the core problem with how the an opportunity to change the structures in mayo football were lost in the proposal by Liam Horan. We will just have the same old failling as in London if we persist with their adopted plan. We dont have any leadership on field and that is a worry not to mention no free taker. At this Stage in Senior football every county has a consistent free taker its the most important function to any team. I just wonder is Andy Moran calling the shots as to who should take frees maybe putting himself to much as top of the list. That doesnt help the younger lads. James Horan needs to sort that out. I sense that we need to be more productive with taking scores letting the ball into Freeman and Doherty quicker than slowing it down and making wrong decisions at crucial times.
    Mayo need to play the direct football game winning it at midfield and letting it into the forwards rather than possession game we cant play like tyrone. We dont have physical players in our team and that is a worry?

  6. I’ve just corroborated that point re the team’s Wanderly Wagon route to Ruislip, which I’m assured is exactly how it was. When I first saw this, my instinctive reaction was that it must be true – it’s just too stupid to make up. And true it is. The words piss-up and brewery immediately spring to mind as well as Knock and Airport – why the hell did they have to go to Galway when they had a much better departure point on their doorstep?

    Obviously, this fixture was known about since well before Christmas so there’s no excuse for not having direct flights from Knock to Stansted, Luton or wherever sorted months ago. I’m surprised the lads even took the field having had to undertake such a journey the day before – suddenly that lethargic performance is starting to become more understandable.

    And, of course, the genuises who arranged this transportation are the same ones who ditched the Strategic Action Plan that was prepared for them and which they substituted with their own Pudsy Ryan effort. I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry …

  7. “Mayo players had to get a bus to Galway, fly to Waterford, fly from Waterford to southend and get a bus to London. All this thr day before the match!!”

    That seems hard to believe? when & where did you hear this?

  8. Have an O Hara’s beer Willie Joe. As you sup it file the above in the same cabinet as The Car Push of 1992, Conor and his mobile Mass card 2009, the strange case of why change one man when we can change four lines x 1993 semi final and 1997 All-Ireland final. As the beer settles you can ruminate on the sudden disappearance of Kevin O Neill around the same time only to mysteriously fetch up in 2006.

    As you pour the second you can ruminate on how Derry was just up the road from Sligo in October 2005 but an awful long way away by October 2006. As the head settles you can ask why it was our minors who actually played Kerry in the 2006 senior final, well at least so according to some of the descriptions accorded to them.

    Put a third bottle in the fridge and dream up a book along the lines of Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Walter Mitty. They are all to be found in the library in McHale Park. Then get someone to publish it, they will probably tell you that nobody would believe it as they send the rejection slip.

  9. It’s absolutely true, Mayomagic – I checked the story out myself when I saw it mentioned first and have confirmed that it’s 100% correct. It does seem incredible but, sadly, in no way surprising given those in charge of organising the trip.

  10. Willie Joe, its all that Strategic Planning that has fucked up the County Board. Never before has this happened.

    Liam Horan and those other 220 individuals are to blame for this fuck up, including ‘Ontheroad’ and those fuckers up in Iceland who lit the Volcano again (another point missed by Liam Horan, for fucks sake Liam you should have predicted this)

    A Press Release from the newly formed Communication Committee explaining the Travel Arrangements has just arrived…..

    The newly formed Logistics Committee (which Liam Horan again missed, he couldn’t think of everything now could he!) were given responsibility for the trip to London.

    Given the Euro 9.5 million debt we are in after the redevelopment of McHale Park, the Finance & Funding Committee made is clear to the newly formed Logistics Committee that they had to get the Team to London for the cheapest price, what ever was involved, but, it had to be passed by the Risk Committee given the current Volcanic Ash conditions (another Committee missed by Liam Horan!) before it could be formally approved by Head Office. Player safety had to come first and the Risk Committee made this clear.

    First call by the Communication Committee was to the Ambassador at the Dublin Embassy to see if he had any trucks delivering to London that weekend. Their plan was to smuggle the players into London to avoid the Ash problem, Airport charges etc. Unfortnatley, the Ambassador could not help as all his fleet were in Spain moving cumcumbers to Germany. He himself would be attending the gathering of fellow Mayo Chairmen in Westport (Red and Green Ties only please!) His mission in Westport was to try and meet Liam Horan to assure him that the Dublin Embassy had engaged PWC to carry out a full audit this year.

    Sorry, back to the travel arrangements…

    Having discussed the outcome of the call to the Dublin Embassy with the Risk Committee it was agreed to get the Finance and Funding Committee to join an Emergency Meeting. After a late night meeting, with the Dublin Embassy (joining in by Video Conferencing, fair play to the Communication Committee), it was decided to go back to the Air Travel. The Dublin Embasssy assured the Finance & Funding Committee that they would find the necessary money and no one would be the wiser, not even PWC. The Risk Committee approved the Plan. A Memo was then drafted by the Communication Committee and sent to Head Office for formal approval who then instructed the Implementation Committee (again missed by Liam), to implement the plan. Who said Strategic Planning doesn’t work.

    The Memo was clear, flights were to be booked from Galway to Watford to avoid any crowd control issues in Knock. The Chairman of the Implementation Plan used the iPhone provided by the Communication Committee to book the flights. As with most new gadgets it takes a bit of getting used to and unfortunately he selected ‘Waterford’ from the drop down memu in place of ‘Watford’ (stuipid fucker). No one was any the wiser until the plane arrived in Waterford Airport and one of the lads spoted John Mullane (they had met him in Dubai last year on the All Star Trip). John was wondering what they were doing in Waterford. Waterford says the Logistics Committee Chairman? What the fuck are we doing in Waterford? Where the fuck is the Implemantation Committee? After a quick meeting between those Chairmen present and Head Office it was agreed that this was an emergency and they decided to call in the Emergency Response Committee (again missed by Liam Horan). These are skilled and experienced individuals and are loyal servents of Mayo GAA, they are funded by a guy call Mul….something or another. In fairness they took charge of the situation and made sure the team arrived in London that night. On arrival in London an Emergency meeting was convened and the Cover Up Committee were asked to attend. Theses are again extreamly experienced individuals and after the job they did in covering up the McHale Park project they could be trusted. The plan was to drug the players so that they would loose the match to London and this would distract all attention from the travel arrangements fuck up. Unfortunatley they missed Trevor and Andy and the two lads managed to salavage the win. Still, the poor performance would distract attention and the Cover Up Committee were confident that there would be leaks.

    But, they did not think of Wikileaks and it was those fuckers who leaked the story earlier today.

    In closing, Head Office takes no responsibility for the dreadful travel arrangements and have today commissioned a full review into the events. Applications for Chairman of this Review Committee should apply enclosing a CV in a sealed envelope marked for the attention of the Cover Up Committee Chairman. No canvassing allowed and Liam Horan cannont apply.

  11. Prophetic? Almost. Headline in last weeks Mayo Advertiser

    “From Mayo to London, via Toronto
    MAYO ADVERTISER, MAY 27, 2011.”

  12. Right, now it’s all perfectly clear. I think I will have one of those bottles of O’Hara’s that ontheroad recommended …

  13. I know mentally Mayo are Fragile but there is a serious lack of ability as well at player and management level. Dark days and years ahead.

  14. I have known about these travel arrangements since the weeekend, and ridiculous as they are they dont excuse the performance. Needless to say the “Wanderly Wagon” trip did not apply for the county board. They flew on a direct flight from Knock on friday and returned on monday having had a good old piss-up compliments of their London hosts, all in the name of P.R and fund collecting. What really bugs me is that local media ( Edwin included ) Mid West, Connacht Telegraph, The Western, Mayo News etc are not jumping up and down about this. Do these C.B sleeveens wield such power that local media fear not being invited and given passes for any such future junkets. Heads should roll for this.

  15. The one thing I will say about the flights situation, and it probably won’t be appreciated on here at the bandwagon is already in full swing, is that there was most likely a responsibility placed on the board to get the players back to the west on Sunday night due to work commitments etc. This might not have been applicable to the fans, journos and board members.

    Despite the existence of the words ‘Knock’ and ‘Airport’ as mentioned above, the place shuts at 7pm every night so if you wanted a flight to Connacht on Sunday night, the only available option is Galway. Galway Airport and Aer Arann, as you may be aware, are both on their knees financially, and have recently had to start routing all their London flights via Waterford, and flying to Southend instead of Luton, to to stay in operation. It’s likely that when the flights were booked they were direct to Luton but were subsequently changed by the airline.

    Im no county board apologist or anything like it I can assure you but I thought it was worth pointing that out about the unsuitability of Knock. But there is an agenda on here against the CB at the moment that is just looking for any excuse to have a dig. How that is supposed to help, I’m not entirely sure.

  16. There definitely is an agenda here Brendan – and from many people who take a populist line and would not be prepared to carry out much of the work that the County Board officials do, are not even involved in their clubs but can hide behind their usernames.

    Having said all of that the travel arrangements are not giving the players the best chance to perform and provide easy excuses to them. But not only are the Board to blame for the arrangements but the team management who accepted them and did not demand better. A few things have happened that would indicate that our new management may be “Yes” men.

    The Board need to see the picture – no success on the field, no clearing of their debt. No debt clearing, no money for team development. No team development, you don’t get out of the circle of failure. Stay in the circle of failure and the apathy grows and Mayo football dies.

  17. Ah, Southend! That explains everything! If you’ve ever been there you’ll know what I mean.
    That certainly was a shambolic mess of a journey, and I’m inclined to agree with lowandhard – why did none of the press come clean on this and have it out there? I’m not saying it’s an excuse for lousy play but good God it’s no way to run a county team’s arrangements. If the route changed then cancel and re-book, the road trip from Dublin to Mayo is a doddle these days.

  18. I can’t accept that there’s any agenda ‘here’ of the kind alleged. The County Board aren’t popular, for sure, but it’s their own recent actions (and inactions) that have provoked this sentiment against them. For my own part (and I’ve always been open about my involvement at sub-committee level in Liam Horan’s Strategic Review), I just think there’s a neat symmetry between a County Board that could make such a balls of the Strategic Review process and is equally capable of making such an atrocious mess of the quite simple matter of getting the team over and back to Ruislip in an efficient manner. I take the point about Knock but surely, in light of the fact that everyone knew this match was on months ago, plans could have been made to either come back via Dublin on Sunday night or else to stay over until the following morning? From what I hear, it wasn’t just an issue of what was happening with Galway and Aer Arann and all that and instead that changes were made to the departure time at the eleventh hour. I’m sorry, lads, but it has all the makings of a complete shambles, one that reflects very badly on those involved and which seems to have been utterly avoidable if it had been planned properly from the outset. As the saying goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

  19. Speaking of Keane-isms, can you imagine the head on him if he had been subjected to such a journey!!!!

  20. Willie Joe your points are fair and I agree with them but the only way to remove the Board is to oppose the Board in elections for official positions next December.

    Personally I would like Liam Horan and some of his Committee to use their Strategic Review as a platform to seek election and implement their ideas. That is the kind of revolution and progression that we need.

  21. That is, of course, the nub of the issue maoroifigiuil – we can all say what we want about them but the only way to change the Board is via the ballot box. The sense I got from being involved in the Review was that there is a groundswell building for the kind of change that’s required but, as you say, the only way this will happen is if candidates favouring change come forward to seek election. Even then, however, the electorate is an issue – the same electorate that unanimously voted through the amended Strategic Plan – so change has to start at club level, specifically in relation to the County Board delegates because ultimately it’s this group that has the decisive vote on all issues that matter.

  22. Nail on the head Willie Joe but we as supporters of Mayo GAA if we do believe that change is required we are better off to do something about it – like you did by being involved in the Review, or as many of us do by being officers in clubs or simply taking an interest in our clubs approach to these things.

    It is very easy to talk on here or elsewhere but how many of us are willing to give up our time for nothing. Remember any new officers will have to manage a serious debt and I cannot see many people wanting to bring that stress upon themselves.

    It is a very sad situation.

  23. There was also a flight back to Knock from Stansted on Monday morning at 6am, I’m not 100 per cent positive that there would be one to Dublin at the same time, but I would be surprised if there was no commuter flight from one of the major airports in London into Dublin if needed be for Dublin based players.

  24. Why hasnt the media reported this? that trip is unbelieveable. Surely Edwin you would of been aware of the travel arrangements yet none of the media mentions it once. In the words of Bill Cullen the Mayo media need to grow a pair of liathroidí. Thats how change is affected by the media.

  25. Reported what exactly? So far I see no story here.

    WJ, you keep your opinions of the board honourably quiet in your blogs, but you do not have to spend too long on the comments section here to see that there are a few regulars gunning for the CB since the strategic review. Now if there is more info to come out here about travel arrangements lets have it because the story needs to be told if there is one. But so far all we have is a storm in a teacup and people taking shots at the board based on half stories. Lets clarify a few things.

    Aer Arann fly from Galway Airport to London Southend Airport. These flights perform a 20 minute stopover in Waterford to pick up additional passengers. As far as I know, the passengers from Galway sit in their seats, the Waterford lads get on, the doors shut and the plane goes. Waterford is between Galway and London so it is no big detour. They were not waiting around Waterford for ages to catch a plane, as could be easily construed from the way this has been put out by contributors.

    Next – Southend.

    Do people think Stansted and Luton are at either end of Oxford Street or something? All three airports are a similar distance (30-35 miles) from central London and are similarly placed near enough to the M25. The way people are going on here you’d think Southend was in Manchester or something.

    As for the proposed alternatives…

    Early morning flight to Knock.

    This would appear to involve getting the players up at 3.30am the morning after a tough game and sending them out to Stansted to catch a flight, then expecting them to go to work that day…in other words lunacy. If that happened everyone would be on here kicking up a fuss about it, and rightly so.

    Fly to/from Dublin

    Dublin is 150 miles from Castlebar. Three and a half hours on a bus each way . And the same people are complaining about a short touchdown in Waterford. You’d be longer getting to Dublin from Mayo than you would be on the entire flight from Galway to Southend. And that’s before you clear security and hike your way to Pier D.

    Look, the flight times to and from Knock are useless. But if that is a problem for you, complain to Michael Ring, don’t blame the county board. It is one thing to have issues with them about certain things, I know I do, but it does not excuse trying to score points by exaggerating flight routes and proposing alternatives that are far worse than the options that were chosen. The bottom line is that the county board didn’t shoot 19 wides against London, that was the players – and if the media haven’t reported the players travel arrangements and the arrangements are as has been set out on this site, that is because there is no story to report.

  26. Islandeady GAA I am no such thing, I cringe everytime I drive past McHale Park and see those fecking poles in the stand. I just don’t know who annoys me more, useless bureaucrats or barstool bullshitters.

  27. Isn’t it a thing of wonder that Roscommon got to and from New York without any major problems. And as far as I am aware, they don’t have any direct flights to New York from an airport in Roscommon.

  28. Lads – whatever the arguments about the travel arrangements (and I’m still not convinced about the Southend option), there’s no need to start sniping directly at each other.

    I hear what you’re saying Declan and I think the merits of the options are arguable but I still think going on a turboprop (with all that can do for your stomach) from Galway via Waterford to Southend (which is in the back-end of Essex, 74 miles from Ruislip) doesn’t make a whole load of sense the day before a game. With eight months advance notice, some kind of more palatable option should have been possible to arrange.

  29. In reviewing the many posts I see suggestions about taking on the County Board and that people who are making comments should step forward and do something rather than just bullshitting on bar stools.

    I would like to remind Willie Joe’s many readers that 18 individuals came forward last October to assist Liam Horan in preparing the 5 Year Strategic Plan for Mayo GAA, with another 200 individuals working on various subcommittees over the winter months.

    I think the recommendations proposed by the Steering Committee were fairly conclusive, in simple terms the root of the problem in Mayo GAA was in fact the County Board, more particularly the Officers. We didn’t need to work on the plan for very long to realise this. Less than a week in my case.

    This body of people stood up to the County Board when they tried to block the release of the Plan, again I refer in particular to the Officers who tried to block its release. In my case they blocked all attempts to review the financial state of the County Board. Why I ask? What have they to hide?

    The other point I would like to make is that not all members of the County Board are elected each year: the Secretary is a paid employee of the County Board.

    No matter what people say there is no appetite for change in Mayo GAA and when push came to shove the majority of the Clubs didn’t have the bottle to take on the County Board.

    Mayo GAA is a a dysfunctional bureaucracy which is now clearly bankrupt and football in the county has suffered and will continue to suffer, at all levels, as a consequence.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the shambolic travel arrangements over the weekend were clearly driven by the fact that the County Board is Bankrupt. As we all know the majority of players are students and those who work would have most likely taken the Monday off.

    There are plenty of people all over the world
    who want to help Mayo GAA but these individuals have better things to be doing than trying to secure the votes of Club Delegates at next years convention. This is why Key Recommendation No 2 exists in Liam Horan’s Plan.

    The problem with Mayo GAA rests firmly at the door of the County Board.

  30. I don’t take any satisfaction in saying ‘I told you so’ but in the discussion on this forum back around 16th – 19th May on the strategic plan debacle my contribution included this

    “I am hoping that the manager and players don’t become effected by all this the SAP/CB debate and fallout but every chance they might because when problems exist they tend to have ripple effects everywhere. Success ‘on the pitch’ depends on lots of things. On the day it might be just the players in the spotlight but the standards and example being set elsewhere can contribute to the mindset, attitude and pride in the jersey ! ”

    After London I am afraid this is the case. Even if the players weren’t caught in the verbal politics they suffered from the incompetence of the CB with their bizarre travel schedule. And that is a direct result of what’s going on at the CB table. How could the team mangement and players not be effected.

    I fear for what could happen this year. Last year we all concluded that Mayo never recovered confidence from the league final performance against Cork. If that’s the benchmark then the position we find ourselves in now after the London performance is arguably even worse. James Horan has a big task to turn it around!

  31. I wonder how many players on any county team turn up for work the Monday after a Championship game?

    As Luigi pointed out, no Roscommon player turned up for work after they beat New York. Why is London different?

    How many of the players are doing jobs that require turning up at nine on Monday anyway? Aren’t a lot of them students or coaches? Aidan O’Shea was taken to New York when he was doing his Leaving Cert. If anyone needed to be in the damned country on time it’s a child his Leaving Cert. The Board didn’t seem to bothered about that.

    Declan is dead right about those damned poles in the stand too.

  32. The travel arrangements seem a bit awkward but they did take place the day before the game. They may have contributed somewhat to the poor performancce but they do not fully explain it. Poor execution – poor organisation – injuries – poor selection – poor tactics and a poor mental attitude may have been at the root of the problem. I dont know for sure but I do know that the problem now as ’60 Years’ has rightly pointed is confidence or the lack of it as a consequence of London. The team could have done without this to be sure.
    The only way out is to ensure that the best 15 are on the field – there is a very simple and straight-forward approach to the game and a determination to ‘man up’ on the big day.

  33. That was some plane that effected the ability of 7 fellas to kick straightforward frees.

    We are a shambles because of mismanagement – in the boardroom, in the dug-out and on the pitch.

  34. I think it’s fair to say that we can’t blame our abysmal performance solely on that trip, but it hardly helped.
    We’re talking about ‘professional’ (so to speak) athletes here. Physical and mental preparation has to be right.
    I just can’t believe that this would happen to a county like Kerry or Kilkenny. It’s no coincidence that these counties consistently win the major honours.
    We’ve always wondered what we’re missing when it comes to winning the ultimate prize. While it comes down to a lot more than travel arrangements, this example of short-sightedness and our willingness to seemingly accept second best is a constant problem in our mindset.

    I make the journey to Mayo from London many times, but I’ve never even considered going that way! For fucks sake, there’s flights heading to knock from Stansted and Luton every day.
    I’d laugh at someone if they told me they were going over that way, but to expect our county players to do it the day before a championship game???
    I don’t buy into this being for the players either. As was stated above, it’s very rare to hear of players having to get back for work on a Monday morning after a championship game.

  35. They cant afford a charter, if they had one, it would be mentioned as a scandal given the financial state we’re in. I think its daft that everyone is focusing on that as being a major issue with this performance. It isnt but may point to the management team not looking at every aspect of preparation. the journey would make very little physical difference to the players, however its organization and the right frame of mind that help you go out and pummel weaker opposition. There are loads of signs that there are big issues with these things in the camp (still not having a settled team after first championship match, no organization around simple things like free takes, penalty takers, decision making, all of which have been pointed out here). Those are the problems, not how they got to London. Theres issues with the CB as well but they wont be solved now and we should be focusing on the Galway game and not anything else at the moment.

    Incidentally the Examiner was reporting this yesterday as if it was Mayo who decided to stop off in Waterford “to pick up a few stragglers”, they report it as if they were Mayo players. Maybe there were but the CB didn’t tell the plane to stop there specially, it was the scheduled route. They then report that this cost 4K extra which was probably the cost of the whole flight. Very poor journalism.

  36. Well at least the national media are reporting it, by the local media you would’nt even know it happened. David Brady mentioned it as well in his column today in the Sunday world.

  37. I’m not going to get involved in a long debate here but what I will say is that neither I nor any of my colleagues in The Mayo News can be accused of being County Board apologists. I can’t speak on behalf of other media organisations but in recent months especially The Mayo News has been to the fore in creating debate on the need for change in Mayo GAA. Just this week Seán Rice wrote a wonderful comment piece on the missed opportunity with regard to the strategic plans – see here
    But clubs in Mayo decided they were happy with the status quo. So be it. A certain club delegate questioned media coverage of the debate. Not only are we expected to stick with the status quo, but we’re not even allowed ask pertinent questions. People need to look elsewhere if they want to play the blame game.

    With regards to the flights, of course it is messy. But in terms of what happened in London last weekend it was far from the most worrying aspect, hence the lack of coverage of it. Whilst not ideal, to blame the flights for Mayo’s performance is to paper over more substantive cracks.

  38. In fairness Edwin, I’m not suggesting that that it was the cause of our poor performance but it does show the chaotic organisation of the Co. Board hence in my opinion was news worthy.

    McHale park is going to be a terrible financial strain and its the clubs who are going to have to pay for it. Money will have to be diverted away for grass roots, money that clubs use to develop their own facilities will be severely lacking, all this points to a big dark period for Mayo football.

    Again as mentioned above its all right to talk from the barstool, but who could/willing to replace the existing CoCo? what can be done to ease the financial burden on clubs? what can be done to develop Mayo football?

  39. I was away all week and got the result by text. Shocked but being truthfully honest it will make little difference when we play ye. As i have said numerous times over the last year Mayo appear to be (this a view from me as an outsider) a step or two ahead of us. Our u21 win undoubtedly will have Galway dining at the top table in the next 2 to 3 years but am not convinced about this year. Also unless somebody can do a ‘Down’ on it it will be diffcult to break this top 3/4 stranglehold of Kerry and Cork and intermittingly Tyrone, Dublin and Kildare. The latter kicked 18 wides today against Meath, won pulling up and the only reason they are unlikely to win the all-ireland is the Kerry/Cork nous will mean they will be depending on a single figure wide sum which unfortunately for them are not capable of. Having said that i do not think i have seen a more energetic/fitter side in footballing history. Even the Dubs will be doing well to match the Lily fitness.

  40. London is over and done with and ‘we are where we are’!
    I dont know how good or bad we really are (although I suspect we are better than we showed in Ruislip). One thing is for certain – there are 20 or 30 lads on that panel who could turn this all around. In fact they are the only ones who can do it. But they need to make a decision – that they will burst themselves ( or anyone elso who comes in the way) in an effort to restore pride in Mayo football. That’s all I expect from them.

  41. I could not believe this story until reading this blog, although i had heard it was true the day after the London game,, and the media just blame the players, and bring no attention to our lads having to undergo what was probably at least a 10 hour full journey to London,, beggars belief how the media love to point out individual errors of players who are working as hard as possible but fail to point out things like this,,,, this is not a small issue as Edwin points out and it is certainly news worthy ,, how could things imporve if the inadequancies of the county board are not highlighted… we are much bettwer than the London result and this will be shown against Galway,,

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