Looking ahead

Almost a week on from our Croke Park collapse and I guess it’s time to draw a line under that one and start to look ahead to, well, what’s ahead of us.

The Cavan match on Sunday week, back on home soil at MacHale Park (throw-in 2pm), is obviously what’s going to be the main focus over the coming days. The Breffni lads have other fish to fry, though, before turning their thoughts to us as they first face a daunting trip to Healy Park this coming Sunday to face high-flying Tyrone.

Cavan have just one point on the board so far in this year’s League campaign and, if they’re still in that position when they rock up at Castlebar on Sunday week, then a quick return to Division Two will already have morphed from a strong possibility to a very real probability for them.

That would make our match against them a must-win for them. However, with our final two matches against Donegal and Tyrone – two teams we’ve a great record against in the championship but tend to struggle against when we meet in the League – we’ll no doubt be targeting the Cavan game to bag the two points that will seal our place in the top Division for yet another year.

I see that Wicklow’s Anthony Nolan has been appointed as ref for our clash with Cavan. We’ve never come across him at senior level before so I guess we’ll just have to take him as we find him. I’ve no idea what sort of official he is but a bit of googling on him just now showed that he wouldn’t be besties with the Wexford lads. There’s no pleasing everyone when you’re the man in the middle.

The only other bit of news about Sunday week that I can point you towards relates to the match odds for the match. Paddy Power don’t seem to have priced the game as yet but Boyle Sports have us at 2/7 to win it.

Away from the seniors, there’s underage action coming up shortly at inter-county level. The Connacht Minor Football League gets underway tomorrow and our lads open their campaign against Roscommon in Ballinlough. That match throws in at 4pm.

The U21s, meanwhile, will soon begin the defence of their Connacht and All-Ireland titles in what will be the final year of championship action at this level. The existing U18 and U21 under-age championships are shifting to U17 and U20 from next year and so this year we have the chance to end the U21 era on a high by capturing back-to-back All-Irelands at this level.

Since its inception in 1964, the U21 grade has proved to be a happy hunting ground for us. We’ve taken home the Clarke Cup a total of five times in the 53 years the competition has been running, reaching the final on six other occasions. Along with Galway and Tyrone we’re tied for third place in the roll of honour (Cork with 11 wins and Kerry, with 10, occupy the top two slots) and so were we to defend our title successfully this year, we’d end up as the third most successful county in the grade in our own right.

U21 is a tough title to win and Connacht is always a hard nut to crack. It won’t be any different this year, as Mike Solan’s lads will be pitched into a do-or-die provincial semi-final against Galway or Leitrim.

Those two counties meet in the preliminary round tomorrow afternoon at Tuam Stadium (throw-in 3pm – match preview here) and then we face the winners on Wednesday week (22nd). No venue or start-time has been announced for that fixture as yet. Roscommon play Sligo in the other semi-final the same day and the Connacht final has been fixed for 1st April.

See? Life does go on. Plenty to look forward to there.

51 thoughts on “Looking ahead

  1. Thanks for the outline of what is ahead…exactly where we need to focus! Maigh Eo Abú!

  2. Nolan isn’t a bad ref at all wj. Played against him here in wicklow a few times and often had him as a ref. A bit picky if you get his back up early on. Definitely will be up with the play anyways. Fit as a fiddle. Now that I’m thinking of him he sent 1of our lads off in a county final in a case of mistaken identity. Lost by a point. Bollix.

  3. G’lad Richie.!,, . Yes good to move on. Still lickin the wounds abit since the dubs, hopefully our injured players are recovering. Will need to get a few games into them before championship.

  4. Time to move on but hoping we learn from past mistakes. Any update on the injury list ?

  5. It’s all been well covered here but I had a look at the highlights of the game there now on the TG4 player for the first time and Mayo were really, really poor. No two ways about that and our performance made our opponents look very good indeed. Not sure if we’re making progress but we’ll be a very different proposition come the long evenings, of that I’m confident. All the same, I’d love a convincing victory over Cavan which would leave a bitta room for the younger stars to stretch their legs against Donegal and Tyrone. If a young forward can learn and improve his game against either of them he’ll have done well. Knocking over a lock a points wouldn’t do any harm either. Anyway, we’ll see how the week goes with team news, injuries and all the rest.

  6. I think in our last 6 games (not counting FBD) we have scored just 2 goals.

    One of them was a penalty and the other was scored by a half back.
    Nothing from open play from any of the front men. Stark and woeful but true.
    Throw in the dozens of awful wides from scorable positions too.

    It seems its harder to get put off the Mayo team than get put on it.

    As i said before its time for Loftus and Irwin to get a run of a few full 70 minutes. Not coming on in the 67th minute.

    Remember Loftus + Irwin = Onion bag bursting at the Bacon Factory End. Give them a run for goodness sake.

  7. While a win is a must so we can remove ourselves from a relegation fight we really have to give the young lads like Irwin and Loftus plenty of game time. If we just go with the established names then we will have learned nothing we don’t already know and will be at a disadvantage come summer especially if injuries force our hand and we have to throw them in at the deep end.

  8. Watching all this rugby puts it in mind again the need for the camera to be used to cut out the silly shenanigans that have become an ever acceptable part of the Gaelic and unbecoming part. Since Mr Duffy made his big spake on the subject I haven’t heard a budge out of anyone on the matter. I can’t even recall the points he made against introducing tech assistance, it all sounded so smudged at the time or maybe I just didn’t want to hear once I got the drift.
    Would it be that underneath he might feel that things are bad enough as they are and imposing further demands on an under performing sector might just bring the whole roof down!

  9. What a point, Irwin, Loftus, Reape, Gallagher, Douglas, Kirby, Conroy, Varley, DCoen, Rutledge, good players who given a chance can make a difference. Westport have two exciting furture forwards. Players are there but they need games, not endless training and a few mins at the end of a match, they need meaningful games.

    I dont believe we dont have quality young forwards. Westport are not doing anything revolutionary, just giving young lads a chance and allowing them to express themselves on the field. Mayo need to play these guys and allow them to express themselves on the field, not bog them down with systems and tactics. An example would be Jason Doherty, an excellent forward who was a goal machine when he burst onto the scene but beacuse of his athleticism has been turned into a work horse. While there is a place for that type of player, mayo have too many work horses and not enough instinctive forwards. Two workers and four scorers with another three ready to come off the bench thats what we should be aiming for.

  10. It appears fairly definite MayoMad
    that the present mangt is working on squeezing the last breath out of the old guard in the belief that this is possibility its last chance. With that in mind it’s no surprise that only slight regard is being afforded to that little list of potentials. It ll be a v recognisable team out the next day and after that maybe a loosening up on the line.
    One can’t but look ahead to the prospect of this team coming to an end before next Sept. No one is wishing for this but we all know that this is v much on the cards ….no matter how good she’s been every cows yield reduces over time and this old lady has yielded way beyond her pedigree to this point. But there she is still leading them in and leading them out and your heart goes out to her and you find yerself saying more and more….what would I have done without her and what a servant she’s been all this time!
    One way or another she will soon have to step down and make way for her perky follower ons who no doubt will fall into line as has been the norm all down through the ages!

  11. Galway 18pts up on Leitrim by half time is a reminder of the task that faces our U21’s in eleven days time. Somehow I think March ’17 is shaping up to be a month that we’ll be longing to forget.

  12. Poor old Betsy for the factory and the herron chokers going to slaughter us, Jesus it’s shaping up to be a long year.

  13. They only scored 2 pts in the second half to Leitrims 2-10. Galway 4-10 Leitrim 2-12.
    They will take stopping alright. But I think Mayo have one of the best u21 setups in the country.
    They’ll be arriving at this game fitter and bigger than last year.

  14. I hate to lighten the mood in here, but the minors won today, the selfish bastards. Don’t they know we’re in decline.

  15. I see that there is another All-Ireland title on the way to Westport as well. Congrats to Allergan of Westport on winning the All-Ireland Inter-Firms Junior championship. Well done to them. Those Babestation women must have had a great effect on the men of Westport. That’s two All-Ireland titles won since they visited the town!

  16. Lot of talk about Irwin, and I’m a fan, but his fitness levels i reckon would be way off what’s required.

  17. Just noticed Leitrim were 14 men for the last 26 mins of playing time. They were 11pts down then and closed the gap to 4.

  18. Before we put the Dublin shambles to bed I think an apology /explanation from the mayo management is required as to why they sent out a team so unmotivated and off the pace. If fans showed that kind of disrespect to players or management here we would be deleted surely we deserve the same respect for the effort of our support.

  19. Galway were down to 14 men before half time so 14 v 14 for the second half and while Galway won that game in the first half their 2nd half performance should cut out any complacency that underage trimmings can bring.

    Leitrim observer newspaper was talking up a shock win before the game so obviously this was a highly rated Leitrim U21 team whom I recall winning the minor league a few years ago.

    Good win for the Mayo minors today remember championship is just a little over a month away against the defending champs Galway and it’s important the lads hit the ground running which seems to be the case.

  20. I think we will soon see why dublin were so revved up last weekend. They are due to play kerry in kerry and if they win they will take kerrys 1930s era record of games unbeaten. Petty I know but it’s another notch on the bedpost for them. Take Kerry’s record, in their home ground.
    The next thing is they’ll try for the 5 AllIreland medals in a row, a big ask as they say these days but the depth of talent there is good enough to allow it to happen.
    Anyways, let’s see what happens next weekend first, a very interesting weekend.

  21. Dave Gamechanger 10, had a very good post on this issue last week before our game with Dublin. Kerry who have been playing their U21 team up to this point will roll out the big guns, for that match, shorten the pitch, and bring in the sidelines, during the week. Dublin will have a bus load of tricks to combat those willy yerras. There is more than 2 league points at stake here, and that does not happen too often in the month of March.

  22. I often think that the Irish Rugby team end up a bit like Mayo. They have enough of the ball to win the big games but they find it so hard to break down the opposition’s defence. They both lack a bit of flair of the really top teams. Ireland get their dynamism from their back row, Mayo get it from their half-back line. For example CJ Stander can get 3 tries against Italy and our half-backs can score against the lower ranked teams but you need your flair players to be scoring in the big games. You cannot be depending on your attacking defenders to get the scores. We seen Westport, our U21s and our Minors winning All-Ireland titles by producing a lot of flair, hopefully our senior team can produce some of that this year, while shoring things up at the back as well. Roll on the games!

  23. Seen on Mayo Gaa Twitter that under 21 Semi is fixed for Tuam Sat 25th.thought this game was due to be played in castlebar on the previous Wednesday night?

  24. Galway are due a home game against us at U21 level since the last time we played them was in MacHale Park in 2015. Not sure why they changed it from Wednesday night but it’s better off on a weekend IMO. I hope to make the journey to Tuam.

  25. JP we might have one of the best setups in the country and no there’s doubt that we have one of the best managers, if not the best at this grade. But I dont believe we have one of the best squads this year. Galway are the team to beat in Connacht this year and one of the top contenders for the AI. If we can manage a snatch and grab in Tuam in a fortnight we’ll be in a very good place but I just don’t see that happening. Like our Seniors we are lacking that bit of extraordinary class in our full forward line.

  26. Galway are supposed to be very strong this year and they beat Leitrim in the first half yesterday 20 points v 02. They gave a run out to the bench in the second half with the handbrake fully ingaged. However we beat a very good Rossie team last year remember that had already taken an even better Galway side.

  27. Was in Tuam, Galway were in total panic with 5 minutes to go. They were very impressive in the first half with Robert Finnerty the Star Turn. Everything went through him he scored 1-3 in the first ten minutes. He has kicked on again and will pose problems for our defence.

    Cooke & Daly two huge men who dominated the MF sector in the first half.

    Galway looked vulnerable at the back with the exception of the Corofin FB who got Man of the Match.

    They have good forwards though with Paul Mannion Kilconly and Dessie Connelly kicking nice scores.

    If we can break even around the MF sector we will cause their backs a lot of trouble.

    Our management team were in attendance and I’m sure they had a different view on Galway at Full Time than they had at Half Time.

    Listening to the Galway supporters they are not very confident in their management setup

  28. The betting on BoyleSports for the All-Ireland U21 title is as follows:

    Kerry – 10/11
    Dublin – 5/1
    Cork – 7/1
    Galway – 7/1
    Mayo – 9/1
    Donegal – 14/1

  29. @45 I agree the forwards are a bit weaker this year although don’t be suprised if the sheer power of Carr, Reape and Duffy makes up for that. Ryan ODonoghue has a bit of class and pace in fairness.
    However 1-9 I firmly believe we are top three in the country.
    James Kelly has moved on a level and is a serious athlete.
    Shairoze will be much stronger. Eoin ODonoghue is twice the player now. Brennan brings some low chunky power we were missing last year.
    Seamus Cunniffe hopefully back.
    Mathew Ruane a year stronger.
    1-9 is the platform that gives you more of the ball.
    I predict big things up front from Reape and Carr with their running power at defenders. They are a mismatch on most.

  30. Was in Tuam. Galway destroyed Leitrim in first half. It was absolute complacency that allowed Leitrim back into it.

    Galway are very strong. Mayo can win it but will need to be at their best. We need to be real right at the back and give Galway no space. Yes we beat Galway 3 years ago at minor but they battered us two years ago and were better last year. This u21 team is made up of all those 3 minor teams.

    This u21 semi final will tell us an awful lot about our players. Time now for Reape, Duffy etc to show what they can do. This is the platform to prove their worth.

  31. What’s our midfield pairing? Galway u21 very strong in the central areas with Daly and Cooke…both of whom have had plenty of senior appearances. I havent heard a thing about who we have in the middle. Will it be Duffy and Ruane? It’s all very quiet…

  32. It could be James Kelly in midfield. He had a great 2nd half against Donegal in the NW Cup back in January. Were any of Westport’s players called up to the panel?

  33. I would say Mathew Ruane and James Kelly at midfield. Kelly is the quickest big player on the panel . There were glimpses of this last year but now he’s bigger and stronger. He has the build of a 400m runner.
    Colm Moran and Brian OMalley of Westport will push hard for a start I’d say. The funny thing with our 2016 minors is that several of them have really stepped up physically and playing wise in just a year. OMalley is a big unit now.

  34. The two Finnerty’s and Daly have been 3 prominent up and coming forwards in Galway for a few years. All have played in u21A county finals and senior county finals. There is gonna be a lot of talent on show in this game. I urge all Mayo supporters to make it to this semi final and bring someone with you!

    For me, this is as important if not more so than some of our senior NFL games. This is the future of Mayo football, it will really tell how good they are. We’ve been talking about a lot of these lads names on this site for the past year, this is the ideal opportunity to see them in action.

  35. Cooke and McDaid is the Galway midfield Daly plays at 11. When they went down to 14 men yesterday McDaid went into defence and Leitrim got on top in midfield.

    Galway arguably have the best U21 panel in Connacht this year having won the last two minor titles and lets be honest the Mayo minor win in 2014 was a smash and grab win. Management however seems to be their problem, I haven’t met one Galway man or woman who rates their current management and I believe this is where Mayo have massive advantage as apart from Jack O Connor with Kerry I think Mayo have the best manager at U21 level.

  36. Good minor teams do not always translate into good U21 teams or senior teams. One or two possibly if you are lucky. Our manager has done good stuff and he knows what it will take. Can his team follow through is the big question.

  37. I see lots of talk about B Reape above. Is he fit? If so, I’m disappointed I haven’t seen him in a NFL squad yet.

    Any sign of Douglas getting back? And Ger Caff?

  38. For those that can’t make it to MacHale park next Sunday the Mayo v Cavan game will be live on TG4 next Sunday.

  39. Looking ahead …… I still think that we can make it all the way to the league final. (fool that i am)

    We can freshen it up with some young fella s. Donegal have uncovered a few nice young players. We now

    need to let some of the young lads off the leash. And give the older boys a bit of respite to take stock etc.

    I`d say a few of the under 21s are rearing to go. They will never learn any younger.

  40. Cavan were well beaten by tyrone today. we need to try out new players in the next three games and give them the starting jersey to see what they are like.WE have to unearth two new forwards from somewhere . andy morans play is too predictable .I would like to see C O C staying closer to goal where i believe he is a lot more effective.I would like to see S.Rochford give our sub goalie a game against cavan.

  41. Re Andy Moran, he is our linch pin. Was one of the main reasons we go to AIF last year. Rossies had about 3 guys on him all the time – this freed up the rest of our forwards, who DID score that day. Against Dublin, fitness was a critical factor so any forward would have struggled.

    However, we need to be sparing with him; we want him at his peak later in the year. So playing him in every game does not make sense; we need a back up player for him, who can show his stuff over the next few games.

  42. I disagree jimbo , think clarke is no 1 now and we need to build a game plan around his kick outs

  43. First and foremost we have to beat Cavan and seal our division 1 status.. and that means putting out our best team. After that’s done we can experiment to our hearts content. The integration of the under 21’s will be a slow process especially if you’re a forward and especially a forward in Division 1. Why?.. the last day against Dublin we only had two players in the forwards, Regan on the 70 and Andy on the edge of the square.. everyone was defending. Dublin at times had no players in forward positions when defending.. and they will probably reject this idea but they have moved over to the darkside of totally defensive northern football. Unfortunately this footballus horrendous systemus today makes it almost nigh impossible for a young naturally two footed skillfull forward to make an impression on the game. An intercounty conditioned athlete defender with 5 – 6 years experience will make absolute shite of a young forward (by whatever means necessary both legal an illegal). My guess would be that the reason these young forwards are not getting a start is because they can’t do it against our defenders. I doubt Cavan will leave many players in the forwards when defending.

  44. Andy needs to be dropped.Fine he’s creating space for the other lads but he’s to slow and predictable.Like to see Loftus getting game time. A classy forward who scored a few goals in the u21 final.just what we need. Has Dillon retired?

  45. It would be nice to see Conor Loftus start this game instead of Evan Regan as Evan has seen a good bit of game time so far in the league. You’d think that would not be a major risk to take in the greater scheme of things. If that happens and Diarmuid O’Connor, along with Fergal Boland start again, then you would have 3 of last year’s U21 starting forwards playing. That would be a pretty high number considering that Conor McHugh who started for Dublin, scoring 1-3 against us, was an U21 star player in 2014 and is only coming on stream now. Some players do come through very quickly like Diarmuid O’Connor, for others it takes longer. In saying that we will need something different this year to get over the line. It would be nice to see Liam Irwin getting some game time in the up coming games as well. That would make him a fourth starting forward from last year’s U21 team, getting game time, so again that would be a pretty high number, in any man’s language.

  46. Talking to a few Leitrim contacts who were in Tuam on Saturday and their version was that Leitrim’s goalie, with poor kickouts, contributed a lot to his team’s first half struggles.They were also of the opinion that a few team changes were largely responsible for Leitrim”s improvement in the second half. Galway’s management, accoding to them were in near panic mode coming up to the end

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