Looking at Leitrim

Photo: MichaelMaye.com

So, then, who’s ready for a bit of November Championship action?

According to the results archive here on the site, this is the first year since 1924 that we’ve played a Connacht SFC match – indeed, any Championship match – in November. On 8th November that year we beat Galway 2-6 to 0-5 at Tuam in a replayed Connacht final. There was December action then too, as we lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Kerry early in the final month of that year.

Okay, enough looking back. Seeing as it’s a knockout Championship this year, it’s also dangerous to look too far ahead. The safest – and sanest – thing to do is to remain focused on the match facing us.

That match, this coming Sunday, is a Connacht SFC quarter-final against Leitrim at Páirc Seán MacDiarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon. Throw-in is at the early time of 1.15pm, the ref is Paul Faloon of Down and the match is being broadcast live on the RTÉ News Now channel.

Ourselves and Leitrim are forever ships passing in the night in the Connacht Championship. Since the blog’s inception way back in early 2007 we’ve only ever played them once and that was in the provincial semi-final of 2012. We beat them handily that day at MacHale Park on a scoreline of 4-20 to 0-10. Fun fact – that was the final appearance Conor Mortimer made for the county. He came off the bench that day and bagged two points.

Ahead of that meeting eight years ago I did a piece for the blog going through our complete Championship record against Leitrim. Aside from the result of the game we were to play a few days later, that piece is still more or less up to date. You’ll find it here.

The most recent time we faced the Ridge County on their home turf in the Championship was back in 2006. We emerged from that one a bit red-faced, having just scraped through with a fairly undeserved one-point win following a spirited second half fightback by the home team.

The last time we played them in Carrick was, though, in the FBD League. That was in early January 2019 when a huge Mayo crowd swelled the attendance at Páirc Seán to over 5,000 to see a pre-season joust that unexpectedly had to be decided on penalties. If it comes to it, by the way, so too would Sunday’s tie.

Leitrim were full of fight that January day, as they came from eight points down in the first half to force the draw that took the tie to spot-kicks. It might be worth bearing that in mind as the team head to the Shannonside venue this weekend.

Like ourselves, Leitrim didn’t have a positive League campaign this year and, like us, they ended up suffering relegation. When the music stopped last Sunday evening they were in seventh place in Division Three on three points and so they drop down to Division Four for next year.

That outcome would have been mildly surprising after their first League match back in January. That was because in Round 1 they travelled to Derry and came away with a creditable 1-14 to 2-11 draw against the Oak Leaf County.

Three defeats on the trot, though, came after that positive opener. Cork beat them by 1-15 to 0-9 in Carrick and then they lost away to Longford by 2-14 to 1-9 and at home to Offaly by 2-16 to 0-14.

Their final match before Covid struck was away to Louth and the 3-14 to 1-12 win they secured there gave them hope that they might avoid the drop.

Covid then intervened. Just as the action was about to resume a few weeks ago, Leitrim had a Covid outbreak in their squad, forcing them to give Down a walkover in Round 6. Last Sunday’s 2-11 to 0-15 loss to Tipperary at Sunday’s venue completed their League programme, the loss confirming their relegation to Division Four.

Like ourselves, though, Terry Hyland and his players won’t have had any time to dwell on their League travails. They will instead have switched their focus straight away to their Championship meeting with our lads.

As this is a knockout campaign, with all ties up to the All-Ireland final set to be decided, one way or another, on the day, Sunday will be the final day of inter-county action in 2020 for one of us.

We’re heavily favoured to do it – and we should – but we know from past experience that they can often be surprisingly sticky opponents on their home turf. Throw into the mix the time of year and the expected wet and windy weather and suddenly that favourites tag doesn’t look quite so secure.

So, let’s see what the confidence levels are like ahead of Sunday – over to you on that.

Will we beat Leitrim on Sunday?

  • Yes (85%, 535 Votes)
  • No (15%, 95 Votes)

Total Voters: 630

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42 thoughts on “Looking at Leitrim

  1. Imagine…we’ve only played Leitrim once in 14 years. Compare that to the amount of times in that period they’ve played Roscommon and we’ve played Galway.

    Heated balls anyone?

  2. My last time in Carrick – 2006 (I was at that FBD game in 2019 though, and the U20 semi in 2018). Hopefully, COVID will have passed when the next championship game we play there comes around; this should be around 2034, assuming the same frequency of playing.

    Nice venue and I love Carrick; how I’d love to be there.

  3. It’s the 90s since Leitrim won a Connacht championship game in Carrick on Shannon.

    A good game for Horan to give championship debuts to a number of players before a first choice team is played against Roscommon.

  4. Unbelievable run of avoiding Leitrim year after year. Then when we do get them we have Roscommon waiting for us who have been given a bye, and after that a Galway team who have been given a bye to the final. Oh yeah, division 4 Sligo putting a huge obstacle on the path to the final for them.

  5. Leitrim without one of their best players and forwards, Ryan ORourke. Brilliant player the past few years for Fenagh. Will be a massive loss for Terry Hyland.

  6. We can’t with any degree of credibility complain about this year’s Connacht draw. The last four Connacht finals have been contested by Galway and Roscommon and they’re on opposite ends of the draw, which is fair enough. Our poor record in Connacht in recent years means we’re in no position to make any complaints about where we’re positioned in the draw.

  7. The Rossies made light work of having to play, Sligo first, can’t recall was it in Sligo or at the Hyde, Mayo in Castlebar and Galway in Salthill on way to the Nestor Cup success… Also after being relegated to Div 2…Similar road ahead of us if we are able do it, nothing to complain about at all for Mayo.

  8. I think we have a great draw. Leitrim a great game to be facing into after relegation. But the best thing of all, we don’t play any games in MacHale park. No hype on us either. Could be an interesting championship….

  9. I agree Mayo Dunphy
    As long as we are not playing in Mchale park,
    I think knock out football will suit us.
    I’m looking forward to Donegal v Tyrone.
    Big Gun will be gone in 1st round.

  10. Agreed Catcol re Carrick on Shannon. Atmospheric venue. Unfortunatly we have to sit it out at home.
    Last chance for Horan to experiment. But there needs to be some semblance of a finalised team.
    Keegan for CHB, DOC to partner Ruane at midfield and give reserve Goalkeeper a run
    What I liked most about Conroy, he blasted a goal chance straight at galway keeper but made no mistake a week later.. Hes made the jump from club to county player imo. Could be a matchwinner for us this winter. Some full forward line with O Shea and O Connor. Put the fear of God on any full back line.

  11. What are we going to do about Mchale Park?

    It’s got to the stage where we are relieved to be playing anywhere away from there. Apart from V Donegal last August, what big games have we won there in the last 5 years? Okay, Derry in a qualifier where we played awful and just got over the line with a late goal.

    This needs to be looked at. Can we tear the place down and start again? This time putting green and red seats in the main stand. Mchale Park as it is now is holding us back for some reason.

  12. I think its the size of the playing pitch itself. Isn’t it the 3rd or 4th smallest County pitch in the Country?. It just doesn’t seem to suit our style over the last few years. With so many defeats there from FBD to league and championship, I think it adds a little extra pressure to the team when they are at home. Our worst performaces in a given year are nearly always MacHale Park.

    I wish we’d revamp of the surface, plus widening and lengthing the pitch. Wouldnt cost a massive amount of money either.

  13. Mayodunphy, it would cost a considerable amount to expand the dimensions of McHale park. All weather pitch along would be min 250,000 and altering all the stands would be big money. Flood lighting might need altering to fully light a bigger area. It really doesn’t matter what we wish for with regards McHale park, after the year we had the county board dont have two Penny’s to rub together never mind the money required for any sort of redevelopment.
    I dont buy into this whole mchale park doesn’t suit mayo, we train on that pitch and are well aware of its dimensions, it’s not a new thing we have to deal with, if we cant win there it’s more to do with team setup and management than the size of the pitch.

  14. We some county for blaming everyone else and now it’s the venues and pitches. Time to take off the blinkers and spot the flowers from the trees!!!

  15. Thinking about McHale Park, James Horan managed Mayo to 6 in a row Connacht titles. We beat all comers at all venues: McHale Park, Galway (’11, ’14), Roscommon (’13), and London Leitrim thrown in. We never talked about it cramping our style during those years. We hammered Dublin in the league in 2012. Donegal last year ought to have been a shoo in for them, yet we turned it into fortress McHale.

    I wonder is it the expectation generated by the huge crowds in the last few years? Followers have grown and grown and it might be unsettling some players. Others have commented on the increased bonding that comes from travelling the night before and away match, which helps make our away record look better.

  16. Widening McHale park(which i would like to see) is a non runner. The distance from sideline to wall is minimum and may well come foul of health and safety regulations in the future.
    I agree with previous texter, we need to stop making excuses, its the same for both teams and we should be more familiar than a travelling team.
    The surface seems to have been heavily sanded over the years and while improving drainage, it has increased the soil density making it a hard unforgiving surface.
    Maybe we should be looking at alternative winter venue. But remember Mayo following is such that you would need to be planning a capacity of 20,000…
    Not in the forseeable future

  17. I am hearing about widening and lengthing the pitch for years now. there is no reason it cannot be done and also to lay a new surface on mchale park. the pitch can be widened along the mchale road side and lengthened at ALBANY end of ground.NOW is the time to do it especially when we will be in division 2 for 2021 league .the 2021 home league games can be played in ballina pitch on some other venue, but this project is urgently required. the money will be found to do this project if the will is there.IF the will is not there in the county board it will be easy to find an excuse not to do it. I LIKE the way mayo are shaping up for the championship and the loss to tyrone could yet turn out to be a blessing in disguise.i fully expect to beat leitrim at our ease on sunday and hopefully no INJURIES.

  18. A game to get minutes for players. I’m getting concerned about our midfield. I liked the look of Loftus in the last two games, but he’s not an inter county midfielder and I don’t think he’ll make the cut in championship. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong, but think certain games will require the physicality from Aidan to come into the centre of the field. If we are lucky to progress through this championship I think having athletes in the middle will be more important and would prefer to see Aidan at 14 in those circumstances. Maybe D O’C could find better form there? If Lee is to go to Centre Back it leaves a very inexperienced full back line, is Coen worth a few more go’s at Full Back? He has the size and strength, but I could see Barrett being thrown in there, I don’t know where you put Coen in that case, don’t think he made the cut at midfield. I think O’Hora needs to start at corner back, he’s like a Jonny Cooper or Philly McMahon, something we need back there. Something tells me Horan will try and avoid a sweeper as best he can and let these young fellas play with freedom, risky business…

  19. It won’t happen, but the way to make the MacHale Park pitch bigger would be to raise the level of the pitch, you’d basically fill in the ground up to the 3rd/ 4th row of concrete benches and build your new perimeter at that level. You’d lose a few thousand from the crowd, but you also wouldn’t have too much demolition / costs.

  20. Need a prunty pitch in Mc Hale Pk,Drainage and soil type are horrific especially in winter.The left hand Albanyend is very wet,Hard to play good football on such a surface.In summer it is too dry.Night winter league games are the way forward.

  21. Look, against lessor ranked teams all over the place, Mayo haven’t played their best… Tipperary were beating us in Thurles on the finest and probably one of biggest pitchs in the country until a rather fortunate Goal from James Durcan… It’s mostly Div One team’s that we have played in Mchale Park this last number of years..how come they have played well enough to beat us so often on our home soil…We played poorly in Navan but won this year, played badly but drew in Ballybofey one of the biggest pitchs in the country, played badly and lost, at St Tiernachs Park one of biggest and best pitches in Ireland…In the last 6 or 7 years how many times have we played Dublin in Croke Park for the league, and always have played poorly…in general it’s only been later on in the Championship that Mayo have upped the gears…. there are always exceptions like 2019… Without playing brilliant we beat Monaghan to qualify for the League Final in Mchale Park, backed it with a very good performance to win the league V Kerry in Croke Park the following year.. For those who are still convinced that Mchale Park is the problem, I suggest that we play the odd league match in Ballina,..it certainly would be allot cheaper way to find out if there is any real evidence of the pitch deminisions damaging our performance… If there is any real evidence of such, .I’m absolutely certain, never been more certain of anything in my life that the Mayo GAA Club’s wouldn’t mind upping the affiliation fees paid to the County Board to €20K+ at least for about 30 years a in order to make the nessary adjustments to Mchale Park.

  22. Liam Moffatt was saying over the summer that the MacHale Park pitch needs to be relayed. Getting the required funds will be an issue but there’s no better time to do it with the crowd situation. Any home games can be played in Ballina in the current climate.

    Would be nice to make the pitch bigger. 3m wider and 5m longer would be a huge improvement.

  23. We didnt lose because of the pitch on Sunday
    Or any other Sunday either.
    We lost because of poor decisions and no defensive strategy. Same as losing to Roscommon last year.
    We have the best man marker in football in Lee Keegan and we played him in corner back also losing his scoring ability.
    McLoughlin is not a man marker for Sunday or a freetaker either ( Roscommon last year).
    The result on Sunday could have been different if we simply used the knowledge we had on senior players.
    Going down is a big blow to Mayo. 30/40 years ago it didn’t matter we still seem to think like that. This is an elite game now and you need to be in division 1.
    Hopefully we get back up quick but it’s not certain by any means. Relegation has a cost….hopefully its not too high

  24. No point in blaming the weather or size of pitches etc when we loose a game. Most of our looses are due to bad decisions by Managements over the years , both in picking the right teams and making the right decisions during games. But have to wonder have Management over the years had full power over team selections and panel members

  25. @Pat, Donegal were relegated from Division 1 in 2018. They went on to win the 2018 & 2019 Ulster Championship while getting promotion back to D1. Im not saying we’ll do the exact same, but lets ease of the catastrophising about relegation until such a time where the lads don’t come straight back up…..i expect we will finish top 2 in a few months.

  26. It is a good year to go down. There will be no revenue gains from div 1 next spring Also league could be changed to a regional basis next year due to covid.

  27. Nobody gives Leitrim a chance on Sunday. They have nothing to lose. We need to go in with the right attitude or it could be the shortest championship in a long time

  28. @.MayoDunphy still plenty of unwanted hype around, for example Jim McGuinness has tipped Mayo to win this All Ireland. MacHale Park isn’t as bad as some think, Mayo have a good championship record there and I doubt a semi final would have been reached last year if the Donegal game was played in Ballybofey instead of MacHale Park.

  29. @Mayomagic, thats gas about Jim McGuinness, i didn’t know he’s tipping us. Least now we all know what he was doing in Galway camp. Good physcologoical move from Jim to take the pressure of his recent Galway employers lol..and try to ramp it up on us. No genuinely sane supporter buys it though. You wonder how tbese pundits keep straight faces

  30. It was mad stuff, Mayo Dunphy. While it’s safe for everyone to cut to the chase and assume that Dublin and Kerry are already in the All-Ireland semi-final (because, let’s face it, they are) and so will top the list of every prediction you can’t assume we’ll even make the Connacht final this year, still less be in the running for Sam. I think you’re right, he must have been doing his college pal a turn there.

  31. Agree Willie Joe, Kerry and Dublin already there. Jim definetly doing PJ a good turn there, but sure thats what friends are for!!!…Anthony Cunningham will tap into that prediction aswell and use it. I don’t think iv’e ever been anticipating a Connacht championship so much. A 1 point win in Carrick with no injuries, would do me fine. One game at a time.

  32. Maybe I’m just being too optimistic but anything is possible this year. Connaught for me is a coin toss but if mayo manage to come through straight into sem final they’ve plenty of experience and who knows maybe rolling well at that stage anything could happen. If it was normal season with super 8s I would only be ranking us 5th or 6th. .. .strange times

  33. Against the grain, but I’m going for Cork in Munster. If they do win, they’ll be dangerous semi final opponents, for whomever.

  34. worst thing that can happen to Mayo on Sunday is a big win, just scrape through and they will perform against Roscommon , same for rest of games if they keep winning, keep struggling but keep winning. McGuinness playing mind games , tell Mayo they are going to win and they will go out and get hammered, tell them they are going to win and they flop, ,same story since 51. So just win by a point or two each game.

  35. Don’t agree Culmore. Statement of intent required against Leitrim. Championship has the fierce urgency of now – no time to build up gradually, especially in Connaught. Our style may be cramped though with bad weather in the offing on Sunday, so adaptability is critical; how we deal with the actual situation on the ground will give us clues to our well-being.

  36. @catcol I thought the same earlier in the year but I think Cork are still over reliant on Paul Kerrigan. I also think Kerry are flying. They have a few new target men giving them serious options on the bench. Yeah they are open enough at the back but they’ll score a lot. I can’t see anyone in Connaught worrying them to be honest. Obviously I hope I’m wrong but they will be a lot fresher.

  37. Thanks for the TV coverage info Willie Joe
    Looking forward to the game.
    Mayo to win by at least 8 points .

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