Mayo 0-15 Armagh 1-10: late surge does it

How many times have we seen Mayo struggle in the League against suffocating Ulster opposition in games where we eventually fell to frustrating defeat? That seemed to be the narrative for long stretches in today’s Round 4 clash with Armagh at Dr Hyde Park but the difference today was that we eventually found a way to win.

The stand was filling up rapidly when we took our seats high up in it an hour ahead of throw-in. The pitch was deserted then but after the warm-up stuff had been set out Rob Hennelly and Rory Byrne spent some time practicing kick-outs.

That wasn’t noteworthy in itself but then, just after the National Anthem had been played, it was announced that Rory was starting instead of Rob. It’s not clear why the switch was made but I heard afterwards that the cause was illness rather than injury-related.

Rory wouldn’t have chosen the first touch he got in this game. This was his picking the ball out of the net at the graveyard end, as a looping shot for a point by Mackin – in the first attack of the game, straight from the throw-in – dipped at the last second and flew into the net.

We opened our account soon after. Ryan O’Donoghue claimed a mark from a ball punted in and fired it over.

They got the next two scores, though, with a fisted score from Duffy and a fine strike by Grugan sending the visitors five clear with ten minutes played.

It was already a curious aspect of the game that Armagh’s talisman Rian O’Neill was operating far out the field. It was he who gave the offload to Mackin for the goal and later in the opening half the Crossmaglen player was in the pocket back near his own 21-yard line to intercept an attempted pass inside from Lee Keegan.

We slowly got a toehold in this contest. Ryan pointed a second free and then he banged over one from play, taking a super pass from Frank Irwin, then spinning away from his marker and shooting over. The Belmullet man was the main reason we kept in touch in that opening quarter.

Armagh’s scoring had dried up after that early blast and it would be close to the break before they troubled the umpires again. They had an effort at the posts that, from where we were sitting, looked like it could be over but it was flagged wide.

At the other end Mattie smashed over a boomer from distance. Then Diarmuid O’Connor drove in from the wing on a powerful run, shooting over emphatically off his left, to cut the gap to one.

We made two replacements in the second quarter. The switch that saw Frank Irwin replaced by Kevin McLoughlin was a blood substitution but the Stephenites man never subsequently reappeared.

A bit later, Paddy Durcan came on for Rory Brickenden. As Ed McGreal pointed out on the pod after the game, this was a move that made eminent sense, seeing as Rian O’Neill was still stationed way out the field. As events transpired, Paddy would play a decisive role in our late comeback in this game.

It was Rian O’Neill who ended Armagh’s long wait for a score with a fine strike from distance. A free from close to the ’45 metre line from Ryan answered that and we could have drawn level when we got a free closer to their posts soon after.

This was when Armagh’s midfielder Mackin picked up a black card for a stupid third-man tackle on Kevin McLoughlin right in front of the ref. Ryan butchered the free, though, and then O’Neill drove over a free from distance at the other end to send the Orchard in two points ahead at the break.

We had plenty to think about at that stage, as the triumphant Kilmeena lads, proudly hoisting their three trophies, came out onto the pitch where they got a warm reception from the huge crowd. Proper order too – it’s only right and fitting to celebrate our clubs’ exploits on the national stage.

It was no surprise to see that we’d shuffled the deck for the second half. Aidan O’Shea came on for Conor Loftus and stationed himself around the middle, with Jordan Flynn pushing a bit further forward. Sam Callinan was also withdrawn, replaced by his combative clubmate Padraig O’Hora.

With a more battle-hardened line-up on the field for us, we now sought to reel Armagh in while they were a man down. A point from a mark by Aiden Orme and another one from Diarmuid O’Connor, after Aidan O’Shea had made a strong, line-breaking burst, drew us level.

But we failed to push on from there. As Mackin was shaping up to come on, Swanny swung out of his man unnecessarily and Grugan nailed the free. Then Turbitt, only just on the field, won a ball out front, turned and fired over.

Another Ryan free cut the gap back to one again. The game was becoming scrappy now and a longish period passed before the next score.

When it came it was for Armagh. The large Mayo following was fairly incensed at Coldrick’s award of a free for what looked like a fair challenge. The free was from well out on the right-hand side but O’Neill drove it over off the outside of his boot.

Into the final quarter now and, while the game was still there to be won, it was starting to look like one of those days for us. Armagh had defended the D like demons right from the start and we were getting clogged up as we sought, with little success, to drive through that central channel.

Our shooting wasn’t helping either. After playing the ball around looking for an opening, possession ended with Paddy on the right wing but he screwed his shot badly wide.

Jack Carney was on for Fionn McDonagh now. With less than ten minutes to go, Kevin McLoughlin skipped impishly through the suffocating cover and pointed off his right. But they responded in kind from the restart and then followed it up with another one.

That score had an element of finality about it, their ‘keeper having provided the assist to the shooter. Three up now, the visitors were looking good for the win, not least because, from our perspective, it was hard to see where the scores might come.

But come they did because, all of a sudden, it was Mayo time. And we proceeded to Mayo them, banging over the final five points of the day to win it by two.

A foul on Jordan Flynn gave Ryan a chance to narrow the gap and he made no mistake. We turned over their restart and Kevin was fouled as he tried to squirm clear. This one was from no more than 14 yards out and Ryan slammed it over too.

Ed was chatting with an Armagh man sitting behind us and was saying that we’d happily take the draw now. “So would we!” the Armagh man answered with alacrity, knowing full well that the tide was now going out rapidly on Kieran McGeeney’s team.

With three minutes of normal time to go, we were level. Paddy – from roughly the same area he’d missed earlier on – took aim and the ball narrowly made it inside the near post.

We kept possession for a while after that, now patiently looking for an opening that would see us get the lead. But we eventually lost the ball, with nothing to show for our time on it, giving them a rare chance to attack.

But we quickly won it back and now, their defence pulled out of position, we played it forward rapidly. Jordan came onto it in the right place and fired it over to put us ahead for the first time. Mayo-OH time. But with five minutes of injury time still to be played.

Paddy missed a chance to put us two up. Then, as they attacked at the other end, Swanny won a stirring turnover and it now began to look like our day.

Danger still lurked, however, and Rory Byrne won the second of two difficult balls pumped his way to keep our lines intact at the back.

Armagh got a free out between the ’45 and midfield. With only seconds left, O’Neill went for it but Aidan rose to fetch it in the square. When we broke out, it was like a cavalry charge as we swept downfield, necklacing handpasses before Paddy provided the grace note to seal a two-point win.

This wasn’t a great performance by us but, you know, that made the win all the sweeter. We were asked plenty of difficult questions by a resolute Armagh this afternoon and for long stretches we were left scratching our heads.

But eventually – thanks in large part to the experienced operators we were able to spring from our bench: what a bench we have now – we found a way to win and it was that ability that made this win so satisfying.

With seven points out of a possible eight from our first four games, we’re not just guaranteed our place in Division One next year – a consideration that’s even more important, in light of the vote at Congress yesterday – but we can now have a right cut at this National League.

We’re now one of just two unbeaten teams in Division One. Kerry, who hosed Monaghan up in Iniskeen today, head the table on points difference and it’s them we face next, in Tralee in a fortnight’s time.

That one is set to be a searching test of our capabilities, as it will be for Kerry too lest we forget. Today was a tough test as well and although we weren’t as fluid as we maybe should have been, it was a test we were eventually able to come through. That, ultimately, made today’s win such a gratifying one.

Mayo: Rory Byrne; Lee Keegan, Rory Brickenden, Michael Plunkett; Oisín Mullin, Stephen Coen, Sam Callinan; Jordan Flynn (0-1), Matthew Ruane (0-1); Fionn McDonagh, Diarmuid O’Connor (0-2), Conor Loftus; Aiden Orme (0-1, mark), Frank Irwin, Ryan O’Donoghue (0-7, five frees and a mark). Subs: Kevin McLoughlin (0-1) for Irwin (blood), Paddy Durcan (0-2) for Brickenden, Aidan O’Shea for Loftus, Padraig O’Hora for Callinan, Jack Carney for McDonagh, Fergal Boland for McLoughlin.

Who was our MOTM against Armagh? Pick your top three performers

  • Aiden Orme (20%, 691 Votes)
  • Diarmuid O'Connor (18%, 635 Votes)
  • Paddy Durcan (13%, 457 Votes)
  • Ryan O'Donoghue (13%, 440 Votes)
  • Aidan O'Shea (5%, 179 Votes)
  • Mattie Ruane (5%, 177 Votes)
  • Jordan Flynn (5%, 173 Votes)
  • Oisin Mullin (5%, 165 Votes)
  • Michael Plunkett (3%, 107 Votes)
  • Padraig O'Hora (3%, 98 Votes)
  • Kevin McLoughlin (3%, 89 Votes)
  • Rory Byrne (2%, 75 Votes)
  • Lee Keegan (1%, 32 Votes)
  • Frank Irwin (1%, 30 Votes)
  • Stephen Coen (1%, 25 Votes)
  • Fergal Boland (1%, 18 Votes)
  • Sam Callinan (0%, 15 Votes)
  • Jack Carney (0%, 14 Votes)
  • Conor Loftus (0%, 13 Votes)
  • Fionn McDonagh (0%, 13 Votes)
  • Rory Brickenden (0%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,716

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46 thoughts on “Mayo 0-15 Armagh 1-10: late surge does it

  1. A great win in terms of digging out a result. The key to victory was we won the middle-8 battle particularly in the second half. AOS was massive in the second half as was Durcan who again chipped in with 2 points. Byrne did well to despite the terrible mistake at the start.

    It really was the older players leading the way today…and perhaps that’s a worry.

    2 big negatives. We’re not scoring freely in the forward line e.g. only 2 points from play in 2st half with a wind and dominating the midfield.

    Another major concern are the wing forwards- nobody is putting their hand up shall we say.Fionn McDonagh in particular has been a disappointment

  2. It’s important that the hard fought win does not disguise the weakness with the wing forwards – which is ongoing for some time.

    In regards to scoring note also that of 16 point attempts against Dublin we scored 7…not good enough.

    That’s why Kerry have the edge over us

  3. What is this strange feeling, where Mayo are not losing unneccessarily?

    It’s important to be a killjoy sometimes however. I have mapped out a couple of unlikely but technically possible sequence of results which would see us relegated on the head-to-head rule or alternatively on points difference. So still mathematically possible to get relegated.

    On the other hand, there are also a couple of scenarios where even if Dublin win all their 3 remaining matches, they could still be relegated. So it is out of their hands at the omment as they are relying on other results as well as their own.

  4. Willie Joe I think it is a leg injury Robbie has, they were treating him on the ground behind the goals and then he tried a few short kick outs but was struggling, them 2 catches will give Rory encouragement

  5. Colm boyle on MWR commentary was absolutely brilliant too, got a great picture of the game from listening to him.

  6. Delighted to be able to get to the game having not been able to this past couple of years.
    Altho not at our best, todays was a sweet win and we really did dig it out at the end, impressively.
    I was esp impressed with Orme, he’s a clever and cool player, and it’s great to have another option in an area where we don’t have a rich supply of talent.
    I dont think Fionn was that bad, he tried hard and got on plenty but prob has had better days, Leeroy likewise. Loftus isn’t a half/forward. Backs and Midfield – a good days work. Overall we played well against a dogged side who defended deep enough for long periods. Subs excellent, great to have such talent coming on. I do agree that we need to add to the forwards, roll on CO’Cs return. Irwin showed well until his departure, I feel he may yet have something to offer. Missed the early goal, heard it was a fluke, but what I saw of Byrne – I was not disappointed.
    Very happy now that div 1 status is confirmed and that we can experiment a bit more with the remaining games, and a league final appearance is a possibility too. Great days these..
    Thanks again Willie Joe, Up Mayo!

  7. Armagh really parked the bus after the early goal. 15 men inside the 45 for most of our attacks. Hard for the inside forwards to score in that situation. Diarmuid is in a rich vein of form now, great to see.

    Didn’t think we were brilliant overall, but those kind of wins can make a team. Just gives everyone belief that games are never a lost cause.

  8. Just for people who weren’t at the game…

    Don’t think Brickendon did anything wrong. His substitution was just tactical as Armagh were playing without a full forward line. So it made sense to bring on another half back.

    Callinan looked comfortable for most of the first half, but picked up a yellow card.

    I thought Irwin was doing well, shame he had to go off injured.

  9. Far more positives than negatives.
    We are winning games without being anywhere near our best and we have the deepest panel I have seen in years. We have genuine options off the bench who can influence the outcome of games.
    Cillian,Jason Doc,Enda Hession,Eoghan Mc and James Carr would all be in my 26 if fit and none of them were involved today.

  10. @spotlight

    Have to disagree with your comment that “it was really older players leading the way” and “perhaps thats a worry”

    Without sounding like im coming across in a bad way Aiden Orme (0-1), Jordan Flynn (0-1), Oisin Mullin, Ryan O’Donaghue (0-7) all stood up when we needed them most.

    Frank irwin showed well until his injury, sam callinan was unlucky to get a yellow card which likely was the reason he was pull ashore. Enda Hession, Eoghan McLaughlin, David McBrien, James Carr and Mark Moran were not in the panel so i dont see how its a worry that a mix younger and older fellas stood up today.

    If we come out of this league and have found 2 new starters and 2 new players for the bench it will have been a good league.

  11. Well done to the ladies on their great win over Galway . Fantastic achievement considering how many Mayo ladies now playing in Australia…

  12. Aidan O’Shea drove us on like a demon when he came on. We’ve all been crying out for years for an impactful bench and boy have we got one now. Armagh’s goal looked like a fluke. I wasn’t even sure it had gone in until the umpire put the green flag up. I don’t believe Armagh troubled our goals again but Byrne was solid from the goal onwards. The fetches at the end were crucial. For sure Armagh had their defence well locked-down. We always struggle against blanket defences. They haven’t gone away you know. Their half-back line was so crowded there was literally no space to kick into at times. Our middle-eight looked strong overall. I was surprised to see Rian O’Neill play as deep as he did. Callinan had a tough time on him but still he managed only one point from play. I thought our goose was cooked when we went three down towards the end but fair play to the lads for grinding it out. That’s about as tough as it gets in the Hyde! That has to be a real confidence booster with the championship so close.

    We look like a team with the right mix of youth and experience. No reason we can’t pick up a few more points and aim for the league. Spillane will get his answer soon enough about where Mayo are at!

  13. Delighted with today’s result. For a team featuring so many younger players in the early stages of their career, learning to grind out a result in the face of that Armagh blanket defense was a really good days work. This was division 1 football at it’s toughest and the experience that so many of our younger lads got today cannot be measured. Lots of gaps remain for this team to be ready to face Galway in April, but securing division 1 for another year is a major milestone in this team’s ongoing development.

  14. It gives me some considerable satisfaction to see Dublin struggling to manage a transition from their golden oldies to a younger cohort, something James Horan has managed to do without undue stress.

    Congrats too to our ladies who apparently demolished Galway today, propelling themselves into the knockout stages of the Lidl National League. I have not seem any reports of the game but am wondering whether Kilkerrin/Clonberne’s All Ireland celebrations have taken too much out of them

  15. Fantastic win today to dig it out was mighty to see an even better result than the Dublin game , comments from people that were at the game saying it was close to championship intensity and to be able finish out the game against a highly fit and physical Armagh team was very positive. So for the last 3 games what route should we take should it be (A) keep experimenting with new players giving guys more time and experience and keeping our cards close to our chest for later days or (B) over the next 3 games start to gel ,build our solid championship 15 so everyone is in sync and take off the shoes and give it socks for the Galway game

  16. Dijis, I’m sorry but glad you are not in a dressing room pre match for motivation purposes when you start quoting mathematically about us still getting relegated. 7 points out of a possible 8 in a very competitive division. Well done to all the team and management for another roller-coaster journey so far

  17. – Armagh are physical, very fit and setup a Orange wall.
    – With two replacement goalies there were a large number of short low kickouts which meant mid field was bypassed for a lot of the game.
    – O Neill and Nugent kicked some great scores
    – Orme showed really really well, Irwin was doing nicely until injury. Mc Donagh and Loftus both very disappointing. Diarmuid and Paddy key scores and Ryan solid on the frees.
    – With 10 mins to go I thought we needed a goal to win as enough points against the wind looked unlikely.
    – Anyway good win , we should be going to Kerry to win full stop.
    – Two issues the Gaa need to sort…one is ban PAs from announcing anything during the game and two deal with players faking injury. Jarlath Og Burns was down getting treatment for a few mins and then jumped up and took the pass from the resultant free kick, same with McKay. Aido did fall holding his face and he definitely looked like he received a knock despite what a few of the Armagh supporters were saying nearby.

  18. Good win, hope Robbie is ok. Great to grind it out pity we’re getting those injuries.

    * Wont be long before Boyler will be on The Sunday game..great analysis.

  19. Well done on a hard earned win.I have just one bugbear-Why oh why is a goalkeeper with the same coloured jersey as the ref allowed stroll like a wolf around the park

  20. Jaysus, the league Sunday football analysts are absolutely non league compared to the hurling analysts. Cooper is a rabbit in the headlights!

  21. @wide ball, I also thought Brickendon been taken off was totally tactical, he had done nothing wrong, we just needed a player more comfortable going forward. Orme played really well, he will definitely be part of championship team I feel. DOC brilliant again this week, back to his best?

  22. @Joey I am awaiting my invitation to do motivational speaking any day now! Seriously though, league competitions are based on numbers – while something may be 99% likely to happen, one can never write off entirely the 1% chance. For example, I’ve seen on a Dublin forum a few times that as long as they win the last 3 games, they’ll stay up when in fact there is a chance they wouldn’t even then. I’ll enjoy objectivity over subjectivity almost always, but that’s probably why I’m not a motivational speaker!

    Incidentally, did anyone else think a lot of the handling was off today, for both teams?

    Also, do Mayo play better in Croke Park because there is less wind? I have often felt we don’t play the conditions well.

  23. Not sure I completely agree Puckout. I think the Gooch is ok. Whatever about the analysis its clear that the football league is way more interesting than the hurling league. Sometimes hurling afficionados look down their noses at football and they may have a point in the championship but the football league is a brilliant competition. All 4 leagues are so competitive with games hard to call. In Div 1 there were good games in the Hyde, Newbridge and Ballybofey. I know theres a new formula for championship next year and Im glad the provincials are staying but a league based championship would have merit with a bit of thinking and tweaking. Well done JH and team on another great result. The resilience of this team is remarkable. Looked beaten in Donegal and today and trailed Monaghan for large chunks of the game. Yet picked 5 points from those difficult situations. Luckily we had a handy game v the Dubs!,!! The way the dubs are going at the moment they could be in line to be first winners of the Tailteann Cup. Only joking of course, the dubs have good players to return but it puts into perspective the great job JH has done in transitioning this team. He lost excellent and experienced players and has still kept us super competitive. In contrast Dessie is struggling since Gavin and a number of their more experienced players packed it in.

  24. Great finish today. Well done to all the team. I thought young Carney was very impressive when introduced. Great to see all these young lads getting a chance to stake a claim.

  25. Kevin mc had big impact when came on.
    He took some battering when weaving through there defence.
    He got a crucial point under severe pressure,his first was disallowed for some reason.
    He has been some servant to Horan over the years.
    He ran himself into the ground and was subbed late in the game.
    What a player to have coming off the bench.

  26. Unless Donegal put together three wins in a row which I can’t see happening. If we beat Kerry in two weeks we will be guaranteed to make league final because Armagh and Kerry still have to play each other so whoever loses that, most they can get to is 9 points and we would have a better head to head over both of them. Even if we don’t beat them, one more win will probably be enough to get 2nd at least.

  27. O Shea and O Hora made the difference today. In fact O Shea has been outstanding coming off the bench so far. Team the started 2nd half is probably close to C’ship team and it is slightly worrying that it was the older guys that were leading the way in the 2nd half with the exception of R O D.
    But lookit, it’s the league and a win is a win.

  28. @Alan Kenny, beating Kerry wont actually guarantee a League final because both Armagh and Kerry could still pick up 5 and 3 points respectively if they were to draw against each other which would leave them on 10 points apiece, assuming of course that Armagh beat Kildare, a result that will be known by the time the Kerry v Mayo game throws in.

    Still a lot of permutations at both ends of the table.

  29. Yes it’s tight at the top. A difficult victory but we dug it out. Thought Kevin Mc might goal that chance with his right which he’s done a few times before but it worked out in the end. Hope paddy hasn’t over done the weights, Sean Andy became a lesser player for Galway when he bulked too much. It’s a fine line between strength and speed / mobility even though Paddy still has both. I like the way Flynn seemed to be able to map where to go through traffic for the lead point. Also like the way Orme plays with intelligence. If no half forward grabs it , then we have Kevin Mc and Jason to rely on. Hession or Plunkett could do a job there as could Mullin. Another option is 3 man midfield with Aido and Jordan..Carney looks like he could be in contention for 12 and Orme could go out to half if Cillian returns well the next day.

  30. Very strong finish. Delighted for orme. Bench big impact. Don’t agree with u20 lads not being in Derry, Sam and frank would benefit more from those games. They not ready yet, in time yes. Horan stout on this.

  31. Great to see Aidan bossing it at midfield – Armagh had a big physical team but a few of them won’t forget the “O’Shea shoulder” in a hurry! Diarmuid is revitalised, and Kevin Mc a treasure – some key scores too by Paddy, a clutch performer. Aiden Orme and Jack Carney both laid claims for selection – defences are double teaming Ryan now, but he frees up space. Rory B two vital catches – something Robbie might have struggled with? Remember Man Utd’s treble team back in 1999 – they won so many games in the dying minutes – winning mentality. But lads – we must remember the only thing that really matters is the Galway game – this is just valuable experience?.

  32. Listening to Horan’s interview, reading some of these comments and some around the ground yesterday would nearly have you believe that the game was a poor game and that it was a poor performance by Mayo. It was a decisive (in the end!) win against the type of defensive opposition we have struggled to beat since the year dot, and that to me feels significant. While Armagh can kick themselves for some of their unforced errors, they punished a few of ours throughout too. It was also a league game in February, not a championship game, with quite a few of our more experienced players missing. So perhaps we should take a more optimistic view of it.

    As for the point about relying on our older players, how could that really be construed as worrying at this point in time? Is a winning blend of youth and experience not exactly what we should be aiming for this year? (It’s all about this year, after all.) Do we expect a squad of rookies to be winning before and behind them, some of them with literally only minutes of game time accumulated? We can only work with the players we have and that are fit. I think Horan has done remarkably well to empower newer players like Ryan O’Donoghue, Aidan Orme, Jack Carney etc to perform with confidence. Even Padraig O’Hora doesn’t have that many games under his belt for Mayo yet. Meanwhile Aidan, Kevin etc. are playing fantastic football and making a real impact when they are needed. In fact, it’s probably some of our more experienced players that should really be feeling the pressure now, particularly in the half-forward line, because aside from Diarmuid O’Connor (who is really returning to his very best), we have real problems there. Again, overall, maybe we should take a more optimistic view on this and worry a bit less until we need to.

    As for the numbers, Digits, while I know you mean well, I think I’ll look at the 7 points we’ve taken from 8 so far with satisfaction rather than trepidation! And I wouldn’t be too optimistic for Dublin’s chances either, because I’d be very surprised to see them winning their last three.

    A word for Rory Byrne – that was a very solid performance after a horrible start for him. Glad he has finally gotten some game time; it’s just a shame it had to happen this way. Speedy recovery to Robbie.

    Get your tickets for Tralee if you haven’t already; there’s only a 12,000 capacity and there’s a good chance it will sell out.

  33. I might be wrong here but should we not have had a free from the very first throw in prior to the goal?
    Watching the hi-lights Armagh number 24 Crealey has made no attempt at all to win the ball. He pushed Ruane out of the way and then did the same to Flynn. No eyes on the ball at any time and right in front of the referee.
    All academic of course as we got the win but what do others think about it?

  34. Definitely Mind the House – Crealey was pushing his weight about. Mind you Diarmuid got away with an effective pulldown of the shoulder against the towering Dublin mid-fielders last year – we’re all delighted he’s growing into the player his talent predicted a few years ago. Hope JH doesn’t overplay him. btw – a big thanks to Willie Joe – this “blog” brightens up our Mondays.

  35. Fully agree Anne-Marie, overall a good performance in a good test, we should not under estimate the benefits of winning tight matches while building panel depth

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