Mayo 0-5 Dublin 0-8 (abandoned, HT): lost in the fog

Well, fog that for a lark. It’s one thing having to hare across the country in an increasing frantic race against time to make it down to McHale Park ahead of throw-in but it’s quite another, having done so, to end up seeing only half a match. Mind you, such was the ineptitude we displayed over the course over that 35 minutes – which was only matched by an equally ham-fisted performance by ref Marty Duffy – that maybe it was as well we only had to sit through half the evening’s scheduled entertainment.

The fog, which eventually did for the game at the interval, wasn’t an issue at all for the first ten or so minutes of the match. We’d seen plenty of fog – wispy banks of the stuff blanketing parts of the country – on the journey down from Dublin but the most noteworthy aspect we saw as we barreled along those final miles towards Castlebar on the N5 was the fiery red sunset facing us away to the west, with the squat bulk of Nephin brooding away at the other end of this vista.

Despite the traffic we got parked up handily enough close to the ground, collected our Cáirde Mhaigheo season tickets outside the gate and had almost got seats in the well-filled stand by the time the ball was thrown in. I’m not sure what the official attendance was tonight – someone mentioned 12,000 though I don’t know if that’s correct  –  but it was certainly a sizeable crowd, bigger I’d say than that which turned up for the Connacht semi with Galway last June.

We were well on top in the opening exchanges and had eased two points in front – frees from Cillian O’Connor and Conor Mortimer – before the visitors got going at all. Barry Moran and Aidan O’Shea both started strongly at midfield and we were mopping up nicely in the half-back line and moving the ball forward fluently. It was when we got it into the forward line, though, that things were breaking down and soon they began to break down badly.

It took Dublin the best part of ten minutes or so to get motoring but when they did, they did so with purpose. Over a 15-minute spell, they hit us for seven points on the trot and with each successive score we looked more and more at sea. The contrast between our use of the ball and what they did with it in this period was pretty stark. We were ponderous, sloppy, indecisive, unsure and generally inaccurate in what we did whereas they were slick, decisive, direct and pretty efficient with their use of the ball.

The only surprise was that they didn’t hit us for more in that period as Connolly, McManamon and Quinn tore holes through our increasingly beleagured backline. Instead we finally managed to add to our tally at the other end – Enda Varley pouncing on a rebound to fire over – but then Stephen Cluxton did a reprise of his All-Ireland winning point by nonchalently knocking over this free over into the Bacon Factory end:

Marty Duffy was being his annoying Mother Superior self while all this was going on – you know the crack: whistling up for all manner of minor stuff while missing the more serious infractions – but after little more than 20 minutes came his major howler of the evening when he ordered off Dublin’s wing-back James McCarthy for an elbow hit on Alan Freeman. McCarthy did lead with the elbow but from my vantage point the hit looked completely accidental and the straight red (does it stand with the game abandoned?) harsh in the extreme.

We perked up after the sending off and started playing with a bit more purpose but our next score, a point from Enda Varley, was one of the most bizarre I’ve ever seen awarded to us. Varley hit a screamer that smashed at an angle off the crossbar and careered several feet wide but, with the thickening fog making it ever harder to make out what was going on – as this clip of our next score, a free from Mort, illustrates – the umpire bewilderingly raised the white flag.

That Mort point turned out to be the final score of the evening with the fog descending rapidly as the half-time whistle approached. As the teams trooped off the pitch at the break, it became increasingly difficult to see anything out there in the gathering gloom, with the far side of the pitch and then the goalposts disappearing behind the murky veil of fog. It was no surprise when the logical decision – arguably Marty Duffy’s first correct one of the evening – was taken to call a halt to proceedings at that stage.

It’s hard to know how the second half would have gone but I guess there’s little point in engaging in too much conjecture on that point. Would we have made sufficient use of the extra man to turn the match back in our favour? Would Marty Duffy have taken the opportunity to even the match up at fourteen each? Who knows?

What we can say for sure is that our first half performance tonight was a fairly rude awakening for those of us (including myself) who might think that we’re on some kind of remorseless upward curve at the moment. Our backline was repeatedly cut to pieces tonight – with Keith Higgins’ strong performance the main bright spot here, along with the showings of Lee Keegan and Richie Feeney (who replaced the injured Peadar Gardiner) – and although Barry and Aidan did well at midfield too, our forward play was little short of abysmal all evening.

Alan Dillon was probably the chief culprit in this respect. Virtually every time he got the ball, the first thing he did was check back and slow things up, allowing Dublin to funnel back more cover. More than once he compounded this by lamping the ball aimlessly inside where it was hoovered up and cleared away by the grateful Dublin backline. He capped off a miserable night by one of those excrutiating girleen shots from twenty yards which I think actually bounced before Cluxton gathered it. On nights like this, you really do wonder will Alan make the first fifteen come summer.

Conor had a poor night too, though tonight’s downer comes on the back of a great start to the year for him. His handling was poor tonight and he repeatedly got caught in possession or allowed the ball to squirm out of his grasp. Alan Freeman, too, dropped a shocking amount of ball and the handling of the forwards as a whole contrasted greatly with what was happening at the other end, where the likes of Diarmuid Connolly and others were able to claim clean possession and do damage with it.

Cillian did okay, though, in his first start of the year and Enda got well stuck in too but as a unit the forward line misfired badly. It’s worth recalling that they weren’t much cop either down in O’Moore Park last weekend until we got that major slice of luck for the goal to help us on our way. Tonight it was providence that dispensed a different slice of luck but this kind of fortune isn’t going to last forever. A rude awakening could well be lurking around the corner for us, I fear.

Mayo: David Clarke; Kevin Keane, Eoghan Reilly, Keith Higgins; Peadar Gardiner, Donal Vaughan, Lee Keegan; Barry Moran, Aidan O’Shea; Kevin McLoughlin, Cillian O’Connor (0-1, free), Alan Dillon; Conor Mortimer (0-2, frees), Alan Freeman, Enda Varley (0-2). Sub: Richie Feeney for Gardiner.

53 thoughts on “Mayo 0-5 Dublin 0-8 (abandoned, HT): lost in the fog

  1. Good training session. Lots to study. Maybe could have won being a man up, but lessons to be learned more from 15 aside.

  2. We were appalling at the back, old failings back to haunt us. Dublin should have been out of sight at half time. Dont mean to pick on particular players but Mort was very poor, Dillon not much better. We appeared slow to the ball and were standing off the man.

    Any speculation on when the game will be refixed for?

  3. Few observations on what I saw in that 35 min.

    Defense was very passive. FB line was way behind their men. On this evidence, a sweeper is definetely needed. Silly frees also given away.

    Forwards turned over a lot of ball. Dillon and Mort the worst offenders as 6pt mentioned. Without Moran there is no target man in the FF for direct ball. Without any speed merchants to break at pace from half forward line, Dublin’s defense looked comfortable in containing us.

    An old and really annoying failure came back tonight. The ball dropped in to Cluxton’s hands with shots from less than 30 yards out. Is anything more frustrating when the team has worked so hard to get the ball.

    Positives? – Had not seen Keegan before and he looked good. Barry Moran played quite well. A O’Shea not bad but had 2 poor turnovers. Varley looked lively but was living on scaps. Freeman got on the ball more than anyone (seemed reluctant to shoot though)

  4. Could they not just play it in the morning? Just home now, couldn’t see a jot on the way. Some stats from the the first half:

    Mayo Scorers: Freeman and Varley 0-1 from play, 0-1 free from Cillian and 2 frees from Mortimer.

    Midfield kickout battles – give or take, 9 to 3 in favour of Mayo including 2 short kickouts

    Wides or short – at least 6 – 2 from Mort, 1 from Dillon, 1 from Keegan and 1 from O’Connor

    Booking for Vaughan – Keegan also kicked the ball away to give the Dubs an easy 13 yard free

    Dubs hit 2 wides and missed a goal chance. Connolly made Reilly look like a junior player and kicked 3 scores from play. Kevin Keane was switched on to him and did marginally better.

    Overall they tackled decently, but didn’t track the runs well enough, and the delivery of ball into the forward line was of the wrong sort. The midfield was positive.

    Full back line – Higgins was immense. Reilly was shocking. Kevin Keane was a bit owerawed and off the pace, but willing

    Half back line – Gardiner was ok but got injured, Feeney came on and did grand. Keegan didn’t keep close enough to Cullen but was decent on the ball. Vaughan unfortunately had a clanger – McManamon outran and out-strengthed him, and his distribution of the ball was quite poor.

    Midfield – did excellent. Barry Moran fetched a great amount of ball, Aidan O’Shea put in a good shift too.

    Half forward line – Dillon going sideways, bringing the ball into contact, not putting his boot through the ball, needs to buck up big time. O’Connor showed well, good strong lad. McLoughlin not as involved as he could be.

    Full forward line – Varley wasn’t too involved and was isolated. Scored the bizarrest point I’ve ever seen. Freeman was grand, don’t know where he was playing though. Mortimer showed well, but got bundled up and wasn’t controlling the ball at the first attempt.

    In some ways, it’s good we are getting a 2nd bite at the cherry, but in another way, the Dubs will be playing with 15 men again.

    2 questions:

    – Will James McCarthy be suspended now for his offence?

    – Why do we play matches under floodlights?

  5. agree with the comments Mort was at the same old game of old slowing down the ball trying to take the game on his own and been at what he is good at been selfish . The backs were too far off their men and Keane would have been better to start on Connolly . I thought feeney gave some grit to the backs when he came on. The precise and direct passing by foot to the forwards was very poor. I am afraid mid table and no league semi final place is where this team is at from the 35 minutes that was displayed tonight. Andy Moran is badly needed back ?

  6. No need for games under floodlights maybe it brings a extra crowd maybe it doesn’t.

    Our back up defenders will have to shape up on that showing & hopefully someone other than Duffy is the ref for the refixed game.

  7. According to the Twitter:

    Informed by @gaarulesadvice that Dublin’s James McCarthy’s red card technically stands. Duffy still has to file referee’s report. #GAA – Retweeted by RTÉ GAA from some guy called John Fogarty

  8. That was a very poor performance by the forewards.We seem to use up way too much energy to get scores.And this is not a recent problem.
    Contrast that with the Dubs players breaking at speed a couple of passes bang over the bar.
    Have we not got any foreward coaches or have we got the wrong players getting on the ball too often..a lot of the passes tonite up in the air unreal stuff.
    We have some very talanted forewards but the way we are playing is cat.No penetration whatsoever.We were getting the upper hand when the Dublin man got sent off but we couldn`t make it count on the scoreboard..we should only have had 4 point Varleys shot off the crossbar was a yard wide.
    Maybe its the fact that we have a different team out every time we play but you`d hope that Dillon and Mort would have some understanding given the amount of time they have played together.

  9. Great line WJ “Fog that for a lark…”. Positive things first. Great crowd, great atmosphere, Castlebar busy and humming, ground looked fantastic amid an almost autumnal setting.

    Bad stuff next. The revolution will work when the proletariat actually believe in it and do as the leader says. Holding the ball up in the half forward line a la Franz Beckenbaur or Johnny Giles whilst you select a shot or pass is fatal.

    Getting the ball and taking it into the tackle and then getting swamped is last years and the year before and the year before shit. Either some players are beyond reproach and coaching are deemed as good and influential as Cooper , the O Sullivans, Donaghy, Stevie McDonald, McMenamon,the Brogans etc and believe that they are game setters or else they are ignoring riding instructions and doing what they want.

    Not good enough. I know its only February but its only February for Dublin as well. Once they settled they kicked long and accurate. Their men won and broke the tackle and McMenamon and 13 tore us to shreds. Thankfully an interested pair of Brogans were not on the pitch.

    Defensively we were a shambles. I see WJ commented on Marty but he gave us two / three frees out that I thought could have easily gone against us. The sending off of McCarthy fcked the game up, no matter what we did after was going to be predicated by that decision which was harsh.

    Time for us to reassess. I for one am worried. Either Cillian O Connor is our 13 or Conor is. Is Freeman an 11 or 14. What is the role of Dillon. What exactly have we as a defensive plan. Are guys instructed to pass to certain players all the time. Twice 50/60 yard solos went wasted because the men who risked life and limb tried to place men who were as close to goal as they themselves were.

    Gilroy tore up the Blue Book and saw his startled earwigs settle. James has decisions to make and now is the time to wield the big batá.

  10. I said here after the Roscommon game in the FBD that there were worrying signs for the future and we have seen those carried through to the first two league games.
    A poor Laois team had us on the run for large parts of the first half last week and last night we could have been embarrassed if Marty Duffy had not sent off a Dublin player that knocked them off their stride.
    I think that we have too many luxury items in our basket at the moment. We all love our flair players but we need more men who do the simple things like defending and competing for dirty ball well.
    When our backs are to the wall we need to get back to basics and it is the exact same mentality in reverse when we build up a bit of a lead. We lack leadership to steady the ship and we become disorganised too easily.
    I have lived in Meath for the past 10 years and while I don’t envy them much, I do admire their fight and determination. You might beat back a Meath team but you do it by hard won inches.

  11. I keep a little teamsheet on what I believe is our best matchday 15 and subbench – made several changes and positional tweaks based on what I saw last night. I’m no manager, but if I’m doing it, I imagine JH can see things that need to be changed as well. I could see him on the touchline last night – head down in thought – he knew something was wrong. Will he have the cajones to drop Dillon to being an impact sub? Dillon has been a good servant down through the years, but is not what we need right now – we need incisiveness and directness and pace in the half forward line. One thing I am looking to see is Danny Kirby given a run, as I have yet to see him in the flesh in Senior Mayo kit.

  12. I remember being at a league game in Scotstown in 96 that was abandoned as i think the ref got injured & John Maughan would not agree to a replacement–wewere heading for a defeat tht night but won the replay.
    Our fullback line has been a problem for the last few years & last nght was no exception.However you have to give Keane & Reilly a chance.

  13. For the last 4 years we have been complaining about chopping and changing key positions. Granted lots of teams now have a big full forward who they move out to midfield and there is of course horses for courses. But, as young Cuffe says above, we seem to be confused about where to play certain players. I’m a believer that the challenge games and the FBD are a time for experimenting and its from now on that you field your team. If someone isnt doing well you have a backup for that position and replace him, but chopping and changing all year some of the key positions hasnt served us well in the past and it wont this year either. We got to an all ireland quarter final last year not knowing what kind of team we had, frankly, a great day against Cork notwithstanding, I’m still none the wise as to where we stand in the scheme of things.

  14. i think lads there is a big difference between a back being too loose and the men out the field not putting enough heat on the opposition whenthey are delivering the ball. in my experience any man that has plenty of time to pick his pass will usually make it. its extremely difficult for a full back line to deal with no matter how good they are. thats what we lacked last night was hard work off the ball around the middle of the field. fair play to moran he caught a few great balls but is he the man to burst a lung doing dirty work?i dont think so. anyway alot of complaints on here but we are still unbeaten in 2012. i would think the semi finals are not beyond us.

  15. I agree with most of what has been said so far. What hasnt been said is that Dublin’s defence was excellent. They put enormous pressure on the man in possesion not allowing him time to breathe. By contrast our defence allowed their attackers a fraction of a second too long before putting the squeeze on them. On such seemingly small things success is built.
    Also what hasnt been said is that their forwards were also very good and if the Brogans were on we would have been hammered (like last years game 1st half)
    Then again, Dublin are All Ireland champions and they have big strong athletic fellas who can also play ball to a very high standard.
    It is now perfectly obvious the standard we have to match and by last nights performance we are a bit off the mark at present.
    All that said – Mayo will be glad of a second bite of the cherry and will have learned a lot from last night and hopefully will be in better shape the next time out.

  16. Reilly and guard are not good enough. We will not move forward if these guys are involved. Midfield was winning some ball but again ponderous in letting it in to the forwards. Every time Aidan o shea goes to kick the ball he hesitates and slows the whole thing up. Dillon played right into dublins hands by constantly overplaying the ball. Mort was not much better. The game was crying out for a target man at full forward so why was kirby not given a shot. . . I don’t get it. Four goals in his last game and no appearance since. It baffles me to be honest. Keith Higgins was the only quality player we had on show last night. Not sure where we are going to be honest but as disappointed as I was that the fog finished the game prematurely it could have saved us from a heavy defeat

  17. Disappointing performance which illustrates that we are not going to challenge the big boys on the big day for a while. The only positives were the fog, the sending off, and the two Brogan brothers on the sideline. Otherwise I believe we would have suffered a right drubbing. At least this way we get to compete for the points again with our eyes wide open in the knowledge that serious improvement is required.

  18. Poor performance overall, but not sure that we will have a better chance when the game is replayed. I read this morning that James Horan seems willing to consider Croke park for the refixed game. I also heard at the end that we can get free entry to the replay if we bring our ticket, however, my ticket was retained at the stile when I went in…

    I actually think that it is good to try different players during the league, it is more important to know our best team for the Championship rather than trying to get to a league sf.

    The dubs just play at a faster pace, and no one in the FB line dominated their oponents. Our passing is not crisp, players waiting for the ball to drop to them. Mind you, I am not sure that the Dubs could have maintained that pace for the duration of the game.

    Laois showed today that they are not a bad team, Armagh’s performance last night showed that this could be tighter league than I had expected, important that we get something from Armagh in the next round or we will be under pressure to avoid a relegation battle, that game will tell alot about the team.

  19. Last night told alot about the team. Nevermind the games coming up. I’ve known for a long time that Reilly isn’t good enough. Conor Mortimer needs to be told that he is no longer required. Chances will have to be given to Evan Regan, Kirby and coen to play in the future games. Alan Dillon was poor. Worked hard but nothing came off for him. Aidan o Shea’s distribution was awful. How many handpasses did he give away? Vaughans distribution was bad too.

    Barry Moran and Keith Higgins were very good. That’s the only thing Horan can be happy with. There are alot of injuries in the squad at the moment especially in defence. It shows how crucial Cunniffe and Cafferkey are. A top quality man marking defender is required urgently. I hope James Horan has someone in mind and our injury list clears up fast. There is alot of work to be done.

  20. agree with all comments loyalty has been given to long to dillion and some players. Its time to do what is right for the future of Mayo football so players wont change and Dillion proved that last night also did Mort its time to give Kirby, Conroy and Coen a chance new blood . Look at Galway

  21. For fog’s sake it was a pure disaster – apart from Clarke, Keith Higgins and the midfield we were beaten up a stick in every other position. A bad night for Kevin Keane to make his debut but I think he is worth persevering with – Eoghan Reilly wont cut the mustard as a full-back. Forwards not near physical enough in their tackling – Dublin backs were allowed to stroll up the field – they had no bother handing-off the likes of Dillon,Varley,McLoughlin and Mortimer. He will have to bring in Andy and Kirby to that forward line i.e. fellows who take the direct route to goal. You simply cannot pick Mortimer and Varley in the full-forward line together – – it has to be one or the other. Ditto re. McLoughlin and Dillon in the half-forward line – too much lateral movement from both of them and not enough of a scoring threat(basically not strong enough to break the hard tackles) Anyway lets get back to the “real important issues” like when are we going to have Round 3 of the thriller WJ versus PJ. I think PJ was ahead on pts after round 2. I am seriously thinking of getting rid of SKY TV such has been my enjoyment of this great site lately. It would be nice too if PJ gave his views on what is happening ON the football field now and again as it is obvious the man from Erris is very well informed and knows what he is on about. James will have learned a few things from the other night- – he has some “re-structuring” to do – – – the positive angle is that in learning these things he hasn’t had to concede the 2 pts – – it will be a different team when we play them again.

  22. Re: the red card, the replay there on League Sunday looked like it was given for leading with the elbow. Fair enough in my opinion, I’m tired of seeing teams consistently high tackle and get away with it.

    Also, defensively, we dived in way too often, the Dublin forwards were a lot cuter, it pains me to say, and our defenders bought the feints far too often.

    Also, further from my point above, would like to see Shane McHale given a chance too.

  23. Very frustrating reading a lot of the above comments from Mayo supporters based on 35 minutes of a league game in February. Who knows what would have happened in the second half, if games against Roscommon and Galway last year or even Laois last week are anything to go by, we might have come out and steamrolled them. It wouldn’t have been the first time we have played two totally different halves of football back to back.

    The idea of telling the likes of mort that he is not required is downright stupid. As is judging Reilly as a full back when he isn’t one, Keane on his debut and Gardiner when he went off injured. Dillon will be a different player in the summer and we don’t need players pushing 30 to be breaking their necks in February, they’ll do it when they’re needed most. Coen, Kirby etc are unproven and the idea of getting rid of senior players before these lads have even bedded in to the squad is sheer lunacy.

    We are two games into the league, everyone else has already dropped points in this division and we’ll be trying out various players and tactics over the seven or more games we play in this competition. We beat Laois away by 6 last week and thought after that theyd lose all 7 of their games. They went away to Donegal today and beat them. So enough of the shite about us being finished for the year based on half a match played in blanket fog in February please.

    It’s two games into the league

  24. If Varley’s point wasn’t a point, by the way, Mossy Quinn made a blatant double hop in front of the ref for his one, must of been foggier on the pitch than we thought for him to miss that one.

    And when are we going to start kicking scores from 30 yards? It’s the way to beat the blanket defence – look at the number of points in the Monaghan-Kildare match from distance – Come on lads, develop those kicking muscles!

  25. it is impossible to understand why the game was not played to-day Sunday. Dublin I understand were staying overnight. I honestly pity the dublin supporters who more than likely will have to travel again. Should have been played on Sunday. But then this CCC committee would not agree. They fix games and not the two teams.

    We learned a few things last night. Midfield played well. Full back line not up to it and one was amazed that there were not changes made. The red card was very harsh on the dublin player. Cheap shgot by the referee who had not the guts to face the player as he gave him the card. Hopped off literally hopped and had an action with his elbow. We would have won i think.

  26. Declan makes a fair point and of course we should not get carried away on the basis of one half of football.

    That said, the concerns about Dillon and Mort extends well beyond last night. Dillon has not developed as a footballer in the last 3 years whereas someone like Andy Moran has added so much to his game. Look at Alan’s contribution, or lack of it, against Kerry. As Richard said, Dillon is a luxury item we can no longer afford.

    I think many of us had doubts about whether Mort would fit in to the ‘New’ Mayo. i.e. forwards exptected to work as hard as backs, hard won possession not to be coughed up easily. Conor has talent to burn and in another team might be the missing jigsaw piece, but, I dont think he is is going to fit in our particular jigsaw and I think many of us had this concern for a long time.

  27. I agree about dragging the ball uphill to the forward line – just not sure whether to blame the lads inside for not leaving the option or the half forwards afraid to succeed. Without a midfield in Laois there was better movement and ball in to the front line. I’d give Reilly another go, it will take a while to get up to the pace/ concentration level.

  28. Declan’s right – it’s still only early February and so it’s far too early to be drawing conclusions about players, especially after a game that was only half played. Could I also ask everyone to refrain from making generalised negative statements about players, e.g. that so-and-so “isn’t good enough”, “isn’t county standard” etc. etc? As I’ve made clear before, it’s okay to critique players’ performances by making reference to specific traits, incidents etc. but it’s not okay to engage in blanket dissing of players without making any attempt to back this up. See house rules on comments (here).

  29. I agree with Declan and Willie Joe.
    I would have been critical of Conor Mortimer at times in the past. However,I watched him carefully this season and I think he still has a lot to offer Mayo. I was watching particularly closely last night as I was sitting just opposite him in the first half. Almost every time he got the ball he got in trouble. He was marked very tight but crucially so were the other forwards and there were very few options open to him when he got the ball – and that is superb Dublin defending. Yes he held onto it quite a bit but I think he had little option and of course it looked bad.
    I think we need to go easy on lads who are doing their best for Mayo.
    You cannot just dump the likes of Alan Dillon until there is someone who is clearly better than him – and I would be delighted if and when that someone comes along.
    What is clear to me is that to unlock a defence like the Dubs you need a big ball winner in front of the goals. This would not allow them to defend so intensely on the 45m line – they would have to cover the square as well. This would thin down the cover further out and might give runners a bit more room to unload a pass or shoot from inside the 45.
    We might also need to employ a ‘go anywhere do anything’ type of approach from the forwards in order to unsettle this defence. Give them awkward problems to solve rather than being fairly predictable like we were last night.
    In any event it was a good learning experience without being too costly!

  30. I wouldn’t say that one player is “clearly better” than another. Every player is unique and has their own style – and it being intercounty level they are all obviously of a very high standard compared to most – I don’t think this is being questioned – nor is the level of commitment that our and pretty much all other county players make year in year out. Serious respect is deserved for these people – because who else would do it?

    The question that I believe is being posed is do certain player’s style’s fit into a system which each of us uniquely perceives as being a system which we feel gives us the best chance of success.

    Now that might sound like gobbledegook, and maybe it is, but I’m sticking to it.

  31. WJ i might have broke the house rules in my general criticism of reilly. To be more specific he seemed to stand off Connolly everytime he won the ball and basically present him with the option of shooting or passing. A full back needs to be fast and aggressive and i dont think he is either. He might be better as a wing back. thought Keegan looked good again. Kevin Keane hadnt the best of debuts but that might have had more to do with the fact that things werent going right around him. On a positive Donie Vaughan hits so hard….yes he can be a little loose but i think his strengths outweigh his weaknesses. Barry did well enough to be fair. Up front, well we looked very disjointed. We seemed incapable of making space for ourselves. this was the most disappointing aspect of it for me. Anyway we got away with and in fairness to Horan he is quick to rectify mistakes….next day out should be interesting.

  32. Dont know why we were so bad. And in reading the comments above nearly all the feedback has been directed at players. But management HAVE to take a fair amount of the blame here as well.

    Playing Dublin is not rocket science. They have not changed their style since last year. And it’s easy to see how they play. First of all they break at speed and try to play a high tempo game. They also slow the play down when the oppostion have the ball and are trying to counter break against them.
    They did that against us as well on Saturday night. Remember the amount of frees that were awarded to us for dragging back in the middle of the park. This is obviously an instruction from the Dublin management to nullify a quick counter from the opposition and allow their defenders to regroup and flood back into place.

    The problem I see is why a strategy to beat this system is not in place. Clearly it was not there on Saturday night. Instead the opposite was in place.

    E.g. when we did have possession on the few number of occasions and had the opportunity to move it quickly up the field – it didn’t happen. Instead we held onto it in the 1/2 fw line and took the exta solorather than the quick drect pass.
    Obvioulsy this is some sort of instruction from the bench (I presume) to hold onto the ball.

    However this clearly was not working and it suited Dublin nicely and allowed them funnel back. Then eventually when they won possesion back they were off again sprinting up the field and kicking the ball long into the FF line who had ample space to move over and back.

    If this is the way we are going to play then we need a sweeper !!

    And Surely this is obvious to the people in charge.

  33. It’s all about the shape of the team rather than individuals in my view.

    Some very good points were made by Samuel Maguire in his post in this regard that I would echo. Dillon and McLoughlin are both fine players but I wonder if both together is counter-productive against the very best. Likewise Mortimer and Varley.

    That was a very lightweight forward line in hindsight and against a very physical Dublin team. James may need to look at the selection policy in this regard.

    For years now we have favoured quick nippy forwards and fast athletic backs. Who was the last genuine ‘hard’ man that was a regular on the Mayo team? I know they don’t grow on trees but this team badly needs a Brady or McMannaman to rattle a few cages.

  34. I disagree with you there Richard.
    Tyrone have plenty of very hard men and this Dublin team annihilated them last year.

    Both Brady and McMenamon were tough fellas but with all due respect neither could kick a ball correctly.

    If you are looking for tougher fellas you need good footballers as well ala Paul Galvin or Tomás O’Shea. And frankly we dont have them.

    I watched the Kerry v Dublin game from the previous week and Kerry dominated Dublin around the middle.
    However on Saturday night Barry Moran did very well in the middle and we won at leat 50% here.

    The difference though was what happened after winning the possession. When Kerry won it they generally got rid of the ball straight away with a quick handpass or a quick 30 yard direct foot pass.

    We however generally went for an individual solo run or a check back and then a solo. The net result was that this allowed the Dublin backs regroup.

    Also this extra wasted time rendered useless any space or runs made by the inside forwards as their men had caught up with them once more.

    Whether we like it or notwhen playing Dublin its going to be a high tempo fast game. We (and management) have to catch up to this fact, and pretty quickly.

  35. I’m in the same boat as ted. My previous comment is just out of pure frustration. Mayo are better than what they showed in the one half of football on Saturday night. It’s just so bloody frustrating that some players just seem to freeze and nerves seem to get the better of them.

    With regard to the Dublin tactics. In the league last year they bombarded us with High balls and scored at will. The football they played on Saturday was a joy to watch. The movement and running off the ball were constant. It was a real lesson for Alot of our boys.

    Some may blame the management but I don’t. There are alot of injuries at the moment and our regulars in the full back line are missing. You can only play with the cards you are dealt with. Bar the Kerry game last year the defence was solid against Galway, ros and cork.

    I’m sure there will be a few changes for the replay and maybe some positional switches. I hope Cafferkey and Andy Moran get over their respective knocks and are fit to start.

  36. Looking at the team on Saturday night we were short only 4 players from what I could see from a full championship team. i.e. Andy M, Tom Cunniffe, Ger caff, and Trevor Mort.

    But the fact remains that at least one of the first 15 might/will get injured.

    We blooded 2 players in the Fb line against a top 4 team and they were roasted. Now roasting a player is all fine and well.
    However torturing a young fella by leaving him on that man when things were going particularly badly for him – well this is just ridiculous.

    What does it do for confidence except shatter it? What will that player think about the next time he might have to play against his opponent (perhaps at championship time) and more than likely not on his own turf but on the Croke park sod (i.e. maybe on their turf !!)

    After what he went through the last time he certainly won’t be looking forward to it.

    So it’s unfair not to cast some blame on the management. A system should have been in place to protect the FB line and clearly it was not or else it was not working properly.

    I will give James Horan every opportunity but this is his second year in charge and after a very successful last year I expect us to be challenging once more for a decent run in the championship.

  37. They switched Reilly off Connolly after he got his 3rd point, which was I believe after about 20 minutes or so – I wouldn’t say he was left on him, but that he was given every chance.

    Is it just me or would anyone else like to see Aidan O’Shea given a go at full forward? I would always say you need a big man inside to win and break ball, but you also need one who has a forwards instinct.

    And what’s this talk about the rematch taking place on a Friday night in Croke Park towards the end of the league?

  38. Going back to your comment John cuffe…now while I agree this time of year should to an extent be used to experiment some thing are clear…freeman is a full forward line player, Barry Moran is a midfielder. Coc should be 13 and Conor should be coming off the bench in my opinion. He is a very frustrating player to watch and is greedy and not a team player. He wants to take every free…I even saw him take one from the middle in port laoise and twice kicked it into where he should be!

    Our full back line is and has been our Achilles! I would worry a lot about it! We were lucky to be a point up against laois and we struggled Saturday! It would have been interesting to see what mayo team came out in the 2nd half but sure…! But mayo of old have a habit of coming out in the 2nd half but that’s often no good especially when teams like Kerry have you dead and buried at half time. I wonder when the replay will be?

  39. It’s difficult to base judgement on only 35 mins of football. The Dubs were certainly operating at a different level than Mayo but all is not lost. There are 7 league matches remaining!

    The flaws are very obvious to supporters – I hope JH & co can see them too.

    In simple terms Mayo are playing too flat and too lateral. The injection of pace and change of direction should always be with the purpose of going forward. The emphasis should be on getting the ball into the final third of the pitch as quickly as possible. However if the halfbacks & MF are under strict instructions to follow these tactics the onus is on the full forward line to make intelligent runs and create a target. The movement from the full forward line in the one and half matches I’ve seen so far has been awful. There’s a lot of criticism of players holding up the ball & checking back but give them a target! Where is the movement? Confuse & frustrate the full backs – run them ragged.

    Contrast this with the Dubs – ball won at half back followed by well-directed pass (low & hard not high & aimless) into the full forward line. Same for their Midfielders – both happy to let their forwards do their thing. Another notable thing was the Dublin forwards first instinct was always to immediately head for goal and/or shoot. This means there’s a higher probability of a score!

    The positive thing is that all of this tactical and can be learned but as I said I’m not sure if JH is seeing what we are.

  40. to be fair i think horan is seeing the problems. the league is about experimentation to. he did the other night and it nearly backfired but he got away with it and will learn am sure of it.

  41. Like last year when James unearthed cillian o Connor, Ritchie feeney, Robert hennelly and others he gave them a chance and they took it. Unfortunately not every player will rise to the occasion and some players will have an off day.

    Horan was right to start kevin Keane as he has been playing well for Sligo IT. Reilly has been in the panel for a good while now and he is being given opportunities. With Cafferkey and Alan feeney injured with a back injury, Trevor mort gone travelling, Cunniffe in college in USA training hard with athletics and other guys in the set up injured Horan can only do much. Of course he will be looking at changing things and be will learning new things about certain players. Management can only do so much. Players who are given the chance have to take it and repay the faith shown. That just doesn’t apply to new guys that have joined up. It should be the attitude throughout the whole squad.

  42. Patriot, I accept that but it’s not about who the players are but how they play (or how they are instructed to play). As Digits pointed out earlier they obviously all possess the skills to make intercounty grade. The issue as I see it is that there isn’t a pattern to their play, no apparent plan . I’m sure Horan has set the team up with tactics but maybe some players panic in the heat of the battle and this goes out the window…..

  43. Quite a lot of negativity over 35 minutes of football in February. We all know what our problems are and what areas we need to improve on. If we know it you can be sure James Horan and the management team know it. No panic.

    Hearing the game will be this Saturday at 2 in Castlebar

  44. Why not play David Clarke at full back,& Robert Hennelly in goal. We don!t have a full back at the moment. Clarke has height, weight, strength, vision & experience!!! Worth a try!!!!!!!

  45. PET I have to say that thought occured to me too! Whether he has the pace and marking ability for FB I really dont know.

  46. desperate means call for desperate measures i suppose. not sure if clarke has pace though but would appear to have all the other attributes.

  47. I guess this would involve dropping Cafferkey altogether, since he doesn’t have the pace for corner back?

  48. Oh right, haha. I was under the impression Ger just had a slight hamstring tear, and since our next fixture is against Armagh on March 3, 4 weeks from the Laois game would surely be enough for that injury to clear up?

  49. i hope anyone who sugests that D.Clarke be tried as a fullback is only joking,I thought I had logged on to the Hogan stand after reading the previous few posts.I cannot believe we are dismissing the prospects of the best minor f.b that I have seen playing for Mayo after 35 min of league football

  50. tom b based on what i saw last sat night anything would be an improvement. Not dismissing Kevin Keane AT ALL!!! Hold out great hopes for him. i was surprised to see Keane hadnt really got much bigger in the last few years since he was a minor though.

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