Mayo 5-11 London 0-10: historic final, disjointed performance

Andy with the Nestor Cup

There was certainly an air of history around McHale Park for much of the afternoon today, with London’s first ever appearance in a Connacht final resulting in the kind of pre-match pageantry you’d normally expect to see on All-Ireland final day. The warm, muggy weather – though it remained mercifully overcast throughout – added to the unreal air surrounding this game, as did the lack of any hint of tension in the 20,000 crowd before hostilities got underway. We all knew that, barring the shock of all shocks, we were going to win this one handily, the only issue of interest seemingly how we were going to do it.

Pre-match pageantry

Well, we did indeed win it but those of us who may have been expecting to see the kind of well-oiled machine that had dismantled Galway and Roscommon were destined to be a bit disappointed. We won by a comprehensive 16-point margin today but we also kicked a bundle of wides (eighteen, according to Kevin McStay on the radio earlier on) and we made countless errors, a number of the comical variety. Moreover, the choices made on the sideline got ever more bizarre as the day went on. And the ref was an utter, utter tool.

What was positive, though, was that we did put the result to bed early on – by my reckoning the game was safe as early as the 15th minute, by which time we were six points to the good. Aidan O’Shea was a storming presence around the middle in that opening period and Alan Freeman was to the fore in the forwards, his goal a trademark #mayogaa_2013 one which arose a result of a smartly executed turnover and which the Aghamore man slid the ball home in the coolest manner possible.

Big Dog claims possession

Even at that stage, however, too much of our play was wayward with Darren Coen among those to kick bad wides early on, the Hollymount/Carramore man registering two particularly poor ones. He redeemed himself in spectacular fashion before the half was over, though, by emphatically smashing home our second goal of the day:

Despite the two goals, the first half progressed in an utterly disjointed way, with Conor Lane’s stupid, Exile-friendly officiating not doing anything to lift the mood. The Cork official was nothing short of a disgrace and the GAA – and in particular that self-satisfied ref’s boss, Pat McEnaney – have serious questions to answer for giving such an incompetent individual charge of a match like this. All day long, he favoured London in the most blatant fashion, repeatedly moving the ball forward for them when he gave them frees while at the same time turning a blind eye to increasing acts of thuggery being perpetrated by the limited but very physical London team.

We needed to lift it after the break but while it was good to see Cillian O’Connor returning to action on the resumption, it was disappointing to see Darren Coen being the man to make way. Darren hadn’t been brilliant in the first half but he did have a goal to his credit at that stage and it would have been good to give him more time to impose himself on proceedings. Andy Moran, Alan Dillon and Richie Feeney had all been anonymous in the first half yet it was the debutant corner-forward who was the first to be withdrawn.

What’s beyond doubt, though, is that Cillian’s introduction pushed our performance up a level and his 3-3 second half haul marked him out as the day’s most prominent player. The first of his hat-trick settled us down after the break, the Ballintubber man bundling the ball into the net from close range following excellent approach work by Aidan O’Shea.

His second came at the end of a flowing move, with Andy offloading to Cillian who checked across before lashing it into the net. The third came the penalty spot for a foul on Tom Cunniffe that was so blatant even the portly ref felt impelled to spread his chubby arms for it. Cillian dispatched the penalty effortlessly:

We may not have been playing at full-tilt in this period but our lead kept inching up and London’s increasingly wayward shooting at the other end graphically illustrated what an uneven contest this was. Were it not for all those charitable frees awarded to them we could well have restricted them to a point or two after the break, so poor they were with the few chances that came their way.

As we continued to pour forward, London’s discipline started to slip still further, with a succession of wild challenges being put in. With the ref reserving cards for only the worst transgressions and letting them away scot-free with a whole load of blatant fouls, there were obvious worries that the day could yet be marked by a serious injury arising from one of the many neolithic challenges that the Exiles put in.

Thankfully, this didn’t come to pass but we did end up with a significant loss through injury when Mickey Conroy – who had come on for Alan Freeman early in the second half – went off with what I heard later was hamstring trouble. As we’d used our five subs by then, this meant that we ended up playing the last ten minutes with fourteen men.

The fact that we had to do so was, of course, all of our own making. As well as Cillian and Mickey, Donal Vaughan (for Richie Feeney, with Keith Higgins bizarrely moved to half-forward), Shane McHale (for Ger Cafferkey) and Enda Varley (for Andy Moran) had all come on before the Davitts man went down injured. It was poor match management on the sideline, no matter how you look at it, for us to find ourselves in the predicament of having to finish the match with fourteen men.

Even though we were a man down in those final moments, we still continued to pour forward but our hopes of creating our own slice of history by surpassing the 20-point winning margin recorded in 1967 evaporated as the game wound down with more wides for us into the Bacon Factory end. It was a relief all round when the ref finally brought the contest to an end. At least he got that call right.

Final score

Performance-wise, we weren’t anything like as sharp as we’d been against both Galway and Roscommon but, in one sense, it’s not all that surprising that was how the day panned out for us. It must have been a hugely difficult game for the lads to prepare for, knowing that they were such overwhelming favourites to prevail and knowing too that however they performed today they were going to get precious little in the way of praise. Just as the Salthill destruction of Galway maybe made us look a bit better than we really are, today’s disjointed victory over London surely made us look worse than our true standing. We’ll find out for sure, I guess, when we hit Croke Park in two weeks time.

In terms of performance, there weren’t many stand-out displays today, aside from Cillian whose 3-3 total certainly showed just how crucial he is for us. Ger Cafferkey, Tom Cunniffe, Lee Keegan and Colm Boyle all did well in the backs, Aidan O’Shea had several good (as well as a few bad) moments at midfield where Sheamie did alright too. Kevin McLoughlin initiated attack after attack in another positive display and along with Alan Freeman and Cillian he was the best of the forwards today. In contrast, neither Alan Dillon or Andy Moran sparked this afternoon and Richie Feeney wasn’t all that hectic either.

Still, regardless of the performance, we need to bear in mind that the lads did what they needed to do today and that – unlike Donegal – they’ve managed to complete a hat-trick of provincial titles. Getting back to Croke Park in August was always the first major objective for us in this year’s championship and this is an objective that has now been successfully completed. Now it’s onto HQ and our next major test, to get past the quarters and move one step closer to the final.

And it’s also the case that we’ve now established complete superiority within Connacht, a position I’ve long felt to be a pre-requisite to becoming a truly serious force at national level. Being provincial top-dogs doesn’t guarantee national success – as Dublin (aside from 2011) have showed – but it does, I think, mean that we can now face into whatever challenges that lie ahead of us with greater confidence in our ability to deliver when it really counts.

So well done, lads, on completing the provincial three-in-a-row and, as Andy said in his post-match speech, let’s hope there’s a big, loud Mayo following at Croke Park on Bank Holiday weekend as we aim to take the next step in this year’s championship.

Mayo: Rob Hennelly; Tom Cunniffe, Ger Cafferkey, Chris Barrett; Lee Keegan (0-2), Keith Higgins, Colm Boyle; Aidan O’Shea, Seamus O’Shea; Kevin McLoughlin (0-2, one free), Alan Dillon, Richie Feeney (0-1); Andy Moran (0-1), Alan Freeman (1-2), Darren Coen (1-0). Subs: Cillian O’Connor (3-3, penalty goal and two frees) for Coen, Michael Conroy for Freeman, Donal Vaughan for Feeney, Shane McHale for Cafferkey, Enda Varley for Moran.

********

Minors with Kilcoyne Cup

Finally, a quick mention for Enda Gilvarry’s minors, who in today’s curtain-raiser ended Roscommon’s dominance at this level and secured the county’s first Kilcoyne Cup success since 2010. We’d intended to get to McHale Park in time for throw-in but as things turned out the second half was already underway – and the lads had the three goals on the board – by the time we got to our seats in the stand. By then, they’d completed most of the heavy lifting and although Roscommon largely dominated the exchanges from then ‘till the end, they weren’t able to translate all that possession into the scores they needed to get back into the game.

A ludicrous penalty award two minutes from time – which the Rossies converted – hauled the defending champions back into contention at the death but we had the final say when Liam Irwin, whose first half goal was apparently one to savour, pointed to close out a deserved three-point victory. Well done to them and the best of luck to them in the quarters.

71 thoughts on “Mayo 5-11 London 0-10: historic final, disjointed performance

  1. and there doesnt appear to be any injuries!! any Cillian is back (3-03), AND the minors won!!! A good day alll round

  2. Shows how important Cillian is to our setup and our chances in August/Sept. Agree that Dillion had a poor game. Is he carrying an injury? looked labored out there.
    Well done to the team overall though…it was a tough one to get up for.

  3. People will be questioning if we can up it for the quarter final and criticising the lack of drive in that performance. But in fairness it must be very hard to play with the intensity that you would hope Mayo can play with when you don’t have 2 guys on you tackling and harassing you. Of course the play will slow down, of course they will take another touch.

    Face it, London were poor. A good club team at best, but some of their agricultural “tackling” infuriated me, as well as the ref’s acceptance of their tactics. We took goal chances but some wayward and half hearted shooting for points worries me in the context of what’s to come in the next few weeks. Not any great number of good performances, Andy Moran and Alan Dillon I thought were poor. Lots of food for thought…

  4. I don’t think I ever saw a worse performance from a ref. Sweet Jesus, did a mayo player have to be killed on the field before we got anything? Pathetic display and whoever was responsible for his appointment has a lot to answer for. Where are these referee assessors? They are probably just as bad. London were disgraceful in their antics but the ref allowed it to go on and it was only by the grace of God that a Mayo player wasn’t seriously injured. Constant 3rd man tackles, late as well, closed fist challenges into the kidneys and several clothes line attempts, and lets not mention the three elbows into Mayo players faces.
    This is an example, Boyle comes out of defense and plays the ball on, gets taken out late and off the ball, ref. plays advantage, the ball is worked down to Freeman who breaks through a 3 man assault to go in on goal and then the ref. blows up for a free in!!!!! As Freeman was going through!!! To make matters worse he didn’t even go back and card the London player that took Boyle out, even though he saw the challenge!!!
    Frustrating day overall but the ref. was pathetic.

  5. Don’t think I ever saw James Horan as animated on the line either.
    Poor decision making and pass execution from the players, some efforts from silly angles – Feeney, Coen etc. – and it all seemed a little rushed at times.
    Anyway, a 15 point win for a 3-in-a-row provincial championship, possibly the worst performance of the season but still in the quarter-finals and there will be a big improvement.
    Well done to all the players and management and also to the minors who steadied the ship just in time to win.
    A good day for Mayo.

  6. Jimmy’s losing matches………enjoyed that last 5 mins. V impressed with Monaghan

  7. Mayo did what had to be done. Dont think we played well in last two connaught finals either but won and played better in croker.
    Horan and players know they have enough to work on and that will focus them. Better than over confidence.
    Monaghan out donegaled donegal. No scores from play from donegal ff line.
    Now wud love to drawdonegal in quarters!!

  8. Mayo game –

    Yes the wides were a disappointment but did notice that some of the attempts were taken when there were no free men available for the pass inside

    Alan Dillon is playing through his injury from now on so we can’t rely on him to run the game as he has done

    They seemed to be in two minds when to go for goals and when to take a point

    Donegal game –

    Well done to Monaghan – compelling game

    Yes, they were cynical but any more so than Donegal the last two years?

    Have yet to see post-match comments from McGuinness but if he moans about Monaghan I’ll choke on my dinner.

    Interesting to see Monaghan funnel the ball backwards rather than lose possession going forwards

    As I and others mentioned here a few weeks ago, look what happens when McFadden and Murphy aren’t given any room. Even so, McFadden kept missing his frees he was that rattled (or maybe the new baby is giving him sleepless nights? we’ve all been there)

    Monaghan could have won by another 4 or 5 at least – poor decision making but they were always on top

    Did we beat them in that challenge game a few weeks ago?

    Definitely did choke on my dinner when Canavan complained about sledging by Monaghan – was he at the 2008 final with the McMahons?

  9. The big news from our point of view now is that we are now on course to meet Monaghan instead of Donegal if we both navigate the quarter finals

  10. Your right Richard, but I got a sneaky feeling we could get Donegal in the Quaters, Its Donegal v Laois next Sat. But who knows Laois only lost in the Quaters by a point to the Mighty Dubs after conceding a very lucky own goal last year

  11. Plenty of food for thought for Horan alright which is probably a good thing. The players know he won’t be happy with today.
    I’m very very worried about Moran and Dillon. Still way off the pace. 2 massive players for us so need them playing well but also can’t afford 2 passengers in Croker.
    Conroy got injured again today . Looked like a calf strain.
    Aidan O Shea was absolutely immense. He has really improved his athleticism.
    Higgins did not look comfortable CHB which was strange as I thought he revel there. He is needed in full back line anyway.
    Hennelly was good and brave but Clarke is a massive influence on the team.
    Overall I’d not get carried away with the poor performance . It was a no win situation and as I said earlier Horan now has ammunition needed to drive them on further.
    As for Donegal……that’s been coming all summer. Only pity is it came when they have a second bite at the cherry.
    Ideally ya would hope they end up on the Dublin Kerry side of the draw.
    I actually think the 1/4 final draw could prove vital.
    The luck of the draw as they say 😉
    Really enjoyed the minor game too .
    Maigh Eo Abu

  12. Great to see Mayo win their three in a row Connaught titles. The London players went in hard and dirty all through the game and got away with it by the ref, lucky we didn’t pick up injuries as a result. Alan Dillion has to be rested he was very poor again today and so slow to pass the ball, we can’t have this from here on he will kill us. There is loads of options on the bench. Cillian O’Connor was brilliant and chased every ball and as a result he nailed
    3-3 in the 35 mins he was on. Pure class.

  13. Well done Mayo!
    Terrible game but what did anyone expect! A bad physical side will always drag it’s opposition down to their level! I was hoping the starting full forward line would produce a bit more apart from Freeman, they didn’t get going! The half forwards were not much better and can be accused of not letting the ball in earlier to the full forwards, not just today but on a regular basis, too keen to see their names in the papers the next day?!?! Sorry for that piece of negativity but hopefully it’ll be something to work on! I have to say Colm Boyle is some man for one man, made of flint and as brave as anything! Did Conroy finish the match or did he have to come off injured after all the subs were used? Onwards and upwards! Hon Mayo!!!

  14. It was actually quiet interesting you could clearly see the game plan was to go for goals .I believe this came from Horan and i can understand why he did this.For me none of my the forwards looked comfortable today.I thought the lads at the back were often loose.It wasn’t until the last 5 mins of the game they were putting in the big challenges.For the next game they have to up the intensity and physicality.Monaghan have nothing to loose and will believe they can win.So we need to step up to the mark if we can beat Monaghan which i am confident we will.
    To be honest the most disappointing aspect for me was there was a lot of afters in the game today with London.I don’t know where it was coming from but i felt it was totally unnecessary.
    So onwards we go.

  15. Mayodub he went off injured with 5 mins to go. All subs used. He looked very unhappy

  16. Great to see us all b——-ing after a sixteen point win in a Connaught final.
    And for a lot of the game watching James Horan was the most entertaining.
    Still plenty of food for motivation.
    It may also have put to bed the goals win matches “stuff” – I agree we were a bit obsessed with it. 3 points equal a goal either will do.
    We did what we had too.
    Showed some good offloading
    Showed some good running lines
    Higgins is a great corner back

    The ref !

  17. Remember it took Mayo extra time to get over London two years ago so i don’t think many should be disappointed with 16 point win in 2nd gear. O’Connor more than ready for AIQFS and speaking of which is it true we can’t draw Cavan as they play london meaning prob Cork,Tyrone,Donegal.

    Some result for Monaghan so much for Donegal v Mayo semi final.

  18. Found this on Hoganstand not sure how accurate it is but this seems how the QF could end up
    ok this is my take on it.

    Tyrone v. Meath Winner Tyrone
    London v. Cavan Winner Cavan
    Donegal v. Laois Winner Donegal
    Cork v. Galway Winner Cork

    QF.

    KERRY V. Tyrone/Cavan/Donegal
    DUBLIN V.any 4
    MAYO V. any 4
    MON. V. Cork/Tyrone/Cavan

    therefore law of averages would say Kerry are more likely to draw Donegal or Tyrone

  19. Well done to both Minors and Seniors, a Connacht double (and treble for seniors).
    The game ? well what had to be achieved was achieved and though we weren’t firing on all four, we still notched up a credible score in a CFC final and though we could and should have scored more and we may bemoan that, just think how the Donnie fans are feeling after scoring only 3pts from 70plus minutes of play.
    We had the ref as well as a very rough London side against us today and we are really lucky to have gotten through without serious injuries ( the ref certainly favored underdogs and failed to give good honest footballers proper protection from a bunch that seemed to suffer from what could only be described as skill envy) Our lads did very well to hold their discipline.
    The gap in ability between the teams was enormous and IMO worked against us as we rarely got out of second gear and the lads found it very hard to deal with the lack of intensity and most of the game was similar to the second halves of the Galway and Roscommon games when we knew we were beyond reach.
    I think we will perform much better against tougher opposition and its better to have this sloppiness raise its head now rather than later, it gives JH and squad something to work on.
    Thought Freeman was excellent and should have been given more ball and as for COC, brilliant, just brilliant…………AoS had it both good and bad as did the rest of the team really.
    Isn’t it a great luxury that we are able to win 3 in a row, not play too well, win by a great margin and only in second gear and to have notched up 9-48 in 3 games.
    Maigh Eo Abu

  20. An Aussie friend of mine said to me one time “ye complain when ye loose ye complain when ye win I think ye just like complaining! “He may have a point.
    Having said that we have a bit of work to do before we go to Croke Park.
    The shooting was very poor today up on 18 wides. A bit like the bad old days.
    A few of the lads weren’t up to it today Andy ain’t the man he used to be Alan looks injured
    Keith looked a bit lost at chb at times.
    I have often seen that we play much worse against poor opposition they seem to drag us down to their level.
    It was a damned if you do and damned if don’t sort

  21. I wouldn’t rule Laois,Meath or even Galway out of it.
    Donegal have a lot to think about and only 6 days to do it.
    Tyrone got past a very poor Kildare whereas Meath pushed Dublin close.
    As for Galway, well they’re winning, have nothing to lose after their recovery from the Salthill slaughtering and all the pressure will be on Cork, this could be another upset. Cavan seems to be the only definite as the game today will have taken its toll on the Londoners and Cavan are on a high after their fantastic game yesterday.

  22. Great results for both mayo teams today plenty for JH and management team to work on. We should not focus on who we would like to get in the QF as we need to be confident of beating all comers if we have serious designs on Sam. Mclaughlin and Cillian were the only forwards up to level required with Freeman almost there. Really poor ref Connacht finals should not be used to guinea pig in experienced refs. WEll done to all involved today but seriously concerned about us having what it takes forward wise to win outright.

  23. The last two years we didn’t set the Connacht championship on fire when winning it reasonably comfortably but improved to destroy Down and shut out Cork in the QF. The Salthill game has probably spoiled us a bit but if we are only at 65-75% winning Connacht then you would expect a performance around 85% in two weeks time.
    Based on today Alan and Andy may be better playing 35 minutes in the QF. Hopefully Dave Clarke will be back. Also think Keith will switch back again to the corner

  24. Am pissed off. Terrible display. What has happened to pride in your jersey. Loads of excuses, all shite. Look at James Horan, he was pissed off.
    Now I await the comments. I am a terrible Mayo supporter, I should be locked up!!!

  25. 16 wides sets alarm bells ringing. I have an awful feeling we will draw Cork. We need to avoid them and Donegal in the quarters. Cavan would be ideal. It would be great if the draw threw up Dublin V Cork and Kerry V Donegal which would keep the 4 of them in the other half of the draw. Leaving us to face the likes of Cavan, Monaghan, Meath, Laois, Tyrone in the next 2 rounds. Either way the wides will need to kept to a handful next time out. Also, no reason why we cant win 4 Connachts in a row now.

  26. Terrible performance.Dillon and Moran not at races.Aidan O Shea very good but even Cafferkey poor.Wides galore…old habits reemerging.
    What evidence is there we can beat any of the big teams.Dont see it. Dillon surely cant get any more match time.Even Moran doubtful.

  27. Lads, the first thing I would do when analysing that game is forget about it and pretend it never happened. You can’t judge top class inter county players when they’re up against a bunch of cloggers as was the case today. It says something when we win Connacht by a combined total of 45 points (surely a record) and people are still complaining.

    Today was similar to the last two Connacht finals in a way. We were brought down somewhat to the standard of far poorer opposition in all three games and underperformed as a result. The two times we got into the wide open spaces of Croker after the last two Connachts we were a totally different team. I expect the same will happen this year. Don’t worry about today.

    Finally the ref. It was clear after a minute what his plan for the day was – to save London from a complete thrashing regardless of anything else. The result was the farce we saw where one team was reffed like a rugby team and the other was reffed like a basketball side. It was a complete joke. If I was a London player I’d rather a hammering than be patronised like they were today by the ref. But instead they took advantage of it and the hits got dirtier once they realised they could get away with almost anything. It was just luck that spared a Mayo player from serious injury. Lane was a disgrace throughout.

  28. Good point Willie joe on coen but maybe his injury was a contributory factor. Not sure about dillon or Moran anymore, maybe impact subs. Who is there to take their place? O’ Connor yes, Mclouhhlin yes, Freeman probably, Coen probably, ANO ???, ANO ???.
    Fill The gaps???

  29. Don’t agree with all the criticism ,to play poorly and win by 16pts is not the end of the world , if we had played out of our skins,we would still have been judged as only having played London………..It must have been very hard for the lads to motivate themselves, leading up to and during this game.
    It also has to be remembered that we scraped a win against Sligo this time last year and went on to challenge for the AI final…………..London put Sligo and Leitrim away this year but in no way on this earth were they ever going to be able to put it up to us …………the gulf that has opened up between us and all the other sides in Connacht is enormous and it’s not our fault but instead its a tribute to all involved in the Mayo set up. ( Galway probably the exception)
    That we seemed complacent today is not too much to worry about but is instead a timely reminder of what concentration is needed for the meetings ahead………………If we are averaging 25pts per game (and I don’t care about the strength of the opposition), its not a bad return…………yes we’re hitting wides but these are the result of poor decisions and snap shots and are easily rectified………….the ball needs to be delivered to those who can and are in a position to score…………..the time for potshots is over now and clinical finishing time is here.
    Don’t be too surprised if Mayo dish out another thrashing along the way to Sept.
    This team has more to it than was on show today.
    MaighEo Abu

  30. Bit of blog feedback: even if the ref is useless, don’t resort to personal insults, it lacks class.

  31. 2010 was the last minor win WJ, beat Galway in a goal fest. Rossies penalty looked clear cut to me from my view point. The early goals was much needed to win that title.

  32. Hard to read where we’re at right now. Was disappointed earlier with the overall performance but then again we did what we had to do. Agree about the ridiculous tackles and am glad that no one lost the head and no red cards.

    Wouldn’t be too harsh on JH either He was frustrated with the decision making from the team (& probably the ref) and rightly so. He also ran his entire bench when the match was over and looked like he was trying to give lads who are on the way back some game time. So was’t surprised he left on Andy. Personally imo Andy actually played well – he did a lot of work off the ball. Plus he knows when to make the run and he doesn’t cough up easy turnovers.

    Finally going forward the players themselves today must know what their individual performances were like. I daresay it will certainly be highlighted to them in training. And w.r.t the 1/4 finals I think people we should start to get behind our team and actually should fear no one. We are now 3 in a row provincial champions and as such we should be the ones to be feared.

  33. Lets hope things can be rectified on the training ground in the next two weeks or our campaign will come to a swift end – if we play like that against Cork/Tyrone/Donegal we’ll be taken apart…

  34. There was a particular London player today who was acting like a drunken thug outside a disco, hitting players after the ball was gone and clenched fist tackles

  35. Probably need to go back to our best performence this year in galway re our shape. Our back are very good and thought cuniffe, lee, barrett and caff were good. At this stage put keith back to cornor back and start coc at cf. Play ff line of dillon, freeman, moran. We need a settled team to progress. Im sure all year this team has focused on quarters. Now we are there. 24 others wont be.
    Huge bonus to see cillian back. What a class act. Freeman getting better all the time.

  36. Hard to know what to make of today’s game:
    Keith Higgins it the best corner back in Ireland. Needs to be put back there without any more messing, not a CHB.

    AOS very frustrating. Wins an unbelievable amount of ball but seemed desperate to score in the second half, taking on silly hail Mary shots. This guy could be the best footballer in Ireland if he improved his decision making on the ball.

    Shot selection poor enough throughout. Coen and mc loughlin particular culprits in first half, we need massive improvement in this area

    Thought Barrett had a great game at corner back, My MOTM. cillian was good too but stupid of tv3 to give him the award when he only came on at half time.

    Dillon looked disinterested, I think he was just going through the motions and avoiding injury, would expect him to pick up his performance big time for the next day, his experience will be invaluable.

    Jason doc and particularly Carolan will be disappointed not to have got a run

    We are in a decent position. Expectations will be dampened after today, but I believe we still have the talent to win Sam. Hoping we get Donegal the next day, we can finish them off and send the messiah packing.

    While the ref was poor and let a lot of bad tackles go, he did disallow a perfectly good London goal too.

  37. Ease off on slating Dillon. He had a poor game by his standards but was one of many to underperform. Only two games ago everyone was lauding his display against Galway! We are talking about last years All Star.

    The team were out of sync today – spilled balls, miscued passes, poor wides, poor decision making – sometimes that happens. Be grateful that this happened against London rather than in the heat of a Croker showdown in August.

    The half back line lacked physical presence without Vaughan. I’d prefer a big man at 6 to hold the line. Experiment completed with Higgins. Leave the All Star in his corner back position and start Vaughan there in the next match.

    They’ll up the ante for the quarters. Cillian is is a crucial cog even if only for his free taking. Critically the team converted 5 out of 7 goal chances. A good return. A positive from today.

  38. Freeman certainly is improving. Lovely movement and execution of that goal. But certainly a few funny things were happening, and maybe as pointed out above it was hard to get motivated for a clinical run-out of the match after a certain point in time…..But what about that burst-through by McLoughlin with absolutely nobody on him and the mad wide that followed !

    For anybody following the Galway V Mayo provincial championships tally, today brought it to 45 : 43 in our favour.

  39. Dunno what the story was taking off Freeman when he’s hardly put a foot wrong last two games-as has been said there were bigger culprits.Hoping Conroy won’t b out as he’s a great outlet in Croke park.Coen had poor wides but could’ve got more time.

    Dunno what Lanes issues were with the London goalie but ignored his time wasting & countless times had a wide open half back when taking kick outs but kicked them to AOS instead!

    Monaghan a scary prospect now in semis

  40. Aussie Exile says it’s hard to know what to make of this match. I say it’s hard to know what to make of some of these comments.

    We seem to be getting upset that we didn’t beat the opposition by 30 points instead of 16? We could have, sure – I’d prefer that they emptied the tank in training in the next 7 days in preparation for a quarter final rather than today.

    Trawl through our match reports from the Spring, and you’ll have seen people time after time suggest dropping Donie Vaughan and playing Keith CHB, myself included. It was a worthwhile experiment, not “messing”.

    Not stupid to give Cillian MoM for a one half performance. For example, in 01 All Ireland Final, Padraig Joyce was putrid in the first half, and won Galway the All Ireland on his own in the 2nd. Putting up 12 points worth in 35 mins along with other clever play is impressive.

    What exactly are people expecting Andy Moran to do? Somersaults and backflips. He played a couple of bad balls and drops a couple of shots short, as did many other players, but he also showed well for the ball, linked the play, used the ball intelligently.

    @45 Comments like if we don’t “improve” then Tyrone or Donegal or Cork will dismantle us are way off the mark. ( Donegal and Cork have already shown themselves to be “dismantled”, not “dismantlers”) You can’t compare what was essentially a challenge match against inferior opposition to the intensity on BH weekend. Players are not robots who can perform at 100% efficiently all the time, they are human. And it’s exactly because they are human that it’s not a big deal that they weren’t “awesome” today. Too much intensity for too long eventually leads to physical and mental fatigue. Donegal is a prime example of this.

    @John Griffin asks what evidence is there that we can beat the big teams? The time to ask that question is at the end of the season, when you have a bit of evidence one way or the other. Sure we haven’t played any big teams in the championship yet this year! You’ll find out then! As an aside, we are a big team. Since JH started we have beaten Cork, Kerry and Dublin in Croke Park.

    @ Jim Flag, why do we need to avoid someone in the quarter finals? We should be looking to perform at our peak then (August/September), which means we should be ready to take on any team then!

    I also wonder why people bother getting sneaky feelings about who we will draw in the quarters. Unless you have a time machine, or know the guy who weights the balls to fix the draws …

    A lot of people also critical of Alan Dillon, and rightly so, he didn’t play well. There was also allusions, presumably, to it during the week here on another article. But time after time he has been written off and come back and played well. 2012, last year’s league campaign, he played very poorly and we were all baying for his head to be dropped. Then he came back with huge performances in Croke Park in August. He played very well against Galway in Salthill this year, without having played any football all spring.

    The time to judge is at the end of the season when all is said and done. Sometimes you have to give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s at the end of the season when there is no doubt.

    People can read too much into 1 match and say something which in a few months time might look a bit silly. For example, I’ll hold my hands up and say that after I saw Cillian O’Connor play CHF for the U21 team last year, I said he shouldn’t play there, he’s better inside. Now I see that CHF is actually his best place.

    The game changes, players change, every match is different. Maybe people who are keen to “nail their colours to a mast” should also consider that they may need to take the nails out against when the colours change.

  41. I thought we were going ahead of Galway today at 45 to their 44. The programme today maintains we are now level at 44?

  42. A win is a win is a win is a 3rd Connacht title in a row. I’d rather us have a decent challenge match next weekend to put us right for the quarters.

    Team for the 1/4s:
    Clarke (If not fit, O’Malley/Hennelly)
    Cunniffe
    Cafferkey
    Higgins
    Keegan
    Vaughan
    Boyle
    SOS
    AOS
    McLoughlin
    O’Connor
    Feeney
    Coen/Conroy
    Freeman
    A Moran

  43. This was always going to be a hard match to get wound up about…..for the final result was never going to be in doubt. As other have said, the players are human, they read the papers, the blogs and see the spread, so its really difficult to put that aside and pretend its a competitive team your playing.
    Despite the lack luster performance, there are a couple of positives. We’ve won a third Connacht title in a row. No small achievement. Shows the consistency of the setup.
    Furthermore, it looks like we came away from this match without any serious injuries. (TBH, I didn’t realize Conroy had come in and therefore was surprised to learn later he had limped off with an apparent hamstring problem!) Considering the rubgy tackles that were put in by many of the London players, its surprising we didnt suffer any more injuries. Also when you consider the nature of those tackles, our lads showed great discipline by not retaliating and getting a needless red.
    This was a match that was never going to excite, yet one we had to play and get through. For sure, Horan wont be pleased with much of the shot selection and wasted opportunities, but he will have two weeks to work on that. I believe that’s more mental preparation than ability.
    As regards who we get in the QF, who cares?, we’ll play who ever is put in front of us….and we shouldn’t be bothered about it. I believe Horan will have them prepared and they will be up for a match in Croke Park, I’ve no doubt about that.

  44. Is a win is a win…..won 3rd c.final in a row. Enjoyed reading all blogs on a v.wet thundery morning comute. Particularly liked Digits comments.

    The lads will play who ever is put infront of them……..after all one can only dance with the men/women in the ballroom.

    Lets judge at then end of the season, until then enjoy watching Mayo do what they do.

    Maigheo Abhu.

  45. we went to croke part the last 2 years without much in the way of form , this year we have three thrashings handed out in connacht.
    personally i want the handiest quarter-final we can get , plenty of time for bigger guns later on.

  46. Very disappointed with the performance they looked out of sorts never saw James so agitated either and with the ref (glad to see that actually) would much prefer if they scored their points Nothing seemed to go right for Kevin Mc Loughlin yesterday either and their passing was terrible a lot to ponder for next 2 weeks … But suppose a win is a win and three in a row is a fantastic achievement need to see them more clinical though.

  47. Forget about yesterday it was a no win situation (except winning the game!).

    The big problem JH has is to pick 6 forwards from the 11 or 12 on the panel – McLoughlin and O’Connor the only proven dead certs to start. Conroy if out is a big loss. A Moran looks like he can’t get his speed of the mark back but hopefully he will.

    Does he go back to the AI Final starting line up with Freeman for Conroy?

  48. There’s absolutely no point in reading anything into performance levels yesterday as the game was never likely to demand more than 50% of what we have and the players all knew that.
    Incidentally from stats in the Connacht history 1902 – 2002 this was not the biggest combined margin in Connacht championship wins. The 1949 title was won by 48 points mainly due to a massive 7 – 10 to 0 – 2 SF win over Sligo. The other scores that year were 2 – 10 to 1 = 9 v Rosc [QF] and 4 – 6 to 0 – 3 v Leitrim in the final. Mayo’s biggest ever win according to these records was 0 – 24 to 0 – 1 v Rosc in the 1921 championship [played Nov 20] but this was apparently overlooked as the championship was not resumed until June 1922 and Mayo beat Roscommon in the final played Mar 25, 1923 [by 1 – 4 to 0 – 1]. The biggest ever match margin was Galway’s 1990 6 – 18 to 0 – 4 win over Sligo. However a little grain of salt is needed over these stats as the 1985 final shows Rosc winning .2 – 11 to Mayo’s 0 – 8. Score correct I think but Mayo were winners. [Dermot Earley’s last final].
    Finally re the minors, a good enough performance but a bit worrying was the way they let Rosc back into it having established a good lead. They got away with this in the SF v Galway as well but if it continues they will pay the penalty. Mainly a mental thing I think and something for management to work on.

  49. Final thought sre yesterday,I think we need Cillian at corner forward for his goal scoring ability, esp. if Conroy is out. Remember his goal v Kerry in 2011 semi final? Jury is out on Alan Dillon and I have no doubts about Donie Vaughan as CHB. If Alan D is not starting my CHF would be Richie Feeney.
    Incidentally what is the story on Barry Moran, not even mentioned in the programme yesterday although listed against Roscommon. If he is not available come August he is a huge loss.

  50. Agree with the man above we do need barry back. I thought sos was very poor yday and I thought his decision making/distribution was shocking and we need bm as an option. Bm is a safer head and has a great footballing brain and we need him to feed quality ball to our forwards. We dont have to carry into the tackle all the time.
    Regarding dillon…lads were saying he was finished in last years league and he had a stormer in the championship so people should remember that as im sure he will be a key player. He has all stars for a reason

  51. We do need to be more clinical come quarters which I’m sure we will be. Ive seen london play before yday and I thought other refs let them away with murder and they were a disgrace to watch with their dirty tactics. Did anyone see them on sky sports news Saturday? Their training involved smothering lads and rugby pads…dont think they were focusing enough on the ball so no surprise with the result

  52. The wide count, shot selection and wayward passing was very concerning. We looked like we had no game plan. To be honest we haven’t played well since Salthill. We were average v Roscommon (rem all those wides in the final 20 mins of that game) and average ytrdy. In saying that the opposition were poor and it is difficult to let concentration and sharpness slip when playing such mediocre teams. But we let it slip too much. I’d be concerned heading up to Croker..against any team.

    Ppl assumed A Moran wud rediscover his pre-injury form..he still needs time and his leadership/doggedness is required. Dillon isn’t in good form but the reality is him at 70% is probably better than what’s out there. We simply don’t have a super attack and fellas like coen, carolan etc haven’t set the work alight as of yet! As said on previous messages if we have any hope if progressing we MUST have Cillian, Andy and mickeyC playing and on form!

    Defence were a bit off their game too ytrdy.

    Lots to work on heading to the QF’s. we shud fear no one but in no way whatsoever underestimate any team. I’m long enough following Mayo seeing us travel to games expecting us to win and fall flat. There’s a huge difference between self confidence and arrogance!

  53. Congrats to seniors and minors. The latter as usual dont know how to close-out a match and almost gifted it to the Rossies but scraped an accidental win – as I keep saying there is only one ball so keep it. The nonsense prevalent in GAA circles of always pursuing more scores and in the process giving the ball to the opposition is pathetic.(Monaghan was a good example of that yesterday – their team unwittingly kept trying to rescue their opponents) Its high time for Mayo teams to wise-up and win dirty – by doing so you plan to win, rather than accidentally winning. The former is a template that can be repeated while the latter is hit-and-miss

  54. A lot of very good comments. One thing that worries me. Crap yesterday, excuse-bad opposition. Crap second half against Galway and Roscommon, what excuses?? That’s three Championship matches that Mayo were guilty of “What the hell is going on “?

  55. There’s no excuse for poor passing and poor shooting against poor opposition. This team is simply not good enough to achieve their ultimate goal. You wouldn’t see the Genuine AI contender’s like Dublin, Kerry or Cork be so wasteful against same opposition.

  56. JJ – You’re missing the point. If you don’t get it, good luck to you.They haven’t won anything yet. The Connacht final against London!!!
    I would love to have my fears proven wrong. 45 says it all.

  57. 45…lots of don’t like to hear critical opinion but I must say the overwhelming mood coming out of McHale Pk on Sunday was fairly subdued and I think many would agree with the points u make. After such an easy run to a Final last year Mayo have been touted as potential All Ireland winners…but the truth is our form this year has been inconsistent. I’m not sure we can read into league but we took our time beating a 2nd string Kerry side; comfortably beaten by Dublin; lost at home to tyrone; threw away lead v kildare at home having been totally dominant in first half…beat Donegal in a game we were always gonna be much more ‘up for’ and beat Cork away by a point playing a side that really had nothing to play for… Then well taken care of by dub where our defence was opened up. Destroyed Galway who were naive in their set up( but won’t ever be again playing us!!)..did enough against a ros side who threw in the towel once AOS scored a point in the 36th min despite having dominated possession for much of the opening half where a better team wud have punished us… Then we went on kick a heap of woeful wides in the final 20 mins. Then London where our passing was poor, shot selection poor and shooting poor. So we really have lots to improve on…consistency wins All Ireland’s… Erratic form won’t. The favourites must be Dublin right now. We r in the mix but its gonna have to take a significant improvement in sharpness, application and ruthlessness. Including lady year we have had one significant victory and that was against a jaded Dublin side who underestimated us but al pat caught us and have since made up for that day with two wins in Croke Pk in 2013. Apart from the rest of the teams we have beaten have been very average sides. We got to a final last year by the easiest possible route… This time will be much more difficult. Can we live up to the billing as ‘real’ contenders??? Like everyone is saying…only time will tell but lack of competitive action and inconsistent form has to be a concern. Lets hope we can do it. God knows we all want it!!!!

  58. I agree with Mayonaze that we will not get it as easy this year as we had it last year. Several other teams are now up to the mark in terms of intensity of performance, etc. I do think that Mayo have stepped it up somewhat since last year and we have developed a certain ruthless
    combative streak to our bow now. It was difficult to get to that level against London on Sunday but I was dissappointed that we didn’t try to hone our score getting skills much more than we did. Down the years, Mayo have always got their share of ball in Croke Park but it is what we do with it that we need to perfect. We need to see players fighting for places on the team the next day and being picked on form as a result. On that basis I cannot see Alan Dillon being picked and even Andy Moran struggled somewhat to get into his stride. Perhaps they are not fully fit yet and may be in better shape in 2 weeks time. But can we afford to do that, hope that players will be better the next day out. We need to be ruthless ourselves in terms of preparation for the next day out as well as in the performance on the pitch. Apart from Cillian O’Connor, our subs didn’t seem to make any impact on the match. I was baffled to see Keith Higgins playing up in the forwards in the second half as I cannot see any benefit in that ploy. I thought Aiden O’Shea had a superb game throughout and was instrumental in getting Mayo into a winning vein from the off. Roll on the QFs and we stand a good chance of winning against any of the teams left at the stage.

  59. Joe Mc, does the 3 in a row count for nothing then?
    We should be thankful to those lads and management for the many hours of enjoyment they have given us and it is us that should feel privileged for having them represent us and our county.
    They are amateur sports people who dedicate a huge part of their lives to attain the level they get to so they can give it their best when the occasion arises and so far over the last 3 years they have WON 3 Nestor cups and went a long way in the championship beating the holders of the AI on 2 occasions, giving those of us that are supporters (def :those who are in favor of and encourage) a great lift along the way.

    Since Sunday last we have had people baying for an end to Alan Dillon’s career and a slating of Darren Coen and others who went to play football and became the victims of thuggery, yet, they took the knees to the head and groin and the clinched fists to the neck manly and every one to a man managed to hold their discipline and continue to play football even when it seemed the referee advocated the London tactics .
    Yes we were off the mark but we did what was necessary and won and are somehow ‘still under the radar’ ( which some will be thankful for).
    There are probably 3 men in Mayo today that are entitled to make the comment ‘We have won nothing yet’ and they are holders of a Celtic Cross.
    The side today have managed to get 3 in a row CFC’s and what a delight for those who remember the 70’s when we couldn’t win 1 in the decade.
    We can be, as defined above ‘supporters’ or we can (if in a position to) be critics, def: Be in judgement of and fault find.
    This side and management is going a long way, will fear or bow to no one or worry of who is next. Think its time the others worried about us for a change………and they are and they will.
    MaighEo Abu

  60. JJ – I’m looking forward to the huge matches ahead. That’s what I am talking about. I am hoping for a Mayo team to bring home Sam. Mayo have been winning matches for the last 60 years but no Sam. Donegal last year were clinical in every match and the only match important in Kerry is the All Ireland.
    The Kerry supporters would tear their team to pieces for the kind of lack-lustre performances a very talented Mayo team are producing. All this business of thanking them for the enjoyment is a little naive. This is sport and the end game is to win not to entertain.
    I am not finding fault for the sake of it; I am telling it as it is. Look at the blogs from Mayonaze and Everhopeful just gone. I’m saying the same things, maybe not as well put.

  61. Joe- From my way of thinking, we are in a good place, we have 3in a row , are fresh and ready to take on any side.
    If you are one of the Celtic Cross holders, then I bow to your calling me naive, if not then you’re just another with a differing opinion than me and we will just have to wait and see

  62. JJ- Sorry, am not calling you naive. It’s the comment I’m talking about. Don’t understand the Celtic Cross holder, maybe I’m a bit thick.
    In all honesty I’m not saying you are wrong and I’m right because at the end of the day, I don’t know. The signs bother me.
    One lack-lustre performance wouldn’t be a big deal but a few of them are a worry. Remember also, James Horan was doing his nut on the sideline and he commented on the Galway and Roscommon matches as well. Now he is the Manager and if he thinks that, how wrong am I? Anyway, we all want to win on Sunday.

  63. I think theres to much negativity out there lads, we just about got over the line in the previous 2 conn. finals against the sheepstealers and the magpies, this year we beat easy what was put in front of us and could easily have won any of the 3 games by another 10 pts in each of those games. Now there is improvement to be made and i,m sure there will be as the oppos. gets tougher….Dont agree at all with some lads hoping we dont get this 1 and that 1, bring em i say be it cork , the dunnys , who ever….. fu… em all , bring it on….Were ready for this….C,mon Chontae Mhuigheo.

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