Mayo canter to FBD three-in-a-row

A freezing cold night in January: what’s a man to do but toss a few more logs on the fire, flop down on the couch and follow the action on Twitter? U8 club commitments up here early tomorrow morning kept me away from this one but as is now the norm with Mayo GAA matches, the constant stream of tweets meant that it was very easy to keep up with the action at McHale Park this evening. To make things even better, PJ lobbed a few photos in my direction too, including this one of Alan Dillon hoisting aloft our first silverware of 2012.

Tonight’s ten-point victory over NUIG can safely be filed away as a facile one because it sounded like it was a match we were in control of pretty much from the throw-in. Once we got our noses in front after ten minutes or so we quickly took control and we were well on our way to victory by half-time. In our previous two FBD matches this year, we’d taken the foot off the gas in the second half but this didn’t happen tonight as we pushed on to claim our third FBD title in a row by a comfortable double-digit margin.

Shane Moran opened the scoring for NUIG with a fisted point but two frees from Alan Freeman edged us in front. @ColmGannon and @Jonathan_OBoyle were both in agreement that we were denied a clearcut penalty by ref Michael Duffy when Alan Dillon was hauled down in the square but Alan Freeman was again on the mark soon after, this time from play, to put us two clear.

Neil Douglas, in the NUIG colours tonight, scored against his countymen before Andy Moran got his first of the night from play. Straight from the resultant kick-out Andy banged over his second and with twenty minutes on the clock Conor Mortimer got his first to stretch our lead to four. Conor added a second soon after and now the gap between the teams was really beginning to open up.

NUIG made their first switch at this point with one of their Mayo lads, David Gavin, coming off to be replaced by another, Ronan Rochford. Fiachra Deasmhunaigh got their third point soon after but Andy Moran had the last say before the short whistle when he finished an attack up through the middle with his third point of the evening to leave us 0-8 to 0-3 in front at half-time.

Like they did in the first half, NUIG got the scoreboard moving first after the break with Fiachra Deasmhunaigh scoring his second point of the evening.  We then made our first substitutions of the evening, a double one at that with Seamus O’Shea replacing kid brother Aidan (this is becoming a family habit – he came on for young Conor against GMIT a few weeks back) while Cillian O’Connor made his first appearance in a Mayo jersey since becoming the 2011 Young Player of the Year when he replaced Andy.

Conor then got our first point of the second half, a score immediately added to by Barry Moran and then Kevin McLoughlin weighed in with his first of the evening (first of the year, in fact) to stretch our lead to seven. Another Conor free followed and now it began to look all too easy.

The bench emptying continued with Eoghan Reilly and Colm Boyle coming on in place of Ger Cafferkey and Richie Feeney. The scoring continued too, with Alan Dillon being hauled down and Conor obliging from the free to notch his fifth point of the evening with ten to go.

Alan Freeman – who had enjoyed a successful evening – then gave way to young Evan Regan but shortly afterwards it was Evan’s Ballina teammate David Clarke, who’d had a very quiet time of it up till then, who had to move smartly to pull off a point-blank save from a quickly taken NUIG free.

The game then petered out rather tamely with only one more score, a point from the impressive Lee Keegan to seal an emphatic ten-point win and the county’s third FBD title on the trot.

Kevin McLoughlin was named Man of the Match tonight, an accolade that PJ reckoned was well deserved especially in light of his second half performance. PJ was also impressed with the performances put in by the likes of  Alan Freeman, Andy Moran, Conor Mortimer and Lee Keegan.

He was far less impressed with NUIG, though, whom he said were very poor (that wasn’t the term he used but I’m in a charitable mood and so won’t repeat it here). It seems an obvious observation to make that John Maughan’s charges must have been somewhat preoccupied by their forthcoming Sigerson campaign, though they’ll need to perform far better in that tournament or else they won’t feature for too long in it.

It’s hard to know what this success means for how we’ll fare out when things get serious later on this year. It’s our third FBD title on the spin but how things panned out so very differently for us in 2010 and 2011 shows that there’s little point in trying to read anything about how we’ll do this year as a result of this latest successful pre-season campaign. The trip to New York next October is obviously nice to have in the bag at this stage but I’d say most people leaving McHale Park this evening would have been thinking less about that junket and more about all the serious football that lies ahead before the boarding passes for the flight to JFK are handed out in the back-end of the year.

Mayo: David Clarke; Keith Higgins, Ger Cafferkey, Lee Keegan (0-1); Peadar Gardiner, Donal Vaughan, Richie Feeney; Barry Moran (0-1), Aidan O’Shea; Kevin McLoughlin (0-1), Alan Dillon, Pat Harte; Alan Freeman (0-3, two frees), Andy Moran (0-3), Conor Mortimer (0-5, four frees). Subs: Seamus O’Shea for Aidan O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor for Andy Moran, Eoghan Reilly for Cafferkey, Colm Boyle for Feeney, Evan Regan for Freeman.

25 thoughts on “Mayo canter to FBD three-in-a-row

  1. I seen a lot colder nights than tonight, NUIG had one eye on Tuesdays game but a good work out for our lads none the less.

  2. Tonight sounds like a good win for the team and keeps momentum going. It will be interesting to see what sort of chopping and changing goes on in the league. Laois would be one of the games that James would be targetting you’d imagine.

    By the way, you would have got good odds in Paddy Powers in June 2010, if you bet that 12 of the 15 that started that last game of Johnno’s reign against Longford would also start and win the 2012 FBD final.

  3. Not sure what was going on with NUIG. Were we that much better or were they just a disinterested bunch? Perhaps a bit of both I suppose. No matter. A trip to the States is in order later in the year…WJ hope you can make it over this time – you can buy me the pint(s) you owe me! 🙂

    Now then, onto the League and a bit more competition for the lads. I don’t expect much problem with Laois…will be interesting the selections. I’m beginning to think Horan has his mind pretty well made up on the core of the team. Fringe players may come and go over the course of the next few months. Roll on.

  4. Euro 15 for an Connacht League final. Euro 13 for a double header in early Feb in Croke Park Dublin/Kerry/Kildare/Tyrone….yep that seems about right.

    I travel in on the brand new train we got here , runs every twenty minutes. Get off at Drumcondra, walk down to Croker, have a pint after, walk to train,20 minutes later walk five minutes back to house once back in the Meath border town.

    Meanwhile you lot wait for the Western corridor to be laid down, wait for the road to be finished between Ballina and Foxford, the humps ironed out on the Corrick to Castlebar bog road. Wait wait and wait.

    Jeez folks if you think that fair then I am getting something worse than dementia. What did you get for the two Euro extra in Castlebar. Hate to be a wet sack all my life but hey… that’s what this nation has done to me. Who can I sue????

  5. The extra two Euro, John was for the air-conditioning in the new stand! ! They had it turned on fully last night! On a more serious note I was at the match – during the course of the game James tried 4 midfielders A O’Shea, B Moran, P Harte and S O’Shea – very little clean fetching from any of those but Seamus O’Shea was the most impressive on view. Big Barry and Aidan seem to do too much fumbling with the ball and often cough up possession while Seamus doesn’t give it away so easily. The half-forward line did not pose much of an attacking threat – – while I have been an admirer of Alan Dillon over the years – he is a good grafter and link-man- – I would think he is under pressure to retain his place for the forthcoming campaign. We need a strong centre forward who can break a tackle, drive forward and take a point from 30 or 40 yards out. Andy won practically every ball that came his way in the first half – he and Donie Vaughan must be strong contenders for the captaincy. Elsewhere Lee Keegan put down a marker for inclusion in the defence with a good robust performance and he finished it off with the best point of the night. The work of the new trainer must also be paying off – – Aidan O’Shea seems to have lost a good few pounds – – looks lean and trim and more mobile. Due to the quality of the opposition it would be difficult to gauge much from this performance – – we will learn more after a couple of League matches but for now it is work in progress – – onwards and upwards.

  6. “Euro 15 for an Connacht League final. Euro 13 for a double header in early Feb in Croke Park Dublin/Kerry/Kildare/Tyrone….yep that seems about right.”

    What to expect when you have to pay off the Mchale park debt i guess 🙁

  7. I thought last night’s game was under the auspices of the Connacht Council, not the Mayo County Board?? Regarding Dillon retaining the captaincy, maybe I am over-critical of him here, but when the chips were down last August against Kerry was it just me who thought he drifted out of the game somewhat. It’s hard to know what to make of these few games in January. I suppose it’s nice to the 3 in a row in the FBD, but next weekend is where the season officially starts as far as I’m concerned.

  8. To be fair to Lee Keegan, any time he has played, he has put in good solid performances. Will be interesting to see whether many of the new faces from the FBD start either of the first two league matches.

  9. Very interesting point Richard about the 12 out of 15 who started against Longford. I am amazed at that. I had the feeling that JH had made major changes but it seems not. That evening in 2010 I thought there was little future for some of those lads. All I can say football is a funny auld game.
    Anyway its great to be back in action again and roll on Portlaoise! I have a feeling if we could settle our midfield we would be in with a real shout.
    Great to see Andy Moran back in action after his broken leg. I didnt think we would see him back that soon.
    Any sign of Tom Cuniffe?

  10. Well done mayo, I will have the flag ready for October. Nice to see mort and Moran (Andy) back and eager.

  11. SEMI-FINAL: Cork 5-15 Mayo 0-10 (Croke Park, 15/8/1993). MAYO: K Cahill, D Flanagan; A McGarry, P Holmes, L McHale (0-2), K O’Neill (0-5, three frees), , R Dempsey (0-1), PJ Loftus. Subs: R Golding (0-1) for Flanagan, A Finnerty for Loftus, P Brogan (0-1) for Maher.

    Richard/Diehard : Courtesy of Willie Joes archive the above came within a bounce of a ball of winning an All Ireland three years later. Its a funny old game alright.

  12. I left in Brogan for a few reasons even though he did not make ’96, also missing is Staunton. Folks the talent is always in Mayo.Please lets us it right.

  13. yes john but we always come up short.i was at the 3 FBDgames and we have still got the same old problems . first our midfield is a problem and will be our downfall.we need a complete shirt from tat department next weekend. second we need our half forwards to get on the score board more often . the’re playing to deep as a unit. and some players are slowing the game down when they get on the ball.when we move it off shoulder we are most dangerous. wats the story wit so many players taking the ball into the tackle. tats school boy stuff

  14. I was in Armagh for a weekend a few years ago and went to the leasure center in the hotel with the young ones the first evening.
    There was a state of the art gym beside the pool that was full of huge men.
    I was going around a corner to get to the sauna and there in front of me was a brick shithouse in the form of Kieran McGeeney.I immediatly shook his hand and told him he was credit to the game of Gaelic football for his dedication, and that it was an honour to shake his hand (I get a bit carried away any time I run into a legend of Gaelic football!).
    I went on to tell him that I was from Mayo and that I didn!t know if we would ever win the All Ireland.
    Then he said something to me that I`ll never forget.He said “We thought we`d never win it ”
    Armagh won the All Ireland with more or less the same panel of players that they had the year or two before with a couple of young lads thrown in.

    We`re not that far behind the big boys with the panel we have now.If James Horan and his wise men can blend a team from the pick they have now we will be very close this year, and if we get that vital ingredient of a bit of luck along the way well you`d never know…

  15. Thought I’d join this revolution in what is a fantastic website for Mayo GAA followers. Well done WJ, Keep up the good work.
    I’ve being reading all your blogs now for sometime and it never fails to fascinate me how much that we are a football crazy county. The difference in opinion and some mild conflict in debate is all good if you ask me. It really shows the true passion of how much this generation of supporters would love to see the green and red capture that illusive All Ireland at senior level.

    Enough on that…
    I to, attended all games in FBD league this year. My initial thoughts and concerns to date would be our midfield. The pairing and combination of the personal that wear 8 & 9 worrys me. A game in which we completely dominated Friday evening, still didn’t allow A O Shea and B Moran to shine. Infact sub S O Shea contributed more in 20 mins than the mentioned pair did between them. I’m sure I heard the name Mcgarrity whispered a handful of times in the aftermath. Harte and S O Shea would be the strongest pairing to date but when the sod becomes hard and dry in a few months those worries will probably reignite again.

    Other than that, L Keegan looks like he could fill a corner back slot (badly needed), strong performances so far. Would love to see Higgins and himself do the 100 metres.
    Up front there are great options, we’ll have strong replacements in this department for whoever’s not producing the goods. One note on that; Dillon is far more valuable at 12 or 10 in my opinion, creativity and accuracy is what makes him a strong asset. He just lacks that half yard of pace for the 40. What is required is someone who can win dirty ball and break the hardest of tackles while on the run. I’m sure Horan will be addressing this in NL.

  16. Good stuff lads. Very interesting comments. its grt to hear from lads who have seen the early games and see what is going on.
    I agree midfield is not set yet. We are living on breaks to get possession. All the new lads seem to be fit, slim and small. Need a few lads like kirby, coen and o shea ( youngest ) to throw a few shapes.
    We seem to have loads of forwards ( all the same size )at the min but need a unit that gels.
    Keegan, Reilly and Boyle are gud hardy nails. Just what we need in the backs.
    And grt to see Clarke back, also taking 45s.
    All in all we are in gud shape. Expect a good league from the boys. its two seasons in one this year. We can afford to go all out in the league and reset for the c/ship. Important to peak in August/sept.

  17. we need ta win a national league title.In the pass decade 5 winners and 2 beaten finalists of the national league won the all ireland in the same calender year. also the last 3 sam winners won an u21 title the previous year. These are important facts and can’t be over looked.But at the moment our scoring averages from play from our forwards are not good enough to win any of these titles.

  18. “Euro 15 for an Connacht League final. Euro 13 for a double header in early Feb in Croke Park Dublin/Kerry/Kildare/Tyrone….yep that seems about right.

    I travel in on the brand new train we got here , runs every twenty minutes. Get off at Drumcondra, walk down to Croker, have a pint after, walk to train,20 minutes later walk five minutes back to house once back in the Meath border town.

    Meanwhile you lot wait for the Western corridor to be laid down, wait for the road to be finished between Ballina and Foxford, the humps ironed out on the Corrick to Castlebar bog road. Wait wait and wait.

    Jeez folks if you think that fair then I am getting something worse than dementia. What did you get for the two Euro extra in Castlebar. Hate to be a wet sack all my life but hey… that’s what this nation has done to me. Who can I sue????”


    Do you specialise in being Mr Negativity.

  19. No I dont….I actually look forward to writing something positive….when it happens. However if the people of the west are happy with shite roads, pot holes, poor train services and paying more for one match than the rest do for two….feel free to be positive, it comes at no extra charge. Meanwhile six decades of paying taxes, being rode by various chancers and spoofers gives me the perfect right to moan and crib. Give me positive and you Sli Nua wont have to listen to me at all. Fair deal?

  20. some great comments on here , welcome aboard mayo mad, you certainly live up to your moniker by attending all the FBD games.

    PJ that is a great insight into the Armagh lads, i agree that we are not far behind, , sure everyone knows kildare only have to turn up to collect sam this year, we might be lucky enough to lose to them 😉

  21. 15 euro too dear for one game this time of year,
    Great to see David clarke’s physical presence in goals.
    Seamus O Shea at last seems to have trimmed down and hopefully will now be able to last a full game at full steam.
    Andy Moran is an intilligent footballer and full forward seems to be his best position, with his two feet, quick hands and vision ( he is not a selfish player) he shows well for the ball and protects it well. All in all, he will be a handfull for most full backs.
    I see Conor Mortimer is passing the ball now and this is a change for him.He is a trickey player, able to score when close to goals. I still picture him in Croake Parke lying down looking for frees, hope this aspect of his game is gone.
    Lee Keegan reminds me of Keith Higgins , he is nippy and attacks the ball, the best way to defend is to get to the ball first and Lee seems to have this motto.
    Donal Vaughan has the making of another James Nallen, he seems to be improving all the time.
    We now have a great panel of players, unusually free scoring forwards and hopefully James Horan will get the best combination playing fast attacking football.

  22. Great stats WJ. Would love if we had some informal way of keeping additional stats for the league, I’m sure a few of us wouldn’t mind chipping in. For example, I would love to see a stat such as how many points from play scored from over 30 yards out – in this day and age you won’t be able to win anything unless you can boom them over from there.

  23. I agree with the comments about midfield – it is far from settled. Was watching the programme about Dara O Sé on TG4 and was thinking to myself that you really do need one outstanding midfielder to win an All Ireland. Or at least if you have one it makes it a hell of a lot easier.
    If you dont have one then you have to do like Tyrone and have a different style of midfield play – a crowd of hard working dogs who make life a misery for everyone!
    We need to decide soon which way we go.
    That said – its only January and it can be hard for big framed players like the O Sheas and Barry Moran this time of year when the heavy training is full steam ahead and they can look tired in games. For some reason or other it takes these kind of players longer to recover. This might all change come summer. Having seen all the games so far I wouldnt be making too many judgements based on FBD.

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