Mayo Football Podcast bonus column: Forward planning can define this season

This week’s Mayo Football Podcast bonus column for club members on Patreon focuses on the options facing Kevin McStay and his management team where it comes to Mayo’s forward options this year.

Edwin McGreal looks at how things are shaping up so far in the forward department and he discusses the players who may have key roles to play up top in 2024. Ed also runs the rule over the tactics we’re using in attack so far this year and considers when risk-taking may be worth it, in light of the rewards on offer.

This bonus column is now online and is available to our club members on Patreon – it’s HERE. To get access to this column and to all our other great content for as little as €1 per week, join the club HERE.

11 thoughts on “Mayo Football Podcast bonus column: Forward planning can define this season

  1. Not buying Eds Aidan O’Shea late into the squad excuse.
    Aidans return from play at Full Forward since Kerry game last year

    2023 Championship
    Kerry No Score from play 2 marks and a free
    Louth No Score from play , 4 frees
    Cork No Score
    Galway No Score
    Dublin No Score from play , 1 free

    2024 League
    Galway No Score
    Dublin No Score

    A total of 0 points from our full forward in our 7 last games.
    Cillian needs to start at FF and get a few full 70 minute games into him as Colm Boyle said on Off the Ball last night if we have any chance of reaching the later stages in championship this season.McStay has got this wrong as he proved by taking him off against Dublin last summer.repeating the same mistakes.

  2. There is nothing to learn by playing Aidan this weekend. Why not try a ff line of Paul Towey, Tommy and ROD and get fast ball in with plenty of movement by the lads inside.
    Or try someone like Bob Tuohy at ff and drop some ball into him.
    We have a free shot on Saturday night. McStay knows at this stage what Aidan can do and his limitations. Let’s try something different on Saturday night and who knows it might just work.

  3. Mayos best football since the 2017 All Ireland Final was the the last 15 minutes plus extra time against Dublin in the 21 Semi Final after Aidan was subbed off.He was Full Forward for both the Dublin and Tyrone games that year and yet scored nothing.I have nothing against Aidan , great servant and could do still a job at 11 maybe or coming on as sub midfielder.Hes just not quick and mobile enough to be an effective full forward at the top level like Donaghy or Liston.
    The Full forward line has to be ROD , Cillian and Tommy Conroy from now on.

  4. I seem to remember McBrien playing a super one two with Aido before scoring an excellent goal v Galway in Salthill last year. Lovely quick hands by O Shea. Lovely goal. Lovely result as we won by a point. He may not have scored it but was instrumental in its execution. Not a natural full forward yes, but a handful for most full backs. Come to think of it Tommy C is not a natural inside forward either. His strength is running at pace at a defence from deep. Yes Cillian is or at least was more comfortable in full forward line and I hope we see him start there on Saturday night.

  5. Id love to see Diarmuid tried at full forward for a game or two, he was in there for a while for a game during the club championship in 2022 and caused havoc.

    Have Himself and Tommy interchanging between Full Forward and Half Forward line during the game.

  6. Claremorris posters, do ye remember Tomas Griffin yere inside line player and underage sprinter. In my view our non selection and usage of him just showed how our whole football culture doesn’t get inside line play.
    No way to prove it (although I once did trawl his scores from play in available games data and it was consistent) but he’s the kind of player we keep on dropping the ball on.
    Kevin Keane Swinford, absolutely class, built like a gymnast, no, we didn’t even know he existed till he was no longer playing.
    The inside line is the game. That is where the real difference makers are. We’re too casual identifying and bringing through those that we get. We’re okay with clubs or county moving such lads back as wingbacks. We’ll always have a plethora of players for wingback.
    We need to be more rigorous on talent identification for inside line players. We’re two generations dropping the ball on this line of the field.

  7. I wouldn’t rule out further experimentation with O’Shea at 14, but, I think to get the best out of him and to play to his strengths, it would involve him being a “pivot” in our attack as opposed to being a scoring forward (which he clearly isn’t). O’Shea has many strengths to his game that none of our other forwards have, while at the same time, has weaknesses that could hinder our attack. For example, O’Shea is not going to take his marker on, drop the shoulder, and breeze past him on the run like O’Donohue. Nor is he going to get shots off quickly in tight situations like Conroy. So using him in these roles, as a conventional forward so to speak, will not work. You’ll get nothing out of O’Shea in these roles, your attack will break down and then we will be counter attacked against.
    But playing to his strengths and structuring your attack around those strengths will make it very difficult to the opposing defence. For example, O’Shea has great handling – his ability to move the ball swiftly off either hand – and his link up play can be worked on to make sure we have runners coming off his shoulder, at angled runs, ready to receive those little popped passess. McBriens goal v Galway last year is a prime example, O’Sheas body positioning and reverse popped pass to McBrien on the run opened up the channel for the goal. Without O’Shea there, that goal is never scored. Also, you have to consider that if O’Shea is inside he is going to be man marked or maybe even double marked. That alone frees up space elsewhere in our attack, even if you never use him. Plus, his ability to win ball, take hits and still retain the ball is unique to the point that if we can supply winnable ball inside to him it will almost certainly stick. It’s up to the runners to be there to feed off him then.
    Granted, it’s not a tactic that will work for the entire 70 mins of a game but it is a real and viable option. And we need options to be able to switch the play and keep opposing defenses guessing. We need to be smarter in how we use him too. Really, we should be getting two or three scored marks per game off him but the ball into him is often inaccurate.
    Plenty of work to be done but the end result is worth working for.

  8. Think the criticism of AoS is a bit ott, he’s a baller, for the first time in a long time his hands let him down vs Dublin last time out. Looking forward to this weekend. One of those that could go 3 ways, they batter us, we smash them or it’s a bit of a damp squid. Hoping Kerry go man to man and we have a proper game

  9. Forgot to say, great article Edwin, enjoyed that, read a lot of GAA stuff most nowhere near as informative as that, gg

  10. I get your argument there Pebble but the role you are describing for AOS there is the very definition of a luxury player. We can’t afford that kind of indulgence, none of the other serious contenders would.

    If its going to be accepted that he won’t be scoring (which seems crazy to me as an inside forward) then we need to be seeing far far more from him then the occasional good handpass or turnover.

    The stats achill75 lays out are pretty stark.
    I think if it’s s choice between the 2 as it appears to be then it’s Cillian at ff all day long for me, he will give you all those things, workrate, tackling etc and he knows where the posts are.

    We know when it gets to the big games incroker Aidan at ff just won’t work, (theres a mountain of evidence supporting that) so why build the entire forward line around it again in the league.

    Thats not to say there still isn’t a role for him, would be a great man to bring on with 20 mins to go if protecting a lead to tackle and press and help close up central channels

  11. A bit unfair not to include assists and other contributions, completed passes, turnovers etc in analysis of AOS. Aidan is not a Kieran Donaghy, though he did manage to mark him out of it on one occasion

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