Mayo Football Podcast episode: some second thoughts on Saturday

Mayo’s first home league win over Dublin for 12 years has given us plenty of food for thought.

So Stephen Drake and Michael Foley of the Sunday Times join Rob to reflect on the match, Mayo’s performance and some of the main talking points.

They look at Mayo’s defence and attack in the first two league games and try to put some context on what we’ve seen so far.

And they assess the contributions of some players who will have big roles to play later in the year.

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

70 thoughts on “Mayo Football Podcast episode: some second thoughts on Saturday

  1. I see the story of mayo has spread alot further than the blog @williejoe. A story popped up on my newsfeed about the mayo curse in an article in a magazine called “the European Conservative” it’s a magazine based in Budapest with office in Brussels and had the story of the so called curse and how mayo have fared recently. The writer is of mayo origin though it reports we have won 5 all irelands(paper won’t refuse ink) it got me picturing the readers wondering who the hell are mayo and wondering what is this crazy sport.

  2. I just heard Stephen Drake and Mick Foley jokingly refer to Stephen Coens goal as a square ball
    I played it back several times..it was not a square ball
    It was perfectly legal..Well done Stephen Coen.

  3. Liam. I thought the same thing and was happy that the ref didn’t flip and give a square ball without knowing if it was. Roscommon suffered the previous week with a wrong call on a square ball and probably cost them the game. I think the square ball rule should be erased but if it remains the call should go in favour of the attacking tea unless it’s a cast-iron case to the contrary.

  4. @JoeG: No question for a square ball on Stephen’s goal, just a slight slip on the rules by the lads when chatting I’d imagine.

    Back in 2012 they changed the rule so a ball going into the square ‘during play’ is from when the ball is kicked. Most folks tend not to watch rules too closely so anyone that played ball pre ’12, learned the rules pre then or just has a momentary slip can mix it up with the old style for everything and still current for set play’ can’t be in the square before the ball.

    That said… totally agree with the rule(s) needing to change. A quick look at the Clare game (Tommy Rooney’s tweets) shows the problems the complications of the current setup can cause.

  5. James O’Donoghue and Paddy Andrews had a pop at Mayos lack of left footers able to take frees.Aidan isnt reliable from them.How has McStay not addressed this issue ,the whole country knows about it.Why isnt Paul Towey taking these tge left footed frees I thought he was predominantly left footed and Darren Quinn from Garrymore is probably the best left footed free taker in the County why not give him some game time.

  6. I agree with Achill75. Paul Towey can score with both feet. He would have nailed the free A’O’S missed by a mile. He also needs to get quality ball in open play. Himself, R O’Donoughe and Cillian O’Connor seem to be the best free takers.

  7. Totally agree. Aidan shouldn’t be let nowhere near a free. Ok he gets an odd one but I never trust him. Another thing. He takes frees and sideline balls, when he’s kicking them to where he should be collecting them himself. Personally I wouldn’t let him take any.

  8. Had aiden been on the field he would have taken that last free as well. He wouldnt think of goin short.

  9. Great win with a bit of luck for a change. Goals and frees distort results so I’m more inclined to look at points from play. Scoring 5 from play isn’t good enough but hopefully that will improve. On 4 points now we should scrape enough to stay in Division 1. Getting to semi’s in championship would be a reasonable expectation.

  10. Just on the frees from the right hand side, I don’t think that we can afford to carry someone, who is otherwise not worth their place just to take a few frees from the right. Aido is unreliable and probably doesn’t want the responsibility anyway. Towey, as an alternative is probably worth a try, altho, I am not sure that he will make the Championship team. As a possible solution, I would suggest bringing Reape up to take them, as he takes them as a placed ball and tends to kick them pretty straight, without much of a curl on them.

  11. @mayojoe.i suppose you’re right when you say goals and frees distort results because whoever gets more usually wins.

  12. The thing is, in the absence of a left footed freetaker a team will take note and foul on that side. Given the firm of some of our forwards I would happily put in a player primarily due to left foot freetaking. They’re not going to be all that far off the level. Kevin Quinn, Cian McHale or Darren Quinn. Players of that standard. They don’t have some gigantic deficit to our 3rd best inside forward.

  13. Looking ahead and using the league for championship and not knowing the extent of injuries, I wouldn’t mind seeing a slightly different team for Kerry.
    Reape
    Sam , Brick, Coyne
    Paddy , McBrien, McHugh
    Bob Carney
    Flynn, McHale , Boland .
    Quinn , Aiden , Ryan .

  14. @My Ball
    Cian or Darren McHale?

    I’d be inclined to think you mean Darren but JP has mentioned Cian a little earlier today.

    Thanks in advance 🙂

  15. Maybe just to add a little nuance on AOS taking frees;

    – there are times when Aido needs a score, and in those moments he should be taking those right sided frees.

    – but there are times, and Saturday was one of these, where the team needs a score more than Aidan, and in those he should not be taking those. And to be frank about those moments, I don’t care who takes it as long as goes over the bar.

    If Aido had nailed that free it could easily have been the first of a 1-2 or 1-3 performance.
    But the team has to come first, and someone else on the pitch be it Paddy as captain or Ryan as freetaker needs to be given the responsibility of making that decision imo.

  16. Say what you want about Conor Mortimer but he was so reliable off that left foot.We have never replaced him.The year Horan dropped him we missed 2 handy left footed frees in the All Ireland Final against Donegal.
    Niall Hurley from Claremorris could be the answer to the right corner forward position in the next 2 years and the left footed frees, very surprised him or Ronan Clarke were not brought in to the setup seeing as Diarmuid Duffy was and its finishers we are lacking. Niall Hurleys shooting from general play is ahead of even Ryan O’Donoghue and Cillian.

  17. Anyone any thoughts on our lack of a real elite level pace in the half forward line?

    Like most of what is suggested is moving either Tommy or Eoghan, but what are our actual half forward line options like in that regard?

  18. There will be a necessary thing to explore over the rest of the league which is what kind of form, pace and impact is likely from Aidan and Cillian for championship.
    For both, it’s pretty clear to me (eye test) their pace has decline to the point of just about usable at county level. So it might be the case that neither start and the 14 jersey will need a different option with more pace.
    My view. I don’t believe Cillian will have the pace to start, I don’t believe Aidan has the playmaking or scoring to start. Neither can be on the field at the same time even as very late subs as a key part of our middle third defence is our forwards being mobile to track players.
    It’s early in the season, but we need to be realistic about the kind of pace and form both are likely to bring to championship.

  19. JP – would agree with those sentiments but would add in one caveat I’d say the training plan for Aiden and Cillian is summer focused and may differ greatly to that of other players. They both currently look bulky and under the current training methods (that I understand off anyway and someone more knowledgeable can chime in here) they get bulked up then ultimately get trimmed / leaned / toned down when you want them to be at their peak. This happens over a period of time so I’d guess at the bulking phase a bit of pace may be lost but gained back later at the leaner / meaner phase. Cillian also with his injury history maybe doing this over a longer period to hopefully get him to peak condition in the most careful manner they can. He is not that old in terms of getting back to a high level fitness / conditioning. He was never a speed machine but his brain always moved faster than his legs…

  20. I forseen the Aido on free kicks problem last year. He was excellent on them last year, much better than I expected him to be. Bit he isn’t a free taker, so inevitably will miss some.

    But what do we do? We need a somewhat reliable option from the right hand side. Maybe he is the best option. Darren McHale or Darren Quinn potentially would offer a more reliable option from the right hand side but they need to warrant a starting spot outside of frees (not suggesting they wouldn’t either)

  21. I wonder could Fergal take a few from the right. Don’t know if he ever took frees but I think he’s able to kick off his left too.

  22. @thedarkyfinn – that’s generally the case.

    The initial phase is about putting on muscle and increasing strength. So will do fewer reps but with a heavier weight. This puts on some bulk but has the drawback of having lads look a little leggy at times, particularly in the league.

    The next phase will then usually be power, trimming down or both. For power – similar reps but the action of the lift is done at pace. This doesn’t really have any impact on muscle size but is great for the fast twitch muscles and increased speed. Trimming down – will increase the reps or just do less weight training altogether with the goal being maintenance.

    This obviously differs from sport to sport but would expect this to be the case for most inter county teams. Soccer and rugby lads would be different because their window to peak would be far larger.

  23. It is just me or has there been an increase in lads kicking accurately on their weaker foot over the last two weekends across Division 1?

    I thought I saw a bit of it from the Dubs more so than us on Saturday.

  24. @Mayo Focus: Bob Tuohy one that has a wand of a left boot. Nailed a few great scores outside the ’45 this year for Mitchells with it and his shooting is improving dramatically… but you’d imagine he’ll never be an elite level free taker either (I’d rather him working on shooting from play than the time it would require specifically practising frees to push into the specialist %s) and not sure we’d want a young lad potentially missing an important free that could throw him off his game. More chance of Aido shaking it off than a lad just out of 20s.

  25. @Unstoppable, I’ve often wondered should some players be on an impact sub only SnC regime. So, let’s say a player will feature late in games for 20 mins.
    So reduce their stamina component and increase their power and speed component of their SnC.
    Let’s imagine you want a different strategy for Diarmuid, impact sub. You develop him up maybe 3kg heavier and squatting more explosive but posting less high results on the stamina side.

  26. @FrostTHammer.. I meant Darren McHale
    Like his heads up approch for clever pass inside and he can score too .Kinda of a more robust version of Boland
    Re Quinn , through him in from the start, had a great club season and a great place to find out if he’s up to county level down in the kingdom…
    Build the panel for championship should be our No1 target in the league

  27. I would like to see Micheal Plunkett at 11 .I think he could be a really good playmaker.Very good kickpasser and can read the game and score from play.Why not try him there in the remaining games.We have too many runners when DOC and Ruane come back.A forward line off Boland , Plunkett and Flynn.
    Ciaran Gavin his clubmate is one of the best playmakers and footballers in the County but still not called up but I would have him well ahead of Conor McStay.

  28. Mayo focus.
    Darren McHale doesnt take left footed frees for Knockmore so I wouldnt let him try for Mayo.same with Bob Tuohy he doesnt take frees for Mitchels.

    Nephin
    Boland is right footed we have no problem on this side with Ryan and Cillian.

    Is Paul Towey the only player in Mayo comfortable kicking of 2 feet?

  29. Regarding free kicks i posted a couple of years ago about identifying the promising underage freetakers in the county and encouraging them to practice practice practice with both feet off the ground and hand and spending extra time coaching this if/when they train for the county . I think it was Ronan Clarke i had in mind at the time. I still think it should be worked on as the lads would have more time available to them while still in secondary school. It’s no coincidence that goalkeepers tend to take the long range frees on most teams after kicking long all their career.

  30. @No doubt

    OMG I actually remember that comment, although I’d forgotten who said it 🙂

  31. Thanks @My Ball – I’d to see Darren getting a few games as well, and I noted he was at the media day.
    It’s been too long since we’ve seen him in action properly.

  32. Nephin. I can’t recall Fergal kicking left footed frees for Aghamore. Alan Freeman was far more two footed but for any player it’s a massive headache being asked to step up and kick pressure frees with your wrong foot.

  33. @JP

    I don’t disagree with you.
    I just don’t think there’s anyone in the squad currently who that might work for.

    I think last it would have been ideal with guys like Kevin McLoughlin and Jason Doherty, and it’s entirely possible something like that was done.

    But WTS it wouldn’t be something I’d prioritise in Year 1, unless there was already work being done there under the previous regime.

  34. Thanks JoeG. As I said I didn’t know if he did or not. I don’t live in the County so rarely see much club football. Just as he’s so accurate I was wondering if it was possible.

  35. @No doubt: It was interesting to watch Ronan Clarke, Niall Hurley and James Maheady (his often from way out) from that underage side all kicking points (not specifically frees mind) regularly (as in way more often than you’d normally see) off both feet. Was happening (to a lesser degree) with Darragh Beirne and Tom Lydon last year too so could well be something they’re actively working on, at least from play.

  36. James Carr is well able to boom them over off left and right….from play anyway,not sure about frees. There is always the option to do as Ryan did…take a short free if you’re on the wrong side. That worked out alright.

  37. @tsudhonim.those lads you mention are exactly who i would be thinking about and have the attributes to master the art of freetaking if they had been encouraged earlier

  38. Paddy and Sam made the team of the week. Good for them.
    I can’t help thinking back to Saturday night and Ryan’s performance. First half kick pass from deep into Bob for a point. Point also for Ryan from play again from deep and of course the kick pass to Fergal for the winner.
    A playmaker if ever I saw one. Could we gamble and bring Ryan out to centre forward? I would say he would still get as many points from play from CF but we would no doubt end up with more assists. Or perhaps there may be periods in games where he comes out to CF and somebody else goes inside?

  39. The caveat of Ryan playing at CF being of course finding 3 to play in the forward line. Tommy and a fully fit James Carr might be 2 and 1 from Aidan,Cillian or Paul Towey.

  40. I’m not sure if we actually best suited to having a dedicated number 11.

    We’ve a lot of different players who can occupy different positions and we should be try to take advantage of that.

    Games start coming at you pretty quickly in the new format. Flexibility is a key weapon in the modern game, and we have a lot of it. With serious experience.

    And first week of February and I’m already rolling back a prediction on the Mayo – Galway All Ireland final one.
    But I’ll replace with an equally outrageous one, Mayo London repeat of 2013 :ROFL:

  41. A few have referenced Aido’s and Cillian’s pace, or lack thereof and while everyone’s pace declines with the passing years, it doesn’t decline all that much-some top sprinters compete at the top level up to their mid thirties. I think is is more that the energy levels and endurance levels that have more significant drops. Anyway I don’t think that Aido or Cillian ever relied on pace-to quote Brian Clough, they are deceptively slow. It is probably more that we need to manage their game time and interchange them so they don’t run out of gas.

  42. A sports scientist friend told me from 35 onwards humans phospho creatine (aids explosive energy) drops off and I noticed the likes of Lee, Keith and Colm didn’t drop off until around that age or in Lee’s case didn’t drop at all before retiring at 33. I’d qualify that statement with notwithstanding injury. Watching rugby documentary on Netflix and Stuart Hogg said he was broken at 30. Cruciate normally takes 2 seasons to get back to (almost) 100%. Michael Owen said for most of his career part of his hamstring wasn’t functioning and Ryan Giggs said he was afraid to sprint 100% after about age 23. Nowadays the medical procedures are superior at professional level.

  43. On left footed frees Bob Tuohy is a player for the future including 2024. He’s dry accurate from play and being tall has very good range. I see him making the team ahead of Darren McHale. Clubs sometimes won’t change long standing free takers which might explain why neither do it for their clubs. Even Mayo when Cillian comes on, who takes them? Ryan very good but I’d say Cillian loves taking them and will have fresh legs. I’d have Cillian taking the trickier angles on the right apart from near the sideline.
    I’d also like to point out that Aido hasn’t missed very many frees in last year. One miscue vs Dublin and people are creating a crisis in response to some pundits. I’d be more concerned with plan B when Aido subbed off.

  44. I’d like to see us drop 5-10 metres deeper when teams are playing across our 45. Time and again Dublin worked the angle with a handpass over the top, or a run from the sideline. If we had a sweeper or were deeper that space wouldn’t exist. We also need to watch for the triangle of handpasses and not get sucked into the ball. We need to tighten up on this for the summer. The Con point chance was a perfect example of this, Kilkenny handpasses to him and then runs straight at our defender, Con waits for Kilkenny to block the Mayo defender then sets off infield and Coen is behind him. If we were deeper rather than pressing outside the 45 we would have had bodies to shuffle across and prevent the chance. It will also create more room for us on a quick breakaway from a turnover.

    Murphy butchered a chance when Paddy got sucked out from ball watching. He should have won the game for Dublin, come the summer Dublin won’t be as generous. Mayo at times too eager to win the ball back instead of staying goal side of their man.

    Finally, I hope in the league we see a front six at some stage of:

    Conroy DOC Flynn
    Carr Cillian Ryan

  45. Good stuff there MayoMayo (and Shuffly). Yes, Dublin have refined that third man tackle and they did it big time on Saturday night. Dublin player attacks with the ball, and team mate rides shotgun; two Mayo players come to tackle and surround the receiver, but as soon as the receiver gets the ball, the original soloist crashes into one of the Mayo players and takes him out.

    Another thing I picked up on from watching back – Ger Canning and RTE seem to think that an interception or a misplaced pass which goes to an opponent is a turnover. Mayo made a number of misplaced passes, Tuohy’s which was intercepted by MacEneany for example, but they are not turnovers.

  46. @catcol: Never thought I’d say it but… I’m with Ger/RTÉ on that one.

    Not aware of a stat package, company or practitioner that wouldn’t include interceptions, fumbles or other mistakes in play like that as a turnover.

    Normally defined as anytime the possession changes from one team to the other that doesn’t fall under a different specific stat (so if there’s a stat on goalkicks conceded that wouldn’t be classed a T/O and simply a lost goalkick) with some including things like technically fouling the ball (e.g. overcarring or double hop – which can be a very grey area as an awful lot of overcarrying is from heavy tackling swallowing them up) as a turnover and some as a free conceded. Similar grey areas can exist on stuff like kicking it out for a sideline ball, so important to establish things like that well in advance if working on either the gathering or executing side of stats…. but never seen anyone not including someone kicking possession away where the ball doesn’t go dead as anything but a turnover.

  47. Tsu – I think a turnover, a proper turnover, is when possession is stripped of the carrier; this was our forte a few years back and we seemed to have recovered the art in the Galway game. We gave away so much in the Dublin game – ‘unforced error’ is surely a better technical term, borrowed from tennis as it is.

  48. Brickenden and Sam outstanding for ucd.
    Frank doing ok.
    Fallon making an impact off the bench

  49. Frank Irwin involved a lot and looked one of the better players on the field. Looks an option around wing forward.

  50. Our 1983 U21 All-Ireland pod is up now on Patreon. I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable podcast shows I’ve ever done, we had a great chat with Eddie Gibbons and John Finn on it, reminiscing about the campaign and the importance to the county of that U21 All-Ireland win.

  51. Sam looked a class apart out there on a field full of county players. So many subtle but vital interceptions and his driving the team forward lead to so many of the teams best moments, especially the goal. You could see the UCD lads going out of their way to pick him out (whether it was forwards recycling or the keeper on kickouts) which is always the biggest vote of confidence in a player.

    Frank and Brick both had solid games, they can be proud of that. Shame the ball for a Frank goal chance was so far in-front of him rather than into his hands. He wouldn’t have the pace to get there in that chase but he’d have had the smarts to do damage in a 1v1 (or 2v1 with the keeper) if it had gone to hand.

    Really impressed with both Jack Fallon and Fenton Kelly off the bench. No idea how they’re not starting for UL. Both seem to offer a level or two above what some of the starters are offering and, most importantly, offering exactly what the team looks to be short on.

  52. I think the Sigerson final is fixed for Tralee next Wednesday evening. A bit ridiculous having a team from Dublin and a team from the North travelling all the way down to Tralee on a Wednesday evening in the middle of February to play a game. I know these venues are predetermined but really common sense should prevail and venues for finals should not be selected until the two finalist are known.

  53. You’re correct South Mayo Exile Austin Park @ 7.30. on Wednesday February 14th and Mayo play Kerry on the Saturday the 17th at the same venue. Our dual players might as well stay in Kerry for the week.Best of luck to them in both.

  54. All the mayo players who played yesterday in that game really performed well, it shows that we do have some really talented young players with a lot more to show, Sam is a great talent, his distribution of the ball and maybe he needs to chip in with the odd point are the only things he has to keep working on but I’m sure that will come in time, it’s the thing that the likes of Lee keegan and colm boyle did frequently.

  55. Just watched back the Sigerson UL UCD game. It was a really good game of football. A lot more open than a lot of county fare. GAA could become like American sports with more interest in college than other games if this continues.

    Mayo lads did well. Brickenden looks to be really growing into full back role. Sam at six is superb. Irwin a very good outing, looked out on his feet towards the end. He was caught for the goal, similar to my comment about mayo above, he was sucked in ball watching and ball was popped over his head. Mayo can be doing the infamous Donie B tackling drill until the cows come home but if you let your man slip inside you then you have nothing to tackle. We need to be rock solid at the back as we don’t have the forward play at the minute to make up for the concession of soft goals.

  56. Win or lose next weekend, the big question for me is can we keep Kerry goalless, can we keep Clifford goalless?
    This will really give a good indication of whether or not our defence has improved.

  57. Post Sigerson Cup final there will be a big piss up win or lose.
    I think our 2 players in the final should not be on the panel for the Kerry game.

  58. @Jr
    Agree 100% with that. It would be madness to expect Sam and Brick to play again 72 hours after the Sigerson final. A shame because the back 6 were looking settled enough. It would have been a good test for them against Kerry but we shouldn’t be risking it in my opinion.

    It leaves us a bit light defensively with Eoghan Mac limping off the other day. Coen, Mchugh and Plunkett look to be the ones who will come in with McBrien going back to 3. Good chance for Plunkett to get some game time. He’s one that can definitely add something to the group.

    Did I hear Mcstay say that the injured players would be back for round 5 or am I making that up? Was he any more specific on individual players? Would be handy if Hession was fit for the Kerry game

  59. @Mind the House: The update was pre knowing anything about Conor or Eoghan’s knocks so no update on those yet.

    Mattie Ruane and Diarmuid – “They’re going to be very close” for Kerry (in 2 weeks at the time it was said).

    Enda Hession and Pádraig O’Hora – “They’ve two field sessions behind them. They’re really going to be pushing for minutes against Kerry or beyond that. Round 3 or round 4.”

    James Carr – “He’s a little bit further off because he had knee surgery but he’s out on the field which is good. It’s a hard slog for him I’ve got to say and he’s trying to get himself back in contention but we’d expect to see him in National League. Game 4 or game 5 something like that.”

  60. Before Kevin McStay became manager the few times I heard him on here on podcasts always saying Aidan has to be full forward, which I never really agreed with him on.
    I watched the game back there again and honestly cannot see how you could start him at Full forward come championship.Hes no threat whatsoever.His time has come to an end at Full forward and maybe even as a first 15 starter, the whole county knows this bar McStay. Surprised with Rochford.

    Aidans scores starting at Full forward under Kevin McStay

    League 2023
    Armagh 2 points 1 mark 1 play, none from play
    Kerry No Score
    Tyrone 1 goal
    Donegal 4 points 2 frees 1 mark 1 play
    Monaghan No score
    Galway Final No Score

    Championship 2023
    Roscommon 1 point play
    Kerry 3 points, 2 marks, 1 free, none from play
    Louth 4 points all frees , none from play
    Cork No Score
    Galway No Score
    Dublin 1 point from free, none from play

    League 2024
    Galway No Score
    Dublin No Score

    No Division 1 County full forward has a return like that.Hasnt scored from play in his last 5 outings in a position closest to the goal.Would like to hear this issue brought to Kevins attention by journalists.

  61. @Achill75

    Aidan O’Shea having 4 scores from play in 14 games between 2023-24 is a diabolical return for a full forward.

    Paul Towey already has 3 scores from play in maybe 60 minutes of football this year.

    AOS is simply not a threat whatsoever as a forward. We’re basically taking on teams with 5 forwards, a massive disadvantage.

    He’s 16 years on the panel now, he’s had some great performances, but the time has come for him to be wound down in this capacity.

    Didn’t we go 20 or 30 minutes last year against Dublin in the championship with scoring? We have these long spells too often in games where we easily go 20 minutes without a score. They suck the life and momentum out of the team in these do-or-die games.

    We need natural scorers on the pitch. Towey and Boland will go a long way to rectifying that this year. Tommy Conroy will get back into form. Tuohy is a scoring threat, and Duffy looks good too, albeit still young.

    And with the new look defence looking immensely more solid than last year, why can’t this year be ours?

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