Mayo Football Podcast episode: U20s second best to Sligo

Mayo crashed out of the Connacht Under-20 championship this evening after losing to Sligo by five points in Castlebar.

Rob and Mike were there and they reflect on a disappointing end to Mayo’s season on a night when Sligo’s superb second half proved decisive.

Rob also spoke afterwards with both managers, Peadar Gardiner and Paul Henry.

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35 thoughts on “Mayo Football Podcast episode: U20s second best to Sligo

  1. Sorry but it’s just more spoof from the manager. “These lads are young, really talented”…if they are then why are they finishing bottom of the group. Why is the being asked well if they are that talented why have you managed them to last place in the group?

    “There’s fantastic work being done in the academies and schools’, then why are our underage results over the past decade so shit?

    ‘There’s no stone unturned’, that’s nearly the most concerning line. If everything is so good then why are the results and performances so bad??? Really wish the interviewers would ask the tough questions and probe deeper. Instead I’ve just listened to more of the same hot air being spouted. Another missed opportunity.

    It reminds me a bit of the podcast last year interviewing the head of the academies. I can’t recall his name, but I just got the gut feeling that we (supporters) were just being fed all the usual positive sound bites.

    Might it not be useful for once to produce a podcast that seriously examines and critically assessed the issues with Mayo underage football and actually asks tough questions instead of the usual ‘we are great and doing everything right’ crap when it’s very clearly not the case. There was a healthy conveyor belt in the noughties and it has malfunctioned incredibly for the past 14 years with the very odd exception. Serious change is required because if the people running the show think everything is right then I’m worried.

  2. @Mayonaze,I think that you have more or less covered. I was not able to see the game, probably fortunately as I avoided more Mayo misery. I listened to the first half on Midwest and had to leave it for a while, Happy in the knowledge that Mayo were in control and seemingly on course to romp home-I should have known better-this is Mayo we’re talking about. I picked up the commentary with about 13 minutes to go and was horrified to discover had only scored one more point and were behind. First of all congratulations to Sligo and credit to themselves and Leitrim, who constantly battle against huge odds. As for Mayo in this competition, I am almost lost for words, which is very unusual for me. Our underage record in recent times is a disgrace. There is something radically wrong and the whole thing is a shambles. To finish last out of five is totally unacceptable. With all due credit and respect to Sligo and Leitrim, with all our advantages of playing population, number of clubs, history and tradition, we should be ashamed of many of our results and performances in recent years. We seem to produce a fair share of talented young footballers, but whatever is wrong we are not making the most of these talents and the various management’s have to take some of the responsibility for this failure. But there also seems to be something seriously wrong with the coaching all the way up at underage level. We seem to fall down on the basics of football, catching, kicking, passing, tackling etc. and I often wonder are we putting the cart before the horse and putting too much emphasis on structures, systems, tactics etc. to the detriment of the basic skills, in our earlier underage training_is it a case of “win at all costs” for those early underage teams. Individuals should master the basic skills first, so that they come naturally to them, before being exposed to team systems, tactics etc. Listening to the first half, all I could hear was more of the same-wide after wide, passes going astray etc. There needs to be a complete root and branch review of our underage set-up, coaching, academies etc. Fair play to Sligo at underage level-they seem to be doing a lot right-we are most definitely not.

  3. Strength and Conditioning is totally sub par. With our pick we should never ever be in second place to Leitrim or Sligo on that front.
    These are 18-20 year olds and other counties have shown what kind of physiques can be produced at this age.
    The eye test of players entering our senior panel with frankly skinny legs is embarrassing for an outcome of what is supposed to be a progressive SnC program from u14.
    There’s supposed to be 5-6 years of progressive work done by this point?

  4. I think it’s in genuine Mayo supporters interest that the analysis provided is fair and objective. In order for positive change to occur, the hard questions need to be asked. Proganda that creates a false sense of reality is not helpful for anyone.

  5. Skinny legs the cause of the downfall in Mayo football, Christ , I really have heard it all now .

  6. Conall Dawson, Sean Morahan, Diarmuid Duffy and Tom O’Flaherty were the only starters last night that also started for the U17s 3 years ago and tha complete full forward line of James Maheady, Ronan Clarke and Pierce Deane that minor team were missing. Clarke and Maheady I heard are injured and can only presume it’s the same for Deane. Can’t say over the 3 games since the win against Galway that I’ve been able to discern any style of play or a gameplan. Tbh it looked like the team was just thrown together and I’m sorry but Peadar Gardiner rolling out a cliche-ridden monologue of an excuse doesn’t cut it.
    Said it before Sean Deane got a real tune out of these players and in particular the group that will be U20s next year and he should be asked for his assistance next season.

  7. Is U20 performance anything to worry about. Sligo have been improving at this level for a few years but have not translated to any improvement at senior. Are we in fact using the U20’s as a development squad with no real head paid to results? Our last provincial title at this level was 2018. But take a look at the players who have come through to the senior panel from this grade since and compare to those coming through the teams that have beaten us in this time.

    2019: Oisin Mullin, Rory Brickendon, Jack Coyne, Eoghan McLaughlin, Paul Towey, Aaron McDonnell
    2020: David McBrien, Enda Hession, Jack Carney, Frank Irwin
    2021: Donncha McHugh (Frank Irwin, Jack Carney)
    2022: Sam Callinan, Bob Touhy, (Donncha McHugh, Frank Irwin)
    2023: Bob Touhy, Fenton Kelly

    That’s a fairly consistent conversion rate from U20 to senior, with more players from the recent squads in the fringe positions.
    I am also happy that we are not driving 18 and 19 year old to be gym bunnies.

    Where we lose out in my opinion is skills development. Not enough work is completed to continue skills development and this is where we fall short.

  8. Paul I understand your point but that list..how many of them are actually at the level required? Mullin bailed on us. Brick? Jury definitely still out and he’s no spring chicken, as it was said on the Ah Ref podcast, its ‘shit or get off the pot’ time for him.. Coyne is steady but this is a big year for him. McLaughlin has huge pace and on his day is a real threat but his skill set is still unreliable. Towey hasn’t broken through but hasn’t had much time. McDonnell has hardly kicked a ball at senior level. McBrien and Hession look proper ballers. Carney imo still has a lot to go; he has never dominated a match and Irwin hasn’t broken through yet; miles off a starting team. McHugh looks decent but still a bit to go yet. Sam is good but God he’s hyped up far too much and Bob looks to have regressed from last season. Kelly, hadn’t broken through yet.

    So from the list you’ve given it wouldn’t set the world alight!

    Just reflecting further, you’d just get a feeling that everyone from Co Board to managements and academies and even with local media, that it’s all a bit cosy where no one is really asking the tough questions. Like one big group of pals. Last night was a massive opportunity to really enquire with management what the hell happened. Imagine if that was down in Kerry?? There’d be holy war! There are massive question marks now over management of the 20’s. I had great hope for them, I really had and I was excited about their prospects this season. But ut was a flop of all flops. I believed everything we were being told about the talent and hard work etc being put in but now genuinely feel a fresh voice is required. Just because someone works hard doesn’t mean they’re doing the job correctly. Maybe the players are talented. I’m sure some appear to have great potential but regardless of age, the last 5 weeks I’d hope will serve as a massive wake up call that you’re not anywhere near the finished article yet. As with management, my trust would be gone there. Sport is a results business and bottom of the group is inexcusable.

  9. Paul B

    That’s an interesting post you put up there. Clearly a pathway from U20 to senior. However I think the underlying issue is the quality of those players.

    Take Mullen and McBrein out of that list and for me, I’d question the quality of footballers we have. We have a unique ability to hype up young players but other than those two, I don’t think any other player would make a Dublin or Derry 15. And let’s be honest, Dublin underage the last few years have been very poor. But I’d argue they are developing less numbers of players but at a higher quality then mayo to break into their senior team.

  10. Paul B

    Another galling observation from that list is the lack of forwards. Outside of towey there isn’t a single scoring forward that has graduated to seniors from any u20/21 team since 2018.
    That is shocking.

    We aren’t producing forwards in Mayo, which is probably why we lionise non- scoring forwards on our senior team.

  11. Are many being lost to other sports? Green and Red mentioned how poorly Dublin are faring at underage level, which is a fact,-mainly attributed to rugby and soccer- by ex Dublin players and managers alike. There’s a myriad young lads walking away from Gaelic sports in the so-called football mad counties in direct contrast to the ladies end of things.
    Wiser men are blaming the compacted season plus the absence of summer games.

  12. Mark Dempsey,

    Are lads walking away because the joy of playing the game is going? Stats and tactics starting to dominate now?

    Look at the way or senior team played last year. You’d swear we were playing rugby at times, across the field, no speed not focused on holding the ball. I don’t think there is much joy in it for players if that’s what they’re being coached. The same argument could be made at U20 level the last few years. And as for the mayo club championship, last year was the worst style and tactics I’ve seen in a long time. And it proved to be very ineffective when you see what the likes of Brigits and Corfin could do to Ballina.

  13. Stats are dominating football.even on here stats are rolled out to prove some random point.if we go back to 2017 and colm Boyle being called ashore at the same point in every game regardless of how he was playing.This nonsense is used to justify the ridiculous amount of people on backroom teams these days .we got a great return from the 2006 under 21 team and a decent return from of players from 2016 team that pushed on to be senior players but that hasn’t been as productive since.In fairness this is a decent group of Sligo players and they will improve their senior team over the next few years

  14. Mayonaze – the point I was making is that there is a clear partway of players coming through 5 years of unsuccessful under 20 teams even though they have been poor teams, and I would argue that the quality of player on that list compares favourably with any of the other Connacht teams that have been more successful over the past 5 years. For Galway your probably only talking about Matthew Tierney, Jack Glynn, Dylan McHugh and Tomo Culhane being of the standard of Callinan, McBrien, Carney, McHugh and Hession over the same time period. May not be as good as we would like in some instances but better than the teams beating us in U20.

    Again, the key issue is not the performances at U20 level, it is the absence of skills development. I dont know is it a cultural thing because you definitely see skillful minors regress over the succeeding few years skills wise where as in other countries they continue to improve. I just dont think we practice the basics enough. Think the footballer is complete out of minor and after that its about S&C and fitting into the system to the detriment of practising the basics.
    Looking at forwards,. I just dont think they put in the kicking practice every week that is needed to ensure technique holds up under pressure. Their ability is up with players in any county, but with the exception of ROD there is no one who is consistently able to deliver under pressure. I would not surprise me if he were putting in a significant amount more practice outside of training that the others. Don’t think Cillian’s fitness will let him put in the practice time he would have when younger, but practice time was definitely a factor with his success at his peak

  15. Few comments from me but overall my main point is that U20/U21 is a funny grade. Some counties like Cork seem to thrive at it and others struggle. I’m afraid I have no idea for the reason for this.

    But the main thrust of my point is success at this grade is actually largely irrelevant, even compared with minor success. And here are a few points to back it up:

    1. None of Kerry’s four in a row minor team from 2014-2017 have won an u20 All Ireland. Yet those players dominate the Kerry team.
    2 Derry have a fine young team from some good minor teams of late but haven’t won an Ulster u20/u21 since 1997.
    3. Galway won two u21 in 2011 and 2013, yet they haven’t kicked on to any great shakes.
    4. Kildare have won two u20 All Ireland in the last few years yet their current senior team, made up of those u20 teams, is their worst in years.

    For some reason, I think the days of building a strong senior team on the produce of a good u21 team are over. Teams like our own in 2006 or Tyrone in 2000/2001 don’t seem to exist at this grade.

    I think this may be to do with the gulf in S&C between senior and age grade teams, and because fewer u20 lads are actually in senior panels. I remember in 2004, eight players in Mayo’s All Ireland panel had an u21 final the following saturday. That would never happen now.

  16. I’m a broken record but what is the fundamental issue in the county with producing forwards. At this rate the hype/expectation on poor old Kobe Mcdonald to be the 2nd coming will be unbearable…

    Just looking around at other teams the Rossies have 2 top class forwards in the u20s in Nugent and McGinley who will almost certainly slot straight into the seniors next year and give them more forward options

  17. @Paul B: Ryan did a fascinating interview recently with Ger Flanagan of Elvery’s (https://blog.elverys.ie/how-to-play-corner-forward-ryan-o-donoghue/) recently where he spoke a little about his free kicking practice. More insight than we’d normally get from players talking to media on this type of thing with the 13 off the right and 12 off the left per session detail. Sounds like he has wound the kicking down a lot since his groin injury, with Andy Moran having a hand in getting him more into quality vs quantity.

    That said, you’d imagine around the time he was with the 20s & still making the switch from soccer back to football he’d have been putting in some serious hours. His type of determination you couldn’t imagine anything else.

  18. Looking for information! Martin mcDonnell was full forward on the Mayo All Ireland winning Junior team of 1950. He later taught in and played with Summerhill in Co.Meath. Is there anyone out there that knows what was Martin’s club team in Mayo.

  19. Our results at U20 / U21 level since 2009 really bug and concern me. Our senior team of the 2010s was built from Connacht U21 winning teams from 2006 to 2009. In the decade from 2000 to 2009, we won seven titles, won an All Ireland in 2006 and contested two more in 2001 and 2004 – unlucky at the time not to win at least one of those. Since 2009, we’ve won two, 15 years and two titles, that is disgraceful for a County of our size. The team of 2016 was an exceptional team and most would have tipped them to go far before that championship began, they were an outlier over the past decade and a half, a one off exceptional team at that grade. 2018 was a decent team, and we’ve got some very good players off it, but at the start of that Championship, Galway were tipped to win Connacht and Roscommon shocked them in the semi-final.

    You’d have to wonder what has failed at this level since 2009. Are the players not there or is there something deeper. I feel in Mayo that we talk up players and management teams too much. We make world beaters of players and managers without them really having backed it up. (I mean no disrespect by saying this).

    I fear that the wrong management team was picked for this role, as soon as the ‘big names’ were added to the ticket, you knew well it was a done deal. I would have been a supporter of Deane getting the role, he done a good job with the minor squads of 2022-23, OK they lost an All Ireland, however our progress at that grade started to turn a tide of failure at that grade since 2014. The players bought into what he was doing and there seemed to be a positive level of respect there.

    I know the majority of this current U20 team are young and they may well prove their talent and potential at this grade and beyond in the future, however, I mean this with the greatest of respect to the other counties in Connacht, there is no way Mayo teams should be losing to Sligo 3 years in a row. They battered us in the past two years, last years display in Bekan was one of the worst showings by a Mayo team in a long time. Sligo have done great work at underage since 2020 and fair play to them, we appear to have regressed in all aspects at U20, game plans, S&C etc. Not good enough. We fell apart last night when Sligo got close, a complete melt down.

    Some hard questions need to be asked and answered, by the club delegates and indeed the media. If we continue to fail at this grade, this will feed into the senior team, we’ll be playing Tailteann Cup football before we know it. The slope is slippy if it’s not addressed quickly.

  20. In fairness to the u20 in 2020, they were top class as well. Lost to a Galway team on penalties who went on to win the All Ireland.

  21. Yes, Unstoppable, the 2020 team were a good side that were very unlucky on that windy day against Galway. I should have mentioned them above.

  22. Lost to Leitrim Sligo and drew with Roscommon. Probably worst series of results ever at any grade. The performances/ results got worse as the campaign progressed so surely that’s points to poor management.

  23. Look at the minor team of 2021. How many of these deserve to be on this u20 team other than those selected? Two i suggest. Feeney (I have no idea whats the position with him) and Clarke (he has suffered 2 broken ankles,apparently, in recent times). Hard to blame the management for not playing more 20 year olds. Re not giving the job to Dean, remember in 2022 we defeated Galway by 14 points in round one, by 6 points in Connacht final and lost the All Ireland by 6 points – a turnaround of 20 points over the campaign! No great evidence of improving players there.

  24. I listen to the interview on the mayo podcast with manager Peadar Gardener he spoke about the players only been 18/19 years old & the Sligo players were more stronger and further on in their development as most of them were 20 years old
    So why did he not pick more of the players from 2021
    I know a good number of them weren’t picked which is unbelievable as they are fine footballers.
    What is the point in having a development program set up if the management aren’t going to pick the 20 year olds that were eligible to play this year.
    It was clear to see that throughout this championship that older more stronger and experienced players were needed along side the talented younger members of the squad to give a better balance to the squad.
    It’s shows that the manager was lacking experience at this level & it’s all down to the county board that give him the job when it made more sense to give the job to Sean Deane that had approving track record at minor level in winning back to back connacht titles & getting to the all Ireland final in 2022 with two different teams.

  25. I was at the match and to be honest we were boys against men .Sligo far more powerful and once they got the lead played intelligently and defended properly and hit us on the break with speed. Our lads carrying the ball into the tackle when there were runners on their shoulders and turning over the ball on several occasions. Our lads fumbling and didn’t seem to have football brains

    Micko Dean got us to an AIF in which Galway had learned from their defeats . We are terrible at underage for a long time now with an odd exception . It would be an improvement to be winning Connaught every 2nd year with the numbers we have playing the game but we have to accept we are under achieving Roscommon and Sligo are ahead with a lesser pick

  26. @micko: Neither of those lads are 20s this year, both u19s we’ll hopefully see again for the 20s next year.

    I’d imagine the names most folks would be looking at from the ’21 side would be Cathal Corless (long term injured – would have been a starter you’d imagine, wing back or wing forward), Fiachra Cruise (involved but didn’t make a match day panel so potentially questions on fitness), Adam Beirne & Pierce Deane. They’d all have been there or thereabouts for making the panel watching them at club/21s. You’d imagine super tight margins on some of the panel calls there.

    James Maheady also involved in that ’21 side but still u19 so not sure if he should be mentioned here. Dara Hurley another u19 that wasn’t involved in ’21, like Luke, but he’d certainly have the talent and ability to be involved if not for a horrific shoulder injury he picked up last year.

    I’ve personally no issue with selecting younger lads (u18 Beirne’s tackling and turnovers one of our highlights of the year), if they’re good enough they’re old enough, but I would have worries selecting a panel & especially a middle third lacking so much in options with height and power (this isn’t just hindsight, lots of us spoke about the worries on physicality the first day we saw the team & panel for the Roscommon game). We’d lots of talented lads there, all well able to play ball, but not having that one or two more with size and power can be a killer if teams start running through you. Which they frequently did.

    It was notable our best performance and only win came in the single game we had both McGreal (young, but strong and physical with solid height) & MacMonagle anchoring the defence. Eoin’s injuries early and late in the campaign, along with John’s suspension, ripped the spine out of us. Throw in injuries to Silke (missed 2 games), Morahan, Mort (missed the first game and never looked near 100%) and Gilmore (I’m assuming injury/a knock had him starting off the bench those last 2 games) that limited options and we really struggled to get to grips around the middle in 3 of our 4 games (with the one team we did match there, Galway, often dominating other sides in that area).

    The middle/physicality wasn’t the only issue we had, mind.

    Lots of unforced errors, lots of too easily forced errors and lots of missed opportunities (left multiple scorable goals behind us & a host of scorable wides) in the 3 lost games. Really hard to tell where between coaching/tactics/preparation/psychology/motivation or just young lads making simple mistakes on the night rank between the causes. A really odd year. I feel gutted for the poor lads, they’ll be more frustrated and disappointed than any of us.

    Hopefully the lads can pick themselves up, they’ve potentially still 3 games to go yet in the B Championship (24th April, 11th/12th May & 18th/19th May) to hopefully leave themselves with some more positive memories from the group for this year.

  27. Yeah supermac their full back line is without Conor Hussey, Conor Daly, who started last year in MacHale park. Doyle,O’Carroll would be two starters and would have to wonder how fit they are now? McKeon and Ciaran Murtagh two big losses for them from last year also.

  28. I think we’re looking into this more than needed. Peadar Gardiner, James horan and co. know football better than anyone here, I’m fairly sure they know how to pick the best players and that last nights team was the best 15 at that age-group. They are not going to pick a 6’5 lesser quality player over speed, skill etc.

    The problem lies in the way they setup, mentality/mindset and Sligo players being better/more experienced (having played in an AIF last year). There’s no other 15 in the county that would have done any more simple as. They’ve been training the players long enough to see who’s good enough and who’s not up to the standard.

    On another note with s & c, they most certainly are in the gym every week doing programmes exactly like every other county at that age (Evan Regan also involved with nutrition) it just comes down to genetics, effort and overall commitment to doing it themselves.

    That age group at minor weren’t good enough and at u20 also. Simple as

  29. All due respect Mayo max I have never heard so much rubbish in all my life.
    They finished bottom of the table
    It may come a surprise to you that the management team of 2024 don’t know everything.
    Peadar Gardener has been part of the under 20s set up with 3 years 2 years as a number 2. Unfortunately his results have been very poor over them 3 years been this year the worse by a country mile.
    He was a great player for club & county but as we all know great players don’t always make great managers.
    I find it hard to understand why he was given the job when he had no experience of been a manager at club level.
    The county board have a lot of questions to answer on how they came to this decision when there were way better candidates interviewed for the job.
    The proof is in the pudding given that we finished bottom of the table It was clearly the wrong decision.

  30. As a mayoman living in Sligo, I have seen that they changed their development program about 15 years ago, and really started to make progress about 7 or 8 years ago at school level. They actually have some talent coming through in recent years and I could see them becoming a division 2 side over the next few years. Many of this years Sligo U20 team played on last years AI and could well win connacht again. Their management team are experienced at both underage and more recently with club management.
    From watching this Mayo team over the last two matches, they looked poorly coached more than lacking necessarily raw talent. They obviously lacked physicality which is a significant disadvantage at any age grade. There is an issue over a long number of years with how we coach our forward players at all levels, Roscommon and Galway seem to have a better approach down recent years. This is one of the reasons that we ultimately have failed to make the breakthrough at senior level in recent times, but also explains at younger levels as well.

  31. Really disappointing display. Gardner using the “young players” card is a bit sickening, why didn’t he pick the older lads or are they not good enough, I don’t know. As said previously it was men against boys, serious questions have to be asked about the S&C going on at underage. It’s not good enough for a county like Mayo. Also a major issue in all our games was the lack of a right footed free taker. D Beirne a beautiful kicker off the left but we had no right footed free taker. How many did N Hurley or Tom Flaherty miss?, too many. We continuously complain about no left footed free taker at senior, but in this u20 side it was no right footed kicker. The absence of a natural kicker was very evident, the likes of Tom Lydon or Adam Beirne who i believe is injured could have filled this role. In a game of fine margins free taking is crucial aspect and yet again we fell short in this area.

  32. @Mayo Madness. Fully agree management using the young players excuse is insulting and disingenuous to us and Sligo. Sligo apparently had 11 of these “young “ players on their team last year that won Connacht and almost an all Ireland title? Let’s call it as it is …Sligo were better set up and coached and while we had many chances to win the game in the first half , we completely lost any shape and fell apart in the second half. Please don’t use excuses of young players for this , we know they are a talented group . Management have to take responsibility for this and have a hard look at their coaching techniques and also motivational ones as we clearly lost heart in that second half , with no leadership on or off the pitch as hard as it’s to say. Well done to Sligo , they are well coached and clearly a proud county and I hope they go on and retain Connacht and give it all to win all Ireland .

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