Mayo v Donegal preview

Last night, JPM gave his views on how the other quarter-final clashes might go this weekend and now he’s back with a preview of our crunch meeting on Sunday with defending champions Donegal.

All-Ireland final 2013

After several days of intense debate the battle lines have been drawn for the game of the season for Mayo and Donegal. In some ways this match will define both our teams’ seasons and our managers’ careers. There is much to consider going into this make or break game.

Are we good enough to handle ourselves in Croke Park against top opposition? Are this Donegal team past it?  Have our disjointed displays against Roscommon and London been down just to a lack of quality opposition and our team taking their feet off the gas with the result in the bag? Or are they a true reflection of where this team is actually at?

Have all the injuries and concussions for Donegal been too much to handle? Can they raise their game again after the debacle of the Ulster final? Have we yet to discover our true form and more importantly can we discover (and display) it in time for 4pm Sunday next? So many questions but the truth should be revealed come 6pm Sunday evening.

Currently we are installed as favourites with the bookies however this assessment is as much likely due to Donegal’s key injuries and failure to retain their Ulster crown rather than a judgment that Mayo are man for man a better outfit than Donegal.

They have struggled to convince in Ulster. Their win over Tyrone was classified as a great result against a top team however it must be stated that had Tyrone’s goalkeeper (and free taker) his shooting boots with him, the result could have been quite different. The outcome against Down looked in the bag in the first half however a different Down team emerged and put it right up to the champions in the second. And they looked rattled to say the least. However they prevailed and having come through these tests the national consensus was that maybe they were saving themselves for bigger battles ahead.

However if that was the case then Jim McGuinness either forgot to take Monaghan into account or just didn’t give them enough credit. And he received exactly the kick in the ass that a team deserves when they underestimate the opposition. Monaghan out thought, out fought and generally out classed completely their more illustrious opponents on that memorable day in Clones.

It is a testament to Donegal that they managed to re-group against Laois. Very few teams have managed the six-day turnaround and to win in such a short time period was an achievement in itself. The bigger question now is have the doubts regards this team’s ability to retain their All-Ireland title seeped in too far into the heads of the players? If they have it’s likely to be game over on Sunday next. But if not and they can overcome Mayo then they know they’re right back in the mix.

We have hardly lit up the championship either so far this year. Our convincing win against Galway was followed up by beating Roscommon in Castlebar. But in the final 10 minutes of that game (albeit being over) we lost our focus completely and kicked wide after wide. The London game didn’t re-ignite anyone locally or nationally of our ability to play for 70 minutes. Our reckless passing and lazy-like attitude towards decision making doesn’t set the coals alight as to our ability to defeat the tougher tests that stand in the way.  Certainly we will have to have improved immensely for this battle with the current champions. If we cannot compete for the entire match then I think it’s bye-bye Mayo in this year’s championship.

Ally that with all our own injuries. It will be interesting to see exactly where Donegal target us as being weak. Certainly this is not our strongest team what with both keepers out, questions over the fitness of Ger Cafferkey (he came off in both of the previous matches), Alan Dillon, Andy Moran and Cillian O’Connor. Missing both Michael Conroy and Barry Moran. This is certainly not a full strength Mayo team.

Another angle on this match is all the bickering and back stage talking from the management. It has driven the media wild. And the national forums like Hogan Stand and GAABoard have been going crazy with insults and accusations being thrown from pillar to post by various fans who feel their team is being harshly treated.

But it’s all nonsense really. People have to see that is just mind games. The comments from Jim McGuinness regards player protection were stated to try and give his team an edge (in refereeing terms).  Reports today suggest Mark McHugh might even be fit for Sunday. A remarkable recovery for a man who sounded more or less out for the season according to reports last Saturday evening.

The only question to be asked over Jimmy’s comments was his statement that his players may be deliberately targeted. This is a serious allegation. But say for instance Donegal do prevail on Sunday next and in the process Anthony Thompson or Michael Murphy clothes-line a Mayo player e.g. Kevin Mcloughlin. The press will surely turn on him, especially because of what he has said previously. But does Jimmy really care what the press think of him?

Not one bit in my opinion. Jimmy only cares about Donegal and anything that will give them an edge in the build-up to the clash he will try and use.  Nothing more, nothing less. In credit James Horan has handled it well in his reply. His piece in the Irish Examiner comes across as being careful and mindful and at the same time he defends his team and sends out his own stingers towards Jimmy.

Certainly it adds a lot of spice to the match but there may be an unfortunate end to it as well. A lot of focus has turned to the referee Joe McQuillan as a result. He now has a major role to play and serious decisions to make on Sunday next.

Because of the comments made there is a distinct possibility now of players making a complete meal of any slightly mistimed tackle. And then they will go down like they had been shot.  What happens then when other players start to verbally attack the referee because of perceived targeting or lack of protection? (Aside: these verbal attacks on refs are becoming way more prevalent in GAA football matches this year. It needs to be addressed.)

It’s quite possible that someone will get the line on Sunday next for something that might not be half as bad as it looks. If this is the case and these tactics are employed it will certainly spoil the game and leave a bitter taste in people’s mouths.

Personally I hope it will be a great game on Sunday. Nationally the people cannot wait for it as it promises to be one of the matches of the season. Hopefully it will not be overshadowed by comments made. As to a prediction well if Mayo do get it right, get a good start I think we will win. Simply because we have improved since last year. But all our guys must perform for 70 minutes and we must take all opportunities offered especially in the area of our free taking.  If we don’t however and Donegal get an early lead well they’re nearly impossible to reel back in. I think it will be a low scoring game and a goal for either side could be decisive. There is very little between these teams. Hopefully this one will fall our way.

38 thoughts on “Mayo v Donegal preview

  1. I can’t see how a man with a 5cm hole in his leg two weeks ago has any chance of being able to play on Sunday. If Jimmy Mc had a ‘Duty of Care’ to his players, I dont think he could play Mark McHugh. Duty of care (so long as it doesnt get in the way of Donegal winning) What i’d be afraid of is Mark McHugh playing, recieving a ligitimate challenge, having to go off and then big Joe McQuillan perceiving said challenge as illigitime,

    Really Looking Forward to this game. If the mayo players are chomping at the bit as much as they should be, (as much as I am!) it’ll be a cracker. Expecting Andy Moran to have a huge game. I imagine he’s dying to get a crack of the whip.

  2. A few slight contradictions to the piece above, Ger Caff was subbed against both Galway and the rossies due to picking up yellow cards, clever management by the monsenior givin Shane McHale championship game time, so wouldn’t be concerned about his fitness, while Andy and CoC are comming back from injury they both have time on the pitch which is reassuring ask hopefully they can push in, in cillians case didn’t look off the pace v London when introduced. Big Barry is a huge bonus if a when he’s fit and by all accounts will be on the bench Sunday, the O Shea brothers would be hard dislodged at present, hennelly is a quality keeper, can kick 45s which clarky can’t, David Clarke is undoubtedly our no 1 but hennelly is a close second! All in all, I’m dyin to take my seat in the cusack stand Sunday, confident our lads will use last year’s hurt and frustration to steer us home!

  3. Emmet predicted with a huge amount of confidence that Ballymun would beat Brigids by about 6 points. Emmet’s a good one but he aint always right. I think Mayo will win this myself, then have the easier task of beating Tyrone or Monaghan in the semis. Hope Cork can some how beat Dublin, that would leave it a wee bit easier for the rhurbarbs.

  4. I have a sneaking suspicion that whoever emerges from our half of the draw (hopefully us) won’t have the Dubs to worry about. Those Kerry hoors have a mean and hungry look about them this year and I’d say that they’re itching for a go at the Dubs in the semi if that’s how it pans out.

    I’ve no idea when the team will be named, Mayomad, but reports earlier on said Donegal would name their side at some point today so I’d say there’s a good chance we’ll do likewise before the day is out.

  5. I heard a rumour that the Hill will be opened for Sunday. Can anyone confirm this ?

  6. It’s no rumour, JPM. The GAA announced that it would be open earlier in the week (shortly after first saying that it wouldn’t be). I think the Cavan lads were outraged that there’d be no cheap tickets for Sunday!

  7. Really looking forward to this, I believe we have a team that can do the business this time and am not concerned by Donegal’s “frailty” – real or imagined. Last year Murphy was not doing much up to September either, and we all know what happened – ditto Mc Hugh injury don’t be surprised..”they will do whatever it takes”.and so will we and I think we are a better outfit and will win.
    Having said that I have some concerns ; Cillians shoulder- there is a huge possibility that if properly “targeted” it will pop again so we should only expect about 20- 30 mins full on from him surely the best time for this is early in the game?
    Dillon.; The one player who has always played well when we have had big wins in croker
    contrast his performance against Dublin and Donegal last year.
    This year Is he injury hampered or a bit off form ? probably some of both.
    we need him clicking on Sunday and be ready to take action if not.
    I would have liked to see Carolan get a run against Londain I know he dipped against Ross But He is a grafter and I feel we will need his graft.
    I have a feeling Mayo are ready for this in a way that they couldnt be last year so go at it lads and if we, in the words of John C- Carpe Diem then anything is possible who knows maybe even.. Tiocfaidh ar la !

  8. I’d say McEneany’s large ego and the love he has for the sound of his own voice may have something to do with it. If he’d any sense he’d have kept his trap shut but by giving his tuppence on it he adds further fuel to the issue.

  9. Think ill head up Sunday.Tickets are nicely priced at 30e and a tener back when i produce the oul student card.
    Donegal are without doubt going to go out and frustrate the shite out of us We need to keep the heads.We all know that Donegal are going to defend with numbers at the back.We need fast direct ball into our forward line to counteract the Donegal defense. With all the talk i heard from Ciaran Whelan coming in cold into Croke park I don’t see that.However if we got Dublin that would be a different story So lads i think its a bad draw at all.Fuck it Mayo to win by 6 points

  10. Wj, you mentioned Laois, they were beyond lucky to beat wexford, Wexford kicked 18 wides to Laois kicking 2 wides and won by 2 points. They are certainly not a force to measure donegal against. If Mayo get it right on the day and be careful not to rise to any provocation they can win it with a few to spare.

    My prediction

    Mayo 1 14
    Donegal 12

  11. Very good piece JPM…I think your comments on the possibility of someone seeing the line in this match is very real. And I suspect Jimmy wil have his team well prepared to indulge in the pinching/pulling, name calling etc. That behavior wears on a player over time and that player may lash out….thats what I’m concerned about. Such an act would play completly into Donegal’s plan to win the match, so James better have them well prepared, mentally as well as physically.

    Sean, is the banner finished and ready for the Hill?

  12. re the banner, nope, will never try anything like that again, wasted a few quid on materials too, it is something you have to do right or else it will just look tacky and i’m afraid i was heading into the tacky section , lost the head with it in the end and binned the lot. lol

  13. did anyone read the michael gallagher artical of the western people about donegal and their dark art and the fouling they do sorry about spelling

  14. Cant get the Western here Cat but going on previous pre-game write-ups, this doesnt surprise me.
    Also, it sells newspapers and gets the supporters fired up.
    Although I love pouring through the special editions, such as the football previews (me dad posts a copy), the Western’s analysis and oulook can sometimes be naieve.

  15. Don’t often comment the site but am always on here for info.Keep up the good work WJ,congrats on your figures and running the site better than any other i spend time on.

    I dont think McHugh will start if his injuries are as severe as Jimmy said they were.I hope he does start as he wont be up to much and it’ll show show that Jimmy is panicking.He does seem to be losing the plot with the rubbish he came out with the last day.People seem to think its some genius mind games because of his professional background but I think hes starting to crack a bit.Anyway.enough about him,no Mayo player will be paying any attention to him so i dont see why we should as supporters.

    Id be a bit worried about Cillian being targeted.In a tight game a player like him who will knock over everything from dead balls is the winning and losing of the game.This won’t be lost on Mcguinness and co.Like a lot of others on here I’d also be worried about them trying to get players sent off,through sly digs,sledging etc.We have to trust that James will have the players well warned about stuff like that.This games is impossible to call but I’ll go for Mayo 10-8 in a very tight game.

  16. Looking forward to game,
    With Barry Moran fully fit, I think it would be a shame to leave him on the bench.
    I watched him, create havock in the Dublin full back line in the league in Castlebar, last year and having watched our full forward line, in the All Ireland Final , last year been pushed around and intimidated by the Donegal full back line, I would play Barry , in at Full Forward.He could move ,in and out, to centre field diamond, for kick-outs, and could swap with Aiden O Shea, to give him a breather.We would have ball winners, in our full forward line and would be playing close to Donegal,s goals and plenty of scores would follow.
    Barry, at full forward would be a great help to Alan Freeman and Andy Moran.
    My team would read, R.Hennelly,T Cuniffe,G.Cafferkey, K.Higgins,L Keegan,D.vaughan,C.Boyle.AOShea,S.OShea,K.McLoughlin, K. O Connor,A.Dillon,A.Freeman,B.Moran, A.Moran.
    Watching Killian O Connor, since his return and watching the team , in the league, without him, he gives the forwards balance, he is a leader as well as a free taker, all of which are a big plus.
    Alan Dillon, is a Croke Parke speciallist, he loves the open spaces and will play well, when the standard of football is high.
    If we hold the Donegal Full forward line and if our full forward line can penetrate the Donegal full back line, and take our scores as they come, then we have it solved.

  17. JPM i thought The games against Roscommon,Galway were similar in Salthill three goals ended the contest at half time and in Castlebar 6 points in row ended that game. The 2nd half in both games was dead no intensity,no excitement nothing..

    The Connacht final v London was sombre and i think Horan and the players learnt more against Monaghan in the challenge game. I think Mayo will win on Sunday however if ever a game was open for Donegal ambush this is it.

  18. Game in salt Hill Andy Moran came on and capped the day with a fine goal. In Castlebar at home we just didn’t do anything for final 10 mins. Didn’t create any goal chances and couldn’t even kick points. In my mind looked like we had gone back a little. That’s the way I remember it anyway.

  19. I think too little has been said about the loss of Clarke in goal.Not only is he an outstanding shot stopper and keeper in general but also I think he exudes the calm confidence that every defender likes to feel behind them.In other words he has the complete trust of the six backs.I don’t think Hennelly,while a decent keeper,is at Clarkes level.He will be a big loss.
    If the two OSheas are named at midfield we have to keep the midfield battle between the two fifties which is their terrain.A good physical joust there would suit us.
    Finally I think the game will be won and lost in our forward line.If we have improved since last year we have a good chance.Mcloughlin,Dillon and O Connor usually make smart decisions on the ball so they don’t worry me.Its the first big game in croker for Carolan if named so hopefully he does himself justice.The two other worries for me are Moran and Freeman.Moran looked off the pace in all his games this summer.Im not doubting his ability but I hope hes had enough time to get to 100per cent physically because hes our natural leader on the pitch.Freeman has played well this year but playing against the all Ireland champions in Croke Park is a big step up from our Connacht foes this year.Its time for him to deliver on his potential-he has teased us now for a couple of years until the the really big physical games come around.If he plays well I think we win.Best of luck lads.

  20. would cillian be able for donegal the mgees wlll catch him out and then we are n trouble what do you think am i being unfair funny feeling mayo wlll beat the donegalers

  21. I agree that d Clarke is a big loss, but remember that hennelly is a more than capable man to step up in clarks place. and hennellly has the added talent of kicking long range frees or 45s and it counts for something were o connor to have an off day.
    I think we should leave jimbo mc to his stupid talk and mind games, they done him no good in the league or ulster final and appear to be words from a desperate man. nobody on this site or any other site can say for sure who will win but I think Mayo are in a great position to win this game at least.
    I hope its a dry day and I am really looking forward to the whole spectacle, including the other games. cavan are the only team I think may be easily taken and even they have at least a chance.
    When can we start playing that Ginger Melodeon song? if we win sunday is Monday a good day for it?

  22. jpm says:
    July 31, 2013 at 6:53 pm
    Game in salt Hill Andy Moran came on and capped the day with a fine goal. In Castlebar at home we just didn’t do anything for final 10 mins. Didn’t create any goal chances and couldn’t even kick points. In my mind looked like we had gone back a little. That’s the way I remember it anyway.

    Wasn’t the Andy Moran goal scored against 13 man Galway? was a few goal chances created against Roscommon Feeney,Dillion missed them and 21 points was scored in that game which was good scoring. Only 11 points scored v London which was poor.

  23. Yup. Andy Moran goal was scored when Galway had 13 men. No denying that. chances And goal chances were created against Roscommon. I know we scored 21 points etc but i thought we didn’t push on and although Roscommon gave up I felt we should not have also petered out

    take that example of Kerry against Waterford – game was well and truly over. Gooch asks ref whats left. told 5 mins left and shouts to lads c’mon lets get 5 more scores.

    That level of determination to keep going right to the end irregardless of the score on the board. Perhaps something we could and should have as well

  24. Freeman has earned his chance and is tougher than ppl think, this guy can do it.
    We also need cover for Cillian, so would start without him just to dull focus of Mc Gees, Carolan could start as they wont get much change from him or if not, Barry (who can mix it).
    If the Mc Gees are going to start anything it will have to be early on, as refs usually let a game develop before taking any extreme action.
    I think if we contain them early on and then get the lead, we could win this by a margin……a good margin 8 to 10 points.
    (don’t call the men in white coats till after 6pm Sun…….please)

  25. Well it’s hard not to petered out when leading by 10 + plus points and both sides are clearing the bench. When you win a game by over 15 points it’s more about the opposition giving up than anything else.

    A one point win for Mayo on Sunday will do just fine.

  26. absolutely sean…with this build up, I can see this been a very tense atmosphere…Mayo will need a few points to settle in the first few mins and by all means, DO NOT GIVE UP A GOAL!

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