Mayo v Dublin – a rivalry renewed

It’s a running joke ever since I can remember amongst friends that the McLoughlin family rocks up to every Mayo game three hours before throw-in. Beating the traffic, finding a good parking spot to make a quick exit post-game and having a few pints beforehand is a ritual of my father’s. Work colleagues, GAA-affiliated or otherwise, from all corners of Ireland and beyond think that it’s crazy stuff altogether. I shrug in retort and rely on the useful old adage that I have often trotted out over the years – it must be a Mayo thing!

Last Saturday was no exception. At 3.30pm (bit late for us granted for a 6pm throw-in), my mother, the little fella and I found a few invaluable seats together in the stand. Dad naturally enjoyed the match day hospitality of An Sportlann while we conveniently saved his seat for him . His loss – the musical entertainment on the field – stoked the atmosphere nicely pre-game and it would be no harm to make this a regular occurrence in MacHale Park. After all, who doesn’t like to hear “The Green and Red of Mayo” sang twice by a Galway man on our home turf?!

Anyway, it was a delightfully dirty evening in Castlebar so we were thankful for our shelter. It wasn’t the conditions though that won the game for Mayo. Mayo were far hungrier, more physical and more willing to kill for their jersey than their Donegal counterparts. Donegal weren’t let play and stars such as Murphy, McBrearty and McHugh were for the most part meticulously marshalled by their Mayo markers.

The atmosphere within the stadium was electric, a cauldron of passion and pride, with the rain doing damn all to dampen the spirits of the Mayo crowd. I have never experienced an atmosphere in MacHale Park quite like last Saturday night. The enormity of this Super 8s ‘winner takes all’ fixture was not lost on the Mayo crowd and, buoyed on by the raucous support, the boys delivered a performance worthy of an All-Ireland semi-final date with Dublin this Saturday evening.

I could go on a negative rant about the unfairness of the seven day turnaround for Mayo, or the financial resources available to the ‘Boys in Blue’ or the farce that was the ‘Coma in Omagh’ enabling both Dublin and Tyrone to field their reserve sides. However, there is little point at this stage. The only thing I care about is what happens in Croke Park at 6pm on Saturday evening. We have the mammoth but magnificently mouth-watering prospect of toppling the five-in-a row chasing Dubs on what is, essentially, their home patch.

Will we do it? I honestly don’t know. Can we do it? Absolutely. One thing I am sure of is that this team won’t die wondering.

The game on Saturday is going to be epic. For me it is the fixture I love and hate most in equal measures. I have lived in Dublin for eleven years now, just a couple of convenient train stops from Drumcondra at all times. I absolutely love the build-up to these games; the colour, the city v country rivalry, the Mayo flag outside the house, the newspaper previews, the podcasts, this blog of course, the constant talk about the game. I love the game itself. I love the hope of victory.

But my God, I hate losing to them. Worse again, I hate having to live here amongst them in the weeks after surrounded by blue (to match my mood!) everywhere I go. Many a Monday in September has been spent with a close Mayo ally in a quiet dark pub in Dublin far away from any of the “Come on you Boys in Blue” celebrations. As the aforementioned Galway man once sang “to win just once would be enough”. It is this hope that keeps me going.

The little fella was born in Dublin too and has lived here for all of his almost nine years. Needless to say, the Mayo jersey is mandatory for him when the Dubs bring Sam Maguire to the school. They get no homework too when Dublin win the All-Ireland so I assign him some myself just to avoid any conflict of interest.  Perennial conversations with Dublin friends regarding my son’s county loyalties around this time each year have tested both mine and their patience:

Dub:       Was he born in Dublin?
Me:         Yes.
Dub:       And does he live in Dublin?
Me:         Yes.
Dub:       And he goes to school in Dublin?
Me:         Yes.
Dub:       So he’s a Dub?
Me:         Absolutely not! What gives you that idea!!

Yes I know the above isn’t logical, but where does logic come into it? Logic goes out the window when it comes to Mayo, doesn’t it? Being a Mayo supporter, going to MacHale Park and Croke Park every year, be it freezing in February or sun shining in September, is part of my identity. I see it as both a duty and an honour to pass this on to my son regardless of where we are living.

Being a Mayo supporter isn’t restricted to county or indeed country boundaries. This forum you are reading is global. What’s more, through supporting our boys in Green and Red on evenings like last Saturday in Castlebar, the little lad’s bond with Mayo is now stronger than ever. Another chapter in the Mayo odyssey awaits us this weekend.

Now that the sentimentality is out of the way, let’s deal with the game itself and look at Dublin from a playing perspective. This Dublin team is exceptional. They play an attacking brand of football and are blessed with supremely an athletic and talented squad of players. Players such as Cluxton, McCaffrey, McCarthy, O’Sullivan, Fenton, Kilkenny, Mannion and O’Callaghan are all phenomenal athletes as well gifted footballers. We cannot dispute this. We must concede this point. We have enough fantastic footballers of our own too.

Allied with a high calibre of player is a driven manager who seems to have read every “management speak” handbook that has ever been published. He probably regards it as a “privilege as Dublin manager” just to butter his toast in the morning! He may carry an air, scratch that, a waft of smugness but much of Dublin’s success is down to Jim Gavin. His ability to keep his players driven and motivated to win five out of six All-Irelands under his reign is a remarkable achievement.

Gavin’s dealings with the media are laughable, filled with empty platitudes but he doesn’t care one iota about that. Unlike many Dublin managers and teams that went before him, Gavin has no interest in him or his players hogging the limelight. His sole aim is to deliver success for Dublin football.

Dublin’s 2019 championship statistics make for impressive reading. In their six championship games to date, Dublin have scored an average of 28 points with a concession rate of just 12 points per game. Contrast this with Mayo who in their eight championship games to date, have scored an average of 19 points with a concession rate of 15 points.

Photo: RTÉ

What Dublin have not been this championship campaign is severely tested. The Leinster championship was even more uncompetitive than usual with Dublin winning their three games by an average winning margin of 19 points. Their first Super 8s game brought some form of a challenge with Cork impressing for large periods before succumbing to a five-goal blitz and ultimately a thirteen-point defeat. The Rossies provided no test whatsoever as they were swept aside by 18 points. The win last weekend by Dublin B versus Tyrone B does not merit analysis.

So the question must be asked are Dublin battle hardened enough for what lies ahead on Saturday evening? Will Dublin be ready for the maddening chaos that Mayo will bring to try to upset them from their usual game? We will only know the answers to these questions come 7pm on Saturday but Mayo will inevitably bring a challenge that Dublin have not yet faced this year.

As for Mayo, this will be our seventh game in eight weeks. Dublin have played three fewer games in this period. However, maybe the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place at just the right time for James Horan’s charges. The seven day gap between games is not ideal but there are encouraging signs of Mayo progress in recent weeks.

Jason Doherty’s cruciate ligament injury is a blow, no doubt, both for the team and him personally. Jason is a fine player, who works like a dog every time he puts on the Mayo jersey, winning crucial turnovers and breaking ball. He has always been good for a long-range point or two as well.

Notwithstanding that cruel blow, there is positive news. Tom Parsons and Matthew Ruane returned to the squad last weekend with Ruane galloping like a new-born lamb in spring when released off the bench in the latter stages. Paddy Durcan was back and in imperious form in a “rampaging, points scoring, Ryan McHugh shackling” Man-of-the-Match performance.

Keith Higgins returned too, and as a result of his early black card, will be fresh for this weekend. Robbie Hennelly returned in goals for the injured David Clarke and his kick-outs were impressive. In my book, he has done enough to retain the number one jersey for the crucial game ahead. Kick-outs will be pivotal, as always, and Hennelly just has the edge over Clarke in this facet of the game.

Our captain Diarmuid O’Connor could return from his broken wrist injury as well as Donal Vaughan from injury and suddenly even with Doherty’s absence, our strength in depth looks much more formidable than when we faced Dublin in 2016 and 2017. Players such as Colm Boyle, Paddy Durcan, Lee Keegan, Aidan O’Shea and Andy Moran are all finding some form too at the right time which gives further foundation for optimism.

In terms of personnel changes, I expect Kevin McLoughlin to come in for the unfortunate Doherty. I would also start Ruane alongside Aidan O’Shea in midfield. Dublin are a mobile team and Croke Park is a big pitch. Whilst Seamie O’Shea has been impressive in both of his return games, Ruane’s mobility and engine will be paramount. This selection leaves the bench looking strong with players such as Eoin O’Donoghue, Seamie O’Shea, Tom Parsons, Donal Vaughan, Andy Moran and potentially Conor Loftus, Fergal Boland or Ciarán Treacy to come in and make a contribution.

Photo: Sports Joe

Whether to start or finish with Andy Moran is always a conundrum that I wrestle with. Darren Coen is clearly struggling for form and just seems off the pace of the high intensity games that the Super 8s provided. That said, I think it’s preferable and more uplifting for the team to bring Andy off the bench. If Coen can find the form of his Roscommon and Armagh showings, then this would provide a much needed attacking threat up front. If things don’t go well in the first half as against Donegal, then at least there is the option to call on Andy when needed.

For Mayo to beat Dublin, a lot of things will need to go right on the day. Once again, a deluge of rain would help! Wet conditions would provide a helter-skelter nature to the game and I think this would play into our hands. After all, we love a bit of chaos. It would also aid defences and, given that Dublin rack up an average score of 28 points per game (including 2 to 3 goals), any bit of assistance in disrupting their attack would be beneficial.

Weather aside, we also have tenacious, teak-tough defenders who have proven they are capable of quietening the very best forwards in the game. Mayo possess defenders that can match up and curb the influence of the best Dublin attackers. Possible match-ups include Keegan on Kilkenny; Harrison on Mannion; Barrett on O’Callaghan; Durcan on McCaffrey. These individual battles could be where the game is won or lost.  

Photo: Times UK

Also, from looking at our own scoring totals against Dublin since 2012, our highest tally has been 19 points. If we expect our defence to hold their own against the Dublin attack, then we will likely need improved showings from our attack. Our average scoring margin this year is 19 points and we may need to reach this or even exceed it on Saturday. Big games are required from whichever six forwards start and I am expecting a big game from Cillian O’Connor. He has not yet hit his usual heights after his return from injury but Saturday could well be the day.

One other factor in our favour where other teams fall down is that Mayo have the physicality and athleticism required to go toe-to-toe with Dublin. There is a misconception that this current Mayo team is an old team against the young pups of Dublin. The average age of the Mayo fifteen which started and defeated Donegal last Saturday was 28 years of age. The average age of the Dublin team which started against Roscommon in their last meaningful game was also 28 years of age. Our lads are by no means over the hill yet and I firmly expect Mayo to go down the final stretch with victory there for the taking.

Mayo versus Dublin has unquestionably been the rivalry of the decade. Yes, in terms of results, it has been one of dominance for the Dubs. However, results alone do not make a rivalry. What makes this rivalry so compelling is our conviction that we are equals. Mayo put it up to them where other teams bow down before them. It is our capacity to keep coming back at them no matter what challenge is thrown down; to show them no fear and to never say die.

This Mayo team have undoubtedly the qualities to test Dublin, to pose questions that no other county poses to them. Dublin are chasing five-in-a-row. They are striving to be acclaimed as the greatest GAA team of all time. The pressure is all on them. Let’s give them their fill of it on Saturday evening; let’s bring them to the brink once more and maybe, just maybe, this time the rivalry will swing in our favour for once.

65 thoughts on “Mayo v Dublin – a rivalry renewed

  1. We’ll win, why? We’ll win because we want it more. We were ferocious against Donegal, we’re the rabid underdog, the players we’ve coming back to boost us.

    For what it’s worth I’d start Matthew for Jason and play with 3 midfielders spread right across the full width of Croker and let’s see how good the Dubs are in this area.

    Also, Hennelly to go long with kickouts too like last weekend, they cant score from their own 45.

    Can’t wait.

    Up. Mayo. Boom.

  2. Good piece there, pressure certainly on the dubs for this one. I would add one thing though, we need a curve ball. The obvious one is aiden to ff if Ruane fit to partner Séamus in mf, especially if greasy conditions. Only thing to rattle the dubs is unpredictable quick high ball. Some people will jump down my throat straight away on that. Don’t be lazy, offer up another one.
    A curve ball from Gavin could be to start Connolly. A lot of rejigging of match ups would be needed then.

  3. I would start Ruane, and both O’Sheas, Aidan wearing 11 but have all three playing in around the middle 8 with Seamus and Aidan as your primary midfielders and Ruane just marking Fenton. That could essentially leave Aido as a free man. Aido could drop into the position J Doc took up last week at CHF, if Hennelly retains his spot he can hit him with kickouts, if not Aido can drop back in front of midfield as an option to either receive or get in around the breaks.
    Parsons can come on for Seamie with 10 15 minutes to go.
    If K Mac plays like he did the last day I would start him but more often than not recently, his best games have been off the bench. I would start him instead of Darren Coen with again licence to be link man between the two 45s. Hes also well able to take a shot. Alternatively start Coen, give him 20 minutes and if he’s like he was in Castlebar swap with K Mac.
    I think Eoin O’Donoghue warrants a starting place instead of Zippy for his ability to man mark.
    Durcan in the half forward position but picking up McCaffrey. We’re light on forwards with that selection but our wing backs are well able to score and this strategy is based around suffocating Dublin and making it really hard for them.
    Zippy and Andy to come on, Andy at half time

  4. Nice piece Tom but if I mention Clarke Hennnely again I reckon Willie joe will insert the deleted sign !!

    A really enjoyable read .

  5. Great piece Tom, very enjoyable read especially in the context of bringing up kids not born in Mayo, but are Mayo kids. Also great piece in the Irish Times to-day by Eamon Donoghue about Lee & Paddy, unbelievable statistics if they’re true!

  6. I see posters frequently hoping for rain this Saturday. I was in Croke Park for our league game against Dublin this year. I recall one of our back slipping two separate occasions when a Dublin player was running at us directly resulting in two goals. Rain was fine in McHale park on a tight heavy pitch but slipping and sliding around Croke park and potentially leaving a pacey jinking Dublin player bearing down on goal is far from ideal. This of course can work the other way too too but my most recent memory of playing Dublin in the rain was exceedingly unpleasant.

  7. As the days pass and the hours come into focus I have a distinct impression that people are very much blowing in the wind when it comes to their predictions on both games this weekend. I was having a chat to a few friends and the general consensus was that there were so many reasons that the Dubs should steamroll Mayo on Saturday that it would be insanity to comprehend anything other than the expected outcome. That said, most in the conversation agreed that with Mayo logical conclusion had the same standing as words of wisdom at a clairvoyance wine tasting convention.

    To me mayo are a genuine enigma as they don’t sail with the wind or float with the tide when it comes to football. I have watched them struggle with the minnows managing only to scrape over the gate in games where luck had as much to do with their win as their skill. The thing is that when it comes down to life or death they can step up to the plate like no other team, the greater the challenge the more dangerous they become as Mayo fear no one.

    The format will change next year I am sure but it is immeasurably foolish and from a player welfare point of view bordering on reckless to expect amateur players to play the biggest game of the year thus far with a six day rest period. The logistical requirements and prematch preparation for mayo (and Kerry to a lesser extent as our last game was not as challenging) have been so tightly compressed that it beggars belief and one can come to only one conclusion and that is that the Think Tank that rolled out the playing schedule have worn suits a lot longer than they wore boots.

    J Gavin & M Harte rested their team on Sunday last and played out a glorified challenge game where Gavin offered water and scraps from the top table garnished with salubrious bounty to a B team that included past warriors and a few lads trying to run a little football back into their legs. If Mayo beat them on Saturday next the lack of real championship minutes will be the first unpleasant corpse of the Sunday morning post Morten. I can see why he might rest his team but they are the least tested and travelled team left in the race. Mayo are at full speed and absolute match readiness going into this game and while the turn around time is short I think they will rise to this challenge. The dubs simply haven’t had a hard game since they last played ye in the final of ‘17 and that’s a long time. A v B games are good but it’s just not the same as the battle of championship football.

    One concern is that donegal had ample opportunity to steal that game despite the possession ye had and the turnover percentage from the dogged tackling ye brought to the game. Ye kept them in the hunt with poor shooting and poor options when they were on the ropes, the dubs won’t be so forgiving. I’d put Durcan on mccaffrey as he is strong and has great pace, the problem with Jack is that when he comes through like a rocket he affords the other Dublin forwards space as invariably their markers have to decide will I stick with my man or will I try to stop him. Usually while they make this split second decision their man has a yard or two on them and in that chaos they hurt you. There are so many strings to their bow that James Horan has much to consider. Keegan is the ultimate “boyo” and he can neutralize just about anyone that plays the game, whoever gets saddled with him will have a long day and that’s for sure.

    I know that the keeper is a somewhat contentious issue on here but I would 100% go with hennelly. The dubs will go with their zonal press and force the keeper to go long, Clarke is probably the best shot stopper in the game and he commands the square but his outfield delivery would be devoured by that Dublin press. You simply have to be able to ping a ball to a player that makes a preplanned run in a kick out strategy. With the dubs this is the only way that ye will find your man, he will undoubtedly make errors but so will cluxton if mayo return the press to the Dublin setup.

    Hard to know what will happen on Sunday with Tyrone, they are very strong in the tackle and their players have great experience at this level. They were in the AIF last year and may prove too strong for us as we have many pups and not enough growlers for a team like them. Kerry won’t fear them and our guile and youthful exuberance may undo the Tyrone team. Our counter attack has to be fast and if we can get a lead and get them out of the trenches I’d give us a fifty fifty chance. Part of me thinks I’d rather lose to Tyrone in a semi than the dubs in the five in a row final. Jaasus perish the thought ,

    Safe travel to all and like the other thirty one counties we hope ye do it

  8. Great piece Tom.

    I really get what you’re saying about the offspring of the Mayo diaspora staying true to their origins. It was the same for me, and it’s the same for my kids. I’m a lifetime out of Mayo but in many ways this has made the link even stronger. I’ve consciously tried not to push this into my own brood, but they see how ingrained it is in me and want to be part of it. We’re living abroad at the moment so that’s probably fed into it.

    We’re on the way to Cherbourg at the moment. Will arrive into Dublin on Friday morning. Had planned this trip home long ago so the timing is spot on.

    Have the night on the ferry now to listen to the podcast as I walk the deck – will stick the colors on the WB Yeats!

  9. Yes, great piece Tom, I enjoyed that read immensely,
    I totally identify with alot of those sentiments too.
    On a different note, if anyone on here has a spare tickets, I would really appreciate it.
    I’m getting a bit desperate at this stage. I’ll take Nally, Hill whatever.
    My wife and I are mad for Mayo, and we go to as many games as pos, but we’ve been curtailed a fair bit by the birth of our twins 14 months ago, so it’s a case of getting the very odd game now, or tuning into RTE and that God awful lot at Sky (apart from Peter Canavan) the rest of the time.
    HQ has given me the green light for Sat, but I won’t travel without a ticket. Thanks folks

  10. Great piece Tom and excellent analysis Gamechanger. For sure the lack of being tested will come back to haunt Dublin on Saturday.

  11. tbf to sky i dont belive they should have any coverage as a matter of principle but the standard of their analysis is leagues ahead of rte, actually analysing the games and not plugging some unrelated agendas like the rte lot

    they had James horan in the studio last week immediately after the final whistle last week to be interviewed by canavan in front of the playback screen, it was class. Canavan and JH discussing the game openly, RTE arent in the same league

  12. Great to see some objective, hopeful, analysis from Gamechanger – very welcome. Yes, the Dubs haven’t raised a sweat yet – by God a different story for Mayo. Is anyone courageous enough to name a probable Dublin team to start – am not up to date? Mayo for 2019, Kerry later on!!

  13. I love these games. I love them for alot of reasons, but mainly due to their unpredictability.

    What has gone before can be looked at, poked, prodded and dissected with gusto – and still you might just as well be looking at tea-leaves for indicators of how things might pan out.

    “Ah sure the Dubs look suspect under the high ball”. What team doesn’t? High ball into the forwards has always been a high variance tactic. That hasn’t changed in as long as any of us have been watching the game.

    “Ah sure rain will suit X and not Y”. Last time I checked, it rains the same amount on all 30 players. Certainly, wet conditions are a leveler in terms of generally keeping the scoring rates lower, but both Dublin and Mayo thrive on fast, explosive play -and rain is not the ally of that tactic.

    “Ah sure Mayo are all oul fellas”. The most gassed player last weekend was Michael Murphy. Sure Seamie doesn’t have 70 minutes in him, but neither does Brogan. That said, Ruane and Connolly are no paltry replacements for either.

    So, if the old reliable cliches trotted out by pundits hold no insight into what will happen on Saturday, then maybe we can look at form as some kind of key indicator.

    As the saying goes “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

    Roscommon dumped Mayo out of the championship this year by a single point. Dublin on the other hand, brushed aside Connacht’s finest by 18 points, without really breaking a sweat. Do anyone really think that Mayo will lose by 19 points based on this? They do in me Bollix.

    Kerry hammer Mayo, Kerry Draw with Donegal. Mayo hammer Donegal. Figuring out form from that one is like trying to untangle a ball of wet wool. No help there.

    The Coma in Omagh? Nothing to see here. Two B teams in a light-hearted challenge game.

    Leinster tells us nothing, the backdoor very little, and league form about as much. Mayo are League champions, but the outing against Dublin in that campaign is one to be forgotten.

    If the pundit observations don’t tell us anything, nor previous recent form – that about the old reliable head to head?

    In the last 6 championship meetings, the combined winning margin for Dublin was 10 points – but 7 of those were in a single game, the 2015 semi replay. In the last 3 encounters, and combined margin was 2 points. Three finals decided by a single point. No inspiration for a prediction can come from here.

    I’m a big fan of stats, and in this regard the Blog of Dontfoul is one of the best there is. It should be required reading for all GAA fans, and if you are not familiar with this stuff, I’d urge you to delve in. The work he does on statistical breakdowns of games and players is a real eye opener. And that brings us to the one thing I feel gives a real indicator of how things might go on Saturday – Shot Efficiency.

    Possession is not worth much, if you can’t do anything useful with it on the scoreboard. The efficiency with which you use the possession you have, is what usually sorts the winners from the also-rans. Dublin are the masters of efficiency, whereas Mayo left 1-7 or 8 behind them last week, and kept Donegal in a game that should have been out of sight by half time. That said, Mayo still hold the title of highest shot efficiency in an all Ireland final that wasn’t on the winning side.

    Now, making your shots count on a wet and windy day (and it is forecast as “blustery”), with a top-class defender in your face is a whole different prospect. Dead Ball percentages count here too, looks like it won’t be a great day for the free-takers, but it will be a head to head with the best two in the modern game. Alot will rest on how they fare, and on how many chances both defences give them with scoreable frees.

    We could go on about other factors – player availability for example. Doherty is an undoubted loss, but both Diarmuid and Tom in the 26 is an undoubted lift if it comes to be. The recent form of Kilkenny and Costello is a cause for minor concern, as is throwing in untested/undercooked players like Connolly, Paddy Small or Bugler into the mix. Not much to go on here.

    What about the sidelines? Jim who has never lost a championship game to Mayo, versus Horan, the man who plotted the downfall of Donegal with a near-perfect set of matchups. Can he do it again? Can Jim counter him? Who knows?

    If the cold hard facts of statistical analysis are not to one’s liking, there is always the decisions of the heart to fall back on. Maybe Saturday comes down to who wants it more.

    The team chasing immortality of five-in-a-row?
    The team looking to finally reach the promised land?

    A weight of expectation rests on both teams. Who will bear it the better? Neither are strangers to it, and I’ve not seen one iota of evidence to show that it has, or has ever gotten to either. I would speculate that expectation is not a big factor here – after all, there are no trophies to be handed out on Saturday evening. This is about earning the right to a shot at the title, nothing more – but certainly nothing less.

    All we really know for sure, is that come 7:30ish this Saturday, one team will have fallen, and one team will still be standing. Probably. Unless it’s a draw. Jasus, don’t do that to us.

    As I said, I love these games. But be wary of anyone who can tell you confidently what’s going to happen – they might also try to sell you a bridge down the end of O’Connell Street – swearing blindly that they are it’s legitimate owners.

  14. My possible Dublin starting fifteen:



    McCarthy/ O’Sullivan
    J Small




    P Small will get a run in the forward line at some point, as may Bugler and Dermo. But that’s guessing.
    Murchan could get a place if Jim wants someone specific man-marked.

  15. With the exception of Jason .. Looks like we will have our strongest panel of the year to choose from .. Our form before the Donegal match would suggest that Dublin would be too strong. Really hope Diarmuid is ready for the battle. Hard to know how Tom is but you’d have to imagine that if he’s keeping someone out of the match day squad , that he is going well in training. At our very best , we failed narrowly to beat the Dubs .. They had a slightly stronger bench . The new faces brought in have certainly helped our cause .. Might need a bit of luck on Saturday.. There will be a massive crowd from Mayo .. If we can get mobility into midfield , we just might do it ..

  16. Big selection decisions for Horan.

    1. Clarke or hennelly
    2. Higgins or O’Donuhue
    3. Who’ll play midfield
    4. Who replaces Doherty
    5. Andy or Coen

  17. Great piece – really enjoyed it and resonated personally as I am Dublin born and bred but am a fanatical Mayo fan. My dad is Mayo GAA mad and has engrained his love for Mayo into us from the start. Some on my earliest memories are going to matches to support Mayo. It was hard sometimes explaining to people in school and work why I supported Mayo but it made me love the team more. Especially trying to explain the trips around the country to matches which was alien to so many Dublin supporters.
    And even tho we still haven’t won the main prize I wouldn’t change any bit of our journey, especially over the past few years. The tours around the country to a range of different grounds, the ham sandwiches, pit stops at Supermacs – have given us some of the best days and memories of our lives – days I am so grateful for.
    Saturday will be another great day for the memory bank – I am already getting goosebumps thinking of the team running out onto the pitch. It’s hard to know who will win the match but If we go out and play like we did last weekend it will be close. Overall I am hoping for a great, fair game and am delighted we are still here and the story for 2019 isn’t over yet. I am also thankful to my dad for instilling his grá for Mayo into his Dublin born children.
    We go again and all we can do is enjoy the ride and support the team who will leave everything on the pitch on Saturday. We know whatever happens Saturday we have a team and supporters like no one else in the country and we are lucky to be part of this journey.
    Hon Mayo

  18. I have 1 x upper hogan ticket available if required by anyone. WJ can provide my personal email to contact.

  19. Just looked for tickets on Its saying that more available from at 2.30 today. Log on now if you need tickets.

  20. ALERT….I just got 5 more tickets on sale on Tickets dot ie. get em while they last.

  21. I have a feeling this is a game Horan has targeted since he came back hell it might even be the reason he came back to try and topple the Dubs and win the big one. I’m sure he has been hatching a plan since last September granted he got sidetracked since the Roscommon game ad losing to them and all the injuries weren’t part of the plan but I Reckon he’s privately relishing this game

  22. Good post Supermac. As you obviously have SKY, do you know if the Donegal match is available still on SKY, is being rerun, or can be got in some way or other? I would take the SKY sub for a monty, if I got access to that game.

  23. To Indy 09 – you have very good taste. To Jaden thanks for the possible team – awesome as ever!

  24. Catcol the Donegal Mayo game can be watched on the Sky player until Saturday it’s unavailable after that. I watched it back myself on Monday Horan came into the studio to talk to Peter Canavan and Donaghy he looked a bit like Superman dressed up in his Mayo managers regalia beside Canavan Canavan seemed genuinely delighted for him it’s worth a watch

  25. Great post Jaden. I too am a fan of the statistical analysis, which is probably one of the many reasons I view the Sky match offering is far superior to the dross that passes for RTE’s analysis by the 3 stooges. know, I know, have to pay for it but sure we each pay RTE 160 a year for them to show us what they want.

    the DontFoul blog is great, it’s fairly clear cut in terms of its methodology and analysis. There are a few others as well but some appear to have less published stuff – Rob Carroll was a frequent contributor when he was writing for the42 but he doesn’t appear to be publishing much for the non-paying parties these days.
    For those on Twitter – below the ones I find to give the good snippets.
    @dontfoul (by far the best)

    There does appear to be a severe lack of officially published data online. I understand Sure are the GAA’s stats partner, but for the life of me I’ve never been able to find these details anywhere. It really is a shame, and it is worth highlighting that the Mayogaablog itself is unique as a resource for results history.

  26. @catcol i dont have sky myself, was in castlebar for it. watched it on skyplus at a mates house on the sunday.
    Was very impressed with the quality of analysis though, canavan describes things brilliantly and the interview between himself and JH in the studio minutes after the game was excellent.

    You could tell JH enjoyed conversing with a fellow student of the game like Canavan, compared to some of the agenda driven baseless nonsense he would have to subject himself to on the RTE panel

  27. Canavan is a good student of the game alright @:FDBinashui. The tools at his disposal highlight what he says, as opposed to being gimmicks. He has some great half-time insights that usually come to pass. If I was a manager, I’d be watching him on me phone at half time!

  28. When you examine the talent – especially orgaisational/scoring, available to Dublin, then you appreciate, not least the psychological barriers, opposition players must first of all overcome, in order to compete. Most teams are “beaten before they get up”.

    Yet, in my opinion, the most significant game this year in this year’s championship was Dublin v Cork (super 8). I was impressed with the way Cork approached the game – full confidence in their own footballing abilities, with no little skill and good shot execution. Sure, the levels of S&C kicked in the last 12 mins. but nevertheless, it showed, that Dublin can be beaten – provided, you have the character/cinfidence, and intelligence for the Colleseum battle.

    The Dublin v Tyrone game was interesting, in the sense that you are always trying to gauge the fringe players desire and motivation… There are always little things unwittingly betrayed in such contests.

    Imo, Costello is low on confidence – his demons seems to stem from having a marksman like Rock breathing down his neck.
    Paddy Andrews, McMenamin, Brogan, O’Carroll well off the pace. I would also contend that Connolly, although showing flashes, will be a last option for Gavin.

    On the other hand, Mayo’s bench is chomping at the bit. To me, it’s still all to play for – a lot of factors come into play – fatigue etc. but who is to say, that in the year, Federer (although losing) contested a brilliant Wimbledon final at 37/38 years of age, in a jaw dropping time of 4 hrs. 57 mins. Mayo cannot produce the perfect game.

    Maybe the slogan for this game should be –
    “not this time, and up the jackser to you, too!!”

  29. The more i think about it Ruane has to start this game, he has the legs to cover the ground in croker and would compliment the physicality of the O’Sheas well as the more advanced of the 3, you are looking at an epic 6 man midfield battle then…

    Biggest unknown for me is how efficient our shooting is going to be, both Michael Murphy this week and Andy Moran in previous interviews have said you need to be hitting 22-25 scores to beat the dubs. The Armagh match aside we have been extremely erratic in our shooting efficiency, i hope we spend pretty much all week on shooting practise because if your not hitting 80%+ accuracy v dublin you can forget about it

  30. I’d agree with you there Supermac but I’d be happy with either Mattie or Diarmuid starting with the other to come on. I’d leave Aiden alternate with seamie as the deep lying midfielder with Diarmuid or Mattie free to push forward.

  31. agree there Jaden – his analysis of Boyle’s ability to read the game was very good.
    Wouldn’t it be great if RTE would give us that at half time and after the game, rather than the out dated opinions of the 3 boyos who clearly were watching the Golf during most of the game.

  32. Great article Tom – Mayo roots go deep!

    Enjoying the calm before the storm / onset of nerves at the moment. This is a golden age of Mayo football. Fully agree with the idea that we’re a stronger unit now than we have been previously. Maybe some of our stars are not at quite the same the level (a point that’s up for debate at the least), but if we can put in a full team performance we can do this.

  33. R P Murphy 2 Nally yours if you want them? You might have gotten sorted though with new release of tickets.

  34. I’m going to get rid of them while I can. Lots on at the minute. Upper hogan, terrace and lower Davin.

  35. Re Tickets,
    Only bad upper Davin stand tickets on sale now on
    I have 3 Lower Davin stand tickets for sale, 1 adult and 2 U 16, Section 320 row G.
    My Mayo based Nephew tells me he has 1 Nally and I Hogan stand for sale.
    I will be around early on Saturday.
    Weather alert, has been a great warm day here in Dublin but alot of rain is forecast for later tonight.

  36. Same old crap again. Former players shooting their mouth of about possible tactics and positional switches that could be employed. Is there no way they could be persuaded to keep it buttoned until after the game?

    You wont see the other counties doing it. Frigg sake. This is the time you keep your head down and keep saying nothing.

  37. Sinéad 37, belt away an sell those. My sister in law has just offered me a lower Cusack tkt.
    Couldnt refuse that one of course.
    Thanks all the same Sinéad.
    Mayo88, does your nephew still have the lower Hogan available?, i have a younger brother who is unable to stand for long who might take it..

  38. Thank you Jason for helping us get this far. A speedy recovery to you. Good luck to all the lads on Sat evening, you are doing the county proud and have given us so much enjoyment as supporters.

    I have a spare Nally ticket. Contact WJ for details

  39. Looks like the ticket chaos on Tuesday was a a gimmick They probably got shut of a lot of the poorer tickets by creating this desperation as regards demand There were no issues picking up any amount of tickets earlier today Reminds me of panic buying before the snow in parts of Ireland last year .Anyway hope every Mayo person that wanted a ticket got one and that everyone of you are buzzing on the journey home after the game Up Mayo.

  40. As has been mentioned, so many teams have lost before the game starts against Dublin, I was surprised at McStays IT article on Tuesday, he was quite defeatist, I love Brian Codys attitude, it expects total commitment and knows that this is the foundation for a good performance. I am confident that we will bring the right attitude on Saturday.

    Better squad now which was a gap in previous years and I think that JH is more reactive now than previously, which will help close the gap between ourselves and Dublin.

    After that, it can come down to who gets the breaks, we need more to go our way then the Dubs but maybe this is our year. All teams need some luck on their way in winning a four in a row, for some reason nobody has managed to be good enough and lucky enough to win 5. Maybe Dublin will but maybe not either, a Dub I know reckons that the semi-final was their biggest risk, and this was before Mayo were coming over the horizon. If Dublin do win, then this will be great preparation for the final.

  41. Evergreenandred, have a read of Kevin McStay’s article in the Irish Times in which he points to a risk of Mayo getting washed away in a blue wave (online, yesterday). Hope that’s keeping the expectations down enough well enough. For what it’s worth it might do us a favour in terms of publicity : ) I like Kevin McS as a commentator.

    Amazing there’s so little talk of the Drive for 5. I’m quite happy if the media and those in the know emphasise the narrative of Mayo due to shudder under Dublin free-scoring. (Narrative one thing, reality can always be different. Let’s hope).

  42. John Fogarty in the Examiner calls this rivalry a ‘mutual loathing’. That doesn’t sit too well with the ‘respect’ concensus I’ve been reading about here all week.

  43. To win just once.
    I think you’ve got it in one. The Gaa is not the Gaa I knew as a child or even 20 years ago. It’s all about money now.
    I got thinking about a remark a friend and fellow Mayoman made to me on leaving Limerick in 14 after being well and truly robbed.
    I asked, will we ever win it. He replied, we will when Croke Park decide to let us . I laughed at the answer and put it down to being like myself, gutted.
    Now I think, maybe he had a point. Mayo are one of the best supported teams in the country and going by the figures in Croke Park for Dublin games this year , actually the best.
    Do the money men want this to stop. Do they hell.
    When we win it, the huge support will drop off somewhat, the craving sated. We all saw last years championship, it was rubbish without us.
    So maybe we’ll all stay at home in future and let the team win the fecking thing.
    Ah feck it , no we won’t, we enjoy it too much.

  44. Sean Boylan saying we have best chance ever of winning this one on newstalk this evening.
    Willie Joe, Liam McHale, Kevin Kilbane, all going for win. Damien Comer says we’ll be ahead I 1st half but Dublin to pull ahead in 2nd half.
    Still think it’s hilarious that no one mentions the Kerry/ Tyrone semi all week.
    Our game is building to be nerves breaking.
    Will be some atmosphere. One to remember for rest of our lives.

  45. And still no mention of The Drive for Five … The Dublin media machine is impressive, you have to hand it to them. When they went after Lee ahead of the 2016 replay it was wall-to-wall, day after day, but there’s not a word from them now, in case the cause that dares not speak its name might come up. Even Dessie doing the sport this morning on the radio managed a whole bulletin without a single GeeeeAaaaaaAaaaaa story when normally he’d be slobbering all over what was coming up at the weekend.

  46. I think in one sense we’re lucky that there’s a quick turnaround because any longer and I’m sure the Dublin meeja would be out in force with the cynical mayo tag line.

  47. Great article and a lovely read Tom.

    Just done listening to the podcast. Thoroughly enjoyed it and I believe another one to look forward to tomorrow. Great work.

    Billy Joe makes the point that after our hectic schedule, the players bodies will be screaming from the amount of time spent playing over the past 8 weeks.

    He reckons that normally and logically this would and should effect the players level.of intensity, been difficult to maintain the intensity for 80 minutes. However, he does conclude that this Mayo team are like no other team. Somewhere, somehow, they seem to be able to reach for what shouldn’t actually be there.

    Let’s hope that they can keep the bodies going on Saturday. It’s not going to be easy.

    Dublin and the media are masters at turning on and off the hot tap when they feel it’s needed.

    Jim Gavin instructed that he didn’t want the Sam Maguire cup in circulation after Christmas. This was another tactic to quench the expectations and pressure.

    Nice picture of O’shea and O’callaghan in the above piece. You wouldn’t see a lovely picture like it in Alan Brogans article.

    Some great posts from yea on this thread. Had a mighty evening reading them.

  48. Dubs – currently picking one’s steps and gingerly tiptoeing towards Five like Slyvester the cat in a cartoon (who has laid out a foolproof plan for success and is setting out to execute it thinking no-one can see him or is watching).

    Hopefully we as Tweety Bird can outsmart him. Although I’m sure Aidan O’Shea and Chris Barrett wouldn’t like to be referred to as Tweety Bird!

    I suppose it wouldn’t be a good situation to be getting too carried away ahead of time with articles or printing t-shirts commemorating the 5 in a row as happened in Kerry in the Eighties.

  49. Just caught a glimpse of tomorrow’s Examiner sports section and the semi final related story is about non other than Lee Keegan. It’s genuinely impressive to see how they’ve kept all talk of the 5 in a row out of the press. The reality is though, deep down, the thoughts of Mayo stopping them doing the 5 in a row brings out a cold sweat in most Dubs and they know we’re due a win against them.

  50. @RP Murphy, I have been informed that the Hogan stand ticket is gone.
    I have the Lower Davin tickets in my possession if they are any good to you.
    I often wondered in the past 3 / 4 years why many different former Dublin footballers are detailed to put a particular type of spotlight on the upcoming games, we have a new guy now on Google giving his view, Collie Moran, I nearly forgot that he actually played for the Dubs, always somebody new to add their bit deflectory information.
    As many have mentioned on this blog, even the neutral newspaper journalists have no mention of the drive for 5, only match-ups for the game on Saturday.
    I agree with some posters here, the Connolly thing is just a smoke screen, diverting our attention away from the real issue, the drive for 5, some of the former Kerry players actually fell for it last week and were trying to use it as a tool against the Dublin players, ie, saying how unfair if would be if Connolly was put onto the match day man 26 panel so late in the year when his first choice was to go to America. I personally think that nobody could be stupid enough to make a mess of a visa application or maybe Donald Trump got the visa refused.

    I watched the 1st half of the 2016 drawn final last night, Mayo were nieve in attack, 50/50 high ball into a lone Andy Moran or Aidan O Shea, with 3 or 4 Dublin defenders around one player, silly stuff. I could see Rochford’s reason in keeping as Many Mayo players in the middle and back in defence, this was to have the numbers to tackle and chase around the middle., but God almighty would’nt be able to win a ball with so many defenders to beat.
    Michael Darragh McCauley hand tripped a Mayo player right in front of the referee, Conor Lane, no black card was issued.
    The theory that all 14 outfield players must be able to sprint for the full match flat out, is not true, by keeping the game open, long ball with short busts is the best way to beat the Dubs, Andy Moran style, if Andy starts he will be double marked, this will leave room for the very fast Mayo half forwards to run into. Starting Andy, taking him off and putting him back on again, this will depend on the number of temporary subs that may need to be used due to injuries.
    Aidan O Shea’s positioning could have a big part to play in this game.
    Horan’s old style of an out and out attacking half back line wont beat the Dubs on the big Croker pitch, hose guys will run out of gas late on, then the Dubs will spring the subs from the bench like in 16 and 17.

    The sight of the Dublin forwards fouling / holding and pulling the Mayo players make the blood boil, my teeth cringe, this game brings out the beast in me too many times Mayo have been second best, need to change that this year.
    The dream is still alive ( 2 Mayo players accepting Sam, one of those guys in my dream was Jason Doherty, I mentioned this on this blog many times this year, gong back to February when he was appointed Captain for the FBD league ).
    Jason will heal, look at Andy Moran, he made a great recovery after his cruciate injury,
    Remember the ALL Ireland champions taken out by Mayo.
    Tyrone in 2004,
    Cork in 2011,
    Dubs in 2012

  51. Mayo 88. You forgot Galway 1999 and Donegal 2013. That one was particularly ruthless!!

  52. RP McMurphy – or anyone else interested – I have 3 upper Hogan tickets available, section 734, all side by side. 50 a pop (face value).

  53. While it’s true that the drive for 5 is being kept under wraps, expect it to ramp up if Dubs win the semi. Did see some drive for 5 tee shirts online. And, Niallmc is correct that our own cynicism has gone under the radar, because the competition is so compressed. Dublin’s cynicism- which is PhD level to our undergraduate- has never got the attention it deserves.

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