Molly for Mayo

Photo: David Moyles (@davegt4 via Twitter)

It’s still only Wednesday as the longest week in the history of the universe grinds slowly onwards towards Sunday, towards Croke Park and what we hope and earnestly believe is our date with destiny. It’s still eerily quiet up here in the capital and, apart from all the colour (and there’s a fair bit of that around here), there’s very little being said about the game. And I’m sayin’ nothin’ to no-one too. Ah Jaysus, is it still only Wednesday?

There’s no team news from either camp as yet, of course – we’ll probably name our team at some stage tomorrow evening but seeing as the Dubs usually leave it until Friday we might well hold off a bit longer before we show our hand. When we do, though, I’d be very surprised if we do anything other than name the same starting fifteen that we had against both Donegal and Tyrone. A report in the Mayo News (paper and digital edition – no link I’m afraid) yesterday stated that Cillian had come through an internal trial match last Sunday and so is likely to be named in the side and I can’t see any circumstances in which James wouldn’t also field captain Andy Moran.

Personally, I think both calls – if these are the calls James makes – are perfectly sensible. If Cillian starts and goes okay then I think our chances of getting over the line will be boosted hugely. We’re a different team when Cillian is shooting the bullets and while it is, of course, a risk to start him it’s got to be a risk worth taking. Among a team of leaders, Andy is the primus inter pares and his on-field presence in those critical early stages of the game could prove vital to us. Michael Conroy was a real handful when he came on against Tyrone and if he gets 20-30 minutes of game time in the final – which I’ve no doubt he will – he’ll be doing what he can to do likewise then.

Okay, then, what have the papers to say for themselves this morning?

Starting with the Irish Examiner, there’s an interview with former county great Kevin O’Neill, who reckons we’ll be doing what we can to avoid conceding any early goals on Sunday, and there’s also a very good background piece by Terry Reilly on James Horan. Terry also has a piece about tickets and he says that our allocation includes 4,000 Hill tickets. This accounts for just over 30% of the terrace’s capacity but whether or not we see plenty of Green and Red there on Sunday depends, I guess, on the volume of bilateral swapping that takes place ahead of Sunday. The same paper has a piece by John Fogarty questioning the tactics adopted by Dublin’s forwards, as well as features on Dublin’s Paul Mannion and Jonny Cooper. Former Dublin player Keith Galvin gives an “expert view” in which he says he expects a “titanic” struggle but then reckons the Dubs’ “strength in depth” will see them pull clear at the end. In other words, the same opinion that any ould lad in the pub around here would give you.

The Irish Independent also has that interview with Kevin O’Neill as well as an interview with Aidan O’Shea (there’s also an audio interview with the Big Dawg which aired on Newstalk’s Off The Ball show yesterday evening) and a typically bullshit article from Martin Breheny who reckons “finals often take on a life of their own”. As Mario Rosentock’s take-off of Gaybo says: who would have thunk it?

The Irish Times has, well, not a lot actually. I know our lads aren’t exactly in schmooze mode with the media but did The Paper of Record really have to hunt down the Archbishop of Tuam to get his views on the game? They did and here they are. The same paper also has a piece on Dublin’s Jonny Cooper.

Over at Action81.com, meanwhile, Emmet has been busy – he’s two-thirds of the way through his All-Ireland final preview and already has tactical profiles on us and them. And he said he’ll pop into Bowe’s on Sunday night for a pint so at least we’ll have one Dub to give a hard time to then.

Elsewhere RTÉ have an interview with Andy Moran and Elvery’s Sports Blog are continuing their ten questions series, this time with Aidan O’Shea.

There’s more, I know, but there’s also work and stuff to be done too. And it’s still only Wednesday …


22 thoughts on “Midweek

  1. A concerned Mayo fan.
    As All Ireland final day fast approaches, there is one debate that lingers among Mayo fans and that is team selection for the big day. For most of the season I think it’s fair to say that the starting 1-14 jerseys have picked themselves and have, of course, done us proud thus far. However, assuming O’Connor is fit to start at number 13, the number 15 jersey remains the only bone of contention for September 22nd – Andy Moran or Mickey Conroy? While I have huge admiration for Andy Moran, his talent and all he has done for Mayo football over the years we can’t ignore the elephant in the room any longer….Andy is clearly not on form and his performance in recent games is not a patch on the Andy of previous seasons.
    Andy played for 50 minutes in both the Donegal and Tyrone games and failed to make any significant impact on either game. We simply can’t afford this against Dublin. Mickey Conroy’s addition to the Tyrone game lifted the team and helped add vital scores to the game. He is sharp, quick, determined and back to full fitness. So, the dilemma that faces James Horan is this: Does he stick with his talisman and captain or does he enlist the most capable 15 Mayo men to face the blue army and bring Sam back to the West?
    We must be mindful that sentimentality will not win an All Ireland final. I wish no disrespect to Andy, his commitment or his huge contribution over the years but James must do right by his team and county on this occasion and, therefore, the number 15 jersey needs a fresh pair of legs for September 22nd.

  2. A long time lurker of the blog and first time poster here!!

    With Cillian being fit, I can’t see James making any changes to the starting fifteen from the Tyrone game. Yes, Andy has been off par since he came back from injury but his belief in the team and the strength he brings to the other players cannot be underestimated. Mickey Conroy is a super sub to have available to us, and while he did impress in the last twenty minutes against Tyrone, I believe that Andy is the man to start at Number 15. Overall, our bench is far stronger than most other county benches and to have the likes of Carolan, Varley, Moran, Feeney to choose from, I believe we can do it.


  3. Rumours of Clutxon picking up an injury in the Irish examiner, hard to know what to make of it id say its just mind games would be a massive loss for Dublin if he didn’t play

  4. Now that hopefully C O’C is fit there is no doubt about the starting 15. Andy will start but not for sentimental reasons (JH doesn’t do sentimental).
    His leadership will be needed when the game starts but also before it starts.
    Also I think he’s in the perfect position to surprise Dublin and cause havoc with C O’C and Freeman….

  5. Agree with puckout, Andy will get more space against Dublin and can have a bigger impact on the game.
    We can bring conroy on after 50 minutes.

  6. Unfortunately i disagree. Andy may be a great leader but its scores we need to win, as for Andy getting more space against Dublin i strongly disagree the first few mins will be played at the highest pace. Best of luck to whoever gets the nod.

  7. I was doing grand up until this morning.i was driving to college and i started thinking of Sunday and bang all of a sudden the nerves hit and the butterflies in the stomach. Up until now i was burying my head in lectures now i cant stop thinking of the game.from now on the hours will slow down.its a tough call weather to play Andy or not .What i would say is though he will have more space than against Tyrone and lads he is a class act at setting lads up and laying off good ball so not overly concerned.fingers crossed that Cillian will stay on to do damage on the scoreboard.

  8. I thought Brehonys article was quite good. He made one good point in saying that both sides need to keep the grinding gear in shape. This is certainly an approach I would advocate for our lads. This game will be won by the team that can grind out a narrow win in an ugly physical encounter. Never mind the pure free flowing football – that is unlikely to happen and any hype out of Dublin to that effect is bullshit. We need to be more Northern in our approach to this particular challenge. Remember what Donegal nearly did to Dublin two years ago. There are lessons there to be learned if we are clever and humble enough to do so.

  9. Tom, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Sure we’ll have our own in-depth bench that are raging to go and who will be keen to prove a point. Roll back to last year’s semi, Boyle was out with a virus, up steps Richie Feeney and has a savage game. Take a scan through our bench and we have Jason Doherty who scored some great points in that game. His form in the singerson this year won’t have gone unnoticed in Dublin.
    The same bench will have Mickey Conroy, who will be bursting to get into the thick of things. If we lose COC early on, we can spring this man and know he’ll do a job. Look at our reserve midfield, Barry Moran and Gibbons. In another era, Gibbons would be a star midfielder. He’s just unlucky he has competition like the O’Shea’s and Moran. And then we have Enda Varley. He started against Galway and scored 1-3 (I think) in that game, took a while to get going against Tyrone but eventually made an impact in the second half.
    I haven’t even mentioned Cathal Carolan and David Clarke yet! Also young Coen is one to watch for the future. McHale and Keane aren’t bad either!
    I’m sick to death of hearing about this strength in depth Dublin have. Lazy fookers journalists don’t even realise what we have waiting in the trenches. Oh they’ll see, they will see, my droogs!

  10. Funny thing with Mayo support is , if things start to go wrong and it’s Andy not gettin to the ball ie off the pace , the howls that will be directed towards James Horan to take him off will be deafening .

    Cillian. Freeman and Conroy should start the ff line, they are the best ff line Mayo have this year. Ill put my head on the block and say if we start Andy , it is a mistake. He is an absolute hero down my way and it takes a lot for me to say that but this is for Mayo not just Andy Moran.

    Anyone here a Dublin cb official on the radio this morning say that Mayo have sent the bulk of our hill tickets back?

  11. Andy Moran or Mickey Conroy, who do you start ? Giving my opinion for what it’s worth, we must go with Andy, his leadership and experience will be invaluable to the lads around him, and in those crucial early stages when nerves are jangling, his words of wisdom and calming influence will be crucial. Sure he’s not the fastest player in the world but given the right kind of ball, there’s none better than him to hold on to it and wait for a lad to make the over lap. As for Mickey yes a great player for sure, but Tyrone were on their last legs when he come on…

  12. Agree with diehard, Breheny’s article ok, not a world beater but fair and balanced.Where is the bullshit Willie Joe? A trace of bias?

  13. Conroy missed a few handy enough ones against Tyrone, as did Andy miss a couple plus andy was second to a lot of ball. They both bring different skills to the field, conroy can race out and win a ball, Andy can give killer passes, both can score but thats the big question right there, against Tyrone both had poor shooting displays, add varley into it and it’s clear that Mayos forwards, whoever they are will need to buck up big time to win this game, capped by Kevin mc missed a 14 yard free.

    BUT they still won

    This is one game where our halfback line will probably need to stay back and defend, it’s the forwards that will win it if they can.
    And they can, if they are a small degree more aware of who’s open near goal, freeman was open against Tyrone on several occasions, he was not used and it went over or was wide when he could have blasted 4 goals instead of the 2 he actually got. He may be more key man this Sunday than we think today.
    It’s also worth watching the last 15 minutes of last years semi with the dubs, they almost got the leveling goal only for Clark, then we went and missed two goals and hung on by a thread to win it. A year older and a lot wiser lets hope we take at least some of our goal chances on Sunday because it certain that Dublin will.

  14. More a trace of Breheny weariness, Joe Mc. You know his usual modus operandi – take a few stats, erect a straw man theory, then use the stats to knock it down. Job done.

  15. Horan has to start with Moran…he is captain, inspirational in the dressing room and if there is any one player who knows he has to up his game this time, its him. Part of the problem is that he has been playing out right and that’s not ideal being a right-footer. Remember his best displays for Mayo previously were at full forward where when the ball comes in it is often a case of 50-50 contest with your marker that when it more often requires off the mark speed in the corner. Imagine if he was dropped, would put a downer in the build up and in the dressing room whereby Conroy is in reality just coming back to full fitness and is probably hopeful of a start rather than expecting it.

    Plus Conroy is a crowd favourite…..I like him too, but remember he can be hot and cold too, particularly with his shooting. He did get on a lot of ball when he came on V Tyrone, however he didn’t score and indeed had 2 bad wides. Plus remember he has only played 20-30 minutes in the championship after returning from injury – surely he cant be fully match fit. To use the best of the Moran / Conroy combination I believe is to start Moran, and bring on Conroy when Andy tires and we need a change of impetus in the attack. More than ever, you need serious options on the bench. Final point….always felt that Varley, if one looks at the stats through the years, offers similar to Conroy on the other wing, if not more on the scoreboard, yet no one ever clamours for his inclusion! Interesting you’d have to agree….

    Anyway, think we should leave the selections to Horan, if either start the next day we should trust it’s the correct decision…….

  16. I have to say I think we’re in a really great place going into this final.. we’re underdogs, and the more that believe that all the better.. the media have gone into complete analysis meltdown trying understand this mayo team (i.e., the Dublin bench are stronger than the Mayo bench.. I don’t buy that).. or how Mayo are going to set out their stall (attack or defensive) which is all guess, caus they don’t know.. or better still who going to be playing Cillian or Conroy..

    So many unknowns.. which is absolutely as good a way as possible to be going into an All-Ireland Final.. I for one am delighted that the only ones who have any inkling of how this is all going to pan out is the Mayo Panel.. All we have to do is get there enforce (with colour and flags) and watch this Dublin team try to get to grips with a world of pain coming their way..

    C’mon Mayo

  17. @ Sean Burke According to this article in the examiner, Mayo PRO said we wouldnt be sending back any tickets:

    McLoughlin explained: “There’ll definitely be a few thousand Mayo supporters in the Hill but they’ll probably be in a section off to one side. They won’t be scattered all around the Hill. We heard there was a bit of a campaign after the semi-final, some Mayo supporters were demanding their allocation of Hill tickets. Obviously the Hill tickets cost half the normal ticket price so people wanted them.”

    McLoughlin stressed the board had not specifically asked for Hill 16 tickets but such is the demand no ticket would be returned to headquarters.

  18. Agreed re Breheny Willie Joe. His articles are pointless. Stats and rating counties,players etc etc.. Talk about boring crap. I’ve given up reading his articles at this stage…

    Anyway I reckon Horan will field the same 15 as against Tyrone. As others have said – if COC is to play a part then it’s probably best to start him and not potentially use up 2 subs if he were to come on and hurt the shoulder again which is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

    Conroy and Varley are not bad lads to be able to bring in off the bench either.

  19. If Cillian starts, then it has to be Andy and AF………..Andy will want to have this chance to prove he is still the leader, to not let him start would IMO set him back, whereas Mickey C if started, could cause an imbalance to the side and therefore put unwanted extra pressure on him…………..as others have said, he is a great man to be able to call on from the bench…………This Mayo is not all about who the starting 15 is, it’s a full squad team and this time we are very fortunate to have such depth of talent…………….That depth seems likely to continue well into the future also with the quality displayed by the Minors in that semi against Monaghan……………….The Mighty Men of the future…………………………………So here’s to the double and an unforgettable Sunday in September.
    Críost Linn agus MaighEo Abu

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