Midweek stuff

Mayo flags

It’s Wednesday already and so it’s now a shorter period of time to our next championship game than it is looking back to our last one. Not that we have the option of going back in time, mind, but you know what I mean. Before long it’ll be back once again to MacHale Park for what’s likely to be another bare knuckle ride for us. Hopefully another one where we remain afloat.

Keith Higgins is interviewed in a piece in the Irish Independent today (here) where he calls for an improved performance from the team against Kildare on Saturday. Zippy concedes that there were too many simple errors made in the first half against Fermanagh – he’s man enough to list ones he made himself – and he makes the point that “if we can cut them out we will be in with a shout again the next day”. Which, no doubt, stands to reason.

Stephen Rochford features in the Irish Examiner today (here) in a piece by Mike Finnerty, in which he provides a stout defence of Aidan O’Shea. He calls out Pat Spillane for his OTT reaction to the incident, terming it “unhelpful and unnecessary”. Stephen is far too much the gentleman to add that Spillane’s outburst was also hypocritical, bone-headed and downright stupid but that it surely was too.

The boss goes on to inject some much-needed balance to this particular debate by pointing out that “Mayo players have been on the receiving end of calls that have gone the other way over the years.” Which we undoubtedly have and have got precious little sympathy – not that it’s sympathy we’re after – for. In relation to Aidan he says “In my experience over the last six or seven months, I feel he’s certainly been more sinned against than sinning.” Too true, except the time span is more like six or seven years.

In the same paper, Mike Quirke also deals with the incident in his column (here). He attempts to place it in the wider context of diving in the game, which is all fine and well, but he goes onto bracket what happened with Aidan with the Tiernan McCann hair-rub dive from last year. Comparing the incident involving Aidan and the one relating to the Tyrone lad is, though, a case of apples and bananas, as the two weren’t in any sense comparable.

The bigger beef I’d have with the Kerryman’s line, though, is that the game’s most frequent diver, one J O’Donoghue of Killarney, doesn’t get a mention in his list of examples. The same player didn’t get name-checked either in the course of Spillane’s empurpled splutterings on The Sunday Game. Odd that.

Billy Joe Padden’s piece on the incident in this week’s Mayo News (here) gives a good perspective on it from a player’s point of view. Billy Joe says that issues of this kind have been “part and parcel” of the game for as long as he’s been playing and he reckons that forwards who are being constantly fouled will inevitably go to ground if they feel contact and believe they can get an advantage from it. That doesn’t mean it’s right but it does happen and it’s been happening for years.

Incidentally, Billy Joe was on Off The Ball last night where he expanded further on this point. Liam McHale joined in the discussion as well, where, amusingly, he seemed extremely eager to share with the whole world every tactical thought he could come up with on the drawn Connacht final. Liam doesn’t really have an Off button, does he? And neither does Joe Brolly who was also on air during this segment of the programme, which is here:

Right, that’s your lot for now. I guess we’ll soon have to start thinking about when the teams will be named and all that as the time ticks remorselessly on towards Saturday.

30 thoughts on “Midweek stuff

  1. U know as I’ve said before a Corkmans worst nightmare is to beat Kerry in a Minster final and wake up the next morning and realise they’re still in the competition, draw your own analogies from that, #thetoughest #maiigheoabu

  2. Im quite happy with the ridiculous criticism of O’Shea from a Mayo point of view. I feel it might be something that this team needs this year as a bit of extra motivation, an “us against the world” siege mentality.

    These qualifier games coming quick and fast are great. I don’t know why we never thought of going this route before!!!!

  3. Eoin o Donoghue’s call up is not before time IMO. We are light at the back. Very inexperienced fb line. Eoin is not the answer just yet but it is more cover and more competition for places. Chrissy Barret will be back soon thank god

  4. The ref is Derek O’Mahony from Tipperary. I know little or nothing about him but he reffed the London game so anyone who was over in Ruislip should be able to say a bit more about how he handled it.

  5. I’ve heard/seen/read alot of coverage over the last few days, some of it reasonable most of it biased or flawed. But the one thing that is coming up again and again is that Mayo have to go back to our running game, that the sweeper system isn’t working. Its a common thread through all the coverage. Now maybe theres something in this. We havn’t played well under Rochford. Even the second half the last day was miles away where we have been under Horan and even under Pat and Noel. We’ve been so close maybe we should just have tweaked a few things. But then I think about the same coverage even when we were hammering teams….Mayo can’t defend a lead, Mayo let in soft goals, Mayo can’t close games out. We’ve been castigated in the past for such things. I have to laugh when I hear Brolly spouting out about the game being too defensive, when we were playing exciting free flowing 15 on 15 he branded us naive. So I must give credit to Rochford and McEntee. Those guys are under huge pressure just to revert to type which would probably have got us another Connacht and an all ireland semi final or final but as the last 5 years have shown it wont get us over the line. As I said we havnt been good this year but we have been better defensively, this without our first choice full back and corner back. i don’t expect to see Sam this year but hopefully we get a good run together and improve game on game. At least that would show the players that management knows what they’re doing and would set us up for next year.

  6. Seriously, I’m absolutely loving the qualifiers. Games thick and fast. No time to over think opposition. Counties from anywhere in Ireland. Open draws every week! I love it!

    I really want us to see a restructure soon. Regular games – brilliant!

  7. Yeah as I said Saturday evening, I have a sudden strange enjoyment for this predicament we find ourselves in also. MayoMark puts it brilliantly, open draws every week, regular matches, chance to build momentum, potential trips anywhere in the country etc. In the wider scheme of things I’ve always had a soft spot for the qualifier system, there’s been some really tasty Saturday evening matches over the years

    In my view anyway, the whole championship really needs to be run in a similar way but the Provincial argument has of course been done to death at this stage and I won’t get into it here again!

    Anyhow, hopefully we can get the job done with minimal fuss Saturday evening. Being the qualifiers though, I would take a win with any sort of performance, which probably goes against the thinking of many fans but so be it. Since Saturday I’ve looked at them in a different context after seeing the Longford result and some trends over the years. Overall, the qualifiers are simply just an alternative means of making the last 8- by any means possible. Previous All Ireland Champions laboured through the qualifiers before peaking in August/Sept so I’d be more hesitant now to read all that much into any teams’ performance in them. Can anyone ever remember a good Kerry backdoor performance for example bar that “emotional” match against a lifeless Tyrone in 2012?

    I made the point in the last thread that funnily enough we’ll be in a better position facing into round 4 if we win on Saturday than the Connacht final loser, neither of whom had the balls to push on for a win Sunday and now face that dreaded six day turnaround which historically and statistically doesn’t bode well for Provincial final losers.

    That Galway match will seem like a long time ago and I think the OTT overreaction at the time from many (granted it was a poor performance, but not in a million years fatal) will take on a new light. But lets go out and do the business Saturday first.

  8. Mark, I would agree, restructure badly needed. The league is prob the best competition but its playedin winter and half the teams dont care too much about it.

    NiallMc, I would also agree. I dont think going back to the running game of the past is the way to go. Since Horan began we have been good enough to get past qf but we have played 9 semi finals & final matches, winning 2 drawing 2 and loosing 5. When we meet the top teams in the latter stages they can combat the running game and exploit the space left in our defence. Rochford needs to continue with the approch he is taking and be given the time to reap the rewards. Going back to what we have been doing might get us to a quarter or semi but ultimately will end in failure and renewed talk of sweeper systems being more defensive etc.

  9. WJ, I was at the London game and if Aiden O’Shea had been driven over by an artic truck that day I don’t believe he would’ve got a free so it will be interesting how the Tipp man ref’s it on Saturday evening. He literally had men on his back for most of the day. Bear in mind this referee also black carded Cillian (rightly so at the time imo) but if you recall Cillian’s first ‘tackle’ last saturday the Fermanagh number 7 (I think,blue knee tape) was down rubbing his jaw after one of Cillian’s ‘accidentally-on purpose’ attempts at blocking him off coming out from defence. I’m all for the first line of defence but Cillian especially needs to be very careful as this is obviously a ref who will be looking out for it and for him in particular

  10. @Mayo.Mick – I remember it well, a good solid clothes-line to the head after fielding the ball.

    What I try to forget, is how I felt at the final whistle. We were mentally fragile that day, and it would be another five years before we hardened up enough to lift Sam. We always had the players (iffy FB line excluded), we just never had the attitude.

    When we got that, we became virtually unstoppable. Still, a reminder that no-one is absolutely unbeatable (Cork in 2010, You guys in 2014, and Donegal 2014), is needed to keep you in check. I wonder who will check us next?

  11. A win is a win, and in some ways Fermanagh game provided the perfect match we needed after the defeat to Galway. Deecent, gamey opposition and a backs to the wall comeback required in the second half. Words from the players in the papers seem to be fairly positive in the way that the seem to feel the momentum is slowly coming back.

    My biggest concern tho would be that the team set-up still seems all wrong and indeed a definite style of play doesn’t appear to be coming through. Rochford mentioned that they were looking to play quick ball and not carry into the tackle, however that did not seem to be the case the last day. I’m not convinced about the McLaughlin sweeper role…the type of player he is, he will always get on a lot of ball and it may appear that the sweeper role is working, but I don’t think it is – I think it is confusing to him and indeed some of the other players. The Fermanagh goal – the type of thing that the sweeper is supposed to cover – Boyle was left on his own with no cover. Higgins needs to be put back in defence…no matter how you dress it up, its not working and rather it may actually knock his confidence. If we need to play a sweeper (and I mean if – we dont need to play it every game), my man would be Tom Parsons dropping back just behind the CHB position. With AOS around the midfield position we should have enough support there. In fairness, the only man to actually deliver an effective sweeper type role for Mayo was Barry Moran – just wonder why that option has never been used again? Think Parsons would actually be similar but better option. McLaughlin is just too effective in the half forwards as a breaking ball winner and play-maker and indeed scoring threat to take out of there.

    Things I would like to see:
    1. Higgins back in the corner (esp. with Cafferkey and Barrett out – that FB line is at the risk of being exposed)
    2. KMcL back at Half Forwards
    3. Please play ball in quicker….eg. Regan – must be the most frustrating place to play on the Mayo team as an out and out corner forward….he needs the ball played into space – ball going in currently is way too slow.
    4. Don’t play Coen as a midfielder
    5. Persist with Freeman (Moran as sub) at full forward – we need a fulcrum in the full forward line. I know he was quiet the last day, but when he gets a chance he can stick it. He still contributed a 3 pointer the last day when we needed it)
    6. Use Parsons as a deep-deep midfielder / sweeper. Id like also it because the opposition wouldn’t be able to read we are deploying an out and out sweeper
    7. We need to keep a better structure in the forwards, ie. a classic 6 as much as we can
    8. Finally, the corner-stone of new Mayo needs to return fully – the absolute hunger for possession. Still think its only at 60%

    All in all, a bit more back to basics. Keep the faith!

  12. That’s useful info, Robert, thanks. I’d clean forgotten about the Cillian incident from Ruislip. I’d say all the lads will need to be on their best behaviour on Saturday evening and no doubt Kildare will factor all this into their plans for the game as well.

  13. ” Empurpled splutterings ” is hilarious . I literally burst out laughing upon reading it .
    Well done Willie Joe . Spot on as usual .

  14. I have the photo of David Brady sorting Whelan out that day in a frame in my kitchen 🙂 was there to witness it also that was a day and a half one of the best days I ever had as a Mayo Supporter Kevin O Neill was immense!

  15. RTE will show Connacht final live on RTE Player and the RTE Sport website. The game will be available to stream online (rte.ie/sport)

  16. J O’D is a very clever diver, much better than Aidan O’Mahony, he’s ridiculous dive that got the Cork man sent off and changed the game was quickly forgotten. The country are infatuated by Mayo this the over attention on AOS. We are so fortunate to be playing 3 championship games at home, it is an advantage, great occasions. Imagine if we played only 6/7 games on home turf, down the road, in front of loyal home support?? Carlsberg don’t do fairytail’s… Oh no wait they do … #BaileAthaCliath

  17. A lot of people on here saying our running game wasn’t good enough to get us over the line. Fair enough, we didn’t , but it wasn’t tactics that always cost us. In 2013 v Dublin , it was the line not recognising the trouble the 2 Dubs fowards were in and leaving Higgins back , for no reason, that cost that AI.
    In 14 v Kerry in CP , it was on field players lack of awareness , when Donaghy moved in. We were 5 pts up with minutes to go and bar a goal could not be caught. AoS should have followed him in and fouled like fuck , if he had to. Not singling him out but he was the obvious one , as he had the size and strength to hold him.
    If that was done , there would be no Limerick and Donegal in the final.

  18. It will be very interesting to see what team will be picked for the Kildare game. Rochford has shown so far that he is not afraid to mix things up. He brought Clarke in for Robbie in the last match. He replaced Jason Doc with Freeman before throw in as well. Will he give Durcan another chance or start Vaughan. Could someone like Nally be given a chance as he did impress in some games in the league. If Loftus is fit will he start him before Freeman, Conor O’Shea and Jason Doc or will one of these three get another chance. If Barrett is fit will Harrison come under pressure. Will Coen hold onto his place. Plenty of things to think about. It was great to see that all of the players who came on made an impact against Fermanagh. Will he look to give players who have not got a chance so far some game time to see if they can improve the team. We’ll see how it goes anyway.

  19. I find it gas altogether that Liam McHale gave that interview on Newstalk the week of the CF. It might be a masterstroke in mind games, i.e. we don’t care, we’ll put it out there what we’re trying….we have the players and we’re backing our lads. Come and get us if yer good enough. I like it.
    Roscommon by 5 points.

  20. Willie Joe mentions Liam Mc Hale there now I have great time for Liam he’s an absolute gentleman and was a great servant for us but he epitomises what I feel has been wrong with Mayo football for too long to put it simply on the field of play Liam was too nice an honest to God straight footballer I think we are getting more streetwise these days and it’s about time

  21. I agree Nephin
    The running game is probably our best attacking option at this stage. Those who blame it for not getting us over the line may be ignoring other elements of the game, such as quality of opposition,quality of our own players, mismatches, silly mistakes, poor decision making on and off the field, refereeing, luck etc etc. Maybe if we had not used a running game in the past we might not have got near Croke Park at all. Could it be that it was the running game that actually got us as far as we got?
    When trying to rectify a situation there is nothing worse than arriving at a flawed analysis of the problem itself and applying a fix to that. It always make matters worse than before. I don’t pretend to have the answers but I’m worried that SR is trying to make big changes to the way we play when in fact a few small things could make a huge difference. We weren’t that far away you know!

  22. I may be alone in this but Higgins CAN NOT be moved back to defense. His role is a “work in progress” and needs further tweaking but it can and hopefully will be a critical part of our attack. Higgins has what no other Mayo player has, blistering acceleration and an ability to run/solo at fill tilt, when allied to his great balance, allows him to swerve and weave through cover at pace.
    The one thing defenders hate is pace. It’s the hardest thing to defend against if a back is caught out one-on-one. By using Higgins as a penetrating runner you have the chance to create overlaps in your attack if he can get past the first defender. If he’s through, it should be a 2-on-1 overlap. It showed signs of working in Balleybofey before Higgins got injured when he was used as a very mobile point of attack. He would also be almost impossible to man mark which means the only effective and sure way to defend against him is by sitting deep and doubling up on him. That means there’s space somewhere else!
    Doherty, McLoughlin, O’Connor are strong runners but don’t have the searing pace of Higgins. McLoughlin is better suited to the sweeper role as he is a far more accurate foot passer and we need that to counter attack at pace, so Higgins in a free role in the half forward line is definitely worth sticking with. On a counter attack, with Kevin Mc passing to Keith, between McLoughlins foot pass and Higgins’ speed you could cover the middle 50m in 2 or 3 seconds. It’d take a big blanket to cover that!

  23. You’re not alone Pebbles.. totally agree. We need to give Keith more time in this role.. as you have said it is a ‘work in progress ‘

  24. Pebblesmeller I agree with Higgins. I think it could be something great if it’s utilised property and of course takes time. The problem is we do look suspect at present back there. Barrett is a huge loss and was our best defender in championship 15. I would like to see Coen sitting at 6.Hes our only natural 6 and is not the answer at midfield. I thought Mcloughlin role improved the last day and is also a work in progress of him coming out at speed.It just needs tweaking a but but he’s learning and the only way things will improve is with games.

  25. Thanks, Willie Joe for putting up that Ciaran Whelan / ronan McGarritty clip. Ciaran must have totally forgotten that incident considering his present day ramblings. Of course it was not his only exhibition of thuggery. In looking at that I also got the Sunday Game coverage of the preliminaries of Mayo warming up at the Hill. O’Rourke & Brolly seemed to think it very foolish of Mayo to be baiting the bear. As it turned out the bear’s bite was not all that bad. But it does show how Dublin get all the breaks from the Croke Park crowd in that since that the Hill has been their permanent warm up spot.

  26. Croke park still unwilling to update my season ticket from sat’s game – we both went to game but only one ticket updated after scanning

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