Minor meltdown as Meath edge it

It was a good day at Croke Park today for Donegal’s big, boisterous following but it wasn’t a good one for our minors who seemed to be on their way to victory over Meath in an All-Ireland semi-final where they rode their luck for long spells but then got swept away in the game’s controversial climax. I’m not sure we’d have deserved to win today – especially in light of our very poor second half display – but we surely didn’t deserve to lose like we did either. Unfortunately, though, we did lose and the defeat capped a miserable weekend for the county, following the losses suffered by both the juniors and the ladies yesterday.

Today’s minor semi-final was an odd game from start to finish because within seconds of the throw-in Meath should have had the ball in the net and they then went on to squander two or three more clear goal chances in the opening fifteen minutes. Outplayed at centre-field and repeatedly cut open through the middle, we somehow managed to keep them from scoring at all during the opening quarter while building a handy four-point advantage for ourselves at the other end.

Things got even better for us soon after when Diarmuid O’Connor goaled from close in. The lead was twice stretched to seven points soon after that, the second time via this sweetly struck ’45 by Eoghan Lavin.

Meath finished the half stronger, cutting our lead back to four but we still looked comfortable enough at that stage. When we began the second half brightly, with two further points from Adam Gallagher (the first from a free) and one from play by James Quinn, we looked to be in complete control, seven points up and motoring.

But then it all went horribly wrong for us. We didn’t score again until the last kick of the game, a full 28 minutes – almost an entire half at this level – having passed without a score and as the second half wore on, we retreated deeper and deeper into our own half, inviting Meath to come at us. The attempts we made to break out repeatedly broke down as a succession of handling errors and hospital passes continually gifted the ball back to the Meath lads.

The refereeing howlers that led to the two late goals were clearly decisive but the game’s real turning point came earlier in the second half, when Meath knocked over four points without reply to haul themselves back to within a goal of us. Even the odd point here and there by us over that long scoreless period would have prevented them from getting within range but our failure to mount any assault on their posts during this period left us open to the possibility of being caught at the end.

Having seen the replays just a while ago on the television, it’s obvious that the penalty decision was an utter travesty, with an equally clear illegal handpass just before their second, decisive goal was booted in. Such incompetence would be shocking if we weren’t so used to it but sadly we are and, once again, we can with plenty of justification point to piss-poor refereeing as the reason a result went against us. It’s hard, in truth, to give much respect to referees when this is what you get in return.

On this occasion, though, I’d still maintain that we were the architects of our own downfall. We might have been fortunate enough to have found ourselves seven points up with around 25 minutes to go but from that position there’s simply no way we should have lost this game. Tactically, we committed suicide by dropping as deep as we did, thus allowing Meath to come at us. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that had we continued to attack with the same kind of vigour we’d shown up to that point, we’d most likely have won with a bit to spare.

A possibly significant mitigating factor could be the double substitution we’d had to make early in the second half following a nasty clash of heads involving Eoghan Lavin and Sean Regan. The Kiltimagh lad was doing really well around the middle (with Adam Gallagher struggling all day, having been taken out of it in an off-the-ball incident by Meath’s Shane McEntee within minutes of the throw-in) and we were never the same once he went off.

So, that’s it for the minors for this year. It’s undoubtedly hard on them to lose such an important match in the manner that they did and their coming to terms with the loss won’t be helped by the fact that refereeing stupidity played such a large part in dictating the game’s outcome.  That said, I’d say they’ll also be well aware that they had the opportunity to kill off Meath’s challenge earlier in the second half and it’ll be this rather than the shite refereeing that will rankle most about this loss.

Mayo: Cormac O’Malley; Joe Geraghty, Sean Moran, Michael Plunkett; Patrick Durcan (0-1), Cian Burke, Kevin Lynch; Brian Mullen, Adam Gallagher (0-3, one free); Eoghan Lavin (0-2, one a ’45), Stephen Coen (0-2), Diarmuid O’Connor (1-0); James Quinn (0-1), Sean Regan (0-1), Shane Hennelly (0-1). Subs: Conor Byrne for Regan; Darren Duffy for Lavin, David McHale for O’Connor, Sean Regan for Quinn.


A quick word about Donegal/Cork, which turned out to be an interesting and enjoyable encounter. I’d tipped Cork in advance and even at half-time I still thought they’d do it but the way that a fitter, hungrier and far smarter Donegal tore them to pieces in the second half was a real eye-opener.

I’ve always had the notion that Counihan’s Cork simply aren’t a clever footballing unit – think back, for example, to the way they lost the 2009 final to Kerry – and when Donegal stretched them in the second half you could see that they simply hadn’t got it in them to plot a way back into the game. Cork win by bludgeoning the opposition to death but this tactic was never going to work against a team as formidable as Donegal and as the second half wore on the only issue left to be resolved was how much the Ulster champions would win by. Colm O’Neill’s blatant shove on his marker for that injury time goal cut the deficit to just two points but that was a two-point thrashing if there ever was one. Donegal will take some stopping in the final regardless of which of us advances to meet them.

54 thoughts on “Minor meltdown as Meath edge it

  1. I posted this on the other thread, nevertheless, it really belongs here….
    Look, our lads never showed the form they displayed against Tipp, beaten at midfield, no score for 27 plus minutes of a crucial period in the second half! Any score during that period would have made a huge difference…..and then the spotter…yes, a bad call, but those things will happen and they often happen to us.
    And yes, our officials seem to take it on the chin instead of fighting/protesting back….at that stage I would have liked to have seen one of our staff furiously protesting….possibly getting thrown out, not that it would have done any good today, but it sets a precedence for future ref’s when reffing mayo games…we won’t take it and you’ll be called out for it…c’mon lads, cork, Tyrone and Kerry are old hat at that stuff.

  2. I agree we lost it by not being tuned in for most of the second half. That is, a major issue that needs, to be addressed.
    A second issue though is the refereeing. It was shocking and we have every right to call it so. Even Spillane was agitated at how we were robbed with those decisions .Do we have to continue to take this …no protest…no indignation.
    Sideline can take some blame for not protesting but would those calls hkave gone against Kerry or Cork or Meath.
    Overall a poor display from team sideline and referee and linesman.
    It is honest to call it so.

  3. Its our own fault we did not score for 25mins plus in the second half, and thats not good enough to win any game never mind an all ireland semi. But thats no excuse for the shocking decision to give the penalty, and not to see the push that resulted in a Meath sideline ball which lead to the penalty. If those decisions were not given Meath would not have scoed. It was also a pick up off the ground that lead to their second goal, but at that satge Meath were on a high and luck normally faours you in that situation, again because of the penatly! We have our own problems but we dont need several shocking decisions to add to it. Its not good enough.

  4. I totally disagree Wille Joe that we cant complain – We might not have been scoring but Meath were not making all that big an impression until they got a huge hand from the officials – I’m sick to my stomach at what happened today and the truth is I’m half expecting something similar to happen next weekend.

  5. Meath went almost 20mins without scoring in the 1st half just wasn’t to be could have held on for the win if the ref didn’t give a penalty for nothing but that’s football.

  6. I’m with you Ruane, i’m expecting much of the same next week off Mquillan, tis getting beyond sickining at this stage.

    How can a foot block be a foot block if the ball has already passed one of your own players who was the tackler, ffs he was 2 yards plus from where the Meath man struck the ball. The logic by that ref today was, you can’t play the ball on the ground at all with your foot.(must be an anti soccer thing)

  7. The ref’s decisions in the last 5 mins gifted the match to Meath even if Meath were generally the best over the 60 min’s. Mayo built up a 7 point lead mostly because of Meath’s poor finishing & decision making in front of goal. The fear of losing, rather than the conviction to drive home their advantage took over. I cannot say we merited a victory today, but still Mayo were robbed. 3 decisions by the ref were completly wrong, Meath brought the game to Mayo in the last 25 mins, but with their incompotance in front of goal hardly merited an All Ireland appearance either. Midway trough the 2’nd half it was obvious Mayo needed some guidence from the sideline & some leadership on the field, none materalised. Its over now, but we need to learn the lessons from today. It was a bad weekend for Mayo county teams, but no doubt the Juniors & ladies were 2’nd best. The seniors are still there & events of this weekend are completly irrevalant as to how things will fare next Sunday. This present senior panel is the best we have had in my memory, even without Andy Moran.. Serious pace, phyicality, desire, skill & decision making ability..we are bringing a lot to the table next Sunday, lets hope we bring plenty of colour, noise, & confidence in our support. Donegal were very deserving winners today, Cork’s a serious scalp to take & they made them look very ordinary. What impressed me most about Donegal today was, the body language, when the camera zoomed in for a close up, their was never a shred of doubt in any of the Donegal players faces, as the game wore on the opposite was the case for the Cork, Jim McGuinness has really done something awsome with this team.!!!

  8. As somebody posted previously, if the Mayo sideline had gone ballistic when the free was not awarded on the sideline, the ref might have not have been so fast to award the ridiculous penalty. They were very tame on the Mayo sideline. They did not seem to react to anything as the game was slipping away. I hope the senior sideline will be a bit more animated next Sunday. Minors are very young lads and need all the help they can get from the sideline.

  9. How can anyone justify an incompetent ref denying young lads their chance to play in croke park on all ireland day.shocking

  10. Well again lads the referee decided that game against us today no matter how u look at it n i defy any of ye that is on this blog here regularly saying not to blame refs thats its our own doin or we did,t do enough.First of all meath were the better team over all but they did,t take their chances we were still up by 3 points and i dont how we were because from the 10 min on in the 2nd half they coud,t get near a ball or breaking ball and the 3or 4 they did they gave it straight back to a meath player. Anyway we were still as i say 3 pts up when 1. a push on a mayo player shouda been a free, but given as a line ball to meath 2. there was no footblock, no penalty, 3. and 4. for the winning goal there was an illegal handpass n pick off the ground,in them 4 decisions there is a 6 point turnaround ,game over.Also wen the 2 mayo players collided the ref let play go on evev though the f…….asshole is in radio contact with the other f…… asshole linesman that coud,t tell the diff. btween a free and a sideline ball that eventually lead to the penalty that was,t… Is,t it something else wen the 3 amigos brolly. o,rourke an spillane even called it on rte….. Maybe they did,t deserve to get to an all ireland but it shoud,t be a wanker from tyrone that desides it.Igree with shoutout some 1 from the line shouda come on the pitch an protested and make their feelings known if if it meant getting sent off an make a seen on tv, dont expect a budge from our county board either , say nothing sure it wont happen again, thats their motto an they,ll hardly change now…As for nx weekend nothing will suprise me…..

  11. Better team won today, without doubt. Any team that doesn’t score for 27 minutes of the second half doesn’t deserve to win. If the team spent more time attacking and less time trying to be the Donegal of minor football they would have been better off. Overall a poor game with Kerry or Dublin to win the final at a canter.

  12. Too nice too long on and off the pitch at least J H has changed that on the field but i despair at our co board not backing our players Get rode take it Get rode take it dont complain and it will change NO it wont On meath alone think 96 no quick frees etc 09 about 10 points by ref and today well ye all saw Kick up a stink this week and maybe just maybe we might get fair play Do croke park seriously expect supporters from counties like ours to keep to keep coming when we are always a man down
    Come on co board this time BE HEARD

  13. Wille JOE what sort of a statement is that sayin that we can,t complain about the out come. But have some respect the the group of young footballers that played for our county today.

  14. Fair play is good sport. I t does not matter if Mayo were up by 3 points or down by 3 points the ref made a number of terribly wrong decisions,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  15. What I mean, Raz, is that there’s no way we should have lost from being seven points up early in the second half and our attempt to see out the match with an overly-defensive approach meant we were asking for trouble. Mind you, those shocking refereeing decisions (which I’ve only now seen properly on The Sunday Game) had a major bearing on the outcome but we should never have allowed them back into the game prior to all that happening.

  16. have to agree the ref was a disaster but not scoring for 27 mins, its just not good enough
    and while watching the game on RTE Duffy and his selectors seem to not show one bit of emotion at all during the game and as what is said in previous comments they should have kicked up fuss

  17. Jaze lads I dont know how you can blame the sideline. They set the lads up for the second half and Mayo went 6 up immediately.
    Perhaps our lads thought it was going to be plain sailing from then on and started to cruise. What was crucial also was an unfortunate clash of heads between Regan and Lavin that disrupted the team entirely (both were in great form). Add to that the awful reffing decisions. And of course trying to defend a lead which rarely works in Gaelic football.
    I think blaming the sideline is kicking the wrong ass.
    That said I do think it is time to lay down a marker for refs. Personally I am sick of getting the dirty end of the stick and I do worry about the Dublin game – big crowd – big name players etc etc- all makes me concerned about the 50/50 calls going against us. I do hope we are not here this day week complaining that we were robbed by another ref!

  18. why wont the mayo county board not make an official complaint against the referee today.why do we always have to put up with these ridiculous decisions .if the county board had any balls they would make an official complaint to croke park .this has happened a few times too often to be a coincidence.

  19. yes i watched it to and we were robbed..the ref was the cause of us loosing the game full stop.. They gave it their best and I am sick of our own supporters knockin our teams . spare a taught for the lads who got badly injured today specially young lavin.

  20. Unfortunately Raz, it hasn’t really dawned on Mayo how supporters attitude and support rubs off the team .

    Supporters have a vital role in the modern Gaa game, Donegal support today was worth two points to them, the vibe and positive attitude around the county all week rubbed off on the players, there is some pride there, it’s fist clenching :”we’re Donegal boy and we don’t care about anyone else” type stuff. The Dubs despite their faults are another support base with great pride. It won’y win you games but i am of the opinion it does help.

    Mayo support has gone into useless mode over the last decade i have noticed and numbers have dwindled, the defeatist attitude is shocking ( i was one myself last year) . It’s high time we got behind this present set up, fook been afraid of failure, lets light up croke park with enthusiasm for our proud county…….bring flags, bring flags, bring flags.

    Mayo Mayo, Mayo, Mayo ,Mayo shout roar, scream it, we’re here to win this one boys, we are not leaving this one behind, fook the experts, jounos, the sunday game, fook everyone, this is all about Mayo, nobody else.

  21. Well it’s all about Mayo on this blog Sean 😛 Donegal are succeeding because they don’t care what others have to say about them it’s about time Mayo did the same and do the talking on the pitch.

  22. I totally agree with you Sean.We need to show our true colours next Sunday.We the supporters can be the “16 nth ” man for “our” team on Sunday. Let’s just do it.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Fair play to the minors. Penalty was a shocking call! But, i think the tide had turned before that anyway. No excuses….

  24. I agree Sean . and our negative attitude towards our teams is sickening.We may have gone 27 mins without scoring but we still score the same amount of points as Meath in the second half.Meath were as wasteful as us but people on this site say we have no grounds to complain or its our own fault. or we deserved to loose…call themselves supporters.. nah…

  25. It started at the Van Morrison concert on Saturday. Around the time the Mayo juniors were playing the sky opened and emptied a bellyfull of the gods piss down on us. I was soaked to the skin and shivered my way through grumpy Van.

    Sunday morning in my ongoing fight with fat and as I left for a run I passed a garden near our house. The wind-chimes were clattering away and the swallows were getting ready to leave us for the winter. I got a bad feeling. Shamans and voodoo were filling the air and they were mocking Mayo once more.

    The Juniors lost a final adding to the losses of Davitts and a year before that Parke. More layers of scar tissue. The ladies lost but in fairness they have paid their dues. Then the Minors lost. I am fucking stunned with this one. I didn’t rate the Mayo minors and living in Meath I rated the Meath minors less.

    The script is so predicable and I do believe we are cursed or worse… supine. Seven points up and then the referee intervenes. I don’t want to hear Mayo didn’t score for 26/27 mins, Meath didn’t score for 22 mins at one stage. That’s how a game pans out. Its when the heavy hand of fate fucks you is when you lose your sanity. The referee fucked us up and Facetheball or whoever pointed out that we should not bemoan referees ….this is why we do.

    Yesterday was added to the All Ireland we won but awarded to Galway in 1925. Add in 1939/48/66/85/96 and McQuiillans 2009 and we are very much the victim. When Brolly and O Rourke have to defend Mayo over referees then we are in a bad place. WJ alludes to an off the ball incident involving a Meath player and one of ours. Lets not beat the bush on this one, a Mayo player should have been tasked to wreak revenge on the perpetrator for that. Meath would be shocked but would understand.

    A former Dublin All Ireland winner wrote that nobody in the GAA world takes Mayo serious. I was hurt and numbed…not because he said it. No, worse , I was hurt because I knew it to be true. In this years league game v Down the referee shafted Mayo. McCartan the Down mananger didn’t disagree, he added that the referee was reacting to the crowds dissaproval over a Mayo sending off. In other words he leaned even heavier against us.

    Yesterday wont make a blind bit of difference to those who can actually do something about it…the county board. What could you do you say? OK, lets go back to 2009 and McQuillan. Had Mayo hit the ceiling then and publicly demanded this man never to officiate at a Mayo game then we would not now be feeling our prayer beads for next Sunday. This man reffed most of Dublins matches last year. He gave Cluxton all the time to kick the winner, Collins penalised a Mayo man two minutes into the second half of the Connachrt final for not kicking the free quick enough. One law for Dublin…one law for Mayo.

    Yesterday is a killer. Of all the counties to cough up a seven point lead to, of all the counties to lose a player as outlined by WJ above to….do we ever fucking well heed history…do we ever take the initiative in the dark arts like simple things. You bust one of ours…we bust one of yours. A neighbor of mine played in the 1961 All Irl Minor final. The Mayo chairman warned them that if any of them lifted a hand towards a Cork player in a foul manner he would see they were taken off. If Mayo were going to win then it would be the Mayo way, manly he intoned. Two minutes into the game my neighbour told me, the Mayo star player Connaughton I think, had his nose rearranged with a Cork fist. Cork operated with a different rules of engagement. And the chairman…well can I say…fucking ass!

    James Horan has made Mayo respectable again. The jury is out on how good we actually are. Beating London, Galway, Ros, Sligo and Leitrim is a thing I expect Mayo to do. True they beat Cork last year but surrendered the advantage in the league final. Forget Kerry, out of sorts and out of steam. I believe we have a chance, I am a pessimist about Mayo always because I see we carry a weak spine off the field. I figure we have as good a chance as anybody because Kerry are gone. Dublin were like “startled earwigs” three seasons ago. Donegal were a basket case like us in 2010 so we have every right to hope.

    But will we, will the wind chimes rattle, will the skies vomit water, will the spooks get into our psyche? It has already started, I see on Twitter the doubts, I feel the gremlins myself. Its not Dublin that going to be our enemy and opponent nest Sunday…no, its worse, it will be ourselves and our own heads that have to be defeated long before we even take the pitch. Three teams are left. We are one of them. Its not can we do it…its that we have no choice. Next year is always for the other guy. For me, its now or definitely never.

  26. Willie joe its not that the decisions HAD a bearing on the match, they WERE the bearing on the match an we,l never know if meath woud have hauled mayo in because they wer,nt to sharp in front of goal either,as for duffy,s interview on sunday game sun. game last nite compared to mcnetee from meath it tells it all, he,s having a laugh ,snigger wat ever you want to call it and their was his chance to hav a go and a little dig at ref an more importantly crokepark,but juse like the field mice tha,s in our county board he kept es mouth shut and woud,t surprise me 1 bit if was told to do so, don,t upset the boys in croker now or they might take mchale park off us, f…. them. We are i think picking the wrong management teams for our minors n u21 anyways , i woud like to see the david bradys, colm mac an dare i say it john maughan getting involved with the underage n putting a bit of steel into some of them lads because by jesus they need it, but dont hold your breath because them lads i mention above woud,t take any shite from any1 includind our county board… As for this great support that donegal has an how great they are i,d be in seventh heaven too if for the 2nd time in over a hundred years we,v reached an all ire final an dont forget they hav,t won it yet, u,d think they had the way they celebrated afta final wistle[reminds me mayo afta o6 v dubs semi],we have and well known thru, out the lad an overseas as 1 of the best an loyal supporters of any county an tha includes the dubs,even though they may not be in croker next sunday[money is scarse you know an 40 euro is pricey by the grab all assoc.] the pubs in every town in the county an the half of galway and across the world newyork, chicago,boston, london, sydney and toronto will be packed with mayo supporters cheering on their beloved green an red .C,mon the true COILLTI,S [ a dub tole me that in a pub in 1 nite mayo,s were the first county called tha in the capital..lol] give it a go were ever it may take us and may the best team win…

  27. I was truly shocked at the standard of refereeing in the minor game yesterday. I was gutted for all the players and management after the final whistle. It doesn’t matter if Mayo failed to score for 27 minutes in the 2nd half. That has nothing to do with the performance of a referee who doesn’t know the basic rules of the game. I couldn’t believe it when the ref failed to stop play for head injuries to Lavin and Regan. The two lads clashed heads, were bleeding and the ref played on until Mayo won the ball back in the far corner!!! He gave Meath lots of dubious decisions aside from the penalty and the fouls that led to the second goal.

    It’s not fair on the young Mayo lads. They are given programmes to build themselves up at an early stage of the year. They train hard in the muck and shit and give it everything they have even though some of them are doing leaving certs etc. To come up to GAA headquarters where you would expect fairness and some adequate officials to know the rules of our games. Yesterday Mayo were robbed all because of a muppet who probably wanted to get noticed by brandishing cards like confetti and blowing the whistle every 10 seconds as a reminder to everyone that he was on the pitch and in charge. Im disgusted with yesterday. Referees like the one yesterday will never gain respect from GAA followers until they know the rules of the game and let the game flow. Hard luck to our minors. Keep the heads up lads and drive on.

  28. Having been in Croker yesterday to watch the latest installment of waiting for the result to come to us instead of making the result happen …. our meekness in Croker is becoming tiresome.
    I thoroughly agree with Willie Joe’s analysis of the game itself so I wont go there.
    We do need to make an official County Board protest at the officiating however.
    If we don’t kick up a stink we will continue to get this treatment again & again.
    We need to make this protest before Sunday so that Croke Park & the officials realise that we will no longer take this.
    We need to get to Croke Park in numbers on Sunday as we will be heavily outnumbered from an early stage due to Dublin’s presence in the minor semi as well.
    The lads have made big strides and deserve our support …. look at the Donegal support yesterday. And when we get there we need to harden our attitude … no slackening off when we get ahead, no waiting for the result to come to us. We cant beat people enough when we get to Croke Park. We won’t take crap from officials in Croke Park. We don’t care what analysts think. We only go to Croke Park to take the F…… Result by force.

  29. Great post Johnny Cuffe. Agree with you.

    Hopefully we’ll see a new minor management next year. This lot have been clueless on the line for three years. Two years ago Tony Duffy stood by and watched Tyrone pull back a massive lead, yesterday he stood on the line, a picture of panic not leadership and couldnt see how to change the game. His Sunday Game laughing interview really grated as well.

    Time to give former players like Brady, Heaney or Colm Mc the reins. Fellas we all can look up to.

    We still haven’t appointed our u21 manager either after 3 disastrous years. Preparations shoild be going on for 2012 in the background. The club championship is where you do your scouting. It ll have passed the new man by

  30. Our selectors reeked of amateurism in the last few minutes. You are a yard away from the most ridiculous side line decision with 3 min left and you just accept it with arms folded.. . Do what Ferguson would do or what Pardue did last week . You wont overturn the decision but you will let the ref know he was wrong and I guarantee you he wont give an even worse decision against you a minute later for a foot block . . There is a time to behave and a time to react for the sake of your team.

  31. The game’s gone and we lost and there’s nothing we can do about the result now. We can argue over whether or not our 27 (or 28) minutes without a score or those unforgivable refereeing blunders that swung it but it won’t change anything now, I’m afraid. As someone has already pointed out, a combination of our tactics, losing the two lads and the ref were all relevant but it’s gone now. There’s a wider point about how we’d have fared in a final. For my money this team didn’t look anything like as good as the 2008 version and it would have been difficult to imagine them as All-Ireland champions. But that’s pointless conjecture too now, I suppose.

    What is relevant as we face into the Dubs next weekend is, though, our attitude to reffing and what we do about it. I agree that we should protest (as we should have done after the league final) and that these protests should have started with Tony Duffy’s post-match interview. He needn’t have ranted about what had happened but he could at least have made reference to it. He owed that to the lads who have worked so hard for him all year and he let them down badly by not bringing it up. Likewise, the County Board should make an official complaint to Croke Park about it, not in the expectation it’ll change anything but to put it on record (like we should have done in relation to Deegan’s league final performance).

    Looking ahead to Sunday, a few things would worry me. The first was the comment made by James Horan at the press night last week where he was asked a specific question about Joe McQuillan’s appointment. James effectively laughed off these concerns. This is the report in the Herald on what he had to say on the issue:

    Horan also stressed that he had “no problem” with the appointment of Joe McQuillan as ref, despite widespread comment over his officiating of four of six of Dublin’s Championship matches last summer, including the All-Ireland final.

    “He’s a top class inter-county ref. There is a lot of comment out there that he is very familiar with the Dublin set-up and reffed some of their ‘A’ versus ‘B’ game but we’re happy with the ref that was appointed,” Horan insisted.

    “There is a review panel there for referees so if there was any questionable decisions, they would review that. It’s nothing to do with us. I know a few Kerry friends from last year who mightn’t have been happy with some of his performances but sin sceál eile.”

    It’s clear from the above that James was presented with the perfect opportunity to lay down a marker ahead of Sunday – in the way Jack O’Connor did so effectively last year, which David Coldrick bought hook, line and sinker – about how the match needs to be handled but he passed up the chance. I really hope that he doesn’t have cause to regret this.

    While we’re on the topic of reffing, yesterday’s performance by David Coldrick added further fuel to the fire about poor officiating. Like his hurling counterpart the week before, Coldrick seemed to have the view that nothing was a foul and, to my mind at least, he was clearly swayed by the massive Donegal support. Down in Killarney, he reffed the Kerry/Tyrone match as if it were a Kerry house party and he did the same for Donegal yesterday.

    The other thing that screamed out from yesterday was how things like the impeding runners, the steps rule or the handpass rule weren’t enforced at all. Blocking a player coming through is now a core part of the game and clearly no ref in Ireland will penalise any team for this as everyone is doing it all the time and so yesterday it happened unchecked all of the time. It was also noticeable yesterday that players going into contact were allowed to steam on for 8, 9, 10 steps without being penalised and both teams were routinely taking more than the allowed limit with impunity. The non-implementation of the handpass rule is an utter joke at this stage: the number of illegal handpasses executed yesterday had to be in excess of 100 over the course of the two games and a good half-dozen of those were two-handed throws, rugby style. And of course, the ref’s perfect view of the overhand pass by the Meath lad just before their second goal was the most relevant one from our perspective.

    I’m not sure where all this leaves us: hopefully not crying into our cornflakes about Joe bloody McQuillan this day week …

  32. A bad weekend for the red and green, but next weekend is what its all about. The question I would ask is how will this wekends results effect next weekend. I am of the opinion Horan has the senior lads focused on their own game, however they are not insulated from what goes on around them. I believe the lads will draw strength from these losses and as John Cuffe said “its now or never”. If we had won the Junior/Ladies/Minors there would be a feeling of the tide turning for Mayo. This would be a big mistake, the tide is not or will now turn until we lift Sam.
    Mayo are different to ALL other counties we have been here so many times, at semi and final stage and we are a joke to most other counties. The simple fact is that opponents expect us to bottle it. This is our big advantage, we can catch teams napping, even if we beat the Dubs (which I am sure we will) we will be given no chance v Donegal, because of their fine display yesterday.
    We are perfectly placed to see it through, underestimated, lost our key player, refs screwing us, Mayo history of failure fresh in everyone’s minds. Remember our game V Cork last year, totally written off.
    In order for Mayo to suceed we have to do it the hard way.

    As regards the Mayo support, I would be as well pleased it the half of them stayed at home, our average fan is as weak as water, the next one who uses the phrase “same old story” to me I will KILL them. Lads if your not going to back your team to the hilt stay at home.
    The all Ireland is within our reach in the next three years, it could be this year.

  33. No WJ , I wont be crying into my cornflakes about McQuillan. I am now crying into my porridge about Horans comments about McQuillan. Top class ref,etc but not a word about 2009, umpire was he when Coulter was in the square Down v Kildare a few years ago. Nice guys those Mayo lads alright…….ohhhhhhhh Jesus wept but truly we make a rod and then hand it out ask to be whipped across the arse with it.

  34. Very good piece John Cuffe, when your not spouting bile about the noisy neighbours you come across as a highly likeable fellow albeit a grumpy one. Mayo minors were robbed yesterday, yes for 27 mins of the second half they were plain shite and some of their forwards took on chances that were never on, when others were better placed, however the ref made appaling judgements that cost Mayo the game. I watched in horror a few weeks back our own minors implode against a Kerry team they should have beaten out the gate by half time and wonder if Mayo and Ros share the same voodo, karma or black cats or whatever the f”ck. Donegal looked top quality and I cannot see Dublin (Mayo, are already gone by the way, the black cats and the voodo dolls have proper f”cked them!) getting the better of them in the final.

  35. What annoys me is that he could so easily have said something like we hope the ref will be okay and that all we’re concerned about is getting even-handed treatment and then alluded to incidents like Michael Collins/Cillian O’Connor last year, any number of incidents from this year’s league final and the disallowed goal in this year’s Connacht final to illustrate the point that we appear to be reffed differently than others. That would have done it, I wouldn’t even have gone back as far as 2009 as the clear message would have been that we’re concerned that the ref could be in the other corner. Instead, James is on record saying Joe McQuillan is a grand lad altogether and shure don’t we know he’ll be fine. We’re obviously not getting involved in mind games!

  36. The referee was incredibly poor yesterday. His decisions turned the game. The biggest issue and one that must be addressed however is the interpretation of the rules – i.e what constitutes a tackle, handpass, squareball etc. It’s too subjective at present. I agree with Willie Joe. The game is over, it’s lost. The players have to take responsibility for the defeat – who cares if they are 17 or 18 years of age. They performed for 35 minutes and that wasn’t enough to win it unfortunately.

    There are lessons there for the seniors. JH is well aware of the refs ‘links’ to the Dublin camp. You can be guaranteed that he has instructed the panel to view the ref as the 16th Dublin man. Mayo can anticipate some poor decisions on Sunday – I call that an advantage – why? Because they know it now. No point cribbing afterwards. In my view this will spur them on – this is the chip on the shoulder they are looking for.

  37. Look everybody, this is reality…we are not cursed, forget all talk about omens, wind chimes, what James Horan said about the ref….Dublin are not planning to beat a Mayo team thats already beaten by themselves, by the weight of the past. They are planning to beat a Mayo team that beat them by 12 points in Castlebar last spring,beat them by a point in the exact same stage last in 2006 by a point, having had a lead of 7 points with 20 mins to go! Now 2006 is long past, Omens & Curses only exist in the mind, life is in general fucking, unfair, just as likely to be unfair to Dublin as us, on the law of averages the best team WILL WIN, & WE , MAYO are Better than Dublin…in a game where, self believe, conviction & desire out on the field, when the chips are down, let our ‘Mayo Supporters’ self believe, conviction, & desire not be found to be lacking. Remember for those who believe in ‘omens’ Dublin were beating us well in the league only for the fog to twart them. I hope the only one’s believing in non existing ‘omens, & curses’ are the Dublin fans…Its too much to expect the Dublin players would even would encumber themselves with negative taughts like that, they are All Ireland champions afer all, & if they evet bought into such rubbish they would never have gotten there. Neither should we in Mayo, we will win because this ‘MAYO TEAM IS BETTER ‘

  38. Good man James you could be on to something Hoodoo/black cats! I don’t have a problem with James saying what he did. If you want to plant seeds of doubt you could easily use the media through an ex player highlighting the decisions by McQuillian in 2009 coupled with the other decisions mentioned on here. For me that would have the same impact while leaving James and his squad to get down to business.
    Really looking forward to the game now , sure if we have to beat the ref as well as the Dubs , so be it. It’s been done before and it’ll be done again. I played on a Connacht underage team that went to play Ulster in Ravenhill ( in egg-ball) and we knew with the ref for the game we would probably start the game between 9 to 12 points down. We went and got stuck in from the start and wiped the floor with them wining by 20 points. We had conditioned ourselves to ignore the home town decisions and actually ran through our attacking moves with the defence coming from an offside position cause we knew the ref would let them away with it. The key for us was to play our way aroung the ref and we knew if we didn’t get frustrated with him we were good enough to win!

  39. Actually, Willie Joe I think James Horan’s reply was quite clever. He managed to mention all our concerns (apart from the 2009 game) and even brought in Kerry’s unhappiness with his performances. And I think he put the panel for referees on notice to be on the look out for bad decisions. All the time he extolled McQuillan as being an excellent ref – mar dheadh.

  40. James has said everything he needs to say, and can say, about the referee Willie Joe.

    He basically states everything that is wrong with McQuillan but casts him in a positive light. Read between the lines – you know what he really thinks.

    Maybe if there is a 50:50 call at some stage those comments and general criticism of his appointments may work in our favour?

  41. Coldrick refereed yesterday’s match excellently. Willie Joe, if he pulled the players for all the things you mention (which, as you as say, he would be entitled to do given they are the rules) then the game would have been a disaster as a spectacle. The same with the hurling the week before, excellently refereed.

    Refs have a very hard job to do because the rules of Gaelic Football are not defined enough. The minors lost to a better team yesterday. Hoping we can come in under the radar next week.

  42. The comments made by JH were a lot more subtle than they appear

    There is a lot of comment out there that he is very familiar with the Dublin set-up and reffed some of their ‘A’ versus ‘B’ game but we’re happy with the ref that was appointed,” (And the fact that he appears to be close to the Dublin set-up has now been raised by me in the national press, like a Fox News “some people say…”)

    There is a review panel there for referees so if there was any questionable decisions, they would review that. (And now that I’ve mentioned it, maybe McQuillan will think twice about questionable decisions)

    If you raise a concern about a ref before the game, they could swing either way. Eager to show that they’re not influenced by you by giving against you or eager to punish the opposition to prove you wrong.

    Meath 2009 was more incompetent than sinister

    I think the linesmen are just as likely to be poor, same goes for the umpires at Hill 16 this weekend

    It depends on the ref.

  43. Have to agree with Ariad, I was typing my piece when his comments went up
    JH not known for putting a foot wrong in his statements these last few years

  44. Point taken re James’ comments – I hadn’t read all those subtle messages into it but I can see now that they’re there. I’d’ve been a lot less subtle but then he’s the man in the hot seat.

    I disagree completely seanod re David Coldrick: the ref’s job is to apply the rules, not to give up on doing so in order to make a match an enjoyable spectacle. The way he reffed it yesterday, the rules are you can tackle whatever way you like, take as many steps as you want, handpass any old way, block anyone trying to make a run and pull and drag till the cows come home. Now if that’s the rules that all teams are allowed to play to in every match that’s played throughout the year then that’s fine but next Sunday could see a whole different slant on how the rules are applied. I accept there is a problem with the rules but the bigger problem is with the refs themselves.

  45. Totally disagree with Seanod.

    Totally disagree with random omens.

    Totally agree with lobitin, panel should be seen to respect referees (regardless of how shite they are), its the county boards and those with connections to the national media who should be pulling up referees.

    And all the while, there is the need for fans to rise up and not accept the many injustices there are in the GAA. We need our own nationwide organisation which will have a say and lobbying power.

  46. Agree with many of the comments here about subtlety of JH comments, agree that the sideline should have made more noise about the ref decisions yesterday, agree that the refs decisions had a big bearing on the result, agree with those that say that we became too defensive in the minor game, but you make your own luck, Donegal were far enough ahead to make sure not to get caught when Cork scored a sucker goal.

    Disagree that refs have it in for us, we only see those decisions that go against us. Why would Joe MsQ or other refs have something against the green and red? I guess that I’ll have to agree to disagree with a number of other posters on this issue.

    We need to adapt to how the ref is playing the game, in rugby they analyse the refs style to know what you can get away with, we need to do the same.

    I do think that we can win on Sunday, it will be tough, but if we work hard, have a plan B and belief, then we can do it. We must play as If this is our last chance and just go for it, fortune favours the brave!

  47. Lots of moaning here before game v dubs. I shudder to think what it will be like next week if we lose. Yes the ref was terrible in minor game but the team were in a great position to win it and did not push on. The game is over now. As regards JH s comments about McQuillan I think they were fine Horan hasnt done too much wrong in the last two years so I think he deserves benefit of the doubt on that. Actually thought Coldrick was fairly good yesterday

  48. Well i’m sorry but i’m certainly not going to agree here. Mquillan should not be the ref that was chose for this game, there was serious questions over some of his decision making in last years final, it has come to light he has refereed the AvB games in Dublin, no no no no no no no, he should not be let ref this game, add into all this his handing to Meath the 09 game.

    Who will be added to the team sheet do ye think? There has to be one addition , that much we know in order to replace Andy. Is SOS fit?

  49. Willie Joe, I agree that the problem is the consistency with how the refs referee the games. I still think Coldrick reffed Sunday’s game very well given how physical both teams are.
    The same thing happens every year with regard to consistency. Look at the frees/yellow cards that are given in the league that would never be given in a big championship match. The intensity increases so the ref’s (usually) become more lenient in an attempt not to ruin the game.

  50. But that’s the problem, seanod – intensity (and fouling) increases as the championship progresses so refs stop applying the rules and nobody knows what rules are being applied. Coldrick obviously took the view early on the last day that he was going to let 90% of the stuff go, which made for a free-flowing game but also made a complete mockery of the rule book. As I’ve said, that’s fine if it’s the way every match is reffed but it’s not. Just on the handpass alone, the one by Cillian which led to Andy’s goal being disallowed in the Connacht final was no more illegal than dozens of handpasses that were made – and weren’t pulled up – last Sunday. If Cillian finds himself in the same position next Sunday (not with Andy to pass to, though!) what does he do, knowing that he has no idea whether or not the ref will blow for it? This kind of inconsistency puts players in an impossible position.

  51. @john cuffe .. Love your posts 🙂 usually … Might be onto something about omens … D for Down D for Dublin D for Donegal D for Demolition job we going to do to these teams no doubt about it … We are a far better stronger and smarter team this year without Andy its going to be tough very tough but really feel its going to happen … So less of the jitters everyone this might just transcend onto our team … Let them do the job on the pitch and we do ours in the stands UP MAYO WHEREVER YOU GO 🙂

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