Minors lose their way after bright opening

There I was, ten minutes into the second half of today’s All-Ireland minor football semi-final, starting to think idly about who I could tap up for a ticket for the final.  Cillian O’Connor had just stroked over our fourteenth point of the day to send us seven clear and it looked then as if we were going to thump a strangely one-dimensional and ineffective Tyrone team.  Twenty minutes later, however, we were left surveying the wreckage from yet another Mayo loss at HQ as Tyrone engineered a devastating fightback to beat us by 3-10 to 0-16, thus bringing an emphatic end to our 2010 inter-county season.

How did it happen?  Well, their two goals that came in the 42nd and 48th minute respectively obviously turned the game on its head.  We could still have won the match even after they got the second one but by then Tyrone had the bit between their teeth and our lads’ heads had started to drop.  We did manage a late fightback and had Danny Kirby’s injury-time goal attempt come off, we could have snatched a draw so, on this occasion at least, we went down fighting.

But, of course, we shouldn’t have gone down at all.  Coming into the match we were rank outsiders but you’d never have thought that by the way we took command of proceedings in the opening half.  We were three up inside five minutes – courtesy of a point from play by Jack McDonnell and two Cillian O’Connor frees – but they then knocked over 1-3 without reply to go a goal clear on 17 minutes.  We then took complete control and a series of excellent points from play from Cian Costello, Michael Forde, Darren Coen (two), Cillian O’Connor and Jack McDonnell gave us a four-point cushion going in at the break.

At that stage, our lads’ high workrate, their utter dominance around the middle and their keen eye for scores meant that we looked more likely to prevail.  Tyrone, by contrast, wedded as they were to a robotic, keep-ball approach,  didn’t look like a side that was going to trouble us, regardless what the bookies had said in advance.  On the contrary, I felt that if anyone was going to do damage in the second half, it’d be our lads.

We started brightly after the break too, with further points from Cillian O’Connor (two), Darren Coen and Jack McDonnell as we surged seven clear.  Their sole reply in this period, a point from Richard Donnelly, was their first for all of 17 minutes but it was obvious then that they’d need a few green flags if they were to rescue the game.

There’s no way we should have lost the match from there but, of course, lose it we did.  The first of their two second half goals wasn’t fatal and we could easily have righted the ship and driven for home again.  The second was, though, and the galling thing about it was that we should have had a free out around the middle in the run-up to it.  Jack McDonnell was bundled over right in front of the ref but Rory Hickey inexplicably waved play on and Tyrone surged forward to bag their third goal of the day.

By the time Cillian O’Connor claimed our fifteenth point five minutes from time, they’d hit us with 2-4 without reply in what proved to be a devastating match-winning spell.  We did mount a late frantic effort to rescue the game but to no avail and so our hopes of a third successive All-Ireland minor final appearance came to naught.

And then, just to put the tin hat on it, the Dubs contrived to lose the senior semi-final to Cork in a match where they led for all but the last few minutes.  The little lad bawled his eyes out afterwards, the pain of defeat no doubt accentuated by the fact that Dublin had looked more likely to win for most of the seventy minutes but had victory snatched from them at the death.

And so, after the tears had dried, we were left with yet another weary walk away from Croke Park to do, with another year of footballing disappointment chalked down.  The Dubs can at least be happy that their fortunes are on the rise again and we can, I suppose, console ourselves with the proposition (which may not be valid) that the only way for us is up.  The minors put up a good show for much of today, though, and they provided further proof that there’s a good talent pool coming through.  Overall, however, 2010 has been a year to forget for Mayo supporters and we can only hope for better times to come in 2011.

48 thoughts on “Minors lose their way after bright opening

  1. played for 45mins and fell apart for the rest, hopefully lessons will be learned. Some excellent points from mayo though

  2. Yeah, exactly. Miles better for 45 minutes and then completely crumbled. In fairness, the defending for the goals was very poor but true some excellent points scored by Mayo and not that many wides. Sickening one to lose though…

  3. Backs shakey from the start
    Excellent forwards
    Overall gutsy performance
    Went down fighting,

  4. Heartbreaking stuff, they played mighty for 45 like was said but jesus christ it’s not a myth there is something wrong mentally, when our heads drop no matter what grade it is we seem to never get over it for the rest of the game, there is something truly not right with the mental side of our game in general. Some promising attackers and Kirby was good in the middle, defence were vunerable and it seems to be a trend in Mayo of late, no solid strong markers, its very easy to get goalside of a Mayo defender at senior level too.

  5. Really disappointed for the lads. They let the heads down after that goal that came from a howler of a decision by the referee and struggled from there to the finish.

    The challenge now is to bring some of these fine prospects on into the senior ranks. This should be a priority for the new manager.

    Keep the Faith!

  6. This Tyrone team are being talked up as the best since the current big boys were under 18. Mind you no one better to talk up their teams like the Nordies. (Down were out of this world last year!!)
    Great performance today by the lads, not much you can do when you are hit bit the Tyrone rally, had we got the goal when we were 6 up it was over but sin a bhuill. I’d say between the ’08 team and todays team they will be up close and personal with these Tyrone lads for a decade to come. Oh Lord please give us the result to shut that Brolly W***ker and that tool of a Sphillane up forever

  7. Darina, i am so with you on the Brolly thing, he just laughs at the mention of Mayo and the dig he got at Mortimer today was out of order.

  8. Disappointed we didn’t see that one out. Another moral victory. Sick of them but we will keep the faith.

    Alot of talk in Castlebar tonight that Micko is a real runner for manager. This concerns me alot. The top brass may be happy to pal around with a legend but are there seriously any Mayo fans who would want him. Couod be a fatal blow to us

  9. we have had 3 minor teams at the top table for the last 3 years, some amazing individual performances. Can Ray Dempsey harness this through to U’21 and can the next Mayo manager get these lads through to senior. Its a big ask. The conveyor belt is the way to go. we have the basics right. I think we are nearly there(you can always sign the form and I’ll be in the mental for a fortnight.)

  10. Kirby the only midfielfder to show since the great WJ.We have had minors and u @21s but only 1 MF from all of those teams

  11. I`ve said this before but have we two corner backs in the whole county because it doesn`t look like we have and until we get them we will win nothing.I was in Jarlaths in Tuam in 1974 when Henry Gavin lifted the Hogan Cup having beaten Brendan`s Killarney, powered by a young Pat Spillane and Gormanston, who had Ogie Moran as captain along the way.At corner back on that team was a man called Liam White a butt of a lad who got killed tragicly only a few years later[Horse Sweeney was in the other corner nuff said].I never saw the likes of White to mark his man he never let him any more than one step away from himself didn`t look at the ball unless it came straight at him then he cleared his lines.
    He got his all Ireland medal.A corner back shouldn`t look good.The way you judge a corner back is by how little his man does and he`ll get the same medal as the guy that does all the scoring.
    So in my book the corner back is the most important man on the team because he stops the danger men that have cost us so dearly in the past.
    So don`t give me this bullshit about bringing in the cream of all these minor teams and thinking we`ll win an all Ireland when we haven`t two corner backs in the county !Mick O Dwyer me hole

  12. The match was lost by sideline management as it was almost against Offaly! Obvious changes were not made. These lads have usually one chance in their lives at minor level and should not be punished by incompetence!

  13. Shouldn’t have lost it definitly. not with 7 points advantage up leastways. Mayo teams
    (at all levels it seems) show a surprising lack of ruthlessness when it comes to closing out the game.
    Admittedly yes the two goals Tyrone scored were of real class however before that pass was put in from the sideline that man to the man running through the player in possession should have been fouled !!
    Giving away a free and a point would have served a lot better than conceding the goal and giving them the confidence to come back again.
    All this rubbish that we play nice fotball is corect – we are too nice.
    More hardnosed play is required. If you want to get over the line then no mercy has to be shown.

  14. God but we get what we deserve. I read a piece in the Mayo News where the head of coaching in Mayo put up a staunch defence of the work being done by various coaches in the county.Well they can now concentrate on getting a few corner backs that actually defend and teach players how to close out a game. Perhaps also teach them a few of the cuter tricks such as give away a strategic foul rather than let the opposition run in two vital goals.
    Yesterdays match was lost on the sideline. Tyrones 15 had his corner back in his pocket from the start. He returned a healthy 1-4. A change should have been made after three minutes. Until we are ruthless with ourselves we wont be ruthless with others.
    Once we specialised in throwing away six point leads, now we throw away seven point leads. That was shocking and I see nothing rosy for the future. Yeah we will say such and such a guy from yesterday will be the bees knees. Two years ago Aiden O Shea was the future, last year the web sites nearly melted with the fear of him going to Australia, this year he could slip away and he wouldnt be noticed.
    We can keep as much faith as we like, it wont make a blind bit of difference to our future. We have slipped into an awful place, no matter what we do we are seen as a team that can be beaten when it matters.
    Losing championship matches to the likes of Sligo and 31st rated Longford is an utter disgrace. Until that squad is cleaned out and until fresh blood is introduced at the highest levels of the Mayo county board , we will not make any progress. Tinkering with Joe Bloggs here and Jim Bloggs there is a waste.
    I saw Mayo play Cavan in Belmullet in a challenge match. Both were shite. Players with six/ eight/ ten years service were unable to pass with the weak foot or hand. It was dire and worse/better is is a true reflection of where we actually are. Compare the present Mayo team to the new arrivals as in Cork, Dublin, Down, and Kildare not forgetting Kerry and Tyrone and we see how far we are off the pace. Worse we have an average Sligo along with a potentially good Roscommon to worry about at home.
    Still the same old faces will hold court and try and plot our next dose of embarresment at a county board meeting soon. We will continue to whinge, cry and listen to smart Joe Brolly laugh at us. Why not a bit of daring, why not a bit of revolution …why not a concerted effort to bring the likes of Martin Carney, JP Kean, Kevin McStay, Billy Fitz, to the top table of Mayo football. We need change and not just on the pitch.

  15. I thought the sideline were poor yesterday. They should have been able to guide them home with a 7 point lead. Number 2 was left on number 15 far too long. We also lost at least 4 points trying to play the ball out of defence. The goalie totally lost the run of himself near the end and starting playing out the pitch. We needed to be a lot more cyncial once we had the big lead.
    Still it’s good to be competitive for three years in a row at minor. We must be doing somethinmg right. It’s from 18 onwards that seems to be the problem.

  16. An old failing of ours got us again yesterday. Once we went 7 points up we forgot all the hard work and discipline that got us there. The innate showboating nature of the Mayo footballer got the better of us and we lost our focus. Instead of pushing on and crushing teams when we are on top we all too often let them back in. I agree that the sideline have to take much of the responsibility for what happened yesterday but it could be the makings of those young players in the long run. An all-ireland medal in your back pocket at 18 is not usually a good thing in Mayo.

  17. Its tough losing another one the way we did, but the important thing is that we are producing high quality players. The drop off from minor through to U-21 and senior is the big issue for me. If you look at successful Mayo underage teams over the past 10 years (of which there have been many) we are not getting players enough players through.

    This presents an ideal opportunity for the Mayo Junior team to act as a back-up to the senior panel and help bring younger players through. Look at Kevin Walsh winning an All-Ireland with Sligo, their 2nd at any grade ever. In comparison, Mayo hold one or two training sessions before the first game and cobble a team together.

    There is so much potential in the county that is not persevered with.

  18. I’d day everyone needs to get a grip, it was the minors playing yesterday, not the senior team.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love if we won a minor all ireland (I know this was the semi-final!) and it’d be good for football in the county if we did win one but the reaction to the match yesterday against the players and the management is a bit over the top.

    I thought they gave it their all yesterday right to the end, played quite well for most of the game and were beaten by an excellent Tyrone team that have blown away all the rest of the teams they played. Mistakes were made but this is minor level, that’s the nature of it. The Tyrone lads made plenty of mistakes yesterday too.

  19. I have being at all the minor championship matches this year and I have to say that the minor squad have been done out of an All-Ireland medal by the management team (include the County Board), because it was a good a minor team as I have seen since 1978 and were a better team than Tyrone yesterday who are now favorites to win the final.
    They (management) nearly lost the game against Offely by not making changes quickly enough in defense. Could not believe they did not address the blatant leakiness in defense in the match selection at the outset, taught they would have learnt something from the Offely match, but no instead tinkered at midfield and them when it all started to happen all over again, what they do? Starting changing forwards instead of addressing the REAL issue – just could not understand it! Or was I watching a different game?

    County board selected the management teams -what are their responsibilities in all of this? They are not competent to carry out their job, hence they should go! Until we look at the performance of all involved and sack anyone who is not up the standard required we (paying public and players) will continue to get what we always got!

  20. agree with you barney.it blows my mind with posters coming on here blaming management for losing the game as if there was one magical move that could have been made that would have stemmed tyrones onslaught in the third quarter.There were 5 subs brought on so it is not as if they were not trying to do something.We were unlucky to lose to a very good tyrone team but if any body jogs there memory back to last years semi final v Down we were very lucky to win that game .these fellows are only 18 years old and they gave everything for the cause and this loss had nothing to do with mental weakness or showboating and more to do with tyrone being a very good team,and i would also like to know how a management team is supposed to guide a team home with a 7 point advantage bar putting 15 players on the goalline.

  21. Hi Guys

    Interesting quote from raymond munroe the tyrone minor manager – “Mayo, what can you say, great footballers and everything but I don’t what the problem is in Mayo that they can’t seem to get over the line at these vital stages.”

  22. Why did we not deploy a sweeper when we looked in trouble defensively ? Tyrone deployed one in front of O’Connor for the whole game.
    That could have won us the game

  23. we did deploy a sweeper in the 2ind half and we had lots of bodies in around the goal for the 2ind goal.the 3rd goal was a little unlucky as Freeman knocked the ball away from oneill and it fell right for Donnely to put him thro to score.tyrone doubleteamed o connor in the 1st half and it did not work as he still won most balls kicked into him.that ploy was abandoned after half time.for some posters to be calling for the firing of tony duffy and his slectors is totally crazy as for the most part mayo were well prepared and came out to win the game and played with alot of confidence.Unfortunatly we met a very good tyrone team and it is impossible to keep a team of that calibre quiet for most of the game.

  24. It was obviously the defence that lost the game for us yesterday.The first goal they got, against the run of play as we were on top from midfield up at that point,was fielded in the middle of 4 Mayo players and put away with his left and him off balance !And we lost the game by a goal!
    This summer Vaughen McLoughlin Gardner Barrett and the wonderful Keith Higgins spent nearly as much time in the opposition half as they did in their correct positions and how many games did we win?Do`ya know it`s so long ago that i forget i don`t think we won any at all.
    Whoever gets the Mayo job and does it look like a poison chalice or what,if he sees a corner back running up the field and scoring a point,he should drop that man from the panel and look for someone who can defend!That way backs might figure out the job their supposed to be doing !

  25. With regards to “maigheo” comments, Mayo played a sweeper both halves so that was hardly a “magical” move. If management get things so persistently wrong on match days – that is obvious to all and sundry – maybe we should take on board your suggestion and put “15 players on the goalline” – it would have taken Tyrone more than 10 minutes to score 10 (2-6) points!!!
    I do not believe that any poster to this blog criticised the players, their effort, committment, heart and workrate and I for one am proud of how they represented our county! They deserved better!

  26. Just to mention the belt the keeper took into his own RH upright. The Tyrone buck should have got a card for that. Mannion did well to play on.

  27. Someone mentiond it already about the lack of good corner backs in the county. We don’t seem to have had one since Kenneth Mortimer. All our backs are wannabe forwards. When you see the likes of Howley and Cunniffe playing in the forwards for their clubs you know you are in trouble.

  28. I’d agree that a sense of perspective is needed about yesterday’s defeat. For two-thirds of the game, this team played better than any Mayo team has done for years and they did the jersey proud yesterday. As others have said, this is a very good Tyrone team and they were never going to go under without a fight. Using the defeat to call for the firing of all and sundry is, in my opinion, just daft.

    What we do need to do, though, is to recognise that the darker arts have to become part of our game in the same way as all other counties are adopting these tactics. In this respect, Tyrone gave us a masterclass yesterday – blocking runs, tactical fouling, feigning injury to run down the clock, deliberately following through on our keeper etc. etc. – and, in doing so, they adopted exactly the same approach that their seniors gave been using for years. It may not be pretty but we have to accept that it’s pretty effective.

    One of the first priorities of the incoming senior manager should be to get together with his U21 and minor colleagues and between them they need to put in place a playing system that incorporates these ‘skills’. In doing so, they should keep with them a printout of those patronising words of the Tyrone minor manager, Raymond Munroe, who mused aloud about our ‘problem in getting over the line’. Wouldn’t it be lovely to ram those words down his throat next year?

  29. Talking about managers, are there any indications of the outcome of the deliberations of that elite, ultra knowledgable body known as the executive last night? Us plebs would appreciate an indication of the level of wisdom they have applied in choosing the man that will, hopefully, begin the process of putting a serious senior team together.

    Keep the Faith!

  30. How’s it going fellas? Back from an extended break.
    I see we’ve suffered a heartbreaking defeat in Croke Park, we’re no closer to naming a manager and our so called ‘strategic review’ has reviewed, well, bollocks all from what I can gather. It’s like I’ve never been away…

    Hard luck to the minors, they played some great stuff at times. I thought our minors of ’08 were the best I’d seen in the last 20 years, but these lads look like they have enormous potential. But as we all know, it’s harnessing that potential from minor and U21 into senior that seems to be our main problem. I hope this ‘review’ is paying close attention to this.

    Anyone know the story with Noel Connelly? I’m hearing he doesn’t want to be considered for the job. The names I’m hearing now are Forde, Micko (oh please God no…) and Lyons. Hardly names that will fill us with optimism for the coming year.

  31. Willie Joe these “skills” you wish to incorporate have no place in Gaelic Football such as feigning injury or deliberate tackling to injure an opponent and would abhor there introduction at any level – especially minor! I disagree that Tyrone were such a master class and superior outfit to Mayo and would not rate them as far superior to teams such as Roscommom, Galway or Offaly. The question must be asked why Mayo let in more goals in one match than they conceded in the entire championship previously despite enjoying far more dominance??????

  32. Dom i agree with you in one respect, cynical play should be addressed by the powers that be but if we’re waiting for that to happen we will never win an all ireland. For now though, if we cant beat em we must join em im afraid. Ty were the same in 2008 minor replay. it was the most cynical/disgusting display i had ever seen at underage but you know what if the roles had been reversed and we won that day i would have left pearse park a very happy and guiltless man. we’re either in this for real victories or morale ones and i personally have had enough of the latter.

  33. Well said Dom. Ted describes the Tyrone minors’ display in 2008 as cynical/disgusting, but wants us to be cynical and disgusting too. Our minors played a manly, honourable game on Sunday and came within an ace of winning.
    I still cannot see the reason for the anti Micko sentiments. He is the greatest manager in the history of the GAA

  34. I agree with you Dom that the ‘skills’ I mentioned have no place in Gaelic football but, unfortunately, they’ve become central to the game in recent years and if we don’t start using them, then we’ll continue to find ourselves beaten by teams that do. The masterclass I was referring to was how Tyrone deployed these tactics, not what kind of team they were – in that latter regard, they were a major disappointment (until they cut loose on us). If we played the way they did, those two second-half goals wouldn’t have happened – we’d have pulled down their lad in possession 40/50 yards out at the cost of a yellow card and, at worst, would have shipped a point or two from the resultant long-range frees, leaving us still well clear with about ten minutes to go. Then we could have started booting the ball away every time it went dead and have our lads fall over and play dead at every opportunity. As supporters, we might have had to hold our noses a bit while all this was happening but I’ll tell you something, I’d far prefer see our lads do it and win rather than see us taken for mugs and lose.

  35. Grainne….we lost! Honarable and manly they were and I was proud of the way they played but medals are only handed out to winners im afraid.

  36. Now at last i see there is talk of the real problem.

    The posters that dont ever want Mayo to adopt a more dirty ruthless streak are the majority of Mayo supporters i’m afraid. They represent everything our wonderful county says to others, we are nice, a tad soft, the most good natured you’d ever come across etc etc. i know i’m speaking about people in general and not our team as such but this is the exact same for our GAA teams, only difference is, it has a negative impact on our teams where as socially it is a positive thing.
    We have to move with the times and become more ruthless, win at all costs type approach. We also have to rid ourselves of this notion that we are aristocrats of the game, as far as i can make out through reading pieces of history, this all started with Sean Flannagan and co back in the 50s and it is still there today, the way we see our players as royalty of the county, going round thier towns spouting rubbish and everyone listening to them. Get off the stage Mayo folk and buy a bottle of cop on to reality, is what the rest of Ireland is telling us and i think its about time we took a bit of outside critisism on board.

  37. Totally agree with Sean Burke. We have to get a lot more cynical. How nobody laid a glove on Maurice fitz in the ’97 final or we did not double team him, I will never know. That was a while back, but we still have th exact same problem.
    When was the last time Mayo produced a hard (dirty) player ??? I suppose Peter Ford springs to mind and that was even further back. David Brady would have been the only player in modern times to hit a dig.
    Oh for a Francie Bellew or a Mick Lyons in Mayo.
    Mayo do don’t do cyncial unfortunately and that is a huge problem.

  38. Grainne Uaile – I have no particular problem with Micko. His record speaks for itself. In my opinion, he WAS the greatest manager in the history of the GAA.
    But he is not what we need right now. He would be a short term fix for what is/has been a long term problem.
    We need a manager from inside the county with an in-depth knowledge of the club scene. Not just the top senior club players, and the usual suspects when it comes to picking the senior panel – I mean a knowledge of intermediate, junior, U21, under age teams and development coaching etc.
    We need to start from scratch here and try and build something that will sustain us well into the future. Continuity is needed from here on in.

  39. Dan, you’re on the button there with new manager having to know club scene inside out. Micko is not the answer to Mayos problems. Maughan along with Connelly would of been my dream team but that is not going to happen now. I also do not believe in all this it will take years to build up a good side etc, b/s, the players are there its just a matter of getting the right men into change attitude and tactics and gel them together. Look at Dublin, all we heard all year was “its a work in progress” we’re rebuilding here, was gilroys response all year”, they ended up within a whisker of the final and frankly they deserved to win only for a bit of inexperience. They have momentum now and the county believes they’re back with the big boys, a great achievment for a team that was rebuilding. We need somethin similar. No micko, it would be a disaster.

  40. I see a lot of stuff here on ‘niceness’ and ‘cynical play’ A ‘nice’ player is one who does his job well, and doesn’t let down his team. If he is pleasant and genial in the dressingroom and at mass, so much the better. During that 10 minute spell in the 2nd half too many Mayo players let their teammates down. ‘niceness’ or cynical play doesn’t come into it. You either do your job or you let people down. And PJ is right- corner backs get the same medal as everyone else, but only if they do their jobs.

  41. Connacht football does not do cynical whether you want it to be that way or not. It is not in our DNA. The fact that Galway won senior all-irelands in 1998 and 2001 was because they had some great players that produced the goods when it mattered most. Unfortunately football has got nastier in the last 7 to 8 years.

  42. And also KC because for the first one they played Kildare who at the time would have been considered another “nice” footballing team. Winning one gives you an awful lot of confidence

  43. Hate to be hard on the young lads and in fairness Dublin lost in somewhat similar circs, but the lack of ideas on the sideline is seriously worrying. Also causing heart stopping panic this am is the fact that Micko is seriously being considered for senior manager. I can see the scenes next year, same old same old with none of the problem areas properly addressed, spare us! He is not the answer, he’s old school and past it for all his achievements, we need new ideas and tougher control, he’ll be strolling in and out and leaving someone else to do the hard work, and that’s just not the answer.

  44. Anybody getting the feeling its going to be Micko now, yep my worst fears coming true, i think. God love us now, the media circus thats going to come with this is going to have us the laughing stock as if things weren’t bad enough.

  45. RTE reporting that the following 5 have been nominated for the position:

    Mick O’Dwyer
    John Maughan
    Denis Kearney
    Anthony McGarry
    James Horan

    The selection committee can still choose someone else though

  46. Yes east cork exile but Galway have won all-irelands in the past against ‘not so nice teams’. The Kerry teams of the mid ’60’s spring to mind. Meath in 1966 were no angels either. I know these are examples of a different era but my simple point is that class generally speaking won most all-irelands until a few years ago. Now class cannot be depended upon entirely.

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