Monaghan match-ups

Ships passing at nightThere are many fierce rivalries in Gaelic football but Mayo v Monaghan isn’t one of them.  I’ve just been looking over details of our meetings down the years (I haven’t done this for our other NFL opponents this year as I did the same exercise last year and all our matches up to now were against counties we’d played in 2009) and what’s immediately obvious is how little we’ve come across each other on the field of play over this extended period of time.  We are, in truth, footballing strangers – two ships passing each other in the night.  Does this mean we should really be playing this weekend’s match under lights?

As the table below shows, we’ve only met each other eleven times in the last sixty-odd years and, of course, we’ve yet to play each other while decked out in our finery in high summer when the stakes are really high.  Ten of those matches were in the NFL (no surprise there) while the odd one out was our clash in the 1984 open draw Centenary Cup.  We met in that one at Ballina in the second round and they beat us soundly – long, long before we began turning our noses up at the qualifiers, the short-lived open draw competition was one we never took to with any gusto – with all of our six points that day, five of them from frees, being scored by Aghamore’s Padraig Duffy.


That unhappy encounter was the second of seven meetings we had with them in the 1980s – we even met them twice in 1986 – with our Division 2 victory over them in Monaghan town in March 1981 being the first clash between us that I could find in the archive that now stretches back all the way to 1949.  For all I know, that meeting 29 years ago could well be the first ever competitive scrap we had with them.

While we drew first blood up in Kavanagh country that day, the Farney lads won three and drew the other one of the four susequent matches we had with them between 1984 and 1986.  We were both on the up at that time – they drew with Kerry and we drew with Dublin in the 1985 All-Ireland semi-finals and while we both ended up losing our respective replays, we then came into direct confrontation at Croke Park in the NFL semi-final the following April.  It was a match we should have won (one of many, amigos) but which we lost by a point and that was the game that resulted in the Western People’s Ivan Neill coming out with his famous mixed metaphor that if we continued to play this way, we would “always be the bride and never the groom”.

Although Monaghan went on to beat us by a point again later that year up in Contibret, that was the last time they got the better of us and we’ve held the whiphand on them ever since.  We’ve won all six meetings since then, the latest of which also took place at Clontibret, this time in March 2006.  I hadn’t started at this crack then but I was at that game, with The Brother and his lads, and I know the Spáilpín was there too because he wrote a piece about the game – here it is.  It was a match we won comfortably enough, despite David Heaney’s early dismissal (which, incidentally, led to BJP operating at full-back for the first time), and it was clear then that we were teams that were headed in opposite directions.  We made the league play-offs that spring – losing an ill-tempered semi-final to Galway – and ended up going all the way to the All-Ireland final whereas they were relegated from Division 1A and have only this year made it back to the top flight, although they’ve given the Kerrymen a few good rattles in the championship via the back door in the meantime.

As regards the stats, our record is one of seven wins, one draw and three losses.  In the NFL, it’s seven wins, one draw and two losses and in NFL matches played at home, it’s two wins and a draw.  At McHale Park, we’ve won one and drawn one.  None of this matters a jot, of course, in attempting to divine how Sunday’s encounter will go, even if the bookies are solidly behind us as we seek to extend further our long winning run against the Farney lads.

19 thoughts on “Monaghan match-ups

  1. By God Willie I have a rivalry with them and it goes back to September 1996. Cannot forget or forgive! Could’nt beat them by enough scores.

  2. I’m not sure it’s fair to lump the whole county with collective guilt on that score, ontheroad, even if Banty and himself are brothers! It is, though, one more reason why we should be looking for the win on Sunday.

  3. Forgot to wish you luck Saturday night. Hope you win…the blog is the best as regards us Mayo men and the selection off it is good too i.e An Spalpin and TIALTNGO .

  4. Thanks, ontheroad – I’m going along to the awards bash down in Galway tomorrow night. It’s not that I’m all that confident of scooping the prize, were it to happen, it’d be a shame not to be there to collect an All-Ireland won in Galway!

  5. Best of luck tomorrow night Willie Joe. What you do for Mayo Fans is nothing short of exceptional. How you keep this site going and have a family life is just beyond me.

  6. Willie Joe – I hope you get your deserved recognition tomorrow night. All Mayo fans appreciate and enjoy your brilliant work. Will you go in disguise?

    One interesting thing which I think you have missed in the Monaghan history (and for the very reason that the game wasn’t complete and so should not be in the record books) is that the first Mayo v Monaghan game in the 1995/1996 league was abandoned in the second half because the ref had the asthma attack. I remember being there and think we were a point up at the time.

    So we had to go back to Scotstown again for a full re-match which we win 0-7 to 0-6. It was a dour dour struggle but one which characterised our league that season and has always stood out for me because we dug deep in a hostile environment when it seemed we were not blessed with the men who would become the heroes that they were and continued on a great run that would see us get to that September day when our dreams were shattered.

  7. Best of luck WJ, I cannot imagine any other blog being as thorough, complete and professional as Green and Red. Mayo people from Belmullet to Bangladesh, from Louisburg to St Louis, from Pontoon to Peking, are indebted to you for such a great service, my monthly internet subscription is justified by this site alone. Many, many thanks for all your time and dedication, agus le cunadh De, beidh and bua agat!!

  8. Best of luck tomorrow night. Its always good to leave Galway with silverware!

    I was in Clontibret as well in 2006. Was a competitive intercountygame every played in a smaller village? Reminded me of Garrymore.

  9. Thanks for the kind wishes, guys. I’m fairly sanguine about the whole thing this year – it’d be nice to win, for sure, but my main focus for this weekend will, of course, be what happens at McHale Park the following afternoon. I’m really looking forward to the match, where hopefully we can take another big step towards an NFL final place.

    Thanks for that info, Eriad, on the 1996 league game, which I was blissfully unaware of. I was still based in London then and didn’t move back to Dublin until April of that year so, given the very different era that was in terms of communication, I wasn’t able to follow the action all that closely. I never before heard about the original game being abandoned so thanks for setting me straight on it.

  10. Good luck Willie Joe in Galway – this is a great site. Wouldnt miss a visit to it for the world.
    BTW if you meet TIALTNGO tell him to get his ass in gear again too – us Mayo fans cant get half enough when it comes to talk about football.

    We need to run Monaghan into the ground on Sunday and use the entire field unlike we did against Dublin.

  11. Good luck WJ. Yours is the first site to visit every day. You deserve any recognition that you get.

  12. Best of luck at weekend. Im not an internet head but love the site. Cant get enough of chat about Mayo. Are we the maddest fans in the GAA? Bring home the silverware!

  13. Good luck WJ, you deserve it.
    As I’ve said before, this site is invaluable for all us exiled Mayoites(?!). I used to have to rely on the Hogan Stand for any info a few years ago, so thanks for saving me from that!

  14. Best of luck WJ.
    Your growing success can be measured in the number of responses to some recent posts.
    I never miss a post or a response, keep up the good work. Likewise the informed opinion of the
    respondents (bar a few)on here.

  15. good luck indeed WJ If another GAA Blog gets as many hit’s as this Id like to see it
    BTW the last time I was at a Mayo Monaghan Match was the Ladies All Ireland some yrs back at HQ
    Sat with some Monaghanbucks good craic and gracious too as we beat them in a very close game

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