Monday match reports

David Drake goal chance

Photo: Mayo Mick

Monday morning once more, a nice-looking one too if these early indications are anything to go by, but one for work rather than play so I’ll keep this one brief enough. I’ll get to the match reports in a little bit but first I need to wave my tally stick around the place a bit.

Yesterday’s performance by the lads was poor – I think we’re all agreed on that. My own match report didn’t hold back in pointing to the inadequacies in certain aspects of our play yesterday and the flood of post-match comments were also, in the main, of the hard but fair category. A minority, though, strayed over the line and, as ever, it’s the actions of the minority that risks tainting the whole lot of us with the same coat of tar.

The comments in question include the allegation that a particular player “just doesn’t seem to care”, that our brightest young spark on the day is “over-rated” and “not the answer” and that, in relation to the team as a whole “we need a big clean-out”. Don’t bother going back looking for these comments as they’ve all been deleted. I know it’s a case of bolting the door after the horse has scarpered and that, a bit like Padraig Hughes yesterday, I can with some justification be accused of not brandishing cards when I should have done but I’m doing so now to make the point that there are acceptable ways to make criticisms of players and there are unacceptable ways. For anyone who needs guidance on this issue, the house rules on posting comments are here.

I get it that many people are pissed off after yesterday’s performance but I think it’s important to view the match on its own merits – a league game in February at a time when we’re missing a number of important players and trying out some players in different positions at a juncture where we’re a bit behind the curve in terms of prep compared to our opponents – and not use the result to rush to judgment on individual players or the team as a whole and its prospects for this year. As I said yesterday, we were getting relegated last April until Cillian O’Connor knocked over those two monstrous sideline kicks down in Páirc Uí Chaoimh – on a day, incidentally, when the player who allegedly doesn’t seem to care put in an absolutely storming performance – so I think it’s a bit premature to rule out what could yet prove to be an okay league campaign based on our first two results. Using these defeats as a basis for saying we’ll do no good in the championship is just ridiculous.

Okay, lecture over – onto the match reports. Irish Examiner, Irish Independent, Irish Times, Belfast Telegraph, GAA, RTÉ (match report, post-match comments), BBC, The Score, Breaking News, Hogan Stand.  Photos of the game from Mayo Mick, Sportsfile and Inpho.

There are also reports on Kiltane’s heartbreaking All-Ireland final loss in the Mayo AdvertiserIrish Examiner, Irish Independent, Belfast Telegraph, GAA, RTÉ, The ScoreHogan Stand.

That’s it – back to work, you lot but don’t forget to vote for your Mayo MOTM if you haven’t yet done so. Have a good one.

85 thoughts on “Monday match reports

  1. Agree WJ that overly negative personalisation which strays over the line is a problem, but wouldn’t your own description of Mickey C ‘collecting the ball and falling on his h*** (surely an unacceptable word) routine’ fall well into that category?

    It’s February, first two games were away, JH has been finding out what (and who) doesn’t work. Bit early for panic just yet.

  2. Fair point, Catcol, but I was referring to the specific actions of a player in the game, which happened more than once in the match. I’m generally okay with specifics as they can be challenged and rebutted as others see fit. It’s the generalised, non-specific slagging off that concerns me more. Point taken, though.

  3. Interesting to note that more than one of those reports managed to get the final scoreline wrong … did we lose by five points or six? Damned if I’d know by reading those …

  4. You’re right, Anne-Marie – there’s a bit of confusion on this, with RTE (on both their website and the radio this morning) reporting the final score as 2-15 to 0-16 and a few of the papers do likewise, crediting Brian Gallagher with a point that was actually waved wide close to the finish. There was a quick discussion between the ref and the linesman after the ball was signalled wide but no white flag was ever raised for it. The scoreboard at the ground read 2-15 to 0-15 at the finish so I’m taking that as the correct score.

  5. Cant believe how some people can question any players passion or commitment to the red and green cause, do they have a clue what the lads sacrifice to play for our county , a guy misses a free and doesn’t fall to the ground punching the turf, means he doesn’t care? what planet are some of these so called supporters on? Get real we are not far off the mark, few weeks to the Kerry game, after that it will tell us how things might shape up for the year. Remember we lost to both Kildare and Tyrone and at home last year in the league, and we didn’t have a bad year did we?

  6. Resuming my new role as Micky C’s guardian angel…any forward would end up on the ground when body checked invariably by two defenders…each ball sent his way are either on the end line or sideline.He has a penchant for spectacular points from the Croke park corner flags anyways!.

  7. By the way did anyone see the subtle, close up punch in the throat O’Connor got when facing one of the Tyrone players?

  8. Agree it’s wrong to call any Mayo player out on his lack of passion and commitment. I’ve no doubt the’re very proud and honoured to represent their County, it’s up to the Manager to decide if their good enough or not. On that point I would question Horan’s wisdom on some of his decisions and his slow reaction to situations on the field, his confidence seems to be rock bottom at the moment

  9. Horan made 3 changes at 1/2 time and 2 more before full time. OK – there is the question over Alan Freeman but other than that he couldn’t do much more. Had to keep someone in reserve in case of a black card etc.
    He also tried positional switches in the Full back line but as he alluded to himself they were allowed to put fabulous ball in from midfield etc. But maybe that’s planned for later in the season ad by a few of our more seasoned fellas returning……

  10. We have turned into the ultimate club side. We seem to be locked with the same players, certain guys guaranteed starts, others panel fodder. The forward line of 2011 changed a little in 2012 only to revert for the final of 2013.

    The future wont be attained until the past is adequately dealt with. Alan freeman was the sole success in a field of debris in 2010. Single handed he turned the tide on one of the most weird set ups I ever saw in the league Croke Park V Dublin 2011 when we were sixteen points point behind after as many minutes. Freeman worked his rocks off to bring a dead team back to life. He drove us over the line in the semi final last year and yet why do I think he seems to always have to prove his worth to management or am I paranoid?

    Feeney played every competitive match last season for Mayo either as a starter or first sub, Again when we needed him in the ultimate moment , he wasn’t used. We started an All Ireland final with three players recovering from serious injuries, we then brought on a fourth also recovering from same. We took off the only forward with height and the ability to turn a defender. But left on players who simply didn’t fire on the day.

    Free taking is now rearing its ugly head again. A simple fourteen yard free missed in the All Ireland semi final even caught the cameras off guard. Frees that would have given us cushions and succour both in 2012 and 2013 finals were missed. Leave your best players in the best positions. Jimmy Kerrigan was a star wing back in the mid 1980s for Cork. Someone messed with the mojo, moved Jimmy into the forwards. When Cork struck gold Jimmy was a bench warming sub. Martin O Connel was stuck up front for Meath. He tried it, didn’t like it and left the panel. Common sense prevailed, O Connell came back, won 3 All Ireland and a place on team of the Millennium as a defender. Leave Higgins at 4 and Boyle at 7. Bring back Regan, a real forward.

    In 1970 Watford beat Liverpool in the FA cup. Back then the Cup mattered. Shankly saw his team had grown old and stale. Sentiment played no part in his sundering legends like Roger Hunt, Ron Yeats, Ian St John, Geoff Strong, Peter Thompson and Tommy Lawrance for the greater good of the cause. In came the likes of Keegan, Cormack, LLyod, Hughes, Toshack, Thompson and Clemence. The team mattered, the city mattered, Liverpool mattered…not the individual.

    Pat Gilroy saw his team play like “startled earwigs” V Kerry. he tore the team asunder, drew up a new format and won an All Ireland. Do we actually for a minute believe that this present squad playing the same way with same players will land the Holy Grail? I don’t. Sometimes coziness needs to be shook. We claimed we needed a “marquee” forward to solve our problems,me included. Well we seem to have got one in Gallagher but the rest of the forwards are lop sided.

    We lost big games for simple reasons. so obvious that we want to ignore them. We concede too much. Dublin three times last year showed us that and yet we have taken no remedial action. Mid field is pondorous and slow. Great when you go to toe to toe but very few teams wanting to win the big fella will stand in the middle and slug it out with you nowadays. Cluxton cut us to pieces last September.

    We made the league a priority this season. Why? We are now odds on to go down. We claim that we have only X amount of training sessions under our belt. So, how come Dublin who exited the championship the same afternoon as ourselves are in such rude good health. Likewise Tyrone. Where the hell is the residual fitness and cuteness? This is a team that’s young and should have oceans of energy.

    Time to stop treating this squad like demi gods and pose the real questions. Mayo belongs to us all and when this scene and act is over the Mayo film will continue with other actors. I for one ache for a bit of radical thinking, a little bit of daring and a little bit of the devil. We are programmed to do the same thing time and time again. Lets try something new, lets tell new blood their time has come and lets thank those who wont see us home for their undoubted service and cut them loose.

  11. For the record, you choose not to mention Freeman’s performance against Dublin in 2012, because he came on and was very poor. And Feeney wasnt the first sub after the connacht final last year, it was Carolan.

    These over the top reactions are exctly what is going to disrupt mayo this year. If people carry on with this attitude of undermining the team at every opportunity, then we are going to cost our team this year. Get over last year or we are finished, simple as that.

  12. The big difference between Shankly and Horan is Shankly could go out and BUY players, Horan cannot.
    You criticise him for moving players into different positions but then claim there is no bit of daring, moving Higgins from No 4 to No 11 was daring, and he was criticised for moving him back during the final. You can’t have it both ways.
    It’s an easy argument to make, that players are held onto to too long but you can’t get rid of players just for the sake of it, unless there are viable alternatives.

  13. I did not realise that the NFL ended yesterday. Judging by some of your comments it would appear to be all over bar the shouting. We beat these guys in August when it mattered. Seems its all forgotten by Feb. Some of our newer guys are blending in well I thought, not there yet but getting there. I thought Keegan was magnificant yesterday. How did the u21 team fair out v Tyrone. I did not make that one

  14. First of all I agree with most of what John says but very few want to see it. It’s not easy to see this but we have a problem; 63 years without an All Ireland!! Now that’s a fucking problem and one which the likes of John Cuffe is trying to solve.

    The Maestro, That is not not an over the top reaction. It is carefully thought out and presented by a man who knows what he is talking about. Can I ask you what disrupted Mayo last year? John Cuffe is not trying to undermine the team. He is actually trying to save it. The rules of the blog will not allow me to answer this in the way that I would wish.!!!

  15. I have to agree with those sentiments, Maestro. There’s nothing to be gained from constantly picking at the scabs from last year and there’s even less point in running the team and management down at every turn. Sure, James and the players he uses don’t get everything right in every game (and his record in February never has been stellar) but two All-Ireland final appearances in the last two years show that he’s getting more right than wrong. He may not lead us to the summit but, you know, I for one accept he’s doing all he can, with the players he has at his disposal, to get us there. That wasn’t enough last year (Dublin beat us the three times they played us so maybe that final defeat wasn’t the shock we all felt it was at the time) and it may not be enough this year but there’s a long way to go yet this season and I wouldn’t write us off on the basis of two stuttering league performances. And, by the way, we’re not odds-on to be relegated either – we’re 5/2 for the drop, with Westmeath (1/16), Kerry (7/4), Derry and Kildare (both 15/8) more strongly fancied for that dubious honour (odds from Paddy Power here).

  16. Willie Joe, I have to agree with most of what you say but sometimes it might seem that scabs from last year are being picked when it isn’t really just that. Surely we have to learn from last year and then move on but are we learning?

    I will always feel that we had the beating of the Dubs; we beat ourselves. So, using logic, we have an urgent need to correct our mistake and that isn’t picking scabs. Colm O’Rourke, ( and others), who, I would feel, is a well-balnced, knowledgable, GAA presenter was all behind us for the final but, as it happened, we shit on our own eggs.

    Therefore, I feel the that this IS the time to be critical, to root out all the crap, be consistently trying out new players and tactics, air our little bug-bears; so that when the real time comes we will be ready and do it properly this year. I feel that a whole new defensive system needs to be worked on in the coming months. That’s me!!!

  17. Joe – I’m all for constant improvement and I’m okay with constructive criticism but continuing to cry over things like the Richie Feeney and Alan Freeman issues from last September (I don’t understand what happened there either and I’m not sure any of us ever will) gets us nowhere. Are we learning? It’s far too early to say, in my view – if we’re motoring well come August, there’s a good chance we are but if we continue to wobble through the spring does this mean that this unfocused flailing of the current set-up at every turn should continue? What possible point can it serve? What’s this “crap” that needs to be rooted out? Aren’t we “trying out new players and tactics”? And it’s all very well to say we need “a whole new defensive system” but what do you think we need to do to get this? Six new backs? A coach to come in and work with the players? Or something else?

    It’s very easy to sit on the sidelines and throw rocks (I know because I’ve flung the odd one in my time). My concern, as the creator of this particular beast, is that criticisms that are voiced on here are measured and constructive and don’t tip over into populist rhetoric. We’re all on the same side, after all, and we’re all aiming for the same outcome. Too often, in particular over the past year, I’ve got the distinct feeling that this isn’t always the case and I have to say that worries me somewhat.

  18. “Lets try something new, lets tell new blood their time has come…”

    Meaning what, John? Give untried players a start? Well, what do you think James Horan is doing with his most recent selections i.e. Drake / Harrison / McHale / Parsons / Gallagher / Diarmuid O’Connor / Darren Coen? None of these were first-choice in the first three years under him. These last two games have featured by far his most radical selections in competitive fixtures.

    It’s hard to reconcile this kind of thinking with rants about the absence of Freeman and Richie Feeney from the 2013 final. Neither of them are ‘new blood’ and, this time last year, I personally would not have been in the least bit put out had Freeman been dropped from the panel. Lo and behold, Horan’s faith in him pays off and Freeman goes from strength to strength with each championship game. As he well may do again in 2014, John.

    In the 2012 AIF, Freeman played the last 20 minutes. Feeney played the last 10. Neither made any serious impact. Should they then have been lumped into the ranks of ‘those who wont see us home for their undoubted service’? Of course not.

    I’m not sure where you’re going with the analogies either. Yes, Shankly gutted that team in 1973. But he only did so after staying loyal to them for 7 years in which they won precisely nothing. James Horan’s team have won 3 Nestors to date, and nobody is seriously suggesting that they won’t win a fourth. Not to mention making two AIF finals and a semi-final.

    Pat Gilroy’s Dublin? They scraped over the line in 2011 against a Kerry team that had them beaten, tried to sit on a four-point lead and got sucker-punched ’82-style by a late goal and a VERY soft free which Cluxton took his sweet time taking. Oh, and they were playing at home. (An All-Ireland final in McHale Park would be very interesting.)

    Yes, Mayo conceded too much in the 2013 AIF. But we only lost by a point John, and we missed plenty of our own chances. It’s frustrating, but it’s hardly Cork ’93 revisited.

    Mayo have made the League a priority for the simple reason that they can win it, and a Mayo win in a final in Croke Park would have enormous and obvious psychological benefits. Yes, I know what happened in the 2001 championship after that year’s League win but that Mayo team wasn’t at its peak. This one is. A national trophy could free the mental shackles.

    The League isn’t over yet John. We’ve played two games, neither at home. It’s a bit early for the missives of doom.

  19. Exactly DavyJ. There is no substance to these criticisms and the are just guys venting. They are not looking at the thing objectively. We have only come back training for a start. Tyrone and kildare have done an extra month, at least. Why is it so unbelievable that we go to omagh and lose? We lost to them at home last year. These notions are just unreasonable. We were never going to be focusing on the league this year, it would make no sense if we were. Why are people so upset about it?

    People going on about Freeman having to come on, why? Do we know how fit he is? Do we know how he is going in training? I thought we wanted to give other lads a chance and build up a squad of options? Surely moran needs plenty of football also? It is just looking for an excuse to put blame at horan’s door because from what I can see, there isnt a bit of logic to it, no consistancy in the world.

    Somebody (cant remember who) used the logic that ‘we always get a result over dublin’ therefore we should have won the final. Oh well that is nailed on then isnt it? They were, and are a good team, the strongest in the country, why is it so inconcievable that they beat us by a point?

    The truth is lads and ladies, we either support our team in what they are doing, or we carry on sniping at them, put them under serious pressure and probably cost them and ourselves what is still a very good chance to win an all ireland. And if we dont win it, well then we dont win it, nobody owes us an all ireland. You win it on the day, and talking about what happened 60 years ago isnt much help, nor is it relevant. There is too much pressure involved there. The team that goes in with nothing to lose and just plays the game in front of them is the team that plays without pressure. Because of our constant talk of 60 years and hurt and all the rest of it, that can never be us. Maybe a different approach is due?

    Constructive criticism and genuine alternatives are fine, but there isnt any of that going on here.

  20. There is a loot of criticism about but not many solutions. Prior to the 2012 All-Ireland Horan correctly opined that his No.3 was not up to to the task and took a radical decision which promptly bombed and with the repeated screening of the bloopers the career of a potentially good defender is in tatters.Last year the same No.3 got skinned in the final and yet there doesn’t seem to be any quest for a solution. On our last 4 All-Ireland visits we were cleaned out in the No. 3 position. When Kerry needed a full back in the 1970s they turned to JohnO’ Keefe and he filled the role with distinction for quite some time. I would suggest trying Seamus O’Shea in the position for a number of games and give hiim a chance there. It is too llate on the eve of the final to start trawling for a full lback. I would site Cunniffe at No. 6 and thereby close then motorway to our goal. That leaves McHale and Barrett for the corner positions and Keegan and Boyle for the wing back positions. I think there is general agreement that our midfield is too static and we need to introduce some mobility into it. I am a big fan of Parsons for this role and I would also like to see Danny Kirby given some game time at mid field. Of course I have to give one of the midfield slots to AOS. My personal preferences for the forward lie would be Feeney, Higgins A. Gallagher, Irwin, Freeman and O’Connor. I believe this lie up would give us some ball winng ability. We need some GO TO players and not all GIVE TO players, We do not want to come out on this years semi-final knowing that we are short a few players like we did in2013 when it was to late to change. We need to have our team settled at the end of the league and not waste the entire campaign with the tried and failed.

  21. I have been around teams for a very long time and I have heard this type of conversation many times before especially when you lose. I have been told many times “ye’ll never get anywhere with so-and-so”. Advice comes thick and fast as to what you should have done and how many you should get rid of. I would often have loved to show certain players the gate but the truth was that as bad and all as they were they were still better than than any possible replacement.
    I learned to only heed those who offered solid alternatives based on their in-depth knowledge of the game and the particular team in question. With that in mind I would call on contributors who claim that certain players are no longer any good to us to name their replacements. Line out the team that should play Kerry and be prepared to stand over it.

  22. It’s bad when I start replying to myself but do you know what ……the tone overall including from myself is really negative.
    Maybe it’s time of year (I f***ing hate the long evenings)
    Maybe it’s the weather
    Maybe it’s the economy
    Maybe it’s the constant moaning from morning to night on radio about some misery or other
    Maybe it’s last sep and the sep before……and several others before that again.
    Time to change the tune …….play a new record……a bit of rock n roll instead of ‘Caoineadh Sam Ui Dhuibhir’.
    Now where’s me dancin shoes!

  23. 2014 so far for Mayo

    Mayo 0-12 NUIG 1-6 (NUIG were hammered by IT Sligo,Roscommon and DCU in sigerson cup)

    Mayo 2-8 IT Sligo 1-11 (late penalty rescued a draw IT Sligo well beaten by UUJ in the Sigerson cup)

    Roscommon 1-10 Mayo 1-8 (The rossies beaten by Leitrim in the following game)

    Kildare 2-19 Mayo 2-18 (experimental Kildare side then were beaten yesterday)

    Tyrone 2-15 Mayo 0-16 (Tyrone without up to 10 players yesterday were too much for Mayo)

    1) Defensive problems
    2) Struggling for scores from play
    3) Lacking strength in depth

    Three key areas that James Horan will be concerned with but its only Feb yet and Mayo will improve once the 6 or so players return.

  24. I love reading your contributions to this blog Willie joe, but some of the other contributions are getting very tiresome. There is an awful lot of negativity and commentary on unsubstantiated rumours going on. If you just look at the voting for man of the match yesterday, you can see how much some people are pulling the piss! Keep the faith. Up Mayo!!!

  25. Willie Joe, about a new defensive system; I don’t know. I mean more sweeper cover for the existing backs as I feel they are very open. Yesterday at one stage Tyrone had 6 or 7 bodies back. When the line nearest the goal had the ball they passed through the line in front of them and then passed the ball to the ones behind, as they ran through. Each line covered the other; very effective. Something like that is the type of system I mean. They would have plenty of time to set it up.

    The ‘crap’ I mention is about people like me talking it. Have you noticed when we attack we have to face ‘hordes’ of defenders and when they attack us they have loads of room?

  26. I thought we were well beaten overall in the middle third. And this led to unnecessary and more undue pressure being placed on our FB line which is missing 2/3rds of its first choice.
    For me Keith Higgins was a big disappointment. He missed an open goal when he should have passed after 5 mins. Man completely free on the outside and a player of his experience should have known better.
    And then there was his direct opponent. Peter Harte was my MOTM yesterday. He bombed forward at every opportunity and I calculated 1-2 from play came directly from him. The overall result was that our most experienced player in the 1/2 FW line was well beaten on the day.
    Unfortunately becasue of the lineup there was no one to compensate for this as the other 2 in that line were relative newcomers to the Mayo setup. OK Carolan was there a little last year but only fleetingly. But there can be no argument that Gallagher is new. And fellas of this calibre cannot be relied upon to cover up when more experienced guys are not performing.

    Overall Tyrone yesterday did to us from their half back line what we had been doing to teams all last year.

  27. Yeah WJ and Ann-Marie, its listed as, Tyrone 2-15 Mayo 0-15, on the results page, so unfortunately we didn’t get that extra point! Remembering that we just made the last four on points difference last year, it just shows that every point counts.

  28. No need to panic yet folks. The modern game requires you to peak for the August Bank Holiday & then hold your peak for the following 6 weeks or so. We know this to be the case as we have been there twice in the last 2 years. Players who have been there twice can’t realistically be expected to perform against Division 1 opposition in February of the following year. These guys know when to peak now.
    In relation to this League all we need to do is target the 3 wins that will keep us up.
    Ideally those wins should come against the relegation candidates as that would keep us safe on the head to head.
    We are hampered in this League by our relative success these past two summers, by the number of missing players & by Castlebar’s ongoing involvement in the Club Championship. Interestingly our next match against Kerry will have either all the Croke’s players available for Kerry or all the Mitchel’s players available for us.
    There are however a number of concerns that are of the recurring variety & these need to be dealt with by management soon. Our full back line can only come from some combination of Cunniffe, Barrett, McHale & Reilly of Castlebar.
    Keegan & Boyle at wing back with perhaps Keith at 6 or else Cunniffe to 6.
    If Freeman is not going to get a shot at 14 or not make a fist of it then perhaps we could do something different & keep rotating the likes of Kirby, Gibbons & AOS between midfield & 14. This would give the boys a breather & provide a handful for any full back with a black card on his mind. I’ve only seen Irwin play twice but liked the look of him on both occasions … is he even on the U21s ? Have not seen enough of Regan to make a comment. I would be in broad agreement with Bill Connolly’s post above.
    Long standing stuff needs to be dealt with.

  29. I wouldn’t say Tyrone were missing 10 players. Of the players that didn’t play yesterday, I would say they were only missing Joe McMahon. Maybe Gormley, Justin McMahon and Stevie O’Neill at a push, but I don’t see those 3 starting come August. So I would say missing 1 player as opposed to 10. Let’s not exaggerate here.

  30. I wouldn’t be rushing to implement such a defensive system, Joe, based on our two matches to date this year and bearing in mind the number of established defenders we’re either missing or playing out of position at present. I think Tyrone’s greater fluidity comes down more to having more work done than us so far this year and their defending yesterday was certainly helped by the ref’s complete refusal to dish out black card for all those second half drag-downs!

    I don’t understand your second point at all I’m afraid.

  31. Jimmy Kerrigan was corner back for Cork when they struck gold in 1989. He had been playing for Cork since 1978 so was probably coming to the end of the road at that stage.
    Just because a few positional switches did not work it does not rule out the tactic in every case. Kerry in particular switch players all over the place as they need to. Donaghy to full forward from midfield, Sheehan from corner forward to midfield, Tommy Griffin from midfield to full back, Colm Cooper from corner forward to centre forward. Just a few notable ones of the past few years. Could go on.

  32. Lads and girls, we’d really want to be careful what we say here, as it seems all the players mammies are on this site, bar three.Looking at the voting for Motm , it would seem that way to me.

  33. At this moment in time we are as close as we have ever been, in terms of winning an All-Ireland title. In 2012 Donegal were the best team in Ireland. Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden are class forwards, who played really well that year. The goal that Michael Murphy scored was as good as any goal ever scored in an All-Ireland final. Would any full-back that ever played the game have stopped him from scoring that goal? In 2013 Dublin were the best team in Ireland. They only lost one game all year, by one point against Tyrone. 2014 is a new year, who will be the best team this year? Yes we have to learn from our mistakes, will we, that’s the big question. It’s too early yet to make any judgements for the year ahead, as the saying goes, the jury is still out.

  34. There is an awful lot of talk here about jigging and changing the Mayo panel. Menacing brooms are being waved about all over the shop. Although Mayo haven’t stormed out of the blocks the way I would have liked to see them storm out of the blocks, there are logical reasons why this has not occured.

    1 Mayo are riddled with injuries.

    2 Mayo’s are nowhere near peak fitness.

    3 Mayo are giving new lads the opportunity to show. In other words Mayo are experimenting.

    Now when Mayo get back to full strenght will that full strenght squad not be the same team that lost the All Ireland by the slimest of margins to the goliathian dubs less than five fucking months ago. Five months!

    We’re not far away. Get a fully fit Cillian back on board aided by the new blood like Gallagher and Drake, who I believe are shaping up well and we might do all right when it counts most.

  35. I watched on TV, but this match, like last weeks match, had a c’ship feel to it…great roars from the crowd etc…just curious, as there seemed to be a sizable and very ocal mayo contingent there…anyone care to put a number on it?

  36. Unless my memory is faulty

    Unless my memory is faulty Ger Caff was an All Star nominee last year and while he did not get the ultimate accolade commentators were pretty evenly divided between himself and Rory O’Carroll. He was All Star full back in 2012 which makes it rather foolish to rush to judgement at this stage of the year.
    Hopefully a few of our injured players will be available for the Kerry game and that would influence the selection for that game.
    I expect that Andy Moran will be at corner forward come summer with Freeman and Cillian O’C completing a very potent line which should grab a few goals. McLoughlin and, on present form, Adam Gallagher should fill the wing forward positions. Centre Forward is wide open and there are at least four contenders for midfield. I would not be surprised to see the 2013 defence retained en bloc but there are several strong contenders for positions there,

  37. That’s it we lost to Tyrone in omagh (after missing 3 goal chances). We should pack it in now and withdraw from all Ireland series. Some people are becoming very English premier league in their analysis …ie basing full ”rational” analysis on a teams last performance. Sometimes people don’t see the bigger picture. James uses the league to get lads up to speed by giving starts to players who won’t normally do so. This is to help with the strengthening of our panel in the long term. The blog is now a carbon copy of the negativity expressed up till game week 5 in 2013 . League not a priority 6 points is anything after that is a bonus

  38. I agree with some of what John Cuffe says and all the pain isn’t gone yet from last years defeat and the fear of us wasting another year is there but we have time. We found Alan Freeman worked best for us at Number 14 last year and if it was me in management I would be trying to find the best possible players to slot into positions around him in the forwards. Adam Gallagher has been found this year and you want all the guys working together in the league so that come Championship they know exactly how to feed off each other and how each other plays in tight games, pressure games. Its like a jigsaw slot them in as you find them. I would love if Evan Regan was slotted in somewhere in our forward line, is he training with the Mayo panel?

  39. Hard to be precise on the Mayo crowd there, Mister Mayor, but there seemed to be a sizeable turnout from our side alright and plenty of MO (and D) cars there. The official attendance was 6,500 and if, say, 20% of that total were our lot that would mean over 1,000 Mayo supporters there. I’ve no idea how accurate that guesstimate might be, though.

  40. JPM, he made 4 changes at half time and then 1 @ 55 mins and the last at 65 mins. Keane although at no.2 actually started at full back, Caff switched to take McCurry and Boyle moved to the right full back position. After 20 mins Keane was taken off Donnelly and put on O’Neill. Boyle was put on McCurry. Horan tried a fair few things but the Tyrone no. 14 and 13 were too hot to handle.

  41. Fully agree on Keegan, scored a great point and still looked like the man whose pace could open up the Tyrone defence. But he’s a half back. While Gallagher too performed well, the concern is that the Mayo attacking unit appears laboured and non-clinical as last year. Our rampant half backs and midfield last year were our strongest areas but we need an improved attack to get us to the next level. Can’t wait for the Kerry game, it should be open and high scoring and we’ll see if the forward unit is progressing

  42. Exactly, and just to highlight how surprisingly misguided John Cuffes argument is about players switching positions Mattie Donnelly is being converted into a full forward and he kicked 5 beautiful points from play yesterday. Joe Lennon won 2 All Irelands with Down as a right corner back after being originally a midfielder.

  43. If we had won the last 2 games, would some then be satisfied that we had unveiled a good starting 15 and acheived the bit of difference they craved.
    The point is that we are trying to find at least one player and any more would be a great bonus but under present circumstances we have to field half a side of new players, we have a lot of top class players to come back and if we were at near full strength, I don’t think the last 2 results would have been losses but we would have learned nothing that we didn’t know already and that is that Mayo are still one of the top sides in the country.
    I for one enjoyed what Mayo achieved last year and 2012 because they set the blood racing in my veins more than any side in the 40+ years that I’ve followed them, they didn’t win the ultimate but they did restore my faith and I and everyone should repay that with our faith in them.
    Horan and the side do have faults but they are repairable and as it’s only February there’s time to get it right, peak now and there’s only one way to go.

  44. WJ’s guess is a good one and from looking around there certainly was a sizable and vocal contingent of us. Put it this way, the Chinese in Charlestown never saw an evening like it for business. I had the joy of being in a convoy of 30 or 40 cars from Ballinacarrow to Tubbercurry, an old dear in pole position keeping us all in line. God bless the ring road in Tubber!!!
    Despite all the negativity here I didn’t expect much more at this stage. We will be fine, some people have short memories, its not like we were shooting the lights out in the league the last 3 years!!!

  45. Willie Joe posted this when Tyrone team was named.

    The above team is radically changed from the one that started last year’s All-Ireland semi-final against our lads. Only five of that semi-final team – Conor Clarke, Ciaran McGinley, Peter Harte, Colm Cavanagh and Mattie Donnelly – are named to start on Sunday

  46. I have not read most of the comments, so these are my honest thoughts ;

    These were two away games in February against teams who have put big efforts into the league in recent years, let them off, the grass will soon be long! We are still experimenting with Higgins at half forward and hopefully that will stop soon as we have enough forwards but need stronger cover in the backs than ever with the black card. Freeman should start every game, it is just mad that he does not at this stage. Gallagher has real potential in attack. O’Shea has better ball control in the attack which makes him very hard to tackle. The ball only ever felt safe was when Andy Moran had it and his passes were superb. McLoughlin, why does he fumble so much?
    Every time we (and most teams) do very well in the early league, we do not do well in the Championship. It would be heartbreaking if we went to division 2 and if that happens we will have a right to question the management, but I can’t see it happening.

  47. Personally I’m not getting overly worried about our two opening performances. The substantial injury list is allowing a number of new players to gain some invaluable experience at the highest level and they are surely learning much much more in losing against top opposition than they would if they had a relatively smooth run out against these teams. These very challenging games will stand to the players in the longer run. As long as we stay up in Division 1 I’ll be happy and I think we’ll manage to do that as we begin to get a few more of the experienced guys back into the panel over the coming weeks.

  48. Willie Joe, I need a course in explanation. First of all, most here are agreeing that we have been leaking goals and that is with all our first choice defenders on the field; so we do need correction in defence.

    My second point; We always seem to be playing into packed defences and our opposition seem to be playing into lots of open spaces. Is our build up too slow, allowing defences to close us down and our defence is too sparse allowing lots of room for attackers? Look at our leaked goals. We need sweepers.

  49. Look it, our biggest problem is in the forwards department. Defenses win you games but forwards win you titles. Simple as. When everyone is back and fit we have 2 of the top 3 keepers in the country, 8 or 9 backs (containing 3 All Stars) that make up an outstanding defensive unit, 4 midfielders (containing an All Star) that almost every other county would love to have and a forward division that provides Horan with many options. Herein lies the problem. Horan has to get the correct blend of players into an effective attacking unit that creates chances in scorable positions. It’s as simple as that.
    Freeman, Moran, O’Connor, Coen, Gallagher, McLoughlin, Feeney, Higgins??, Regan??, are all very different players with different strengths. If an effective attacking strategy is designed to play to the strengths of these players then these players are good enough to get the scores. You need to get players in a little bit of space, in scoring areas of the field and trust them to trust their skills.
    Yesterday, like in the final, too often our full forward line was receiving the ball either running out towards our midfield and 30 to 35 yards out from goal, e.g. McLoughlin & Moran, or receiving the ball running out into the corners, e.g. Conroy. They are not dangerous scoring positions for us. That type of supply favours the backs at all times. Backs hate speed and space and that is what we have to create to become an effective attacking unit.

  50. I said weeks ago that we would be bottom of the table after the first two games. No need for panic yet, however the next game against Kerry is very important. Getting relegated from Division 1 would be a severe blow in advance of the Championship. No harm in Horan trying a few ideas, if he wasn’t we would be complaining also.

  51. Pebblesmeller, the point is that Mattie Donnelly is a real scoring forward, so he can play anywhere. We don’t have that luxury. I would of course agree with trying out everything, without exception, but most players, except for a few stars, can not be really successful in another position. Take Keith Higgins, one of the best attacking full backs in the country, he was never a real success at CHF. Why weaken our defence so much?
    There are some occasions it will work but most, like your good self, will give the example of Mattie Donnelly, who is a very special player, to make a case.

  52. I still don’t follow you, Joe – if you’re talking about this leaking goals this year then we clearly don’t have all our first choice defenders on the field, if it’s last year’s championship we conceded only three goals in the whole campaign (one of which was a consolation score which in any event shouldn’t have been allowed as Murphy’s quick kick to McFadden was a technical foul) so I don’t see that the point is valid there either. I still think you’re trying to draw conclusions from two league games which simply aren’t representative.

  53. Pebblesmeller, this disagreeing with you will have to stop!! I completely agree with you about the forwards. Now, about the backs: we have been leaking goals. If we leak two goals, our forwards will have to score either, 2 goals; 1 goal-3points or 6 points, and that is to stand still. So, to me a good defence is imperative.

  54. Jo Mc, if u look at a lot of the goals that we concede in big games, they seem to be more of a lapse in concentration, a temporary switching off, for whatever reason. Been nervous or anxious or whatever. Bernard Brogran’s first goal shouldn’t have been conceded. His second goal came just after we scored one. Did we just switch off? Also we gave the ball away cheaply for a couple of Dublin’s early points. We really have to stop doing this. The top teams don’t do it. Donegal’s second goal in the 2012 final came from a dropped ball. Again a lack of concentration after the ball hit the post. It was that goal that really killed us. Would a sweeper had stopped any of these? In fairness Murphy’s goal was a great one.

  55. Willie Joe, I give up. I am looking at the overall picture from last year, not just a couple of specific games, so be it. Thanks.

  56. HopeSpringsEternal-what you say is very true. It could very well be a lapse of concentration. I don’t know but I am very concerned about it. I wonder why is there seems to be so much opposition to a sweeper system? Look at the success of Donegal and they won an All Ireland. Can we not learn from successful teams. I just feel we need to do something about it.

  57. Pebblesmeller, I think our forwards have to work too far back and are starved of quick ball in, giving, the opposing defence plenty time to organise, our midfield over carries too much and everytime we sent 30 to 40 yds long balls in yesterday we caused Tyrones defence problems so we have to stop carrying into crowded areas and send the ball over and behind them.
    That gives our forwards room and time and cuts out these snatched and rushed hopeful efforts. If we want to be more clinical then we have to have our forwards up front and ready ……and not back shoring up midfield and defence…………….a 20 or 30 yards footpass into space reaps more than 5 to 6 hand passes that gets broken down in what becomes more or less a scrum……………
    The Dubs are good this year as they were last because they can move the ball at speed and with distance and use the expanse of the pitch and a hand pass for them, like Kerry is usually 10 to 15 yds and forward, space is created by the ball and the distance it travels, the greater the distance the more the margin of error.

  58. Yeah Joe Mc, we played Dublin three times last year and conceded six goals and scored one. We conceded two against Donegal in the 2012 final and scored none. Again in the 2012 league final, we conceded two and scored none against Cork. It was the same yesterday. So its easy really, when you think about it, to win some major silverware, concede less goals and score more!!! How did we not think of it before!!!

  59. I don’t agree with joe or john on this argument but joe inadvertently posed an interesting question there, why are their hoardes of defenders in front of us when we attack but open spaces in our own half when the opposition attack? This feature was especially visible in the all Ireland final. It’s down to 2 things I believe, a blanket defence approach from the opposition, and secondly and more importantly, I feel we hold onto the ball too long in the middle third. Solo runs from keegan and Vaughan look great on tv, but they cause space to be shut off in the inside line against top top sides, and littleor no room for inside forwards when they get their hands in the ball. In contrast our first 50 mins against Dublin in 2012 were superb, diagonal long balls from Kevin Mac and Dillon and the likes into Conroy, Varley, doc, who looked like world beaters that day when they got the ball in space. Kevin in particular is soloing too much, he is one of the best foot passers we have, let’s get him kicking long passes again!! It’s not that hard!

  60. We have the best full back in the country in Cafferkey. He was far from skinned in the final and got the better of Brogan for most of the match IMO. First goal was poor yes but he was put in a 2 on 1 for the second goal and you always go for the man with the ball. There is no tinkering needed with backs except maybe Vaughan to midfield with AOS, Cunniffe to 6 and Seamie to 12 with McLoughlin at 10.

    I would try Moran at 11 and Gallagher, Regan and O’Connor in full forward line.


    That’s my personal preference right now. Could change as the league goes on of course

  61. Yeah Mac, we kicked some great points in that game alright. Also when we beat Galway and Donegal, last year, we played much more direct football in those two games. When Kerry are at their best, its almost like as if they are playing first touch football. They move the ball really quickly to their most dangerous players, in the most dangerous positions for their opposition. Most times this then results in a score.

  62. Joe, I wouldn’t rate Donnelly as anything exceptional, good yes but by no means great. The difference is he was operating in an attack that had a proper structure to it, a plan that was pre-determined and executed properly, i.e. players in space in scoring positions receiveing quality ball. Simple as.
    “Why weaken our defence so much?” because we could afford to. For now, we have plenty of cover for those positions and Horan is looking to try something different in the malfunctioning half forward line. It may, or may not work, but if you don’t try you will never know. I seem to remember people screaming blue murder when Higgins was brought back to defense at half time in the All Ireland. We can’t have it everyway you know.

  63. Mac’s left boot, that’s what I am preaching about. Speed of ball, space in attack and creating scoring chances in scorable areas!! It’s not rocket science. The difficulty is coming up with a style and structure to creat those chances.
    The stats are there, if you win possession in your own defense, in order to create a good scoring opprotunity at the other end of the pitch, you have a maximum of 5 passes and 10 secs to do take your shot. Any longer and you have allowed the defense to funnel back and close out the very space your attack needs to create the scoring chance. If you push up and your forwards win possession off your opponents defenders, you have 2 passes and 5 secs to tale your shot. That is way Horan constantly emphasised the tackling of our forwards last year as being crucial for us.

  64. Instead of incorporating a blanket defence, maybe we should just give our defenders a chance to actually get fit? These panicked assessments are doing more harm than good. One guy said to put Seamus O’Shea at fullback! I suppose he would have marked mattie donnelly out of it right?!

    Similarly, this ‘special player’ mattie donnelly wasnt all that special when mayo put it up to his team in the semi lat year was he? Take a look over the comments on this thread. The suggestions are all over the shop. Some people are crying out for freeman, others arent even picking him in their teams. Some are praising keegan, others are saying he hangs onto the ball too much, and on and on. The reality is we dont know what we want, or need. These things are all being plucked out of the air, amoung other places, and 99% are not realisitic, functional or accurate. May I suggest that we instead put some faith in the team and give them a chance? It is clear the hangover is still there, even within the team. We should get behind the team and show our support, that will help focus them and push them on. We need to kick start into gear, and look to move forward, and that is both players and fans. Every county in the country is hoping that we dont shake off last year because every single one of them is afraid of mayo at full tilt. Maybe we should act like it?

  65. Exactly JJ, that is why the 2 man full forward line is so effective. There is plenty of space for the midfielders/half forwards to pass the ball into. The full forward is not crowded out by defenders and his own team mates and, an intercounty forward should be able to beat his man in a 1-on-1. Either that or win the foul.
    By adopting the short hand passing game you are increasing your chances of retaining possession, but, you have to pass more often and work harder to create the scoring chance. This benefits the defenders as they then have time to close down the space that you are trying to create.
    I am shiteing on about an attacking structure and playing to players strengths but what I mean, by way of an example, is this. Darren Coen is an excellent finisher, at this stage of his development I don’t believe he offers much in general play, but he can finish. Freeman & A. Moran are strong ball winners and don’t often give up possession. So it doesn’t make sense to play balls up to Coen and expect him to win the ball, retain it, beat his man and score. However by playing it to Freeman he can retain the ball, play it to Coen in a little bit of space and bingo! A score. I only use these players by way of example. If, for instance, you identify a defender that lacks pace or speed on the turn, you could deploy Conroy on to him and look to play accurate low foot passes into Conroy where he can use his speed to skin the defender. Horses for courses. I believe we have the forwards but we must get the blend and structure right. And that will probably differ for each opponent.

  66. There was plenty of space when we went forward last Sunday on several occasions and if you had regan or mort or any natural scoring forward they would of scored similar to what Gallagher got from play.Carolan and mgloughlin missed sitters,higgans missed a goal chance that my young 8year old bangs in on regular occasions for u-8s Sylvesters, along the fookin ground man and into the corner its not rocket science but the job belongs to a footballer with forward killer instinct.add in the factor a lot of GAA keepers aren’t that well drilled at diving saves on the ground too.

    I am going to stop making this point over and over again ,im starting to actually think its a mayo thing , some of our population are just hellbent on ignoring the obvious because of some sort of ridiculous fear of offering critisism because of a near cult type thing with this set up under horan.

    We need a forward line for at least last two league games that compromises of Gallagher,Moran,Cillian(if fit) ,Regan,Kirby, Conroy, Sweeney, freeman,Feeney,coen and doc and get your best six from that lot ,anyone i left out is not up to the task imo and that includes exp one.

  67. Take your point Sean, but, as I understand it anyway, the modern ‘elite’ game (as distinct from the pure enjoyment football that everyone else plays) is based on the principle of not necessarily having the 6 best natural forwards playing.

    Things like work rate, ability to prevent movement forward, tracking back to help out defence or midfield, providing assists to those in a better position to score. Even the Coopers, Brogans and Michael Murphys (particularly Murphy, remember the work he did against Mayo even when they were being slaughtered) have to do this.

    I suspect Regan might not fit all of that bill in the eyes of JH – I could be wrong, but he has been on the fringes for a long time as compared to COC. Doherty, for some reason may be in a similar situation, judging by the game time he has got, though I think he ticks all of the boxes mentioned above.

  68. Sean, I hear you, but the only time we had space was in the opening 10 minutes of the game when we moved the ball quickly and that is when we created the chances. Granted we didn’t take them as we ended up with defenders, Drake, Keegan and Higgins, on the end of the goal chances and that is not ideal. But we stopped moving the ball quickly and ended up resorting to McLoughlin over carrying and getting dispossed, O’Shea taking the ball into contact and getting turned over and trying to run the ball down the middle of the field. We were running ourselves to death instead of letting the ball do the work. I still think the goals will come but there is no doubt that we have left 5 or 6 goals behind us over the last 2 games as a result of poor finishing.

  69. Carolan missed the first chance. He blazed over the bar when on the edge of the large square. Higgins should have passed the ball to the runner coming along the outside. Poor enough play from an experienced guy. He should know better. Far better to have a guy that plays for the team than gores for glory.
    Anyway point is that had we taken those 2 chances in the game in the first 5 minutes 90% of what was said on this site in the past 2 days would probably be very different.

    PS: I agree about the fast ball but Andy Moran was only one really showing and he was getting very little change in the first half. Probably changed mentality of the guys who were distributing.

  70. Andy I agree with all you said but disagree on the FB…when he comes up against the top dogs, he has been found out. Thre past three years tell the story. There’s no harm in looking at other options there. No need to panic, but now (the league) is the time to try someone else there.

  71. Reading some of the more recent posts above, it strikes me that despite many of our best players out injured or whatever at the moment, we still had the manpower available to have won the two League matches against Kildare and Tyrone. Not deploying the players in their best positions would seem to be the problem, What bothers me is, why Horan and his management team do not see that, and take whatever corrective action is necessary to put these simple things right. Or is it a question of not really caring to much about the League this year and just playing for time until all his regulars are back ???

  72. We all want the best for this Mayo team. Like alot of posters I am frustrated and disappointed by Mayo’s performances in the league so far. I’m sure what ever I feel pales in comparison to what the team and management feel. As disappointed as I am overall I do understand the reasons for Mayo’s poor showing. I do agree fully with alot of the negative analysis in posts but it is impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions, when clearly the current squad are a long way short of the finished article.

    The “aul Conroy catching the ball and falling on his hole routine” was funny to alot of people because it’s so true. Conroy in too many plays recieves the ball right on the end line and then procceeds the tightrope skimish between the end line and at least two defenders. He likes to shoot so when on the rare occasion he does succeed the score is always the more memorable because he scores from impossible angles and under extreme pressure. Solution for Conroy to be more effective is to get him the ball a bit further away from the white line and support him by drawing defenders thus creating a bit more space so Conroy can utilise his talents to the max. I digress.

    In my opinion, Mayo’s real litmus test will come against Dublin in the league this year. I Believe the Mayo squad will be further a long in terms of fitness and strength and we shoiuld have a clearer understanding of where we really are.

  73. Joe, your dead right there about Michael Conroy. He actually played really well when he came on in the semi-final against Tyrone last year, when he was given the right type of ball. He was also Mayo’s best forward against Dublin in the league semi-final, he scored four points from play in that game. Also in the 2012 semi-final V Dublin, he won an awful lot of ball too. In that game against Tyrone in the semi-final, he came on in the 56th minute. I found the following report online to demonstrate this:

    (Mayo substitute Michael Conroy had a very good game following his introduction midway through the second half. Every ball that was sent in his direction was won by Conroy. His performance has certainly given James Horan something to think about as the final approaches.)

    Before the final a lot of people were saying that he should be starting the game. I reckon during the final when Mayo hadn’t scored as much as they should have in the first-half, this prompted Jame Horan to bring him on early as we needed to get some scores on the board at that time. Unfortunately, the wrong man, Freeman was taken off. Moran and Conroy in the same full-forward line, without a target man, are very similar type players, both making the same type of runs. Feeding off a big man, probably would have worked better.

  74. Who exactly is injured that makes a real difference ? Twenty at the last count, I was out running yesterday and got a blister, so will I be added.

    Of the injured only Clarke, O Connor and possibly Vaughan might be central to the future. Barrett, O Shea are essentially squad players especially if Barry Moran and Higgins are restored to positions. I can’t think of any more. Injuries and unavailibility present opportunity not excuses

  75. Which O’Shea are you referring to there John in place of Barry Moran? Aidan was deservedly MOTM in the 1/4 final however Seamus was (in my opinion) much better than Aidan after that i.e. semi-final and final.

    So are you saying that Aidan O’Shea is essentially a squad player?

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