More on yesterday’s challenge game against Meath

There’s more on and in a comment from ontheroad in response to yesterday’s post about the challenge match against Meath. We lost by either 2-17 to 1-16 (ontheroad) or 2-16 to 0-16 ( Either way, we lost but, as might be expected, it sounds as if the workout was more important than the result. We led by a point at half-time but their superior fitness – the Royals open their Leinster campaign next Sunday and they were away in Portugal for most of the past week – told in the second half. The changes we made at half-time also seemed to work against us, with Joe Sheridan and Graham Geraghty given greater freedom which they exploited to the full.

Our starting line-up was, according to, as follows: David Clarke; Trevor Howley, James Nallen, Colm Boyle; David Heaney, Tom Cunniffe, Keith Higgins; Ronan McGarritty, Pat Harte; Aidan Kilcoyne, Alan Dillon Mickey Mullins; Conor Mortimor, Austin O’Malley, Mark Ronaldson. Subs introduced included Andy Moran, Pat Kelly, Trevor Mortimor, Billy Joe and Peadar Gardiner, with the latter two getting their first run-out since the injuries they suffered some time ago.

It’s interesting that Cunniffe started at CHB with Howley in the corner, though the experiment only lasted till half-time. Howley got injured right at the end and was stretchered off. Let’s hope that was just a precaution – losing Howley from the back six would, in my opinion, be an absolute disaster for us.

24 thoughts on “More on yesterday’s challenge game against Meath

  1. Was down in cross on saturday evening to watch my local Breaffy take on Cross in the senior league. As to be expected there was nearly as many news reporters down there as fans, all eager to see if Ciaran Mac is in fact still good enough to play for the county. Judging by this performance the answer is most definitely yes, he played his usual game, wore number 11, played just about in every position, scored from frees, from play, attempted one sideline from the outside of the boot that just crept wide and had a hand in most of cross’s good moves.

    But Mac aside from a mayo perspective there were some great performances by the current team members, jimmy nallen played at full back and was solid, his cause greatly helped by the non-existent full forward Breaffy had playing for them but none the less he did a lot of tidying up at the back for cross. Peader Gardiner was also playing from the start (not sure how long he has been back since the broken jaw?) but he was flying fit..literally did not stop running the whole game and scored two points from right half back. On the losing side, Seamus O’Shea had a stormer for Breaffy, anyone thinks that Tom Parsons is winning the race between those 2 might not be so sure after Saturdays performance, he does have a bad habit of getting caught in poccession and losing the ball, trying to do too much but this is something that can easily be worked on. But my man of the match was a non mayo senior player, ful forward for cross, ‘benny’ benson, this guy looks very, very good, has super pace and is well able to kick scores..think he finished on about 1-5. Dont know was he even considered for mayo this year? i would hope to think he was at least invited to a trial game.

    Incidentally Cross ended up comfortable winners on a score-line of 2-13 to 2-6, ending breaffys unbeaten record in the league. They were 4 points down ten minutes into the second half and scored 2-5 without reply after that.

  2. Thanks for that, Ciaran. More evidence, if such evidence is even needed, that Mac is still worth a place on the Championship panel.

    I see Jimmy Nallen has been given a few runs in the full-back line since rejoining the panel. I wonder is Johnno seriously thinking about giving him a place there on June 22nd, in view of all the problems we continue to have back there? I’m not sure this would be the wisest move but then again we’re not exactly embarrassed with the number of other options we have.

    It’s good to see Peadar Gardiner back in action too and he’ll obviously be fit and ready for the Sligo game. I can’t see him making it into the half-backs (unless that injury to Howley yesterday does prove to be serious) but he could well find a place in the half-forwards.

    Seamus O’Shea has got to be a serious option at midfield alright, especially if Tom Parsons is redeployed (as he might have to be) to CHF. I like O’Shea and I like the fact that both his parents are from Kerry even more. He even looks like a Kerryman. We need more of that kind of breed!

    I don’t know if Benny got a trial with the county team this year. I was confusing him with the other Brian Benson who was on the panel for the league but isn’t there for the championship but he’s of course from Claremorris.

    All the best


  3. I suppose it was a good work out for the lads and you would expect Meath to win especially with a full round of league games on Saturday night and them so close to championship.

    On another note, i just posted a suggestion on my blog of starting a club page, where anyone can submit a report from their club games over the weekend so we can keep track of the scene at home. Any suggestions or tips on it would be appreciated.

  4. That’s true alright – I’ve long gone past worrying about the results of challenge matches. I remember some stirring performances in challenge games back in the Eighties (including giving Meath a real hiding in 1987, three months before they lifted Sam) which only raised false hopes ahead of the real stuff.

    That’s an interesting idea about the club page, not sure what the best way would be to do it technically. Would you want everyone to post their match reports as comments or give people who express an interest in posting admin rights to do their own posts?

  5. Was thinking of using an email address, or allow people to post comments which would have to be authorised before they went live. I had have no problem if reports came in and in formating them, by division and so on on the a page it self. But it would all depend on people volunteering or being interested in doing it.

  6. It definitely sounds like a good idea, whatever the technical solution might be. The main issue, as you say, is getting enough people who are interested and can commit to posting something preferably on the evening the match takes place. Good luck with it!

  7. On yesterdays performance Pat Harte will definitely start at midfield come championship. Also Billy Joe was only on the pitch for 5 minutes, but in that time he did more to shackle Joe Sheridan than anyone else did in the whole game. I was also impressed with Colm Boyle’s persistence.

    The second half was poor; we won an equal amount of ball but lacked any direction going forward and kicked a succession of wides from crazy angles. Suppose Mort showed us his worth from the bench.

    Seeing the impact GG (tramp – tried to start a row with Keith Higgans of all people) had for Meath yesterday makes it seem all the worse that we have a player of similar ability and age who wants to play sitting at home.

  8. That’s encouraging about Pat Harte, as his league performances tended to suggest that he wasn’t playing as well as in previous years. The more options we have at midfield/HF, the better.

    It’s good to see BJ back as well and he’ll now be pushing for a starting place against Sligo. The question, I suppose, is where? It’d be hoping for too much, I suppose, if he was to grow by 3 or 4 inches between this and then!

    Re the forwards, I wonder where Austie is this weather? (Up here somewhere, I suppose). He needs a run-out or two now and, based on his league form, he could restore a degree of sensible shooting to the side.

    Geraghty is gas alright but it’s absolutely true how daft it is of us to be leaving someone of similar vintage kicking his heels at home.

  9. Should have looked at the team-sheet before adding the above comment – Austie was playing yesterday!

  10. Pat Harte could play at FF but not midfield in my opinion. You cant coach size of pace and he lacks in both for the midfield role. Barry Moran is the only option here. O se will be fine in a year or two. He is going to be a tank when he is 23 or 24 but is still a little raw just now. Parsons for CHF is a no brainer. I not going to over react to challenge matches but i do have concerns about what will be the make up of our championship 15. Surely the easiest part of managing a team is picking it. im just not convinced, based on what i saw in the league, that the right players will be selected in the right positions. If mahony gets this right we will give galway a good run for their money. if…… WIllie Joe, If howley is out you are could spell disaster.

  11. Austie won a lot of ball yesterday, was always out in front, didn’t score that much though. Andy Moran was pretty poor when he came on, compared to his league performances any way. kilcoyne played well in the first half but led the wayward shooting the second half.

    Biily Joe is the only option at fullback for the championship. (unless cafferkey gets a call up)

    Hopefully Howley won’t be out for too long, he looked in a lot of pain going off.

    When is T Mort going to be moved back to the half backs, wait until the qualifiers again?

  12. Meath corner backs were terrible yesteray.Why was Cunniffe moved to full back—-are we trying to ruin his confidence.i agree that Pat Harte has improved .We still have major problems with our defence. Meath missed about 3 goals

  13. I never thought height was Pat H’s problem, Ted, but I’d agree with you that he’s more suited to the forwards. What’s the crack with Barry Moran? We’ve seen bugger all of him since last year – remember he was our second-highest scorer in the championship in 2007.

    I know what you mean, Ted, about obvious selections and switches not being made. Johnno and his colleagues are obviously far closer to the team and know a hell of a lot more about what’s going on than those of us sitting on the sideline do (well, that’s true in my case for sure) but I guess the proof of the pudding will be in terms of how the campaign goes.

    Haven’t seen or heard anything further yet about Trevor Howley, fingers crossed he’ll be okay.

    The idea of BJ at full-back scares me, Shane, but I suppose it depends who the full-forward is. I’d fancy BJ (or Keith) on Meehan but I’m not so sure about who would be best for those big hoors from down South!

  14. I would prefer BJ at full back to conroy. BJ had one bad outing against QUigley, mainly because of height, but this was the start of his injury spell remember. we should be flexible in this position anyway. BJ for meehan and conroy for donaghy. I really hope howley is ok?? Of course Heaney is the best full back option but im resigned to the fact that this is not going to happen. if howley is out heaney should be CHalf flanked by trevor and cunniffe…..thats not a bad line either. The more i look at the panel the more im convinced that if we get the selections right we can be competitive. Westmeath will show what can be done with an average squad. they play to a system that makes up for their lack of natural talent.We have better footballers but I wouldnt fancy playing them in the morning. We need to get our act together…..we have the raw material. If we go out to the likes of westmeath in the quarters/qualifiers it will not be acceptable in my opinion…

  15. feckin disaster. Anyway we need to move on. Every team has an injury problem i suppose.

  16. I don’t think anyone has all that faith in chalenge matches. At this stage I think Johno has a fair idea of who his starting 15 will be (barring unfortunate injuries). Challenge matches are to keep momentum and morale ticking over and excercise a few people who may or may not be required for the days ahead.
    The other big Q. of course is C.Mac…. What a disaster !!!…. He is apparantly playing the footall of his career (well as good as One can expect at this stage of it) but yet there is obviously some sort of serious Cold Frost between himself and Johno.
    I can’t figure it out. Personally I would love to see him there at 11 as his ability, height, strength (along with all the other plaudits) can only benefit the team.
    He does have his drawbacks though. Can he be stuborn and does he play his own game ??
    Can he play/do what Johno might want him to do … and consistently – that is the big Q? If he can he should be there.
    If not…..well… is Johno right in moving forward with a younger team and putting older stallions out to pasture?

  17. JPM, i think mahoney did all he needed to do by inviting Mc to the trial game. for Mc then to go public and say he was snubbed sealed his retirement for me.. Mahoney would probably take him back if McDonald pandered to him a little, but of course thats not going to happen so lets just move on without him. Its sad to see him gone but I think he will miss it as much as he will be missed. was he one of the all time Mayo greats?? yeah of course he was.

  18. I don’t think that’s the whole story, Ted (though, having said that, I’m not sure those of us observing know the full story either). Remember the meeting Johnno set up that “never materialised”, the invitation to the trial game only being sent via SMS and then Johnno using the media to spin his side of the story, most likely because he would have reckoned, incorrectly as it turned out, that Mac wouldn’t go public to correct him. I’d agree, though, that going public probably sealed his retirement but I guess it’s still only the start of the Summer …

  19. WJ, he got the invite in the same format as everyone else. Did he expect a bouquet of flowers as well. If he was keen he should have been there in my humble opinion. He had the a good rest and the time was right for his return. anyway i thought if the issue was going to be resolved it would have been by now. bottom line is we wont win an all ireland this year, with or without him, so maybe we are just better off blooding a replacement during this years championship….tom parsons, please stand up!!!!

  20. You’re right there, Ted (God – I’m begging to sound like Fr Dougal!): if the problem was going to be sorted, they’d have done it by now. We won’t win the All-Ireland, alright, but a Connacht title is a reasonable aim, which, if we achieve it, culd set us up for a date with the Kingdom in the semis. I agree with you about Tom Parsons too – I just hope the Aussies haven’t got designs on him as well.

  21. would you believe i had thought about that – the whole parsons going to Oz thing. the sooner they scrap the rubbish international rules the better in my opinon

  22. Absolutely, though I fear that won’t stop the outward flow. We need a trade war or something!

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