Plan A, B, C – we have the technology

Need a bit of a rev-up as Sunday edges closer? Here’s MO4Ever – JJMR, taking a first whirl in the guest contributor’s chair, with some thoughts on why we’re better prepared than ever going into this final. 

Plan A,B,C

I feel terrible. The final whistle has gone, I have a headache and we have lost another All-Ireland final. Indeed this match was over with a good few minutes to spare. You know that sinking feeling when the other team gets a bit of a run on you. You can see the reaction is not there to suppress it. The points fly over, from all angles. The white flag is raised, points that we couldn’t score, no matter how hard we tried especially in those last 15 minutes or so. Again the high ball in on top of us has undone us. Well, feck it anyways.

As we leave Croke Park the streets are loud; you hear another enormous cheer, which remains in your ears as you make your way back to the car. Again say to yourself several times – well, feck it anyways.

The journey home is torture, 300km or so, and to make it worse each kilometre seems like two. It wasn’t supposed to be like this this year … this team was different!

Of course I’ve been here before. I have the experience, it should lessen the blow but at the moment I’m not handling this well. I don’t want to talk; I cannot say anything that matters to my family. The sports news comes on the radio on the hour, you turn channels but there all the same, the other team has won and they are the champions. Well, feck it anyways.

I wonder how the players must be feeling. I stop for an ice cream hoping that it will break the monotonous journey and in the hope that it will make me feel better. We all turn to ice cream when we want or feel good don’t we! But of course it doesn’t work. I don’t even taste it, it gets eaten like an apple, two or three bites and it’s gone – forgotten, tasteless. Well, feck it anyways.

As we make our way through the various Mayo towns along the N5, the flags and bunting which were smiling back at us as we travelled up to Dublin the previous day now look lonely and sad. All those Good Luck signs don’t mean anything. You’re now back in familiar MidWest radio territory. I listen to the banquet reports. You’re looking to Angelina and the crew to say something that gives you some small crumb of comfort. Talk of winning it next year never does it for me – there are no guarantees we’ll be back in a final any time soon. I know there is no such thing as next year in Gaelic Football. Well, feck it anyways.

We eventually make it home; there would be time for a last round in the local but I cannot face it. The Sunday Game has been recorded but I cannot watch it now, perhaps never will.

I don’t sleep well that night. You hope it’s a bad dream you’re having. In the morning reality sinks in and I’m away early to work. Again Big Des is on the radio, it’s all about the winners, the winning captain, the winners’ hotel and the winners’ homecoming.

I think of the Mayo players again … how they must be feeling but then I stop. In the past it has taken weeks even months to get over it, to be able to file it away. Either I’m determined not to let that happen this time or could it be that I feel a bit different now? I cannot figure out why that is, but my thoughts move to James Horan – how must he be feeling, how must Tom and the rest of the backroom team feel. Who’s going to pick them up?

Fast forward to 2013 …

In the past we don’t seem to do football grieving that well in Mayo. Are we afraid to grieve?

To show weakness, to uncover. It’s easier to look for excuses. Refs, injuries, curses, high balls, ifs, buts and maybes. People better equipped than me have had their say on this great blog and elsewhere on the reasons why we lost. This last year, though, the emphasis has noticeably been more about tactics and match-ups etc. in explaining how we lost .Could it be that previously we have been digging too deep, without acknowledging the real truth? Could we now be closer to the answers?

In the finals we played there were a few common denominators:

  • Our backs are decent enough.
  • In midfield we could hold our own
  • Our forwards need to score more.

But in each final that we lost prior to last year, their forwards were always better than our backs. And, with respect, their management always seemed to be more tactically astute than ours.

In other words for us to win we went to Croker hoping that the opposition would somehow not perform well. If they played bad then we had a chance. Note I used the word ‘hope’.

Last year against Donegal we got closer. Management were more astute, gaining experience. Our backs and forwards were better, but would midfield hold their own? Donegal didn’t come come in hope, they came to win. Jimmy was winning matches.

In the first ten minutes we didn’t hold our own in midfield.Their midfielders got their hands on more ball than ours did for the full seventy. We didn’t work hard enough. They had a plan, targeted us with high ball and all. We got caught somewhat unluckily on the hop.

Again were their forwards better than our backs? Maybe they were for those first ten minutes but at last we had a sideline that reacted to what was unfolding in front of them. Was this why my thoughts last year had turned to James Horan and why I felt somewhat different?

We Mayo folk have been described by others as fragile and nervous. (How dare they?) We’re not supposed to enjoy the build up, we’re afraid to hype up things too much this time. It gets to some people – they don’t put up the same flags that they had before,they’re not lucky so better to buy a new one.

So is this Mayo team in 2013 different?

No it’s not different.

It’s totally different. There was a TV programme in the Seventies called the Six Million Dollar Man – some of you may remember it. The hero was damaged in a crash but the programme started with the lines:

We can rebuild him; we have the technology.

Better than he was before.

Better. Stronger. Faster.

James Horan and the boys are our Six Million Dollar Men. Our team is now better, stronger and faster. James has been given the resources he wanted. He has the technology.

Our management is now professional and astute. James picked himself up shortly after the final whistle and so too have the players. To quote Kieran Shannon: “We are now prepared to die with the boots on”.

This time our forwards are better than their backs, and so too are our midfielders and our backs. And unlike the nation’s soccer team we will have a Plan A, B or C if required. We will give it everything. It is us who will do the targeting this time; we will apply the pressure wherever its needed to lift that load.

So to all Mayo folk: Believe, enjoy the build-up during the next few days, put even more flags up, make sure you bring flags to Croke Park. Dress in Green and Red to be seen and sing those songs.

We are coming to win this time – visualise us raising that Cup.

I’ll buy another ice cream again in the same place on the N5 on the way home from Croker next Sunday evening but this time the taste will be perfect and it will stay forever.

“For evermore”.

35 thoughts on “Plan A, B, C – we have the technology

  1. Great piece. Know the pain and passing mainly Kerry people who averted our eyes. The roar when Michael Murphy lifted Sam last year killed me. Time to end the pain.,. Past time indeed.

  2. Absolutely brilliant post …. The Monday mornings Des Cahill or Paul Collins on the radio the sinking horrible feeling the unwatched match (Donegal one still on sky plus unwatched) the sympathy at the school drop offs …. And why is it always raining on te Monday ??? I can relate to everything in that post … This time feels different because for the first time in my time following Mayo I think the players actually want it more than we do!!!

  3. Mo4Ever – JJMR : A great piece and no doubt, from the heart – yes, you, me, the lot of us, have lived through to much pain for far too long, and please God on Sunday evening, this nightmare will be all forgotten, over and done with for ever.

    For sure the team will be well prepared, better than any Mayo team gone before. All we need is that wee bit of luck, that all winning teams seem to get somewhere along the way. Believe you me this seventy minutes is going be tough, tough to watch, tough on James and tough on the payers, tougher than anything gone before – but as the saying goes, ‘when the going gets tough – the tough get going’.

    And let’s hope JJMR, we’ll never have to say, well feck it, again…Hup Mayo !

  4. Dont forget also all the times we heard those awful words “THREE CHEERS FOR A GALLANT MAYO SIDE WHO WILL HAVE TO WAIT ANOTHER YEAR ETC” from the winning captain of the opposition in his victory speech as we sadly made our way away from Croker. Will Cluxton get to say them words this Sunday at 5.15pm? Oh christ and then big Des later on with a smirk on his face. Unbearable. Surely not again. Time to change the record this Sunday.

  5. What a tremendous piece I hope the Mayo players have a look at this piece as it would really inspire them to give it there all wat a total confidence building piece.
    I’ve been looking at this blog for a long time and this without a doubt the best piece I’ve ever read I was a little bit nervous about Sunday but now I can’t wait all the negative thoughts are gone

  6. The part that really bugs me is the trip along the quays in Dublin heading for mayo on the evenings of those horrible September Sundays of 89,96,97,04,06 and 2012. The late pint in ballina, the few long faces where there could have been thousands of delighted faces and the game being played over and over til 6 am in the pubs of mayo.
    How I hate those evenings and that trip and those pints.

    Last year, very funny thing happened. On returning to ballina, went to a pub, then to another place that we rarely visit, it was 1 am and we knocked, barman opened the door and said ” is it that time of year already? Mayo losing the final is the only time I see you effers in here”

    First time I smiled since 3.30 that day.

  7. Very good post it captures the trials and tribulations of a typical Mayo supporter after an AIF defeat. What used to really bring it all home was seeing old Mayo men on the verge of tears such was their disappointment, men that never cried in public not even when buring their parents. This year will be different so lets see PLAN B flash up on big screen as Mayo supporters invade the pitch and afterwards as the biggest cavalcade of cars and buses ever seen head West into the setting sun.

  8. Last year was different.

    I will never forget after the game, just 1 minute after the final whistle, a very good friend who would be fond of the game but not a fanatic, text me saying exactly what I was thinking, despite everything.

    “That is a serious team, Mayo will be back next year, make no mistake about that.”

    But it wasn’t the usual “we’ll be back”, this time. There is a different steel, resilience, spirit to this team that we haven’t seen before. I was far more upbeat after last year’s final than any other, and with good reason. We are back, and we mean business!

  9. I cannot help but notice the improvement in comments on this site , in the last few days .i was getting fed up of all the down beat comments , and referring back to years gone by .

    Lets look at this mayo team in more detail as , a lot of the bloggers here has focused on Dublin’s strengths and not mayo ,

    This is a team of 26 very good footballers , who has worked very hard in the last few years to change and believe in the mind set James and his back room staff has had to change . They have hit the gym very hard and bulked up , learned good ball skills , and how to tackle without giving up soft frees ,like we used to do in the past .
    Every one seem to rant on about the Dublin (super sub forwards )that Dublin can bring on to finish a game out , but what about our 5 very good forwards on the bench we can and will spring into action on Sunday .
    3 of our players admitted after the Tyrone game ,that they held back in the tackle, in the second half because they wanted to play in the final . just think about that for a minute ….. They knew and never felt they would loose that game even at half time .Imagine what damage this team will do on Sunday when nobody is holding back . .This is what is so different about this Great team and management.
    So lets all be supportive of the Mayo men for the next few days

  10. @mo4ever, a very good piece, the journey home after defeat, whether it be from Croke Park or the Irish Center in Mineola, it’s all the same lonesome, empty feeling.

    After last years final, I stayed out of work Monday, just couldn’t face it. Didn’t read a paper for a month.

    This year is different though. This team know that feeling and what a win will do for the people in Mayo and the Mayo diaspora in all corners of the world. It’s that conviction that will see them through. They won’t be denied, I’m tellin ya!

    Therefore i think its prudent to consider the homecoming arrangements. Now before anyone accuses me of counting chickens and allthat, its reasonable and proper to have a plan in place and not be planning last minute. County board I’m assuming have plans in place for a massive homecoming in Castlebar, the only capable venue been McHale Park.
    I estimate there could be close to 75k ppl there if we bring Sam home.

  11. 75 thousand in castlebar? On Monday night? They’ll have a long wait, lucky if the team make it by Thursday night!

  12. Absoloutly fantastic piece! Hairs standing on end, wits scared out of me and butterflies truly fluttering all around the stomach!

    This team do want it even more than we do. They had the tools to replicate 36/50/51 and they can certainly do it!

    Belive and Hon Mayo

  13. Absolutely outstanding piece from MO4Ever – JJMR, we have the technology , the six million dollar men , lee majors winning every breaking ball wouldnt stop us sunday never mins the dubs , the theme tune is now stuck in my head , great stuff !

  14. Brilliant!!!

    “visualise us raising that Cup”

    This is where it’s at…..
    Picture Andy Moran holding Sam aloft, what a sight!!!
    Hear the “green & red” blasting out of the tannoy, what a sound!!!
    Waking up Monday the 23rd as champions, what a feeling!!!


  15. Great piece, but I think it might just have tipped me over the edge. For the first time this campaign it made me stop and confront the possibility that this is just another 70 minute game we could well lose. It sums up that post-final sickness so well and it has scared the bejaysus out of me. Powerful stuff. Feck it anyways!!

    That said, I remain convinced as ever that we won’t be crying for the wrong reasons this year.

    Sweet divine mother of Jesus… will it ever be Sunday?

  16. I believe in James Horan and this Mayo team.

    I would like to post a verse of a song called Land of Hope and Dreams by Bruce Springsteen. It remind’s me of all those trips by train to Dublin and back supporting Myao down the years:

    Well this train
    Carries saints and sinners
    This train
    Carries losers and winners
    This train
    Carries whores and gamblers
    This train
    Carries lost souls
    This train
    Dreams will not be thwarted
    This train
    Faith will be rewarded
    This train
    Hear the steel wheels singing
    This train
    Bells of freedom ringing

    Faith will be rewarded – Up Mayo!

  17. Last year myself and the lads had rooms booked to stay over the night of the final, but I couldn’t face it. I headed home and one of them came with me. There was not a single word spoken until I left him off in Tuam. Not a word. Not a single word. My phone must have rang 15 times but I didn’t, and couldn’t, answer it. All the way home I kept thinking “are we ever going to win this fucking thing? Are we?” I was certain that the team were good enough, I believed they were but yet we were losers. Again.
    The following evening in McHale Park for the homecoming, in the lashings of rain, I listened to the squad and management saying that “we will be back” but to be honest the words felt hollow. Sure doesn’t every losing team say that. The words felt hollow because I had heard something similar in ’89, ’96, ’97, ’04 and ’06.
    But yet I believed that these lads were different, I knew they were. Sure didn’t the Kerry lads say that this Mayo team are a different animal after they beat us in ’11. Jack O’Conor said it. Marc O’Se said he had never been hit as hard by a Mayo player before. They had to be different. But if they were different, well why did we still lose? Maybe I am a terrible judge and don’t know as much about football as I think I do? Maybe I am looking at things through green & red tinited glasses and seeing things that are not really there? But that gut feeling would not go away. We are a different animal and every league and championship game just reinforced that to me. We are going up to win, expecting to win and playing to win. It doesn’t matter who we are facing in the final, if we play to the best of our ability we will win.
    We will win.

  18. I have to admit, I don’t know why, no logic involved, I feel Mayo could beat the shite out of the Dubs. It scares me stiff to think like that but it is a nagging feeling. Come on my feeling!!! Bring it on!!!!

  19. When the final whistle sounded last year I sent a text to my brother. He’s one of those that give pessimists a bad name. I said, “They will win it next year”. I based it on what I had seen. My knowledge of football is minute compared to the rest of you. However, I had seen a team knocked for six in the first few minutes fight back and give no ground. After half time they had 3, if not more, good chances to score and draw level. Had they taken those chances it would have spurred them on no end. Despite missing them they still fought tooth and nail. At the end I knew they would be hurting so bad that they would never allow themselves to experience that pain again. They were not making up numbers. They hungered for victory.
    BUT, never did I imagine that they would make the enormous advances that they have during this championship. They are at times unbelievable. This is Mayo’s time, no doubt.

  20. In 2012 Mayo insisted on kicking the ball into the corner for Conroy to chase, even when Donegal had extra cover back there. Now they have Freeman, a full-forward who can play right across the line, creating space for O’Connor to exploit – a superb marksmen.

    It’s a much better system. As for the Moran Vs. Conroy debate, they’re very different players and they have different roles this year. O’Connors playing closer to the square so Conroy’s dropped to the bench. Moran’s playing more of a support striker role this year. It’s Freeman’s form that’s forced Horan to reshape his system and it’s for the better.

  21. Joe Mc, I know what you are saying. I too can see us dishing out a good hiding to them. Like you, there is no logic to it, but if we are really on our game Dublin will not be able to live with us.
    There were times in the league this year where Mayo would suddenly click into gear for 5 or 10 mins and in this period they were unplayable. All the things that are brilliant about this side would be there but, suddenly, it would be gone and the perfomance level would drop. It happened in every game bar Kildare. But I remember thinking to myself, and I said it to the lads, that later in the year when we are fitter and sharper, if we can reproduce that 5 or 10 minute spell for 50 to 60 minutes, then someone is going to get hammered. Enter Galway. Enter Donegal.
    I keep thinking back to the March league game in Croker. We had two 10 minute periods of dominance, either side of half time, where Dublin didn’t know which way to turn. Conroy kept skinning the corner backs, on the outside!!, they lost their heads and their shape completely.and we had attack after attack. Given where the 2 teams were in their physical preparation and squad availability I was happy enough even though we lost.

  22. Totally agree Pebblesmeller. There was them ten min spells in the league games and like you say they have become much longer spells in championship games.

    Be some craic if we got 70 min spell of rampant Mayo attacking football totally dominating Dublin, sure we might keep them scoreless , lol.

    Joking aside , playing at full tilt, we are capable of winning comfortably imo.

    Sidenote, watch out for forged tickets, rumour has it there s a fair batch doin the rounds.

  23. Agree with HighKing81, Freeman has given us serious options, he has been super all year, goes a bit unnoticed because of the way Mayo play with our half backs attacking up so high up the field. Barrett has been enormous since taking Keith Higgins place in the corner, It gives us an extra option of Higgins helping us out with our adventurist half back line and attacking at pace himself. The other thing is the form and pace of Tom Cuniffe, no doubt we are better than last year. In fact we have never been as good as we are now. “Better, Stronger, Faster” no doubt about it, Even our bench is “Better, Stronger, Faster’ Than what we had in the past! This young Dublin team play wonderful football with the ball great to watch, exciting skillful and pace to burn. That will be their downfall next Sunday, I expect Mayo to own the ball in the middle third, with the two O”Sheas in the form of their life, They need to be to get a starting berth in this team, remember Big Barry Moran, not many midfielders in the country would lace his boots, we will see him a some stage next Sunday. We Will Win, The cebrations will be as sweeter than anyone has imaniged. In August Castlebar had an reenactment of the “Races of Castlebar’ THe “Pikemen” have been called out again on duty to help marchall the joyous thousands that will trong the County Town on Monday evening, now if anybody reading this decides to come and thousands will I’m sure, Be on yer best behaviour, we still have the ‘Pikes’ That morning last August before the battle, I took a photograph of my four year old nephew “Cian” with my “Pike” He asked me if I was on the same side as his Daddy, who was also a “Pikeman” I was I assured him, “I think we will Win” was his confident reply. MAYO ABU

  24. Tell me this; Would this Dublin team have beaten Donegal last year? An interesting question with an interesting answer.

  25. Really and truely fantastic post – MO4Ever

    I too was like Anne Marie was at tipping point after i needed to read it again.And now I know that we wil win. We had to learn all be it the hard way to loose last year but we have come back much improved in all parts of our game we are ready now to raise that cup.

  26. Joe Mac that is a good question. I don’t think they would have beaten Donegal. Their defensive system was just too robust. It would have smothered the flash Dublin forwards. And therein lies a lesson for us.

  27. @Pebblesmeller…great post man! Captures many of the emotions I experienced after last years defeat.

  28. Me, “Would this Dublin team have beaten Donegal last year?”

    @ diehard, “I don’t think they would have beaten Donegal:”

    Now for logic. Mayo had the beating of Donegal last year and are much better this year, so where does that leave the Dubs?

  29. Joe Mc….it leaves the Dubs hoping we play a nice opens game of football and not implement a ‘Donegal style’ defence system.

  30. Thanks Mister Mayor. The main post brought back all those horrible trips home. Please God our hunger for Sam will soon be sated.

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