Playing the cards



There has been considerable comment on this blog on the use of the substitutes by James Horan. Some comments have expressed uncertainty as to James’ approach, others have been quite critical of his approach. This article looks at the purpose and use of substitutes, the options that available to any manager and the constraints under which the managers operate when deciding where, when and how to use substitutes.

There are three basic strategies regarding substitutions:

1.   Direct replacements

This is used when one of the original players runs out of steam, gets injured, is having a bad day, or when the game is won and he is being saved for the next day. Managers generally cover this by having a number of key replacements to cover goalie, full-back, utility back, midfielder and a utility forward. (By using the word “utility” I’m suggesting that they are likely to fit into a number of positions.) In the Mayo set-up these are O’Malley, McHale, Harrison, Gibbons and Varley.

2.   Plan changers

These are the guys that you bring on when you want to change the tactics on the field. Sweeney coming on for Freeman against Dublin in the League is an example. Dublin use this as their first strategy, sometimes replacing a midfielder and a forward at the same time to ensure that the right type of ball is fed in. It’s the best strategy when you have a very strong bench and you want break the game up into segments – again Dublin is the best example at present. We don’t tend to use it that much although Freeman has been used to good effect in the last two games in this way.

3.   Late changes

A variation of 1 and 2 combined, normally used in the last ten minutes to keep the pressure on or to provide a new angle for the opposition’s tiring legs/heads to deal with. Generally it lifts the crowd and gives the lads on the field a boost as the tiredness begins to set in. Andy and Alan coming on against Roscommon was an example of this.

As we can all observe, James is very much in the first camp, but he is not averse to dabbling in the second or third approaches either, though many people would suggest that he should go there more often. So why doesn’t he? Which brings me to the constraints.

Well firstly, he knows the lads better than everyone else and he is aware of what they can do. He will have tried them out in a number of roles in training and he will be convinced that the man coming on is the best man for the job. Secondly, he will also be wary that trying something new in the heat of battle is a very high risk strategy and this can lead to conservative choices. Thirdly, he has to balance his choices with those of the opposition.

So you have a young attacking midfielder in your subs but they have a fella on their bench who won an All-Star at midfield two years ago. What do you do? Who will blink first?

It is hugely important to have as many leaders and cool heads on the pitch when the final stage of the battle is in full swing, but a surprise to put the opposition management thinking is a tempting prospect. It’s a high risk game that involves playing your trumps at the right time and balancing playing the full hand against keeping one last ace in reserve – just in case!

It’s a very difficult call to use substitutes correctly. Personally, I would love to see James using the second strategy more as sometimes, like many other commentators, I think he shuffles the deck and still plays the same cards. But then I’m not the man who has to weigh everything up, work out the permutations and pull the strings at the right time to get the desired result. I don’t envy him, it’s a hugely difficult job, but I wish him every success in Mayo’s drive to September.

Keep the Faith!

82 thoughts on “Playing the cards

  1. Excellent piece of reading WJ. I stood on the sideline once, for a junior team. It was a brief term and I found that I was not very good at it. I have been slow to criticise ever since. The guy who shows up well in training has a bad day. The guy that is not rated among his peers but attends every training session excells and the rest of the squad are not happy about that. It is not a push button task as you outlined. It is not an exact science. as some people believe.

  2. How many inter county managers could win matches from the sideline.
    I can only remember 3 or 4
    1.Tull Dunne—the best of all
    2. Kevin Hefferran
    3.Pete Mc Grath
    4. Jack O Connor–High balls in on a small Mayo FBL
    The likes of Boylan & O Dwyer were clueless on the line.

  3. When I was playing rugby in Dublin at a decent level, your replacements job was to provide “energisers” what this was, was a new person onto the field provided something positive like a big tackle, a forced turnover, a score etc something to improve the team’s fortunes. Like Andy Moran did coming on against Roscommon. Against Cork Alan Freeman provided this with a turnover leading to maidens goal, Gibbons did with a good run and pass (unselfishly) for Keegan! Point I’m making is our bench regardless of what category above they fall into don’t always directly impact the game, and that’s a big problem. we have some hugely skilled lads to come into games but for whatever reason don’t have the impact all the time

  4. Good post Willie Joe.

    Another variation, I think, and I think JH is doing this, is to think of the team as a 20 man panel and select accordingly; substitutions then tend to fall into place as Andy and Dillo demonstrated against Roscommon.

    However, that approach suggests that many of the panel get game time. Looking at the stats, Diarmaid O’C, Mickey C, Jason, Barry, Enda V., Freezer, Harrison have all had a reasonable amount of game time, and have been interchanged well on a 20 man match panel. Some have been starved though; Richie, Mikey Sweeney, Tom Parsons (who seems to have disappeared), Darren Coen, and indeed David Drake. I still think there’s a role for Sweeney, but it’s getting harder to see it for the others.

  5. What about throwing on a sub in injury time? Mayo do a lot of that which seems pointless and only insults the player.

    You are permitted 6 subs. Dublin always have 5 used between 45-60th minute. This allows them finish with 1/3rd fresh players, they also rotate their forward line throughout the game to give players a break. Some players are clearly told to run themselves into the ground for 40-50 minutes.
    Mayo only make subs when things go wrong (or player asks to be taken off as per COC and AOS v Cork) and consequently tend to fade out in big matches (Dublin in league, Cork, Dublin in 2012 and 2013, Derry in league semi). Any Sub put in for the last 5-10 mins needs 5 mins to get up to speed and make an impact. Players in middle 8 are generally shot by 55mins so Mayo lose ground between 50 and 65 mins, which is where the all Ireland was lost last year. We don’t appear to have learned those lessons yet.

  6. I would be critical of Horans subs .
    I don’t think they are very well thought out.

    In the last game alone he took of Kevin Mc as blood and replaced him with Conroy . Conroy is not and never was a half forward .

    Of our subs we have
    A Utility player Feeney – Half Back and Half forward line
    A Full Forward – Freeman
    A creative Forward – Sweeney
    A Strong Center forward in Conor O Shea
    A talent for the future in D O Conor

    After that we have corner forwards in Varley and Conroy who arent of the required level.

    I think Carolan is a massive loss as he was a pace merchant something we dont currently have

  7. JR Iagree with your points that are well made and knowledgeable. I disagree with your choice of number 4. OConnor was successful with the likes of Mayo and Cork but failed against the heavy weights like Tyrone and Dublin. In 2008 I was sitting beside Kerry supporters who made no secret of what they thought of their manager. Yes a very good kerry manager but not in the caliber of Heffo and the others

  8. Preparation/tactics very important.
    Cork footballers poor in Munster final; much better v Mayo.
    Cork hurlers poor v,admittedly, very good Tipperary.
    Our preparation under James has always been good.
    Unlikely,if no injuries,to be anymore than one change for Sunday,maybe Donie returning to defence. If so,make up of forward line will hint at Mayo’s tactics.
    Ger always looks better if he patrols traditional full-back area and should deal with whoever Kerry stations there.
    No point putting big man in at full-forward late in the game if we are behind.Almost impossible to win clean ball then and can be broken only to those who will be surrounded/swamped by at that stage packed defence.
    Alan F.,good freetaker and good in the air is not fast and therefore not able to make killing runs off the ball.
    Declan O’S. is still dangerous,has damaged Mayo seriously in past and needs to be marked tightly.
    Still believe this is going to be the golden year.

  9. Expect ger caff to mark JOD, cunniffe on geaney and Higgins on dec o Sullivan, if he roams out that will suit Higgins. Contrary to popular media opinion Higgins is not and never has been a man marker. No question of double marking Jod, not our style.
    Caff will take care of JOD. Only question is Vaughan at 7 and gibbons at m/f or Barrett retained.

  10. Mickey Harte is the best manager I’ve seen from a tactical viewpoint anyway. Took a side who had never won an all Ireland and won 3 titles in 6 years. Unbelievable when you think of it really. His substitution off and then on again of Peter Canavan in 2003 was one of the great changes in recent AI final history, lifted the crowd and swung momentum back in Tyrone’s favour. Hopefully Horan will write his own piece of history in the coming weeks.

  11. It’s hard to think of another occasion on which Mayo came into an AISF with such uncertainty about their form. 12 months ago, having humiliated the All-Ireland champions, we felt unbeatable going in against Tyrone. 12 months before that we were quietly confident that we’d pip the Dubs after our demolition of Down. 2011 was different; despite shocking Cork, we knew Kerry were clear favourites, having Gooch, Galvin, Tomás Ó Sé etc. in their ranks.

    Maybe 2006 is the closest recent parallel. Leaving Croke Park after the replay win over Laois, this supporter hadn’t the first idea what Mayo we’d see in the semi. And what a game that turned out to be… but I digress.

    The uncertainty right now is not about Mayo’s ‘peaking’ strategy. The world and its mother knows that JH and co. are trying to hit full intensity for Sunday – and, hopefully, four weeks from Sunday. Should Mayo 2014 be capable of the same things they were in 2013, that’s clearly the way to go. From the scalding of Galway in May through the trimmings of Roscommon, London and Donegal, Mayo between May and August weekend 2013 were the best team in the country.

    But that’s the big question – are Mayo ’14 capable of hitting that midsummer ’13 vein of form again?

    The signs are mixed. Roscommon was a long day. An inability to take our first-half chances allowed a defensive home team to drag us into a dogfight – but the finale showed that Mayo could still dig it out. Galway in the final was a strange performance. Purple patches of brilliance mixed with worrying defending. 16 points and a penalty conceded, but always the impression that if required, there was more in the tank.

    Against a wounded Cork, it looked like Mayo got a bigger challenge than they were expecting. The raw hunger was there for all to see in the fierce tackling, the counter-attacking, the power surge in the third quarter and the steely response to the two Cork goals. Not to mention putting 1-19 on Cork, something that should never be unappreciated.

    But the defence looked alarmingly porous. This is meant to be our strongest unit. All-Stars abound. Why does it look so unsure of itself?

    For sure, Chris Barrett isn’t, and couldn’t be expected to be, match-sharp. His men took him for 5 if not 6 points in the first half. JH was too loyal here: a substitution was required. And as usual, the half-backs going upfield is leaving our full-back line exposed, particularly to teams running at us. JH attempted to remedy this somewhat with the sweeper the last day: Cork bypassed this with accurate ball. If we’re going this route again, there needs to be a rethink on how to use that extra defender.

    On the flipside, James is developing options around the MF and HF lines. Against Roscommon the O’Sheas were at 8 and 9; against Galway it was Seamus and Barry Moran, with Aidan at 11; against Cork, S O’S and Vaughan (interchanging with Aidan at 11). Now factor in Jason Gibbons.

    If you’re Eamonn Fitzmaurice, the questions are: who will partner S O’S at midfield? Who will the CF be? Kudos are due to JH here – for once the opposition will be doing the guessing.

    Upfront, it’s looking better. Jason Doherty is cementing his place. His physicality in the tackle is notable, and in three halves of championship football this year he has kick-started the scoring with long-range points. We still need more scores from him, but it looks like we’ll get them. Kevin McLoughlin always gives you work-rate, intelligence and scores, and looks back to his 2012 form.

    Aidan O’Shea at 11 is working so far; another huge man for kickouts and very difficult to stop when charging through the middle. Hopefully he draws more frees and cards on Sunday.

    Cillian hit two from play the last day and, despite a few wides, was nerveless when the crucial frees had to be nailed. Alan Dillon clearly stepped up from the Galway game.

    Is Andy Moran coming into form? We live in hope of him recovering his pre-cruciate level but there is no sign of it yet. He’s trying his heart out, as always, but his cutting edge of old doesn’t look to be there. The second point he scored against Cork, just before his substitution, suggests that he may be more of a threat from the HF line where he’d get a little more breathing space.

    Andy’s continued selection ahead of, say, Alan Freeman brings up another feature of Mayo ’14. Despite trying out several promising-looking options in the League, JH has gone back to the tried and tested, and it would be a notable surprise if anyone other than Varley, Conroy, Freeman or Gibbons comes off the bench into the forward line on Sunday.

    Despite the public wooing of Gavin Duffy, the suspicion is that JH will remain conservative with his substitutions when it comes to the crunch.

    And it will come to the crunch on Sunday. Kerry were no better against Galway in the QF than they were against Cavan last year, but look at the leap in intensity between that and their semi-final performance against Dublin. Yes, they don’t have Gooch; but O’Donoghue has improved hugely. Mayo will have to pay him special attention, which in turn will free up other players to do their stuff. And Kerry won’t mind that all the O’Donoghue talk will take the attention off Declan O’Sullivan, the real dangerman.

    Regardless of personnel, Kerry is always the Acid Test. The Audit. If you have weaknesses, Kerry will find them, exploit them and punish you severely. They’ve been doing it for a hundred years.

    Should Mayo prevail on Sunday, then not only will JH have guided us to a third consecutive AIF appearance – unprecedented in Mayo football – but he will have managed Mayo to championship victories over every major power in the current game: Kerry, Dublin, Donegal, Cork, Tyrone, Galway.

    That kind of record would support Michael Foley’s suggestion in the Sunday Times that this Mayo team are ‘the greatest team never to win an All-Ireland’. Except, of course, that they would be back in September, knocking at the biggest door, looking to put that right.

  12. I agree re Harte, and that was an awesome move he did with Canavan, for sure. Memorable.

    On Freeman, I still feel that if our foot-passing into him improves, he can show effectively enough to receive the ball without maybe having pace to burn. If on form, he is very dangerous and a handful for any defense and has the capacity to have them tied up in knots all day long. If this clicked, we’d have the likes of Doc, Cillian, and Kevin to hand also, with the big man running through the middle for good measure! Not bad if it works!
    Obviously if Freezer is picked, we have to avoid a repeat of the league game v Dublin in Croker regards the supply of ball. It’s hard to know what was up that day – bad ball or an off-day from him. On another day though, we’ve seen him catching a few of those balls and winning a free or taking a score. I’m inclined to think that the ball going in wasn’t great. That said, I don’t think he needs the perfect ball – he is well able to forage and get ahead of his man. And his turnover the last day showed me that he has the appetite for it. I would love to see him either start or come on as an early sub on Sunday. He will feel he has a point to prove I’m sure.

    I must say, Aidan named at 11 is something that I didn’t see coming prior to the last few games and I would have been the first to criticise it. He has been a constant threat and it has to add to the general unpredictability for the opposing team. It is also vital leadership in the area of the field where we need it most.

    Now that it’s pretty much mid-week, the wait is increasingly hard!!

  13. I cant understand all this fuss with o donoghue media have favs for Foyt 2014 he good but as good as gooch that’s why want mayo to beat Kerry and beat them well.

  14. Can anyone tell me how decent the seat are in row QQ? I have a feeling I will be well back under the corporate boxes.

  15. As far as I can see Dublin have a pretty simple philosophy when it comes to making substitutions, any player that is not playing well, they take him off, whether thats in the fifth minute or the sixty fifth minute of the game. In general the player who comes on then plays better than the player taken off. Unfortunately at times Mayo seem to do the opposite, take off a player who is doing well and replace them with someone who plays worse. In fairness to James Horan in his four years as a manager we have had so many big wins there has not been that many games that he has had to make tactical changes in, to change the dynamic of the game, unfortunately for him the two All-Ireland finals have been two such games. Also we should remember that he went straight from club management into inter county senior management. Most managers come up through the ranks. Jim Gavin managed the Dublin U21s for a number of years. Jim McGuinness and Eamonn Fitzmaurice also did stints as U21 managers with Donegal and Kerry. Mickey Harte came up through the ranks as well from minor, U21 and then as senior Tyrone manager. Enda Gilvarry, our minor manager is not slow to make changes and usually he makes the right changes as well. He has done a great job to date. Sunday will be the biggest test of his management career so far.

  16. Thanks mister mayor.It just shows the section I just wanted to know how far back ill be. Ill find out on the day. The Kerry people believe that if it comes down to tactics then fitzmaurice will be cuter than Horan.Here’s hoping Horan gets the match ups right. midfield will be a huge battle for us and Kerry will make it that way.I can see them crowding out our kick outs around the middle of the park.So we need to be strong and accurate with kick outs and win the dirty ball.

  17. Row A is pitch side, back to Z. Then AA back to ZZ. From about EE (in Cusack stand) you will be under cover from the rain. QQ is a bit higher up than the steps you come up out into the stand.

  18. Interesting posts re substitutions – but the bigger questions is – what has changed in the last 12 months that would inspire us that we can win the All-Ireland this time around?

    I think we have to ask ourselves as objectively as we can – what are the differences this year over the latter stages of our campaign last year ?

    We are not playing near as well or as fluently as last year and this is being put down to our fitness programme being designed to peak a month later than last year.
    We are winning tight games, which can be a good thing, or if you ask why are they so tight in the first place, you may not be so happy?
    I hope that a more gradual arrival at peak fitness is the case but I don’t buy in to that theory as one that will get us over the line, and win the long awaited Championship.

    Here is what I think is a fair representation of what is different ( better, worse or similar) now over the end of last season.

    Our kick-outs are better, but Caff in particular and most recently Chris Barrett (albeit after returning from injury) are not in near the form they were in last year. So no real pluses (but rather the concession of many more scores and goals in particular) from what was the best defence in 2013 is very worrying!

    OK, you can give Chris more time (don’t start him but bring him on later) with Donal returning to the back line and hopefully Caff. gets stuck in so we can resurrect the rear-guard action of last year.

    A big plus for me is the form and renewed appetite that AOS is delivering and Jason Gibbons (our stand out player in the National League) could now slot in comfortably with SOS ( Man of the Match the last day) in midfield

    Jason Doc had a great game v Cork and worked really hard to stop Cork breaking out – this is a big plus over last year. Similarly, with Cillian who is thankfully injury free. When he gets the ball and a sight of the posts, he is slotting them over, albeit that he was bullied a bit against Cork and needs to push back.

    I would hold the vast experience and long established ability of Andy and Alan Dillon for impact subs to do their business against a more tired opposition back line in the second half.

    As with Jason Gibbons, I’d also start Alan Freeman (at 14) and not too many would probably argue with that.

    Where it gets controversial would be my choice at 12 – I’d have Richie Feeney there, so my starting forwards would be: Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea, Richie Feeney,
    Jason Doherty, Alan Freeman, & Cillian O’Connor.

    I’m not sure what happened before the AIF last year between James Horan and Richie Feeney but something did. Not so long ago in the current campaign, there was another confrontation of some sort and despite what I’m convinced he could offer Mayo he is being slung in the wilderness with embarrassing last minute introductions as a cameo sub.

    It’s nonsense, just as is the refusal to recognise what Mikey Sweeney could bring to the Mayo forward line. So you can put your house on those two fine players not starting and lucky to get a short run, if they make the subs at all. Such is the game of ‘blind mans bluff’ that seems to be going on!

    So what has changed in the last 12 months – little or nothing thanks to management’s seemingly resistance to change – otherwise described by many as an over reliance on old fashioned loyalty! They even still embarrass most of us with some of the substitutions that impact favourably for the opposition, instead of us! It’s crazy but there you go, and I’m sure some will disagree.

    Robbie Hennelly; Better with kick outs now – looser in front of him now!
    Tom Cunniffe, As good as last year
    Ger Cafferkey, Not playing near as well as last year
    Keith Higgins; As good as last year
    Lee Keegan As good as last year
    Colm Boyle, As good as last year
    Chris Barrett; Not playing as well as last year
    Donal Vaughan As good as last year
    Seamus O’Shea As good as last year
    Kevin McLoughlin As good as last year
    Aidan O’Shea Better than last year
    Jason Doherty Better than last year
    Cillian O’Connor Better than last year/ injury free (didn’t score from play in AIF)
    Andy Moran Not playing as well as last year – should be an impact sub!
    Alan Dillon Jury out – scored 3 the last day but poor work rate. + Didn’t score in AIF!
    Michael Conroy (blood) for McLoughlin, Enough said by others on that!
    Enda Varley for Moran, More than enough said on this too!
    Brendan Harrison for Barrett, Brendan is a good sub for the backs.
    Alan Freeman for O’Connor, Alan is still not being allowed to develop at 14
    Jason Gibbons for AO’Shea, Jason our only big addition, if he gets to play!
    Michael Conroy for Dillon. Definitely enough said!

    Plus here’s a reminder of the team from the AIF v Dublin last September:
    Robbie Hennelly;
    Tom Cunniffe,
    Ger Cafferkey,
    Chris Barrett;
    Lee Keegan
    Donal Vaughan,
    Colm Boyle;
    Aidan O’Shea,
    Seamus O’Shea
    Kevin McLoughlin,
    Keith Higgins
    Alan Dillon;
    Cillian O’Connor
    Alan Freeman,
    Andy Moran
    Michael Conroy for Freeman?
    Cathal Carolan for Cunniffe,
    Enda Varley for Dillon?
    Barry Moran for Seamus O’Shea,
    Jason Doherty for Andy Moran.

    We may just about get by Kerry if we’re very lucky but I fear a Dubs team, picked as it is on form, will eat us alive. I really hope I’m wrong, but from where I am, the question is – Not enough has changed!

  19. with regard to Subs and impact players coming from the Bench i really cant understand why Horan persists with Varley and Conroy i dont know,.
    Correct me if i’m wrong but i cant remember at Club or county level when Varley last had a good game.
    During the league we used Adam Gallagher and a few more and we performed fairly well up front but since the start of the Championship we are back to the usual suspects coming on and making no impact at all.

    i worry too about Andy Moran as the Last day against Cork he was a pale shadow of himself. when he starts floating out the field you know he is not beating his marker.

  20. Would Richie not be THE “Utility” sub? Honest lad, Experience all over the field, Cool under pressure… It’s old ground. But, something that needs to be addressed. Every lad on that squad has their place. But, Feeney is still the Elephant in the room. And if it is personal, that is not proper management!

  21. MrT You invited me to contradict you and I will. Clearly you have not attended a game in Garry for a while. While I am at it, take in a game involving Irishtown Davitts also. Its very easy through stones from the sideline.

  22. Don’t want to repeat myself but just in response to comments regarding Ger’s form as well as Andy’s.

    Just watched the game again last night against Cork. 3rd viewing. Paid particular attention to Andy Moran’s and Ger Caff’s performances.

    In Andy’s 46 mins on the pitch he gave the ball away twice (It was reported as 5 in the first half in the Mayo News. Factually incorrect).

    Of 9 50-50 balls played to him he won 7. 2 of those led to frees. That’s 78% success.

    Of 12 attempted passes, he completed 11 of them. 4 of those directly led to points. 92% success.

    Of 2 shots, he scored 2. 100% success.

    In the 18 minutes after Andy was withdrawn, we scored 1 point.

    As a footnote, Cillian kicked 4 wides in the first half. God help Andy if he kicked 4 wides.

    He slipped 3 times, one of which ended up being a free.

    Ger Cafferky.

    Colm O’Rourke at half time: “Hurley and O’Neill are absolutely making hay against Ger Cafferky”

    In the full first half, Ger’s man scored a total of 0 points. Chris Barrett was marking Hurley early on, who scored 3 points. Then they switched. Hurley didn’t score off Caffarkey once after that. O’Neill then scored 2 off Chris, but scored none off Ger. Local papers reported that Ger was “jittery and not in his usual form”. On close inspection of the first half yesterday, he did absolutely nothing wrong for the whole first half.

    Ger won 5 possessions in the 75 minutes of play.

    He conceded 2 points. One was a free he had given away in front of the posts. You may remember the “advantage” decision after 54 minutes.

    The second was a free right at the death where he kicked the ball out of play while Hurley (I think) went to pick it up. Possibly harsh.

    The man he was marking at any stage during the game did not score a single point from play. Not bad for a man who is jittery.

    As a side note, that was great fun last night and I intend to do more of it!

    If we don’t start Andy, we could be in trouble after 45 minutes. He contributes way to much during the game. His game intelligence, vision and accuracy is just outstanding.

  23. Mr T we started with two lads who were definitely not the usual suspects v Ros but they were taken off and have not played since while the usual suspects have played their parts in taking us to a fourth AISF in a row. As regards criticism of Andy Moran being beaten by his man . Watch a re run of Conn Final and tell me did Finian Hanley beat him. Look at the performances by Mayo attack AFTER Andy was taken off v Galway and cork and BEFORE he came on v Ros. As regards other posters and their comments on JH subs. Well I don’t know JH but I reckon that football wise he must be a reasonably good manager and a reasonably intelligent operator. After all he took over the job after defeats to Sligo and Longford and brought us some success so to suggest he refuses to play players who might help us win an AI which he has spent 4 years trying to do out of vindictiveness and personal agendas is just not something I can believe. He has put huge effort and energy into this job. Surely anything or anyone who helps us get over the line would be utilised. He attends training he sees players perform, he IS the manager. Maybe there are certain players he does not rate as highly as some of us posters do and maybe their are others that he rates more highly than we do. That’s his job and in fairness to him he has done quite well so far.

  24. Hard to disagree with what tompkins is saying, it harsh but there is some truth in it. You cant blame the manager for all the wide we hit in last years AIF

  25. Good post there Mayo Mark.

    Re Andy his slipping was a problem and didn’t look good. But, as you say his awareness and vision are top class – his quick free to Donie a good example of that. You have put a good case but I still have doubts; these doubts though are when doubts rather than if. In a 20 man game, does it matter if Andy starts or finishes as long as there is an impact.

    The case for Caff is good too, but the FB line as a whole looks vulnerable and must be protected more.

  26. True Catcol but would he have a much bigger impact coming on as he did in the rosscommon game, i think he would and it would give team and crowd a greater lift.

  27. Good post by MayoMark.

    I think we would be better served giving Andy a rest either by not starting him or taking him off and putting him back on again. But we need him for the last 20 min when the game is there to be one.

  28. It does not bother me that Tomkins and now the Kerry manager is on about Mayo physically and you knwo what I never heard teams like Cork or Kerry on about us like that before…it was always “nice Mayo good clean footballers, play the game the right way” – teams now fear this Mayo setup. We need to go out and stick it to em Sunday.

    As for Tomkins article….tough but truth in some parts. Our key players have not stood up and performed in final after final and thats the truth.

  29. Thanks for location on row QQ and Nephin Fitzmaurice will not have factored in for me at full back. There in for it now 🙂

  30. I had a strange dream last nite. That radio kerry fella Wishie was interviewing horan and said to him shar nothing can stop the Dubs . Horan turned and said no your rite the dubs are unstoppable . Wishie buck says seriously can anyone take them ? Horan looks him in the eye and says “yea” Who Wishie asks , We can Horan replies. Hon Mayo!!!!!

  31. As we’re on about dreams I had one, that we scrapped past Kerry and then Donegal beat Dublin.
    In the Dublin match the pitch was in shite because of the American Football game the day before and 20 minutes in Cluxton hurt his lef kicking a divot instead of the ball and had to go off. Dublin fell apart and we beat Donegal in the final

  32. While Tompkins has made some valid points his phrase about some of our players “lacking stomach” is a bit harsh. What does it mean exactly. Could he be accused of something similar in deserting his native county in search of football riches. One Kildare man told me Tompkins didn’t have the “stomach” to soldier on with Kildare. And as for his new county, well they had serious stomach upset v Kerry in football and Tipp last sunday in the hurling. Some gaviscon please.

  33. I’m afraid if you all had good dreams I’ve had a nightmare and I’m not even asleep, those Kerry forwards are the best in the country, well ahead of Dublin .look what they did in last years semi final to Dublin. They have been cruising all year, look what they have done to Cork and Galway already without breaking sweat. Make no mistake if they score 4 or 5 goals on Sunday will anyone be that surprised. Honestly think we are in for a hammering and cannot bear to go to game because of this. Will watch on tv with one eye closed as I know what’s coming.

  34. The same auld usual shite written about Mayo around this time EVERY year. We should be well used to it now at this stage. All a lot of them do is show up their own poor so called “Journalistic skills” The day they stop writing anything about us is the day to start getting worried! Some very very poor quality articles written about us the last few day, some “journalists” reporting factually inaccurite reports, and some, in “their stats” of Mayo the last few years not even mentioning match’s THAT WE WON!!

  35. J Moore – I think you might be better off at home alright. Sure you can go to the final if you think we might win it…

  36. Mayo mark

    Thank you for your post, Good to actually get facts, not bs talk.

    Just one Q on Andy, did you include times he fell going for ball, or when ball hopped off him.


  37. I read Tomkins comments on Mayo. Thats the kind of material that would get be rearing to go especially if i was Dillon. So overall i think it will have a positive outcome .However when he talks about lack of stomach he would know after seen Cork in the munster final and league final this year.He didnt mention that though because he would get put in his place by his pals in Cork so id question his own stomach or lack of it 🙂

  38. I wouldnt be bother by what larry says…he and the rest of Cork are still over loosing to us (whom they consider inferior) and on top of that, loosing the hurling semi rubs salt into the the wounds. Its tough when ur knocked out of the chamionship!I
    On another note, I read Darragh’s piece in the IT…nothing new really, seriously could we really expect him to back Mayo…against his own? c’mon now..I think he’s making Kerry try feel a bit better going into a game that they might loose and loose badly. Just saying.

  39. Andy & Alan have nailed starting places. Andy playing well & not looking tired when subbed v Cork. A Dillon not just scoring but great decision making v Cork. Vaughan back to half backs & Higgins needed most in Fb line. That means either Gibbons or B Moran in, most likely Gibbons as frees up AOS for CHF. B Moran ‘s only other option is FF but Andy and & A Freeman ahead in that option. Subs then Freeman, Feeney if needed in HF for Dillon, B Moran, Sweeney or Coen. Harrison, Keane & Barrett are the backs we might need.

  40. Mayo mark
    “Thank you for your post, Good to actually get facts, not bs talk.
    Just one Q on Andy, did you include times he fell going for ball, or when ball hopped off him.”

    Yes, everything was included.

  41. F coyne , mayo were beaten by slightly better teams in the last 2 all Ireland’s. Me thinks u might be a bitter Rossie stirring the pot ! !

  42. F Coyne NO acknowledgement so for the brilliant team and management of 2014. So far they have only finished 2nd in the league top table. Notched up 4 in a row in Connacht for the first time in a long time. Currently standing on the eve of playing football in September amongst the elite teams of 2014. Easy for us all to see where you are coming from. son.

  43. Mr Coyne,

    Any chance we could borrow that lovely bus ye purchased earlier in the year. As you are no doubt aware there is a rail strike and our supporters require transport to Croke Park in late August for the 4th year in a row. We may well lose on Sunday, we may well win, but I can say with confidence that ye will NEVER have the worries of transport to Croke Park in late August and September.
    On a positive note I hear that Tipp have contacted ye’re county board with a lease proposal, be a shame to leave that bus idle for 8 months of the year.

    Yours in Sport.

  44. When the advert comes on for the game , the nerves really start, Doc smashin the Galway net is a good image though.

    I think if we get over the first 20 mins without conceding a goal , we will be okay , I know it’s cliche to go on about the first few mins but it would be a disaster if Kerry were to smash the net a couple of times in the opening 20 mins. I hope we are conservative/negative in the first few mins just to steady it up and not let them dictate the game by gettin a start.

  45. I know Larry Tompkins went over the top and I didn’t like to see him name specific players but his basic premise is: Why can’t we produce our best performances on the biggest day, All-Ireland final day? You sometimes think that its like the Alcoholic who can’t solve his problems until he admits that he has a problem. We should not be in denial either. We do have a problem, we don’t produce our best when its needed most when the All-Ireland medals are dangling in front of our noses. We can produce super performances in quarter and semi-finals but not in the final. The mantra after last years final was that our skills let us down on the day, why did they? They didn’t let us down in the quarter or the semi-finals. Last year Bernard Brogan stepped up to the plate and produced a great performance in the final, Michael Murphy did it the year before, Maurice Fitzgerald did in 97. Why can’t a Mayo player do this in a final? Our players are well capable of doing it in quarter or semi-finals. They should be well capable of doing in the final as our minors did last year. The most important line in the article I think is (A player must be able to keep total concentration. That is where Mayo are falling down.) We have talked about the goals we concede after we score one this is a symptom of losing concentration. We have done really well to keep coming back, this shows great resilience, taking the final step is what we are missing. James Horan has done a great job in constantly improving us. Larry Tompkins injured his knee ligaments in an All-Ireland final but he still played on and played well too so thats where he is coming from, he is challenging the Mayo players to produce their best on the biggest day, I wouldn’t agree with the way that he did it but at the end of the day its up to the players themselves to grab those All-Ireland medals dangling in front of their noses, no one else can grab them for them. Now thats one dream I would like to see become a reality.

  46. Didn’t Larry loose back to back so in 87,88 before beating you no who in 89 did anyone question their stomach.some assholes have short memories

  47. Mayo should do a tipp on Kerry and they can do it. If tipp can beat cork surly mayo can beat Kerry I fancy tipp to down the cats.

  48. I think the world of James Horan but sometimes he fails to think on his feet and his decision to take Andy off the last day is a prime example.

    Andy hadn’t been going as well as maybe expected but in the ten minutes before he was substituted he scored two points, had an assist for a score and won a free that was scored. It seems to me that James had made the decision to sub Andy and went through with it but should have reversed the decision when Andy’s play definitely improved. Andy was furious coming off the field and I was amazed as his contribution had been excellent in the period just before he was taken off. Why substitute a player when he has hit his stride ? It didn’t make any sense to me and our performance definitely dipped after he left the field. It could have cost us the match !

    That kind of stuff worries me, a bit like his failure to move Higgins back up the field in last year’s AIF when O’Gara was clearly injured.

  49. I’ve booked a two night stay in Dublin for this weekend in May of this year. I want to be able to enjoy our semi final win without having to travel down the road straight after. I’m thinking about heading into Bowes on Saturday. I was wondering if a few of ye in here will be going too. I’m a little shy and socially awkward and was just wondering who will be going? I feel I kinda know a few of ye already through the blog and that’s not a bad thing. I haven’t been out on my own in Dublin since sometime in 1984. The way WJ runs this site is a credit to him and I feel like I can safely contribute my thoughts and feeling and unquenchable passion for the green and red without fear of ridicule and cheapshots.

    Thanks WJ and all who contribute to this unique site.

  50. Lads, what was “f coyne” saying on this blog? I see his comments have been deleted, im curious as to what was said.I know for a fact alot of Rossies read and comment on this blog, aswell as a few sneaky Dubs haha.

  51. In fairness to the management they withdrew Andy when the game looked like it was moving out of sight for Cork. We had just gone 5 up I think and we were cruising. Ok he looked annoyed but you can see the logic from the sideline.

    The game looks won so it’s time to bring in some other fellas and see what they can provide. Although I have to say that Enda Varley wouldn’t have been my choice either. I would have put a straight substitution for Freeman then on that stage to see if he could push the FF line on further.

  52. Hi All,
    The very best of luck to you all on Sunday, I think it will be a great match….and Juan I would also like to see what this guy F Coyne said…it must have been very harsh if WJ deleted it straight away.

    Kind Regards and Best of Luck,
    Martin the Dub (Not a Sneaky Dub Juan!!)

  53. Anyone know when the team is expected to be announced. Tomorrow or Friday night? My thoughts on whether one or both of Alan and Andy should start has swung away from bringing both on as impact subs after reading some of the solid, convincing comments made about their contribution the last day. I’m now swinging in the other direction. It’s no easy job picking a team!

  54. Don’t worry Martin the dub I wasn’t aiming that at you at all, you have your colours well and truly nailed to the good luck to youself sunday week, i hear jimmy has been working on a master plan for over 3 months to beat ye, dont think he’ll be “winning matches” on the 31st ha.

  55. Martin am sure our lord jim mcgunnines will have a plan for the dubs wonder what they will do with Connolly hope he keeps his cool. Good luck next week

  56. lads and lassies in the week before every big match the media go into overdrive asking anyone and everyone in the GAA scene for their opinion . And we are fed a litany of soundbites and cliches and b.s. and s***-stirring dressed up as educated comments but in reality these experts know as little (and maybe some of them less) than the rest of us. So pay no attention to whats’ been reeled out from the Larrys and the Eugenes and even the F Coynes. The only ones matter have been training tonight i’d guess and don’t need anyone to tell them how dangerous Kerry are and how much effort will be needed on Sunday from the starting 15, the subs and the sideline.

    James Horan and this fine bunch of players have done their utmost to deliver the holy grail and over the past 3 years have shown what they are capable of. They have taken the scalps of all the top teams and despite the disappointment they keep coming back. Can someone explain to me how anyone could say a team like that doesn’t have the ‘stomach’. What a load of bull !!! If there;s a team out there with more stomach I’d like Larry to tells us who it is. Cork ???
    So close and so far but Mayo haven’t given up and I’m sure they won’t be found wanting on Sunday

    Best of luck to seniors and minors !!!

  57. I know it’s asking a lot of James, he has plenty to think about this week, but I hope he doesn’t forget to have about 20 burly Belmullet men , ready to lock the gates on Sunday and make them watch it.

  58. The comments from Larry Tomkins say more about his state of mind than it says about any player he has mentioned. He seems a bitter man. Great to see Mayo Mark and others correcting those that seek to distort the facts about Andy and Ger Caff. We have not been as impressive as last year but we are at the stage we were at last year and still have room to improve. If we do we will beat Kerry and that can not be a bad thing.

  59. Thomkins is attempting to get Mayo fired up as he hates Kerry with a passion. He is fearful Kerry may win and would love to give Mayo a bit of ammunition, an extra edge to get the job done. I believe but for the injuries to Andy Moran and Cillian O’Connor, your two marque forwards, Mayo would have a least won one of the last two All Irelands. He did not address this. Andy unfortunately is not the same player since but Cillian is the number one player to watch from our point of view next Sunday.

    I expecting a very close game and a big improvement from both teams. We will have to bring our A game to have a chance as I’m worried about the form of Anthony Maher which is very poor for the past two years. Half expecting he will be dropped. Excited though about our young guns, two of which are forwards which should be household names in the not too distant future. With seemingly two good minor teams going at it as well, can’t wait ’till Sunday.

  60. @redrawrotten
    “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”
    ? Albert Einstein

  61. PJMacmanus

    Easy on Now!
    i have actually watched and played against Varley many times in the past Few years at both championship and league and my judgement is based on his performances in those matches (10-12 approx).

    With regard to Conroy i never said he performed badly for Davitts as he usually is their top performer along with Boyler. My only real issue is that when he is brought on as a sub in the 2nd half he makes little or no impact to proceedings

    I used to judge from the middle of the Field but now i judge from the sideline as injuries, kids, work etc dont all bode well for the GAA playing career these days

  62. Thanks Cait and Juan…to be fair Connolly has had some serious attacks thrown at him in training and actually seems to be behaving really well….I do have a slight concern for MD McCauley (a great player) but very hot headed. I am sure Donegal will have a plan but sure all we can do is our best and see how it goes….thanks again for the best wishes cheers

    Kind Regards,
    Martin the Dub

  63. MayoMark
    We dont agree on everything but your post on Cafferkey and Moran was superb.That is unrivalled analysis and spot on.Pleasure to read.Credit where credit is due.

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