Poll: how will our League campaign finish up?

Now that there’s a small break before the final two rounds of League matches, it seems like an appropriate time to draw breath and consider how the campaign might finish up for us.

The doomsayers were out in force after the first two rounds but their dire mutterings have now been comprehensively trumped by the three wins on the spin that the lads have recorded since then. As a result, while we may still have one eye on the trapdoor (in my view, there’s no need to look in that direction any longer because a Derry win over Kildare at Celtic Park on Sunday week will consign the Lilywhites to relegation along with Westmeath, with a final round of matches still to play) our focus should instead switch to where we stand in relation to the top four and a place in the semi-finals.

So, then, how do you reckon this League campaign will finish up for us?

How will our League campaign finish up?

  • Winners (44%, 115 Votes)
  • Mid-table (23%, 61 Votes)
  • Beaten semi-finalists (16%, 42 Votes)
  • Beaten finalists (13%, 35 Votes)
  • Relegation (3%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 261

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109 thoughts on “Poll: how will our League campaign finish up?

  1. If we beat Dublin in Croker, I believe we will go on and win the League. Progress is steady and confidence, as well as player availability is getting better all the time.
    This will require tightening up at the back and moving Keith back and welcoming TC back too after a week off. That’s assuming Chris still on the injury list.
    It will also need our forwards finishing continuing to improve and display consistency. Andy, Richie and Barry to add completion to the forward push. Kevin Mac, Doc, Freezer and Cillian need to start as they’re really looking the part. And the assist work of Mikey Sweeney is also to be admired.
    By the way is Evan Regan now being added to the senior panel ?

  2. A win over Dublin will more than likely see Dublin not make the semi-final, if that is the case I can see us winning it outright. Beating Dublin wont be easy and will have a far stronger team than they put out against Derry, We have improved game on game, showing hunger and Character in every game, and that is much harder to attain after losing two AI than match fitness, after all they haven’t suddenly become bad players!!
    Keep the Faith and back our team DOOMSAYERS!!

  3. You can be sure the Dubs will put out their strongest team against us, including Connolly. They won’t want to lose again and certainly not to their biggest threat to retaining their titles. So it will be a great test at this stage for Mayo which they can win.

    I think Horan will stick with the same team for once – No hiding places in Croker against the dubs so it will be a good test for Harrison/ McHale/ Gibbons / Sweeney.

  4. Season ticket holders.

    Make sure you check your attendance after each game, because as you know it is crucial that you reach 60% in the event we reach the AIF again. I spotted a problem at the kildare match last week but too late too ammend.

    See reply below

    Thanks for your email.

    I’m afraid we will not be able to update attendance from St Conleth Park as per the terms and conditions of the season ticket:

    “If a Season Ticket holder wishes to challenge a record of attendance, only
    queries sent via email from the account holders email address to
    seasonticket@gaa.ie no later than 10 days after the fixture in question, will be
    considered.”

    See further response on how we can make sure on entry they are scanned which is a bit impractical seeing as someone else is holding the scanner.

    “If a ticket doesn’t scan correctly, it won’t beep and a message will flash up asking it to be scanned again.”

  5. The ball is in Mayos court for the dub game, beaten last year by them in league and championship we owe them a loss and have the power to give it to them if we play at all on the day.
    I have to say this, James Horan and his sidekicks deserve big credit for bringing Mayo from losing to Longford and Sligo to a semifinal and two finals and still have them so focused and driven after all they’ve been through.
    It can’t be easy for players or management, but they really are an inspiration for people, when you get knocked back in life or whatever, get up and keep at it.
    Not to jinx them, but, I can see Mayo winning league and championship 2014

  6. We can do it. Slowly but surely belief is creeping back into the team. It was said beforehand that the Cork game would be a good approximation of where we are as a team and the Dublin game, with the Dubs below us in the table and hurting after last week will be better again. On any given day we are among the top four teams in the country and arguably the top two. While Horan unearthing some fine new players without being relegated is achievement enough we should really be pushing on this stage and bringing back some silverware. It’s not like last year when we had the Galway game to look ahead to, a league final appearance won’t hurt our championship prospects whatsoever.

  7. I agree David, but the big credit was in short supply lto these guys last September when it mattered most. If Dublin are not in the final we could do it

  8. Mister mayor, can you imagine busting your ass training and giving up so much time to try and achieve something only to fail with it nearly achieved, twice?

    I can’t imagine it, but it must really sting. Id say they’ll go through 2014 with a vengeance owing to those final losses

  9. I see no reason why we cannot bate the dubs next week and then go on and bate Derry too. The way I see it, we are beginnign to settle on a few players in the forwards. I see Cillian, Freezer and Sweeney. Some may say Sweeney is not there yet, and I might agree, for he should be scoring. But he’s a clever, fast player from what I’ve seen and deserved a test against the Dubs to play in the open expanses of Croke park.
    Kevin mac is coming back to form as is Doc….that leaves one spot in the forwards up for grabs IMO, and I dont think it should be Keith. I dont know who that could be…depends on the oposition and their posture. If its the Dubs we would/should play an unortodox midfield that could and should be prepared to cover the middle and both wings, to cutoff any cuteness from Cluxton and runs that originate from deep and run along the sidelines. A traditional midfield would leave Aido and Gibbons there….as they are playing really well as a unit at the moment.
    The backs I would like to see Cunniffe and Barrett back in. If we bate the dubs this saturday, James Horan should tell his team, now go on and win this effing thing….
    Btw, I hope he sits up in the stand, the view and perspective on the game can be completely different. If only he had that view last September.

  10. True, I could see that David. If they win both, it would be historic, but I’d settle for Sam 😉

  11. I hope mayo win on sat as we own the dubs one after last year I have nothing against the dubs as their fans are great Craic.

  12. We really played Kildare at the wrong time! They’ve been getting worse with each week it seems, while we’ve been getting better

    Anyway as for the outcome, I went for losing semi-finallist. Obviously it’s all guesswork and stuff but can see us coming 4th and Cork 1st and I fancy the latter to go on and win it outright. I wouldn’t be overly disappointed with that outcome (losing to Cork in Croke Park) by the way, especially if offered it after the first two matches!!

  13. To me I don,t see why we should not push on and try and win the league. We need to get some sort of national title on James Horan cv or all his good work will have counted for nothing.Correct me if im wrong nearly all the teams that won sam over the last ten or fifteen years have won a national league title around the same time with the exception of Galway . but they made the final in 2001.This group of players were only beaten by a point in AI final and I believe if they cannot win a league with 8 teams its dam hard to win Sam.. and we need to learn how to win finals, just my feeling on it …

  14. I am really fearful of the Dubs, I think they are far too mobile for us, cant see us competing with them at midfield or how will we control their forwards. Our defence has being poor all season and cant see it improving against the dubs.

    Would like to say otherwise but dont fancy seeing McHale and Harrision up against pacey Alan Brogan and McManamon/O Gara. We need to change tactics and be compact against them crowd the spaces for runners and choke the play down to our pace from defence to midfield then let halforwards feed Freeman and O Conor at look for returns at pace . We have a chance of goals with Doc Freeman and McLoughlin but genuinely think were better crowding our halfbackline

    Harrison____Caff___Higgins
    Vaughan___Boyle___Drake
    __________Keegan
    ______OShea____Gibbons
    MCLoughlin___Doc__Sweeney
    ______Freeman__Cillian

  15. Willie Joe, I am in red card territory now but I will plough on regardless. Acknowledging your splendid stewardship of the site I feel I must take you to task on your comments re “The Doomsayers”. I am without doubt included in that camp, not by choice nor malice but by years of watching and figuring. That some of us don’t toe the party line, that some of us don’t see green growth under every outing and call it as we see it , should not relegate or divide us into an anti Mayo camp.

    Nor should it see us as in any way inferior or lesser Mayo followers for stating that perhaps all on the emperors mode of dress may not be eye catching. The manager publicly stated that winning the league and hard games on the road were this years priority. Here’s the perfect chance for the team to do that. Beat Dublin, beat Derry, win a semi final and win the final, in other words win the next four games and we win the league.

    The league to me and should be the same for a certain generation of Mayo followers shouldn’t be the albatross it has become. We rank second to Kerry in titles but they have dried up, three losses since 2007. My prediction and belief, and that shouldn’t be castigated into a doomsayer is this. I don’t believe Mayo will beat both Dublin and Derry nor will they win the league. Neither will they be relegated.

    We leak far too much at the back and I personally believe our time for now has passed.That is an opinion honestly held, not an attack on the manager, team or followers. This site is a breath of fresh air, the day it becomes a fanzine is the day we are really in the doldrums. No offence intended but an old mind will speak it the way it sees.

  16. Must say I like the look of this.

    However, I’d say there’s close to no chance we’ll see Higgins lining out at 4 for the rest of the season never mind on sat week

    It’s looking like Horan has him lined up for the half forward role and personally I like the idea though there’s arguments for and against

    Saying that (this isn’t directed at you at all!) I constantly come across comments about putting Higgins back, why isn’t Higgins back etc. At this stage we should just leave James pick the team and put faith in his selection

    I’ve no problem with people questioning the team, but I must say this Higgins talk is getting a bit tiresome personally given it’s brought up every week. It’s looking like barring injury he’s going to be HF and we would be as well off just getting on with it 🙂

  17. i can see where john cuffe is coming from after half acentury of following mayo .and all that entains, i cant see mayo reaching an AI FINAL this year .semi final at best .we came from nowhere after longford defeat,the element of surprise is gone topfour team maybe AI winners not this year.

  18. I hate negaholics with a passion! I equally despise naïve possiblistsI. Give me people with common sense who like to see things as they really are.
    It is in that spirit that I say the following:
    My only worry after last Sep was could they recover and would they have the appetite to give it another lash. Boy have they the appetite back! I reckon right now they’d ate ya without salt for breakfast.
    The truth is that right now they have an awful lot going for them – skill, work rate, strength and conditioning, huge experience, woeful pain and great options in many positions on the field. This is their best chance ever to go all the way. It’s probably their only chance for a number of years to come. Now IS the time.
    For the first time in my almost 50 years following Mayo football I firmly believe we have the best team in Ireland and that it will take one hell of a team to beat them come summertime……..either that or a massive dose of bad luck.
    That is the cold hard truth as I see it. And I strongly suspect JH sees it the same way too.

  19. ONe question for ye should Barry Moran be in full forward need a bit height in there also I agree with the last comment we leak for two much goal against Westmeath and cork.

  20. I’m so undecided about how I see this season going ,I confuse myself.

    We have shown periods of brilliance in some of the games so far, first ten/fifteen mins v Westmeath we were unstoppable , v Cork last week too there were periods we were top drawer but there have been periods in both them games where we were below average and the Tyrone game we weren’t very good at all .

    The dubs in Croke park will be intriguing to say the least and I’m even excited by it if the truth be known but I’m not full of confidence either , it’s more of wait and see with me , maybe I’m just not that good of a reader as to where we are as that’s what my opinion points to. (Undecided)

    We are certainly showing signs of improvements as we tip along, not sure AOS will be sharp enough yet for this next one and that could be crucial , he’s the type of player that is probably looking to be sharp for summer time and it’s more of a pedestrian build up to that level than others .

    If we did beat the dubs though ,I could see us going on to take the league title even.

  21. Based on what we learned last year and so far this year my team at the moment to face the Dubs on Sat week would be Hennelly; Cunniffe, Cafferkey & Higgins; Keegan, Vaughan & Boyle; A O’Shea, S O’Shea; McLoughlin, Gibbons & Doherty; O’Connor, B Moran & Freeman.
    I would be putting the onus on the O’Shea’s big time to track the Dublin midfielders on Cluxton’s kickouts. Getting players to drop back to help is not going to work as it would leave other Dublin players free who would then be the targets for Cluxton. He is as happy to find a corner back on the 20 m line as he is to find a midfielder on the 70 m line.

  22. Good team Outside of the Boot, but I’d integrate two of the Castlebar lads asap after a weeks rest.
    A return to a tighter defence and keeping the form building in the forwards.
    I think we can counter their kick outs by pushing our half back line and midfield forward to crowd the area, with everyone much more alert to them than in the AIF.
    How about?
    Hennelly
    Cunniffe. Caff. Higgins
    Keegan Vaughan. Boyle
    OShea Gibbons
    MCLoughlin. Doc. Feeney
    Sweeney. Freeman. Cillian

  23. First of all, I have to agree with John Cuffe. He speaks it as I also see it.

    I am part of the generation who are subtly scoffed at here ( or so it seems), by some posters. We are blamed for being ( what I call), “cautious” and having doubts about the future of this Mayo team. The first fact is, Mayo have not won an All Ireland for 63 years !!!! Are there people here who think that this is normal and OK?? We have left matches, disappointed and disillusioned, year after year after fucking year.
    Think of the pain and devastation you all felt last September, sick in the guts after us losing, once again, a game we could have and should have won, a game that we lost because of performances both on the field and the side line. Check out the posts after that match to relive your “joy” !!! Now, multiply that by 63 years and it might begin to sink in the hand that history has dealt us. .
    Is that a recipe for “positive thinking”. Does that make us proud that Mayo are one of the top teams in the country, a laughing stock among neutrals?? Don’t anyone tell me that our history isn’t important, that it hasn’t us scarred beyond belief. That goes deep into the psyche and leaves an imprint there that is almost impossible to dislodge.
    What you may not realise is that we also look for the green shoots that emerge year after year and believe me, they do. I see a lot of green shoots, again, this year. But, as a gardener, unless the green shoots are nurtured, well fed, planted in the right place and at the right time, they will not fulfill their potential. Again this year, we have a great team, but unless it plays to it’s potential, corrects its mistakes and changes it’s tactics, it will all be in vain.But if it does do all this, Sam will come to Mayo this year!!!

    Ciaran, about Keith Higgins; in several GAA, TV and Radio programmes this year, panels of players, note players, without exception, could not understand why Keith, (the best attacking corner back in the country, they said), is being constantly tried in the forwards. They also said that moving him around can disrupt his rhythm, that he needs to settle. Now those are successful players and I, for one, would bow to their knowledge.

  24. I’d go along with that team but if Clarke were available I’d prefer him in the goal, I’d also try to give Adam Gallagher some game time , it would be a right good test for him as I expect it to be fairly intense and in a perfect world I’d love to see Evan Regan join the panel.

    Not totally convinced by Sweeney yet either again a game v the dubs in croker will test any newcomer of sorts.

  25. Ya I agree 100 % but don’t know if Horan is sure which position Higgins will play We have options in corners with cunnife and Barrett backup being oreilly Harrison Mchale. But pound for pound Higgins is still the best corner back. I also fear that you be very lucky to have cunnife and Barrett fit all year long

  26. Ya but case in point was all Ireland final o Shea’s can’t stick with Michael Dara or o Sullivan not should we ask them to. We should allow them play to their strengths Be solid and strong field ball diatribe well. Occasionally foray forward kick score. Barry Moran is an option at no 14. But not as a starter that’s Freeman’s to loose.

    A two man full forward line is best suited to freeman and Cillian I think

  27. John Cuffe, a seesaw is useless without someone on the other side. Life would be very boring if we all agreed, all the time.

    I would say that this year for a combination of reasons I think we will consciously peak later. I think that if we drop Keith back and bring in TC, we will regain the reputation of a very tight defence that breaks fast. We also have more tried and tested midfield options this year.

    Up front we have Kevin Mac getting back in to 2012 form. Doc, Freezer and Cillian are showing that they can and will deliver, with Sweeney proving that size isn’t preventing him getting possession and unselfishly setting up scores.

    We have much more strength in depth, and JH is talking with his selectors right through the games – all positives in my view. Are they enough to finish the job this time? I really think so. If have to lose before you win, then we seem to be correcting most of the errors that narrowly lost us the last two. If the will to win is there (and we’ll have good idea after the next math in Croker), I think we can do it, and John Cuffe will be a very happy man!

  28. It’s interesting to note that in the Kerry game we just conceded one goal, compared to at least two in the other games, so far in the league. This was the only game that Keith Higgins played corner-back. You’d wonder was this just a coincidence or was it because Keith’s experience back there helped to shore up the defence.

  29. Winning against Dublin would be a great psychological boost for the year ahead. I thought when we beat Donegal in the league last year it really helped us for the quarter-final game, we played with no fear of losing to them. While the year before they beat us by 10 points in the league and you just got the feeling we were a bit wary of them at the start of the 2012 All-Ireland final. It was the same last year, Dublin beat us quite easily in the league, the semi-final game especially, they really opened us up in the first-half of that game. Then when we played them in the All-Ireland final, there was still a bit of fear in our play, that they could open us up again. So a win on Saturday week, would take away a lot of the myths that the Dubs are well ahead of the chasing pack.

  30. Just want to comment on hennelly granted he is a fine shot stopper and without him in the all Ireland last year we wud have lost by more But it’s my concern with him under the high ball he doesn’t seem to have the “take man,ball,child sort of mentality this is wat worrys me for at least the moment..

  31. The season starts on Sat week. We’ve only had the shadow boxing up to this point.
    I have no problem with either ‘doomsayers’ or ‘mad optimists’.We all have our opinions.
    Keep those views coming is what I say.We have endured more and hoped for more than any other county and so the polarisation of views is to be expected.
    If this is our only problem then we don’t have any problems at all.
    My big fear after the ‘hits’ of the last 2 years was if we would have the appetite to go again. I am pleased to note that we appear well up for it & that the disappointments might actually work in our favour this time. Also pleased with the way the Boss is operating at present after the disappointments of last September.
    Some great posts above & a very good summary by diehard.
    However on the downside there is no room for error & the next six months are going to be merciless …. otherwise this chance for this particular group will pass like time itself.
    We need to start as we mean to go on on Sat week flinging all opposition by the wayside.

  32. Sorry it was 7 points we lost that game by, to Donegal in the 2012 league: 0-17 – 1-7

  33. No offence taken, John, and you’re long enough on the site to know that what you’ve said isn’t remotely close to red card territory. I don’t agree with much of what you’ve said there but there’s always been room on here for different opinions so while I might not agree with you I don’t have any problem with your saying what you have.

    For the record, my reference to ‘doomsayers’ was in relation to those expressing excessively negative views about our prospects based on those two League defeats in February. I don’t think this has anything to do with “years of watching and figuring” which many of us of a more optimistic mindset have also put in nor has it anything to do with toeing the party line (whatever that’s supposed to be). Likewise, I don’t accept for one minute that an ability “to call it as we see it” is the preserve of those with a negative mindset.

    I note what you’ve said about our chances of winning the League this year. However, I have to remind you that you said Kerry would beat us and that Cork would too. At least you’re not predicting that we’ll get relegated now, though I do recall you claiming after Round 2 that we were odds-on to go down. I guess what I’m pointing out is that a consistently negative stance isn’t always the way to go either, even if our record in finals means that calling everything against us might eventually lead to one correct prediction!

  34. I think it’s about time we moved away from thanking James Horan for dragging Mayo football back from the brink. We were at an all time low back then, and there was only one way to go and that was up, after all we’re not Carlow.

    That said he has restored some structure and pride in the Mayo setup, and also surrounded himself with some good people to beef up the side-line, but no different to other Managers in our recent past, has failed in two attempts to land the big prize.

    Where we go from here will tell us a lot, whither through good luck or shrewd management skills, things appears to be falling into place, and for that James should get the credit. But now with so many regulars returning to the panel, this could be James’s biggest test, how to field his strongest team while at the same time keeping everyone happy. He probably would be the first to admit he didn’t manage that very well last year…….

  35. A good honest post John and one that has to be seriously respected.

    I too am a long suffering supporter but I think that there are a few things that may work in our favour this year.

    Firstly (and something I had serious doubt about) I think the hunger is back so rather than last September weighing down the team, it will drive them forward. The match against Dublin will really test this but I believe that the manager and the squad think there’s one more throw of the dice and I believe they’ll throw the kitchen sink at it.

    Secondly and we need a little luck on this one but injuries to key players have dogged us over the past two years. In last year;s final we were playing with Cillian and Andy in the forward line and we brought on Conroy and B Moran, all lacking in match time and sharpness. We lost the final by a point so even if Cillian had been able to play through the summer, that might have been enough.

    The emergence of some new talent. Gibbons and Doherty have really put their hand up for inclusion and if Sweeney ( not proven yet ) and maybe one of the Gallaghers or Kirby ( not proven either ) can come through then we can start to strenghten our forward line, our achilles heel. Dillon may come back to play a squad role but I feel we won’t win an all-ireland with the likes of Conroy, Varley or Dillon playing major roles.

    The emphasis on creating goal scoring chances and yes we need to up our conversion rate but that can be worked on. In the last year’s final did we create any other goal chance other than the one we scored ? The Dubs created about 5 chances and scored two. Did we create any goal chance against Donegal the year before ? They created three and scored two.

    The fact that Mcloughlin is playing more like the 2012 model than last year’s model. He scored two excellent points for us in the 2012 final and kicked two bad wides in last year’s final. If he’s back he’s a major plus.

    The HOPE that management have learned their lesson with regard to Freeman and with regard to having a panel of players that are used effectively based on what’s needed in a particular game. The sideline needs to up its game.

    We didn’t lose last year’s final by much and if we have the hunger, determination and genuine improvement then I believe we can go all the way.

  36. Andy, goalkeeper and back six would be most peoples pick right now, but I’m puzzled as to how you thing the two O’Shea’s would have the pace for Croke Park right now. Watching them against Cork they looked way off the pace, and against the Dubs that’s the last thing we want. And surely Freeman has done enough to lay claim to the full forward position, sticking him in the corner with be putting him totally out of position – bit like Higgins is at present….

  37. I don’t think we should forget in a hurry just how much improvement we’ve made since James Horan took over, not least given the shocking state we were left in by his predecessor. I wouldn’t agree that the only way was up for us at that stage – look at Meath, thrashing around in Division Two and nowhere in the championship or Galway, heading for Division Three and seemingly disimproving with every year or poor old Offaly, now on the brink of Division Four and one of the whipping boys in Leinster. We could easily have continued to slide backwards after 2010 but instead we moved decisively forward and we’ve James, his team and his players to thank for the way they turned our fortunes round since then.

  38. I think Horan deserves fantastic credit. Three excellent years since the annus horribulus that was 2010. Yes I know we didn’t win Sam but we did a damn sight better than we did in most of the last 63 years and 2014 still up for grabs. Cheers James.

  39. One of the things that I do love about this site is that I sometimes find myself here reading two diametrically opposed comments yet nodding in agreement with both. I also, in some odd way enjoy watching the moods swing in here from despair to jubilation among many of the regular posters, despite knowing only a fraction of them in “real life”. It’s almost comical sometimes, yet it just shows how badly everyone here wants the same thing.

    And while I very much consider myself a positivist, it can be bloody exhausting at times. I don’t think that positivity is ill-informed, however, nor is it born from naivety, or “party lines”. Maybe from hope, or even desperation..! Negativity doesn’t come naturally to me though, which is unfortunate as I frequently miss out on the satisfaction being right. 😉

    John Cuffe, I frequently disagree with what you say here, and sometimes how you say it, but one thing is for certain – it’s never said without a great deal of thought and analysis and I always enjoy reading it.

    ‘Twould be a very boring place indeed if we all saw things the same way.

  40. I think dubs will beat us and we ll beat derry. Why Because Dublin are an excellent team something we do not always give them credit for here in Mayo, Plus they have home advantage which appears absolutely crucial in Div 1 of league. For the same reasons I think we ll beat derry. They will find it hard to win in Castlebar and we have a bloody good team. If these predictions come through it probably means we wont make semis despite having garnered 8 points yet we made it with 6 last year. Its not the end of the world as the m ost important thing from the outset was to stay up rediscover the appetite and pick up a few new players all of which will have been achieved. Really hope I m wrong about Dubs game and would love to see us win the league. As for JH targeting the league sure what else would he say, He was never going to repeat Jim McGuinness comments of last year that league was irrelevant.

  41. In the recent past, Meath and Galway have won All Ireland’s, and even poor old Offaly pulled one over on the Kerry lads. Bit like Padraig Harrington, he might be struggling with his game right now, but he does have a glorious past.

    Anyway I was giving him some credit and I must say, I was beside myself when just before kick-off v Cork, James and Donie came up from pitch side and sat just behind us near the press box, and did the same after half time. I was impressed that while we were all screaming our support and abusing the Ref, James and Donie remained very calm and almost motionless throughout – coolness personified !

  42. Very well put, Willie Joe. Any weather forecaster can eventually be right in forecasting rain.

  43. How can you say playing Freeman in the corner is putting him “totally out of position” when he has never been tried there?
    Regards the O’Shea’s I would not write them off just yet – they deserve the chance to prove themselves. Against any other team they would be first choice so do you propose we change our midfield when we meet up with the Dubs? Chasing opponents who choose to run may not be their natural game but they deserve the chance to adapt. However Saturday week will be very instructive and I may have to change my mind.

  44. Agreed, if Clarke was fit he would be first choice. O’Malley if fit would also be very much in the picture. But as yet they are not.

  45. AndyD

    I believe he was tried there a few years ago with Andy as FF. He was also tried as a CHF but he only really excelled at FF.

  46. If Alan Freeman is half the player that people on this site claim him to be, then he should have the ability to play in several positions. Also he should be able to vary his game depending on the opposition and how he is required by our own team management to play.

    For instance we are playing Dublin away next week and this will be the toughest test yet of this team. No one knows yet how the team will play but it is quite possible that things do not go completely to plan against the Dubs. And if this is the case then midway through the match a different strategy may be required in order to change the nature of the game and win.

    Can Alan Freeman adapt to a change in strategy mid way through? Can he for instance play on his own or maybe with one other in the FF line against possibly a full FB line becasue one of our FF line has been withdrawn to help deeper out the field?

    Essentially what I am saying is that he has to show that he can mix it with the likes of Dublin where he may not get the perfect ball all the time delivered into him.

  47. Andy D. Glad to see you are still picking your team against the Dubs. You still see the O’Shea bros at midfield, Jason Gibbons CHF and Doherty beside him, and also a place for Barry at 14. You seem to have a soft spot for fellows with reputations. If your team is based on last years AI final then their should be no position for Aden O Shea. BUT that was last year. NOW you pick a team on this years league performances and where did you see Jason Gibbons playing CHF? Where did you see the O’Shea bros playing a full match? Where did you see Barry Moran playing in the league? You want all those changes made to beat the best team in Ireland. It might be nice to see your team play a challenge match, but definitely not a serious league match. Start same team as against Cork last Sunday .

  48. The benefits of play a 2 may full forward line are so great I cant understand why we don’t play it all the time. For instance Cillian and Freeman can win their own ball . they both have box of tricks for turning their markers, should the marker foul them , possibility of a black card, should they get free of marker in on goal and both lads can finish a goal.

    Mikey Sweeney is a “Cute Whore” he has a good head on them shoulders and can pick a pass , just like top see more of him against big physical teams and also playing a deeper play maker role .

    But going back to how good is Freeman?
    in my opinion he is the most natural full forward we have had since we played James Horan himself there.
    Freeman wins his own ball, slow high, has great hands, lots of dummies and tricks in his armory and isn’t overly selfish. Only thing I would say negatively about him is he is all right foot but besides that ticks all the boxes.

    You say JPM if he is good enough should play anywhere and he needs the perfect ball. This isn’t Austin O Malley were talking about . No disrespect to Austin, if he got ball on his chest it was sure to be a point but Freeman has alot more mobility and ball winning skills than Austin.

    I think Freeman is up there with Murphy and Brogan as best full forwards in the country.

  49. Adapting strategy mid-game is something we’ve not traditionally excelled in – both on the field and from the sideline. This season has been more encouraging in that regard with Horan making a visible effort to take a different vantage point as well as build a panel as opposed to a starting 15.

    Incidentally, if Dublin have one of the weakest full back lines in the country, you’d imagine – in theory – that Freeman should excel in the FF ball-winning role there more than anywhere. But of course, that depends on how things go elsewhere on the field. It’s not just Alan Freeman, therefore, that will have to adjust his strategy if things don’t go to plan.

    I began thinking it would be no big deal if Dublin beat us here, as long as we have the beating of them later on. I do think now that a win on Saturday week would be a great psychological boost, so bring it on.

  50. Two comments Ciaran, if you try and mussel us on team selection sure we’d have nothing to talk about and secondly, looking at the number of goals we’re conceding it’s obvious our defence needs strengthening up, and what better way to do that than move the best corner back in the Country back to his original position – very simple really…….

  51. On the bench for the moment, and then when the centre field needs freshening up as will be the case in any match, bring him on.

  52. I get a little puzzled when I read the comments about Higgins and his relocation to the half forward line. When he was moved back to the corner in last years final everyone was going ballistic as he was one of our better performers in the first half when positioned on the half forward line???
    People need to think back and remember our faults from last years final. I don’t go along with the view that we move on to another year and plainly “go again”. Last years final performance is like a badly set broken bone. You can leave it as it is and you will get by, you might be lame or suffer discomfort at times but, in general, you get by 90% to 95% of the time. However if you want optimum performance from that bone, if you want to be able to use it to its fullest without any fear of discomfort or weakness, well then you will have to make the difficult decision to re-break that bone and have it re-set.
    Well last years half forward line is our badly set bone. It was good enough to get us to a final, with help from other bones i.e. our half back line, but when it had to be at its best and operate to its fullest, unaided, when the pressure was at its greatest, it was only capable of 90% to 95%. Not even that to be honest. It didn’t track back and carry out it’s defensive duties nor did it create or take any scores sufficient for us to win. It was our weakest line last year. So, the bone has to be re-broken and re-set. Higgins is part of that process. Higgins WILL BE IN THE HALF FORWARD LINE come the championship, and, he must be for the following reasons.
    Defensively, he has the reading ability, bravery and flexibility to scoop up breaking ball from the midfield area and break through tackles in doing so. He can drop back in to the midfield area and be a mobile man marker to track the O’Sullivans and MD MaCauleys of this world and help to close down the Cluxton kickout. He will track back with attacking half backs and provide cover to his wing back behind him. Offensively, he is the only player in that forward department that has serious pace. Backs hate speed and Higgins has it in abundance. True, he is not a natural forward and may not even like playing there, and it is certainly a “work in progress” but we NEED him there.
    Maybe not for every game, but come the 3rd Sunday of this September when we meet the Dubs again, we will need him there. I believe management know this too and that is why they are sticking with the plan. I believe A.Gallagher and Doherty on the ’40 are part of this process also.
    The bone has been re-broken and now let’s hope that it sets stronger.
    Hon Mayo.

  53. Think its time to park that old chestnut don’t you?

  54. John, you’re certainly correct to say that we leak too much at the back. It’s at the point now where we can’t get through a game without leaking two goals or more. James Horan recognises this, though, and I would be very surprised if this is still the case by the time August comes around.

    In fairness to him – and all inter-country managers – the black card has thrown them a curveball and they’re still trying to figure out how to to play to the newly-defined edge of the rules on that one. My guess is that they’ll take the Jim McGuinness route – pack the defence with bodies and counter-attack with serious pace when possession is won. It will ultimately make for a poorer spectacle but we won’t care if it gets us up the steps in September.

    On your broader feeling that our time is gone, I can certainly see where you’re coming from. Losing two finals in a row is a serious dent to confidence, there’s no denying that. But it’s different to ’98 in a couple of respects: the back door makes a crucial difference in that the chance is there to correct mistakes and rebuild, and also, Horan is not as polarising a figure as John Maughan was.

    He’s just not attracting the same level of flak that John was then, and I think that’s borne out by the attendances at the National League matches. I don’t ever remember this level of interest in a Mayo team this early in the year. People are just mad to see them play and there remains a feeling that the race for this team is not yet run.

    I think it’s greatly encouraging too that James is watching games from the stand. That signifies that he knows that he himself needs to improve and he’s humble enough to do so.

    For the record I agree with you on the League – I don’t think we’ll win it, but I’m not too bothered either. Stay up, unearth some serious options for the championship and I’m happy with that.

    But I don’t agree that the game is over yet for this team. Mayo are aiming at August and September again, and trying to develop a deeper choice of midfielders and forwards to insulate against the injury woes that have cost us in the last two finals. Coupled with Horan’s willingness to push himself on, that all sounds like progress to me.

  55. Very good analysis there must admit i too was wondering why higgins was brought back especially when o gara was playing injured

  56. when it happens, I am not trying to re-open old wounds or criticise James Horan (as anyone who knows me knows that I am a big supporter of him) but we must learn from our mistakes. History = His Story, and ours is a sad one when it comes to finals but we must accept that. Take a totally honest look at the entire picture, analyse where things went wrong, why they went wrong, come up with solutions, try them out, decide do they work or not, and start all over again.
    Fail, fail better, then succeed. we have done the first of those 2, now for the 3rd.

  57. There is no guarantee we would have won by getting Higgins back up to the half-fw line for the final. It’s only supposition. Never mind the permutations it would have taken to do so what with having to keep a sub virtually in reserve for the entire match becasue of COCs shoulder worry.

  58. Looking back at the AIF (and ahead to the next game) I would focus on 3 areas where Dub really counteracted our perceived strengths

    1. Took our MF out of the equation especially in the 2nd half. Incredibly accurate kicks to the sidelines to Flynn, O’Sullivan etc. Exposed AOS lack of mobility and speed. These were all pre-planned kicks, half forwards and half backs would break away from their marker at speed after Cluxton placed the ball and then Cluxton would put it on a plate. I don’t think we won any Dublin kick out in the 2nd half?
    2. Largely neutralized our strongest line (Center backs) Flynn totally dominated and obstructed Vaughan all game (who had been a link in so many of our scores). The 3 CBs were kept to 1 point in total, where I think they would usually have contributed 3-4 on average. Connolly etc sacrificed their own play to make a nuisance of themselves and stop Keegan.
    3. Took advantage of our lack of direct ball in to FF line. Dub reasoned that most of our attacks are built on movements with multiple hand passes rather than direct ball in to FF line. Higgins’s speed to break with the ball was actually what caused Dub most problems in the first half when we were well on top. Once Higgins was removed, there was no incision just lateral passing which was easy to disrupt. There were a huge number of turnovers in the 2nd half and even limited Mayo to 3 point shots from play in the entire 2nd half, none of which we scored.

  59. Mike,
    I agree wholeheartedly with you.
    “Higgins’s speed to break with the ball was actually what caused Dub most problems” that’s why we need him, and I believe he will be, in the half forward line come Summertime.
    “our lack of direct ball in to FF line” it makes the removal of Freeman all the more puzzling.
    “Incredibly accurate kicks to the sidelines to Flynn, O’Sullivan etc” they did that to us in the league final also so management should not have been caught out by that.
    Again, I am not re-opening old wounds but there are currants for cakes and raisons for everything and having Higgins in the half forward line solves 2 of the 3 issues listed above. Leaving Freeman at FF solves the other.

  60. In any team sport the first priority is to prevent the opposition from scoring, or at the very least make them work their socks off for whatever scores they get, after that see what the forwards can do up the other end. Everyone would agree, there is nothing more annoying than seeing some good work by the forwards be nullified by the team conceding soft scores at the other end. There is no doubt Higgins is a fine player and would slot into almost any position on the field, but our defence also needs a pacey player, as it’s fair to say they’re not the fastest off the mark, and especially against a team like Dublin, who will run at you from all angles. For now anyway, minding the house should be our first priority !!

  61. I had the same issue with the cork game, i emailed season tickets yesterday who told me to check it again this morning, it still said i didnt attend, so i emailed them again, and this was updated to record my attendance.

  62. I like the idea of Higgins up front for his speed but maybe for this Dublin team we need him at the back?
    And maybe more direct kicking to the ff line instead of walking it in, so a fella that can kick a long accurate pass may make more sense at half forward.

  63. Lads be you a nay sayer, a doom-monger, a happy clapper or a green and red tinted glasses type of fan , all of the comments to this post have been an utter pleasure to read. The analysis is fantastic, for the record I feel we won’t know anything until we hit Croke park on the bank holiday weekend. And if we don’t make that then we will know a whole lot more!

  64. I agree with pebblesmeller 100% regarding higgins position in the HFL, and think had tom cunnife not got injured in the AIF, we would be all Ireland champions now. Look back at the first 25mins of the AIF, higgins we was winning all the breaks around the middle and this set the platform for us pinning Dublin back.

    A lot of people seem to be obsessed with focusing on taking off alan freeman as a decision that tipped the match in Dublin’s favour( i agree taking him off was a terrible decision) but on careful and deliberate analysis the decision that cost us ultimately I believe was to move keith back into CB. I am not blaming horan as I too along with most people would have moved keith back if faced with the same scenario.It was unfortunate that it had to happen.

    In the second half when push came to shove, our HFL let us down.

    Higgins needs to stay in the half forward line

    Come the warm summer days in the vast expanses of Croker, we will need keiths pace stamina and dynamism in the HFL, which without him, unfortunately IMO we are currently lacking.

  65. Great to see all the top ‘football heads’ going head to head with the analysis.
    I hope JH takes an odd peep in here to see how he rates with the ‘guru’s !
    Looking back to look forward the analysis by Mike above is spot on.
    Dublin did a deep analysis on our play and came up with a counter plan that eventually threw us onto the rocks. We were not ready for this counter plan & were not ready for whatever reason for the speed & accuracy of the Dublin kickouts.
    As Mayo McHale points out our first priority has to be to keep the opposition score down & in particular the killer goals that are unhinging us at critical times.
    I do not believe however that this requires Keith to revert back to corner back as I believe that the need for him elsewhere is greater as outlined by Pebblesmeller.
    Two areas where we have not been very good is in ‘the horses for courses’ area and in ‘the strategic use of substitutes’ area.
    We seem to think that we have to have a ‘best 15’ when in truth this actually changes with the opposition and with the course a particular game is taking.What might be the ‘best 15’ for Dublin might not be the ‘best 15’ for say Donegal or Cork. Likewise the subs used for one opposition may not be the best ones for another opposition. For example if there is no midfield play in the traditional sense (say against Dublin) perhaps we would be better with a wing back or wing forward at midfield for that particular match. I think we have to be more open, flexible & cuter in this area.
    It is not just about your game plan anymore but about counter analysis & anticipating what the opposition might be trying to do to your game plan.

  66. We won’t fall out WJ for sure. Next games is the place to test our mettle and balls.

    That includes the sideline as well as I am still puzzled as to what exact game plan Mayo have apart from either flat out or flattened out.

    I was wrong re Cork and Kerry and delighted to be proved so. I also took no satisfaction in being correct about Kildare andTyrone . As I said , this is where it gets to the squeaky bum time. Let’s be having them.

  67. Yeah Mayo McHale, at the beginning of the six nations championship, Joe Schmidt said that the main areas that he would be working on, would be defence and discipline. It was no surprise by the end of the championship, Ireland had conceded the least no. of penalties and the least no. of tries. They also ended up as champions, so there might a lesson there to take note of.

  68. I think this team and management are the best I have seen in over fifty years of watching mayo, so enjoy them, we might not see anything like them for a long time, I hope we get over the line this time

  69. Yeah David, it’s a hard one to call. I’d prefer to see him at corner-back. It actually reminds me of the time that Liam McHale was considered one of the best mid-fielders in the country in 1996 but a lot of people wanted him to be played at full-forward. He played there in the 1997 campaign but he never really settled there or never seemed to be comfortable in the position. I often think that when a player is played out of their normal position, the first few touches of the ball are vital. If they can settle into the new position quickly then it can work but if the player starts badly, they find it very hard to get into the game then. I’d actually prefer to start the player in his favoured position, to allow them to settle into the game, then move them during the game if the need arises. The few times Liam McHale did well at full-forward was when he was moved in there in the latter stages of the game. When the defenders were tiring, this tactic worked best. If Keith had been moved up there for the last part of the game when O’Gara was injured rather than starting him up there, this might have worked better. Ah we’ll never know I suppose. It will be interesting to see where he will play against the Dubs on Saturday week. You’d wonder will Andy Moran start the game if he is back to full fitness. Maybe play him at no. 12 and move Keith back to no. 4.

  70. Agreed, this is a great discussion.

    Just a few thoughts. Strong midfield means that the defence is not under the same pressure, attack is the means of defence so I think that I would go with Higgins in HF line to manage middle third. Cunnifee and Barrett can cover the cb position more than adequately.
    Re midfield, I thought that our midfield was marking space last week rather than the Cork players, this may be to try and counteract what happened last September.

    Great games to finish up the league, we should have a good understanding where we have improved whenever the league campaign ends, and where the gaps exist. This will determine success of the league, not if we win the league or not!

  71. Let us not forget that the main reason that Higgins had to go back was that the players we had on the bench to replace the injured Cunniffe (Kevin Keane and Shane McHale) had barely played a game all year and thus couldn’t be confidently thrown into the heat of an All-Ireland Final. At least Horan is rectifying this issue this year by giving them and other options like Drake and Harrison game time.

  72. It’ll be very interesting to see how the two Jasons will get on against the Dubs. They are showing very good form at the moment. If they play well then they’ll be in with a great chance of holding on to their places for the summer. Doc played at full-forward against Dublin in the league semi-final last year. He missed a couple of chances in the first half and was taken off at half-time. He then didn’t feature much for the rest of the year (he also got injured last summer too). This game is his big chance. Also in that semi-final Jason Gibbons and Seamus O’Shea started the game in mid-field. They were well beaten in the first half. Aidan O’Shea started at CHF, he was then moved to mid-field for the second half. We then played much better in the second half. It’ll be very interesting to see how Jason Gibbons will get on. It’s a very big game for him too, in terms of how he will get on for the rest of the season.

  73. Once James horan and staff gets all his players back from injury and club commitments he will have a selection dilemma…I’m sure the majority of the countries managers would love to have the same headache ..we sud count our blessings with this group of players and staff because I truly believe this is the golden age of mayo football ..

  74. Keith Higgins is back full stop would like to see how he would get on with Patrick durcan in the full back line that would be interesting. OR is he a halfback what do you think

  75. Great analysis Mike and good responses..

    Not nitpicking but I believe Keegan scored two points so the Half back line got two points, our Midfield scored one point and our Half forward line scored ( I think ) nil points, as they say on the Eurovision.

    So the malfunctioning Half forward line ( as you pointed out in an earlier post pebbles ) was a major factor in us not succeeding and is clearly being targeted this year.

    The other problem with our lateral passing, slow build up play in the second half ( post Freeman we’ll call it ) was one that it was energy sapping on such a warm day and two left us open to many turnovers that the Dubs exploited.

    Contrast this with the efficiency of the Dublin attack in the second half when they kicked about 4 points from out around the 50, even Brennan landed one, so while we toiled for openings and tried to work ball through they picked off points much more efficiently.

    Our lack of mobility in midfield last year gives Gibbons a great chance of making the starting 15. If his league form holds, he’ll be hard shifted.

  76. Well Cait, there’s so much discussion and analysis going on here, especially around Higgins, ’tis hard to know how to call it. For the moment I’m going to sit this one out and see where it takes us. One way or another this Mayo team thing is generating some great debate, and long may it continue…….

  77. Suggest tightening the backs up for Croker – TC in at 2 and Keith back to 4, with Feeney in at 12. Stick with the balance of the starting side v Cork.

  78. We won’t, for sure, John. I’ll have to disagree with you again, though, where you say that this next match against the Dubs represents squeaky bum time. I’d agree that psychologically it would be nice for us to win it but even if we do the team we’ll have beaten won’t in all likelihood be anything close to a full-strength Dublin. I’d go so far as to say it’s a match that isn’t a must-win for either county, given that both are almost certainly sure of Division One football next year as things stand. Sure, if either want to push on to the play-offs then winning this one is the way to do it but I’m not convinced the League is a priority for either manager, despite what our man may have said at the start of the year. I’ve always felt that we need to reserve judgment on our lads this year until the August Bank Holiday weekend. That assumes, I accept, that we get through Connacht successfully (an assumption I’m happy to go with) but if we do then how we front up in the quarters will tell us a hell of a lot more about our prospects for ultimate glory than a League match in March against an understrength Dublin side ever will.

  79. I wonder where Cillian O’Connor will end up for the championship? I was just looking at Alan Freeman’s goal against Cork again and it was a lovely ball that was played into him by Cillian O’Connor. It was one of those that hopped beautifully into Freeman’s hands and he turned and headed straight towards goal. Although he is a great finisher, I’d like to see Cillian playing at CHF. He would have great leadership qualities for that position too.

  80. I cant understand why people do not believe it is not necessary to win the league…I no we are starved of the bigger prize.. but to me it sets down a goal and when achieved can lead to bigger things… The way this team have progress over the last few years my god just stayin in division one is not my goal for the team its winning the fecking thing. maybe others see it different…

  81. IF they brought p durcan and tom cunnife that would leave Keith Higgins to go up to the forwards I really don’t know

  82. I think that the main reason I’d like to see us win the league is, for some reason, we never put in our best performances in finals in Croke Park. So it would be great to get to the league final and just go out and play our best football. It would be a less pressurised final and you’d hope that at this stage with the experience that we have built up, that we’d be well able to play to our potential on the day of the league final. Teams that win All-Ireland titles also win leagues titles, the best teams win the silverware, then winning becomes a habit. Remember for years the Leinster Rugby team were seen as chokers while Munster were seen as winners. Once Leinster got over the line the first time, they have then just kept on winning trophies.

  83. I like the logic and I’m a big Freeman fan, but he has a little bit more to prove before he can be canonised ! He has to be left at 14 with Cillian alongside.
    I like the summary of Mikey Sweeney and delighted that JH is giving him a good opportunity to prove himself. He could prove a diamond, as the unselfish playmaker that sets up the goal opportunities, as well being able to finish.

  84. No surprise that there were no Rossies on this site this week as we beat them in the minor
    league midweek, they were very keen to chat last week and i notice how they give out such a lenghty injury list before games no dought getting their excusses in early.
    It was nice to see Cian Hanley back after hes injury in last years all ireland semi, its now
    important after our u21s going out so early that the minors have a good year keep that
    talent coming through.
    I think we have a great chance of beating Dublin next week which will put us into the league semi, hope Richie Feeney is involved as i say he would want to prove a point, there is nothing like motivation to drive a player on.

    If we do reach the league semi that would mean we would be playing 3 times in Croker
    before the chamionship which is also great for the players……really looking forward to a great summer of top class football from the green & red.

  85. Mayo needs to crack how to win in Croke Park on AIF day. We have all the other scenarios cracked at this stage. To be successful in Croke Park on AIF day you need players that 1) Have pace in key positions. 2)Can exploit the wide open spaces with long sharp foot passes. 3)Keep their composure regardless of what is happening around them 4)Can lead by example, need at least one leader on every line of the team. 5) Are match fit as opposed to being back from injury 6)Seize the moment and go for the jugular. When the league is done and dusted it will be interesting to see how different the team and panel will be compared to what was there last September. I don’t think there will be many personnel changes and hope that whatever changes are made tip the balance in our favour. For now a win over the Dubs in 29th will suffice. Joe Mc and John Cuffe i want to assure you that i and i am sure many others respect your opinions so keep posting.

  86. Joe Mc and John Cuffe are two of the most thought provoking contributors to this site and just because they take a different view to the current Mayo situation doesn’t make their view incorrect. They want what we all want. This site would be far worse off without the counter argument that is needed to keep the debate flowing.
    Let the man in the middle with the whistle, WJ, call the play as he sees fit and as long as we all remember to play the ball and not the man everything will be fine.

  87. You have no thread or topic about the minor league here. Our minors aren’t at the level of other years so its better to judge yourselfs against Longford,Galway who look to be the strongest in the minor league.

    No excuses our U21s had an lengthy injury list. We were forced to play our 3rd choice full back who is just out of minor level and another in midfield. Our half back line contained an forward and midfielder plus one of our best forwards started his first game for 4 months.

  88. It seems winning the league is becoming as much an albatross as wining Sam.
    Lookit, if we bate Dublin there’s no reason why we shouldn’t push on and win the league.
    Winning it would send out a warning to others, loosing it would be send a completely different message.

  89. Exactly, everyone should remember that there is not one Mayo supporter here who does not want the same thing and each and every one of us have equally as much passion for our county team .

    I chat about Gaelic football every day of my life with people from all over Ireland and you can call be bias if you wish but Mayo supporters are the most passionate , it’s very hard to understand unless you’re Mayo .

  90. Yeah, this is our sixteenth season in a row in Division 1 and we have only won the title once in that time. It’s like the way Connacht won the railway cup this year, the players themselves were saying that it was just too long since we last won this competition, 1969, so they just went out (especially the Mayo lads) and won the tournament. They beat Ulster very well in the final too. The best players win the silverware.

  91. With regards to the Higgins debate, I have actually changed my mind about his positioning. I think, with a full team available, I would leave him in the HF line. True, he is one of the best defenders in the country. Going man-to-man he is likely to negate any forward out there, or at least restrict an opposition danger man to a point or two from play. This may be enough of a contribution to allow Mayo to get the better of a lot of teams out there who only have one or two real game winners in their forward line. Against the likes of Dublin, however, I think his potential in the forwards outweighs his ability in the defence. We all know how good he is as a corner back, but the potential that he offers in the HF line is huge. He hasn’t fully lived up to it yet, we have only seen flashes, but the flashes that I have seen have me leaning towards his potential in one position being worth more to Mayo than his known ability in another.

    Dublin have 3 or 4 forwards who, on their day, can be match winners. Brogan(s), Connolly, McMenamin, even O’Gara. Higgins can only do so much. Best case senario he stops his man scoring, cleans up some loose ball across the full back line and maybe gets one shot in. That’s pretty much what Barrett was consistently able to do last year. I rate Higgins over both Cunniffe and Barrett but both of those are plenty capable corner backs who can do a man marking job on the majority of forwards. I believe that if Horan didn’t have such a wealth of quality corner backs then Higgins would be far more necessary there.

    Now, Higgins as a HF. He has blistering pace that can open teams up. He has a brilliant engine that allows him to attack, track back, cover runners, win loose ball around the middle whilst never seeming to tire. His decision making and timing are the two things that he is not up to speed with yet, which is understandable considering that he is playing in a relatively new position, and old habits die hard. Best case scenario for Higgins as a HF; he picks up 4/5 breaking balls per game, he splits the opposition defence open on two or 3 occasions creating goal opportunities, he turns over ball coming out, he stops a HB attacking, he covers for Boyle/Keegan when they break, he gets on the scoresheet himself. With Higgins as a HF, it gives us another dimension in attack.

    So, as a corner back Higgins may give us an extra 5-10% on what’s already there. As a HF, because he is such a unique player, he could potentially give us a whole lot more.

  92. Some players, if they have not only the footballing ability but also the footballing intelligence, can move from 1 position to a totally new position with great success.
    Bobby O’Connell for Meath initially started out as a forward but was deemed not good enough. They switched him to the backs and he went on to become one of the greatest defenders of the modern game, winning All Irelands and All Stars.
    Paul Galvin was, and he says himself he is more comfortable as, a half back but moved to the half forward line seemlessly. He has a bucket at home full of Celtic Crosses and All Stars also.
    Joe Lennon of the 1960’s Down team won back to back All Irelands as a midfielder but then went on to captain them to another All Ireland in ’68 from wing back!
    Higgins has the ability and the brains to make the move successfully. it will just take a bit of time and patience.

  93. Higgins was a revelation at HF last year in champ

    Leave him be. We’ve too mighty corner backs in Barrett and Cunniffe

  94. I know it’s not to the same extent but even Kevin McLoughlin. Played back for under 21’s as recently as 2010 and was a back all the way up. His impact at HF in 2011, 2012 and I guess to a lesser extent in 2013 was clearly evident to all

  95. The last thing we need is agreement on everything. Good healthy debates are what keep this site alive and interesting. It’s like what needed during a match sometimes, a good row to shake things up a bit.

    So John and Joe Mc keep your views coming. We’re all in the same boat and we all want to get to the same destination and so what if we don’t agree on the how. They’re all validly held opinions and deserve to be respected.

  96. Maybe this thread has already sailed, but its an important one and I would like to add my two pence worth on it. The reason I said recently I would like to have Higgins brought back to the corner is as follows.. Every player should be played in their best position (IMHO I believe Higgins best position is corner back) and second only to that every player should be played in a position designed to deliver the best starting 15 based on a pre-designed structure or plan with the aim of obtaining the best outcome..

    We have an abundance of gifted mid-fielders which I believe should be afforded the opportunity to be incorporated into a set structure which for simplicity we will call “The Three Mid-fielders” (the O’Shea’s and Gibbons to be replaced directly by Barry Moran and Tom Parsons or vice versa when they get tired). A second structure could be called the “Advanced Higgins” which could reflect what we have now. The point is that the best structure and 15 players is that which is used to target the oppositions weaknesses to deliver the best outcome (this will change from game to game)

    We already know what Higgins can do (he’s a special talent) but we need to try out more players in more structured formats not just for the sake of the CHF position.. but to keep teams on their toes as to how we will set up.. to able to adapt quickly on the day when they change.. to use the whole panel for direct replacements (black cards) and to have a direct impact on the outcome of the game.

    For far too long we have been out-thought and somewhat predictable in our play and to counteract this we need to think outside the box but without loosing focus and what is the best that we have. I would rather Higgins replace a defender for the time been and keep in search of a half forward to full-fill a pre-designed role (Gibbons, Parsons, Feeney, etc.,) where we having nothing to loose and everything to gain. If we set our stall now at this early stage I’m afraid its a lost opportunity..

  97. Unfortunately I am in the pessimists camp (at least at them moment but th year is young!). I have seen nothing this year so far to indicate that we have progressed, especially on the sideline. The summer will hopefully reveal some great tactical moves, quick reaction to opposition tactics etc. The Dublin league game is important, the last thing we need is them tearing us apart for 3/4 goals, as they appear capable of. I just pray that we are not writing in a number of years time bemoaning the waste of another good crop of players that failed at the ultimate date in September.

  98. Would love to see mayo beat the dubs and with the black maybe we see plenty of goals and it great for forwards like cillian to score as the defenders are afraid to foul.

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