Poll: who was our Player of the League for 2018?

Our 2018 National Football League race is run but, before all of the focus shifts to the summer action, there’s still time for a bit of retrospective thinking about what was in every sense and up and down spring campaign for us. Thankfully, one that ended up rather than down.

Last year, in response to the promptings of a number of you, I did a poll on our Player of the League and while there haven’t been any calls from the back benches for a repeat exercise this year I’ve taken it upon myself to organise it. And so here it is.

As I did last year, the shortlist I’ve come up with comes straight from the data you lot have generated, in the form of votes cast in the Man of the Match polls for each of the seven matches we’ve played. It’s not a perfect method, I know, but it’s a good enough approximation as I think the shortlist for this year demonstrates.

So, then, who’s in the frame to follow David Clarke, last year’s inaugural winner of this coveted award? Not David himself, he didn’t make the cut on this occasion. The five who did are, in alphabetical order, Paddy Durcan, Conor Loftus, Kevin McLoughlin, Eoin O’Donoghue and Aidan O’Shea.

Conor, Kevin, Eoin and Aidan appeared in every match in this year’s spring campaign. Conor made two starts, while the other trio lined out from the beginning in all seven games. Paddy would, surely, have been another ever-present player this spring but a quad injury picked up in the Galway match ruled him out of action until the Tyrone game. He featured in five matches, starting four of them.

Three of those shortlisted picked up MOTM awards on the blog over the course of the League – Aidan (three times), Conor (twice) and Eoin (once), though Paddy and Kevin obviously also polled well enough on a consistent basis over the whole League run to make the shortlist. The only player, incidentally, who won a MOTM award but didn’t make the cut for this poll was Diarmuid O’Connor.

Right, then, enough of the preamble – it’s time to vote time. This one is a first-past-the-post, winner-takes-all job. I’ll leave the poll up for a few days and then announce the result in due course. Best of luck to all on the shortlist for the award.

Who was our Player of the League for 2018?

  • Eoin O'Donoghue (40%, 436 Votes)
  • Aidan O'Shea (30%, 321 Votes)
  • Kevin McLoughlin (19%, 204 Votes)
  • Conor Loftus (8%, 83 Votes)
  • Paddy Durcan (3%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,080

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103 thoughts on “Poll: who was our Player of the League for 2018?

  1. A hard call to make between Aido and Eoin. Both contributed hugely. Voted for Eoin in the end. A very impressive league campaign for him by all accounts.

  2. Paddy was front runner in the early rounds but the injury set him back. Our 3 most consistent players were Aido, Eoin and Kev. Eoin gets it for me (just about) it was his first league he did not look out of place on the pitch and he popped up from corner back a few times to get a score and none more important than last Sunday’s.

  3. Went for Eoin in the end – thought he did well in the campaign and scored important points from corner back in our Monaghan win and in the most important minutes v Donegal – not bad for a lad just breaking through – of which of course there are none according to national commentary

  4. I gave the vote to Aidan because he was solid in all the games & is a natural leader, when Aidan is going well Mayo goes well. Eoin played great stuff too.

  5. I’m here abroad in Australia but have watched all but the Tyrone games on gaago. Eoin O’Donoghue is definitely the player that stuck out as putting in the most consistent performances.
    Proud that we are still in Division 1 and to tackle to Roasies and Galway in 2019.
    A huge thanks to you WJ and to the crew that put together the podcasts. It puts us so close to the action. I listened to the podcast of the semi final with Tyrone in 2016 for the first time the other night. I was there that day but listening to it again just enhanced it that much more. Please keep them coming!

  6. That’s great to know re the podcast, Erris Head, thanks for the feedback. You can rest assured that it’s our firm plan to keep them coming!

  7. Mighty stuff WJ! Just remember, we are global. I met a man at Abu Dhabi airport last year on the way home for the final. He was after leaving the wife and kids at home back in Kenya. He didn’t even have a ticket for the final but was willing to take the chance.
    We looked at each other with that thousand yard stare. The look we all give each other heading into see our heroes play. What an era we live in!!!!

  8. Eoin O Donoghue by a country mile for me. Great to see a county minor with a touch of steel progressing through the ranks. Mayo’s ability to produce defenders of the highest order will continue to keep us on the edge of our seats. Conor Loftus deserves a mention in dispatches, can pick out the pass and an eye for goal that we are sorely lacking. The Mayo Camino trudges on

  9. Although he didnt have a great start to the league I’d give it to Conor, He took over the free taking duties from Cillian v Dublin and hasnt looked back since, was instrumental against Donegal and im surprised he didnt get Man of the Match as he really took the game by the scruff in the second half. I understand people picking Eoin o Donoghue but backs are pleniful in Mayo , its forwards that are needed and i believe no matter what Conor Loftus has to start v Galway.

  10. Had long hard look at this one. Eoin done well as I expected. A bit more experience and we will be sorted. This time last year we were welcoming Aido back for the start of the season. We have watched his game improve steadily since then. He has started to play with his head up. I like that so keep it going. AOS for me by the short head.

  11. I gave it to Aidan as I think we would have ended the league with just a narrow win over Kildare if he was missing.
    He was that vital.

  12. K Mac saved our league bacon not for the first time, so he gets it IMO. Honourable mention to AOS and O’Donoghue who had fine campaigns.

  13. If the award was given out after the Galway game, Paddy would have gotten it.

    I went for Kevin Mc as he played a key role in the Monaghan, Kildare and Donegal games which kept us up. Aidan close behind him. EO’D had a great league but I don’t think his overall impact was as much as Kev and Aidan.

  14. Tuamstar, Conor didnt exactly take over the free taking Duties from Cillan v Dublin, Conor only took the last couple v Dublin after coming on late and after a host of players made a dogs dinner of them. Cillian was taking frees v Kildare and Tyrone until his injury. Id agree Conor needs to start v Dublin bit only if positioned on hf line, he isnt a corner forward, he needs to be on the ball as much as possible. Regardless, if Cillian is on the field then he will be taking the free kicks, that much is for certain.

  15. Went with Eoin O Donoghue as he was the real find of the the year thus far. Scored a couple of valuable points along the way to boot. I think it was only the Kerry game that he struggled in but he kept at it and improved in the senior half. Playing and training along side All Star senior players will help him improve even more.

    On a off topic note I noticed that the curtain raiser to the Senior Connaught final will be the U20’s final this year. Not that I mind but I did see this as a bit odd as it is on June 17 in the middle of leaving cert exams. I though the main reason for doing away with the minor level was to avoid this happening. There is alot of U18 and U19 players doing leaving certs. That Rice College for instance they have 6-7 players that were involved in the Mayo U17 and/or minors last year. Evan o brien scored 2-6 last week for Ballinrobe against Seamus Cunniffes Ballaghaderren is still a leaving Cert Student in Ballinrobe along with a couple of other Mayo minors from last year. Gavin Durcan Castlebar is also a leaving cert student in St Geralds. St Colmans , St Nathys, St Attracta’s have Cillian Golding, Kuba Callaghan and Paul Towey as Leaving Cert students and they arent the only ones.
    I suppose my point is I don’t see the relevant of doing away with age old tradition when the best U18 and U19 players will still be expected to play in the U20’s. Not to mention these Rice college players are probably getting more football than any of the older counterparts at this time of the year.
    My last comment is in regards to both Rice and Westport, Firstly to Rice on getting to the All Lreland Final and to do so with one of there core player out through injury is phenomenal. Emmet Rowley Westport was CHF for Mayo U17 last year. Played Midfield for Westport in the County Minor A final in October and started the year at CHB for Rice College. He has missed the current run through injury so it is even greater achievement to do so missing one of your better players. My last point is in regards to Westport, how many players can one club supply to the County setup. They win a County U21A title in December made up of players that are mostly U17 to U19, all available for the next couple of years. Five of which where Mayo minors in 2016 and played in the Intermediate All lreland Final, this years U20, Padraig and Brian O Malley, Paul Lambert, Colm Moran and Oisin McLaughlin. They supplied 6 players to the Mayo U17 setup last year all, this years minors namely Pat Lambert, Rory Brickenden, Emmett Rowley, Mark Moran, Luke Tunney, David Corden. Just shows what good setup there is in Westport to produce these type of players. How many will be involved with the County U20’s who knows but all will be high quality players with bags of experience with All Ireland finals and Sigerson Finals as with Brian O Malley under their belts.

  16. If you think back thru all the games it’s clear Aidan was the most consistent and important performer. The amount that he contributes thru ball winning, ball carrying, assists, winning frees, defence, and the odd score has him miles ahead of EOD. EOD had a good campaign and looks like a great addition to the squad. Kevin Mc was our next most important player.

    Just a word on Loftus. He did well the last day, good point from play, great long free and super pass to Andy. As others have mentioned though, he’s definitely not a corner-forward and struggles with the physical/ball winning aspect of the game. He has a very similar style to his club-mate that used to play 11 for Mayo. I think he’ll be a sub come championship unless he’s playing unreal in training. He’s a very useful sub when the game starts to open up like we saw last year against Derry and Cork/Kerry. Just a word of caution before anyone hypes him up too much!

  17. Interesting mayomessi.
    I would make an assumption that for that match it might be the case players will be free to let it be known they need to concentrate on their exams. If others feel they are okay they’d remain involved.
    I’m not too sure many of the leaving certs will be starters or even first subs. You can make a safe assumption that it will be mainly U20s and the Collegiate U19s as the physically strongest and most experienced players.
    Paddy OMalley
    Jonny Maughan Donovan Cosgrave Conor Horan
    Paul Lambert Matthew Macken Joe Dawson
    Brian OMalley Jordan Flynn
    Oisin McLoughlin Ryan ODonoghue Nathan Moran
    Colm Moran Conor Diskin Ross Egan
    As good as some of the leaving cert U18s and U19s are, it’s hard to pick out a player who they would displace. There is also the angle of it being the U20s players last year, so it’s only fair to give them the starting spot in a close call. Plus when young lads are in the midst of study and exams, how football ready can they be at the weekends.
    I was wondering why Emmet Rowley was not involved with Rice College.

  18. Off topic but no surprise st.Ronans Lurgan are in Hogan Cup final v Westport.They have 1700 students and it was formed because of an amalgamation of St.Pauls St Michaels and St.Marys.St.Michaels and St Pauls always had good footballers.Will give Rice College a good test but go Rice College!
    On league I would go for Aidan who for me is the heartbeat of the team.I think it is a bit early to be crowning Conor but lets hope he proves he is the business.

  19. I voted for Eoin but there wasn’t much in it Aidan was immense too during the league

  20. I voted for Kevin, not just for preserving our Division 1status with that almighty point at the death but more for his durability and consistent performances all through the League. As for Eoin O Donoghue he sure is a great find but when all our defenders are back it will be interesting to see where he fits in. With that in mind and after seeing how he cut through for the magnificent point to bring us back to one, would make one wonder has he a future as a forward. After all, we’re a bit short as regards natural scoring forwards right now, so maybe Eoin could light the spark…..

  21. @JP agree with you on physicality but they are exceptions, Rory Brickenden is a beast, Fullback on the Westport U21 side, a man amount boys at the minor grade last year. Pat Lambert, Rice college Captain younger brother of Paul, Evan O Brien Ballinrobe after overcoming injury last year missed the minor championship, playing senior football with Ballinrobe is a hell of a player and Gavin Durcan of Castlebar will all be pushing for places. Evan O Brien would be my pick to break into the side. Not sure how much football young Horans has had the last couple of years with Kilmovee, I think he had a brother Oisin that played minor a few years ago and was nearly seen at U21 Level, maybe emigrated. Looking at your team all have plenty of senior club football experience.
    I actually feel sorry for this age group, lose one game and done. At least at the old minor grade there was a FBD league, championship and a chance for the back door. Don’t believe that is the case here. I seriously think it is poorly though out. If there was a round robin league setup like it is with the U17 would be a better solution. How much intercounty football will young Mayo players have after the U17 grade 1-2 games a year if they are lucky. Not much of an academy structure if there is no competitive games to play.

  22. Although it’s a close call I think i’ll go for Eoin. For a new kid on the block to settle in so well is no mean feat.
    On a side note planning to travel over from the UK for the 13th May and had been looking on the GAA website for tickets but can only see the remaining league games on offer. Am I not looking in the right place? just too early? or am a better getting a relation to get them from the club?

  23. JP that U20 team you named must have some forward talent when Cathal Slattery who was terrorising Castlebar in the Mayo Senior Semi Final last year isn’t making it. He is the only player at that grade to have played in two Senior County Semi Finals last year albeit one was a replay.

  24. There will be thousands of tickets not sold for the game despite the usual rubbish of “there will be a serious crowd at this one” and if its raining, be lucky to even half fill mchale park. So dont be worrying yourself about tickets still dreamin .

    Only time tickets is ever an issue is the all ireland final , at that juncture we are led to believe mchale park sells out for every league game because nobody has ever missed a game when qualifying themselves for a september stub.

  25. Not sure if you posted it WJ, but Kieran Shannon in the Examiner has been mentioned by some posters. Very thoughtful article as usual, but I think the stats disprove his point about Rochy’s aversion to newbies. By my reckoning Crowe, O’Donoghue, Hall, Coen (newbie in that he hasn’t nailed down a regular position to date), Gallagher and Loftus (latter part of the league) have had significant game time over the league including last Sunday’s shit or bust effort. Shannon is arguing that these are not new blood as most of them have played before. However, I think he misses the point that fringe players need to be given adequate time to prove themselves, and I think that all of those have passed that test over the league. That’s a significant development.

    There are two further points worth noting:

    Midfield: Here Shannon’s point is valid. Matty Ruane looked very promising in the FBD, but didn’t make the cut since. That’s a pity I think, as midfield looks a vulnerable area for us at the moment.

    Shane Nally: what exactly does Shane Nally have to do to get game time? A injury crisis at the back, and Shiroize Akram seems to be ahead of him in game time. Yet, Nally is there on the programme 26 for every match.

    A final point. A friend who was at the Kildare game with me noted the adaptability of Mayo players. He said something to the effect that practically any Mayo player from 2 to 15 could be at the end (or the start) of a move. It was an interesting point and one I hadn’t quite thought of. It puts our so called forward problem in perspective. A total football approach means that attackers and defenders can and do switch roles all the time and may be on the last line of defence or popping over the score as the play unfolds.

    A new midfielder would enhance this flexibility even further, but that’s not likely at this stage, unless a fresh injury crisis unfolds.

  26. I voted for Kevin McLoughlin. I know Aido and Eoin O’Donoghue etc. played well at times and got MOMs but we simply wouldn’t be in division 1 for next year if Kevin hadn’t stepped up with that boomer the last day. He’s also been very consistent without being spectacular and has weighed in with a few nice points as well as turnovers and assists (that haven’t always been converted by others) in a calm and assured way under the radar. I never agree with Bernard Flynn but for once he’s right: he is Mayo’s most underrated player.

  27. Still Dreamin – I’d say it’s a simple case of being too early. There shouldn’t be any problem getting tickets once they go on general sale.

  28. He He Ultair..so funny re ‘passenger’!! That made me burst out laughing!! What would we do without Aido! He gets my vote too.

  29. It’s a shortlist, Sean, and he didn’t make it. As I said in the post, the shortlist came directly from the aggregate number of votes each player got in the seven MOTM polls and the five listed are those who attracted the most overall votes. It’s as simple as that.

  30. Thanks, Catcol – I hadn’t provided a link to that Kieran Shannon article but for anyone who’s interested in it (and it is worth a read) it’s here. I’d largely agree with you that he misses the point somewhat – I’d repeat the observation I made on the podcast about Eoin O’Donoghue’s point being a Class of 2016 effort – with Michael Hall, Stephen Coen and Fergal Boland all involved in the lead-up to it. By that stage in the game we had six of the 2016 U21 team on the field (Diarmuid O’Connor and Conor Loftus being the other two) with, as you say, Caolan Crowe also a starter so there was no shortage of new talent being let loose then, at such a critical juncture for us as well.

  31. Willie Joe just as a thought. A very popular match poll after a high posting game will place a player artificially higher. The most accurate might be to add up the percentages and divide by games played for players with five or more games.

  32. Its valued, and varied opinions by all, which is great, and who is to say we will win nothing with Adio, would u elaborate on that banm?

  33. Aido for me, we’d have been relegated without him. That’s the difference really.

  34. Thanks Willie Joe – I should have had Fergal Boland on that list also, though he did get adequate game time last year in the league.

  35. Went for Eoin but would have gone for Boyler as well . Solid all through the league . Break coming at the right time and gets lads up to match fitness and sit back and see how Galway set up against the dubs

  36. Of that list Kevin and Aido well out in front cause Paddy no doubt our best player pre injury missed a few and came back slightly off his previous very high standard. Eoghan a good find though I think people more voting heart than head. Boyler was unreal against Donegal, what a warrior, is he an oversight? How many did he feature in? Conor improving but not in our top 5.

  37. In the Breaffy match it was reported that Matthew Ruane had a strong second half.
    That’s a good sign of fitness. He just hasn’t been properly injury free and fit since the u21 in 2016. He kicked two points from distance. Very positive.

  38. Also saw Brian Gallagher Claremorris scored 1-3 last weekend he could be a useful option for midfield section. Well able to score from distance too.

  39. JP, I honestly felt that Matthew Ruane would have been used more in the league especially with our main midfielders out never expected that he wouldn’t appear at all. I see Jason Gibbons played in that game as well for Ballintubber. He must have Been released.

  40. Seeing Alan Freeman on the field the last days just goes to show how fluid the Mayo Panel is right now. IMHO Rochford has his finger on the pulse of Mayo football and if any player is doing it at either club or county you can be sure he is aware and talking to them. But it’s not just a case of playing well at club you have to be visibly better than the alternatives and need a bit of luck to get your chance. We are definitely struggling in midfield and other options outside of Gibbons would be beneficial for competition. If Matthew Ruane was injury free I’ve no doubt he would’ve been getting game time in the league. Delighted to here he’s kicking points from play. We badly need a dynamic mobile midfielder to come on in place of sheamy when he tires. I went for Aido as our most consistent stand out player in league.

  41. Cora Staunton has a great article on the Sports Chronicle “Home Away From Home” in which she describes in detail her journey from Mayo to playing football in Australia with the Sydney Joints. How the whole experience has opened her eyes to modern coaching techniques and other aspects of football and where she might go from here – well worth a read.

  42. That would probably be a fairer way to do it, JP. I might have a go at the numbers on that basis if I get a chance and see what they show up. For sure, Conor Loftus’s standing in the list was boosted by the Donegal game, where the numbers voting were high. It’s funny, though – before I ever ran any numbers at all the three lads I felt would be on the shortlist were Aidan, Eoin and Kevin. They were the three highest ranking in terms of aggregate votes so I guess the rough and ready number crunching wasn’t all that far off after all.

  43. Aido was a model of consistency throughout the league. Won dirty ball and drove us on throughout all our games. Left a few reducers in also, which I like to see as he can’t be a punchbag all the time.
    However, our 2018 NFL league campaign was the time a star was born. Mark it down, right here, right now. Eoin O’Donoghue is a future All Star and the stand out performer of our league. He was excellent last year below in Kerry when he came on. Introducing himself to a Kerry forward by planting him straight on his arse. There’s something about him that marks him out, to me anyway. Consistent, level headed, can give and take a fair belt, trusts himself to carry the ball forward and play it out, cool under pressure, and, considering the scorching Mannion gave him in the opening 10mins of our league game v Dublin, he never let it affect him. Next ball. Next ball.
    Well done to all the lads for surviving the campaign. For anyone thinking we underperformed, I suggest you listen back to the Mayo News podcast previewing the league. Rochford was interviewed and, while he publicly denied relegation was an option, I couldn’t help reading between the lines that it was very much in his thoughts given player availability, training sessions etc etc.
    However, we survived. Also, we unearthed 3 or 4 players that have shown they can produce in pressure sitiations in the league. The next step for them is they now have to prove they can do it regularly in the championship.
    Time now to lie in the long grass and keep the heads down. Leave Galway to the media and the Dubs. Our focus must be elsewhere.

  44. The Kingdom (of farce and distraction )

    Although storied in its history and more than well deserving of its reputation as the premiere footballing County , things in the Kingdom had gotten more than a little silly . Maybe even a little unhinged ?

    Known always for their hard earned currency of deep footballing knowledge , even this widely accepted truth was now being questioned both inside and indeed beyond the kingdom .

    The overall prognosis was dire .The dreaded COYBIB infestation had metastasized to the Yerra brain and the condition was deteriorating rapidly.The former cute hoors were now the cute hoorees, victims of patronizing press from COYBIB central.

    Everything was literally now seen through a powder blue lens. This made proper analysis of where they were at almost impossible and extrication from being the dreaded third best team in Ireland all but impossible .

    There was Big “Skelpie” in The Times and his obsession with Mayo and their inferiority, and his own perceived ( but unfortunately lacking ) cuteness. The man had an astonishing lack of self awareness .

    There was his brother Lil’ Skelpie also known to local wags as “Yogurt “ Skelpie in the Indo (on account of a ridiculous report of questionable semi-naked yogurt frolicking during a mini camp abroad )

    Neither of them ever made much sense in their analysis . Of Mayo.

    Disingenuously and insincerely Big Skelpie had suggested that Mayo ( without an All Ireland win ) were the second best team of the prior thirty years ( behind Dublin). This , notwithstanding the fact the Kingdom had claimed six All Ireland’s in that same time.

    However , being “wrong “, and , more importantly getting away with it like a rogue , was not only nothing to be ashamed about , indeed it was a badge of honor.

    Who cares whether you’re right as long as you get paid ? In private they liked to slyly call themselves “the weather men “ to great guffaws. Right or wrong they get paid whether it rains or shines.

    Team Management and its intricacies however always seemed to elude the Skelpies .
    They were always so present in their own heads , their own aggression and their own ( perceived ) cuteness that reflection , collective action , thoughtfulness and incisive analysis was almost a Sisyphean task for them .This was simply not what they were good at .

    Jack O Connor had hinted at this in his “ Keys to the Kingdom “ where he suggested you might want to choose your moment before speaking with Big Skelpie , otherwise known as the Fear Laidir. The moniker , Fear Laidir , it was suggested by some , was not in reference to mental fortitude , reflection or self awareness.

    This kind of analysis by O Connor , a bona fide class A manager , would cause most people to hesitate to , of all things , enter management , where continuous and open communication with “inferiors” ( people with no medals at all at all ) at inopportune times was the sine qua non.

    The Fear Laidir was undeterred.

    Fearlessness married to lack of self awareness married to total nonsense narratives was his defining character.

    He pulled off the seemingly impossible feat of managing a Kerry U-21 team for two years and never winning a game . Now if you pulled a few fellas off the street of any rural community in Kerry , the chances are high they’d win Munster . It wasn’t so much management these boys needed but rather a lift to the game and a manager to not make it about himself . But somehow the Fear Laidir managed it.

    He managed the impossible .No doubt he’s still scratching his head at how those idiot young fellas remained immune to his exhortations and his regaling stories of “the uncle’s” legendary exploits. Could they not feel the greatness ? Could they not inhale it ? Feed off it ?

    And yet somehow he and Lil’ extracted a good wage from the proletariat newspapers for their so called “analysis “ of GAA football management .

    What a racket ?

    Yogurt had just penned a column about his own moodiness after losing his last club game at Croke Park and it was laced with massive personal contradictions of which he would undoubtedly continue to remain unaware.

    His masters at the Indo didn’t care much either tho they were surely aware ? At least one would hope so . Maybe that was the whole game ? With Yogurt they had a manageable commodity who they could read like a book and who would not interfere with their planned total spectrum dominance .

    What a racket ? What an absolute farce.

    Here was Lil’ ‘ol Skelpie running off home , severely chastened by the Corofin boys ,playing Kerry -like football at its best , and was opening the latch on the door at home before his ( men of a lesser god ) Cork teammates left Pearse Station in Dublin.

    This guy , THIS GUY, is the guy who is going to tell us all about management ??

    The Skelpies were from a proud family of great footballers and somehow it was assumed that post retiring from playing they’d be great managers and analysts too . But the sine qua non of these things was the ability to see things objectively through others eyes ,using facts and data to back up your claims, and to definitely get out of your own head. This was a bridge too far . This would never happen . It could not happen.

    In there , in the kingdom of the mind ,was a treasure trove of veritable All Ireland medals and heroic lung bursting exploits which somehow gave credence to any other endeavor they might embark on in life. And let no one say any different .

    Because within the kingdom there were other kingdoms and the ultimate kingdom was in your own head. In the comfort of your thoughts you could win every game and every fight , and dominate everyone who ever walked the sacred earth of Croke Park. Including Mickey Harte’s Tyrone.

    You know , like Superman .

    Anyone who challenged you on these things deserved a good “skelping “ Or at least a good reminder about your medals bulging back pocket . That would teach them. Burn !!

    Marco Polo Skelpie was the youngest and definitely the most self aware , modest and thoughtful of the three , at least up until now. He had been the most skillful footballer too.

    He too however had regressed to a more precious state after retirement , especially under the COYBIB onslaught , even going as far as assuring everyone in a national column that “ Mayo WOULD lose to Donegal” but wait for it , “ even if they didn’t , they were finished “.

    I mean wow ! You could get paid for this ?

    If Kerry could not be in first place , they were going to concede nothing to Mayo even if the choice came down to speaking common sense versus nonsense .

    Where nonsense was perceived to serve your own personal interests then so much the better. ‘Twas preferable to live in your own head and your own farce even if it was grotesquely inappropriate and child like. The regression was in full swing.

    This regression of a whole county had started when the Skelpies had not only gotten Amen re confirmed once , but twice , when the odds were stacked against them .

    He was the future because he was their man . Better to spout distracting nonsense about Mayo for now in the vain hope it would buy time for “Amen “ ( literally ) to work the oracle on the young fellas. May it be so.

    But was it all a vain hope ? The Kingdom’s greatest assets had always been its adaptability and its tradition . Somehow they always managed to stay with tradition while adapting and thriving in the modern game.

    Now , however , big questions were starting to emerge as the game became almost professional and the shift to a Dublin centered All Ireland Football championship was in full swing . Dublin were aiming for total spectrum dominance in football and maybe hurling eventually too . Nothing now was beyond their wildest ambition or their means .

    The perception was that the people of the Kingdom could be fooled after all. They could be bullied and cowed from the national bully pulpits known as RTÉ and The Indo into accepting the inevitability of the Fitzmaurice era. Deep in their hearts they knew there were better managers in the Kingdom . And they were available .

    Deep in their hearts the Yerras truly believed you were no one in Kerry if you didn’t have an All Ireland medal in your back pocket. The Skelpies actually said so on the Telly. Rocket scientist – meh. Doctor , Lawyer , meh. John B Keane – meh. Jack O ‘Connor -qualified meh. But yeah , meh.

    No , without the gravitas of All Ireland medals in the back pocket you were not worth pissing upon.

    The Mayo people ( esp in the Gaeltacht where there was a certain shared heritage and sympathy for the Skelpies ) didn’t understand the statement by Big Skelpie that the Yerras couldn’t let Mayo in the door and you wouldn’t want to be around in Kerry if Mayo won an All Ireland .

    Because their whole narrative was based on the fact that Mayo were nobodies . No history or tradition of winning senior All Ireland’s. They would always lose. And now , not only would they lose , but , according to Marco they were finished too !!! A double lose if you will . This was useful only because it implied the Kingdom were on the ( relative )rise again.

    All the words in the world , all the plamasing , couldn’t hide their disdain for losers like Mayo.

    Of course they joshed around and joked and told improbable stories about Mayo heroics during the Paidi tournament but that was mere facade. It was plastic and insincere . And to their benefit.

    Once the last Skelpie lost his thoughtfulness and abandoned any attempt at incisive analysis then the message was there for all to see .

    It was the Kingdom that was in full panic.

    Despite incredible forward talent , decent midfield , they simply could not get their defensive act together. Despite incredible fitness levels they were still a way off the physical stuff and the pace of Mayo and Dublin.

    The talent of the young fellas was indeed something to behold but the whole professional thing had leveled the playing field in a way that made winning All Ireland’s since 2014 a much different proposition now .

    They eked one out in 2014 through sheer bloody mindedness and ( very ) complicit refereeing as well as McGuinness doing them the favor of destroying Dublin. A gimme goal from Papa Durcan also came virtually wrapped in green and gold.

    But now that the Dubs were in a dominant and domineering position it stuck in their craw to be treated the way that they themselves had treated Mayo for so long. With patronizing b.s.

    So what’s left to do ? In desperation let’s pretend Mayo are finished. This will generate false hope in the Kingdom ( something tbh that is rarely given currency there )
    Lets hope Eamon’s boys come good . But that’s all it is . Vain hope. The game has become professional and Kerry have been ( relatively speaking )napping and slow to adapt .

    Their defense is hopelessly porous. They simply do not have the defensive talent ( yet )or defensive organization ( yet) or physicality ( yet) to handle even a weakened Dublin. But no one in their right mind would suggest they wouldn’t get to the top again and soon . You could never , ever, write them off.

    Marco is putting it out there for all to see . The panic is out there .The game is up . Either the Kingdom win this year or Amen is out and with it the Skelpies and their influence on Kerry management . IMO That will be a good day for Kerry football and regrettably a bad one for Mayo.

    Jack O’Connor waits in the wings and we all know the sadist he is to us.

    And this just in … Yogurt picking Liam Kearns to be Kerry manager after Amen “ retires”
    Well now , I’ll eat these words above but that there is a great suggestion . ( of course he’s only saying it to keep O Connor down ) but Kearns is the real deal.

    If Yogurt says it though it’s (unfortunately for Kearns ) the kiss of death.

    But for me , a ( relatively ) weakened Dublin in 2018 and a Kerry being mismanaged mean we get one more chance to do it .Because of their history of the Skelpies being wrong , the panic in the air about Mayo, I think it’s time to hit the bookies .

    Odds on Mayo are 6/1. Those are good odds for this Mayo team .

  45. Goodman Swahili. Great read.
    You must have the arse knocked out of the typewriter.

    I do think that 6-1 are long odds for this team. I believe we are going to win the All Ireland this year. We have given the Dubs the body shots for the past number of years. If they make it that far this year they’re goin to get the knockout shot. No ifs ands or buts.

  46. Great peice of writing,puts it in a nutshell about pundits,who get paid to write rubbish,I fully believe that the players and management would not have committed to this year if they were not going to give it a right good rattle,up Mayo

  47. What are you smokin Swahili. Us lads in the Gaeltacht have zero sympathy for skelphies just ask Eoin and Chris they’d go through a brick wall to beat Kerry

  48. My apologies Backdoorsam. That’s incredibly reassuring and , I would venture ,literally true .
    Suas an Gaeltacht . Abu !

  49. I’m messing Swahili well done on the post it’s great yourselves and Revelinho should get together and write a book it would rival the Dee 4 Ross O Carroll Kerry it would be even better

  50. Well the brains on everything here from tactics to comedy is unreal!! We could take over the world!! There definitley a book or a play in ye Swahilli and Revellino!! Happy Easter to ye all!

  51. we’re in the same group as them if we win connacht. they would prefer someone else. They were at the same craic last year

  52. I’d go for Eoin, seeing as he is a new lad on the scene, well done to him on putting in such a big shift in the league.
    So with the league being over, the big question is, is our 26+ playing panel stronger for 2018 than it was in 2017.
    If all are fit and well:

    1. David Clarke
    2. Chris Barrett
    3. Brendan Harrison
    4. Eoin O’Donoghue
    5. Lee Keegan
    6. Colm Boyle
    7. Paddy Durcan
    8. Tom Parsons
    9. Seamus O’Shea
    10. Kevin McLoughlin
    11. Aidan O’Shea
    12. Diarmuid O’Connor
    13. Conor Loftus
    14. Andy Moran
    15. Cillian O’Connor

    16. Robbie Hennelly
    17. Keith Higgins
    18. Donal Vaughan
    19. Jason Doherty
    20. Stephen Coen
    21. Caolan Crowe
    22. Fergal Boland
    23. Adam Gallagher
    24. Barry Moran
    25. Shane Nally
    26. David Drake/Michael Hall/Evan Regan/Conor O’Shea/Alan Freeman/Danny Kirby/Ger McDonagh/Ger Cafferkey/Neil Douglas/Donal Newcombe/James Stretton/Shairoze Akram/Cian Hanley

    I think that I have listed all of the players that played for us in the league in 2018 bar Jason Gibbons who is no longer in the panel it seems plus Keith, Donal Vaughan and Cian Hanley who didn’t play any part.

    I just included Eoin and Conor in the first 15 to add some new blood. Conor at 13 but with a free roll to move between the half-forward and full-forward line. Aidan at 11 but to play more towards the midfield area and our half-back line as a holding midfielder.

    Anyone else that should be in there like Seamus Cunniffe, Matthew Ruane, Ciaran Treacy, Peter Naughton or some of the Westport lads etc.

    Do we lack back-up in certain areas like midfield and we could do with at least one more out and out scorer.

  53. Swahili. There must be black smoke coming out of whatever device you typed all that out on.
    Are Mayo 6/1? Jaysus that can’t be ignored. Easy money for anyone that wants it. Ah yeah, time to go in heavy.

  54. As the old tune goes
    And everybody knows
    There ain’t no cowards
    On the Plain of the Yews

    The hombres had settled another dust up. Old Judge Rochford looked on and smiled. The shoot out finished in deadly fashion. Boyle and the younger o’shea, well they preferred a punch up. But these northern gringoes didn’t fight fair and paid for their cheatin.

    Rochford by his own reckonin figured Loftus had taken down 6 of the gringoes. He watched o’donoghue down another from some 40 or 50 paces. Mcloughlin finished the fight. He drew with what Rochford thought was his weaker right hand and the last gringo dropped.

    Riding homeward they first saw the Reward signs nailed to a wooden placard.
    And pictures of every hombre in the posse.

    There was a time when the hombres and the Tribe tolerated each other. That time had come and gone.
    Long gone.

    “Them pickle sucken buckets of Coyote shit” hissed Seamie as he tore down his WANTED poster. Seamie remembered how the Tribe had ganged up on his kid brother. That was their first big mistake.

    Judge Rochford looked at the faces. Each hombre was checking the dollar amount posted on their WANTED poster. He liked what he saw. The Tribe would pay dearly for their bravado.

    Rochford wasn’t worried by the Tribes tough talkin. He knew, like it said in the good book.
    You can’t make a chicken dinner outta chicken shit.

  55. @HopeSpringsEternal.
    Unfortunately I think we will have about the same strength of panel. We found new lads (Eoin/Caolan) and the u23s got better.
    But then thats counter balanced by the impact of all these injuries.
    But, maybe the same strength of panel will be enough.
    It will be interesting to see how Matthew Ruane goes in league this weekend.
    The other thought I have is to use a lot of these returnees off the bench so fitness isn’t an issue for them. Improve our composure coming off the bench.

  56. 45 theres plenty of football action with a full round of Mayo Senior club league games tonight,get out and support your club! Dublin and Galway and Ross and Cavan league finals both on the telly tomorrow.

  57. @JP, yes I would agree with you there, having lads like Keith, Donal Vaughan etc. coming off the bench in a tight game could make a big difference this year, i.e. finishing with our strongest team.

    As you said we also have Eoin and Caolan going well. Stephen Coen, Michael Hall, Conor and Fegal are a year older, which helps. Then there is Adam Gallagher and Cian Hanley who might be surprise packets for us this year. Its all to play for in 2018.

    As I said previously we might be still missing an option of a more mobile midfielder, Lee Keegan did this job against Roscommon last year, maybe he might have to do the same again this year. We could do with another out and out shooter as well, as Andy is not getting any younger. Maybe someone like Ciaran Treacy could be another bolter for us in the months ahead. Best of luck to all involved.

    In relation to the league final you get the feeling that to beat Dublin, you need to score goals against them. Monaghan scored two last week when beating them and in 2014 Donegal scored three to get the win. Dublin are so relentless in terms of popping over points, that’s why scoring goals against them is so important. Dublin will be missing a few of their big players as well which should give Galway a boost.

    I see that Galway are playing some mind games as well before the match, talking about Croke Park being like an eight point advantage to the Dubs and highlighting about the money being pumped into the GAA in the capital. It worked for Jim McGuinness in 2014, at that time he compared Dublin to being like Chelsea before Abramovich. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out for Galway.

    For us in the big games we always have players like Boyler, Keith, Keegan, Aidan and Andy leading the way which inspires the other lads. That has probably being what has let Galway down in the big games, their leaders not leading from the front, so it’ll be up to the likes of Paul Conroy, Gary O’Donnell, Thomas Flynn, Gareth Bradshaw, Sean Armstrong etc. to do that. Shane Walsh usually does stand up in the big games, as we even seen down under in Australia, when playing for Ireland. Their young lads can follow their leaders then. If they don’t step up then you’d expect the Dubs to win well. I often think that its maybe those hammerings that we gave to Galway a few years ago that could be still at the back of their main player’s minds. When you get ahead of them and on top in midfield like Tipp, Roscommon and Kerry did in the last two years, those leaders seem to almost give up apart from Shane Walsh.

  58. Swahili, Revellino, and all ye comedians out there, brilliant keep them coming, that chicken dinner line is hilarious.

  59. I’m with you there Sean Burke – As a Mayo man, Connacht man, I have to say the best of luck to
    the Tribesmen tomorrow. If they do it, it’ll certainly add some spice to our Championship encounter
    in a few weeks time.

  60. At the Garrymore game tonight. Caolan Crowe picked up Conor Loftus. Firstly, Crossmolina are really struggling so its hard to be too critical. Conor never got a shot at goals in the sixty minutes, Crowe blotted him out completely and should of scored a goal himself. Shane Nally gave an exhibition of foot passing, scored two points one from 60metres. He really dominated the game in front of a watching Stephen Rochford. It actually is sad to see a great club like Crossmolina in decline.

  61. It could be a tough season for Crossmolina playing division 1 league and Senior Championship. Hopefully they will turn it around. Garrymore continue to punch above their weight when you look at the pick they have.

    Anyone at the Mitchels v Breaffy game earlier? There would have been a big number of the county panel involved.

  62. Wasnt at the match – but Jason sounded excellent this evening for Burrishoole (v neighbours Kilmeena)

  63. Doherty is usually prolific for Burrishoole. I think he got 1-8 from play in a club championship game a couple of weeks after we lost the 2016 final.

  64. When Garrymore have an underage team 2 or 3 of them will go on to play ten year senior careers. When other clubs with much bigger picks have a team with 5-6 senior standard players, 2-3 of them will go on to have sporadic senior careers. Garrymore prove that club culture is more important than size of pick.

  65. Jp Garrymore are a great club but are amalgamated at underage with kilmaine to form carras

  66. WJ Swahili comment must be the world record for the blog. Delighted to see the progress of Eoin O Donoughue.picked him out as a minor on a team well beaten by Kerry in 2014

  67. Another good win for Claremorris this evening over Charlestown on a scoreline of 3-8 to 0-7.A really good performance by Brian Gallagher at midfield got the better off Tom Parsons.James McCormack and James Stretton were very good too.Claremorris look to be a serious outfit this year and will go far.Best for Charlestown was Jacko Reilly who kicked 6 of Charlestowns 7 points.has serious left peg.
    Football in South Mayo is very strong at the moment with big rivals Garrymore and Claremorris now joint top and unbeaten in both League and O’Mara cup.
    Sad to see Crossmolina in decline hard to believe only 17 years ago they were All Ireland champs, and produced the most successful and the best club team ever winning 6 county titles in that period and 3 Connacht clubs.Will we ever see a better team in Mayo club football.They used to field 3 Adult teams only 10 years ago and their second string were very competitive at Intermediate.

  68. Happy Easter to Everyone and hopefully we get a win today against your neighbours. I expect a very close game I honestly do and at 10/1 in Paddy Powers the draw is tempting. Go easy on me if they beat us!!!

    Kind Regards
    Martin the Dub

  69. Yes heard that Sean, and Kevin Kilbane has been added to the wider training panel.

  70. With you Sean Burke, best of luck to Galway. As we meet them on may 13, we should be looking closely today.
    For us at end of league we have decent panel, and couple of worrying injuries. Would like Rochford to do a crash course on effective use of substitutes, he needs to be sharp on may 13 or game will slip away.
    Lesson one could be today because neither Gavin or Walsh will be slow in introducing their impact subs..

  71. Great to get reports from around the grounds. Thanks to all posters for keeping us in the picture with astute observation. Keep them coming…

  72. Youre on the ball redcol, Kilbane has been trainning with Achill a while now , I can tell ya now though Kilmovee shamrocks have a man to mark him for the championship encounter coming up.

  73. I was at the Claremorris Charlestown match Brian Gallagher played chf Parsons was midf and won most of the kickouts but was swallowed up then and lost possession Gallagher looked class but will have bigger and tougher tests ahead.Reilly did well from frees but was well marked in open play .

  74. High time the claremorris club produced a decent county senior. Must be nearly 30 years since they had an established Mayo player – I’m thinking the Maher’s back in late 80 early 90s.

  75. @Larry Duff. They produced Tomas Griffen for the 2000s and he was criminally ignored. Club sprinter and elite powerful. Corner backs hated marking him. You can only imagine how effective he would have been coming off the bench. If you check back Claremorris games in that decade he was scoring regularly. He didn’t need any fitness work for a bench role he was an elite athlete from 14 years of age.

  76. Anyone know was Cian Hanley playing for Ballagh. Ciaran Tracey? Chris Barrett?James Carr? All updates appreciated

  77. Diarmuid O’Connnor scored a point from midfield for Ballintubber but went off injured in the first half. Hopefully it was just precautionary with club championship next weekend.

  78. We’re really going to have to have a serious think about who we’re going to put on Comer on the 13th. He’s running rings around the Dublin defence. They can’t contain him at all without resorting to cynical fouling.

  79. Might be worth considering Caolan Crowe for the job. He’d have enough physicality for Comer and he’s a tight marker as he showed in his tussle with mcbrearty. And if comer drifts outfield Crowe is equally at home here.

  80. I don’t doubt you JP, I can’t remember the guy now but I do remember 2 Mullins brothers on the fringe Mayo panel for a period around then.
    My point still stands that it’s been a paltry contribution to the county team for a big club in that period. I’ll put it this way – how many Mayo minors have come from claremorris in that period since 1994 or so? I’d say at least 30? Yet not one established themselves as a senior county player. You’d expect more.

  81. Without any research I doubt Claremorris had 30 minors. There were stretches of years with zero minors even when champions recently. Ill check it.

  82. Claremorris have produced very talented players over the years Karl Boyle , Greg Mulkerrins , Pat Navin , Paul Navin, Ger Brady, Stevie Walsh, Ian Kearney one of the best underage goalkeepers that went through Mayo,Mickey and Gary Mullins, Tomas Griffin all very talented but never seemed to establish a place in the Mayo Senior Panel.There seemed to be a be a big social scene in the town over the years and like there neighbours Davitts never seem to produce
    County players at that time like there neighbours Garrymore and Hollymount who always stayed very competitive at the top table.

  83. I’v always had a thought that some clubs in South, Hollymount, Davitts, Garrymore and Ballinrobe get more of their close to county standard minors picked.
    Based on form the Mayo minors should mainly be Westport, Belmullet and Castlebar. Then whatever other team is in form which switches Claremorris, Balla, Parke, Breaffy, Knockmore and Ballina over the last 10 years.
    Ballina had a dip but are on the way back.
    Claremorris look to remain competitive now.
    Parke have had a lift. Balla were ridiculously ignored last year. How Padraig McLoughlin and Jack Harte were ignored was beyond insane.

  84. Agreed, based on what we have seen so far librel role in the tie Crowe is probably the next candidate after Keegan to do a man marking job. Felt Dublin weren’t clued in on comers tactics in the first half where he is all head down, bull through for goal and if he feels a tackle coming in at all grabs the defender and throws himself to the ground. Dublin went much more defensive after Comers early forays and he wasn’t as effective after that. It will be a case of Crowe steering him away from the danger zone with Boyler sweeping and double teaming him. The temptation will be to tackle him but we need to get plenty of bodies in the road and swarm when he goes to ground. Looks like 13 players behind the ball on the 13th

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