Post-match thoughts

Aidan Kilcoyne v RosI’ve had a day away from the football (apart from watching a bit of The Sunday Game just now), what with all the Father’s Day fun and games that the kids had up their sleeves this morning and then, later this afternoon, I had some very long grass to cut.  But, before turning in, it’s worth setting down a few final thoughts about yesterday’s match.

I watched the first half of it again late (very late, in fact) last night on the web over a bottle of beer and, from the vantage point provided by the TV cameras, that display in the opening 35 minutes looked even more devastating than it had done in the flesh earlier on in the day.  I know there was plenty of talk afterwards about how poor Roscommon were (the lads on gaaboard.com seem to be mainly of this view) but we know from bitter experience what it feels like to have 2-4 rammed down your throat in the opening quarter and it was always going to have taken a superhuman effort to have made a match of it from there.  Sure, they never made any fist at a comeback and they could – and, perhaps, should – have ended up on the end of an even worse hiding but the simple fact was that the match was over the minute Pat Harte blasted home our second goal.  The rest was just detail.

For me, the most pleasing thing about yesterday was that opening start and, in particular, how we made our dominance count on the scoreboard to such devastating effect.  How often have we seen bright openings wasted by a failure to turn possession into scores?  Yesterday, the scoring rate was a fair reflection of the amount of ball we won in the first half and it was great to see the likes of O’Shea, Killer, Moran and Dillon using their heads in going for the main chance rather than taking easy points.  Sure, that same clinical attitude was missing in the second half – Tom Parsons should probably have scored two goals after he’d come on for David Heaney – but all the intensity had long gone from the game by then and Roscommon had finally begun to realise that all they could was limit the damage.

The big downside for us, I guess, is that we’re into the Connacht final without having had any kind of serious contest.  That’s not ideal, for sure, but it’s hardly new territory for us – sure, weren’t we in exactly the same position twelve months ago as well?  The difference this year is that we played better in murdering Roscommon than we did in dispatching Sligo twelve months ago and the manner of our win yesterday does indicate that, after two years of frustrating stagnation, our fortunes could be pointing up again.

That doesn’t mean we’ll beat Galway in the final (and it will be Galway – if we can end up with 20 points to spare over Roscommon, then surely the Herrin Chokers can expect to come out at least a point ahead of the Yeats County) but we’ll certainly be heading into Pearse Stadium with a fair bit of confidence about our chances of dethroning the Connacht champions.  At this point, we look as if we’ve improved since this time last year and we’ll have a better idea next weekend as to what shape Galway are in.

The bottom line from yesterday is that the ruthlessness we showed in the first half suggests (but at this stage only suggests) we have the potential to punch at a higher level this year compared to last year or the year before.  We have no idea yet what this level might be and so there’s little point setting out goals (especially ones that fall short of the summit) for what the team will achieve in this year’s championship.  If we accept – as I think we now must – that the championship only really begins at the quarter-final stage, then we can be happy that we’re closing in on qualification to the business end of the season.

It follows, of course, that winning Connacht is no longer an end in itelf and I think I’ve finally come around to accepting the viewpoint that what’s important in terms of the current championship structure is that, come what may, you stay in it for as long as you can with the aim of reaching the real contest, which starts with the quarter-finals.  My preference for the front door way of getting there is based on the fact that we’ve tended to be a confidence team and so defeat in a provincial final has left us ill-equipped to avail of the second chance the qualifiers afford us.  Even I can see, however, that such a mindset no longer makes any sense given Tyrone’s exploits last year, not to mention Kerry’s renaissance in 2006.

Our sole aim now should be to get into the hat for the All-Ireland quarter-final draw and yesterday’s win gives us two opportunities of making this select group.  Personally, I’d like to see us qualify for the All-Ireland series at the first attempt on the 19th of July but if it takes a second swing at in, then so be it.  The important thing is that, after an absence of two years, we get there and, once we do, we can then start to think about aim-setting for the remainder of the campaign.

7 thoughts on “Post-match thoughts

  1. No doubt about it, the win was great for Mayo. Its nice to finally see a Mayo team with forwards AND backs firing on all cylinders! However before we look to the final another match we should be watching next week is the minors which kicks off before Galway and Sligo…how are they shaping up this year WJ?

  2. That’s absolutely true, mayoabu – I have to confess I know bugger all about how we’re shaping up on that front. Anyone else have any idea?

  3. very impressed with Mayo on Saturday. I know Roscommon had a bad day in the office but Mayo played with focus and determination. Looked like they were in the right mental zone from the off and that is something that has often been missing. All over the pitch they had the upper hand and as a team there seemed to be a good understanding but maybe some of that was because on the day they could. The amazing thing about the match was that Roscommon so often didn’t even challenge or tackle – they allowed us to run up and down the pitch at will.
    A few comments made re Barry Moran not getting on the scoresheet but I, for one, was glad that JOM didn’t take him off as that wouldn’t have helped his confidence any and would have interfered with the high ball tactic that was opted for on the day. He may not have scored but with a performance and result like that I don’t think we can argue that the ‘twin tower’ full forward line didn’t work. It’s a system and it did work and looks worthy of persisting with based on Saturday – and Barry Moran is part of that tactic.
    As regards Roscommon – It’s tough punishment for any team that hits an off day just when the other side are firing on all cylinders (we should know!). So despite all the anti Ros thing I hope we can be a bit symphatic as we need Roscommon to be putting it up us in Connacht.

  4. Saw a few minor league games they were very unlucky not to win the league, a last min goal from galway denied them. Aidan Walsh and Alex Corduff are there from last yr and a few of the Colmans lads are in the mix this year too. If Walsh puts in another performance like last yr from the placed ball it will look good. Tis a shame that if they dont win this match they are out of the championship, havin not have played a championship match together…next sunday will be the making and breaking of them

  5. There will be changes for the final.
    Cunniffe will be on to mark Joyce after his display in Tuam in the league.
    Howley would tighten up the full back line.
    Omalley deserves a run–you can not blame him for the 2 goals the last time in Salthill– I think the problem was with Devanney.
    cant see any changes in the forwards.
    Moran will come good.

  6. I’m glad Barry Moran wasn’t taken off as well, Ma-Yoman – as I said in the match report, he’s one half of the Twin Towers and without him in there, there’d have been far less pandemonium created in the sector. He’ll definitely start in the final, I reckon.

    Interesting observation about Cunniffe and Howley, JR – there’s no question but that Howley would improve the full-back line if moved in there. But will Johnno change a winning formation? I’m not so sure he will.

    I wasn’t blaming KOM for Salthill in 2007, by the way: he was left totally exposed for both Galway goals that day and there was nothing he could do to stop them going in. If Clarke is fit, that’ll be a hard call for Johnno as both will have strong claims on the jersey.

    Thanks for the heads-up on the minors, 58yearslater – it sure looks like it’s all or nothing for them on Sunday. If I’m not mistaken, the Tyrone minors are out of it already so hopefully our lads won’t make a similarly early exit as well.

  7. I think JOM will change the backs. They were not tested on Sunday.We made that mistake after the Sligo game last year.
    Training should be interesting.
    Looked at the game twice & Ross should have got at least 2 goals with very little ball.
    I feel omalley will hold on to the goalie spot–he has a fin e kick out & marshalled the backs well–you can hear him on tv shouting post post

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