Quiet countdown continues

It’s the biggest football match in the championship this weekend – the meeting of Cavan and Monaghan is the only other one likely to approach it in terms of intensity or pulling power – but so far at least it’s a very low-key lead-in to Sunday’s Connacht semi-final meeting between ourselves and Galway at Pearse Stadium (throw-in 4pm).

I guess the Diarmuid Connolly incident is crowding out debate about the forthcoming action this weekend. While this is understandable, that issue is – as I said yesterday – of no concern to us. All that matters for us at this point in time is sorting Galway on Sunday.

I’ve just done a quick sweep of the dailies and, aside from this piece by Colm Keys with Cillian O’Connor in the Irish Independent, the cupboard is bare. There’s also a piece with Stephen Coen on the GAA website (here) but that’s about it. Not a sausage either anywhere from the opposition camp.

The Mayo News published a cracking supplement for the game yesterday and a number of the articles that appeared in it are now online. It’s still worth your while getting the paper itself but the pieces in question include Mike Finnerty’s interview with Peter Forde (here), Billy Joe Padden’s tactics column (here) and Ger Flanagan’s profile of Fergal Boland (here).

The same paper yesterday also confirmed the one bit of hard news that’s out there about team selection for Sunday. The paper reported that Conor O’Shea hurt his shoulder in a recent training session and so will most likely miss the game. The team for Salthill is expected to be announced tomorrow afternoon.

As I said, it’s all very quiet so far. Still, once the team details are published that’ll concentrate minds a bit. There’ll also be another Mayo News football podcast bonus episode going live this Friday (I’m due to be over in London on a work thing that day so I need to give Rob the keys to the kingdom to get that one up on the blog) and sure by then it’ll nearly be Sunday.

53 thoughts on “Quiet countdown continues

  1. It’s. Oh. So quiet ssshhh ssshhh ssshhh. Well, at least Stiff Little Finger Diarmuid has us rushing to the record store to buy his latest “hit” Alternative Linesman which looks like it’s gonna spend 12 weeks at number one.

  2. Quiet countdown is good. Last year the mood was overwhelmingly arrogant which had us beaten before the players even took to the field. Hopefully the sense of uncertainty within the county 12 months on will have our lads much better prepared physically and in the right state of mind come Sunday.

  3. Whilst Galway have home advantage, there are two key pluses for us going into the game which makes a difference from last year: (I) Galway’s element of surprise is gone and (ii) most crucially of all, we have a cship game under our belt so far against Sligo – they’ve had no competitive game since the league 2 decider against Kildare.

    Their backs are not great but they’re strong from midfield up.

    Again, where we need to see real improvement, is in us converting chances from the amount of possession we have and reducing our reliance on COC frees and AM. I really believe D Kirby at FForward is something that should be tried.

  4. May the calm continue until match time and may Rochford move in quickly should any pre match psychological warfare be directed at AOS or any other player.
    We may have one game under our belt but how impressive were we.
    My hope is that we play to a structure or patern or we have a plan.
    We seem to have six forwards who can all play as sweepers. Cillian O Connor the most guilty one as he is pivotal to attack. And his defensive efforts no more than fair. Lacks pace, turnover record poor and liable to foul give away frees.
    So lets hope the real Cillian stands up on Sunday as a leader of an attacking force. But its up to the management to give direction.
    Hopefully we will have strong bench with our best fifteen for final quarter and that team and subs be named simultaneously

  5. I think its absolutely ridiculous that Connolly got 12 weeks. A joke. Imagine if a mayo player got
    similar for a harmless rush of the blood to the head. Anyways . . .

    Hope Aiden doesn’t start. He could make a huge impact coming off the bench with 20/25 to go.

    I’d think Nally would be the best call for COS. He’ll do the dirty work with the ability to kick a score.

    Alternatively if Harrison is fit, Keith to 10 instead of COS ..

  6. No big change from last year’s team. We forget that mayo were dominating the game right up to the parsons/ hennelly mix up for the goal and then for some reason just flung in the towel. If we win on Sunday we will win the Connacht championship but that will be it. The well has been emptied too often.

  7. I doubt Mayo played any challenge match last weekend and certainly not against Kerry. It will be tough going on Sunday so I would say it’s been tapering down and just being fresh for the game.

  8. I’ve never seen this team throw in the towel Rober. We’ve come up short on too many occasions, but it’s never been for the want to effort or heart.

    That well has been declared dry for a few years now and they’ve always responded.

  9. I wonder how we will line up on Sunday? I’d love to see Aido back around the middle again, if he’s fit. One thing I can’t fathom when he is centre forward, is why we can’t seem to utilise the size advantage he has over almost every centre-half back in the country. We should be able to win fairly handy possession off our own kickouts by utilising Aiden more. Easier said than done I know. If Galway start Tom Flynn, that gives them basically 3 midfielders. He is mobile, so I would imagine we would have a plan for that.

    While I am quite unsure about us this year, we do seem to have developed a good squad. Our bench could have Aido, Doherty, Nally, Vaughan, Coen, Andy, Kirby. We have decent options. Most of us don’t really know how we will line up, so our opposition will have a hard time guessing too. We haven’t really caught fire under Rochford, bar the All Ireland finals last year. We need to be somewhere near our best to win on Sunday.

  10. There’s too much credit given to Galway for their recent relative success. What have they achieved? Who have the played?
    They were four points down in last years encounter in MacHale Park up to the last ten minutes. We were shockingly complacent that day and you could see we were nowhere near the levels of conditioning and sharpness we displayed later in the year. We thought we could sally our way through the game and keep our energy levels in store for the harder fights later in the year. And you know what? It nearly worked. A mix-up on our kick-out, slack tackling and next thing we knew we were two points down and the clock ticking away from us. We could not go up a gear to respond because we had not put in the work at training. They deservedly won on the day. But what followed then was they proceeded to go up to Croker, play a Division 3 team and get hammered out the door. The same Division 3 team that we controlled for 85% of that match and never looked like losing against them.
    In the league this year Galway drew with Cork, lost narrowly to Meath and then racked up big scores against very poor defenses in Derry and Down. Two narrow wins v Kildare saw them clinch the Division 2 title. Fair play to them. But the defense they come up against the next day is NOT Fermanagh, Clare, Meath, Derry or Down. It’s the strongest sector of our team and it’s jam packed with All Stars, Players of the Years and seasoned Division 1 battle hardened warriors. If we are at our game, from the off, Galway will not be able to stay with us. Forget about the Sligo game as that was always just about getting through it, uninjured, not showing your hand, and moving on.
    Mayo by 4 points.

  11. I’d love to see Danny Kirby start now that COS is out. With so many teams playing blanket defences having long range point scorers are vital and we’re not spoiled for them. Nally is an option there but I’m not a fan of converting back to forwards.

  12. Holy Moly Pebblesmeller, Is there any point Galway turning up? And after all that synopsis on how poor/average we are, you still only think Mayo will win by 4!! Anyways awful rain here in the city today with the forecast promised the same over the weekend, that could have a big influence, as long as no wind. A warning to all Mayo fans heading through Tuam on Sunday there is on going roadworks on the Milltown side and the Galway rd side of the town although I’d say he should flow through fairly ok.. My head says Mayo but my heart will stick with the Tribe…

  13. The only challange game I heard played against Kerry recently was by Galway and I hear they got a right old trimming. I wouldn’t mind seeing Keith replace Conor O’Shea with Kirby starting for Andy. As was mentioned earlier by a poster, there’s no better man to come on and get you a few scores also. The jig he danced after bagging the goal when he came on in 2013 still riles the Heron Chokers something fierce.

  14. It makes no sense to leave your best player on the bench – not for one minute – if he’s fit. Otherwise why not leave Keegan, Cillian etc. on the bench – they would be great impact subs.
    In D. Connolly’s case, he has been intimidating referees for years and getting away with it. Remember in last year’s final when M. Deegan indicated a pull back by Keegan and, following intimidation by Connolly, changed his decision to a pull down and consequent black card. He has been painted by the media and Dublin Co. Board and management as more sinned against than sinning but unless one is totally blind the opposite is the case.

  15. This is a tough one to call, if we approach the game in a “AI Final” attitude or Tyrone in the league, we will pull through. We didn’t show an ounce of the urgency against Sligo that we showed against Tyrone and Donegal. My gut feeling is the squad are hurting after last years defeat and will produce a performance with intensity levels not seen since last September/October. Anything less than that and we will lose.

    If Aido is fit to start then he should start! The panick he will cause just hanging around the square will free up space for others, I would start him at 11 and let him drift in and out, which in my opinion is his best position. No point bringing him on if Galway are 4 or 5 points up and have 14 men behind the ball, he’ll just be wrapped up and every free against him will inspire the crowd and suck the life out of us. Starting him at midfield is not an option, he looks 2-3kgs heavier than he was 3-4 years ago, and back then he had’nt the gas to stick with a pacy midfielder.

    My team for Sunday would be ———1.Clarke
    2. Barrett. 3. Cafferkey. 4. Higgins
    5.Keegan. 6. Boyle. 7.Durcan
    8. Parsons. 9. S.O.S
    10. Diarmuid. 11. A.O.S. 12. Jason Doc
    13. K Mac. 14. Andy. 15. Cillian

    iMac back sweeping, Aido drifting in and out being a nuisance. Harrison to cover any black card/injury in the backs. Kirby, loftus, Boland to cover the forward positions. Must add that I think Boland has a great future with Mayo, but I feel he needs another year serving his apprenticeship before he starts ahead of Jason Doc in a make or break championship game. Best of luck to all the team.

  16. Liam just to clarify.. Galway beat Kerry in that challenge a few weeks back…

  17. Apologies Tuamstar, I have a source that gives me about 20 tales a week from the camp, 19 are usually lies, so this obviously in that falls into that catagory. I normally discard his stories but every now and then he comes out with a doozy. It’s the way he tells the tales that gets me everytime, he described the Galway V Kerry game with such detail that you would think he was there kicking the ball himself.
    It’s all part of the craic that goes with the championship I suppose..

  18. That’s grand, I know where you are coming from. The game itself wasn’t much to read into as Kerry had a scratch enough team. The rumour mill usually takes a world of its own in the build up to these games esp regarding injuries , team starters etc. Galway due to name their starting 15 Friday night.

  19. I would imagine we’ll line up with Lavelle in goal.
    Silke Kyne Sweeney fb line.
    Heaney Bradshaw O Donnell hbs.
    Conroy and Fiontain in the middle.
    Walsh, Comer, Flynn and Brannigan will be 4 of the 6 forwards and then any 2 from Sice, Daly, Armstrong, Cummins.
    Daly definitely is one of our 6 best forwards but it’s possible he will be kept in reserve for impact off the bench.
    Alternatively there is also a chance that Heaney will be named wing forward but play as an extra defender.
    If this happens then either McDaid or Wynne would start in defence.
    I’m getting more worried about that full back line as each day goes on.
    I’d be far more confident if we could swap full back lines ?
    We can’t buy a decent corner back and ye have 3 quality ones in Higgins Harrison and Barrett.

  20. Galwayman, who would be more of a threat to that full back line aiden O’Shea or Andy moran in the full forward line?

  21. That’s a good question NiallMc.
    I think Moran’s trickery and off the ball movement would be a handful for any of our lads in that line.
    Equally though while Dec Kyne is tough as nails and not exactly tiny – physically he wouldn’t be a match for O Shea. He is a dog though so he’d stand the best chance of competing with him probably.
    The two corner backs physically would be in huge trouble if they were on O Shea and high ball sent in.
    If I was involved with Mayo I would certainly be pushing O Shea into the edge of the square for some of the game & having him drift out at other stages to contest kickouts etc.
    We succeeded in protecting that line of the field last year up until we hit Croker when they were taken apart for 70 minutes.
    Probably easier to protect them in the tighter confines of the provincial stadiums than Croke Park.
    Mayo possibly play more of a running game though.ye look at ye’re most dangerous when ye have Keegan, Durcan etc bombing forward at pace

  22. Would go for a similar team to yours Mayodunphy. I think Boland has potential but would opt for Jason Doc for this game. Also think I would start Harrison if fully fit. Possible alternative is to move Keith forward to replace COS Think its a tough game to call. Weather conditions will be a usual problem. Hope Mayo compete like they did v Donegal and tyrone when they knew they had to win. A similar scenario awaits on Sunday.

  23. Jaysus Willie Joe, i just saw your answer on the previous thread.

    So Mayo have not missed the Connacht final 2 years running since 1978 (following on from 77 and 76) when we went 3 years without reaching the final.

    Christ. Some county alright. A Connacht final without Mayo in it is lacking something.

  24. Nothing easy for Mayo this Sunday. The Galway boys will be well up for this and last years victory in Castlebar will give them huge confidence at home. The teams are not really that different in terms of personnel so I cannot see much in it at the final whistle…..few bob on a draw?? Looking forward to it.

  25. The journalist who previewed Sunday’s game in today’s Galway Independent says that if he were manager not one of the Mayo forwards would make the Galway team “not even Cillian O’Connor”. Christ. Nevermind Cillian, has this guy not seen Diarmuid O’C play?

    He goes on to say that “Ger Cafferty” (yes, with a T) had been earmarked has Mayo’s defensive weak point.

    Not that it’s required but it’s textbook dressing room wall stuff. Grand, be of the opinion that Galway have better forwards, but to say that not one of the Mayo forwards would make the Galway team is laughable and insulting.

  26. DO’C would definitely walk onto the Galway team. CO’C probably would as well, Moran, probably not at this stage tbh.

  27. So we’re being told that the top scorer of the last 3 championships (COC) and 2 time young player of the year (DOC) wouldn’t get on to a division 2 front 6? Are we having a laugh?
    Regarding Boland or Doherty, Doc has done nothing all year to warrant a start and Boland has done nothing to warrant losing his place. The geansai must be earned and Boland has earned his so far.
    Tuamstar, Im not being disrespectful and I don’t think there will be a lot in it but I do believe that we will see a much more focused and physically tuned Mayo, than that which Galway last met.

  28. What about AOS starting at 15? I’m sure Galway would never have planned for that, or would they? . Why does anyone think that AOS has to start?. He doesn’t, neither does anyone else have to start,.. It’s only my opinion,. But I imagine that that Stephen Rochford and Co, have by now figured out that, Mayo have been too predictable,.. Everything Mayo can possibly do is a risk? Regardless of what we do ! . I think we need to go through the front door, but that’s only because it’s easier ,However the front door is not our aim. I think and I hope that the that Rochy & Co will raise a few eyebrows with their selections. This is a big dream we are on, our boat won’t sail or sink on Sunday’s result. But sink we will if we don’t surprise a few on the way, and we have the player’s to do just that.

  29. If Aidan O’Shea is fit to start, then for this game, I wouldn’t mind to see us starting with a full-forward line of Cillian O’Connor, Aidan O’Shea and Andy Moran, to really test the Galway full-back line. Then a half-forward line of Kevin McLoughlin, Diarmuid O’Connor and maybe Boland (as has been said above he probably deserves his chance) would be good to see as well. We would still have options like Jason Doc, Loftus, Kirby, Regan, Vaughan and Nally in reserve to bring on.

  30. After watching the Sligo game back a couple of times , I have concern over ger caff . comer , Meehan , Armstrong would all cause him problems , hope I’m wrong but I just don’t think he’s fine tuned for championship yet.

  31. Niall Mc -apologies for my idiotic question yesterday ,which you kindly answered
    i was away from the blog for over a week so was only playing catch up this week
    when i scrolled down and seen the big heading’ joe mcquillan to ref galway game’
    felt like a total gobshite!
    non the less thank you for the reply!

    agree with above posts about Boland- he deserves his chance ,he needs time granted,but the more games he gets the better he will be ,i think he will have a bright future wearing a mayo jersey

    three more sleeps,cant wait to get on the road,flags are at the ready- kids are watching mayo videos on u tube
    my daughter has already put in her request for ham sambos for the journey ,our household is all set!
    championship time, woohoo HON MAYO

  32. While we are waiting on teams etc.
    The area of coaching was discussed at a recent county board meeting and also the specific issue of there being very few to no North Mayo players at u17 and minor.
    There is an effort now to approach ex-players to get involved in coaching.
    At least these efforts seem to be starting. No modern (post 1998) ex-player involved in coaching is pretty shocking given our football obsession.

  33. Reply to Mayonaze about Galways better forwards? Where have they shown to be better? Division 2? Certainly not in Croke park in the championship.

  34. No problem Jennifer K, as Andy moran says, we’re all in this together. Agree you Sean about caff and hence the need to provide plenty of protection for him. Keith or McLoughlin to sweep in front of the full back line, depending on how many forwards galway are playing with. And as for the Galway forwards, the narrative sure is that they have a glut of sharp shooters but until they have proved it in croker at the business end of the season this remains to be seen. There’s a big drop in standard between div 1 and div 2. How good these lads really are remains to be seen.

  35. That article that was written in the Galway Indo was by Kevin Breslin who is an employee of Paddy Power and not even a Galway man may i add, He does a column every week on odss etc for big games. I wouldnt be paying any heed whatsovere to that. In relation to who has the better forwards etc all will be revealed on Sunday. Its time for these Galway lads to step up to the plate. As many of you have pointed out its ok putting up big score against the likes of Derry, Down, etc in Div 2 but from now on its div 1 teams all the way for Galway (with next years league also in mind) and no better place to start than Mayo in Pearse on Sunday..

  36. Any Mayo people situated in Galway, the GAA hour is in An Pucan tonight at half 7. Good lineup of guests, Padraic Joyce, Derek Savage, John Maughan and Conor Mortimer Marc Ó Sé. Something to get us more excited.

  37. Expecting a similar type of game to the quarter final against Tyrone last year. Galway will pull everyone back and try to break at speed. Cavan done this to us in the league match this year with great effect.

    It will be difficult to sit through this if it pans out that way but as long as we get the right result we wont care.

  38. Think our lads should grind out a hard earned win Sunday.
    I’m glad to see us use our bench more this year,but my only worry is who will pick up comer
    He is hard to stop when puts the head down going for goal.maybe Vaughan not to sure any thoughts anybody?

  39. is it true that galway beat Kerry in a challenge recently?

    Agree with the poster above I don’t think caff should start

  40. If Caff doesn’t start on Sunday, when does he start? We’d effectively be writing him off at this level – I think he’ll be ok and the game will bring him on a good bit. Having said that, with Harrison injured and Higgins’ man-marking abilities a little suspect, our FB line will be tested on Sunday.

  41. Re: Team for Sunday.
    Surely mayo best full full back line should be Harrison (if fully fit) Caff & Barrett.
    That begs the question what to with K Higgins.
    I believe he should be named at no 10 but play as a free half back with licence to move between the two 45’s.
    Also A Moran could be used more effectively for the final 30 minutes as opposes to the first 40.
    This would give either C Loftus or possibly Be Reape vital experience of championship football.

  42. Caff will start, he needs games like these to regain match sharpness. He wont improve on the bench. He didnt do anything wrong v Sligo up against a quality forward like Hughes. I have no worries about Caff on Sunday. Stipping supply into Comer is the key to stopping him, if he is allowed to get quality ball then he has the potential to destroy any fb.

  43. Looks like Harrison & AoShea not deemed fully fit.
    It’s a bit disappointing that one of the younger forwards (possibly C Loftus not forcing his way onto the starting 15)
    We all know what J Doherty brings, excellent as it is but mayo need something new to compliment Moran and other connor in the full forward line.

  44. JP not sure north Mayo under age coaching at club level is the issue. Knockmore play Castlebar in under 16 final after exams and Bellmullet and Knockmore in minor semifinal after exams also along with Louisburgh and Westport. 3 of those minor club teams had no one on minor team start v Galway.

  45. Jjeus boys, for all the sniping, fuck me i cant wait. id go to this game 10 times over b4 ireland austria at the same .
    Galway very likely to start heaney WF, with Walsh, Flynn, Comer, Sice, Brannigan. Very Defesive

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