Quite a good draw for us, I think

One of the side effects I find of having small children is that so many of life’s big issues get refracted through the lens of the stories that dominate their world.  McCain v Obama?  Just like Tom and Jerry. (Here, IMHO, is the best ever T&J episode).  The credit crunch? Summed up eloquently in that scene from Mary Poppins when the young lad asks for his penny back and causes a run on the bank. It should be no surprise, then, that the first thought that popped into my head after last night’s pairings for next year’s Championship were made was how much our draw resembled Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

I’ve lost you, haven’t I?  Okay, then, let me explain.  2009 will be Johnno’s third championship campaign in his Mk II incarnation as Mayo manager and the two draws we’ve pulled in Connacht over the last two years have been very different.  2007 was, by common consent, too hard – and we never recovered from that hole-kicking we got in Salthill in May that year – while this year was too soft, with only Sligo’s supine challenge standing between us and the Connacht final.  Next year’s draw – which more than likely will see us having to beat both Roscommon and Galway (in that order) to win Connacht – is, you’ve guessed it, just about right: not too hard or not too soft.

After some early buddy-bonding stuff in the Big Apple (where Johnno would be well advised to consult his oft-derided predecessor John Maughan on what they got up to in the Catskills back in 2004), we’ll square up against either Roscommon (who we last met in the championship in Hyde Park back in 2005) or Leitrim (who damn near beat us up in Carrick when last we met, in 2006).  Regardless of which one that is, next year’s semi-final will be at McHale Park, assuming the builders will have finished the job by then.  The Rossies have to travel to Carrick to play Leitrim first and, unless they show significant improvement on this year, they’ll come away empty-handed from the Ridge County.  However, Fergie O’Donnell’s appointment should give them the gee-up they need, especially if he can blend in sufficient numbers of his All-Ireland winning minor side from 2006 and so get the senior team playing something resembling football again.

The Rossies won’t fancy having to come to McHale Park, even if it’ll be changed, changed utterly, by then but if they do battle their way out of Carrick they’ll obviously be looking to catch us cold in the semi-final.  A good, old-fashioned battle with the Rossies is, I think, just the kind of match we need to get our championship campaign underway, especially because if we win the Connacht final will almost certainly be against our old chums Galway in poxy old Pearse Stadium.

2009 is set to be the defining year for The Second Coming.  A Connacht title is an absolute must for us next year and if Johnno fails to deliver this, his second tenure as Mayo manager is set to end in abject failure.  The draw for Connacht next year is ideal for us to have a right tilt at it and assuming that the team is prepared properly (note to Andy Moran – please don’t peak again in March next year), we have every reason to expect that we can do it.  And as for the Salthill hoodoo, we need to adopt Super Mac’s attitude when the Tuam hoodoo was finally banished. (Journo to Mac after 1999 Connacht final: “Well, Ciaran, how do you feel to have finally cracked the Tuam hoodoo?”.  Mac to journo: “Fuck the hoodoo”).  If our preparation and our attitude are right next year, then we can be confident that, as happened to Goldilocks, the Herrin Chokers will end up high-tailing it home wailing to their mammies.

6 thoughts on “Quite a good draw for us, I think

  1. Agree WJ, it was exactly the draw I wanted.
    The last thing we needed was another stroll into a Connacht final. I think that was one of the main reasons we lost to Galway this year. They’d had a couple of hard(ish) battles coming into the final, where they had to stay switched on for most of the game. It showed in those crucial last 15-20 minutes against us.

    Still, I have to disagree with you on one thing. I think it will be Leitrim we’ll be playing, not the Rossies. And a reunion with Mickey Moran.

    As you said, no arguments this year. If we don’t at least win Connacht, JOM’s 3 years have been a complete and utter failure.

  2. I’d totally forgotten about Mickey Moran, Dan – that’ll make the Leitrim/Roscommon game an interesting one as both managers will be out to prove a point. If Leitrim are sent out well drilled, they could certainly win that one and a reunion with the M&M show in the semi would add a fair bit of piquancy there!

  3. hey wj I must point out an uncharateristic slip up in your article…tuam hoodoo was broken in ’97 not ’99. Mc did come on the same day(as he did in 99) and played a big part in both games.I would love to know when we last won in salthill. I was at the connacht final there when big tom byrne was pulled down and it was so obviously a peno that even mickey kerins couldnt wave play on. mcstay duly oblidged but yet another loss was recorded at the then delapidated stadium. That must be 84?? Anyway its defo make or break for mahony and i really hope he gets his act together next year. He needs to put everything else on hold for one last big push. The more I think about it the better I think our chances are. There is still only one team we need to avoid..Kerry. I would fear no one else. We are always a match for tyrone and the dubs confidence is as brittle as ever…all you have to do is ask them a big question and they will collapse in a heap

  4. No dates yet, Claire – I think it could be a few months before the dates get fixed but it’s going to be very early in May, I think.

    I stand corrected, Ted – I’ve no excuse as I’ve already compiled the results that far back. That 1997 game wasn’t a final either – it was in fact a first round game.

    That other final you mention was 1984 alright. I was there too and it was a hugely frustrating match. Tom Byrne got sent off later on in that game and Galway – who had contrived to lose to the so-called Twelve Apostoles in the previous year’s All-Ireland – somehow managed to do enough to retain their Connacht title. I don’t know when we last won in Salthill – I think it may have been back in the Sixties but, of course, Galway played their home matches in Tuam for much of that time.

  5. Unless there is a major change in GAA policy, the Mayo / NY game will be on the Sunday of the May Bank Holiday weekend. The reasoning for this is that those who travel over would be coming back on the Monday (the Bank Holiday) – although if you go that far for the match, you’ld nearly want to have a bit more than the long weekend.

    Anyway, this is a good draw for us. Two matches before Galway and then a good measure of where we are at. Also, both Galway and Ross should be improving – given that they both won minor titles recently and the U21 games have been of good quality. Throw M&M into the mix in Leitrim – not sure who is in Sligo – and suddenly we have a Connaught Championship worthy of a few battles.

    And as I have said before, when there is a bit of competition in Connaught the team that comes out is a worthy challenger for the big one.

    Ever the optimist!

    Keep the Faith!

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