Ray’s minors march on but Pat’s Dubs crash and burn

Ray-DempseyAnother day’s football, another afternoon where events on the field made nonsense of all the professional and amateur punditry (including my own yapping here) that goes on around the championship.  In this regard, it’s only fair to point to the prescient analysis put forward by An Spailpín, both back in June and again last week where he warned us clearly what to expect from the Kerrymen when the real questions were there to be answered. The rest of us, myself included, were woefully wide of the mark on The Kerry Question and while I can proffer the excuse that I’ve been breathing in too much of the blue air, that’s no more than an admission on my part that I bought the hype that’s been doing the rounds.

More on that match in a bit but first off it’s right and proper to salute today’s achievement by Ray Dempsey’s minors who qualified for the All-Ireland semi-finals when they overcame, in a very business-like manner, the challenge of Tipperary at O’Connor Park in Tullamore (match report from the Mayo Advertiser here).  I caught most of the second half on Midwest and by then all the heavy lifting had already been done.  First-half goals by Alex Corduff (who netted after just two minutes) and Darren Coen put our lads into the driving seat and they went in 2-4 to 1-2 in front.  After two early points in the second half, they went twelve minutes without scoring but then dangerman Cillian O’Connor bagged our third major and the lads eased home from there, winning in the end by 3-11 to 1-8.

Ray’s lads now have a four-week break ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final with either Down or Dublin.  That quarter-final has yet to be played, due to an outbreak of swine flu in the Mourne lads’ ranks, but there’s still plenty of time for the tie to be rescheduled so that the semi-final is played as planned on the 30th.  That match will be the undercard to the Kerry v Mayo/Meath semi-final so even if everything goes pear-shaped next weekend, we’ll still be able to use our Combo tickets to shout for the minors at Croker in four weeks time where, with a bit of luck, we’ll get to see them qualify for their second All-Ireland final on the trot.

Our win over the Stone Throwers today was expected but the rout that occurred at Croke Park surely wasn’t.  As we know to our cost, any side that gives Kerry a major headstart within the first five minutes of any game can expect that the remaining 65 minutes will prove more than a little chastening.  The Gooch’s goal on 32 seconds wasn’t fatal in itself but the way Kerry battered the Dubs with an unanswered barrage of points in the ten or so minutes that followed certainly was.  By the time Ciaran Whelan came in for Darren Magee midway through the opening half, the game had begun to take on an eerie resemblance to our fateful 2006 decider against the Kingdom.

The thrashing the Dubs got from Tyrone last year was galling for them but today’s annihilation was of a totally different order and it’ll be difficult to see how they can recover from it in any kind of reasonable timeframe in order to be able to portray themselves once again as credible contenders for national honours.  This strange world that Dublin have occupied over the past five years – where they’ve been giants in Leinster but pygmies in the All-Ireland series – is hard to fathom and Joe Brolly put it well today when he said that beating Dublin seems to have become a kind of confidence-building measure for teams seeking to prove that they can cut it on the national stage.  Pat Gilroy sure has a tough road ahead of him as he seeks to find a path to redemption for the battered and bruised Metropolitans.

And what of Kerry? Send any Kerry team out to play in a packed Croke Park against the Dubs and I suppose it’s inevitable they’ll perform.  How they managed to mutate from the clumsy and clueless outfit we saw in the qualifiers into the fluid, efficient killing machine we witnessed today is anyone’s guess but, in retrospect, I suppose that drawing the Dubs was the perfect outcome for Kerry, not least because they went into the match as marginal underdogs.  A win today was always – because of all the Kerry-Dublin brouhaha – going to have the effect of wiping the slate clean and allowing them to make another charge for the summit.  To borrow a snooker analogy, today was a shot to nothing for the Green and Gold and, boy, did they pull it off in some style.  It wasn’t, as I was suggesting in a few post-match texts today, their All-Ireland but the Kerry lads will feel better about themselves tonight than they’ll have done for a long while.

The apparent rude health within the Kingdom’s ranks if, of course, of more than academic interest to us but there’s absolutely no point at this stage in giving too much thought to how we’d do against them at the semi-final stage.  We’ve more than enough to do in plotting our way past Meath and, if we succeed in doing so, there’ll be plenty of time to ruminate on how we might fare against the Kingdom.

With Kerry now alongside Tyrone at 6/4 for Sam, they’ll obviously be huge favourites going into the semi-final against either ourselves or Meath and that might give next Sunday’s winners a tiny sliver of hope ahead of the 30th.  Kerry can still get caught in a semi-final – remember their flat form last year having been magnificent against Galway in the quarters – and if they place too much focus on their need to peak like they’ve never peaked before in the final, this could yet leave them open for an unlikely haymaker in the penultimate round.  That prospect, however, is one for another day.

15 thoughts on “Ray’s minors march on but Pat’s Dubs crash and burn

  1. I can’t say that i saw that one coming.
    it looks like Kerry were getting progressively fitter as they went along with the other games.
    the starting 15 looked settled and he had the luxury of bringing in some subs for Croker experience
    one thing that is obvious amongst the impressive displays so far this year has been to blitz the opposition at a tremendous pace in the first 20 minutes.
    Dublin looked at Kerry as if to say, you’re not supposed to be doing this.
    They stood off them, they let their markers run into space and they were second to every ball.
    As you say, we’ve been there ourselves so we know what it’s like
    If we get past Meath (and i believe that we will) it may suit us better to meet Kerry in a semi
    you can look at it two ways, ten players were in that 2006 final and 5 players have no experience of it.
    plus we have a more experienced management team, who work to a plan (no disrespect to Moran/Morrison) to counteract Cooper, Donaghy,etc and not wing it like 2006
    let’s see what happens on Sunday after our 3 week break

  2. Was in Tullamore yesterday at the minor match and Mayo played a great game. The minors are looking better and better and hopefully they can pull it off against Dublin/Down.
    Congrats to all the lads & see ye in Croke Park in 4 weeks!

  3. just looking back at the weekend in total it’s now turning into a championship of very high intensity performances. Playing at your previous best isn’t going to be anywhere good enough – it will have to be previous best plus 50% or more. Be prepared for the mother of all battles in every match. Kerry did that, so did cork, Tyrone and in fairness Kildare were well in the zone. If we go into Meath match and playing just to our previous best we will only win if Meath do exactly the same. But if Meath (as they will) lift the intensity of their game well above their previous best and we don’t they will cause us a lot of problems. Looking at Dublin Kerry yesterday – if both performed just to their previous best then Dublin would have won. Looked like they entered the arena beliveing that their performance level so far would be good enough but they weren’t prepared for a Kerry team that was at previous best plus 100%. So the Dubs were made to look below their own ability and though you could argue that they aren’t 17 points worse than Kerry the fact is that yesterday they were because they only went prepared to play a Kerry team that was playing below standard. That wasn’t the Kerry that turned up as they now know.
    I hope our own boys were watching closely and taking notes physically and mentally of the weekend action. To get any further in this years championship Mayo will need to raise the intensity to another level – for a full 70 minutes. And that includes next Sundays encounter with Meath first and foremost. If Galway is our benchmark best so far then we need to be upping a gear or two for the next challenge. I have no doubt Meath will be preparing to up theirs.
    The trapdoor will open up very quickly if the opponents are allowed into the game early or control the game – as Donegal and Dublin can testify to today. Kildare in fairness can’t be charged with the same crime.
    We don’t want to be the ones here next Monday saying ‘we didn’t see that coming’.

  4. I don’t think we can count on Kerry being a bit flat for the semi, regardless of if it’s ourselves or Meath who they’ll face. If anyone’s to beat them, it’ll take a serious weathering of the storm in the first quarter of the game together with fitness, pressure and, above all, cool heads thereafter.

    To be honest, I’m glad Kerry won yesterday from a Mayo viewpoint. If we are to win an All-Ireland, I think it’s necessary from a mental perspective to beat Kerry along the way. They have been our bogey team for some time now and if we are to reach those sorts of heights, I think we really need to get that monkey off our backs.

    Incidentally, on another point, I’ve noticed this year that when there’s a clash of colours in jerseys, both teams come out wearing their change strip, rather than just one (Meath v Limerick, for instance – and Tyrone v Kildare). Is this a new rule or is it just something I haven’t noticed before? Just because green and red can be quite similar to green & gold, like…

  5. Well said Ma-Yoman. There is always a chance that a team will tank at the QF stage and there is a chance that they may suddenly find their game as well. Look at Tyrone last year as well.

    The most important thing now is to concentrate on Meath. On paper, we should be well able for them – but Croke Park is not a paper surface! In playing this game we should take a leaf out of the Kerry book and hit them with an avalanche of attacks right from the start. In that way, we would force them to play to our game plan.

    Their plan will be to slow us down. They gave away a lot of frees against Limerick and I suspect that they will do the same against us in an attempt to knock us out of our rhythm. The last thing we want is to get into a scrappy match. The way around that is to use the long ball as much as possible to get into the scoring zone. Then, whether from play or frees, we need to tag on the points and build up a good lead as soon as possible. If they are chasing the game, they will need to try to beat us at football – and I think that we have the necessary firepower for victory in that type of contest.

    It is interesting to see that someone over on the GAA Board is suggesting that Meath and Mayo should be given a plate to play for, as neither has a chance against Kerry. How quickly everyone has forgotten 2001!

    Keep the Faith!

  6. It’s irrelevant how we beat Meath as long as we do it. I will take any form of victory, sure they havent had a great year but here they are and they would liek nothing better than to put Mayo out. JOM will have the lads focused on this iam sure..

  7. i must admit yesterdays performance by Kerry took the edge off my enthusiasm in the short term but im ok now…but they were awesome….but im fine now honestly….did you see the way Declan O sullivan destroyed them….but im over all that now…galvin is a class act….but anyway im really looking forward to the Kerry, sorry, MEATH game on Sun. I really think we need a confidence building performance against the “royals” on Sunday…something that will give us a shot in the arm ahead of the potential Semi.If we are at the level i think we ARE at i cant see us loosing.

  8. kerry my arse.. we will get stuck in,they will expect us to crumble again, it will not happen,johnno will have a plan im sure that does not involve fergal kelly,they might beat us but this time we wont take it lying down.Reminds me of the 04 quarter final.Tyrone were meant to be unbeatable,fired up after their tragic loss.I have got that feeling, can not see how we would beat cork tho…

  9. Well said Fourgoal McGee. I think you’re spot on about the tactics Meath are likely to use against us. They’re quite cynical at times and look to stop the other team playing.
    We need to play a similar game to Kerry yesterday. Long, quick ball into our forwards, using the whole space of Croke Park. Kerry were fantastic at that, pulling the Dublin backs all around the pitch with them. A couple of years ago I’d say we weren’t capable of playing that type of game, but now we are.
    We seem to have done away with playing nothing but a running game and raining high ball down on top of small forwards. We’re a lot less one dimensional now, and all the better for it.

  10. Oh and as for the jersey thing, as far as I can remember both teams have to wear their change jersey if there’s a clash. So looks like we’ll both be wearing ours on Sunday.
    I’ve never actaully seen our change strip, I’m assuming it’ll be predominantly red though

  11. I think the change strip is predominately white, actually. I’m not sure. I think teams have three strips now, but that would be more about flogging them and turning a shilling for county boards more than anything else.

    Focusing on Meath is the big thing now. No point in getting distracted by the delight of another chance to look horns with the Kingdom. Meath are on a pitch they know with their backs up. They’ll want severe watching. The injury to Barry Moran is deeply frustrating too, but these things are sent to try us and it’s best to offer them up.

  12. After a quick gander ’round the net, it looks like that the change strip is red and the white one is the goalie’s jersey. Just as long as we don’t end up like the grey ‘invisible’ Manchester United strip of that year!

  13. in my minds eye i see scores going in in those red jersies , i think we have always played well when wearing them… another good omen…

  14. Galvin is keeping his cool, O’Sullivan is part of a game plan and The Gooch is off the beer – Dublin hadn’t a hope.

  15. Meath, while they looked poor against Dublin (the worst game ever seen in Croke Park) have had a steady run through the qualifiers and are a more proven outfit than Mayo who were lucky to beat a ramshackle Galway team.

    I sense complacency in Mayo regarding this current Meath crop. Meath to win by five points.

    Every neutral in the country wants Mayo to win Sam and get rid of this hoodoo once and for all. But you know what? Much like the flaky Dubs, Mayo teams keep coming back to Croker in the hope that it will happen, rather than digging deep and actually making it happen no matter what. And that’s fatal – as Dublin showed last Monday.

    I hope every one of the Mayo squad were delighted with the Meath and Kerry wins at the weekend. I hope they’re mad for revenge yet focussed enough to use their heads when things go against them as they inevitably will.

    There’s no guarantee that Mayo will win Sam even once in the next fifty-eight years. Mayo teams have always been good enough but until they arrive in Croke Park some September with their heads in order and focussed from the throw-in, the pain will continue.

    There’s no doubt that Meath and Kerry offer Mayo a serious shot at redemption enroute to a final encounter. Unhappily I doubt the Mayo team have yet developed the cojones for the job.

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