Reflections

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“Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words it is war minus the shooting.”

So said George Orwell. So, are we serious about sport or are we sportsmen? There is a huge difference.

For all Mayo’s frontline battling, top two/three since 2011, we have shown a shocking naivety or sportsmanship towards other teams. Pick any of our opponents at the top table and we have been on the receiving end of the dark arts without laying a glove in retaliation or retribution.

Dublin, Kerry and Donegal have looked at the rule book against us and discarded it. No need to blame the referee, blame ourselves. Only would-be saints turn the other cheek all the time.

Stephen Rochford merits nothing but our unstinting support. He was appointed late, thrown a handful of games that would test the best outfits and is now aware of what the good ship Mayo is all about.

Since 2011, when Dublin won their first All Ireland since 1995, they have blooded a number of youngsters that have challenged the established “stars”. Mannion, Kilkenny, Costello, Rock, McCaffrey and Fenton, not forgetting the maturing of Cooper and McMahon. Only Cluxton can safely say he is a regular.

Likewise Kerry. Having escaped by mugging us in Limerick in 2014, they grabbed fate by the neck and brought through six or seven youngsters and added another boring title to their haul. Donegal, whom many of us saw as a tired team this year, have suddenly found a new step in their strut. Youth has been introduced with stunning effect.

But since 2011 only Diarmuid O’Connor has cemented a place in our starting fifteen up to this campaign. That problem rests with those in charge since 2011 not the incumbent.

Part of our current issues stem from not having brought through enough fresh blood over the last five years. We placed or allowed the managements to place their eggs in the basket of the 2006 U21 winning team. Players like Kirby, Nally, Coen, McHale, Keane, Regan should be further down the line in terms of first team football at this stage.

If we take Mikey Sweeney as an example of the future, by my calculations the lad is almost 28. We are too conservative in trusting new blood. We became a club team not a county team somewhere on this journey.

Alex Ferguson correctly stated that the most important person with any team is the manager. Last season our players spoke and acted. We supported and backed them. Now the new manager comes in with a clean brief beholden to nobody except the Mayo followers.

A loss next Sunday in Monaghan will more than likely remove our destiny from our hands. The resurgence of Roscommon and the distant gathering of a Galway revival will become an added distraction. Cool heads and calm judgments are now needed.

Early on in Stephen Rochford’s appointment I opined that what Mayo needed was not more love and care but a blast from the shock pads. For many of this squad this is not Year Six of the quest, it’s Year Twelve for the survivors of 2004, and Year Ten for Big Barry and Keith of the 2006 vintage, Year Seven or Eight for many more. Clarke has been there since 2001. Time is not our friend, folks.

I don’t envy the manager. Stick with the tried and trusted with a tweak in style or go for broke and impose his own indelible stamp as quickly as possible.

One of the conundrums Alf Ramsey had was the Jimmy Greaves issue. Greaves was a goal machine and hero. Alf paired big Bobby Smith with him, he paired George Eastham, he tried any and every front man but none gelled. Then before the Word Cup 1966 quarter-final match with Argentina it suddenly hit him. It wasn’t Eastham or Smith or the others that were the problem; it was Greaves. Alf played with no wingers and his style was a compressed one. In came Geoff Hurst , out went Jimmy and the rest is history.

Aidan O’Shea is becoming our Jimmy Greaves. Worth his weight in gold but where do we maximise him for our best? Whilst Sean Cavanagh has mastered the midfield-cum-full-forward role and Michael Murphy is getting there not even Kieran Donaghy nor Michael Darragh MacAuley have been able to do likewise. At midfield, centre-forward or full-forward we are getting six out of ten returns from Aido. We need nine out of ten and someone has got to decide where that spot is.

Freetaking has become a monster for us and has conceivably cost us many big games even when Cillian has been over them. Bringing the keeper up the field unless he is Cluxton is a waste. Murphy on Sunday saw a few outside his range and opted for the short pass and return.

Strange and as heretical as it sounds, we lack leaders on the pitch. Keegan irritates with his approach at times. Aidan O’Shea seems wide open to all types of physical and verbal abuse and no-one seems to do anything about it. A manager cannot coach that into a side. Either they do it for themselves or they cannot.

The penalty incident against Donegal spoke volumes. O’Connor isolated and under attack. Shades of McLoughlin and Carolan against Dublin 2013 when Connolly had a grip on both their jerseys and wouldn’t let go.

In a previous world and job if someone grabbed my shirt, the rest of the conversation took place with him on his back on the floor and my knee on his chest. There are lines that cannot be allowed to cross. Mouthing personal insults and physically assaulting a player on the pitch must become a NO NO. Time for Mayo boys to man up there or move out.

Stephen Rochford is unlucky with the team’s results in the last two matches; Mayo played well and merited points. Work rate cannot be faulted but it’s the little things that can and leadership and calm heads on the field of battle are currently lacking. We are walking a precipice at the moment and we cannot allow excuses to help us.

This group have nailed their undoubted commitment to the flag pole. Getting out of the tailspin we are in will propel us onwards and onto firm-sodded summer football. Falling short opens the door for others to take our place, both provincially and nationally.

Monaghan are gathering a head of steam for a few years, Donegal will see themselves as their equal, both see us as a team blocking their progress. Roscommon with another win will be pressure-free when they meet us and if Galway squeeze from the clutches of Division Two, Connacht becomes a very hot spot for us.

The good news, as always, is simple. We ourselves hold the cards. As Kenny Rogers said, it’s how we use them that counts. Orwell by the way wasn’t far off the mark either. Time for reflection is over. For many it’s now or never.

55 thoughts on “Reflections

  1. Bang on the money there. Couldn’t believe that young O’Connor was bullied like that and no mayo player coming in to flatten a few donegal lads. Where were they…?

  2. George Orwell was good at the old cricket and sampled life in Paris and a ‘Down and Out’ from choice. His outlook on civilisation was pretty dismal and will be remembered for Animal Farm.
    Not for the first time does this contributor have a message of gloom. One wonders did he ever see or experience beauty?
    I respectfuul suggest he change his reading habits and not drag us all down to the ground before sitting on our chests.

  3. Have to say John Cuffe is spot on I would go a bit further and ask when it comes to the crunch are we afraid to win? Why aren’t we prepared to go for the jugular and just do it like has been done to us in loads of all Ireland finals are we a county of winners or as Some counties perceive us a county of whingers and chokers

  4. Ah come on, Ciaran 2 – it’s an opinion piece by a guest poster who is entitled to put across his point of view, as is anyone else who fancies doing so. If you disagree, then take issue with the points made not the maker of them, i.e. play the ball, not the man.

  5. Good piece WJ. it does not help with the reliance on Moran, Dillion and somewhat Higgins to be part of the puzzle. I belive Conor loftus is an incredible talent. If he was in Kerry, he would be countrywide known by now. Despite their huge contribution of the years, some players need to be moved on, they have had a fair chance and not produced. Also its a culture thing, would JH get Kerry person of the year?

  6. JC excellent piece, ably assisted by G O ‘quote’ reflects precisely where Sport in General has become.. I had been passionate and enthralled by sport since a small child.. I also coached both Soccer and Gaelic football until 12 years ago.. I reside again in my beloved Mayo after over 3 decades..
    It has lost so much appeal for me due to the disintegration of the natural skills, undefined tackle, over abused hand pass, but above all the sinister elements within our Game. This includes.Players, Mentors, Officials, Administrators.. Respect is a hollow token word in the World of” Sport’ that once consumed my life..

  7. I agree that it is time to move on some of our older players . Now that Higgins is out why not try a different back/midfielder in that role. Sean Boylan regularly converted backs to forwards & visa versa .We suffered from 2 in 96.

  8. Please……we need to be very careful in advocating violent behaviour on the field of play. Someone can get badly hurt and a player who strikes out can be charged with assault, convicted and sent to prison as happened recently. In this scenario everyone loses.
    I am no shrinking violet and have dished out my fair share of heavy stuff in the past but please don’t let’s give the impression to young players that it’s ok to clock someone and that there won’t be consequences – severe consequences if it goes wrong! The world we now live in has changed a lot since fellas of Johns generation and mine played the game.

  9. I don’t buy your argument john. I can’t think of a single club player in the last 7 years that stands out as a great player who didn’t get a chance with the ‘county’. The turnover in players in the last 5 years is roughen in line with that of Dublin. And they have a bigger pick! You pick the best players each year. Also the rate of player turnover is slowing down because of the amount of commitment involved in getting to inter county level.

  10. Well said John, but I am much more hopefull than after Kerry, I did not see any new players coming through, and felt JH had given everything , so was very pessimistic, now we have at the very least Doc, P Durcan, S Nally, C Loftus, B Harrison, M Hall C O Shea so feel we have something to build on, still would like a good centre forward to come through, we need to back each other up much quicker if something happens, just come together not let one player be on his own, certainly make it harder for the opposition to bully us, I think that Stephen will have learned a lot from our performance over the first three games, and whilst I would like to stay in division one I don’t think that it will affect us in the championship, I feel the players mean to be in Croke Park in September, and are pacing themselves for that

  11. Anthony Hennigan has a very well written and researched piece in this weeks Western exploring the restructering of the Senior Championship within the county. He makes a strong argument for the introduction of divisional teams. He bases his argument on the system Kerry uses and the near identical social, demographical, geographical and cultural similarities between the two counties, the only glaring difference being one county has 3 All Irelands and the other has 37. I think it foolish and arrogant to think we can’t learn something from the most successful county in Gaelic Football. It makes more sense to suspect that a flaw in the structures or systems within the county is contributing to our failures rather than some type of psychological impediment localised solely within a man made boundary. It probably warrants its own post as its surely worthy of more discussion.
    It’s well worth a read.

  12. The most independent assessment of a county’s talent is Freshers and Sigerson football. We have guys finally being important players at these levels. Independent of natural bias either positive or negative within Mayo about a young player.
    Most young footballers do go to University so its fair to all counties. Roscommons current improvement was most independently assessed in terms of talent at University level.
    The aggression on the pitch issue the war will be won on that front yet by Administrators.
    We tried aggression in the 2012 final got us nowhere. I seen plenty bodies wrastling with Donegal players at the penalty. Ger Caff was up from full back.
    BTW football was more violent fifty years ago. Taking out players was a thing. Shoulders to the chest and drag downs not always penalised and the football was low scoring.
    I do agree with tone of the article of the need for a fresh 15/26/34.
    But I think it will happen.

  13. The Roscommon hype machine continues to racket up a level. I would still fancy our chances relegation or not in Connacht this year with us having our games at home. I saw one comment on another Gaa forum form a Rosie that claims Roscommon have better players than us the past few years but just needed a system/manager. The same poster also claims only Donnacha O Connor out of our forwards would make their panel….sending them packing home from Castlebar yet again this summer will be sweet.

  14. Good piece John , I’d especially agree with some players should be way further down the road , Horan did brilliant no arguments there but he didn’t do enough to blood new players.

  15. A good read John. .had thought mc entee would bring an extra bit of oomph regards physicality but it looked as though mayo players were trying to avoid a situation around the penalty as opposed to add to it..can’t agree with diarmuid being left alone..saw caff being dragged away by o shea at one pt..

  16. Without me googling it I remember reading I think in my World Cup 90 booklet that Jimmy Greaves got sick in early 1966. Serious pneumonia or a virus. Think he was 29 or so and never the strongest or quickest. So he was not fit enough to play a full tournaments football. Now could well have happened anyways but I read that about it once.

  17. Donnacha O’Connor was a decent player alright in his day that might make our first 15 🙂 I am honoured ye think we will beat new york, Leitrim and sligo to get as far as castlebar!

    How are ye fixed with yere under 21s this year? Any major injuries? Will be a Mayo/Galway final, you can put your house on that, we are missing up to 10 starters including senior players Mullolly, Harney and Murtagh

  18. Id agree with John Cuffe. Mayo’s player development under horan was abysmal. Only Cillian came thro in 4 years. Lack of a full panel may have cost us last 2 semi finals. In 2008 mayo minors hammered kery in semi final. Kerry played 7 of that minor match panel in 2 semi finals of 2014, mayo only played 3. Was our player pool that superior. Like a boxer at weigh in staring match, mayo blinked at Donega penalty skirmish and failed to compete after.

  19. Good piece John. Alot of posters here seem to be getting way too paniced due to our poor start. Anyone who goes to the matches knew this could happen due to injuires and club commitments. If we get relegated then we do. We cant stop what other teams are doing and fair play to them including the near neighbours. Stronger Roscommon and Galway teams can only be good for competition in Connacht and help Mayo in the long run.

    Also alot of people on here were full of praise for the way Castlebar closed out the match against Crossmaglen and the way the players were cynical with the sideline kick and stopping play. Now once Donegal do the same we are all up in arms. Like we cant talk out of both sides of our mouth. The main thing is that none of our players went to help out. I agree with Sean Burke that we need to accept this happens and its a mans game and get with it. If u didnt say that Sean then im sorry for naming the wrong blogger. Last October all there was talk of an easy run to an AI final and then before the league we cud win it and even now some are saying we cud still win our last 4 games. Stop getting carried away people and once we lose a game or two stop been temple of doom. Its seems to be an all duck or no dinner with us. Ann Marie and a few other are the exceptions on here as their comments are always balanced and make sense. Now thats my rant over. See u all in Monaghan.

  20. I would disagree we have shown to much sportsmanship and not engaged in the dark arts ourselves. Some of our players play on the edge since Horan took over like all the top teams players. We are well able to pull down and drag players ourselves.

  21. I mostly disagree with John Cuffe’s analysis. He would have Aidan O’Shea horsing into the penalty dispute and getting sent off. We don’t need to do that. We are strong in the tackle and have made a virtue of turnovers, which was obvious last Sunday. Indeed two of our players were lucky not to be sent off for nearly decapitating Donegal players coming through. It was taking on Meath at their own dirty game which cost us the All Ireland in ’96. This Mayo team is tough and is no longer a pushover.

    Where our naivety lies in not finishing out games. Like every other disaster in recent memory, it is conceding easy goals when we are ahead which is our downfall. The sight of poor Colm Boyle alone in our backline with five Donegal players bearing down on him was a sad, frightening memory of previous lapses of concentration in our backs. Any one of them could have got the goal. Boyle was like Cuchulainn trying to turn back the waves of the sea. Do we have a proper defensive system which works? Not yet we don’t. McIlhenney too was gifted an open goal chance in the first half only to luckily blast it wide. Donegal, on the other hand did not give us one clear goal chance.

    Evan Regan is a mystery. He moves like a very good player yet only touched the ball a few times in the last three matches. Most balls were hit into AOS who did alright with most of them, but what we obviously need are players to play off him. If Regan got more ball he could be lethal. Conor Loftus I felt was too easily pushed off the ball. Maybe, next year he will be mature enough.

  22. Greaves actually injured his shin v France ’66. Fourteen stitches. He was aged 26 then. He was sick alright, after Hurst rammed in the fourth goal completing his hat trick

  23. Mayomadness, I’d agree with your point there about the way Castlebar closed out their semi-final win, imagine if Ballyboden do the same to the Mitchels in the final, I wonder what our reaction would be then.

    The killer for us the last few years has been the performance of our U21 teams. We have done well at minor level but then the link from there to our senior team has broken down. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the U21 grade has let us down badly the last few years.

    Our biggest problem is our forwards are not scoring enough from play. Our midfielders and defenders have to take up the slack then which in turn leaves gaps in our defence. The one team for us which has been a winning team in Croke Park was our 2013 minor team. They were a team whose forwards scored freely from play.

    Cork have to play Dublin away this week-end so if we can get a win against Monaghan, we can start to move up the table. All is not lost yet!

  24. We again trot out the call for new blood to replace the golden oldies. Actually a few of our young lads doing well but unfortunately with the exception of DOC they seem to be backs. Would love to see Regan, Loftus and C o Shea thrive, not to mention a few of the other 2013 minors. But I still havent seen adequate replacements for Moran, Dillon, McLoughlin and Doherty. Trying Keith up front is not new and he is getting on in years as well. Last sunday our forwards did not do well and previously we hit Dubs for seven points. Moaning about Hennellys free taking does not make sense. He scored more from frees than any of our forwards did from play. While our backs have been dodgy at times its the lack of a really dynamic forward like McManus or Murphy that would make all the difference. Cillian is fantastic he just needs some help. As for the dark arts well Donegal can keep them. For me the standout issue there was how calm Diarmaid was. Pure class. Thumping a donegal chap and getting himself sent off would make no sense. Think of S O Sheas black card for indiscipline v Dubs in last years semi replay. Fat lot of good that did us.

  25. Great piece John, really enjoyed the read.

    The lack of leaders, or enough leaders, is the key point for me, and it’s in the biggest of matches at the most crucial times where it becomes most apparent.
    Generally, I feel that most of our players can handle themselves, and they have shown over the last few years that that they can give as good as they get, and they have come on leaps and bounds in this regard. But for me what is often missing is that collective spirit, that raw madness that’s hard to define but which is an ingredient that’s needed to win at the top level. It’s also something to puts fear in opponents. We don’t have that and sadly the last time we did was probably in 1951.

    The last thing I wanted to see on Sunday was for any of our players to start throwing punches and getting sent off. But our efforts at aggression, even when justified like on Sunday, can come across as cringe worthy and we’re far to apologetic generally. We’re not feared. Those of us who highlighted the penalty incident did so because it was all too familiar – we instinctively knew what was happening. But there are men on this team who can lead and I think if the right environment is created with enough belief present then we’ll start moving as one, acting and reacting as one.
    To think we haven’t won even the League since 2001, given our consistency in the competition and in Championship, is very strange. I absolutely feel that the ability has been there and boy have we come close. I’m not sure how this other ingredient can be created but it needs to happen soon.

    I do feel that all the best players in the County are in or around the panel at the moment. Possibly Kirby, Regan, Loftus, could have been brought in sooner, but I also see rationale for why others were used and persisted with. It’s hard, for instance, to imagine the team without the likes of Boyler, who was the difference in so many big matches, including last year, and we’d have been out of tournaments far sooner if it wasn’t for his many moments of bravery in the white heat of battle. Same for Higgins and Andy Moran.

    It’s all been said before, but unfortunately it’s in the big matches at crucial times where we ultimately come unstuck. Big players underperform and this is our pattern. It’s a harsh reality but one we all know too well. Management have made mistakes but responsibility lays mainly with the lads on the pitch in our losses. I hope our lads generally read this blog and get annoyed and pissed off with us all and try more than anything to go out and finish the thing once and for all. All we hope for is that they reach their potential. Luck has nothing to do with it. It is in their hands and it is something that is within them. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.

  26. I wasn’t agreeing with much until “Mayomadness”(#1;injuries & our clubs always progressing in their march to Club finals),”Yew tree” (#2;We’re well able to foul both for cynicalness & acting the hardman purposes),Up she flew”‘s (#3;some of our lads nearly decapitated Donegal lads & could’ve got straight reds! & the lapses in concentration are killing us for years now) contributions.
    For what it’s worth;my tuppence worth is that had Donie not fell,had Aidan won two late high balls “down his throat” & had Seamie not gone for a point rather than a Hail Mary into the square who knows we could’ve won comfortably.As someone referred to Murphy knew his limits & took short kicks for 1-2’s…we prefer Hennellys erratic accuracy.I always feared these first 3 games anyway but assumed the Rossies would be crumbling by now.
    Hennigans divisional sides could be worth exploring for a year.

  27. …ps;I was heartened alright by Ger Cafferkey going the length of the field to sort things out but I also was happier not to see any lads getting into a red mist;things are bad enough without suspensions.If Donegal want to stoop to new lows then a better ref would’ve banished a few of them!

  28. How many of Mayo panel in the past five years can comfortably and accurately execute a pass, or score off either foot on a regular basis ? How many times have Mayo forwards fluffed their lines when under NO pressure.? Even Frees !. Good Coaching. Constant repetition. Good decision making.good awareness,good unselfish teamwork requires hours of meticulous practice culminating in doing all these in a Game intensity environment.. Other elements are important also but the Football should be master,

  29. Totally disagree with this post regarding previous managements failure to bring new players through the simple fact is there wasn’t one person good enough to be brought through at that time!
    That is why we were and still are relying on certain players in certain positions most notably in the forward departments!
    However this is beginning to change a bit now we have some quality young footballers coming through in different positions e.g durcan d o Connor Loftus hall coen and there another few the likes of Reape Duffy Ruane Akram cunniffe Boland Doran that are coming behind who will get game time in a few years!

  30. Hello WJ, Yes i was attacking the Guest. Mea culpa. I was reacting to the negative tone and had not the patience to single out what i really disagreed with.
    I am surprised that so many agreed with the ‘analysis’ and am not going to fight anyone.
    I appreciate you letting me have my say. I am only a lost soul enjoying the adventure of Mayo football but am in truth a football ignoramus.
    I just happen to like James Horan etc.
    I must add the memory is short on the consequences of Seamie O’Shea wrestling someone to the ground. The other comments have been aired many times.
    I watched that very professional video by someone’s niece on the ‘Doc ‘s. PENALTY’. Thankfully it did not look so bad as it appeared on the TV. My word, i do admire Diarmuid to have 5 or 6people baying at you and keep cool. Aido seemed to know the danger and would have acted if necessary.

    I will be in Clones next Sunday and in Castlebar for the Kerry match. It is just great to see everyone doing the best they are able. It seems to me that everything is coming together.
    I will be more tactful in the future as i had just switched on in a bad mood.

  31. I see the Ros are getting cocky now prob be fav to down but I think Mayo will beat them but we need cillian back.

  32. I agree that staying cool was the right thing to do. None of the Donegal lads really threatened, just pushing, shoving and mouthing. First Mayo player to raise his hand and a yellow jersey is rolling on the ground, holding his face, with 4 more baying in the refs face for a red card. The other desired outcome was to disrupt the penalty kicker. I was delighted that neither effort succeeded. Diarmuid’s 2 penalties rival Cillian’s 2 45’s into the Hill end in 2012.

  33. I was about half way down the initial post and it dawned on me this probably isn’t a Willie Joe post, it’s most likely a John Cuffe post, checked and sure enough. And it’s drawn out the negativity in force. The ammount of shite talk, lack of leadership, talks of throttling Donegal lads and taking bans. Players get reputations with refs for for being loose cannons, Kerry could have won even more AI’s had it not been for Galvin getting bans and red cards some of those seasons and some of those were undeserved reds.
    Leadership shown in many of the great wins and in our never say die attitude in Limerick when despite pretty much everything going against us, the lads fought on without our 2 most potent forwards until luck finally ran out. And not forgetting our fightback vs Dublin last summer. The replay loss was after a dominant spell when we could’ve had a few more scores but ultimately the resources of the 2 teams (Dublin recovered from 1st game Mayo hadn’t) was the main factor. We’ve won several games in that period when we were seen as underdogs.
    Not saying everything rosy but FFS it’s February with a small deck to play with and a late start to training which might actually be a help if we get to August. Improved last 2 games, one of which we were afraid of an absolute pasting. Bita perspective please.

  34. Good write up John Cuffe as ever a honest view.

    yew_tree i seen that Ros post you refer too. The same poster is a big troll and probably best ignored.

  35. Ciaran 2
    I really admire your humility and honesty. Willie Joe does too, methinks.

  36. A bit off topic here but ‘re the cairde maigheo jacket etc,i got the email saying to come to McHale park today between 11an and 4pm.I went up at lunch and nobody there.Anybody have any info on this?

  37. Good piece John, always enjoy your writing. The dark arts are unfortunately not in our DNA and it has cost us dearly down through the years. I agree re Aidan O’Shea, we need to find his place and get the max out of him. Kirby could well be the answer at FF and release Aido to CF where I think he will be more effective. He’s a player that needs to be more involved in the game and he doesn’t seem to enjoy the FF role.

    Think there’s no need to panic yet. Dubs and Donegal away were tough matches, we played well in both but didn’t manage to get anything from them.

    I believe if Higgins had stayed on the pitch, we could have won and would definitely have done so if we avoided the turnover for the goal. But that’s all if, if if.

    A win in Monaghan would lift the pressure and I think Rochy is getting a bit impatient with the good performance but no points scenario. It’s time we won a big game and if we can put the shackles on McManus, within reason, we can do it. Cafferkey the man for that job.

  38. Hi duehard,thanks for getting back,i had a good look around including upstairs and out by the basketball court.Am I in the right building?

  39. i lived in england in a house where a kerry man resided. He knew his football. His favourite statement was ” fair play is fine play”. You can get in the faces of the opposition without even touching them. Discipline is vital and its finding the balance between not being walked on and not going over the top about it. We have all saw red mist at times and been human these things happen. Football is the order of the day. If our boys got stuck in when the penalty was called to protect Diarmuid and few of them got sent off we would then be saying that they let the team down. At the end of the day we scored the fucking penalty and thats the vital blow to strike. Hit them where it really hurts which is on the score board. I believe had higgins not got injured we would have created alot more up front and would have won the match. K mac will be in better shape next sunday and im certain we will win in clones.

    When Maurice fitzgerald was asked was he concerned that his team concede alot of scores he simply replied ” as long as we score more than them it dont matter”. That is what its all about. We defended pretty well in last two games bar a few mistakes. We need more guile up front and i believe we will get it and its about letting the new guys fit in and give them time to settle.

    When a team is playing well they get the run of the ball. its not just in gaa its in all sports. I watch snooker and am life long fan of the game. When a player is playing well he gets the bit of luck but when his opponent is struggling the slightest rub of the green he cannot get.

    Im heading for clones and looking forward to it. Im sure we will be coming home with 2 points. Im hoping that from kickouts our goalie hits them long and dont fuck about too much with this short crack. How many times have we seen games completely change because of it. Hit the fucking leather long. At least ur in position to defend properly. Not left isolated cause ur half back has been taken out of the game.

  40. I believe Mayo have done a good job having the best players represent the county and i see the depth of talent in the panel improving. We’re developing great talent that should keep Mayo competing at the highest level. Also, I would not be in a hurry ditching some of the older experienced guys like Keith Higgins who only recently won an All Star and has been mentioned by many as the best corner back in the game. Mayo have bright future to look forward to!

  41. When Kevin Keane got his red card last summer not many Mayo supporters were impressed. Likewise Lee Keegan in 2014. So it’s a bit ridiculous to be suggesting that we “man up” and take red cards “when necessary”. Diarmuid O’Connor manned up last Sunday, putting his penalty away decisively. That is the “manning up” we need.

    Re Aiden O’Shea, I think he would be better sticking to his post in front of the square rather than wandering around the forward line trying to get involved in the play. It would also help that outfield players knew where he was when trying to find him with passes and would help other forwards, cornermen in particular, play off him. Playing full forward demands patience.

  42. I think a lot of you are getting carried away with yourselves and getting a bit panicky too early in the year. Kerry seem to be in this position more often than most counties and don’t panic, it actually makes them in to a more determined outfit and knowing that they have to win a few matches to stay up they normally do.
    I have good faith in the management as they are not dealing with a full deck for all the reasons that you are all aware of. I agree that we need to get a lot more physical and not be pushed aside.
    As regards Aidan O Shea, he should not be placed in F.F. against the stronger teams as it is a lot easier to box him up in there and does not get any fair play from the ref. Play him in the same way as Donegal use M.Murphy interchangeing between C.H.F. and C. F. supplying good ball in to the forwards.When Castlebar finish their campaign ( we hope successfully) put big Barry or Kirby in the square and persevere with Regan and particularly Loftus as they have talent given the right ball. After all they engineered a penalty which shows they have good corner forward instincts. Keep the faith, the new management have just started and the team has improved immensely since the Cork game. We just need a bit of luck and a bit more bite up front.I am just wondering why we have not seen S.Cone.at this stage, he had a good year with his club and college.

  43. I agree with most of what John Cuffe is saying above but dont quite understand what he means by ‘Keegan irritates at times’…Here is a player unlike some others who always performs on the big days, such as 2012/2013 Final, 2 Semis v Dublin and Semi v Kerry in 2014 until he was wrongly sent off. Any player that can mark Diarmuid Connolly out of a game is beyond criticism in my opinion.

    If we had a few more like him we would have won at least 23 All Irelands in past 5 years..

  44. Ah come on lads for feck sake who do we think we are kidding here. Commitment 10 out of 10.. does that win ya an All Ireland. Answer = NO. So can the excuse makers please find some new ones or take the red and green tinted glasses off, and see that we are going backwards here the progression is regression. Reality is this are we good enough even to win Connaught never mind an All Ireland. Answer=No.

    Monaghan had the batin of Dublin and were so wasteful it was unreal, but still had the winning of that game, if they turn up in the same form as that we will be beaten! simple as. young Conor was getting pulled and dragged around the place and what does his team mates do.. stand there looking at it. sick of looking at them playing Mr nice boys football. they want to take a leaf out of the Dublin team back in the 70’s, by Jaysus them boys would ate ya! or Meath in the 90’s savage players with hunger for ball that I have not seen on this Mayo team and fear I will not see it. please go and prove me wrong boys.

  45. Stan – the real answer to the intimidation at the penalty incident was to stick it in the net and not alone did he do that he did it twice just to really underline his class. Whereas I would love to see a few of them on their arses I didn’t want to see us to getting red cards.
    I was at the match and Mayo certainly gave as good as they got, they competed ferociously for every ball and there was no sign of Mr nice boy that I saw. They battled bravely and I was proud of them on the day despite losing. A few silly mistakes and misjudgements were the difference plus some excellent score taking by Donegal.
    As regards Monaghan – I am confident we will win despite their good showing v Dublin.
    Keep the faith.

  46. JC I enjoyed your piece as I always do. I do not agree with all of it, but there is no doubting our reluctance to read the referee in tight battles. We have a huge question over where to play Aidan and so far this year he has been disappointing. Donegal were not a better team the last day, but were much cuter and were at full strength. I watched the penalty incident again and my point of view was that Diarmuid came out of it a winner, and that is enough for me. Clearly the Donegal lads let themselves down, their antics helped DOC to focus on the ultimate form of retaliation, and they picked up 3 cards to boot. Some of our lads are not able to look after themselves in battle. You only have to look at the semi finals of 2014 and 2015. Above all staying on the field and not getting red carded is the most effective way to helping your team mates, and in this area we are well served by this fine team.

  47. Well written as always but misguided. Any half-competent referee would have red-carded at least one Donegal player. They blatantly threatened the referee and prevented a penalty which had been awarded being taken. I have never seen a team refusing to accept a referee’s decision before. The GAA authorities have shown no interest in this which speaks volumes.

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