Reinforcements in line for recall to face the Rossies


So the winter suntans are fading fast and our first proper inter-county match of the year takes place this coming Sunday, against Roscommon in Kiltoom (throw-in 2pm). The game will most likely be our final pre-season one, as only a right thumping of the Rossies will be enough for us to make the final of this year’s FBD League.

I doubt Stephen Rochford will be losing any sleep over the coming few nights fretting about FBD points difference permutations. While an additional match in January – against those uppity Galway lads to boot – wouldn’t do any harm, the two-week gap until Monaghan roll into town for the first round of the League at the start of next month can be of equally productive use to us.

The Mayo News reports this week (here) that the experimentation we’ve seen in the first two rounds of the FBD isn’t likely to be repeated at Kiltoom on Sunday. The paper reckons that we’ll name a far stronger team for this one, with the likes of Robbie Hennelly, Keith Higgins, Colm Boyle, Aidan O’Shea, Kevin McLoughlin, Cillian O’Connor and Andy Moran all vying for starting places.

Lee Keegan and Kevin Keane remain club-tied, though, due to Westport’s forthcoming All-Ireland club IFC semi-final. The Mayo News also reported last week (paper and digital versions) that college commitments would rule out Paddy Durcan, Stephen Coen and Conor O’Shea from this one.

Donal Vaughan is suspended for Sunday due to the red card he picked up late on the last day. Jason Doherty went off during the first half last Sunday, suffering from suspected concussion following a clash of heads, and it’s not clear yet if he’ll be fielded in Kiltoom.

A number of lads are still out injured as well. That piece from last week’s Mayo News stated that Ger Cafferkey won’t be ready to play until early March as he continues his recovery from the serious hamstring injury suffered last April. Brendan Harrison, meanwhile, had hip surgery before Christmas but was due to start back in training on return from South Africa. Diarmuid O’Connor (hamstring) is also on the rehab list as are Michael Hall and new boy Gareth O’Donnell.

Roscommon have beaten us in this annual January fixture in each of the last three years. Fat lot of good it has done them but I’d say there’s a desire there all the same in our ranks to bring that streak to an overdue end.

There are dangers, though, in rolling out the big guns on a dank day in January. Last year’s FBD meeting with the Rossies proved particularly costly for us in this regard, with Keith Higgins picking up an injury which kept him out of the entire NFL campaign. The same day Kevin Keane picked up a nasty shoulder injury that had him sidelined ’till April, while Tom Parsons suffered a finger dislocation which thankfully didn’t keep him out of action afterwards.

Ideally, what you’d like to see is a blend of the returnees and some of the new lads who’ve done well over the first two games. The focus now has to be on getting the squad set for the League and the lads who have put up their hands against NUIG and IT Sligo certainly deserve the opportunity on Sunday to show that they can play a part for us over the spring and, possible, the summer too.

As for Sunday’s match itself, I’m not overly concerned how it goes. The game has, though, piqued my interest and my road-trip buddy and I have cleared our respective diaries for Sunday to make the easy jaunt down the motorway to Athlone and up the road from there to Kiltoom for it. Yeah, it’s time to get back on the horse once more.

91 thoughts on “Reinforcements in line for recall to face the Rossies

  1. How long of a drive roughly from Dublin Willie joe ?
    We should do an oul car pool … maybe a bit of car pool Carokie …. 🙂

  2. Will be good to see some of the big guns begin to blow off the cobwebs. Result not particularly important but would be useful to see a few markers set down.

  3. At a guess id say the Mayo starting team Sunday could be.

    Rob Hennelly
    Keith Higgins, Ray O’Malley Donal Newcombe
    Colm Boyle, Eoghan O’Reilly, Michael Plunkett
    Shane Nally Danny Kirby
    Fergal Boland Aidan O’Shea, Kevin McLoughlin,
    Cillian O’Connor Andy Moran Alan Freeman

  4. Thanks for that update WJ. I wonder what’s the story with Conor Loftus. He is probably one of the main players that you would have liked to see involved in these FBD League games.

  5. Thanks Robinbanks, yeah he does seem to pick up a good few niggles alright which is a pity.

  6. Was looking at the league fixtures , the 1st 3 games are very winnable. Monaghan at home, Kerry who are usually poor in Feb away and then Roscommon at home. Mayo really should be targeting 3 wins in these games, wouldn’t it be great to have 3 wins under our belts early and not have to worry about relegation like last year.

  7. Yes, not be worried about relegation would be nice, what would be nicer is that we go out and try and win the damn thing. We haven’t won it since 1971 in a way that says we were actually the best team in the league, so it’s high time that we tear into it and get a bit of silver. It hasn’t stopped Dublin from doing alright in the summer after a league title is delivered so maybe we should be looking at it in a different light for 2017.
    Plus what nicer team than Dublin to hand the league title to Mayo? Wonderful Mayo and great friends of Dublin.

  8. It would be nice to win the league and a game less to worry about this this year now that the semi-finals have been abolished, but I’d be quite satisfied happy if we weren’t in a relegation dogfight come April. This debate pops up every year and I still think what’s important now is that we focus on making the tweaks that will see us through to next September.

    It would also be decent to have a couple of aces hidden in the deck like Dublin had on 1st October.

    We won the league in 2001 Dave, the result is the only thing that matters 😉 Of course that success didn’t do much for us in the 2001 Championship … but you’re right in that it hasn’t done Dublin any harm in recent years. It would be great to get a win against them in the League, but I’d settle for the Championship there too.

  9. Green and red

    I was there in 2001 as well as yourself and had the hangover on Monday to prove it, my point is that 2001 was a questionable year, remember? Foot and mouth prevented the top teams from competing. If I’m not mistaken, the semi finalist in the 2001 league were Mayo,Galway, Roscommon and Sligo.
    Marty mc Nicholas I believe kicked the winner for us. And football aside, you probably are getting dithery.

  10. I think the game we should really be targeting is Dublin in Croker on 4th March. Really targeting it.

  11. RE: 2001 League Final

    Had a college exam on the Tuesday after, went on the lash Sunday, calfed all day Monday and did my best exam of the year on the Tues morn. I was buzzing after the weekend. That one stays with me

  12. It would be lovely to win the league but at the end of the day it’s who wins Sam that matters most.

    I’d be more interested in seeing a solid 70 minute team performance with a bit more sharpness in front of the posts throughout the whole league, and seeing a few young lads who’ve been performing in the FBD get some experience against decent county teams. If we achieve this and stay out of the relegation battle I’d be more than happy going into the Summer months.

    On a side note, just got the new jersey delivered with no.5 on the front and back and tickets bought for the Croker March 4th 🙂

    Maigh Eo Abú!

  13. I wouldn’t be too bothered about winning the league, we should just be focussing on blooding as many newer lads as possible so if we can get 3 early wins it would be great chance to throw a few in.

  14. Yeah the league fixtures are interesting this year. We are at home to the 4 weakest teams in the league including the relegation fodder of Cavan and Roscommon.

    Two home bankers there, but really we should win all 4. Also as stated above we are playing Kerry at a good time as they usually start slowly. We can win that game too.

    Given a level playing field we should also win in Croke Park against the only representative from the weakest province.

    That leaves Tyrone away which i think we will lose. Still, 6 out of 7 will see us into the final.

  15. 2001: So we think we were not worthy League winners because the foot and mouth scare disrupted the final rounds.

    Then Tyrone U21s have an issue with their 2001 title. We won our semi final v Meath that April. We had R Loftus, M McNicholas, Trevor, J Gill, from the winning League team. Grimes was a sub as was David Clarke. Others on that team were Conor, Dillon, Ger Brady, Billy Joe and Brian Maloney.

    Tyrone pleaded with the GAA to defer the competition until they caught up. Headquarters twisted Cork and Mayos arms. We buckled. The final was eventually played the following October where we gathered a team full of injury issues along with tiredness. They shaded it. McConnell Gormley,Devlin, Jordan, Donnelly, McAnnalen, Mellon, McGuigan, O Neill, Hughes, Mulligan. The framework for 3 senior titles.

    In 2004 we lost the senior final. Six days later we trooped off to an Ulster venue to play Armagh. Some thanks for taking one for the GAA in 2001. Of course we are Mayo and that’s what we do. Don’t upset headquarters in any way.

  16. Must be hoovering in red/yellow/black card territory WJ. Am on moderation step this weather?

  17. I think a sucsessful league would be if we blooded a few new players preferably a goalkeeper and two or three forwards if we win the league good and well but when push comes to shove the Championship is where it’s at. I think the game against Galway in Salthill this year will be a humdinger Galway are getting stronger and have arguably better forwards than we do so maybe we should be building towards that one

  18. Been a few years since I was in Kiltoom last, anyone know what capacity it holds now? I know they’ve done some work on it in recent times and I’m nearly sure capacity was reduced.

  19. I remember when we played the Dubs in the league in 2014, we had an extra man after Stephen Cluxton was sent off and we were 7 ahead of them at one stage but we still conspired to draw the game. I think Dublin were on a bit of a bad run at that time so we could have kept them out of the top four, if we had won that game.

    So for us the priority is to do as well as we can in the league games, while blooding new players and if that takes us to a final, that’s great. If not, then as long as we don’t get relegated or get a few bad injuries and have given some of the new boys plenty of game time, you’d be happy enough. Winning the league only really becomes important, if we make the final, as you don’t want to lose another big game in Croke Park.

    If we were to make the final though, a big thing would be to prevent Dublin been there. If your playing Dublin in April in a league final, it’s very hard to beat them. For example, last year they hammered Kerry in the league final but then only beat them by two points in the summertime. So it would be great, if we did make the top 2, not to have Dublin in the final. They have four away games this year so it’ll be interesting to see how they get on.

  20. You’re not, John! As the man says, there’s a known issue there but sorting it remains an unknown. If it’s any consolation, you’re not the only long-standing contributor getting snagged at the minute.

  21. John, not that we were unworthy, but would Sam in 2017 be as sweet if kerry and Dublin were not allowed take part? I enjoyed 2001s win, and if we had any luck in the last 16 years I doubt that a stupid league title would be of much consequence. Tyrone may have won an U 21 title against a battered Mayo but it’s not the same as if Mayo weren’t in the semi or final of that year. Mayo were there.
    I’ll leave it at that and hope that Mayo can win some sort of silverware in 2017.

  22. I think home games are overrated. We play much better away. Machale park is far from a fortress. Croke Parknis as much home for this Mayo team as Castlebar is.

  23. Interesting point there yew_tree. We probably do win more of our away league games, than we win at home. Maybe this is another reason why we are not winning national titles. I wonder how many home league games have Dublin lost in the last few years, not many I’d say. So if we see ourselves as one of the top teams in the country we should be winning our home league games. In any sport, in any country, home advantage is an advantage, so we should make that the case, starting this year. Especially considering the crowds that we get at our home games, we should be looking to making Castlebar a fortress.

  24. P.S. Just to add to the above, I thought that the qualifier game against Fermanagh in Castlebar last year was a great example of the crowd really getting behind the team and driving them on to victory, in front of a very partisan home crowd. More of that in the home league games would be great, as our league campaigns have gone a little bit stale in the last few years.

  25. @HSE

    Dubs away record (apols, it’s mainly off the top of my head).
    2016 – 3 Away games, 3 wins.
    2015 – 4 Away Games, 2 wins.
    2014 – 3 Away Games, 2 wins.
    2013 – 2 Away Games, 1 win, 1 draw.

    It’s the same kind of form as most league contenders have. What will be interesting this year, is how no semi’s play out.

    If a team is “safe” for the year, but will have to really try to make the top 2, they mightn’t bother. It changes the dynamic a fair bit.

    What is nice though, is that it gets rid of that silly situation, where prior to the final round, you might either be relegated, or make the play offs. I’ve always had a thing about that.

  26. Thanks for that Jaden, that’s a pretty strong away record alright.

    It will be interesting to see how things play out this year in the league. Teams will probably be a bit more determined to make a good start.

    Have ye lost many home league games? I remember us drawing with ye in 2014 and Tyrone I think drew with ye in 2015.

  27. Backdoor Sam who would you like to see as the no 1 goalkeeper this year .

    You are saying we need a new one

  28. At home, from what I recall:
    @HSE, pretty much spot on.

    Home Form.
    2016 – Didn’t lose any,
    2015 – Didn’t lose any, Drew with Tyrone.
    2014 – Lost one to Cork by two points (Drew with you guys, huge scoring game).
    2013 – Lost one to Tyrone by a point.

    By my reckoning, you’d need to win 5 games out of 7 to make the final. 4 Might do it, depending on other results.

  29. Thanks again Jaden for that.

    Yeah it does show alright that you need very strong home form to win league titles, something for us to think about for the year ahead.

    5 wins does seem like the target to aim for, as you said 4 might do it as well if there is congestion at the top of the table. It’s all to play for anyway!

  30. Christ above, Mayo51 – would you ever give that point about the goalie a rest? You’ve been banging on incessantly about it for months now.

  31. Rochford makes the point that players must step up when they are given a chance. No point in claiming nerves or some other excuse. This is the chance, take it. There is a risk in this of over trying or being seen as greedy. Where guys could have shown more is in the intensity of tackling and tracking. Some did and some didn’t. Too many scores conceded.

  32. Mayo 51 I did not say we need a new goalie. If you read my piece I said I’d like to see us blood a few new forwards and a goalkeeper. I have no problem with Robbie Hennelly we are all human people make mistakes I’ve no problem with David Clarke either but it’s no harm to have a back up goalkeeper.

  33. I notice that a lot of our league games are on a Saturday night this year so they should be live on TV – I think it’s a better time than Sunday afternoon e.g. better atmosphere. There’s probably a few staying overnight in Tralee for Kerry game (myself included).

    I see also from the Indo on Sunday that we have the highest number of players still playing since 2010 (12) with Dublin in second place with 11. Wud be nice to see these long serving players get their hands on Sam.

  34. Spotlight I read that Indo article. The mileage on the clock of those 12 players is a concern when you consider most of them are still starters and was and still are the main leaders. How Mayo do in the years ahead will depend on how well those 12 players are replaced.

  35. The counter to the logic of excessive mileage is that some of these guys have simply delivered consistently. Other players may flit in and out of squads but these guys have been able to reach a level that’s beyond some of their peers.

    Pros & Cons to both – experience v mileage, conditioning v toll on body etc.

  36. Back in 2011/12/13 guys like Vaughan, Keegan and Boyle were effective but not really big stage Croke Park players. Now we’re able to rely on those same three to be our top performers. Croke Park Warriors.
    When we can have Cillian, Diarmuid and Aidan going well it’s the likes o those six that really form the matchday overall performance of the team.
    You have Patrick Durcan and Brendan Harrison now who you’d be hoping bring that same big matchday form as they had in 2016.
    Mention of Andy of course but I was picking six players that will be there three or four more years.

  37. Regarding the home ground situation, I know it won’t be let happen, but the games should be played in Ballina, Charlestown and the likes. The crowd are on top of thr players and the atmosphere is much better. But it won’t be allowed happen due to crowds, health and safety, and the fwct that MacHale Park is the county ground.

  38. I was asking on another forum yesterday observer 2 and someone was saying it used to be 4,500 but was reduced in recent times to 3,000.

  39. I think that those young players coming into the Mayo setup are coming into a great setup. When you consider the panel that was there in 2016 and how strong they were against a monster in those finals, and now we are about to blend in some young fellas that know how to win, it cannot be but good.
    Unfortunately, others will be dropped, some of them have lost so many finals, a savage world for certain.

  40. I see the Dubs are close to getting the Spawell Complex. They are already the main tenant in the GAA “National Centre” of excellence in Abottstown (In Dublin !!!).
    Absolutely no way will any County be able to compete against Dublin in 10 years time.
    Compare the player numbers, facilities and finance they will have in place against dwindling rural population and it’s only going one way.
    Padraig Duffy alluded to it this week.

  41. You could be right Facetheball Leinster is already a wasteland in football no one fit to compete with the Dubs. I don’t know tho I think Kerry will always be strong and Tyrone and Mayo and Galway anything can happen on the day. Whilst money talks and all that I wouldn’t be too dispondent. If or county board gets its act together there are lots of Mayo people throught the world willing to financially back Mayo

  42. Facetheball. Thank you. Every time I mention it I get the head ripped off me. A lot of people cannot see what’s happening, maybe because I live abroad I see it for what it is. Leinster is dead and buried, this will only change when the fans of Meath and co stop traveling to croke park to fave Dublin and the fans of Dublin tire of the facile wins. It’s sad and a shame to see the great Meath dublin battles no longer happen.
    Jaden, this is not an attack on you! Or any other dub, but do you ever get the feeling that it’s loaded in your favor? How would you feel to have 2 Dublin teams?

  43. Sure we have our own centre of excellence……oops…the Connacht Centre of excellence! All we need now is to start excelling.

  44. I’m not sure on these Centres of Excellence as to what benefits they bring. They are the essence of top down investment where most of the person involved have a personal bias in terms of saying that the project is worth it.
    The brilliant Tyrone and Kerry teams of the 00’s, what centres of excellence did they have? Everyone who would tell you that Centres of Excellence are the way forward are usually:
    – County Board members who need a big project
    – Fitness/coaching staff who want a job/role
    – Players who like the idea of a professional type place
    – Politicions who liek to support a big project
    You could flood every club in a county with footballs cheaper than centres of excellence. Especially that the Size 5 ONeills has actually fell to 50 euro these days.
    40 clubs by 30 footballs a year * 50 euro = 60,000 euro.
    The guarantee that every new influx of youngsters into every club each year has their own ONeills football would give an amazing boost to skills in any county that was ever smart enough to do it.
    The biggest lift in my own limited Gaelic Football skills was when I actually got to own an ONeills around 14.
    Unfortunately “We gave every U12 player a football” is not going to give anyone a job other than some staff in ONeills sportswear.

  45. A T says:
    January 19, 2017 at 11:14 am
    heard the scoreline was Mayo 3-21 Laois -0-19

    I heard a lot of first teamers started and were in flying form. A similar margin of victory on Sunday will put Mayo into the FBD final v Galway in two weeks.

  46. @Dave, I never take a valid question as a dig, if it is asked genuinely, and to aid understanding.

    I could talk about this, literally ’till the cows come home, but I’ll try to be brief.

    The Spawell is a classic example of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Nobody (and Dubs fans moreso) wants to play league games in a quarter full croker. Parnell park is not fit for purpose, so the DCB move to build a site that can house 25k – a functional Home Ground. Some of the same people who deride the Dubs using Croker as their de facto home ground, now complain about building a suitable home ground at Spawell.

    Regarding Abbotstown, the Dublin seniors use DCU as their base, mainly as it is more central for the squad as a whole. Abbotstown is about 300 yards from the Meath border, and means skirting through one of the worst commutes out of the city to get to it. Sure isn’t the Connacht COE Slap bang in the middle of Mayo?

    Leinster is a dead duck currently, but does the blame for that rest with the Dublin Senior football team? It’s not necessarily money or numbers either. Latest (2015) finance figures show that Galway has a comparable spend for inter county setup to Dublin, and Cork’s registered player numbers are less about 15% shy of Dublins.

    Talking about Munster, it’s been a half-dead duck for not far off a century. ONCE in the last 85 odd years, has a team other than Cork/Kerry won the Munster Football Championship (Clare 1992 for the boffins).

    Connacht is heading that way. London are making finals – as long as you avoid Mayo, you’ve got a fair chance of getting there.

    Honestly, Ulster is the only province not in trouble.

    Leinster teams aren’t languishing in the lower divisions of the league because of the Dublin Senior football team, they are there because they haven’t got their shit together. Ask any Kildare or Meath supporter, they’ll tell you the same thing.

    But what about this big money advantage? The money the DCB get is not going directly to the Senior squad – it’s being ploughed into grass roots games development. Anyone (and I may even include WJ here) who is involved in a Dublin Club setup, will tell you it’s reaping great dividends as regards getting kids playing our national games.

    What this initiative is trying to do, is to address the following:
    Mayo have approx 130K people living in the county (2011 figure).
    Mayo have 10,645 registered players in the county. 1:13 ratio.
    Dublin have approx 1.35M people living in the county. (2016 figure).
    Dublin have 39,197 registered players in the county. 1:33 ratio.

    GAA games penetration in Dublin is very, very low relatively speaking, the DCB are trying to fix that, but with a largely apathetic population base, and serious competition from other sports, it takes time, planning, and investment. I’m very, very proud of how my county board have gone bout this monumental task.

    What you really need to understand, is the differences between how GAA has evolved in Dublin, in comparison to most other places. Whereas in Mayo, the GAA as an institution is prevalent, almost at the cultural level, this is not the case in Dublin. Although improving, Dublin’s GAA scene is limited to “Pockets of resistance” dotted around the county.

    Consider this, I come from the catchment area of a relatively large and successful GAA club. In the estate I grew up in, I would be confident in stating that 75% of the people who live there would have no idea where the local clubhouse or pitch is located. That’s Dublin GAA in a nutshell.

    If GAA was a numbers game, New York and London would be mopping up, but you can’t simplify it down to that level. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t deny that Dublin as a whole have numeric and monetary advantages over other counties, but it’s not why Sam is wintering here. It’s because we, right now, have an exceptional panel of players, very few of which (except maybe Fenton) saw any benefit from the relatively recent grassroots investment.

    On a final note, about splitting the county up. I personally detest the idea, and honestly, it’s a little premature to be calling for it. Sure we need to split Kerry into North and South, and start amalgamating counties into workable units. Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim should be able to provide a decent challenger between them. Mind you, you can ask them – I would think the proposal won’t go down too well.

    Anyway, I’ll shut up now.

  47. London reached a final not finals and they wouldnt have reached that final if they played Mayo,Galway or Roscommon.

    Only last year Galway beat Mayo in MacHale park to reach the final and Roscommon got within one point of Mayo in the championship meeting. Leinster in comparison teams seem to be happy to get within 10 points of Dublin while Westmeath have reached back to back finals and they are about the same level as Sligo.

  48. JP, I see your point regarding centre of excellence and definitely see your point re footballs, too much emphasis of conditioning and not actual ball skills.

    Centres of Excellence can be a massive addition if done properly, ie having everyting under one roof and having underage teams training on the pitch next to the senior team would benefit the younger players.

    However these centres are really only maximised in urban areas where the playing population are in close proximity thus able to use the facilities on a regular if not daily basis.

    While Mayo do have access to the connacht centre of excellence our player population at all grades is just too spread out to take full advantage of the facilities. Dublin player can use Abbottstown everyday. How many times can a Mayo player get to the Connacht centre of excellence, 1 maybe 2 times a week.

  49. Bekan slap bang in the middle of Mayo?

    Check a map there buddy. You could travel from Balbriggan to Castlekelly twice and only just about cover the same distance as it is from Belmullet to Bekan.

  50. I’ve no problem with Dublin building a smaller stadium. Good luck to them. Croke Park is awful unless there are least 45,000 in there.

    Remember we had our own little bail out deal on MacHale Park. Dublin have huge advantages but could the same not be said of us over Sligo, Leitrim etc?

    Sport is not fair and not a level playing field, never has been.

  51. You’ve just shown (yet again), Jaden, why the input from those outside the county is so valued and welcome. Great post.

    The Spawell initiative is long overdue. Parnell Park is an embarrassment as the home of Dublin GAA (though I do like the fact that it’s comfortably within walking distance for me) and a 25k (hopefully stretched to 30k) stadium as an out-of-summer home for Dublin makes enormous sense.

    I’d agree with you too re games development in Dublin. From what I’ve seen the numbers are enormous but the deal that part-funds the army of GPOs in Dublin surely has to be questioned at this point. What effect would this level of funding have in Meath, Kildare or Louth? It’s not just in Dublin that the GAA needs to be nurtured – if you take Louth (who, don’t forget, have won the All-Ireland more recently than we have) the battle already seems lost. I doubt they know where their county ground is in Louth these days, never mind their local club.

  52. Thank you jaden. It was a real question. If what you say about this current Dublin panel rings true, 2017 could be an interesting year as they must be getting their fill of it at this stage. I hope they are!
    Maybe you’re right, maybe Meath and Kildare should take a good look at themselves and start to organize themselves better. However, the fact remains that Dublin get a huge chunk of the gaa money and have big sponsors that give you 54 full time coaches for the county. I cannot see Meath or anyone else getting that. Mayo have 4 coaches as far as I know ( someone correct me if I’m wrong). Im not one for arguing and would like to agree with you and move on with life but the GAA have a huge problem on their hands that will only get worse. What if it becomes another Scottish Premier League debacle?

  53. Yew Tree – our Bail out of McHale park is not a let off. The Debit still has to be paid in full and shouldered by Mayo GAA. All that happened is that Mayo got a lower interest rate.
    No one elses is paying for McHale park. Let no one misguide you into thinking otherwise.

  54. Great post Jaden. The Kilmacud players for example, A total disaster for them to get to and from Abbotstown after work. Abbotstown is a terrible location for most Dublin players in fairness.

  55. Great post Jaden/ You can’t complain about Dublin playing all their games in Croke park and then object when they do something like building a smaller ground that will meet its league and some championship needs.

    There is no doubt the rest of Leinster have given up the ghost and this is entirely down to the various counties especially Meath and Kildare who should be capable of at least offering a challenge. As someone who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s it saddens me to see how Offaly dropped of the map. After what happened them in 2010 I can understand why Louth gave up the battle.

    Having said that I do believe there needs to be a cap put on what every county spends on its Senior team and some kind of level playing pitch provided so that the funds available are spread out more evenly around the country. This can only come at National level and it is time the GAA took this on. As they say in the NFL a league is only as strong as its weakest member.

  56. For us, we should think back to the chance that Andy Moran had in the drawn game. A great ball over the top from Colm Boyle, Jason Doc doing everything right setting him up, then Andy blazed it over the bar. If you look at the way he hit his shot, he was leaning back rather than leaning forward, getting over the ball. In fairness to Andy he has saved us a lot of times, so you don’t want to be too hard on him.

    These are the kind of chances though that win All-Ireland titles. Andy could have even played Cillian in as well, as he was on his right, in a great position. These are the type of chances that our U21 team took last year and our minors took in 2013. They ended up as champions. That’s what we need our senior team to do in the big games, bury these chances.

    You still get the feeling, for all of the great games that our players have played in the last few years and for all of the brilliant moments that they have given us, they still don’t fully believe that they are the best team in Ireland on All-Ireland finals day, for whatever reason.

    Some of our younger players do believe that they are as good as any other players out there, so let’s hope that they bring that into the senior ranks in the years ahead, starting this year. We are so close at the moment.

    P.S. It is a bit mad though that almost 50% of the GAA development grants given out each year go to Dublin, something really does need to be done about that alright.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Meath will get on this year. They have a successful manger in place now, Andy McEntee, who managed Ballyboden St. Endas to All-Ireland club success. He should know plenty about the strengths and weaknesses of Dublin football anyway.

  57. Hse. That shot of andys was always going to be a difficult goal to score. It was those own goals that killed us , and even then, just about. The thing now is this, be ready for Dublin to trip and take the chance.

  58. @ Dave, I think that Andy went for power rather than placement. You could understand that too, as the adrenaline levels were probably very high. He lacked a bit of composure. I remember Conor Loftus having a one on one in the Monaghan league game and he finished it to the net using placement rather than power. In fairness Conor did have a lot more time and it wasn’t an All-Ireland final but the composure that he showed was admirable.

  59. Great piece from Jaden. Fair play to Dublin for chasing Spawell. NAMA tried and almost succeeded in screwing them on that one. Dublin set the standards. It’s up to us to match them. We probably in the last few years are the closest. Meath will rise somewhat with McEntee I/C. Wouldn’t like to meet them in a backdoor or Q/F match.

  60. Ya, it’s January alright. If Haden had posted that in September I don’t think we’d be as complimentary…no, we’d be tearing strips off him.
    Still, excellent post.
    Whatever about funding, population and the division of resources it’s not Dublin’s fault Meath and Kildare are not at the races in the same way it’s not ours Sligo and Leitrim aren’t. Dublin had their leantimes too and the sooner those times return the better.

  61. Jaden, Blacksod to Bekan, all within the county of Mayo, is a 4 hour round trip.

    As you rightly point out, the money is going to the grassroots, and rightly so. After intercounty expenditure, why shouldn’t every county have the same financial resources to put into grassroots?

    Are Corks registered players quoted there including hurling? Any measurement must be like for like – ie football only. Also, Dublin has way more players than London or New York combined, and more than four times as many clubs.

    Access to college, access to employment, short driving distances, inward migration from rural depopulation. And to quote your own figures, 4 times as many players as your nearest rival. The odds are stacked. Dublin will always have an economic advantage unless some measures are taken to negate the economic disadvantage other counties are at.

    Current success + investment that no other county can match will mean continued success. Something has got to give to make things more equitable, do you not agree?

    Willie Joe brings up Louth. I live and teach in Louth, in a primary school with 400 kids, beside a GAA club. One GAA coach (a different one each year) comes in and does 6 weeks with one class only each year – 2nd class this year. Not one lad has a Gaelic ball at home. No one from the club has ever come into the school or the housing estate looking to recruit players or promote the club. Louth won a league title and brought the cup in to the school – not one kid even knew what the competition was nor that Louth had won it. Not a chance they could name any Louth player. The county ground here has not one plastic seat to it’s name, and holds less than Parnell Park. My local club’s juvenile teams are amalgamated with not one but two other clubs just to field a team. The situation up here is dire. Is a Dublin kid worth more to the GAA than a Louth kid? At the moment, yes.

    What should happen is the difference between the additional commercial income that Dublin can raise and a struggling county raises be topped up by the GAA in direct proportion to the average league and championship results of a team over a period of time. Mayo and Louth have similar populations, but we do well and they don’t, so Louth needs more investment. If this is not proactively done to attempt to even up the scales, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

    If the GAA has to give less money from the counties that have economics on their side so it can give more to those without economics on their side in an attempt to have a fair competition, then so be it. Although it shouldn’t have to come to that – the GAA makes more than enough money I think, and I think it’s HQ rather than Dublin we need to direct our ire at.

  62. Sean
    The ” own goals” were just really bad luck from a Mayo view. I suppose there are good and bad breaks in the game, we just got 2 very bad ones in that drawn game. Anyway, it’s time to leave that where it belongs and focus on the national league and see who will step up to score the ” lucky” goals for Mayo when we need them.

  63. A major factor for Kildare and Meath is that despite having big populations the majority of the people living in the big towns are Dublin supporters. If you go to a housing estate in Leixlip, Nass, Celbridge or Newbridge and Dublin are playing Kildare I can guarantee you will see more Dublin flags that Kildare. Its very difficult for them to get players on board who grow up with the dream of playing for Dublin.

  64. It is time for the GAA to introduce Financial Fair Play rules similar to those adopted by UEFA. This would place a limit on the amount that any one county could spend on their inter-county teams. It would not eliminate the huge financial advantage which Dublin have (AIG v Hunky Dorys as sponsors) but it would reduce it. Jaden, this is not sour grapes – I admire the Dublin players and management generally but a more level playing pitch would make it more competitive and from Dublin’s point of view would put an end to people questioning the true merit of their achievements.

  65. GAA website preview claims a Mayo victory against Roscommon would see us through to the final. Don’t think that’s right though, as if we did win, 3 teams would be on 4 points, so it’s scoring difference rather than head-to-head that counts. Thus, we need a 14 point victory. I often wonder at the standard of reporting for major news organisations.

  66. I doubt Mayo will try to bridge that 14 point gap to win an fbd title. Maybe sent out the new faces and see how they get on? At least we know Roscommon will be giving it their all in a bid to put one over on us early in the year. What better game to see who has the potential to make the panel for spring?

  67. I’d be of the opinion that a semi competitive game v Galway would be great experience for the newer lads, rather than a challenge game before the league starts

  68. Yes but all probability points to not beating the score difference. Wisest option is still to play the Mayo 1.5 team if there were such a thing. Not our first team.

  69. Digits, If Louth clubs are not prepared to get off their arse and do the minimum to engage with youth more money from Croke Park will not solve the problem for them. For all the money Dublin get and all the coaches they have I would be pretty sure that Dublin kids don’t get all that much contact with GAA official coaches. Why? Because of the number of kids in Dublin. My own local school, and we are very much rural Ireland, get a local coach in every week on a voluntary basis because the club makes the effort. We get 6 – 8 weeks attention from a full time GAA coach as they do in Louth.

  70. Not concerned about whether we win or lose on Sunday. Id be happy to see the likes of Kirby, Newcombe, Boland, Irwin get to put in a good shift alongside some of our returning stalwarts. That would be a satisfactory FBD campaign for me.

  71. I agree AndyD, volunteerism is great and is the lifeblood of the GAA. But it’s like Rehab, CRC, Cancer Care Support, Samaritans, Pieta House etc providing essential services on a charity basis instead of those services being funded by the government who are getting away with it. Providing essential services shouldn’t come down to chance and the levels of volunteerism.

    Likewise in the GAA, it is an essential service that kids who are not involved with a club are regularly made aware of our games and that they are proactively given the chance to regularly play our games, and to be encouraged to join their local club.

    You say it is the minimum. I say it is an extraordinary commitment to volunteer week in week out. In an urban setting though, the numbers just don’t add up. Let’s take Drogheda where I work. 3500 kids of primary school going age, 4 clubs. That’s 875 kids per club. Taking a standard class for an hour, that would require 32 hours of volunteering a week per club to reach each kid each week. That’s not volunteering, that’s a full time job. Even taking just half the kids each week is still 16 hours of volunteering during a time that most people work – it’s impossible.

    Things used to fall back on the GAA-mad local teacher. Less and less, particularly urban schools are no longer performing those essential services – they often don’t have the time, manpower or inclination to do so. Schools are flooded with so many government cutbacks and new initiatives now that the future playing success of the nearest GAA club is far down the list of priorities. Parents as well generally have less time and are more apathetic in urban areas. Kids there need the push. Rural schools, not so much as they are a much closer knit community.

    But it is the paid full time professional games development officers whose job it is to manage volunteerism and provide coaching week in week out that makes the difference in pushing youngsters towards clubs and keeping them there. This is exactly what is happening in Dublin.

    When I lived in Arklow (in Wicklow I know), they had a former Dublin midfielder employed as GDO – he co-ordinated all underage coaching, co-ordinated schools coaching and went out into the estates, coaching and playing games on the kids doorsteps, and then proactively directing them towards the club. It makes all the difference in the world.

    People have lives, people have kids, people have jobs. If as an organisation, it comes down to a competition of who has enough people willing and available with enough spare time to do all of the above, and often with little chance of success, then I don’t know where we are headed. What the organisation do have though is income a plenty, just not the right priorities for spending.

    This income is often spent on flagship facilities – centres of excellence, large-scale club developments, stadiums. All will be under utilized. The amount of money being spent alone on Pairc Ui Caoimh, Casement Park and Dublin’s proposed new stadium would be enough to employ 2000-3000 full time youth development coaches nationwide for several years. These behemoths will have fewer and fewer people going to them if our youth continue to be placed down the priority list. Life is not like it was before – kids won’t end up down at the club by chance, and the cultural structures that we have relied on down the years are weakening all of the time.

    Don’t get me wrong, the likes of Louth and Wicklow need a good long look at themselves. For example, on several occasions, and not a word of a lie, I have spoken to people from local clubs, and without them knowing a thing about me or my football knowledge or ability, once they heard I was from Mayo, they offered me coaching positions in the club. I went down for a kickabout on a pitch one day, someone in a van drove up, and the next day, I ended up being the manager of the U16 team. Ridiculous stuff.

    But therein lies the rub. If every county gets the same per capita from HQ, then the counties with the greater commerical and economic power will always have more, and will reinvest it, and the status quo will remain the same, if not widen. Kids from the counties with more money will have greater opportunities. We need a mechanism to deliver equality of opportunity to counties who are at a disadvantage – economically, geographically, educationally, culturally, success-wise.

    That’s if we actually want everyone to be competitive. Maybe we’d prefer for a handful of counties to be competitive, have a breakaway super league, and the rest can content themselves playing second rate football in front of second rate crowds for second rate success, and we can all live happily ever after.

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