Report card following the qualifiers

In two recent articles, I raised a number of concerns that caused considerable debate. It is now worth revisiting these concerns to see if anything has changed.

In the first article, before the Galway game, I stated that it was statistically likely that we would have to beat both Kerry and Dublin to get to an All-Ireland final. It’s almost certain now. At the time of writing, I suggested that we were not in a position to beat either of them and gave four reasons for this opinion. 

The first reason was that we were less settled as a team than either Dublin or Kerry. I would contend that we are now in a better place, with the same 1 to 9 starting in the last two games and I would contend that this 1 to 9 will continue to hold these jerseys for Kerry.

(I can nearly hear some readers scream PADRAIG O’HORA – I’ll come back to that).

The forwards are still a more movable feast, with question marks over the availability of Ryan O’Donoghue and the need for others to hit top form, so we are still behind overall on this one.

The second reason was that we break too slowly. There has been a slight improvement on that, particularly in the latter parts of the Galway and Kildare games. I would contend that these improvements were achieved through tactical switches, and again, I ‘ll come back to that. 

The third reason was that our handling is poor. This has improved, but the number of times we give the ball away is still too high. 

The fourth reason was the way we play the ball to forwards with their backs to goal. There has been a considerable improvement in this. Oisín Mullin’s goal the last day is the best case in point, where he got the pass from O’Hora when he was at full speed and bearing down on goal.

Photo: The 42 (Evan Treacy/Inpho)

So the report card on this one is that we have improved in all four areas. Whether or not the improvement has been significant enough has yet to be seen, 

In the second article, I looked at the way we use strategy and tactics. I was struggling to see a match winning strategy. 

In the last two matches, there has been more clarity on this.

We no longer leave the backs exposed. We use at least one and sometimes two sweepers. We now work much harder (and smarter) to shut down the channels through which quick ball can come into our D.

This strategy is built on using Aidan O’Shea as a defensive midfielder and keeping at least two extra backs inside our 65 metre line whenever we attack. The role of Stephen Coen as a holding centre-back has also been central to the success of this strategy, which has resulted in clean sheets in both matches.

Coen taking this role has also released McLaughlin to bomb forward. With a bit of finishing practice, this will result in Eoghan getting goals. If Tommy Conroy is a still central part of the squad (albeit injured for now), Eoghan and himself need to be getting more closely acquainted. Eoghan has Tommy’s power in breaking forward. With a bit of Tommy’s coolness in shooting, Eoghan could be the man we are all talking about after the match on June 26th

There is also a strategy that has been deployed when the other team gets a black card. One of the sweepers becomes an extra attacker and this has delivered significantly more scores in those periods in the Galway and Monaghan matches.

The overall attacking strategy is less clear. In fact, for long periods of the last three games, we failed to trouble the umpires at all. There is more work needed on this.

In relation to tactics, I previously mentioned how Aidan O’Shea was used to create panic by moving closer to the opposing goal late in the Galway match. Something similar was implemented in the Kildare match where Padraig O’Hora was sent on with instructions to follow his man when HE went back to defend.

The result of this Mayo tactic was that the Kildare forward falling back invited O’Hora into the Mayo attack and when Glenn Ryan looks back at this, he will be kicking himself. Once Kildare went on the back foot, there was no need for the two sweepers and the Mayo attack finally clicked into gear. 

So the report card here is also positive. Specific strategies are being implemented and are getting results. Tactics are also being deployed to good effect.

Photo: Sky Sports

So overall where are we?

I would contend that we are in a better place and continuing to improve. Can we go further? We are not expected to, but we often play above expectations when written off. I am still travelling more in hope than in confidence, but the hope is back and it’s building.

61 thoughts on “Report card following the qualifiers

  1. Super super piece of work and really interesting, illuminating read, Louis. Thank you! : )

  2. If our forwards don’t improve their shooting drastically then it won’t matter if we have David Clifford and Gavin White tied up in the toilets

  3. We are improving but surely we should a lot of these sorted before now. It’s not like we are the new kids on the block!

  4. Good analysis in my opinion .Incremental improvement in last number of games and no goals concede. Still far from perfect and minus our 2 best forwards plus a few lads dipping in form. And we are really up against it v Kerry But we keep going and keep fighting giving our best. Rte podcast including comments from McStay quite interesting (Always good podcasts from WJ and Mayo News as well)

  5. Louis, maybe you are over thinking things slightly but you have some great insight into how Mayo do things.
    A few things were plain to see on Saturday last

    Eoghan McLaughlin had bulked up from last year and is lightning fast, see the 1st half were a Kildare forward had long open run at goal but Eoghan caught him even though he was a good 10 yards forward when that Kildare forward won possession, there was no other Mayo player protecting the space, no Coen, no Mullin.

    Mayo can beat the blanket and did it v Kildare.
    The Dubs did it with the aid of a Basketball coach a few years ago, Gavin even with to the USA.

    Some players are much better facing the ball / play then having to turn, this could impinge in converting wing backs to wing forwards

    Here’s another one, Mullin can kick with his left foot, can he kick frees. I promise that if there is no Mayo player selected for frees on the right wing that I will walk out of Croker v Kerry. Our right footed free takers are not accurate when kicking from the wrong wing.

    I think the “Expert pundits” love putting Kerry & Dublin up in a pedestal, ie, saying they are wat better than the rest.
    The game has to be on the day.
    Remember when Dublin played Kildare in 2021 Championship, Kildare being afraid of a hammering played ultra defensive and only list by 6 or 7 points.

  6. In the first half of the league game in Carrick Ben McCormack kicked 5 points from play from centre half forward. I think he was been marked by Oisin.
    I’d say last Sunday Stephen Coen was told to go out and stick to McCormack and follow him where ever he goes. I dont think McCormack scored from play while Coen was marking him. He was fouled by Coen for one free alright.

  7. Nice article Louis, I like articles that did into detail.
    Our main weakness that I see is a lack of attacking team moves. Here are what should be some basics.
    1. Kicked ball inside won by the target man running away from goal offloaded to a crossing runner who shoots after no solo or if needs be a balance up bounce solo.
    2. Ball won wide high up the field, series of passes with eventual target is open space handpass over the top that a physical runner is already attacking. Even if he is tackled his momentum will shrug off the tackle arm or force the free.
    3. Ball wide on the wing a screen sets up a layoff to a crossing shooter.
    If you don’t have those three plays in yer playbook you will end up over and back outside the 45.

  8. We need to try and come up with a plan that will cut off the supply line to Clifford. Kerry play similar to Galway in that they are very tight defencively and hit you with lightening counterattacks which invariably end up with Clifford. Playing 2 sweepers is one thing but winning quick turnovers higher up the pitch with ferocious tackling is a must. We need to rattle Kerry and press them into playing where they don’t want to go otherwise theyll just pick us off at will. It worked for us really well in 2017 against them in the semi-final and almost against the Dubs in the final as well. Admittedly neither county are the same but if we bring energy and intensity to this strategy we can pick-pocket Kerry. Everyone has to be near perfect in their execution if we are to pull this off but if we get Kerry frustrated who knows what might happen. Jack O’Connor is very good on the line so James Horan will have to have something different up his sleeve to catch him out.

  9. We need raw pace v kerry.
    That was the starkest difference between the sides in the league final. People like Gavin White running an outside arc around our guys and still moving faster than them.
    Jason Doc has been a great servant for Mayo but those injuries have slowed him dramatically. For the love of god, I do not want to see him on the field in Croke park next week under any circumstances. I’d say James Horan himself would beat Jason to the ball over the first 10 m at this stage. The Kerry lads will humiliate him again like the league final and that’s not how I want to remember Jason as a Mayo player.
    Padraig o hora was also exposed for a lack of pace v Clifford and I dont think he’s the right matchup for him, at all.
    We actually don’t have that many lightning fast lads. We have several fairly fast lads. You can carry one or two slower lads but not too many.
    This would be the team I’d start:
    Keegan (fast)
    Mullin (very fast)
    O’Hora (average pace but offers other attributes)
    Eoghan McLaughlin (essential – quickest player on our team)
    Hession (fast and improving rapidly. Good reader of the play and will be critical v Kerry)
    Durcan (fairly fast but can be caught an odd time for pace by players like galways Shane Walsh)
    Ruane (has turned into Captain Slow for some reason, needs to lift big time)
    Flynn (quick and athletic, exactly what is needed)
    Diarmuid o C (average pace but a great engine)
    Boland (not overly quick but has a good eye for a score)
    Bryan Walsh (bit of a maligned player but he’s actually got decent pace and good athleticism and I’m starting to understand what Horan sees in him for these big games. Could he do a job nullifying Gavan White – is he quick enough?)
    Ryan o D (genuine pace and a brilliant player too. Is he fit however)
    Cillian (VERY slow but offers other attributes that mean you still carry him without a doubt)
    Carney (do NOT drop this lad. He is the future. Fast, powerful and improving rapidly).

    That 15 isn’t particularly quick but it gives us a punchers chance. I think AOS can come in around the 50th min and impact on the home stretch. Then there is players like Kevin Mac and James Carr as decent bench options to stretch their defence.
    Darren McHale and loftus are two slower players that can possibly impact. Coen provides a defensive option.
    Possibly Mark Moran as a wildcard in attack.
    Really clutching at straws after that…

  10. “Report card” in The Irish Times on Mayo display: one headline included “dreadful display”; the other mentioned “abject Mayo”.
    Normally we get a fair analysis in that paper but this was very harsh.

  11. put the old dog Keegan on the young pub Clifford and he will put matters on him, leave Aiden for last 20 minutes.

  12. TH, in fairness we’ve haven’t even looked like conceding a goal in the last two matches. This is in stark contrast to previous years if my memory serves me right.

    Daniel Flynn’s chance was a half chance, and the brain-fart by Aido in the Monaghan match doesn’t count, ie that won’t be happening again. Our defensive structure is working. I’m still concerned about the form of Coen but he’s obviously playing his part in the current structure.

    Great article Louis. You’ve analysed it closer than most of us.

    I’ve been thinking of the likes of Oisin and Swannie over the past couple of days. It’s no surprise that their threat is greatest in the second half. Croker always opens up for teams in the second half in particular, far more so than stuffy provincial grounds.

    So expect to see Mayo attempt to contain Kerry in the first half, then expect more movement from the likes of Oisin, Swannie and Eoghan in the second half. Eoghan is an athletic freak so he’ll be a threat in the first half too I’ve no doubt.

    But above all, the key point is to maintain our defensive shape. Wriggle room with changing numbers 6 and 8, ie Swannie and Flynn in for Coen and Aido, injuries allowing. Whatever mix we go for here should be fine (for starters anyway).

  13. @Grain of Rice, I do love a post about pace because I believe it’s so crucial in Gaelic football. But I have to pull you up on few things! Paddy Durcan is not ‘fairly fast’, he is absolutely rapid. He is especially good running with the ball in hand. On the flip side, Jordan Flynn is not ‘quick’, he is very slow for a modern midfielder but he is fit and that helps him get around the pitch. Diarmuid is also deceptively fast, lots of milage but one on one with space in behind he will burn the defender. Boland is fast over a few yards and that’s very helpful when you’re not very powerful. Agreed on Cillian, he’s unbelievably slow nowadays. Having Ryan back is an absolute must when Conroy is out.

  14. TH, rather than calling another man’s opinion bullshit, maybe you could actually do some analysis and have the balls to put your name to it?

  15. Definitely Paddy Durcan has serious pace…The time a super fast Shane Walsh got by him, he was covering for Aiden O Shea, and coming from an angle that disadvantaged him, Aiden was being burned for pace, and signaled for Paddy to try and rescue the situation.. Paddy is least as fast in general as Shane Walsh and was too fast for Jack McCafferty.. And that’s fast!

  16. GBXI – I wouldn’t say Jordan Flynn is slow at all compared to other intercounty midfielders. What makes you say that?

  17. Lads ,Gavin White is breathtakingly quick but not near as dangerous as Jack mccaffery was. He rarely kicks points . Paddy Durcan at wing forward or eoin Mc laughin might work as it did before. AOS at FF and play the first 4/ 5 balls in to him will certainly make Kerry have to think about their structure. Could he go in alongside Jack Carney?? I’m more worried about our midfield and no.6 spot than I have been in years.

  18. He wasn’t perfect, but Jack Carney showed a lot of potential last weekend. Won the 2 throw ins up against Kevin Feely, fielded an unbelievable high ball and showed great awareness and quick hands to feed Eoghan Mc for the goal chance. Kicked a nice score off his left but probably missed 2 easier ones.

    He’s a much better full forward option than Aidan IMO.

  19. I wouldn’t say Loftus is overly slow either? He is seriously fit and had a huge turn of pace towards the end of the game against Kildare to keep us safe.
    In fairness on reflection it’s highly unlikely we will beat Kerry going on recent form but Mayo are crazy freaks and they love a small bit of chaos and anarchy and if that evolves on Sunday week and if it goes down to the last 5 to 10 mins with little in it Kerry and Jack O will surely be squirming.
    I remember last year in the Cusack sick to the bone against Dublin and how we were buried yet dug it out and climbed our way back from the abyss.
    Our backs are against the wall again but we’ll have some serious support and maybe just maybe inch by inch we can somehow in the end get over the line.
    RO’D needs to be back and Cillian needs to have a 9 out of 10 day on frees and general play.
    Risks will need to be taken and pushing up on their kickouts will have to happen early doors
    and to take an early healthy lead is essential I think.
    That way our half backs and maybe full backs can let loose and attack and Clifford et al will have to track back to stop the rot. That could all be a fantasy but Mayo are Mayo and in a way are somewhat unhinged in a most beautiful way and I’m proud after all these years to still be following them and hoping that the God’s look kindly on us once again…
    Fingers crossed!!!
    P.s. Brilliant piece Louis

  20. TH

    If Eoin O’Donoghue is travelling around the world it dose not matter if he was the best centre back in the Mayo championship last year he is not available for selection. Personally i think Eoin has been caught for pace at inter county level. Conor O Shea is one of the best in Mayo for a number of years at club level . Likewise Jason Gibbons but that dose not mean they are good enough to make the starting 15 for Mayo .. Huge difference between Club and County

  21. @Wide Ball, I’ve been watching him over the past 3 years and he is slow. Powerful and nice kick passer (which Ruane is not) but I’ve seen him caught for pace many times.

  22. In fairness, Eoin O’D is well good enough for county football with Mayo. No idea what his personal circumstances are but you’re not telling me he is a lesser player than Stephen Coen or Padraig O’Hora.

  23. Ah great, back to football. It was really depressing here the last few days, would put joe Duffy to shame with all the moaning he would have had a ball.
    Interesting analysis Louis. I can see TH heading for detention on the back of dissing your report card though.
    Agree that Kildare bizarrely dropped back and invited us on to them. It was very noticeable at the game. I think fatigue and seeing the end line in sight also contributed. They had us by the jugular and let go. They, like Galway had us in serious bother midway in the second half of each game. Both with tactics that they were uncomfortable implementing (Kildare and Galway always feel they are any footballing teams equal) but both sacrificing their traditional approach for a more probable winning approach or at worst not losing by much. I think we need to try something different too and if it be defend with everyone behind the ball, then fine by me. If some other drastic tactic is to be tried, then fine by me too. Stick with more of the same and we’ll only get more of the same. We’re knocking on the door in the same same spot for the past 10 years. Time to think differently, let’s try and kick the door down or maybe try the window.
    Lots of negative comments re coen. Not spectacular but thought he did ok the last 2 games. Showed for kick outs really well. Must have won 6 or 7 clean between the two games. Don’t think any other player won more.

  24. Great piece of analysis, Louis. It really sums up where we are at. Loved the last line; “..the hope is back and it’s building!.”

  25. Mayo management need to come up with a plan of some sort, are there many long range shooters in the Kerry squad ?, there are some very good ideas in the last few treads on this blog, giving us all sorts of ideas.

    Mayo cannot do the following v Kerry,
    1, Play man to man.
    2, Allow Kerry get goals.
    3, Concede too many close in frees
    4, Lose their own kickouts.

    Mayo are not an overly defensive team but would Horan employ something different for this game ? It’s a once off, who cares what the Expert Pundits say.

  26. GBXI – he’s obviously not quicker than Gavin White etc. but compared to other 6’2″ stocky midfielders like Paul Conroy for Galway and Kevin Feely. He wouldn’t be caught for pace against the Kerry midfielders either.

  27. No it does matter O’sullivan cause we don’t have good enough corner backs, we have to put our 2 best players in the full back line. How any manger could drop Eoin O’Donoghue and Caolan Crowe and put the 2 of the best half backs (Leeroy and Oisin) in Ireland in a full back line, Only in Mayo!!

  28. O sullivan. Your quiet right. Eoin o Donohoe in his last match played for mayo was well off it. We see from Time to time those players that look great at club level and conor o shea is a perfect example. We had all this before with Richie Feeny. Kerry will look at this as a good warm up and a stepping stone to all ire glory. Its up to us to make that stone a very slippery one and use it to propel ourselves to the next challenge. We are well capable of beating them . It’s a matter of getting the balance right between protecting our defence and getting the necessary scores. I think the problem we had with Kevin mcgloughlin sweeping was that it was another forward that wasn’t going to score. But he did do it well. We seen orme play ing deep against monaghan but he scored nothing. I trust James will get it right. We have to have learnt alot from the league game.

  29. TH – I deleted that earlier comment you posted. While it’s perfectly okay to critique anything others have written here, this has to be done in a reasonable way.

  30. Louis…….Nice analysis piece above, thank you. Interestingly, you paint a positive picture on Aidan’s value, now, as a defensive midfielder (as part of an overall ‘protecting our backs’ defence strategy). That’s a very interesting take on Aidan’s role, particularly when many in our county (aside from the usual external naysayers) are thinking he no longer should be in the first 15……..

  31. Wide Ball, Conroy and Feeley are absolutely faster than Flynn, especially Conroy and that’s at like 32/33 years of age. KY Diarmuid O’C is much faster too.

  32. Isn’t it amazing TH all the mistakes we make. And “how any manager could do this” and it could happen “only in Mayo” We are short of corner backs alright, one very good one out injured. And yet galwa only scored 1 14 against us ( despite having good forwRds) Kildare 14 points ( they scored a lot more v dublin) and Monaghan 12 points. Not bad defending there by the looks of things. Management and players must be doing something right from a defensive perspective. Now Kerry will no doubt be a massive challenge but so far i think we haven’t done that badly at the back. Oh and of course a few of the backs have weighed in with scores ( a lot of scores) least we forget.

  33. GBXI – not sure what games you are watching if you think Paul Conroy is quicker than Jordan Flynn.

  34. TH you can’t seriously be talking about Caolan Crowe as a genuine option for Mayo? What is he now – 30, 31?
    He’s over a decade in and out of Mayo panels in FBD leagues etc, by all accounts a very diligent lad and good squad member for Mayo but clearly several management teams have deemed him not at the required level for senior intercounty championship football.
    There’s been plenty of excellent club players over the years that have worked hard and maxed out their ability in or around position 27-34 in the panel at any given time in the Mayo panel. I think this is where Caolan landed, Shane McHale from Knockmore would be another good example, and probably Eoin O’Donoghue if we are honest.
    Those 3 lads would all probably have played several championship matches for a side like Roscommon or Monaghan but fell just short of establishing themselves with Mayo and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
    I’m all for new options though, but the guys I’d be interested in seeing more of in defence would be Sam Callinan and Kieran King.
    Young players 19-21 with potential to grow.
    Where are these guys at the moment? Injured I assume.
    Frank Irwin is another wildcard I thought we might see more of this year but it hasn’t happened. Horan clearly likes donnacha McHugh but I haven’t seen enough of him yet to make a proper judgement.
    Is the development panel for 18 and 19 year olds still in operation I wonder?

  35. We have to go ultra defensive Sunday week. I can see something similar to the Dublin approach last year. First half protect the goal at all times, frustrate Kerry as much as possible. The pressure is all on them, so lets ramp it up. O’Connor will want to bury us early so they can relax a bit, we need 14 behind the ball and employ the darkest of arts if we can. Do what other teams do to us all the time…..fake injuries, any little knock at all wait for the physio to come on wasting 2 minutes, someone go down after a score etc. All this stuff will stop their momentum. I really beileve this Kerry team try to play like us in our pomp, as in they’ve gone with the fastest players they have constantly running from deep. Its no coincidence that David Moran and Paul Murphy have been taken out of their first 15, too slow for the Kerry game plan.

    Luckily, we know exactly how to counter act this type of play, as stated above, pack the defence and leave no room for their runners White/O’Brien/P Clifford/ D’OC. Frustrate the life out of them and see where we are around the 60th minute and just go for it (chaos).

  36. JKEL88 – my thoughts exactly. I remember the Armagh and Kildare league games where Flynn was bombing up and down the pitch getting scores. He doesn’t lack pace at all compared to the average intercounty midfielder.

  37. This is a post I put up on an earlier thread which is probably finished by now so probably no readers. I just would like to get my two bobs worth in and analysed by all the contributors.

    Every team knows our tactics by this stage. Lock it up and put the Donegal blanket up for at least the first half and longer if necessary. Put 13 men back into our half. This would surprise Kerry and combined with ferocious tackling and tight attention could very well rattle them. This has all been done to ourselves and usually successfully (Donegal 2012 and Galway 2022 for example). Make the oppositions life unbearable and frustrating. If you rattle their heads they may go on the back foot.

    Leave a permanent big man and a sidekick on the Kerry keeper. Score on the break along with potential long range frees. We have the man for that. The blanket would especially save energy for a massive second half burst by our speedsters. We could pulverise them at 100% tempo in the later stages of the game and still be able to run a 100-metre sprint at the final whistle.

    The purists may say you cannot do this type of thing. I do believe if we go from the start with our usual game Kerry will know from the throw in exactly what will happen. Jack O’Connor is as wily as you will ever get and will have his men ready.
    What I am saying is not rocket science and is not pretty but who cares if it works. I just do not see our game of lateral play and running into backs of any use against this Kerry team and more specifically this Kerry manager. The military guys always talk about the element of surprise. We have to surprise Kerry or it could be early curtains. I sure hope management will take a risk.

    Well done to WJ – a great blog with great contributions and good craic at times

  38. Not overly enamoured with the big man at full forward and kick it in high strategy, but if we were to go down that route, it’s Jack carney every day of the week for me at full forward ahead of AOS. No doubt about it.

  39. For Mayo to win a lot has to go right . We need a lot of luck and a lot of fight and a lot of heart. For Kerry to win they need to play well -as a team-but maybe not spectacularly.

    But here’s the thing. It does seem to me ,looking at a lot of sources ,that Mayo’s chances are being dismissed out of hand by many serious people. To wit,the bookies have Kerry at 2/9.

    That this is the case ,knowing what Mayo have done under Horan,what giants they have slain,seems misplaced “analysis”
    It smacks of real arrogance.

    That warms my heart and indeed I hope those punters step it up over the next week and a half. Make Kerry “unbackable favorites” I just need to hear that phrase uttered. I want that phrase to be in the ether.

    Twelve months ago we were given no chance against Dublin but we did it ( without Cillian )There was arrogance in the air beforehand in Rte and the papers.I wrote about it here at the time.This game is doing the same for Kerry.The League Final form is what these analysts are going on. But it’s unlikely to pan out that way, that easily,for Kerry.

    In many quarters (including here) it’s been touted as the best possible preparation for Kerry. The “ if they win” part is left unsaid. The idea that it may be good preparation for Mayo is thought of as a joke.

    But Mayo have a history of getting match ups right on the biggest days. We have the man markers, we have the fitness,we usually have the possession. We are starting to concede less goals.There actually is a system but some direct ball needs injecting into our next game.

    Our forwards’ shooting is what I’d criticize the most and that can definitely be fixed in two weeks.

    Our never say die scrapping for possession in the middle of the field is where the game could be won and lost imo. Simple hunger and intensity ( if we have it on the day )will go a long way to determining the outcome. It needs to be bordering on controlled rage if there is a free ball to be scrapped for.

    I hope we match Kerry in the upfield tactical fouling. I hope we match their antics when we have momentum by doing some antics of our own. We don’t want to play on those terms but if those are the terms of battle then so be it.

    My match ups:

    I hope we introduce Aidan when David Moran is introduced.

    I see the midfield battle as the key.

    I’d put Diarmuid O Connor on his namesake at midfield.

    Jordan Flynn on Barry

    Ruane to mark the D and provide cover marking Clifford until Aido is brought in.

    O Hora on Geaney
    Keegan on Sean O Shea
    Mullin on Clifford ( they won’t want Mullin running riot up the field and Clifford will be forced to track back -an early score by Mullin to copper fasten that)

    Eoghan McLoughlin marks whoever is playing in position number 10.

    Paddy Durcan on Paudie Clifford

    Coen to mark the other Kerry forward whoever that happens to be.

    Use only two half forwards

    Ryan O Donoghue at number 11 if he’s fit. He can make Tadhg Morley redundant.

    Hession to man mark Gavin White


    It’s super important not to concede goals and it’s important not to give away silly frees. I don’t know for sure if we have the fitness edge on Kerry , I’d say it’s similar, but we have history of closing out games strongly these past two weeks. I think we have more intensity than any other team. At least that’s what my theory hangs on. That and the availability of Ryan O Donoghue.

    We have a fighters chance. We have to play better as a team for longer than we have up to now this year. But if we do what Mayo have done so many times in the championship these past twelve years then these odds by the bookies are “ off”

    Of course, were we to win,we could well lose the semi final so there’s that…!!! But beating Kerry never gets old. It’s never mattered to Mayo whether the other team are “better” Under Horan beating All Ireland winners has been routine.

    BTW IMO:Saying things like we should throw Kerry players to the ground is a form of arrogance too! Let’s always respect them online for all they have achieved. And let’s not play silly buggers on the day. But let’s beat them.

  40. Well said Food 4 Thought. Good to read a positive post. We should know by now all we can expect from Mayo, is the unexpected.

  41. @Food4taught, …Yes very good post. Something I noticed that Kildare didn’t do, when Mayo threatened a comeback was to,..lie down and feign injury (Mayo didn’t do it Kildare either, when Kildare threatened to run away with the game).. Every little bit of momentum Mayo started versus, Monaghan, versus Galway (in the extreme) and versus Tyrone in the All Ireland final (in the extreme as well) ..A break in play,. medical personnel on the pitch and momentum is stopped.. Kerry and Jack O Connor will know this, and if at any stage Mayo get on a bit of a roll, we need some structured go to plays to reignite our momentum as quick as possible… More than any other team out there Mayo need momentum, and periods of momentum during the Match!

  42. I see many posters talking about packing the defence and attack at pace strategy being the smart move but there is little mention of what this will do to the Kerry plan which is exactly the same. Kerry will press the Mayo kick out and hope for turnovers by putting players in possession under ferocious pressure so that they are hand passing or foot passing with little time to judge distance and trajectory of their intended recipient. Kerry are more confident kick passer’s than Mayo on average and that is why their transition is more rapid than Mayo’s who more often than not run the ball out of their defence and try to create a little mayhem with runners flying from everywhere.

    Horan has a very tricky dilemma now, he can stick to the tried and tested running game from defence or he can change it up by lengthening his attacking line by keeping players well up the field to receive an early kick pass who then deliver early ball to young Carey or O Shea but that is difficult to instil in a short space of time and will significantly disrupt a blanket type defence should he use that option. Kerry play very much like this and our players will be well able to deal with it as it’s what they eat and drink in their A v B games. I think horan will put more emphasis on trying to disrupt the early ball to our inside line and I’m sure he won’t be so naive as to hang out another player one on one on Clifford so I would anticipate some kind of a sweeping system.

    As Mike Tyson famously said “everyone’s got a plan until they get a punch in the nose” many are saying Horans traditional running game is too repetitive and therefore predictable. Teams who have dropped sweepers back has proven very disruptive for Mayo but what has taken ye of out the Connaught championship is the scoring return of your forwards. I think that will improve Sunday week as your forwards will be a little more relaxed due to Kerry being the more favoured team by most pundits. Mayo also have a dangerous habit of staying in a game or drifting a few points down only to collectively start playing an almost red mist type football that is almost impossible to either strategise for or to strong arm your momentum back from. For this reason I think jack will be cautious for the first ten or fifteen minutes until he can identify what changes horan has in his game plan. Jack will want his players to attack of course but I would imagine Kerry will have a close eye on their defence in this period.

    The long term weather forecast looks to be very good so we will see great football between these two teams, I am quietly confident that Kerry will get over the line but our complete lack of a game against a division one team is an Achilles’ tendon and horan will be well aware of that. I expect an edgy game where no quarter will be asked or given and I hope no player is sent off or injured.

  43. There’s an old military tactics saying “Think what your opponent wants you to do and then don’t do it”.
    I’ll tweak one from Scarface. “Let’s not get high on our own cutting off supply “.
    Cutting off the supply would work in olden days pre 2013 football.
    Think of the mathematics of it.
    You are sacrificing direct numbers back directly marking the oppositions most dangerous forward for the ability to crowd high up the field.
    The problem is this Kerry team are too slick nowadays and can bypass that high line.
    We don’t have the mobility and physical strength to implement it anyways.
    Cutting off the supply has never and will never work against a Dublin Kerry or in form Tyrone.

  44. Good post Gamechanger. Always a high quality view on games from yourself.
    What do you see as the 9-15 and definite attacking subs brought in?
    David Moran for Barry late on?

  45. Good post, Food4thought. You mentioned our old friend ‘intensity’. I hadn’t thought of this in ages, but yes, definitely we need this crucial element in spades. I think this is what has been lacking over the last few months for one reason or another (responding to other teams’ tactics mostly).

    Yes, definitely let’s try to avoid conceding silly or scorable frees.
    I’m delighted we have Robbie who can normally score long ones for us.
    Let’s watch the first and second half throw-ins. Possession here and a score can change a game.

    I noticed in the League Final Kerry didn’t go into the tackle. They evaded contact completely. I think we’d prefer a contact game. They seemed to avoid turnovers, a source of scores for us. How to engineer things differently for us?

    In the League Final (and we’ve seen it forever), Kerry have wanted to put teams away early – assert total dominance. Deny them this!!!!!!! That’ll be a successful achievement for a start.

    They relied on speed, speed, speed in the League Final – move the ball around so fast (often no hops, solos etc from one player getting it to it being kicked off to another). That is mega frustrating – was for me and certainly for our players. How to ensure this tactic does not set in? How to stop it before it starts?

    A lot of success can be had if we could get a few scores very early.

  46. Kerry will pack their defence and attack at pace – interesting that Gamechanger sees this as the backbone of the Kerry approach.
    I am a little fascinated with Kerry’s embrace of the packed defence in the space of six months (under a new management with a defensive coach).
    In the past, I know many teams used brief spells of 14 behind the ball but it now seems Kerry consider using it as a central part of their game.
    It worked well in the League Final, allied to their speed and scoring power.
    My question – can this new addition backfire for Kerry? Sometimes new things are not properly roadtested, specifically I mean the scenarios that could arise.
    Is there any advantage to us in being good man to man defenders, an occasion in the game where this skill trumps others? (Possibly our *forwards* defending and tackling – you can’t adopt zonal defending in the forwards….)
    I’m asking those who know more about this than myself.

  47. JP
    He will start the two Clifford’s and Sean O Sé and probably Geaney (but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tony Brosnan) as he has great experience I’d say Killian Spillane will lose out to his cousin Adrian Spillane as he is tall, good in the air , he is a good tackler with his strength and is a great work horse and is well ably to kick a point as also. I would imagine he will give the last sword to Stephen o Brien as he has the experience, speed and directness to be fractious to a defence.

    I think all the players mentioned above will get a run out as they are all excellent forwards Moynihan and Byrns and jack savage are all able dealers as well. Moran and Paul Murphy will get a run out in the second half I’d imagine and joe o Connor might be called on as he is a very direct running midfielder with the same dimensions and weight as an abrams tank.

  48. I’m from Tipp – from the outside looking in. Firstly, I’ve always thought that things just happen, or not, for this Mayo management. There is no reading of a game. Ye beat Kildare for one straightforward reason and that was their goal keeper. He handed ye half a dozen points. Now ye, of all counties, know the consequences of switching keepers.

  49. I think we have to be very careful how we assess last weekends game. Kildare lost it far more then Mayo won it. Had Kildare an composure in front of goal we would have been 10 points down in the second half. I’d like to think that going into the Kerry game we will adjust for the opposition. Definitely can’t afford to have the same game plan as the league final. The additional running power in our half back line will be a big help. Lacked that in the league final but it needs to be managed. Can’t leave to much space for Clifford and Co. One concerning point from the Kildare game was our inability to deal with the high direct ball into the full forward line. Hopefully we can get the result but it’s a big challenge we have on our hands

  50. @Food4thought

    I disagree with you wrt to Aidan.
    I think we’d be better off starting him, using him to hopefully aerially dominate the middle and force jack O’Connor into introducing David Moran early.

    As someone else mentioned, Kerry will press our kick outs, similarly they’ll hope to pack their defense. If we pack the middle and use Aidan as more old school midfielder we might get some joy.

    I think it was Gamechanger who mentioned that Kerry avoided physical contact in the league final. With some clever kick outs, we could create situations where Aidan is making physical contact with lighter Kerry players. There’s very few players in the game who can just shrug off physical contact with Aidan, come the end of the game these hits will stack up and maybe give us a edge. Tired players make mistakes

  51. Apologies it was Swallow Swoops who mentioned Kerry not going into the tackle in the league game

  52. I don’t agree with people saying Kildare kicked the game away. Paddy Durcan must have kicked 5 wides on his own and 1 into the goalies hands. We had way too many wides in the first half, and a few silly ones in the second also, so I don’t agree that Kildare kicked the game away. Although I do agree that Kildare were the better team for 60 minutes of that game, but does it not say something about us that we only play relatively well for 10 minutes and still manage to win the game?

  53. Interesting posts there Gamechanger as always. I know ye are worried about not having any serious test yet but I think ye are different animal this year with O Connor back and Tally looking after the backs. I noticed that they defended tenaciously and were tigerish in the tackle throughout the league . In truth ye seem to have it all .Excellent defense and the best forwards in the country. To be honest I don’t see anyone getting the better of ye this year but as we all know one bad day in Championship football is all it takes to lose and as ye well know it’s a long wait to start again

  54. An interesting read Louis.
    Just to focus on Kerry. I think there are two popular and inaccurate views being expressed in general about them in the lead in to this q/f;
    1- Under-cooked/not road tested – Kerry are well prepared in part from the league in that they were able to build the same approach defensively and offensively on days were O’Shea and Clifford were absent and so they have been building confidently all year. The Cork game and the Limerick game provided them with perhaps the missing ingredient from their 2021 championship campaign, that being patience in building a win and
    2- Kerry get flustered by a Tyrone esque blanket – Last year the blanket defence which defeated Kerry was in many ways on account of Kerry labouring under the pressure of getting to the final (remember all their failed chances to win the game in the first quarter) and also them labouring from their collapse in the Munster championship of 2020 which was only 8 months previous.

    But they might still have a few vulnerabilities and I think that maybe the manager that tinkers the most with their playing platform over the next 2 weeks might be the defeated manager on Sunday week.

  55. Gamechanger 10, can Mayo pack defense but also kick long for kickouts a bit like Tyrone last year,

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