Last night’s defeat to Dublin was a bad one from our perspective but one thing’s for sure – it would have been a whole load worse but for the stellar performance between the sticks of goalkeeper Robbie Hennelly.
Robbie prevented at least six clear goalscoring chances over the course of the match, four in the first half as Dublin repeatedly cut through our backline. Without his heroics, what was already a bad beating would have been a thumping of embarrassing proportions.
The Breaffy man’s contribution wasn’t solely in defence either. He was also our joint top scorer on the night, landing two points from placed balls, one from a 60-yard free and the other a ’45. It’s little wonder, then, that Robbie has walked away with this week’s Man of the Match poll, hoovering up 73% of the vote.
What was also uplifting about Robbie’s great display last night was that the game marked his first appearance for us at Croke Park since the ill-fated All-Ireland replay of 2016. So, on what was otherwise a very disappointing night for us, Robbie’s performance was a real positive, both for the team and for him personally. Well done to him.
Well done too to young guns Fionn McDonagh and Matthew Ruane, who both performed well in difficult circumstances last night. Their uplifting displays are also reflected in the poll, with Fionn picking up 9% of the vote while Mattie got 5%.
Apologies, by the way – I set the poll up incorrectly this time around and, by mistake, didn’t offer the option of voting for our top three performers (even though the headline says to do this). Between that and the post-match audio report that never was, it wasn’t my best performance last night either.
46 thoughts on “Robbie Hennelly our MOTM from last night’s game”
Well done Robbie. He was excellent. What that lad has put up with over the years is shocking. And he stuck with it. I’m weary after last night, trudged off home today. A lot of our players looked weary too. Hope Saturday night has an improved performance all round. Barry Solan is missed with his overseeing our strength and conditioning.
Willie Joe, to be honest I would have been hard pressed to nominate anyone other than Hennelly as our man of the match.
Agree it had to be Robbie, and by a huge margin.. Is it the biggest percentage win since the Mayo GAA Blog MotM polls began? ..Must be close to it. ..Fair Play to Tómas O Sé on League Sunday tonight as regards Congress and the 64% of delagetes who voted against something to make the Super Eight’s venues a bit fairer. .Tómas like myself doesn’t think Congress is a demoracy either…As for the absolute bollix spoken by Colm O Rourke on the Donegal proposal, more absolute rubbish, Colm seems to think that because he liked playing in Croke Park during his day’s, that it should be the same for Donegal, Mayo or Kerry. But of course what Colm doesn’t address, is that it would be virtually the same advantage for Meath, if Meath were to name Croke Park as the Meath, home venue and the Meath neutral venue if indeed Meath were ever to make the Super Eight’s…If my geography is correct, County Meath begins just west of Blanchertstown, and if the roads were quite you could actually drive from County Meath to Croke Park in 15 minutes… However what Colm fails to take into account of is that if Meath were ever a threat to ‘God’s chosen people, Dublin’ Congress wouldn’t let Meath use Croke Park as a home and neutral venue. Tómas O Sé is 100% correct to say, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The turf was moving in Croke Park last night, in the 1980’s there were moving statues…In GAA Congress there are moving Goal Post’s .. If the pandering to Dublin gets any worse, they might be allowed to play with 30 men,on account of their bigger population..If any of ye meet President John Horan don’t suggest allowing Dublin to play with 30 men, given his apparent lack of any sense of Fair Play, he might just go for it!
Robbie Hennelly also dealt with three or four high balls. One was an absolute skyscraper and I think there was another high one a few minutes later.
Well done to Robbie.
As busy a night as you would ever want your goalie to have, but he stood up well.
With 3 league games to go I hope Horan forges ahead with playing the young lads. A.great chance for them to prove if the jersey fits or not.
Don’t worry WJ, it’s only February! You’re still dealing with the heaving training load at this time of year 🙂
Delighted for Robbie. He’s taken a lot of flak and I’d say it was hard at times to stick in there.
Well done Robbie
Well done Robbie brilliant performance and one of the
Postivives to take away from Saturday night. If we can beat Galway we will be all in better form this day next week but I think we need to forget about beating Dublin or Kerry and winning Sam for now maybe it’s too heavy a weight around these lads necks. I’d settle for being consistently competitive for as long as we can be in games and rebuilding a little but getting more pace into the full back and full forward line and being contenders again in 2 -3 years
Never joined the crowd who wanted Robbie flogged,always thought that the defence was as much to blame,I don’t know either player but Clarke’s kickouts have cost us more games than Robbie,well done to him,on Saturday night we were very poor one of the worst displays for years,I think mostly our lack of a\c if we don’t sort that we will not best Galway in the summer,it was very noticeable with the younger players,,hopefully we can get out older players back fully fit i don’t see much change in the starting team of all our players are fit
I must admit that I was well off in my pre-match prediction, I thought we would put in a better performance, but such is life. I don’t think we were even operating at 20% of our capabilities. Dublin were good, but in truth we made them look an awful lot better than they actually were on the night. Unforced errors, bad passes and woeful shooting, most unlike our lads, contributed to a dull and for the most part lifeless game. If we even scored half of what we put wide, the result may have been different, even playing badly we still had chances.
Once Dublin got the goal, there was only going to be one winner. In order to beat Dublin, you have to stop them scoring goals. Keep a clean sheet and you have a very good chance. I’ve noticed over the years, that them scoring a goal early in a game, or indeed at a critical point of the game, lifts them as a team unit by at least 20%. It’s almost like a collective electric surge through all their bodies, shortly after they get their goal, they tap on 3/4 points and from then on the result is a foregone conclusion. (Not always, but in most of their games).
Robbie was brilliant on Saturday, fair play to him, he kept the score down and made some very impressive saves. McDonagh is a baller, he will be a serious player for us in the years to come. Ruane done well for his first Senior game in CP. In truth, Dublin learned nothing about us on Saturday. The reality is, Saturday’s result will mean nothing come high summer. We will be a totally different animal come the summer time. Being realistic, there was no point going to Croke Park on Saturday and bursting a gut. We didn’t need a win, in fact the game showed our new lads the level they need to get to in order to mix it with the big boys come Championship. A very important lesson, targets regarding fitness, movement etc can now be looked at.
Now on to Galway, time to beat that lot, it has been too long. Up Mayo!
Outstanding performance, well done Robbie. I dread to think what the score might have been. Gavin was satisfied enough that dubs were able to create goal chances. Our performance in that respect a bit worrying. Maybe it’s time to go with OShea at full forward or certainly to dip in and out of that position.
Important we bought me back on Saturday night now and I think we will. Time to break that sequence of defeats against Galway and also improve our record at home.
Did anyone notice that Comerfors was a yard off his line for the penalty save…another home advantage?
Well done Robbie, only for him it would have another hiding along the lines of Kerry ’04 and ’06.
His right handed save in the first half was outstanding as the ball was struck with venom from close range but he produced “De Gea” like reflexes to get his hand up to block it. In addition to the 4 first half saves he caught 3 high balls that were dropping tight to the crossbar/post with some Dublin traffic in his peripheral vision. He kept his head though, secured the ball and played it out. By my reckoning he found his mark 85% of the time (18 successes from 21 kickouts) while putting one over the sideline.
For me, the debate is still an open one between him and Clarke, but at least Robbie went some way to laying the ghosts of ’16 to rest.
Robbie was excellent on Sat night, he was the sole reason we got outta Croker within 20 points of the Dubs. Extremely worrying performance, especially when you see the likes of Keegan with his head down in depression with guts of 15mins to go. The amount of wides and balls dropping short was shocking, only other match I can think of where our shooting was as poor is the Derry game in 2017. Do not believe we are as bad as we showed though.
Reape, despite having a poor game wasn’t afraid to have a pop at least which can be seen as a positive, something forwards of ours have lacked down through the years. Have to start him against Galway IMO, has a great record against them underage and fully believe he’s the best forward coming through, ball in needs to be a lot better too though. Our half backs running game seems to have disappeared altogether, much too slow going from defence to attack.
Ruane can develop into a useful player for us, was impressed with him, very mobile and tracked Fenton well throughout the match. SOS broke a bit of ball when he came on too. We didn’t win one Dublin kick out though, this is a huge problem going forward for us in the future I think, AOS is by far our best fielder but nowhere near mobile enough for midfield for a full game. Think he can put in a shift for guts of 50mins there but I think Horan needs to learn to be ruthless then in taking him off when he’s gassed. AOS at FF has been tried numerous times, effective against weaker teams, pointless against the big teams. Also think he’s better driving on from midfield rather than at CHF where he is primarily facing with his back to goal, slows our forward play down a lot too. Think we play our best football when we are more direct, think of Loftus ball to Andy against Kerry 2017, Dohertys role in those games.
Agree with certain posters comments about Higgins not being a man marker, gives his man too much space, one hell of a player though, love to see him played at wing back or at wing forward winning breaking ball, he could be lethal there. Disappointed Plunkett, O Donoghue and Diskin didn’t get a run out. Think Horan needs to have a long hard think about roles for his senior players. Boyle (my favorite Mayo player of all time before anyone has a pop at me) is only fit for a 10-15min role off the bench at this stage, that was evident even last year. Andy’s movement is incredible and he is always a threat but tends to fade in games too.
Would go with this for Galway:
Subs:Clarke, Drake, Coen, Barrett, Vaughan, McCormack, SOS, Boland, Doherty, Loftus, A Moran
Well done Robbie, fair play man mighty game. Hopefully we might move on now, realise we have 2 top keepers and put that debate away and view both of them on their merits in 2019 and most especially not start laying into them or any one player for that matter should they have one bad game – God knows we all played loads of those.
Well done Robbie. I stand corrected (quelle surprise), stating that Robbie hadn’t been in Croker since Sept ’17. As you point out WJ it was of course the replay of ’16; makes Robbie’s endurance all the more impressive.
Like Brian Cody last week (after Kilkenny’s 9 point hammering by Limerick), I’m taking positives from Saturday night! Matty and Fionn very good, and though our oldies didn’t do an awful lot, Kevin Mac, Seamie and Chris needed game time and they got it. That should stand to them next Saturday, in whatever role they play.
On Aidan O’Shea, I think the positioning is about right, but I would have him doing more of a CHB role. His defending is outstanding and to have him making forays forward could be advantageous rather than being the centre of attention forever, when he gets the ball in the forward position.
Keepers can come off their line for penalty in GAA. Not so in soccer. Get the facts right before commenting ‘re homers. Mayo were well beaten by half of Dubs 2nd fifteen.
Well done Robert Hennelly, showed great character when everything was falling apart around him. I agree with some previous posters, Mayo showed only 20 / 30 % of what they can really do, we will see a big improvement in the final 3 games of the league, I would’nt be hard on any of the new guy, this was a lesson at the very deep end, will stand to them.
Alot can be learned from Saturday nights none event.
Been scrolling through the archives, Back to March 2017, .. Back then David Clarke won the Mayo GAA Blog MotM award following a similar drubbing from Dublin in Croke Park. I remember in particular the amazing tripple save from the Penalty spot.. We again only scored 0.07 to Dublin’s 1.16 and very like Robbie’s heroic performance on Saturday, David Clarke saved us from a far worse beating if it were not for his amazing performance…. What can we take from that, well I would suggest that it’s maybe all the over the field apart from our Goalkeeper where our problems lie in comparison to Dublin… We did play in the 2017 All Ireland Final and we all know the rest… For as some other Posters suggest it’s not about playing in the All Ireland Final, for me it’s about playing Galway next Saturday, and then after that Kerry or Monaghan.. I don’t even know who’s next after Galway, one game at a time….My worries on Galway, center around the Galway primary ball winning player’s around midfield, just at this particular time in our development how do we compete with big Tom Flynn, Peter Duggan and Séan Andy who played at CHF versus Kerry?. The Galway goalkeeper certainly has more options to aim his restarts at ,than either , Hennelly, Clarke or Sligermann , (But in fairness, I think James Horan has to go with Hennelly concidering his recent form).. Another thing is the way Galway set up, virtually everyone behind the ball, it’s much easier to implement the ‘Galway Shawl’ in McHale Park than other venues, and I feel certain that Galway will adopt the same formula as has been successful for them versus Mayo in Castlebar in recent times… I think we need to start well, and also need to have 100 % improvement in winning the breaking ball around the middle in comparison to our recent Dublin misadventure…. This was always going to be a much more important Match for us, rather than facing Dublin in Croke Park….Beat Galway and we are in good shape, lose and I will still be very worried… Next Saturday time to right a serious wrong! Mayo About!
Thart’s not correct, Brendan. The Official Rules state (Section 2.4 of the playing rules, see page 67 here: https://www.gaa.ie/api/pdfs/image/upload/exnejkiqisbjvu1znpde.pdf) that for a penalty kick “The goalkeeper may move along his line, but may not advance from the goal-line until the ball has been kicked.” So Louise is correct and your point about getting the facts right applies more properly to you than it does to her. While you’re also in getting-facts-correct mode, please also check the rules on comments here (https://mayogaablog.com/?page_id=13902), in particular the one (no. 3) about posting comments aimed at annoying others. Aside from that, welcome aboard – that’s quite a splash for your first ever comment!
On reflection Saturday’s game against the Dubs is similar to our recent form against them in the league. lt’s seven years since we have beaten them so should not be surprised at that result. Still hard to take as was so woeful a performance by our lads. Galway game is now the biggest game of the year. Let’s forget about anything else and this crap about it only being the league. Pride must be restored. AOS needs to be put in midfield to compete with Flynn and we need to win breaking ball as if our lives depend on it. No more stupid black cards. Leroy in danger of becoming a victim of his own reputation. Get back to playing football and less of the jersey testing. Really need Diarmuid back for this one and Boyler needs to concentrate on hitting someone on the pitch! We can bounce back and this is an ideal opportunity to show we still have a sting in the tail.
I await Brendans response to that?
I wouldn’t bother Tuamstar. Trolls don’t respond well to being put back in their box
@williejoe. Thanks for politely clarifying the goalkeeper rule for all of us. IMO it’s a rule that should be looked at as allowing a goalkeeper off his line is a big advantage. As the majority of penalties are given for clear goal chances
@ Brendan.you could be well proved wrong re half of the dub 2nd team come championship time.
He’s not necessarily a troll, OTHC, though the wisecrack about the Dublin second fifteen was a barb for sure. The mis-casting of the rules on penalties, though, did deserve a clarification, which was why I responded as I did.
Reckon diarmuid will be back for sat . Massive addition when on song ,his engine is surreal . If reape starts which I hope he does he will have his work cut out against Sean Andy for sure , mighty test for him , some remarked on his temperament against the dubs, personally I’d have np with him making himself known to Cooper. Be very interesting to see how horan deals with this tactically , didn’t think he influenced anything positive last sat but in saying that you’d have to think he learned a bit too.
Trendy GAA bloggers will mock the old clichés but I don’t buy it , beat them and it’s a marker for salthill.
Wouldn’t be too hard on Brendan just yet, by his comments I assume he’s a Dub and as I’ve lived among them for most of my adult life I can honestly say, they’re a sound lot. We’ll wait for his reply and see where he’s at, could turn out to be Martin the Dub no2 yet 🙂
Joe Brolly has got his date’s wrong, and just about everything else as well..in his latest hallucinating Drivel on the Indo…. It would be more suited to a April’s Fool’s paragraph in the Flat Earth Times! From his disgraceful lambasting of the Donegal motion to Congress…note to Joe, the Donegal motion to Congress had absolutely nothing to do with the league… To his, continued biased rubbishing of Aiden O Shea, Andy Moran is now on Joe’s radar. .He did to be fair praise Robbie Hennelly… I won’t post a link to the ‘Drivel’ from the ‘Derry Drivler’ .. Even by the normal standard’s of the ‘Derry Drivler’ Joe has reached a new low…Joe of course is not all bad, he did bravley donate one of his one kidneys to a fellow clubmate. . Magnificent, but I just wonder sometimes if the surgeon took out a piece of Joe’s brain during the procedure…If this is indeed the case, and it’s equally as likely to be true as the latest ‘Hallunacting” from the ‘Derry Driviler’ I make a plea to the surgeon involved, either give Joe back the part of his brain taken out in the first place, or bring him back in and remove the rest of his brain… I think either will improve Joe!
That’s a fair introduction Brendan, hot in from the subs bench and a carta dearg straight away!
I’ve had time to muse over our defeat and I have to say I am a little puzzled. And worried. Firstly, we should have been 4 or 5 weeks ahead of Dublin in terms of our physical conditioning and it looked the other way around. I know a tough game v Kerry and a two week lead in time to our game would have brought a lot of focus to Dublin’s preparations (league or not, they would not want to go to a 3rd defeat in four) but that should not account for the pace and agility on the turn that they displayed. They were leaving us for dead. All night. I was directly behind the Mayo goal in the first half and had a real close up view of the Dublin full forward line and it was something else. Their acceleration away in to space, the perfectly delivered ball bouncing up in front of them and then the blistering pace with ball in hand, the balance in close contact and, most impressively of all, their ability to go flat out – slam on the breaks – change direction – and burst away again is just something else. Their full forward line sat inside our 20 m for most of the first half and just burst out in to space to receive the ball. Then they always had two options. 1) take their man on, which was their default action, or 2) flip it off to the incoming half forward who was bursting his way goal-ward. Dublin very smartly didn’t play to our strengths in defense – i.e take on our half back line. Instead they went over it and in directly wide to our full back line and ripped us asunder for the opening 25 mins. The timing of their runs and delivery of the ball was perfect. Cafferkey was twisted left, right and center and that led to his injury. Higgins and Harrison were chasing shadows, to be fair, and only Hennelly kept us in the game.
If this was Dublin with just a couple of weeks work done then the sooner they bring in blood sampling and testing the better because whatever they are eating/drinking/doing it’s unnatural.
Despite all that, we can take some positives from the game. Ruane did very well in the middle and certainly looks like he can compete at that level. He was in against possible the best midfielder since Dara O’Se and considering our meltdown in all other areas of the field I felt Ruane did well. He ran at Dublin, carried the ball into contact and always offered Hennelly a target. Defensively he and Vaughan messed up midway through the second half when the lost two Dublin kickouts, smack bang in the middle of the field, but I think we saw enough to be hopeful that Ruane will be an option over the next few years.
McDonagh is a gem of a player and was the only forward who held his own on the night. He showed, and won, for 3 kickouts in the first half and glided forward at every opportunity, taking a lovely score to boot. He was able for the Dublin “Corinthian” tackling and indeed, had the better of his man on the night.
Reape will not be happy with his shooting but he kept shooting and that is a sign of confidence. He needs time at this level and I was glad to see him nail Cooper with a belts early on, that’s a good sign in a young lad at this level. He didn’t win his first ball until 20 mins in but his showing the second half was promising, despite the shooting. We all know he can score, last Saturday night was about him getting used to the pace and power of some heavy hitters.
We have to accept we are in a transitional re-build and we have to have patience with the younger lads, they are not going to shine every day. Some interesting points though are we created more shooting chances from play than Dublin (24 to 22) but our success rate of 12% was terrible compared to Dublins 38%. 3 points from play was a pathetic return from our forward division and it was Moran and Doherty who were wildest with the shots, granted Reape didn’t help but we need to accept he will have poor days given his inexperience.
I wouldn’t shoot any Keeper for trying to close in as much as he can get away with. In fairness, he’s not that far off his line when the ball is struck, and he does very well to easily double his distance from the line after it is struck.
8/10 times that penalty is scored the way it was taken. Comerford just did, very, very well.
Leantimes – what’s the point posting here about what that eejit has to say? What he wants is notice, with the more people talking about what he has to say – even in outrage – the better. The best option is to ignore what he has to say altogether.
Ridicule!. I feel his latest effort’s are more than worthy of Ridicule… Willie Joe, ‘nothing more nothing less, many is the true word said in Jest’ !
Hi John McHale….only one of me thank God says you!! I thought Robbie H was super on Saturday and fair play to him. I sometimes think AOS is a bit like Michael Murphy of Donegal…two super footballers but absolute best position not really known but massive threat if correctly utilised. Our own man between the posts was super too on Saturday but I have a feeling Stephen Cluxton will be in for the Roscommon game and the second half of the league.
Martin the Dub
Theres a lot of lads reading too much into this game. Mayo and Dublin will be very different prospects in the summer. Throw in Philly, James Mc, Cillian O’C and Diarmuid O’C and you’ve a completely game already.
P.S. What are peoples views on the amount of injuries at inter county level, it’s at ridiculous levels. Fitzsimons, Caff, Durkan came off, DOC, James Mc, Rock couldn’t start. In Tuam, Sean Kelly, Shane Walsh came off.
Lets not get too excited about the Dublin game, we have a top class manager in James Horan and some good young players yet to be tried at this level. Our position in the league is secure and can experiment further.
The new players were not over awed by the Dubs or Croke Park and young Treacy played well until he got injured.
Forget about All Irelands, let’s concentrate on putting Galway back on their arse on Saturday night and winning the Connacht title, and see where that brings us.
Play Aidan O Shea at Centrehalf back and Keith Higgins at CH forward and take it from there.
Nobody died and it’s only February.
Well done Robbie! I’m pure delighted for you, to use a local turn of phrase. You were simply stellar on Saturday.
I’ve had time to reflect too and what it boils down to for me is – I wasn’t disappointed with the bad play on Saturday or even the ineptitude. I reckon that stuff happens and I figure the lads are good enough footballers to play better. What threw me was that they didn’t seem to get stuck in – they didn’t seem to engage. It looked like lack of will and that really confused and bamboozled me, even upset me. It did so because I thought the lads would be geared up for the match. I’m glad I identified the above because poor play itself wasn’t upsetting for me. Maybe attitude is fixable.
I really like Pebblesmeller’s post above with its precise observations about what happened during the match. From reading it, it seemed like the Dubs might have had ‘our card marked’, i.e. a specific tailored plan to neutralise the likely Mayo approach. I’m referring here to what Pebbles said about bypassing our half back line to put direct pressure on our full backs. I must say this feature of a sustained onslaught on our fullbacks is what I noticed myself at the start of the game. I was in line with our backs (on the Hogan stand) and I noticed the sustained intense attack they faced at the start. And I must say they handled it very well one on one. I could see that they were agile enough to absorb the sustained attacks. Keith Higgins was everywhere trying to contain attacks in that opening 15 mins.
I suppose I’m wondering – did Dublin do to us (with a prepared gameplan) what we did to an unsuspecting Tyrone team a few weeks ago?
I know it’s not as simple as that, of course, and we do need a return to form next Saturday.
The other thing is that the forwards hardly scored. We couldn’t compete with that.
For what it’s worth I thought Eamann McGee’s thoughts on the match in todays Irish Daily Star are pretty well balanced and deffo worth a read.
Of course a goalkeeper may not come off his/her line for a penalty kick. If he/she were allowed to do so what’s to stop him/her sprinting out and being 2/3/4 inches from the ball when it is kicked? In which case the ball would end up God knows where but certainly not anywhere near the goal mouth.
A lot of attention has been given to Robbie’s 6 or 7 wonderful saves of balls that should have ended up as goals. Only a few posters or commentators have mentioned that he also had to deal with some horrible balls dangerously close to the crossbar. Best display of goalkeeping that I can remember having seen at this level. We all remember goalkeepers having made brilliant saves but saving a Division 1 County team from a hiding of a margin of 15 or 16 points worse than what was dished out is some feat.
Mayo want to learn how to deal with Black Cards , most of the 10 minutes can be used up with players going down with fake injuries like cramp , 2 to 3 players use up about 3 minutes each rolling on the ground and the other team gets frustrated and looses their concertation and the black card works as a plus
Culmore, Colm Boyle and the umpire looked after that for us on Sat night.
Good post Swallow Swoops.
Maybe Mayo threw the game last Saturday, as pointed out by previous posters, their attitude or failure to engage wasn’t there.
If the management noticed that the ball was being sent directly to the full back line, why not change tactics, just lock down the area inside the 50 yard line, full blanket defence with two men inside Dublin’s 50 yard line, there would be very few goal opportunities, bring on a few defenders to replace two of the forwards.
Would like to see Reape given a full game without Andy on the pitch. in my opinion both similar type of players. The full forward line must love Boland in the team his passing is so precise, a inside man’s delight. Just hope he’s also given a run on saturday. Delighted for Hennelly considering the stick he’s taken. Most people would have thrown the towel in, but fair play to him he’s proved them wrong.
Horan and his management have a lot of thinking to do before Saturday nights encounter with Galway. They have to devise an attacking plan that will greatly improve our efficiency in front of goal when compared to the Dublin game. Plus, it has to be able to cope with greater numbers in defense as Galway will draw back everyone from their half forward line to inside their own 45 m line, so space will be very difficult to find.
Against Dublin we only managed a pathetic 3 points from play against a, generally, man marking defense, in the big wide expanse of Croke Park. We had 14 wides and 4 dropped short and many (although not all) of these efforts were from good scoring positions. On the smaller MacHale Park pitch and against a packed zonal defense, it is imperative that when we do shoot for the posts, it is an accurate shooter on the ball (e.g. NOT Boyle or Keegan who were both guilty of wild, hopeless efforts the last night) and that we have worked the ball in to a good scoring position. It sounds strange to say it but we will find chances harder to come by against Galway at home, than we did against Dublin in Croke Park.
For these very reasons we will need to be patient and smart. We will need to be patient with the ball and go through long periods of possession and, more than likely, a lot of lateral passing as we try to move the Galway defense around the pitch with a view to creating space inside. We will need patience with our shooting also as I expect another poor return on the stats chart (12% success from play v Dublin, this needs to be at least 50% on Saturday night – for comparison our stats in the 2017 All Ireland Final was 68%!) as our efforts on goal will all be pressured kicks from the mass Galway defense.
We will also need to be much smarter than we have already shown this season. Against Dublin there were two occasions where we could have taken a mark and gone for the posts but instead we rushed headlong in to the Dublin defense. On both occasions we got turned over. On Saturday, we need to be cute how and when we go for the mark. I think we should use Aidan O’Shea to float between midfield and full forward. If things are going against us and we are struggling to break through the Galway cover, O’Se needs to see this and move in to the full forward position where we should look to play winnable ball in to him. It’s a low percentage play as he will probably only get less than 50% of the ball that comes in to him, as a result of both good defending and poor passing in to him. But, the ball he does get his hands on will almost certainly result in a mark, or a free. Both in a good scoring position. If we persist with this ploy often enough, and we win enough frees/marks out of it, Galway will have to be “honest” in their defending which will put them under pressure.
Either way, I expect this to be slow-paced and scrappy affair and I would suggest that Horan takes a look at the Rochford tactic used v Tyrone when he went with 5 backs and 7 forwards. Galway will not line up with 6 forwards, and if they do, they certainly won’t play there. They will go with 3 big men around the middle and look to dominate that area of the field.
Players, management and supporters alike will have to be patient on Saturday as we will not be able to bulldoze our running game through this Galway defense and the accurate kick-passing display in Omagh will most likely not work as we will be playing in to a packed defense. You beat a counter attacking team by counter attacking against them.
The simple answer to how fit the Dublin team were on Saturday night is the fact that they are a professional team in all but name. It’s a bit like the England ladies rugby team who are all professionals and are wiping the floor with the rest of the teams. Dubliln will win five in a row and it could be ten in a row. Losing those two league games was perfect for Gavin as it gives him some ammunition to motivate his players. I see a Dublin v Kerry league final and a 10 point win for Dublin. Then the whole championship charade will start. The only prize on offer for the also rans is a provincial title which will now be much more important as local bragging rights is all we will have. Get into the Super 8s and all we are doing is lining the pockets of the GAA. We are probably the biggest victims in all of this as we have the best supported team after Dublin. The amount of money we have generated for the GAA over the last 8 years is in the millions. We have helped create the monster that is Dublin and have brought them to new levels as we have been the only credible opposition for the last 5 years. At least Donegal tried to get them out of Croke Park for one measly game but were let down by the avarice of county boards. We had to play in Newbridge and only had a few thousand supporters in a ground that only holds about 8000. Special rules again for the Dubs. That’s enough of a rant for one day so apologies for that! Will be there Saturday evening and I believe we will get a real performance and a win.
Good post Pebblesmeller!