Saved by the fog

It was good to meet up for a quick chat with John Cuffe on the way out of McHale Park last Saturday evening and it’s equally good to welcome him back into the guest slot to provide some thoughts on that evening’s fogbound encounter with the Dubs. 

From my vantage point high in the new stand in McHale Park I watched the evening sun drop behind Croagh Patrick, its rays momentarily blinding my view of the pitch. To my right standing guard was Nephin with its peak shrouded in mist. Blissful calm and beauty filled the skyline.

Dublin players strolled on the pitch beneath me, getting a feel of the sod and atmosphere. One, possibly James McCarthy, looked like a member of Linkin Park with his headphones, baseball hat and baggy trousers, all the while flicking a ball up and down. Dublin are not just All-Ireland champions, Kerry’s Paul Galvin has a new challenger in the fashion stakes.

After the bile, bitterness and rancour of Messrs Suarez and Evra, it was a breath of fresh air to watch both sets of supporters sit and exchange banter and crack whilst we awaited the combatants. Both teams warmed up. Mayo players developed a new drill where on receiving the ball the player immediately hit the turf as if shot at from the nearby tower. Whilst it fascinated me it also gave my stomach the type of feeling that bodes ill.

Dublin seemed to be more intense. Ger Brennan took off his top and the steam rose from his body into the evening air. As it rose into the sky Ger resembled a bison who was after running a mile. During the National Anthem as both teams stood to attention the entire Dublin outfit looked as if they were standing in a sauna. We on the other hand emitted only a hint of smoke.

Two points up and set fair, I started to relax. We looked fine. The tackles were going in, we got the benefit of the type of frees normally awarded against us and all looked rosy. Then the efforts exerted in the warm-ups started to pay dividends. Tackles were broken, backs were taken on and beaten and Dublin made the ball do the work. We looked naive and seemed to shrink.

Kevin McManamon drew applause from both sides with a fantastic point from the outside of his boot just beneath us. Connolly was tormenting us and every foot pass found its man. We reverted to type and our DNA. Why kick a ball fifty or sixty yards when we can solo there instead, risking life and limb? Once there why not trip over the damn ball or lose it? Glitches that we thought were part of Christmases past came back to haunt us. Take the ball into the tackle, and then get swamped. Better, slow the play down and look around as if we were operating a Libero Italian style, nothing like that to allow Dublin to regroup.

Balls dropped into Cluxton’s chest, frees lacked conviction and the ability to kick with the weaker foot stood out like a red nose. For good measure Stephen the keeper came up and rammed a long range free from the ground right between our posts. Then McCarthy went and got himself red carded.

I hate when this happens for a variety of reasons. If we won it was because they were down a man. Worse, if we lost ….well figure that one yourself. Add in the referee’s instinct to award every doubtful free to the depleted in order to soothe them and then hold your breath as you await for one of your men to walk for the mildest challenge in order to even things up. It’s like walking a tightrope.

Richie Feeney added a bit of bite to our lot. Big Barry and Aidan actually were winning anything up the middle; the problem was Dublin were not allowing us to channel that route too often.

The fog that enveloped Nephin appeared at the back of the Dublin goal on the 35th minute. Slowly it inched its way across the pitch until finally we were in pea-soup land. Marty Duffy and his cohorts of white suited men were just about visible from where I sat. Then the guillotine was brought down. Match abandoned due to fog.

How apt, saved by the pea soup. This was akin to sitting an honours Leaving Certificate maths paper and finding out that you knew none of the answers. Fortune however smiles on you, the exam is cancelled and a resit is ordered. James’s pupils get to resit the exam again. Lucky them, let’s hope they have their homework done. No more of the bad stuff that has caused some of us to go grey and bald far too early. Let’s remember Cork last summer as the template. Passing Athlone the fog swept in again. My headlights picked up a sign that indicated Longford next left. We have been there once…never again…ok!!

22 thoughts on “Saved by the fog

  1. perfectly summed up John. the next outing agin em will show if we have learned( and addressed) anything. on the way out of the new stand the other night i heard Mayo people lamenting the fact that we did not get to play game out as we are a second half team. those same people must not have spotted the 2 brogans up in the stand togged and ready to go….

  2. Great piece John! Love the finish.

    “Longford” will always be the word that puts the fear of God into Mayo supporters. We have travelled along way in the 18 months since then. Hopefully we can keep up that progress.

  3. Eriad , i dont know if it is a meausre of how far we have travelled or how far we fell in the first place !

    Once again ontheroad/John Cuffe a great read.

  4. Thanks John, nicely done. Apart from the possibility of winning against a shorthanded Dublin, we already know where we stand against their full squad – which is ultimately more important. Let’s see what we learn over the next month. Until we meet again…

  5. Nice piece John. Now that our game has been fixed for the 31st our last four games will be against the ulster champions, league champions, all-Ireland winners and munster champions. Now that should give us a good indication where we stand going into hopefully long summer.

  6. Lads we scored the first two points. not a slow start. A different warmup is not the answer, its all in the head. Dubs are a good team. We are still finding our way. Stop panicking everyone. its all about the championship. We beat Laois and they beat Kerry off the pitch. Are Laois going to win the All Ireland?
    Not at all. Give Horan a chance. We are over analysing everything and just annoying everyone.

    PS Kevin Keane is a fine full back and will be a grt player for Mayo if given a chance.

  7. Eh Laois didn’t beat Kerry. Armagh beat the kingdom. Laois beat Donegal. Hope you are right about Keane. Time will tell. He will certainly get a chance under Horan. Up to him to take it like the others.

  8. John – I hope your foglights were working ontheroad home – it would be difficult to spot a lighthouse in Blacksod in that kind of weather – with a bit of luck when we re-sit the exam the sun will be cracking the stones on the McHale road.

  9. i guess i dont drink the mayo kool aid like every one else on this the back Reilly got embarassed,he cant be a serious candidate for championship.While Barry Moran did quite well at midfield, O se was awful yet again.Fumbling the ball and mis placing simple handpasses are hard to watch.Plus a midfielder needs an engine and this guy was panting after 5 mins.As for the fowards they were awful.A simple must for an intercounty footballer is that he has to be able to win his own ball.We have no ball winners in there and as soon as the likes of Brennan started throwing his weight around that was the end of Mortimer and Freeman.When the dubs were in full flow they pushed mayo around like a minor team.Were too small and have no hard hitters.Quarter final stage if lucky and id be wary of galway in connaught.

  10. Samuel I think we need a lighthouse in the middle of Mchale Park and indeed maybe a foghorn…it reminded me of my younger days and the sound of the lonesome moan from the Eagle island lighthouse.

    Thanks for the comments folks…its just my own take on what i see and thats the beauty…we all have an opinion on this great county.

  11. John/Patriot – not trying to jump on your bandwagon but I think your points on the difference between the two teams warm up is a key point…I thought exactly the same as yourself when I seen the steam rising off the dublin lads as the Soldiers Song belted out….they were ready to go through walls….our ladeens weren’t…

    Fair enough we scored the first two points and remember51 is right, that isn’t a bad start but the intensity was there in the Dublin lads from the start….

  12. John – your knowledge of Mayo football is evenly matched by your literary genius as exemplified by your thought-provoking comments on this site and the captivating articles you write for the provincial and national newspapers. Long may the ink continue to flow freely from your quill. There is a touch of a “West of Ireland John B Keane” about you – – – did you ever consider writing a tragi-comedy about the ” ifs, buts and maybes” of our search for the Holy Grail. P.S. Foghorns are now standard on the new Audi ! !

  13. Your not too bad with the pen yourself Samuel …and you gotta play for Kerry to get an Audi, a set of new tyres would do me now!

  14. With the way Armagh have started the league, they will provide us with all the answers we need. One thing if the forwards dont play as a unit it will be another long night coming home

  15. have to agree with brighton811,armagh will test mayo n cannot see them winning up ther with tha team tha wa out against tha dubs,time wi tell on young keane n reilly.i’d hav seam oshea or mcgarrity bfore aid. oshea n midfield, as for gardiner,mort. n dillon, been ther done tha..cant under stand y kirby has,t got any min. even 10 min n tha far, seen em n ballinrobe n took es goals well,he coud,t do any worse than wa was on against tha dubs n tha woud,t b sam r league n tha team ths year n like brigh.811 said i,d be wary n connacht espec. wit tha team tha took tha field n c,bar.

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