Seaside simpleton

Holidaying amongst his own in the far northwest of the county, John Cuffe is still thinking ahead to our date with the Dubs in early September and here, via his iPhone, is what he’s currently thinking.

I sit looking out the window as I write this piece. The haze on the horizon means Boston is just out of sight as indeed is Belmullet.

We come nearer to our dance with the Dubs. The tom-toms are silent, the poison pens sheathed for now at least.

Outside Mayo the “experts” are slightly confused except the likes of Martin Breheny who sees us back in town courtesy of the handiest draw ever.

Maybe, maybe not. Last year Kerry threw away an All-Ireland courtesy of a trip sniffing the following wild flowers – Limerick, Tipp, Cork (whom they lost to), Limerick again and then the mouse called Mayo.

I have yet to see the quill dipped and be told that they had a rather handy stroll too. That hairball out of the way I fully expect Mayo to beat Dublin and maybe easier than expected.

Naturally me being me I have to add a caveat or two. The game has changed so much over the last three years. Actually Mayo are proof of this but so far have not been detected.

In the old days it was the spine of your team that defined you. Think Nelligan, O’Keeffe, Kennelly, Jacko and Seanie, Ogie and the Bomber. Two/three seasons ago many Mayo followers, this one included, saw us with no spine of note.

Then James Horan stiffened it out. Certainly last season saw steel and no little skill through out the pivots. But after watching us against Cork and recently v Down I started to wonder again.

Who are the Dublin first choice midfielders? I’m not sure but when they have the domestiques of Cahill and Bastic in the engine room they are at their formidable best.

Now factor in McAuley and Fennell and a new dimension appears. McAuley and McManamon are the igniters of their team. Micheal Dara is like a windmill but does his main work on the wings.

That was a role that Jack O’Connor tried and failed with Donaghy. So there is something there that points to a shift from the traditional modus.

Back to Mayo. Despite having reservations about our spinal tract Horan has defined another game within the team. Evidence? Well, Benny Coulter won his duel with Cafferkey. Interestingly Higgins was left on a lesser player for the entire match because he wasn’t needed.

Donie’s second album at 6 has been mixed . Great lad but not where I had him a year ago when I prematurely saw him as the real inheritor of the John Morley legacy. He will come really good again but interestingly the game plan covers him until he does.

Now we come to a strange place. If I got a penny for every time someone savaged Barry Moran, and that includes up to the league final, I would be wealthy. Moran is now touted as a All-Star and rightly so.

Instead Danny Geraghty has shipped unfair and personal criticism. Put it this way, if Mayo start the semi-final with out him, the happiest man will be the Dublin manager: in the second match against Dublin in Castlebar it was Geraghty and full-back McHale who ruled the airwaves and knocked the stuffing out of a few egos in blue.

Moving to centre-forward I ask: who actually is the playmaking 11? I am not sure, O’Connor, Dillon, the unfortunate Andy … take your pick but it hasn’t harmed the team.

At 14 we definitely have no Langan or McGee. Not even a Burke but we still cope. And I believe this is because we have copped the new game faster than anyone expected us to.

Cork are the masters and hungry. McGuinness saw that McGeeney was working with fool’s gold in Kildare but Donegal had two nuggets in Murphy and McFadden. Trips to Errigal, Tory and Lough Derg banished the demons.

However Donegal might be fashioned on the drawing board and copperfastened with a work ethic of a gold miner but class will finally stop them next time out. You can only play cattanacio for so long before an Ajax, Barca or Brazil show that it’s only sweat without substance.

We will beat Dublin because we never feared them. Tell the Mayo players that McManamon and the Brogans were Mayo stock before becoming city slickers. We will win because we have figured the new game.

Dublin carry the burden of the summer tourists. Soon they will get restless – United, City and Chelsea will be blowing off the cobwebs – they will be vulnerable and a little sated. Let’s make hay and finish the harvest in late September.

Photo: Glosh, Blacksod, August 2012, taken by John Cuffe

30 thoughts on “Seaside simpleton

  1. Great article & beautifully written; this has to be the meanest(& best) mayo defence since the mid-90’s. I worry about upfront though. There’s no doubting Dillion, O’Connor, McLoughlin in my mind but I’m not so sure Conroy and/or Doherty will provide the scores the next day. Andy Moran is huge loss; whoever takes over his mantle, must perform in the same fashion.

  2. Ah John,
    You cannot be serious. You seem to be allocating a status to this team but personally I rank them a long way behind previous teams. I appreciate the hyperbole but not the sentiment.Suggesting an ease in victory against the All Ireland champions because Mayo have figured out the new game is an interesting perhaps foolhardy way of looking at the game.Yes Mayo can win but not with ease and as for having the game figured out -you base this on the poor threat offered by Leitrim and Down (We struggled over Sligo)
    I prefer to go in wary, and agree with James Horan we have a lot to work on .The game is not nearly figured out.We may learn more the next day if we survive but even then the lessons to be learned will still exist.
    Be careful of the metaphorical and physical mist John. The Mayo boat has floundered many times when the rocks were obscured!

  3. i have stated here previously that dublin would not retain their title, for me it was a question of who eliminated them , it will either be us or the vicros of the other semi. they played some brilliant ball for about 20 minutes against mayo in the fog and then for about 10minutes against meath in croke park, other than that i have seen nothing to suggest all ireland champions , they have it all to do to up their game now , we have it all to do to replace our captain and star man….

    this is going to be a great game…

  4. I wonder, John – on a clear day when there wouldn’t be so much haze on the horizon – would they be able to see the Blacksod lighthouse from over in Boston – they might even be able to make out that red and green flag that you have proudly flying in the back garden. Would that be one of those gardens that gets bigger when the tide goes out? You should come West more often – I have rarely heard you in such positive and bullish mood with regard to a future Mayo performance. I would be slightly more guarded in my optimism – Andy’s leadership and score-making ability is a massive handicap to overcome(I believe they are trying out McGarrity at FF in training) – the 2 Brogans will be flying-fit – the sheer physicality and speed of the Dubs will not be easily overcome – however we will await the Monsignor’s plans. That back garden looks to be a most serene and tranquil setting, John – – – perhaps a suitable spot where you could “pen your memoirs” both on and off the field of play.

  5. Cork are good, we know that because they’ve been there and done that quiet a number of times over the past few years. I dont think we really know where us and the other two are, records show us that retaining Sam is very very difficult and the Dubs haven’t been going great. Pat gilroy taking them to dingle is a good move, but next week might have been an even better one. I think Donegal are a little overhyped, I know from my Donegal contacts that the hype is off the scale, I’ve noticed a fair bit of cockiness coming from the fans also. Cork will beat them by 4 or 5 I think. Besides that I have no predictions, that’s the thing about this championship, at this stage it’s hard to make predictions, it’s all on the day, and any of these “experts” who try to tell us otherwise are fools or liars.
    Case in point, Down were a handy team until we beat them out the gate, then they were shite. That’s only partially the usual lack of respect for us and more about them knowing no more than us mere mortals who don’t get paid handsomely for our amateur opinions.

  6. East Cork,I know where you are coming from but really in fairness Down were picked out by many prior to the game as weak having been hammered by Donegal and missing several good players. Trouble is the scalps we have taken are not huge in truth Leitrim,Sligo and Down. We need to beat bigger better teams to gauge how good we are. Dublin have not beaten a whole lot either whereas beating Kerry in August is still a good scalp.Cork served warning with demolition of Kildare.
    Easy like John Cuffe to get carried away and we all hope you are right. Cant see it being easy though and the Dubs are favoured for a reason. Still we can hope but let’s play the underdog a little bit longer. There have been too many days in Croker with good teams that didn’t just get there that have shown us this.
    A positive thing is that James does not buy into the hype and realises the struggle it will be. That is sensible not overly optimistic or blurry eyed.Hope not optimism is the key.

  7. Samuel you are correct . John Aquinas is the term to use. The reason I am bullish and optimistic is simple. Only 4 teams left who can win it. Between league and championship over last 24 months we have shown that we can beat both Cork and Dublin.

    Cork are possibly the best team left but we are close to them all, I’m the old wine tasting jargon, this like last year is non vintage. Stat wise , any time we win 3 Connachts in a 4 year spell we make All Ireland finals. Since 2010 Cork won 3 league titles , 1 All Irl and made 2 semis. In the same period we made 2 league finals and 2 semis. Our stats are as good as any of the others .

    With due respect Kerry threw away last years final rather than Dublin winning it. They don’t set the pulse racing and with luck , a calm head and a good start I see us beating them.

    Now Samuel on a good day my old mam used to let me row over to Boston to see the Red Socks but warned me to stay out if Knock. Light the candles and keep the faith. We are going to make the final. Paudi is filling the Dubs full of shit and porter below in Ventry this week and Gilroy lost the rag with the press , a good sign for sure.

  8. Yes only four teams left but doesn’t it only take one to beat us?Not sure talking us up like this is helpful .Hope not optimism.

  9. It’s always good to read John showing his pride in the Green and Red. I’ll side with the more cautious posters on this one though. I think we have a chance against Dublin, but with the ‘What now?’ factor introduced by Andy Moran’s absence, I can’t agree that we will beat them easily.

    To be honest I think it’s a tall order to beat them at all, especially with their home advantage (imagine if this game was in Castlebar). They’re All-Ireland champions – they have to catch fire and deliver a big performance sometime. They’re bulling to atone for 2006 as well, which they see rightly or wrongly as a game they threw away.

    Mayo come in as unfancied underdogs. Suits us. I can’t see us winning well. But I’d be thrilled if we scraped a one-point win.

  10. Davy, a win for us would be cruel for the dubs, however a “one point” win for us (again) would be sheer torture for them. Having said that, I’ll take the win by whatever ways and means possible. I admire John’s optimism, however without Andy, we will be up against it with no room for error.

  11. If the Dubs are ever to rise up and show their mettle in this years championship, they will do so against us. As many have said, 2006 still rankles with them, and the humiliation in Castlebar is very fresh in their minds too.

    We must be prepared for a severe physical examination and an intensity that we have not met since Kerry last year.

    I hope we are ready for the challenge when it comes. It is good to hear that James is experimenting with different options at FF to replace Andy. I actually thought McGarrity would be a good option there myself too.

  12. Just had a peep on the dubs hoganstand fans site, there pretty bullish in their talk of Mayo! Disregarding us almost completely! I wish I shared JCs pure optisim, I am optimistic but just not to the level JC is! Rumour has it that R Feeney is playin @ 14 in the AvB matches, would be a good plan B. was interesting to read jack O Shea in the Sunday times saying that mayo should think about starting sheamie o Shea in midfield and movin Aiden to 11! Would nullify Dublin in the centre and force them around which we should be strong enough to counter!

  13. There will an awful lot written between now and the semi-final, but I believe that it will come down to the following:

    1. How well Alan Brogan plays – without him they can be clueless. When they are on top, they’re flying, when they struggle, only a few step up
    2. The poor discipline of the Dublin tackling – once they start fouling, they can’t stop themselves
    3. The referee – I can see either a dozen yellows and two reds or a stop-start game where the good players don’t get referee protection as he tries to keep the cards in his pocket
    4. James H has four weeks to work on either replacing Andy like-for-like or changing things around because he’s missing – I fully expect him to get it right, whichever one he goes with

    I expect us to win and I would put money on anything between 1 and 4 points at the end

  14. I’m optimistic about our chances v Dublin and then against kerry in the final. Whatever we do for a full forward Dublin wont know what to expect even if we bring mac back. Fair day in Belmullet today, After a gallon or two of black porter there, take the solara to Westport to see all the lovely roses, Sure there’s no one like the lovely Mayo rose, Deverla. She will walk it in Tralee next week now that the newly married Dathi O Se and not that Ray Darcy doing the job. Sure he said he would leave the country if Enda Kenny ever became Taoiseach. Oh yes what a year its going to be, our own Mayo rose willing the “Rose of Tralee”, Senior (over and under and 18s), Minor (under 18) and Junior (over the hill lads who had their day in the sun) All Ireland Champions, Our hurlers Connaught Champions now that Galway are in Leinster, In fact things are looking so good I will give up the booze in the last week of September, just so as I can remember the celebrations. But a word of caution alot depends on the wind, as I think I said before. I have all of the rest of my life for drinking. PS.. I think some of the posters on this site don’t look at things objectivly like I always do.

    come on you boys in green (and red)

  15. John I like your enthusiasm and optimism but I think this is a really big test for us. One of the ‘honours questions’ will be how we deal with Andy Moran’s absence. Our attacking approach against the Dubs will have to change in the absence of Andy Moran. Andy has a certain unique way of gaining posession that simply cannot be replicated by the obvious replacements in the panel. Simply slotting someone in to do the same job will not work. We cannot hope to play in the kind of of ball we did against Down and expect to win an equal amount of posession. This simply will not work.
    We must find different attacking methods or approaches. What they might be I simply do not know. But the good news is that we will have had a month to figure it out and practice and I’m sure JH and his team will come up with something. The only thing is that ‘something’ is probably going to be more radical than what is being talked about at present. The worst thing for me would be to try ‘more of the same’.
    As well as a challenge this is an opportunity for Mayo because if we do not know how Mayo will approach the game neither will the Dubs. This is a real problem for them as they will not know what to prepare for in defence. This might turn out to be ok if we are cute!

  16. WIND if we get to the final and kerry are waiting then i think you will need to go back on the booze again !

    Feàr an chomórtais there is no way the monsignor will be moving AOS and if jack o shea was any good he would know that.

  17. I agree with Jack o Shea’s opinion, I regard Seamus O Shea as a very good mid field player with plenty of bottle.Jason Gibbins is playing really well at present and I wounder when he will get his chance to start.We are blessed with good mid field players, who are all good footballers ,so why not use them, (thinking outside the box).
    I would play , Barry Moran and Seamus o Shea in mid field with Jason Gibbons at centre forward flanked by Alan Dollon and Kevin Mc loughlin. In at full forward, I would play Aiden O Shea flanked by Killien O Connor and Ml.Conroy.During the game these players could be rotated in and out, at will. I think the mid field diamond area would be very strong and why not use these great players when we have them.

  18. Its difficult at this point in time to predict the outcome, personally I am very confidant that our A game would be enough to get us to the final, but questions remain, will Alan Brogan recover enough to start? I hope he does, you want see the best players playing. Mentally & phyically we need to be at our best & Dublin playing their best 15 gives us no room for complanacy, the only way to have it.Who will will Mayo play at full forward? Thankfully the club match’s last weekend did’nt result in any serious injurys, in that respect we’r better off having played them. With 3 matchs left to be played this one is the best chance for good open football to be played. The game that will win it for Dublin or Mayo on the 3rd Sept, wont do against Cork or Donegal, if we get it right in terms of confidence, attidude & all round football ability on the day, & I believe we can & will do it. JH & Co will have to hatch another master plan for later in Sept,.So come on all you Mayo fans, get yerselfs to Croker for what should be a rip roaring occasion of football as it should be played. When Dublin & Mayo meet they tend to be highly enjoyabe high scoring roll a coaster affairs. Mayo to do it, but not before plenty of nail biting, heart stopping dramitic white knuckle ride. I’ve a good feeling about this one, Com’on Mayo!

  19. We can only have a panel of 26 for the game. We have too many midfielders in that 26 at the moment, D.Geraghty, J.Gibbons, R. McGarrity, Moran. P.Harte, and the nrilliant O’Sheas. We need forwards.

    John C. are you in Belmullet to-day – very wet. Might meet up to-night ???

  20. Fair play to you roger, you seem to know what JH will or won’t do, perhaps you can get him to come on here and post to say what he intends to do! And if you actually toot time and actually read the Jack O Shea article you would have read that he reckons mayo should use there supremacy in the midfield area by bolstering it with the centre forward position! A man who would know!

  21. Ease up there on the personal stuff there, Fear – none of this “you seem to know”, “if you actually” terminology if you please. You’re a new poster here (and very welcome too) so it’d be good if you could have a read of the house rules for comments (here) so that you have an idea what’s required to keep you between the metaphorical ditches.

    On Jack O’Shea, while I’d have the height of respect for him as a player – I saw him in action a number of times when he was in his prime and he was without doubt one of the best I’ve ever seen – I’m afraid 1993 did it for me where it comes to any off-field insights he might have!

  22. Have been away for a while and after our minors sad sad demise, have had very little to read on our own stolensheep. So I will start by saying well done to the Mayo minors on a mighty win over Tipp, a final V Dublin surely beckons. The seniors had a big win over a disinterested looking Down team, so Mayo find themselves in the last 4, without having to break sweat. Mayo surely are in a great place at the moment, they have not revealed a full hand unlike the others, whether you guys are bluffers remains to be seen. I hope ye go well.
    1993 was surely the nadir for Connacht football, Ray Demp scored a second half goal to break my heart and Mayo tripped over the line to beat us by a point 1.5 to 0.7, in the All Ireland semi Mayo got trounced by Cork in a game where Flanagan injured himself in the warm up. Mayo actually played some good fooball that day but were clueless once they got the ball into the oppositions 45.

  23. Feàr an chomórtais , no offence to you at all but it is amazing the amount of posters i see advocating moving AOS to FF when it is obvious that Horan will do no such thing as he is his number 1 midfield pick above all the other many potential midfielders we have.

    and jack o shea was a poor manager back in a time when football was almost a completely different game to what it is now. I very much doubt that jacko has seen as much mayo football as your good self in the intervening period. colin corkery made sure of that.

  24. and if the monsignor does move AOS to FF ( there has been no indication from the A v B games that this has been tried ) then i will happily accept it as he has earned the right and plainly has the knowledge to make such selections .

    while JOM and JM were managers the other gladly played the hurler on the ditch / devils advocate role in the media , now we have them both doing it and the bauld jacko climbing up onto the ditch beside them !

    jack o connor complained in his book about the 4-in-a-row lads who were never out of the media during his tenure, hopefully horans tenure will be as succesful and as a consequence we will be sick listening to JOM JOM and JOS , i’d happily pay that price 🙂

  25. Never said a move to the full forward line! It’s gonna be tactics at this stage now! I can see Dublin puttin M D Mcauley in midfield against Aiden, hes a end to end runner, try to tire him out, so if this is their way we need to think outside the box! That’s all 🙂 but sure it’s great banter chattin all about the possibilities! That’s championship

  26. Sorry about that willie joe, nothin ment only friendly banter! I’m sure me self and roger have debated this after manys the mayo game in the pub

  27. Roger Milla in response to your comment on August 15th 2012 at 11:27…i will not go back on the booze again because you dont know about something called a backdoor. i know that donegal beat kerry in the championship but they will have a chance in the backdoor and i belive that they will reach the final.Mayo will beat Dublin by about 10-12 points and we will play kerry in the final when they beat cork.

    come on you boys in green (and red)((and the minors u21s ladies and Juniors)

  28. aiden in the forwards please God no … Can ye not remember how this was tried and a bit of a disaster to be honest midfield only spot for him have totally changed my view of this man since he went to midfield where as before he was a liability to the team .. I would love to see Peadar G tried here … Hopefully he’ll be back in contention for a spot on the 2nd and score a few of those Peadar G specials …. 🙂 really hope Donal ups his performance for the dubs and I bet any money Kevin Mc will have a fantastic game again very under rated player me thinks … Up MAYO ….

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