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