Something tangible to focus on

Yesterday evening’s draw for the 2011 provincial championships (I’ve never been able to figure out why they need to tell us in October who we’ll be playing against next June but there you go) has provided some clarity on the challenge facing James Horan and his management team as they start to plan on how to turn the county team back into a fighting force next summer.  As it also has, of course, for Tomás Ó Flaharta as he settles into his new role as Galway’s fourth external manager in just eight years.

There’s little point now in wondering about whether or not the draw is a good one for us – it’s the only one we’ll be getting in 2011 so we have to deal with that fact.  Once the London trip is out of the way – I think I’ll manage to make it over the water to my old stomping ground for that one and I don’t expect any catastrophic slip-ups by our lads over there – we’re probably looking at a mid-June date for the clash with the Tribesmen at McHale Park, which will make it the first big home match we’ll have at the venue since the new stand went in.  Better late than never, I suppose.

It’ll obviously be a real high stakes encounter for both James Horan and Tomás Ó Flaharta.  Whoever wins in Castlebar gains a clear road to the All-Ireland quarter-final – regardless of their newly exalted status within the province, I’d fancy either of them to take Sligo or Roscommon in the Connacht final – and the opportunity to show their mettle on the big stage.  Reaching the All-Ireland series and putting up a decent show once there has got to be the Year One target for both men so it follows that they’ll be gunning for each other in McHale Park.

Obviously, beating Galway and then going on to reclaim the Connacht title is (as it always is) the most straightforward route for us to make it to the All-Ireland series next August.  But while we should be going full tilt at the Tribesmen, we have to recognise that the other route to the All-Ireland series exists too.  Our approach towards the qualifiers has, as we all know, been worse than pitiful to date (aside from their 2001 run to glory, Galway’s relationship with the qualifiers has arguably been even worse as they tend to go to pieces completely when they lose in Connacht) but, under the new regime, we simply have to develop a stronger mental core, one that allows us to take defeat in Connacht on the chin and enables us to make the most of the second chance that the qualifiers gives us.

Should we come up short against Galway (which is always a strong possibility), as a beaten provincial semi-finalist we’d enter the qualifiers at the second round and so would need to clear three hurdles to make it to August next year.  That’s what Cork, Down and Dublin did this year to make the All-Ireland series (Kildare had to make it through four qualifier rounds to reach the last eight) so if we want to start punching our weight in the championship again, we have to be able to view this route with a bit of equanimity.  We’d all love to see James Horan’s reign get off to a flyer with victory over Galway but getting to the All-Ireland series – however this happens and whatever happens to us on the way – has to be the target we keep our eye on for 2011.

15 thoughts on “Something tangible to focus on

  1. (I’ve never been able to figure out why they need to tell us in October who we’ll be playing against next June but there you go”

    Agreed WJ. In fairness to the far seeing Mayo county board, they kept the prospective semi finalists in the Mayo senior championship draw on tenderhooks until the last minute. Perhaps they might be able to convince the relevant authorities to keep the draw until at least the year the competition takes place!

  2. At least now Mayo know what awaits them next June in Castlebar. So start preparations now for that fixture. Forget about the league. There is no point in beating Kerry and Tyrone in February only to get embarrassed by them in August/September. So what if we finish bottom of league 1. The league this year for Mayo should be used as an experiment.

    The new manager should be given supreme power for the next 5 years and start with a clean slate. The 15 players who were on duty against Sligo and Longford last june and the subs too should never play for the county again. The county team should be made of players from places like Castlebar and Ballina. Not little villages with a population of 35 people and 2 dogs. Why has so few Castlebar and Ballina players appeared on the team over the last few decades. Surely common sense would indicate that the majority of the County team should be drawn from places with the biggest population. Surely thats where you are likely to find the best crop of players.

    The question needs to be asked for example why have so few past pupils from say St Geralds College in Castlebar made it on to the County team over the years. The biggest boys school in the biggest town in the County producing next to nothing for decades. The new manager should be in there trawling through the biggest boys schools like that looking for 17 or 18 or 19 years olds doing their leaving cert who will be at their peak in 5 years time. Surely a crop of say 30 lads can be harvested from the major schools within the major towns in the County. These 30 will need to be able to score a point from 30 yards on a regular basis. Otherwise they are no good.

    Some of you may argue that some of the current players should keep their places on the team. None of them are worthy of the green and red jersey. Where was our star forward C Mortimer during the 2004 All Ireland final against Kerry and again in 2006. Completely out of his depth when it really mattered. Same for his brother. More recently the results against Cork, Sligo and Longford speak for themselves. What about the league game against Dublin last spring. We hit 18 wides and lost by a point. Same story as it was 30 years ago. So now its time for a change. A complete clear-out. The County board should go as well. History dictates that the county board must be rotten to the core. Otherwise you wont be elected to it via the old “jobs for the boys” policy of cronyism and nod nod wink wink.

    This is a 5 year long venture aiming at All Ireland final victory of 2015. To be followed by several more successes during the following decade. A new Mayo team made up mainly with players from the major towns in the county who actually deserve their place on the team. Anything else will lead nowhere and the 60 year famine will become 70 80 and so on. I am Mayo 100% and know like the rest of you we deserve better. We have suffered enough.

    On a different note the back door system needs to be scrapped with immediate effect. The team which has benefited most from it is Kerry. 6 All Ireland Finals in a row from 2004 to 2009 with only half that Munster titles. Enough said. This system was introduced in 2001 to give teams like Leitrim a second chance. The best solution i can think of is as follows. In Connacht all five counties play each other once in a league format. (No London and New York) The top 2 then play each other in the Connacht Final. Same in Munster. While Leinster and Ulster might split into 2 groups for each province before the top 2 in each group would qualify for a provincial semi final. This system ensure that every county would be guaranteed a few games and it also retains the 4 provincial finals. The 4 provincial winners would then go through to the All Ireland semi finals as per the old system. I rest my case.

  3. hi jim there are a few irregularity’s in your post if

    1 most of the current crop of players are from the main forces in mayo gaa from the last 10 years. ie ballna and shrule gleancorib and balladrean. ( castlebar was in intermediate around 2 years ago bye the way ) there is’nt a junior player in the squad where as there was 5 on the cork team.

    2 the St Geralds College team has influences from the surrounding clubs such as breafy ballintubber and islandady and so dose the rice college team in westport i know this becouse i was on the rice college panel only 3 years ago

    3 the resin the 18 and 19 year old’s aren’t brought into the senior squad is because the would be destroyed by other teams and would be burnt out by the age of 24

    4 On a separate note look at oley feeny in the tomoro at the junior county final and tell me why he has’nt been in the county squad.

    i am personaly looking forward to see what type of players the trile games produce .

    for everyone out there who thinks junior teams produce no county players players look at brian dooher (yes the tryone talasman plays for a junior club )

  4. J.c almighty ,that last post has left my head spinning.It will be 160 years before we bring back sam if it is this kind of thinking that is prevelent in mayo.

  5. i was only providing the facts as i see them maigheo
    do please suggest where i may be wrong and tell us what you you would like to see done in the county to improve the structure of the county team

  6. sorry mayo lad but i was referring to jim flags post but you got your post in before me,and by the way i agree with your comments.

  7. I agree we must look at junior clubs
    When Meath got hammered by Laoise years ago Sean boylan went to junior clubs for the likes of Bernard Flynn & Brian Stafford.
    It is more difficult to get off the Mayo panel then on it.

  8. I don’t know if Jim was aware of the fact that over half of the Crok team this year were not from senior clubs. Not sure where he is comig from with the plan that more “townies” should be on the Mayo team. Maybe if they gave up the soccer and Rugby and played GAA they might have a chance.

  9. Jim, I’m not sure which part of your post I disagree with the most.
    But just on your point of getting rid of all the players who played this year. I’d say Cork are pretty glad they didn’t do that after any of their heavy and embarrassing defeats over the past number of years. They wouldn’t be touring their county with Sam if they would have done.

    Bad and all as our year was, I can only imagine the state we’d be in without players like Keith Higgins and Alan Dillon.
    I’d love to see some new faces in the panel over the coming year, but only if they are better than those currently there. That’s what we should be using the league for this year. Lets search the county for some new faces (Horan should have a fair idea already about who could make the transition to inter county football) and throw them in for the league.
    I’d also like to see some current players rediscover their form, under a new management team capable of getting the best out of players. That was one of the many areas Johnno seemed to fail at.
    James McCartan and Kieran McGeeney seemed capable of getting that bit extra out of some players who previously toiled, as well as bringing in some new faces and using lads from successful underage teams. That should be our template going forward

  10. WJ, just wanted to alert you to some sad news breaking in west Mayo this morning. A boating accident off the west coast has claimed the lives of two men, one of them a former Mayo footballer.
    I have been told who it was but want to be 100% certain before confirming the man’s name.

    It puts a lot of our worldly woes in perspective.

  11. Thanks FourGoal, I’ve just heard the same too but, as you’ve said, there’s no official confirmation yet on who it is so it’s best to hold off on saying more until there’s official word on it. Terrible tragedy, may they rest in peace.

  12. Sad news about the boating accident whoever was involved.

    Dan. Some good points and well made. Just briefly on Cork. Really they didn’t win the All Ireland in 2010. Down won it for them by beating Kerry in the quarters. How do you think Cork would have fared in the final if Kerry were waiting for them. Bearing in mind that Cork turned up for the 09 final with a much better them than Kerry but were still out-foxed by them in the Croke Park decider. Secondly Cork had to wait 20 years since their previous Sam. That is too long a gap for a County with such a big population to choose from. Not good enough. Same goes for the Dubs. Both of them should be winning on a much more regular basis.

    Now for Mayo. A new manager is at his strongest in the first 100 days of his tenure. That is when he needs to get rid of all the rubbish and hangers on. Or if there is a bloke on the County board who is causing trouble he needs to be told by the manager to “get out of my way”.

    The aim for the up coming league is to unearth new players even it means finishing bottom on zero points. Even if Mr Horan uses 15 new faces for each of the 7 league games. If he finds 2 decent players in each game thats 14 decent players by April. The aim is not to finish 2nd or 3rd in the table only to end with no silverware again.

    Mayo lad you mentioned that clubs like Shrule Glencorrib and Balladrean are some of the main forces in Mayo over the last 10 years. How is that happening. Where are these places. Whats their population. One is almost in Galway and the other practically in Roscommon. How are places like these getting to County Finals on a regular basis. Its like Rotherham playing Scunthorpe in the FA cup Final. Where are the big players within the County. The big towns in the County should be involved in the latter stages of the competition.

    Also mayo lad the panel of thirty 18 year olds would not be destroyed by other counties and burnt out by age 24. Thats because they would not be representing our county at senior level yet. We will gradually unleash them when they are 22/23 as we aim for the 2015 All Ireland. They are a separate project and will be well fit to stand up to Kerry and anybody else by that age. Colm Cooper was only 21 i think when he destroyed us and rattled our net in the 2004 Final.

    Gentlemen its a 5 year plan. The alternative is to stick with the heroic squad of 2010 whose magnificent efforts against division 4 cannon fodder (Sligo & Longford) went well beyond the call of duty. Take your choice.

  13. thanks a million for posting that mm, great to have all the fixtures in one place, hope springs eternal, really looking forward to ’11 already. wouldn’t it be great to be able to hibernate now for a couple of months!!!!

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