Stick or twist?

Time and time again that never-ending conveyor belt of first class Mayo footballers has concealed and masked officialdom that simply are unable or unwilling to match the calibre of player this county produces.  Seven senior All-Ireland finals in 25 years prove the players are there. Seven senior losses point the finger at something other than meeting Kerry etc. at the wrong time. Other factors are in play.

I believe that successive County Boards since 1951 have hindered our county. Individual well-meaning people held back by others simply unsuitable to operate on that landscape. From the bizarre walking away of Mickey Moran in 2006 after ten months in charge to the acceptance of four years of mediocrity culminating in Longford in 2010 before, once more, fate and good footballers intervened.

One of the up-shots of 2010 was the Strategic Review. Good people put an excellent document in place. The Mayo County Board’s contribution to this process was (a) the submission of the Galway Strategic plan with the word “Galway” scrawled out and (b) a tepid “welcome” that saw the plan fizzle into the sand.

Had Mayo submitted a Tyrone or Dublin Strategic Plan then I would have saluted them. By using the Galway one it was an indication of an obsession with Galway and an acceptance of a document from a county itself off the national radar since 2007.

County football nowadays is a business  best exemplified by Dublin. Transparency and commercial plans allied to modern coaching separate the chaff from the wheat. The support and infrastructure needs to be first-rate. If we look at the trip to London in 2011, the ticket fiasco for the 2012 All-Ireland final where the public knew how many tickets each club in Donegal got but no-one had a clue about the Mayo distribution or allocation, we can see that this isn’t the case.

There is serious money and goodwill out there for Mayo. However, I have been informed by people with deep pockets and Green and Red blood that they would not nor could not contribute under the present system.

MacHale Park has a debt that is shrouded in obfuscation, whilst we know exactly how stands the Dublin finances and sponsorship figures. Simply, we haven’t a clue regarding the Mayo figures. At a minimum the Mayo followers, the bedrock of the county, are entitled to those figures. Those are not the preserve of a tight coterie. Once fully fleshed out, who knows – maybe real help will come?

Currently we await the County Convention early next month. Just as the team secured its place as anvil hard against Kerry, with a poor referee and an unfair venue, the County Board go and makes a pig’s ear out of the subsequent managerial appointment.

Truly had this been a business on the stock exchange, the directors would have been fired. Like post-2010 we are in Groundhog Day once more. The serious graft, blood sweat and tears of the last four years by the players are once more enmeshed in County Board politics.

The Convention comes down to a simple choice really. We either continue the old ways, which is likely to result once again in brave boys reaching for the stars but coming short, or else we (the clubs and members) could decide to give a chance to new blood with fresh ideas, business heads entwined with Tír Grá, and set new standards and open new horizons for our players by utilising that new blood’s acumen and energy.

When he was involved with the county back in 2006, John Morrison stated that the most natural gifted footballers in Ireland hail from Kerry, Donegal and Mayo. He was correct. The first two won recent All-Irelands , we contested two of them. When a blue blood county resorts to firing an opposing player’s boot into the crowd, serially foul and depend on a benevolent referee to shepherd them into the final, it shows how Mayo have become a real force. Surely we deserve a County Board that reflects the players this county produces.

Please cast aside political alliances, clubs and delegates. Please elect men and indeed women who will break through that final frontier and help us to shove Liam O Neill’s caustic words down his throat. We deserve no less.

34 thoughts on “Stick or twist?

  1. I listened to newstalk last night, they were on about Kerry fella retiring at 30 with five allirelands in his pocket. They then named the best players in Kerry that are no longer playing, it was sobering. The thing that jumped out at me was that it’s mental strenght that get Kerry through the tough patches, and lately some dirt too. Paul galvin was interviewed too, he laid it bare for is all to hear. If you aren’t physical enough you will be beaten. I know we have some great lads on today’s panel but they are too nice, id love to name one or two but what’s the point? We can only hope Connelly tells them to start being a lot more aggressive and get that “dirt” into their game. If cooper or brogan are taking frees off the ground we too should run across the ball or do whatever it takes to distract the player.
    Listen to galvins interview, it speaks volumes.

  2. Dave, James Horan brought that “steel” into the Mayo setup. Wasn’t it Brolly that said it on the Sunday game in 2012 before the final, “that Mayo invented cynical play, and were masters of the dark arts” ? We were always classed as being “nice” footballers.

    If it was O’Shea that pulled the boot off of “Big Arse” from Kerry below in Limerick, there would have been uproar. Yet Kerry get away with numerous dirty tactics, anything to win. And all the “so called” pundits call it “pure” Kerry football.

    F**k it, I don’t care what our lads have to do (within reason) to win big lugs at this stage!

  3. John – can you make any connection between our failure to win an All Ireland over the past 3 years and the county board? My view is that we reasons we are losing on the pitch have absolutely nothing to do with the county board. That doesn’t invalidate your other arguments with regard to finances etc. However, it must also be argued that the current football development setup is very impressive in Mayo, reflected in our continued success at minor level.
    Make your arguments for the removal of the county board. However, don’t let anybody think that a brand new county board will lead to any change in our fortunes on the football field. And don’t get me started on who is actually going to take these wonderful jobs. The fact that anybody does the job is beyond me really..

  4. Mayo are physically and psychologically tougher than they used to be – thanks to James Horan – but there is still a way to travel before they become ruthless enough to win an All-Ireland.

    The only time in the years I’m following Mayo where they showed the necessary level of ruthlessness was the quarter-final win over Donegal in 2013. That’s not enough.

    The likes of Kerry pull out a performance like that almost every year. (This year’s Munster Final, for example.) We have a lot to learn from them when it comes to being merciless.

    An Spailpín put it best here: http://spailpin.blogspot.ie/2014/09/why-do-kerry-keep-winning.html

  5. John
    You outline a catalogue of ineptness by Mayo co. Board all of which are disappointing and disheartening and I do agree that we haven’t been well served by them. However, to imply that the board are responsible for the seven losses in all Ireland finals is stretching it a bit too far in my opinion.
    The nominations are already in for the convention and whereas there are several contests there will be very little change in personnel. The key positions of secretary and pro are uncontested. The truth is that clubs will only propose people for county board positions who are actually interested in going forward. The reality is that very few are wiling or able to serve on the county board. This seems to be our reality – the same as the weather – and we probably have to live with it and make the best of it. And I suspect it’s not much different in other counties.

  6. Mick
    That’s exactly it, we didn’t pull anyone’s boot off. To hell with the uproar, pull the boot off and fling it into the mayo section and let donaghy come looking for it, that’s just an analogy, but Mayo were pushed around by Kerry. And of course donaghy was left alone to look like a god, so frustrating for all mayo fans and players. Unless we learn from it we will repeat it.

  7. Had a Mayo player pulled the boot off a Kerry player and dumped it into the crowd it would no doubt, unlike in Limerick, be seen by the ref. What action would ensue? A Yellow card which would leave the Mayoman playing on the edge for the rest of the game? In any case throwing a boot into the crowd will not unduly upset a player who is mentally up for the game. Most top players have to overcome worse traumas during games such as making an error which gifts or costs a score.

  8. The missing ingredient is not an inept CB, or a lack of ruthlessness, or big arse’s boot, or biased referees…its a shortage of top class killer forwards. We are can compete with the best in positions 1 to 12, however, unless we unearth 1 or 2 more Cillian’s we’re going to continue to be confined to the list of also-ran’s…! Here’s hoping we’ll see some developments in this regard in 2015. Roll on the FBD !!

  9. ah john. the reason mayo have lost most all ireland finals is because that have been beaten by a bunch of more talented footballers. never a big fan of any of our county boards but until we produce 20 brilliant footballers the wait will go on . . . . . honestly really looking forward to next year already.

  10. what about number 3 , donegals michael murphy , and dublins bernard brogan not to mention kerrys kieran donaghy wont be having nightmares about the mayo number 3 next year . the three full fowards mentioned are big men and our full backs struggled to cope.i could mention a few other places where mayo got the match ups wrong but not today.
    if mayo think they are going to win sam by trying to out score their opponents they are dreaming.Even a half arsed boxer protects his chin.kilkenny hurlers are the masters of the sweeper system, and clare used it to good effect in 2012 also.both teams had perfected getting ahead in matches, to make this system effective.

  11. Not sure why people are still going on about our forward problem. Our full back line bar Keith were roasted in every game and our midfield were only average all year as well and got cleaned out by Kerry. So our main problems lie further back the field. Our forwards will score enough for us.

  12. Facetheball… you have it in one. Since 2006 every time a high ball goes into the Mayo fullback line i wince with whats to come. We need to sort out our fullback line for next year. when you are building a house you don’t start at the roof.

  13. I’m inclined to agree with Horan though regarding the full back position and high balls in to that area. If there is more pressure on the delivery of the ball in, i.e. if our midfielders/half backs and even half forwards are pressurising the kicker then the ball in will not be as accurate and therefore favour the defense. People seem to forget the damage that Donaghy did to Donegal in the final with both McGee and Gallagher on him at times. Also, from a tactical point of view, the suggestion that putting 2 men on a big full forward will negate the high ball into the full back position is just nonsense. That tactic leaves a free opponent unmarked out the field where he can roam into space unnoticed.
    Santanico Pandemonium re Johnny Crowley, I take your point somwhat but remember the Kerry forwards chipping the ball in to Crowley from 30 yards out unmarked? I do. The Kerry forwards could have tapped those efforts over the bar but instead chipped them in to Crowley.
    As for people saying a Mayo players should have taken someones boot off and thrown it into the crowd? Did no-one see Donie Vaughan firing the Kerry buck over the railings and on to his hole down by the sideline?
    We were beaten in Limerick in the first half of extra time. We were totally dominant throughout the field and 2 points up. Then the ref wrongly calls 2 frees against us in very scorable positions. These 2 points kept Kerry in the game when they were struggling. There is no other way to describe Reillys performance other than biased and bordering on corrupt. He allowed Donaghy to foul the ball (holding on to the ball without releasing for a Mayo free) without cautioning him, failed to send the Kerry back off, called 2 frees incorrectly as well as missing 2 Kerry fouls in the build up to the Colm Boyle “free”. Never “ticked” a Kerry man even though they all indulged in constant cynical fouling, e.g. running across the free taker, not releaseing the ball, throwing away the ball, 3rd man “cross-over” runs to take out a Mayo player off the ball etc. etc. etc.
    When the Kerry goal went in after being blocked down into the ground, then bounced over Hennellys dive from a deflection (he would have saved the original shot) and then caff slips on the line in trying to correct his position to save the ball, it certainly felt to me that not only was Reilly against us and O’Neill, but the Gods had turned on us also.
    There is only one way to put all this frustration to bed. Win the fucking thing.

  14. @ pebblesmeller, very true, those two frees were the turning point. A good friend of mine is a Kerry man and he says that the ref gave the game to Kerry; Mayo should have won.

  15. As I have said many times ‘football is a funny game’. I met a friend of mine from Offaly recently who knows more about football (including Mayo football) than anyone else I have ever met. He is almost freakish in his knowledge of the details.
    He made an interesting comment on our misfortunes: ‘ye have never had any bit of luck or any auld break in finals’.
    Made me think!

  16. Maybe that’s true but ya have to make your own luck as well. Sometimes when things aren’t going well for a player it’s up to him to put the head down, work hard and get on with it. Bar a couple of players in 97, 04 & 06 too many let themselves down the pitch. While luck helps, attitude & desire wins games.

    I don’t believe either that our defeats in 96, 97, 2012, 2014 were against better opposition. Poor decision making on the field by players, on the line by management and a couple of incompetent refs cost us dearly.

  17. I believe a lack of leadship on the pitch and on the sideline in the 4 finals referred to in an earlier post is what cost Mayo. AIs are not handed to anybody on the day.
    They are earned and the teams that step up on the day and grab the win deserve all credit. I include management here also.

  18. Ioo% Patriot. Look at the latitude Donaghy was given; nothing about luck there; poor decision making.

  19. Yes you make your luck but look at 2014 for example:
    1. Keegan sent off on poor advice of linesman Cormac Reilly – team utterly drained by the efforts of second half battle.
    2. Cormac Reilly appointed to ref game in Limerick
    3. Clash of AOS and Cillian at a crucial time in the game
    4. Failure by ref to send off Kerry defender after 16 minutes (which would have drained Kerry especially if they had to go to extra time)
    5. Costly refereeing decisions by CR throughout the game and two really dodgy frees in extra time to Kerry

    Sure you make your luck but it’s not always as simple as that either. In very tight games small things that go for or against you can make a world of difference and in our case this year those things have gone very much against us. That’s not to say that bad decisions weren’t made….they were but like bad play you’ll nearly always have a bit of that.

  20. The real killing thing for Mayo is that we never seem to produce our best displays in finals. We often produce really great performances but it never seems to happen in finals, why? Do we play the occasion rather than the game? Does the pressure of not winning for so many years weigh too heavily on finals day? Apart from 1996 we have never come close to putting in our best display on the biggest day. How do we overcome this? Alan Dillon is the perfect example. He has produced many MOTM displays, kicked some of the best points that any forward has kicked in Croke Park (remember the point he scored against Kerry in the drawn game this year, to name but one), yet on finals day it never happens for him which is a real pity for him. Maybe next year might be his year to shine. Even under James Horan, we reached 3 finals, 1 League and 2 All-Ireland finals. In those 3 games we conceded 6 goals and scored just 1. In the second-half of the 2013 final Andy Moran’s goal was our only score by a forward from play. In the 2012 final, a point by Richie Feeney in the second-half again was the only score from play by one of ours forwards. So we have deficiencies, up front and in defense and in midfield as well and not forgetting on the side-line too, on finals day anyway, again which is a real pity as Mayo really should have sealed the deal at least once since 1951.

  21. It was some effort for Vaughan to fling that Kerry tramp over the fence in Limerick while another one of them was choking Vaughan. Then David Moran in front of ref and linesmen punched Chris Barrett in the face, Chris was a sub but Moran should have walked, it was total corruption. Kerry have the hidden dirt down to a fine art, ripping at ears and pinching skin while pretending to break up the “fight”. I really hope we get to meet them for business late next summer, and not only have learned from that experience but continue to develop into the physical force they are becoming.
    I think a few more hard chaws up front would be no harm either, lads that have an edge and aren’t shy to use it.

  22. Dave it was actually maher.

    Cork got pushed around in an all Ireland final and heavily beaten on the scoreboard too. U may recall kennellys elbow to murphys jaw. Kerry have been doing it for years so put up or shut up. Anyway cork spent the following winter boxing training and came out and won the all Ireland the following year. Something our boys should be doing in the winter in my opinion …try see kerry try that shit then in 2015. Learning from others who were in a similar situation

  23. Today’s (Sat) Keith Duggan had an interview with James Horan. It was one of those standard Q&As. However near the end came the meat on the bone.

    Horan stated “But Mayo needs to be seen as a serious outfit. Mayo GAA Inc needs to be seen as a serious outfit and I am not sure it is at the moment. I am talking about the team , the county board, the Mayo set up; the juggernaut itself”

    He goes on to add “The team has a clear vision…not sure every thing else around it has”. That can be taken a few ways. Things are alright kinda and a bit of tightening will do or it can be taken as an indictment of a team advancing out of synch with its support network. I go with the latter.

    The article above my rudimentary positing has the Elverys Jersey launch . Now I am not a marketing guru but I can follow trends and the power of getting a message out. Coca Cola, McDonalds , Red Bull etc pump a huge chunk of their budget into advertising.

    The Mayo county board had O Shea, Keegan , McLaughlin and O Boyle on overseas international duty. Club commitments robbed Higgins and young Cillian of the trip. Was it a missed opportunity that those lads were not there for the jersey launch night. How about another opportunity with them in Australia plus Pearse Hanley in the jersey.

    Dublin with AIG hog the national press with their gear and players. As a top two/ three team how come we don’t. This is a missed opportunity for the Co board, the sponsors and our players. John Cuffe thumbing his iphone shouldn’t be having to think up stuff like that. A marketing manager like Dublins Tomas Quinn only some top Mayo player should be doing it.

    Horan speaks correctly of “Mayo Inc” and “the juggernaut itself”. I just wonder does everybody else currently associated with the top table in
    Mayo read from the same script? The upcoming convention is the ideal forum to update the clubs, delegates , press and followers in the area of sponsorship and fund raising and driving “The juggernaut and Mayo Inc”. This time the message comes from a man who knows the ropes, a man who brought the county four years of success.

  24. I made the same points here re the Cairde Mhaigh Eo launch a couple of weeks back, John. It’s not rocket science and it’s clear that it’s just one of very many missed opportunities to (a) unify the county – players, supporters, officials and generate a bit of positivity (b) hold a fundraising event and (c) generate some positive PR for the county board themselves, if they were so inclined. It’s basic bloody marketing that doesn’t even need a guru, and with all the goodwill that exists towards this fantastic bunch of players at all levels it should be an easy job, and you make a good point about providing good value for sponsors too.

    You know, given some of the commentary I have seen attributed to members of the executive since Limerick, and despite that I know for a fact that a number of them read this board, and surely have an idea of the discontent that exists among supporters, they seem content to dismiss those expressing it as some kind of sinister internet fringe. Now, where have we heard this before? It’s not like the criticism has been inarticulately expressed, nor has it been without constructive input. It’s also been pretty unanimous. Yet they appear perfectly content to ignore the problem and plough on regardless.

    It’s a poor organisation that won’t take criticism on board and try to do something to rectify it, but this is the sad state within which we find ourselves as a county, despite the fact that we have a superb team and an exciting new management team in place. Maybe there is more than we know going on in the background, but if there is, it’s being kept pretty damn quiet. Then again, we all know what happened to the Strategic Plan, so I’ll say no more.

    I’d love to see Horan involved with the county board, myself. He is a smart man with what appears to me like a good business mind, and knows what is required to make a board and county team work together.

  25. What is required to make it all work at co board level is very simple:
    1. Top class leaders with a real passion for Mayo football
    2. A shared vision that is inspiring and motivating
    3. A strategic plan that is simple, straightforward and realistic
    4. The right mix of skills
    5. Hard work and dedication

    And of course if you get No. 1 right the rest usually follows.
    And here is the core of our problem – given the way co board delegates are selected and the fact that nearly all of the energies of club members goes into keeping the club going day to day, how do we get the very best people serving on the co board? I don’t know.
    Perhaps a board could co-opt a certain number of members for a period? Maybe a board could appoint a full time paid ‘executive’ (costly I know but maybe they could actually generate their own wages through a professional approach).
    All I know for certain is, given the systems and structures we have right now, not much will change.

  26. Truth be told the last four years, we have been a very good side who should of won an all Ireland in a time when there haven’t been that many great sides with maybe Dublin the only exception,

    Dublin .. fantastic side two all Irelands without really showing up for our showpiece with them in 13.
    Under 21.. 10, 12 ,14 champions , scary talent coming through. No end of financial resources.

    Donegal.. good side but limited imo but still they have that one victory.
    Under 21.. finalists in 10 .

    Kerry.. in transition they said and rightly so but in their transitional period they have a Sam and were unlucky not to beat Dubs in 13 semi too. They will get better .
    Under 21, 08 champions , minor team this year was exceptional.

    For 2015 whats going to be add to the mix , i think we are looking at the same again with Cork and Galway to join in.

    Our danger is time is running out and we have not a lot coming through if we are to gauge it by under 21 level . On reflection although i’ll get slated in here for saying it , i believe Horan should of left in 13, we needed to freshen it up this year and mini rebuild of sorts . The thought of ”our ship has sailed’ might pass through our heads in 15 again i hope im wrong.

    ps them Galway bucks looked like Barcelona today.

  27. Yes Corofin totally outclassed Tubber. Cillan O Connor marked out of the game by a 34 year old Fitzgerald. Dillon tried hard and scored a good goal but he is like to retire from county football soon. Gibbons well beaten in midfield and i don’t think the two Corofin midfielders have even played senior county football yet?. 2-12 to 1-2 from play says it all really.

  28. I suppose the one silver lining from today’s result is that no Mayo players will be unavailable to play for the County team early in the new year due to club commitments. Last year we were without a good few players early in the season due to Castlebars and Kiltaines involvement in the club championship. So that means that Noel and Pat will have a full deck of cards to chose from, apart from any players who retire etc. So is there one final push left in this team? It now gives Cillian, Alan Dillon etc. a chance to rest along with the lads on international duty and the Castlebar lads like Richie Feeney, Barry Moran and Tom Cunniffe who were pretty much on the go all year. So now its over to Noel and Pat to chose the right players in the right positions. Best of luck to them! I heard one of the Irish Rugby players say, the key to Ireland’s success at the moment is no player is guaranteed a position on the team, if they are not performing then they lose their place on the team. He said that there are now pretty much two players of almost equal quality for every position on the team.

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