What’s worse? Listening to endless news about the global stock market meltdown? Or having to get out of bed before 6am to drive across the country to Limerick? The answer, of course, is both and, unfortunately for me, that was my lot this morning. Early mornings of this order no longer agree with me, certainly not in deepest January, but what with wolves and doors and the like, some things cannot be avoided.
So what’s going on, then? Not much, by the looks of it which is just as well as I’m being consumed by work at the moment. A quick perusal of the ever-informative Mayo News has yielded the information that, after all the experimentation in the FBD, a number of the more experienced heads could re-appear shortly, some as soon as Saturday’s challenge match with Westmeath at Ballinrobe. Sean Rice gives his usual run-down on who did well and who did not-so-well last weekend and Mike Finnerty provides his normal in-depth match report.
That’s it, that and the fact that the Fed has cut the US interest rate by three-quarters of a percent but the markets still don’t look too happy. Jeez lads, lighten up FFS.
2 thoughts on “Stock market turmoil, early mornings and the Mayo News”
Back in May last year, I made a fairly lengthy comment on the make up of a team that could challenge for an All-Ireland. The essential ingredients I suggested were as follows:
1. A good goalkeeper
2. At least 2 really tight man markers (neither of which were in evidence in 2007)
3. A real take-no-shit full back (also missing for 2007)
4. 2 attacking backs (evident at times but not consistant in 2007)
5. A take-no-shit Centre Back (missing in 2007)
6. A high fielder in centre field (missing in 2007)
7. An enforcer type of centerfielder (D Brady but a few years younger)
I left the jury out with the forwards, as there are several combinations that can emerge in a winning side. I’ll come back to that.
With a league campaign to go before we get to May 2008, how well has the gap closed on the needs identified last year?
Well, issue No 1 should be OK. We don’t seem to be stuck for net minders.
In Cafferkey and Cunniffe, Johnno seems to have unearthed a resolution to the man marking issue (issue No 2 potentially being addressed). A number of others such as Aidan Higgins, Conor Moran and John Brogan might also feature.
We are still in dire need of a full-back. Sorry BJ, you’re a fine footballer, but not a full back. Where are the 2 Kilcullens gone? And what about that young fella Stephen Drake who had a stormer at No 3 for NUIG against us in the FBD 1st outing? (5 months left to sort issue No 3 out).
(Jack O’Connor, when writing in the Irish Times about the Dubs last year made a point about playing good ball players at No 3 and No 6. He made a clear case for why it didn’t work. Pillar has taken note of this advice in respect of his No 6 – by appointing Collie Moran to the job – though I have doubts as to his ability to do the business. He has yet to take action to sort out his No 3. In BJ and Heaney, we were also making the same error. Let’s hope Johnno sees this problem and moves on.)
K Higgins as an attacking back was suggested last May and seems to have potential. Another attacking back is needed – maybe O’Malley could grow into this role (so we’re about 1/2 way to sorting issue no 4). Howley appears to have the credentials for centre back (issue no 5 looking promising). We could have an abundance of centre field talent this year with McGarrity being the high fielder. Barry Moran is a further option (issue No 6 being addressed). Young Seamus O’Shea is showing promise in the enforcer role (issue No 7). He is beginning to look like Seamus O’Donnell did at the same age and he developed into a hell of a centerfielder. (Boy wouldn’t it be lovely to see a man called O’Shea with Kerry blood in his veins deprive Kerry of the 3 in a row!)
And how about the forwards? Like other commentators, I have long since realized that we rely far too much on young Mort for too many scores. Also, any team with any sense of purpose needs power in front of goal. Look at Armagh at the height of their reign (McDonnell and Clarke) and at what Paddy Bradley did to us last year in Celtic Park. To say nothing of Donaghy the year before, though I don’t go for this “lamp it in high to the big fella” approach.
I can see either P Gardiner or P Harte as a wing forward, Dillon as another (or maybe at No 11). A Moran will also push for a place in the half forward line as will Alan Campbell and James Gill. The jury is still out on Austie or B Moran at No 14, but whoever is there must get an eye for goal. This is essential if we are to make waves. (Would there be a role there for DB or even for Heaney? God knows he has seen enough damage done by full forwards that he should have gained a few tricks by now!). The corners are getting potentially crowded with Mort (the younger), Mullins, Killer and T Mort all putting in a say. In addition, Benson is making waves and Ronaldinoson (!) is improving all the time.
So, where are we now compared to last year? Actually, we’re not in bad shape but we really have to be prepared to sacrifice the league to resolve the main issues, i.e. the No 3 and No 14 positions. So far Johnno seems to be following the Fianna Fail 2002 mantra “A lot done but more to do!” He has seven league games to answer the remaining questions.
This year, we should at least get to the last 12 (if we win Connaught, the last 8). The prize after that would be to get through the quarter final for a crack at Kerry before they get to their devastating best and who knows, a date with the Dubs on Sept 21st.
Bring it on!
Keep The Faith!
You’re on the ball as usual. Totally agree with everything there – the league has to be used to get a settled side for the championship and we’ve five months to get the fine-tuning done. At least there’s no election to cause any distraction this year!
I was staying in London with a friend of mine from Mayo last weekend and he was a bit surprised to hear me voicing some optimism about the year ahead but I do genuinely think it could be a good year for us. The draw we’ve got raises hopes for a nice old-fashioned Connacht campaign: late into the action against Sligo and then (DV, as the mother says) Galway (most likely) in the final at McHale Park. That could be a classic, now that Liam Sammon is in charge of them – so that they’ll be more inclined to play football again – and I think we’ll be a whole load better prepared than we were in Salthill last year (even if they still want to do it Ford’s way). As ever, though, a Connacht final against Galway could go either way.
I’d be hopeful we’d win Connacht and, to be honest, if we’re ever going to win Sam again, we really need to become the dominant force in the province over a 3-4 year period. If we can’t do this, can we really entertain serious hopes of going all the way at All-Ireland level? Look at Dublin – virtually unchallenged in Leinster (could we do this against such opposition?) yet still some way from landing the big one (though this year, they’re going to give it absolutely everything).
Every time we’ve won Connacht under the new set-up, we’ve reached the final and we are still the only Connacht champions since 2001 not to fall at the quarter-final stage. If we’re good enough to win Connacht, we should be good enough for whoever we draw in the quarters. Then, as you so rightly point out, the Kerrymen are likely to be waiting for us …
So, we need to get prepared. Like last year, the spine of the team needs sorting first. At least with Howley it looks as if centre-back might not be a problem and, as you say, we’ve options at midfield. I think he’ll persevere with Barry Moran at full-forward – he scored 2-2 there, don’t forget, in the two qualifiers last year – and I think he could do okay there this year.
I agree totally about BJ at full-back and have been saying the same for the last few weeks. What are the options? Kilcullen? Drake? If we’ve other possibilities at midfield, what about McGarritty? (The Brother has been touting that one for some time). I know Kevin Cahill clones don’t grow on the trees but there must be at least one or two serious candidates for the role. If we haven’t that position absolutely nailed down by April, I’m afraid my optimism about the Summer will be somewhat diluted compared to now.
As you say, Cunniffe and Cafferkey can slot into the corners, with the likes of Keith H, T Mort, Liam O’Malley, Gardiner and one or two more in contention for the half-back positions. Killer, Campbell, Mort the Younger, Dillon, Benson, Mullins, Andy M, Ronaldson, Austie and a few more are all in the frame in the forwards. Could any of them take on the role of centre-forward? Austie has got mixed reviews so far but at least it shows that Johnno is willing to experiment. Seven league games should be enough to sort that one too.
And what about the veterans? None of them have retired and they could (or at least some of them could) have an important role to play.
Questions, questions – now it’s up to The Politician to find the answers!
All the best