Students tops in shootout

Photo: @L0ftus21

The FBD League is traditionally a time for experimentation but, with almost the entire 2016 senior panel away on holidays at the minute, 2017 started this afternoon for Stephen Rochford and his selectors with the most comprehensive appraisal of fringe players seen for many years.

Given this, it’s not surprising that the county’s first outing of the year ended in defeat.  Few in the attendance of 3,246 could, however, have many complaints about the entertainment value in this afternoon’s FBD League tie at MacHale Park, which ended in a 1-21 to 2-16 victory for NUIG.

I wasn’t at today’s match – the FBD and me have never really taken to each other – so there’s little I can say about how it played out. Colm Gannon, though, was there and I’m happy to endorse what he says about the game in his match report for the Mayo Advertiser (here) and his post-match video piece (here) where he gets Stephen Rochford’s reaction to the performance.

The one point worth dwelling on, I guess, about this afternoon’s match (aside from the fact that the new jersey made its bow – it looked great in the photos: what was it like in the flesh?) was the amount of new blood on show. I make it eleven full debutants at the throw-in (rather than the ten reported – Brian Reape played in an FBD game last year but only as a sub) and six more off the bench. As has already been remarked in the comments, it’d be amazing if they all knew each other’s names, let alone be expected to play together in any kind of coherent way.

Rory Byrne in goals, Niall McManamon, Ray O’Malley and Donal Newcombe in the full-back line, half-backs Brian McDermott and Michael Plunkett, half-forwards Fionn McDonagh, Cian Costello and Fergal Boland, as well as Liam Irwin and Brian Reape in the full-forward line all made their full debuts for the county this afternoon. It says something about just how callow a selection we fielded today was that the quartet of grizzled veterans we put in alongside the skittish debutants comprised Eoghan O’Reilly, Shane Nally, Danny Kirby and Neil Douglas.

Off the bench came another clutch of newbies. From Castlebar Mitchels came James Durcan, from Kiltimagh came Jason Forkan and TJ Byrne (the latter following in his father Tom’s footsteps), from Crossmolina came Fionan Duffy, from Breaffy came Dylan Cannon and from Claremorris came James McCormack. It really was a day for blooding new talent. Fair play to the lot of them.

The downside of today’s result, of course, is that it closes the door for us in becoming Kings of January. Pah! Let’s leave that one to the Rossies, shall we?

Mayo: Rory Byrne; Niall McManamon, Ray O’Malley, Donal Newcombe; Brian McDermott, Eoghan O’Reilly, Michael Plunkett; Shane Nally (0-2), Danny Kirby (1-0); Fionn McDonagh, Cian Costello; Fergal Boland (0-4); Liam Irwin (0-3, frees), Neil Douglas (1-3, penalty goal and one free), Brian Reape (0-3). Subs: James Durcan for Irwin, Jason Forkan for Costello, Fionan Duffy (0-1) for Reape, Dylan Cannon for McDermott, James McCormack for McDonagh, TJ Byrne for O’Reilly.

57 thoughts on “Students tops in shootout

  1. Sounds like it was a decent run out for some of the aspiring members of the squad. That’s a decent score to put up in early January.

  2. Entertaining game, man of match Michael Daly well supported by Adam Gallagher. For Mayo, I thought Fergal Boland showed a lot of potential, took up very good positions in suport play, switched play cleverly into open positions on several occasions with long accurate foot passing and picked off a couple of good scores himself. Liam Irwin and Brian Reape looked good and it will be interesting to see how they progress.

  3. Boland, Reape, Kirby and Newcombe were our best players today and I think we will see more of them this spring. Adam Gallagher also had a great game and would be good to see him looked at again this year. Douglas was poor today and looked out of place in full forward.

    Is TJ Byrne still u21 this year.

  4. Yes the full forward line of 2014 minors Fionan Duffy TJ Byrne Brian Reape were all out today and are U21.

  5. To adapt the old song,

    We’re on the one road, sharing the one load,
    We’re on the road to God knows where,
    We’re on the one road, it may be the wrong road
    But we together now who cares,
    Westport, Ballagh, Cong or Ardnaree,
    We’re on the one road, kicking along, singing a Mayo song,
    Etc, etc.

    And so starts another year, fairly brightly even if without a win. It was an adventurous selection. Did those young Westport lads ever play for Mayo before? I can’t recall seeing them and I’ve seen most underage championship matches in recent years. All three of them acquitted themselves fairly well, esp. McDonagh and McMenamin.
    I was a bit disappointed with Douglas. Does he usually make a total hash of an early free? It’s not the first time I’ve seen him do it. Indeed the three eminently scoreable frees he missed were the difference between winning and losing.

  6. Danny Kirby, given a chance, seems to be the best footpasser of a ball since Ciaran McDonald. Just that he does not do it that often. A long ball into the corner of the small parellelogram late in the game today was worth the journey to see. I cannot say who fielded it but he hit the butt of the post with it which was pity as it deserved a goal. Some might say it was a fluke but I do not think so. Kirby had that moment of time and sized it up well.

  7. Boland was good took up a lot of good positions and carried a huge amount of ball plus kicked some lovely scores. Kirby was industrious in midfield his kick passing was brilliant at times. Think the likes of Douglas and irwin need more game time to really show what they can give. Hard take a huge amount from game without any of our starting 15 around but was interesting to see so many new faces

  8. I think Douglas is eager to make an impression but he needs to be careful that he’s not forcing it or trying to do too much. A few more games could see him settle and relax more.

  9. A decent run out today for sure.

    Boland and Kirby were Mayo’s best players by a distance in my view. I thought that Diarmuid O’Connor could cover ground but Boland may even have a bigger engine, and that’s saying something! Unreal, and he was the one taking the fight to Nuig towards the end, asking for the ball, – both defending and getting up the pitch for scores. That’s the attitude you’re looking for. He is going to really put it up to some fellows on last years Senior panel. I really like the cut of him.

    Kirby was teffific from start to finish. His goal was a gem – the move started by himself around midfield with a block-down/interception. I agree with AndyD that his footpassing is a massive attribute of his.
    I thougt Fionn McDonagh did very well – can take a score and has a good touch on the ball, good body movement.

    These are important matches. There are places up for grabs as always. It’s all about attitude now. Who wants it the most. Lots of positives to take from today.

  10. Boland was my Mayo MOTM today but I wasn’t remotely surprised to see it. He is smart and hard-working and tenacious as demonstrated more than once in last year’s U21 campaign and he is going to be massive for us in time.

    Agree with the consensus that he, Reape, kirby and Newcombe were our best four today and AndyD you’re right about that pass, it was sublime. Duffy got a peach of a point towards the end too. Great to see Adam Gallagher put in such a strong shift as well after the time he’s had. Hope to see him back in the green and red soon.

    Overall I thought that bunch acquitted themselves incredibly well under the circumstances and it was an entertaining game for the time of year.

    WJ the jersey did look great – I was a bit lukewarm towards it until I saw it on the litchbtoday but I think I’m sold now!

    Great to be back on the road.

  11. Very enjoyable game today, Boland, Kirkby & Newcombe most impressive for Mayo. But best Mayo player performance was by Adam Gallagher with great points from play, accurate foot passing and exceptional free taking. Would be a valuable deputy for COC on frees.

  12. Looking to the season ahead I certainly hope that the ‘pantomime’ surrounding Mayo football regarding press articles, rumours of cliques etc. is behind us. It’s stating the obvious but the only reports I want to hear about this year is of some success at national level – just like Dublin, win some trophies and let the football generate the talk.
    I think we need a good league campaign this year; winning a national title would give the team some confidence. It has been annoying that over the past couple of seasons we’ve got off to bad starts in the league and played catch-up. Have you noticed how Dublin, despite their success, still manage to maintain their appetite and consistency for the league? Time for us to do likewise!

    Peering ahead to the championship I would worry about Galway. They have us at home and I notice that a number of players are coming back to their squad this year e.g. Lundy of Corofin. The Galway game will define our season and if we were to lose then the qualifiers will be probably trickier than last year. I’m not being pessimistic about the Galway game but there can be no denying the gap has closed and last year’s victory plus home advantage and a stronger squad means we must be on the ball in June.

  13. That’s true, Galway will be better. They had a very bad day against Tipp last year, I actually would t look into that.

    They are good, but so are Roscommon. They put so much effort into the league they were burned out by mid-summer, then factor in the reality that management weren’t working cohesively. Mayo are still favourites for Connacht but we underestimate either opponent at our peril. I fancy us to pip Galway in Salthill, but there’d be one slippy primrose and blue banana skin waiting quietly for us a few weeks later.

    That Michael Daly needs to be carefully marked when we meet Galway at u21, he was the standout player today. It’s worth remembering that when Mayo beat Galway at minor 3 years ago, his sending off early in the 2nd half shifted the balance in our favour. If Mayo can limit Daly’s influence then it’ll go a long way to beating them. Having played against mountbellew several times I’d recommend putting a ‘talking’ defender on him!

  14. We need to look at having a proper go at winning the league, first and foremost.

  15. Really enjoyed the game lovely open football on a perfect day not a whisper of a breeze.
    I thought Kirby was my motm great hunger for the game . Boland was excellent in the first half but was in and out of it a bit in the second half i thought. Nally got two great points from distance in the second half.
    Adam Gallagher got one screamer from the far side must be 50 yards out near the sideline in the second half.
    Our backs were a bit disorganised but did ok considering they never played together before. All and all it was great entertainment for a tenner in the first week of January.

  16. I wouldn’t be to concerned about winning the league or not.the aim every year first and foremost in the league is stay up.circumstances last year could have sent us down.
    if we can find 2/3/4 players that can come into championship panel then the league would be a success.
    It will also be harder to reach a league final this year as the semis have being scrapped so a good start in the league for any team wanting to reach the final is a necessity.

  17. were All Ireland contenders now after today ! haaaaaa. I felt that it was a spirited performance yet all be it a tested side could of pushed on a little bit more towards the end as Stephen said . but a proud day for the lads and they’re families . Boland a star for the future that’s for sure. Down by five I thought they had it but fought back so full credit to them . five or so will start league games that’s for sure . the long road has begun and I for one can’t wait.

  18. Really enjoyed that game well done to all concerned. Boland and Reape were class and Gallagher’s contribution was the difference between the teams. Would like to see more of Plunket, McDonagh Byrne Irwin, Kirby. I was not impressed with the defending, but on mature reflection they done ok given they do not know each others game. Daly had a great game, but got acres of space. It was amazing how little marking we had on him. Now stick in Boyle or Keegan in there and what would happen. I hope some of these guys get league game time in Div 1 so that we can have a better assessment of where they are at. Finding a couple more players for Championship is where our focus should be not chasing trophies in April.

  19. Good to hear all the positive feedback from the first day out … cannot wait for the league. Colm’s video report is very handy. And most importantly the new jersey, which I absolutely hated when it was released, looks dead cool in the photos!

  20. Great crowd in excess of 5k I would say well done to all who came out. Near perfect playing conditions and the park was in great shape after the winter. This time last year we would say “Fergal who” and 2 or 3 years from now he could be a household Mayo.

  21. The downside of today’s result, of course, is that it closes the door for us in becoming Kings of January. Pah! Let’s leave that one to the Rossies, shall we?

    Not so sure about that WJ. Mayo with a stronger team next Sunday should beat Sligo IT by a large margin and then a win v the Rossies in round 3 could put Mayo top of the group and into the FBD final.

  22. The Mark should help Danny Kirby a bit. He doesn’t quite have that power to escape out of tacklers after he catches a kickout.
    He is a good passer of a ball. Elevates him slightly in our midfield selection thinking.

  23. Management performance IMO, fair.substitutions made verry late in game. Dubs made 6 subs in their game v DCU before before we had introduced our second sub in our match.
    Michael Daly key playmaker for NUIG in first half. Despite an extended pep talk at half time, Daly was rampant in second half.
    Warm up for subs, a few stretch exercises and out you go.

  24. So what are we saying lads? Did anybody emerge from yesterday who could be considered the new “great white hope” for us in the future?. Anybody up front who might kick the winner into the Canal End at around 5pm one Sunday this September?

  25. Not much difference will the mark make with the present state of things except extra burden for already over stretched referees. Better if they had concentrated on limiting their role….again, less can be more.
    Like to see Kirby being our big acquisition this year….I wish him the best and also Adam Gallagher.Pace is a must of course but not without intelligence and simple knowhow. But most of all we need to see the cuteness that comes into a team when near the top…not much in evidence up to now. Much huffing and puffing on display plus heroics but not that magic instinctive touch that clinches big day games. I’ll be on the lookout for that missing ingredient as time moves along. If anyone spots it will you please let me know!

  26. @OnThe Ditch.
    I take it this is some criticism of Mayo’s subsitutions?
    Firstly Dublins game was played with unlimited subsitutions allowed, so that comparison is null and void.
    Secondly, what else do you expect a sub to do? Retire to the training pitch nearby and do ball drills? ‘Warmup and stretch and out you go’ is the routine of every sub I’v ever seen come on with any team in Gaelic football.
    Plus mentally, with a young team, this is not the time of year or occasion to be making this into big stuff by the management. Sure it’s a chance to grab a jersey. But the tone has to be very much FBD in January.
    I thought management did a great job in constructing a competitive team that only met each other for the first time on Thursday evening.

  27. DoneDeal – aye, I’d be wary of pushing him in there too quickly – he needs to be given the time to develop. I’m certainly not saying he is our great white hope for this year though he may well play a part along the way.

    I thought NUIG were overall much more physical than us yesterday – a lot of our lads were quite light and were pushed off the ball easily at times. Not exactly surprising in fairness and very understandable – it also makes the performance and the result all the more impressive. I really thought the attitude and heart displayed yesterday was fantastic and Rochford was correct in saying they were a credit to their clubs and county.

    What about the pace on Cian Costello – for a lad who’s small in stature he can fairly cover ground! Would also like to see more of Fionn McDonagh in time.

  28. I’ve no idea, Anne-Marie. Sometimes this happens of its own accord, I’ll have a look under the bonnet now to see if there’s anything that might be causing it. For sure, you’re not on the naughty step!

  29. @jp
    We did actually make the same number of substitutions as the Dubs, all be it much later in the game.
    The Dubs constantly warm up their subs in rotation, on the sideline, during a match and in fairness so do Mayo on most occasions. As well as reducing risk of injury it has the added benefit of making the subs feel they are an integral part of the panel. Much more of a good feel factor than being left sitting on a cold bench for 70 mins.
    I expect management to apply the same proffesional approach to every Mayo team. Stephen Rochford did point out the high expectations of Mayo supporters. Those high expectations also apply to management.
    Mayo trip to S.Africa, u21 game v Derry were well flagged, so I dont know what the business of putting a last minute group together is all about.
    Every outing of a Mayo team has purpose. A large attendance at yesterdays match indicates that supportrs did not dismiss the game as only FBD.

  30. Re: “The Mark”

    I think I heard the lads in the media box yesterday were saying something about some confusion over it. I saw maybe one or 2 times where it could have been called. Only once I heard the ref blow for it, and I knew it was for the “mark” (short sharp blow of the whistle).

    I think the ref’s have more than enough to contend with during a match (including us in the stands!) without adding to their workload. Would have been better to try and sort out the black card rule I think.

  31. Cian Costelloe can change direction very quickly. About as quick and agile over short distances as you would see at county level. Could be something for late on in games when teams are feeling it and defenders can’t recover their ground to put a tackle in.

  32. Thanks all posters; great updates for those of us not present yesterday.

    Question: How did Shane Nally perform at midfield. I thought that was an interesting placing but he doesn’t feature much in dispatches.

  33. It’s probably no harm to keep an eye on our substitution policy. Remember last year in the Galway match in the second-half, the game was crying out for someone like Andy Moran to come on and perform a rescue operation as he did in Hyde Park against Roscommon in 2014. In the Kildare match as well we were getting well beaten in midfield for long spells and again our management team were slow to make changes.

    In fairness to Stephen in the Fermanagh game, Paddy Durcan was replaced by Donal Vaughan just before half-time and Alan Dillon was brought on early in the second-half to good effect in that match.

    Remember it was the players that Dublin have brought on in the last few years that have beaten us, so it’ll be interesting to see how our substitutions work out as the year progresses.

    Our player pool was very limited yesterday so it would be a bit harsh to make an judgement in this game but remember last year as well Diarmuid O’Connor should probably have been taken off earlier in the Tyrone match as he was really struggling that day and Seamie O’Shea probably should have been replaced sooner also in the drawn final as he was visibly tiring in the second-half which directly led to some miss placed passes. Something to look look for in the future.

  34. Shane Nally played a sitting role and didn’t venture forward much until we went six points and a man down. He started to attack more at that stage and scored two lovely points. He handled a lot of ball but didn’t seem to overly stretch himself. He gave a couple of booming deliveries into Douglas who could have made better use of them.

    Thought it was probably his best game so far but that would be expected give his experience compared to most of his teammates.

  35. James showed a keeness to gat on the ball. He will benefit from strength and conditioning but similar mould to Patrick. Had a goalchance at the death but narrow angle and good save.
    I hope we see more of him

  36. Thanks OTD – have had my eye on him since club semi against Crokes. He destroyed them in the last 10 minutes. Think it’s significant that Rochy is trying him out even though Mitchels don’t alway start him.

  37. I would agree with that. Patrick made major progress throughout last season and James is capable of the same. Its all about self belief for James as he has a brilliant attitude. Keep watching him, I hope he gets a start in FBD Game.

  38. I think if James Durcan has a good attitude he will benefit from a couple of years with the squad. He did not get much time yesterday to be fair to him but he could be worth preserving with. I agree with Rochford that performance was a credit to all involved. They should have been beaten by more but they were stubborn enough given all their mistakes

  39. Over the coming weeks I believe Stephen Rochford will be desperately looking to identify two types of forward:
    The first will be one blessed with speed! An individual who can strike at the heart of a defence and cause panic with their sheer pace and power. Was that player present on Sunday? …. yes, but unfortunately, in Damien Comer, he played for NUIG. Above all else, Defenders hate playing against speed!
    The second forward that will be required will be one who brings that sprinkling of ‘magic dust’. A player who is completely at ease with the ball and uses it intelligently. Will Stephen find such a player over the coming weeks?? Only time will tell, but i’ve a feeling that with the current crop of u21’s he’s in with a good chance of striking gold!

  40. Magic Dust – to concentrate on forwards, if I was to pick the speedy player I’d be going for Loftus. If the player who will use the ball intelligently, that’s Boland for me.
    Both of the above showed these characteristics at under 21 last year and Boland I think has a great future ahead but needs some S&C.
    Under 21 is different from Senior Intercounty, so that transition is easier said than done.
    While I do think that Irwin is a player for the future but both he and Fionan Duffy are not blessed with speed, and we already have an abundance of slow forwards for them to compete with for a place on the Senior team.
    There are others from the under 21’s like Reape and Plunkett that are worthy of consideration but for me the standouts from the under 21 forwards last year were Boland, Loftus and Irwin.

  41. Plunkett is good in a roving role. He had two points and the pass for three goals in the u21 final.
    Irwin and Duffy might boost up a bit in speed as they get fitter. Will never be quick but fitness will add a yard o speed.

  42. Plunkett was impressive in the Semi Final vs Dublin in Tullamore also.
    Irwin is certainly a strong talent and he’s not far off a starting place on the Senior team now, but I just think there are others ahead of him for a starting spot. He would be an able replacement if Cillian was injured though. Great free taker, has an eye for the posts too.

    I’d like to see Adam Gallagher get another shot at the Jersey also. He has been unfortunate with injuries in the last couple of years but I expect his performance last Sunday will have done his chances no harm at all.

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