Stuff about Sligo

Our Connacht Championship opener is on this coming Saturday. Our opponents in this knockout provincial quarter-final draw are Sligo and the game takes place at their patch in Markievicz Park. The match throws in at 4.30pm on Saturday, Down’s Paul Faloon is the ref and it’s live on Sky Sports.

We’ve played Sligo a total of 56 times in the Championship, meeting them first back in 1906 and most recently in 2017. We’ve won 43 of those games, drawn five of them and lost eight. Our aggregate score stands at 102-520 to 48-367 in our favour.

On the Magpies’ home turf – not always Markievicz Park, by the way, we’ve played away Championship games against them in Ballymote and Tubbercurry too – we’ve won 16, drawn four and lost three of the 23 Connacht ties we’ve contested.

While we’ve won our three most recent Championship meetings against them – in 2017, 2015 and 2012 – they’ve a decent record against us at Markievicz Park since the turn of the Millennium. We last played them there in 2010 and you don’t need reminding what happened to us then. We beat them there by three points in 2003 but they beat us at the venue by the same margin in 2000.

That’s the history of matches between us. Of more relevance, though is what Sligo have been up to in more recent times. In summary, they haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire.

Winding back to before Covid struck, they began 2020 in Division Four, having fallen to the basement division at the conclusion of the previous year’s League campaign when they lost all seven Division Three matches.

Early last year after wins over London and Wicklow, they then lost to Wicklow and to Waterford. Just before the shutters came down due to the coronavirus they had a point to spare away to Wexford.

When the action resumed in October they lost their remaining two matches, away to Carlow and at home against Limerick. They finished up sixth in the table, well off the promotion positions.

However disappointing it may have been to miss out on promotion, worse was to follow for the Years County. A Covid outbreak in their ranks meant that, with very little ceremony, they were forced to pull out of the Championship, as Galway were given a bye into the provincial final.

It was rough justice on Sligo and you’d have to wonder if one the leading counties – ourselves included – would have been treated in similar fashion if they’d found themselves in the same predicament.

Fast forward to May this year and Sligo – with former Mayo selector Tony McEntee now in charge with them – were bracketed into Division Four North for the foreshortened League campaign.

They began positively, beating Connacht neighbours Leitrim by 2-19 to 0-18 in Markievicz Park and then losing by just a whisker to Antrim in a 3-13 to 3-12 shootout up in Corrigan Park. They were well beaten by Mickey Harte’s Louth in the third round, however, losing by 3-18 to 1-14 in a topsy-turvy match at Haggardstown.

I watched that game on GAA GO a few days after it was played – as prep for a chat on the podcast – and it was hard to know what to make of Sligo. Well in charge at half-time, they completely imploded after the break and were utterly unable to shackle Louth’s Sam Mulroy, their backline buckling completely every time the Wee County ran at them.

Loads of ball in that game went through the hands of Sligo captain Keelan Cawley at the back. He went off injured in the Division Four shield final against Wexford the weekend before last – a game the Magpies lost badly – and they’ll be significantly weakened if they have to face us without him. We’re not the only ones lamenting injury problems affecting key players at the minute.

By any measure, there’s a fair old gulf separating the two counties and we’re obviously very strong favourites to advance on Saturday. On home soil, Sligo will obviously give it everything but it would still be a shock of seismic proportions if we were to come away from the environs of Ben Bulben with anything other than a win.

Let’s, though, see what the mood on our side of the fence is about the contest. This one has to be played to a finish on the day so there’s no sitting on the fence option for it. Right, then, let’s be having you – will we win on Saturday?

Will we beat Sligo?

  • Yes (88%, 558 Votes)
  • No (12%, 74 Votes)

Total Voters: 632

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40 thoughts on “Stuff about Sligo

  1. On a slightly different point I have to say I find Mid-West’s post match analysis of our games very disappointing i.e. too short (all of 10 minutes). Surely they could do a bit better than that.

    In respect of Sky, worth noting that unlike other years where a basic Sky TV package would be enough to see the games, you now need to subscribe to Sky Sports. I genuinely feel sorry for older folk who might want to see the games but don’t have Sky Sports and surely it’s an arrangement that doesn’t chime with the ethos of the GAA….but so it is.

  2. Going by the poll it’s nice to see some sligo folk read the blog. Can’t see anything other than a simple straightforward Mayo win. Possible injuries are more of a worry than the result.

  3. I agree with you Spotlight about Sky Sports and GAA coverage. But it’s not only older people who can’t see matches 75% of the the population don’t have Sky and I don’t blame them for not paying up to 500 euro a year for stuff they have no interest in. Sky generated 751 million euro in Ireland last so they are doing nicely on 25%of the population.Showing GAA matches is just another way of getting people into the net.Ok for people who enjoy watching Premiership soccer or golf but it’s not for me.Ive no problem with pay per view as I’m just paying for what I want to see.

  4. I dont agree with Sky having rights to games and there is something very wrong with an amateur sport being behind a pay wall. In saying that you dont need Sky subscription to see the match on Saturday, it can be gotten on Nowtv on a day pass for 10 euro, yes twice the cost of GAAgo but no need for year long subscription

  5. I too have no interest in watching soccer, golf etc. on Sky. Thank God I do not have a problem with insomnia. I do however enjoy a pint or two so it’s in a pub I’ll be watching.
    On the Cillian injury we’ve had enough time to absorb the shock so let’s be getting on with it. There are too many mayo people saying how irreplaceable he is. Does that mean that we will be lining out with fourteen men? Hardly. He will be replaced and whether the replacement measures up we have to see. After all Cillian himself came into the team as a raw youngster just out of minor in the near debacle that was London 2011. Somebody will have the chance to measure up on Saturday, not as Cillian, but bringing their own attributes to the game. Telling them that they are not up to the job is not doing them or Mayo any service. Liam MacHale is the latest I’ve seen at it and while he may be doing a service for some lazy journalist looking for easy copy I can see why it was said a few years ago that Mayo players did not want him in the management team.

  6. Any update on the ticket situation? Is there any possibility of getting to any of these games?

  7. If I was part of the Mayo panel – the more people that come out and say we have no chance without Cillian – the happier and more motivated I would be to prove that we can play and stand up and be counted without Cillian been there.

  8. @Mayomad,thanks for the tip on Now tv,I’ll look into that.Im away camping at the weekend but would hope to see the game some how.
    @AndyD,tell us more about this mythical pub that’ll be showing the match!

  9. I’m guessing Andy D isn’t resident within the State. I too will be watching in the pub, across the waves.

  10. Well said Andy D,we have to cope without Cillian and we will,he must be one of the best ever Mayo players,but he is out so we have to allow some other player step up

  11. LiamMcHale was only giving his opinion one he is entitled too the same as everyone on this blog is entitled to his or her opinion. It’s no bad thing a former county player writing off our chances it takes the pressure off the lads no one expects them to do anything this year without Cillian and they won’t unless someone of the forwards steps up. Former Kerry footballers are past masters at talking up the opposition and writing their own team off deep down they don’t believe it of course but it helps take the heat off. Personally I think we will win Connacht provided Horan let’s the backs defend and the forwards concentrating on scoring if he doesn’t come up with a plan quick it will be goodnight in the Connaught final with respect to Leitrim and Sligo

  12. My stab at a team for Saturday

    Hennelly

    Hession
    Mullin
    Keegan

    Durcan
    Coen
    Brickenden

    Ruane
    Loftus

    Walsh
    McLoughlin
    Flynn

    O’Donoghue
    O’Shea
    Conroy

    Not 100% on the halfback line, so many options, could easily see Plunkett and/or McLaughlin starting instead of Brickenden, maybe with Coen going to midfield and loftus being left out.

    Enough there to win anyway

  13. FrostTHammer, I’d agree with your lineup. Think Loftus has to start now, he is an experienced free taker and had a decent season last year. It was probably not the plan to have AOS at ff but he will have to go there and lead the line in the absence of Cillian (another reason Loftus has to play, to feed AOS quality ball).

  14. Aiden has no business in ff. Defensive midfield is his best spot imo. Loftus is a better starter than sub. It takes him too long to get to grips with pitch if the game from sub. If diarmuid starts he is good long range freetaker from ground. Any news on him btw?

  15. @Frosthammer, yeah id be going with that team. But id 100% start McLaughlin over Brickenden.

  16. I fear without Cillian we may be totally rudderless up front with a lack of cohesion. I think he instils confidence in the lads around him . Lads are going to really have stand up in his absence . If we can get that out of them I think winning Connaught is well within our grasp.

  17. For all those wondering how I’m going to watch the game in a pub, pubs in my neck of the woods have TV’s in their smoking areas/outdoors. Plus they’re good GAA pubs even if they do tolerate the head the ball stuff. I’m not too far from NI either where pubs are fully open but I doubt if they would be showing Mayo v Sligo there with the Euros on.

  18. Sligo are unlikely to really challenge us, they have some good players but do not have the physicality to match us, and will not last if we play at the intensity that we can bring to the match. Sligo have a lot of young players but not enough experience to create a shock. I would think that it would be a disappointment if we do not win by at least 7 points,

  19. Frost hammer. I have to disagree with flynn and brickenden making that team. In the clare game we saw what very little a struggling for pace flynn had to offer. Mcgloughlin is streets ahead of brickenden in the pecking order. In 2020 we definitely found real championship players in Rod.conroy.mcgloughlin. and mullins. I cannot honestly give the name of a new upcoming find in 2021.

  20. @.MayoDunphy & @Craggy boglands
    I completely agree with regards McLaughlin. Athletically the lad is a beast, seems to get fitter the longer the game.

    I’ve no inside knowledge or anything like that to base this on but from the way Horan has been playing McLaughlin this year, I suspect he’s carrying a niggling injury.

    I’d probably also put Plunkett slightly ahead of Brickenden but IIRC he was left out entirely against Clare. Again I suspect injury.

    Regarding Flynn, Horan keeps persisting with him, and whenever Diarmuid isn’t named he seems to get that jersey. I think he offers something different to everyone else in the half forward line. Of the rest of our options, McHale is probably the one to impress most this year but again IIRC Boland is the only one who’s ever been named at 12.

    In summary I just feel Horan will persist with Flynn there, at least until Diarmuid is back and able to start

  21. I think Enda Hession is THE find of this year. He’s only had two games, but has definitely caught my eye. Towey should get game time now – his size is a problem,, but he has class.

  22. Yes Catcol and frost hammer. Towy is David nestor type forward. Talented but small and can we afford the luxury of having him in for frees alone. Probably not. Loftus may feature. On Hession yes he is now our typical corner back raiding forward but I prefer a more sticky Kenneth mortimer type corner back. We have 6 forward s to do the scoring. We don’t need loose corner backs..I want my corner back to stand his man up and dispossess him. But I do think Hession has a future just not as a corner forward.. IIRC?. Who is this frost hammer. Been trying to figure it out for an hour now .

  23. Hession has definitely shown well and merits consideration. Towey looks promising too but I’d need to see a bit more of him.

    Brian Walsh has been around for a while but I think he’s stepped it up a bit this year. He seems to have moved ahead of McDonagh on form. I still think we can get something from Boland too. He’s solid on the ball and is good for a score or two.

    Is Cian Hanley training with the squad at the moment?

  24. I don’t know why people say Jordan Flynn lacks pace. He’s quicker than Aido and Cillian anyway and at least on par with majority of intercounty midfielders. I’d be more concerned with his general play. Doesn’t seem very dominant in the air for a big man and tends to get blocked down a lot.

  25. Yes wide ball Aido and cillian are not blessed with pace but neither has to play at midfield. Aidan struggled in finals in croke park. But your quite right Jordan s ball skills and fielding are not good enough and the modern midfielder nowadays like matt y has to be mobile and after watching Jordan in the flesh countless times I can honestly say mobility is not his strength. Definitely I think boland has s lot to offer if given the licence to go forward and not all that square and back passing he was doing under Rochford.

  26. Hear what you are all saying there.
    I still think Flynn is contributing. When he came on against Clare, he blocked down a ball, got it away from a scrum and started the move that led to a brilliant point. I wasn’t a Brian Walsh fan initially, but he has come on in leaps and bounds. His defending and tracking back and engine are all major pluses. I loved the way he took that point against Clare – seemed to have no room, stood back and just tapped over.

    Also Kevin Mac is having a very good season so far – that experience is unmatchable. Wish I knew if we will be seeing Jason and Harry – they would really stabilise things.

  27. Im surprised how little Conor Loftus is mentioned by people when talking about possible starters. For me he simply has to start on Saturday. After Cillian he is our most experienced free taker and probably had his most consistent year in a Mayo shirt last year particularly seeing he was played out of position. Conor needs the next two games to get up to speed before Connacht Final, he is the best option available to Horan.

  28. I would like to see more of what Jordan Flynn can do. I’ve liked the look of him for a while, but I don’t think we’ve seen him in full confidence and flow.
    What I like about him is his solidity and his presence. For a young lad, he is strong and a little like a tree trunk – I feel when the ball comes his way, he’s odds on to win it. He can hold on to the ball and not lose it. I also think he has a good attitude. He adds strength around the middle and half forward line. That’s important especially towards the end of a game when people might be lagging.
    Make of that what you will – is that valuable?

  29. Agree with everything there Swallow. He got a couple of mighty points IIRC(!!) over the league. Of course more scores would be even better.

  30. : ) Catcol. Fingers crossed. It’s great to be looking forward to a game.

  31. Of the midfield option with Diarmaid out I’d go with Stephen Coen. He tends to do the right thing very often whereas Flynn and Loftus not as much for me anyway. True Loftus has ability to send in a killer ball but I think Coen’s decision making wins out. We have lots of half backs mad for a game.
    Also I prefer Boland in half forward to either Loftus or Flynn. For me he’s more often than not taking good decisions and good for a few points aswell. I think we need to stick with Hession in the backs, Clare game looked an improvement. He holds back a bit more than the other 2 and has plenty of football in him, maybe more than EOD.

  32. I don’t really see how people debate whether to play Conor Loftus or Jordan Flynn midfield, when neither of them are anywhere near the ability of Aidan O’Shea.
    O’Shea midfield and James Carr full forward. Sin é.

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