The Banner binder

Next Sunday in Ennis ourselves and Clare face off in the Division Two semi-final. There’s no divisional final place on offer for the winners of this tie but a bigger prize awaits the victors as they get a slot in Division One of the National League for 2022.

The match at Cusack Park throws in at 1.45pm on Sunday. TG4 are broadcasting it live and there’ll also be live radio commentary on Midwest. Niall Cullen of Fermanagh is the ref for it.

It’s nineteen years since we played the Banner County in the National League. For a few years around the new Millennium Clare and ourselves were together in Division 1B and we met four years in succession during that period.

We drew 0-9 apiece in Ballina in 1999, they beat us by 0-13 to 0-9 in Kilmihil in 2000, we beat them by 2-14 to 1-9 in Castlebar in 2001 and we thumped them by 2-19 to 1-6 in Ennis in 2002. That game in Cusack Park was our most recent League meeting.

We’ve played them much more recently in the Championship, of course, as our paths crossed in the qualifiers in 2017. That’s the only time we ever played each other in the Championship and a memorable day that was in July that year, with Cusack Park filled to the gills and the weather perfect. It was a real belter of a match as well, which we won by 2-14 to 0-13.

That’s the history lesson but, in considering the challenge that Colm Collins’ Clare are likely to pose for us next Sunday we need to look at their more recent record.

Last year’s League campaign for them was only so-so. They won three and lost four matches in Division Two, narrowly avoiding the drop to Division Three.

Defeats to Westmeath (away) in Round 1, to Roscommon (away) in Round 3, to Laois (at Ennis) in Round 4 and to Armagh (at Ennis) in Round 7 were balanced by victories over Kildare (at Ennis) in Round 2, over Cavan (at Breffni Park) in Round 5 and over Fermanagh (at Ennis) in Round 6.

That 1-14 to 0-15 win over Cavan in Breffni Park just before the Covid restrictions came into effect was a crucial one. The two counties finished level on six points but the head-to-head rule meant that Clare stayed up while Cavan fell to Division Three.

Clare’s Munster Championship campaign last winter was short and not at all sweet. On the first day of November they went under in a quarter-final tie to Tipperary, losing out at Semple Stadium by 2-11 to 1-11 to the county that would then go on to claim a shock provincial title down south a few weeks later.

Bracketed in Division Two South for this year’s League, Clare won twice and lost once. In Round 1 they beat Laois by 1-16 to 0-12 at Cusack Park and then backed this up in Round 2 by going to Newbridge and coming away with an impressive 1-13 to 0-13 win over Kildare.

While they lost at home to Cork in Round 3, that 0-22 to 1-18 defeat meant that they edged out the Rebels on points difference in a congested table that saw themselves, Kildare and Cork all end up on four points. Kildare came out on top by virtue of their +14 points difference, with Clare joining them in the semis thanks to their +9 number. Cork, on a points difference of +5, finished third and so must now face the rigours of a relegation play-off this coming weekend.

With Division One having been our natural home for over twenty years and having won three games from three last month to top Division Two North, we’ll obviously go into Sunday’s promotion decider as strong favourites. Clare have, though, shown their mettle in this League campaign to date and in a one-off tie with a major prize at stake we can expect them to give this game everything they’ve got.

There’s another reason why we should anticipate that they’ll do this. That’s because two weeks later they’re playing Kerry in the Munster SFC quarter-final and that’s a game they’re all but guaranteed to lose. They’ll know this too and will, no doubt, figure that our match offers them a far better chance of securing a tangible return for their efforts in 2021.

From our perspective, that makes this one a tricky assignment. We’re expected to win – and should do so – while they’ll go into it utterly unburdened and with nothing to lose.

It’s a tie that has to be decided on the day, with extra-time and, if needs be, penalties to be used to find a winner. I doubt it’ll come to that and while I do expect us to prevail, I doubt we’ll have it all our own way at Cusack Park.

What, though, do the rest of you think? Let’s finish with a poll to see what the mood is like.

How will we do against Clare?

  • Win (86%, 444 Votes)
  • Lose (10%, 53 Votes)
  • Draw (4%, 22 Votes)

Total Voters: 519

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27 thoughts on “The Banner binder

  1. Clare are a tough bunch. Teak tough guys from West Clare. Football in Clare is very very physical. I should know. I played there for a number of years.
    They will go at us hard. They have a number of really good footballers, and a few right out of the top drawer. But that’s the point. They only have a certain number. They don’t have the subs or panel to match ours.

    We have to come out of the traps full belt on Sunday, and at least stick with them for the first half. Don’t fall into the trap of reacting to bad fouls etc. Avoid red cards. Then the second half, bringing in fresh legs, we will kill them. That was more or less the trend in the championship match last time we met.
    I am 100% confident … as long as we don’t underestimate them.
    ‘Mon Mayo

  2. I live on the clare /Galway border.collins will have his team primed.must not take them for granted.

  3. While the Clare game is top of my interest list this weekend I am at a loss to understand why the ladies game gets so little interest on this site. Last weekend they were the only show in, or out of, town yet only we can count on the fingers of one hand the number of comments on their game here. It’s not as if they are fringe players on the county scene either. They are consistently up there among the contenders and have been since winning four All Irelands [remember them?] at the turn of the millennium. It is not just a lack of apparent interest from the men that intrigues me. The lack of interest from women puzzles me even more. That particularly so since playing interest in the game and county team membership is so widespread around the county unlike hurling / camogie where action is very confined and localised. Ladies, in particular, speak up and explain yourselves!

  4. Andy D, How do you reach the Ladies. A perennial difficulty Was it Ciara Buckley who had the quest slot not so long ago. Maybe someone has a master plan?

    I remember watch tne Ladies play on TV in John Maughan’s pub when they were winning and there was little or no interest. The young girls are their main supporters and maybe they have another forum.

    I could seebthe game pan out as Claremorris predicts but a couple of goals before half time would be nice too. I recall Liam McHale advising caution many years ago as he had coached them. Thankfully we have Cillian and Aido when needed.

  5. Ciaran 2,
    What do you mean by “how do you reach the Ladies”?
    Apart from this site which does give reasonable coverage to the Ladies although it is not the site’s main interest, the RTE sports website gives all details of fixtures, results, tables etc as well as covering the main talking points nationally. I presume they have their own website too although I do not use it. Mayo local papers give them good coverage too so I cannot see what your problem is.
    Your comment of the lack of interest in the game on TV in John Maughan’s pub just illustrates my point about the lack of interest in Ladies football. As I have often said the standard matches that of the men’s game and often exceeds it in entertainment terms.

  6. Andy, Thanks for reply. I was speaking tonque in cheek. Perhaps, someone would give me the word I am looking for. Where one speaks about one thing but meaning another.

    Naturally, I can’t very well speak for the ladies and what they should do.

    All Good Wishes,
    C2.

  7. AndyD, my own thoughts on the lady’s football is, like all sports, you have to have a connection with the team. I followed the four All Ireland winning team because I knew some of the players, would have been able to recognise most of team and well they were winning 9 times out of ten. It’s a lot easier follow a team that’s winning All Irelands and this current team is new, young and I’d be hard pushed to name that many of them. That’s not there fault and is fully my own but I’m just trying to explain why the poor following. I know you say the current crop are competing at the top table but are they really! Beating galway recently was a notable scalp and they have definitely turned a corner but they are down the pecking order for been in contention for any honours. Anyway I’m glad they have put the recent troubles to one side and appear to have really gelled as a team and hope they go out and give Dublin a real belly full of it at the weekend.

  8. Next Sunday… In Ennis, we will have a number of Gaelic Football scoring record breakers on view.. The all time highest scorer in the championship including the single highest score by a player in a championship game last December, V Tipperary, Cillian O’Conner. We will have the all time highest scoring defender in the championship , Lee Keegan on view..We will have the all time highest scorer in the league on view, none other than Clare’s very own David Tuberty…It would be a good question in a few years time for a pub quiz, if any of ye with long memories can remember what the inside of one of those establishment’s looked like. Last night as I lay dreaming of pleasant days gone by.. I dreamt that I was back again in a pub beneath the Sky, .. The moon wasn’t shining in old Mayo, and the drizzle mopped by brow, .. no talk of tickets, or where to park in Ennis.. But it’ll have to do for now.

  9. In an earlier post I speculated on the venue for the Mayo v Dublin Ladies semi final with the suggestion that somehow the authorities could find a way to fix it for Parnell Park. But no, I see its fixed for one of our favourite grounds ………..Limerick. With all of the possible venues between Dublin and Mayo they come up with ………… Limerick. At least not too many spectators will have to bother. And unlike in 2014 there is a motorway for most of the journey.

  10. Yes Andy … Limerick wont bother the Mayo team. I can see your point re comments or interest in our Ladies Team . .
    I’m involved in coaching in both underage LGFA and GAA …( not in Mayo) Ladies football is heading in the right direction . I think its more entertaining game to watch than the mens game with the kick out from the hands , the pick up , it’s a faster game .
    Unfortunately I see it still in a lot of parents, that they show far more interest in the young bucks training and matches than their daughters..
    This is probably the basis of the problem but as I said it is changing. Lidl are doing great help promoting and sponsoring the game …
    Numbers of girls playing are huge around the country and growing annually..
    I also believe that Mayo ladies will win an all Ireland in the next 3 years .
    Keep the faith Andy …

  11. Really looking forward to this match as it feels like it’s the first one back with some real bite in it. Has been great seeing the team back playing, but getting back to Div 1 is a key goal for the team and could really help with the brining on of the new lads showing potential next year. Hopefully we pull it off!

  12. Very likely we will need to play this one as close to championship/full strength as possible. As in all fairness its likely to be the last decent test we get until the connaught final, as well as the small matter of promotion being on the line.

    Some of our lines really beginning to settle and take shape now, i think our ff line and midfield are set in stone.
    There are still very much place up for grabs in defence and half forward line so i guess its what JH sees in training that will determine that. I would have liked to see a new goalie tried out in at least one half of football but that position seems to be a closed shop and im a broken record on it.

    Think AOS will probably be named in half forward line somewhere but will drop back to form 3 man midfield with DOC and Ruane who have been forming a really good partnership

    My stab at team for sunday (and also first round of championship)

    Hennelly

    Hession
    Mullin
    Keegan

    Durcan
    S Coen
    EMcLaughlin

    Ruane
    DOC

    McDonagh
    AOS/Kev
    Boland

    Conroy
    Cillian
    Ryan O’D

  13. @Supermac What would you think of the mantra of your best players in the central positions? So Paddy Durcan being at 6.
    Not to get carried away but is there a stronger 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 14 in the game than Oisin, Paddy, Matthew, Diarmuid, Aidan and Cillian?
    Been watching some Laochra Gaels lately.
    Just a common theme of all Ireland winning sides being very strong in all the central positions.

  14. Yep this will be a tough game alright.
    It’s the one fixture I didn’t want. Partly because I have a lot of time for Clare and the advances they’ve made on the football side of things, but also because a trip to Cusack Park is never easy. Kerry have found that out in recent years.

    WJ is right when he says this is a huge game for Clare and will define their year.
    Imagine the filip it would be for them to be playing Div 1 football next year, it’ll bring them on hugely.
    They’ll be treating this game like a championship fixture, we need to do the same or we’ll come unstuck.
    I think we will though, it’s very rare that we’re ever complacent when James Horan is in charge. Mayo by 4 (and then Clare to hopefully gain promotion next year…).

  15. We have not been really tested to date and JH has experimented with lineups . This helps develop and keep players motivated but does not lead to good cohesion. We need to be developing a more settled lineup, improve our team defensive play and cut down on turnovers. Hope we are tested by Clare but we should have too much for them if we hope to be a contender come championship.

  16. Think James Horan will have a change of plan for the upcoming matches. In the past at the end of important games his experienced one’s were up in the stand at the end. I’m now think players like AOS ,,Doc and Boyler will be on the pitch for the last 20 min not the start. Cant see him changing the system. So maybe let the young tire the opposition,then let the experience take over.

  17. @jp my thinking on moving paddy to wingback is that i like my number 6 staying at home as much as possible and blocking up that center of our defence, which teams have been walking through for goals.

    Coen at 6 might be the more pragmatic option,Thats no slight on Paddy, who has become argubaly our best player pound for pound, would also free up durcan to attack at will from his preferred number 5 position

    Agree with some of the posters above who suggest holding back some of our experienced players til the 2nd half of games to guarantee a big finish, its been an issue for years now where we have been finishing games with much weaker teams than we started with. Holding guys like AOS/Boyler/Kev back on bench til the last 20 should seriously be looked at, at least up until the connaucght final

  18. I hope our fellas don`t regard this as a handy one. If you don`t do the work at the start you have to do
    twice as much at the end to bring it back.

  19. The idea of a late charge with heavyweights coming off the bench is great but I think you’ve got to go out with your strongest line up, or close enough to it as you can. When Dublin run their bench they do have amazing players to call on, but it’s never really been a tactic of theirs to actual weaken the starting XV from what I’ve seen. Hopefully we’re getting into a position where our bench is getting stronger

  20. Ladies football in the county is very healthy from what I see. I’ve seen crowds as big as men’s club games in Hollymount, Swinford and Carnacon for ladies games.

    The fact is the men’s game is more popular and that’s the case across all sports around the world with maybe the exception of women’s soccer in the US although that is changing with interest in soccer growing over there.

  21. I’d definitely see the advantage of having such a strong spine to the team, and Paddy is arguably our best player right now. But as supermac says, Coen is our best bet to tighten up our leaky centre when teams run at us.
    I can think of no better sight than Durcan raiding up the field from wing back, safe in the knowledge that Coen is there protecting the back line.
    Coen is one of our unsung heroes, and only getting better.

  22. I don’t know why people always focus that subs should be the last 20 mins. What’s wrong with Aidan OShea at the first water break? He plays 15 mins and gets all of halftime just as he’s building up any lactic acid. He comes out for the second half fresh. I don’t believe in playing our 31 and overs for all four quarters of the game.
    When Kevin McLoughlin goaled against Armagh he only had the pace to do so because he came on in the 30th minute of the game.
    Aidan OShea played for the last 3/4s is more effective than Aidan played for either the full game or the first three quarters or the second half or the last quarter.
    Similar I don’t think Lee or Kevin should go four quarters versus the top teams.

  23. As a Mayo man living in Kilkenny for most part of my life and always supporting Mayo No 1 and Kilkenny No 2. I check this Blog every day. Mayo are hugely admired as lovely footballers here and in many counties. There has been huge support for Mayo to win an All Ireland but people wonder why they have not been able to get over the line. That includes Brian Cody who I often meet and he always brings up Mayo football. Indeed he did give pre match talk to team in john Maughans time in charge. Two areas he had often mentioned . You must put your best team on the field. You must play till final whistle.

  24. Clare preview podcast episode is now online, with Mike Finnerty, Billy Joe Padden, Ger Flanagan and special guest John Maughan.

  25. I dont buy into the idea of holding some of our top players like AOS till the final 20mins, what happens if we are 6 or 7 points down at that stage? It’s a myth that Dublin plan on finishing with their strongest team, they always start with with their best team, you dont see Fenton or Con coming off the bench. The start their strongest team, it’s just that their subs are close in quality to the starters so they have a big impact at the end of a game. Up to now Mayo haven’t had that luxury, we never had a bench strong enough to impact games but that looks to be changing, we are developing real strength in depth. We have to keep starting our strongest team to keep us in the game up to that final quarter, we just have to develop the quality needed from the bench to get us over the line. Holding players back isn’t the answer, no point bringing AOS on when the game is already lost

  26. I think you have hit the nail on the head Mayomad. It would be madness holding AOS off. If when tired he’s a great outlet to catch a ball when we need him, plus I think with Hennelly in goal they have a great understanding.
    There is no doubt the squad depth has improved drastically since the 2017 final where David Drake a corner back was brought on for Jason Doherty. My only reservation about Horan “blooding” these players (and a slight reservation at that) is that are they getting a proper run of games to bed in to intercounty football? Instead of giving 12 players game time would he be better giving 6 lads double the game time to properly bed in to intercounty football? When we see the likes of Brickedon, Flynn, Doyle,Orme and Hession getting flashes of game time but not a proper chance. The same could be said for the likes of James Carr and Darren Coen who have got a successive run of games behind them in a long time for different reasons

  27. @clubman51.. ‘If when tired’ what about when Aiden is tired?, Seems to me to be the final quater, that Aiden tires noticably… Big difference between giving the ball to Aiden to hold onto a nice lead in the final quater, or giving the ball to Aiden to chase a few scores when we are a few points behind.. If Aiden were fresh coming on he could do serious damage to the opposition.. Personally I would like to see Aiden tried at sweeper minding the D, also giving a bit of licence to Lee Keegan and Oisin Mullin to attack from deep, while still having some protection should the move break down to stop a killer goal against us.. Also I think that the position is a little less taxing physically than Midfield or CHF, and a much better chance Aiden could finish the game out with sufficient energy..

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