The day before

It’s nearly upon us. The start of yet another championship campaign and all that’s currently unknowable about it set to be revealed, episode by episode, for as long as we’re involved in it.

It’s the same every summer but in recent years we’ve become accustomed to our county being one of the central characters in the championship’s main plot-line, in the thick of the action all the way to the bitter end. While we’ve yet to experience the desired for happy ending we can’t complain about the great times we’ve got to enjoy along the way.

Tomorrow it begins all over again. Right back at the start, with no guarantees about how this one will play out for us and with the toughest of opening tests facing us.

The day before big games I’ve usually gone far beyond taking in any of the coverage that’s available about what’s to come. By this stage I find that it’s too late for words – the stuff I scribble here is little more than a kind of therapy – with thoughts instead turning to the practicalities of the day ahead.

Such as – where’s my retro jersey? It only comes out for championship matches and so I need to locate it before the day is out. Ditto the flags. Don’t forget to print the ticket. What time should we leave the house tomorrow? Where should we get the spuds on the way? Stuff like that.

The one bit of coverage today that I did look at and which is worth reading is a piece in The 42 by Fintan O’Toole (here) about the late David Gavin from Breaffy. At times like this, when many of us can think about little else but the big game, it’s worth bearing in mind what’s really important in this life.

Right, now for those practicalities. Back with some final pre-match thoughts tomorrow.

90 thoughts on “The day before

  1. It’s probably casuse the other provinces are dead ducks and due to the national media coverage… this game really has taken on a feel of a contest in late August or even September… i have to keep reminding myself it’s a connaught 1/4 final… not even a provincial decider. I have every thing that is possible to cross crossed in the hope it’s the August Mayo that turns up. If it is…I think we’ll squeeze past them by 2-4 points.

  2. Nerves setting in now big time…how must the players feel?. Forecast not good for tommorow, which will suit Galway’s Ulster style of play. Very hard to call the winner. We need to them with high balls like Tipp did in ‘16, Kerin is a walking advertisment of small man syndrome, throw Aidan in there now and again and pump it high, have Andy and co sniffing the breaks. After all, the best way to get past a wall is jump over it…

  3. 5 pts the gap between the teams in February. Difficult to say how much of that gap will be closed by tomorrow. Having Andy, Tom, Seamie, Keith & Chris back alone must be worth at least 3pts to us. Surely a lot of work has been done on our defensive system to take 1-2 pts delta off the Galway attack. So it comes down to how well the rate of improvement of all our other players who take to the field compares to Galway’s rate of improvement. One would think that we would have had more upside potential than them from where our players were at 3 months ago.

  4. Couldn’t agree more Wille Joe. Worth reading surely. Mayo by a nervous 2 points.

  5. The detailed weather forecast for Castlebar, tommorow afternoon is… Tempt.. High 15oC, Low 13oC….real feel 13oC….. Wind,. SSW, 15..KPH…Gusting to 22..KPH.. Perceptions,.. 60%,..Chance of a shower or two…. So a reasonable day by all accounts, which makes a huge difference to the last two times we played Galway in the Championship… Expecting a dry and cold night tonight, so the pitch should have good underfoot conditions…. So unlike recent championship match’s between the two team’s, looks like it WON’T be raining cat’s and dog’s,.. Just GOAL’S & POINT’S for Mayo…. And I can assure you that Galway won’t be singing in the rain

  6. No quarter should be given tomorrow. Bout time a marker was laid down with these fellas

  7. So Galway fan’s, you now know that ye won’t be singing in the rain in Castlebar, and I don’t know if any of ye sing in the ‘Shower’ or not,?… I suggest that if ye want to sing in the ‘Shower’… Have a’ Shower ‘at home in Galway &. Sing there, while ye are still in a good humour, before you set foot in McHale Park, Castlebar!!… Safe driving everyone!

  8. On what’s worth reading Willie Joe, not sure if it’s paywalled, but Keith Duggan’s one sentence (one very long sentence) column on the championship is a classic.

    Also, just looking at the Leinster lineup for Bilbao, they have 5 or 6 over 30s, including Nacewa who is 35. So there!

  9. I feel this game will define our season, so it has huge significance. We are in for a real test. No reason to expect other than Galway will have improved considerably in five weeks since league final. I would be most concerned about our full back line Harrison a big loss, and replacements for Seamus o Shea And others will have a huge role to play.

  10. Lean times, a special song by Don Williams dedicated to Mayo – “How much time does it take to get it right
    How much time does it take to get along
    Well you worry me about it day and night
    How much time does it take to get it right… Now, I’m off to rummage in the hostess for my retro “3-in-a-row” jersey.. Lol

  11. Read on don’t foul that in the last 2 championship defeats to Galway we hit 28% from play! Probably the worst 2 performances since 2010. Can’t see it happening again tomorrow.

  12. After all as said and done , the only thing most of us here can bring to the table is support , noise and more noise . So let’s keep our end up , absolutely scream the house down tomorrow let Galway know they are in County Mayo . We can drive them on , they have connected with the fan base like no other team before , they have put so much pride in Mayo , this is the time we make more noise.

  13. I think Harrison and Barrett will start tommorow, instead of Cafferkey and Loftus, just a hunch not a rumour!!!.

  14. I see Keith Higgins has been named as a sub on the hurling team according to the match programme.

  15. @Man of Aran, .Did you say , you have yer own ‘Hostess’.to rummage in ??? My word, we can’t compete with that in Mayo…. Oh ‘Hotpress’…I see you mean… Probably need Google Map’s to find the Three in a row, Jersey on it !…. The Galway jersey don’t get too many airing’s, not like Mayo supporter’s, they never need to rummage for the Jersey, they get great use of the Replica Jersey in Mayo.

  16. Gorging on the preview literature in the airport. First of (hopefully) many trips home this summer to follow the lads. A heady mix of excitement and nerves at the minute – may need a beverage later to salve the system.

  17. Thousands of tickets remain I’m hearing , that’s mad , really believed this would sell out in days with all the hype.

  18. Man of Aran.
    Take a parachute and jump.
    That was a good song too.
    Just joking of course (but it was a good sing).. Njoy tomorrow Man of Aran. I cannot wish yea luck but Njoy your day.

  19. Would be very surprised if there are too many tickets to spare for the game tomorrow Sean – then again maybe the Galway fans are still unwilling to travel in any great numbers.

  20. Sean. There will be more Mayo people in beautiful Galway tomorrow than in Mc Hale park.. Salthill and Galway city is buzzing..

  21. Ed Sheeran could take some of the crowd away tomorrow. The pubs around the city will be packed for the game. Health and safety have capacity capped at 30k but MacHale Park won’t look full unless there is a lot more than that present.

  22. I have an inkling that our 2 ex footballers kevin Mcstay and Liam Mchale might be roaring on Galway tomorrow especially with how their Roscommon charges fared against each team last year.
    Now if Galway did meet Roscommon in the Connacht final and the Rossies were to win it again it would prompt the highly celebrated and much loved and respected football analyst Tomas O’shea to laud Galway as back to back Connacht champions.

  23. Great to hear Alan Dillon on the radio just now giving media stick the way it treats Aiden and Lee and the disrespect towards them and our team in general. Well done Alan. Well said.

  24. Has David Gavin’s body been brought home yet? Havn’t seen any mention on website.

  25. I wonder if it will still be buzzing tomorrow evening? When they here the news ye got beat?

  26. Thanks Mairead.

    All very quiet in the Mayo front. Seems everyone is ripping Galway to win and all the “experts” going for Galway.

    I we come flying out of the blocks tomorrow and to use O’Se’s words….bury em

  27. Alan Dillon said the lads v focused on this match and winning connaught this year since that draw last Nov. . Alan spoke about our journey too with them and us not allowing anything neg said about them outside the county coz we understand the sacrifices this group have made and continuing.

  28. Lads, the rules for tomorrow.

    Bring the biggest green and red flag you can get your hands on.

    Roar the “Mayo Mayo” chant like fuck when it starts up.

    Greet every Mayo pint with a deafening roar.

    Greet every Mayo goal with an even louder roar that will shake the foundations of Mchale Park. i.e. there should be bits falling off the stand.

    Greet every Mayo wide with a restarting of the “Mayo Mayo” chant.

    Special bonus. When Conor Loftus hits the back of the net, the noise should be so loud that some of the chimney pots on the roofs of some of the houses on Mchale Road will start to rattle and fall off.

    Anything less from ourselves is not good enough.

  29. Very good Jim Flag. Leantimes has Galway singing in the shower and you have the chimney pots knocked off the chimneys. I hope the Galway fans don’t take fright and make for the gates.

  30. Galway could well be making for the gates long before the end.

    Mayo by eleven.

    Mayo 3-14. Galway 1-9.

  31. Must be strange for Alan Dillon being on the other side of it this year..Andy D Nothing happening yet with David Gavin..

  32. Update on the detailed forecast for Castlebar tommorow… Only one small ‘”shower’ expected… And that’s the crowd coming over the border at Ballindine and Shrule… Otherwise, Sunny Sky’s, Broad Smiles and an outbreak of the ‘Green and Red of Mayo’ expected at around 5,45 pm.. And a ‘small shower’ clearing southwards ‘at around the same time… The’ Postman ‘in Donegal has updated his normally accurate predictions, he day’s that he expects the’ ‘small shower ‘ to be cleared long before 5.45 pm…. It’s amazing how precise the postmen are nowadays, must be the new post codes!

  33. Jim Flag – I like that scoreline ! Oh what a day it would be if we could pull off a win of that magnitude !!

  34. Scattered showers are the worst type.
    Scattered squally showers.
    We’ll lock the gates after throw in and make them watch the whole thing.
    Do they know there’s no sliothair tomorrow.
    Of course it’s a well known fact that the Galway hurlers moved to Leinster because Mayo were improving.

  35. Caolan Crowe playing for his club this evening? Don’t understand that one, I thought he’d be in the team tomorrow.

  36. And Nally playing to apparently.. one more less option if scores from distance needed

  37. Revellino, are u going to do something for the shoot out at the MacHale Park Corral. That line, (you bible squawkin skunk bucket) u did in an earlier post is still cracking me up. so funny.

  38. Can’t get my head around crowe playing tonight Why would he not be part of match day panel?

  39. Sean Burke – I’m not sure where you heard that about the number of tickets still available but according to Connacht GAA (statement here) there won’t be any on sale at the ground tomorrow so if anyone still wants one Centra and SuperValu are the only option.

  40. Crowe and Nally not in the squad?

    Hmmm… Seems as if there will be… Someone else in the squad…


  41. I would be very sceptical of that news about Crowe playing a club game tonight. Are there even club games scheduled for the evening before a big championship game? I’ve read a few predictions from the pundits and it’s like looking for hen’ s teeth trying to find anybody to back us tomorrow. If everyone believed the Galway cheerleaders (Tomás O’Sé said they play the exact same way as Dublin) Mayo might as well not show up tomorrow! There’s only one way to answer that bullshit – and Mayo will without any doubt at all. Nothing has been said about Aido, Kevin Mc and Parsons – it’s all Comer, Comer, Comer.

  42. Liam on the run, cool the jets, and take a chill pill. Tune into the Eurovision – forget about the “faction” fight tomorrow for a while, we’re on the cusp of something great tonight!

  43. I never thought I’d see the day. These Galway bois have everything weighed up.

    Our chances tomorrow now lie on the result of the Eurovision song contest :O

  44. Man of Aran you are right – enjoy the Eurovision (and the game tomorrow) and let’s hope it’s a good one ?

  45. Garrymore 2-18 to Westports 0-11. Nally 3 from play first have apparently in a dominant midfield display. Good see positive reaction.

  46. There is something very surreal about the build up with the unanimous view of the expert opinion that Mayo have no chance. Despite having the current footballer of the year. Despite having the most prolific scorer in the country over the last 6 years . Despite having the best goal keeper in the country in the last two years. Despite having bucket loads of all stars . Despite having lengendry lion hearts like Boyle o shea and Higgins. Despite having won over 40 odd championship games in last 7 years.
    This most be one incredabile Galway team…
    Anyone think we have a chance….Mhaigh Eo Abu…

  47. Nally was dominant in midfield for garrymore tonight. Three points from distance in first half. Crowe played full forward. One excellent point in second half but apart from that was quite enough. Surprised neither in 26 tomorrow.

    Kevin Keane played well for Westport. Picked up a knock to his knee in second half that looked worrying but thankfully he looked to run it of

    Garrymore ran out easy winners but both teams were down a lot

  48. Really looking forward to what promises to be an exciting pulsating encounter tomorrow…..dry ball as well with Mayo fellas a lot fitter than league fixture making it a much more level playing field!! Just one question…….what are the chances of Cian Hanley featuring tomorrow? And if and when Seamie gets called ashore tomorrow as he tires we’re not exactly bursting with midfield replacements. It’s a slight worry for me. Gibbons would have been good surely for a 15 to 20 min high intensity spell. Not stirring by any means….just saying

  49. Shane Nally seems to have the scoring from a distance thing about him. Am I right in thinking that? I’m surprised he’s not on tomorrow’s panel and Crowe too, but what do I know?
    Mayo by 2 in the end. And Galway to finish with 13 players

  50. Yes nally does seem to be scoring regularly with Garrymore. I’m surprised that they were let play for clubs tonight as gives Galway some team information

  51. Everyone knows what Galway will offer tomorrow, no one has a clue what we (Mayo) will do. Rochford & Co have this all sorted.

    We had an expected poor league. This is the big boy league now.

    We own McHale park tomorrow. It’s going to be manic and frantic. Full aggression and absolutely no pre game handshake wishing your opp number well. I can’t understand that.

    I expect a few surprises tomorrow. Young Hanley to mark Comer ;0)

    Mayo x 3/4

  52. Mayo should win with home advantage, beaten finalists last year and lots of experience versus an improving but inexperienced Galway. If Galway improve on their league form then Mayo could be in trouble but tomorrow will reveal a lot about the teams current trajectory but its not knockout so a lifeline remains. I just cant call it and the lengh of time since they last played makes it even harder to predict the outcome. Hope Galway win but a Mayo win no surprise.

  53. That’s interesting that Caolan Crowe and Shane Nally played tonight. It suggests that we might well see Cian Hanley and James Durkan on the bench or perhaps a surprise name.

  54. Wriiten off again but sure whats new. Best of luck to the men in Green and Red tomorrow. This is a seasoned team and as you rightly pointed out Lahanman full of All Stars and one of our Footballers of the Year or maybe even 2!!!!!!!! I won’t sleep a wink tonight with excitement. Maigheo Abu

  55. Dont think we will see Cian hanley or James durcan on the bench diehard it might be just a few weeks to soon but ya never know.

    My geuss of the bench is
    B Moran

  56. The fact that crowd and nally played tonight means we may well have a suprise on the bench…………I think we all are hoping for the same person……..maybe his shoulder is fine and it’s just match fitness he is lacking ………I certainly found rochfords responses over the past 2 weeks when asked very interesting! Not in what he said but in the way he answered

  57. There is no way in hell I’d have Crowe & Nally out of that 26. I shudder to think of one or two others that Rochford likely to stick with instead..

  58. 45 completely agree. Thought crowe was definitely an option after a good league campaign. Nally never given a real chance, anytime he came on I thought he fared well.

  59. I think Nally lacks the place required, Drake probably edges him out of the 26 because of that, its the only logical reason for leaving him out . Crowe is a little bit over rated imo, but should definetly be making the 26, so thats a very strange omission. Keegan is that once in a life time player who probably doesnt need match practice, once he’s fit and his shoulder holds up (if he plays) he’ll be fine.

  60. Nally wasn’t given much minutes during the league so it’s not that surprising he missed out.

    I don’t understand Crowe missing out at all unless his form fell off a cliff in the last few weeks. When we played Galway in the league he was given the job of marking Comer, ahead of Cafferkey and O’Donoghue. Also, against Donegal he was given the short straw marking McBrearty.

    Anyway looking forward to tomorrow, hopefully we’ll nick it.

  61. Strange !! to say the least, regarding Nally and Crowe playing this evening with Garrymore, also Boland playing with Aughamore Could any one predict the eleven substitutes ??

  62. I heard that the galway team had a training session in McHale Park during the week? Can anyone confirm if there’s any truth in that?

  63. Keegan will be togged tomorrow. And Harrison. Both may not start but they will feature. It is my belief.
    Now. Have Galway gone up another level since their league form? Have they maintained their physicality and sharpness? Have they been secretly working on an entirely different style of play all along and tomorrow will they produce it? They better have because they will need it.
    2 years ago Mayo deservedly lost because they were complacent against Galway and didn’t give them the respect they deserved. Last year our frustration at our inability to break Galway down and also cope with their new found physicality led to indiscipline. We played a lot of that game with 14 men. Still only lost by a point though!
    Tomorrow Galway have no surprise element. Mayo will not be complacent. Mayo will show Galway the utmost respect and will have prepared intensely for them. Mayo know exactly what Galway will bring in terms of physicality and tactics.
    Galway have an outstanding half forward line and it is there that the game will be won and lost. If our half backs can close them down, get them turned and running back towards their own defence then that’s half the battle.
    I think we will go with 7 defenders, Barrett picking Comer and Higgins sweeping up in front of them. We will need to be very very patient in possession when Galway retreat inside their half but when we turnover ball it’s vital our kicking game is sharp. Quick accurate diagonal foot passes to our half forwards, spreading play and opening up the Galway backline.
    If Galway are not ahead by 5 poinrs at half time then they’re in bother.
    Mayo to win by 3 to 5 points.

  64. Judge Rochford had settled on 15 hombres to settle this dispute for once and for all.

    These men needed no courage building whiskey shots. The Judges eyes moved from one face to the next. He had never seen such intent on the faces of any group of men before.

    “Okay Seamie” the Judge began. “I want you to let that gringo Comer know that he’s made a big mistake riding on to our patch”.

    “Judge, by the time I finish with Comer he’s goin to feel like he was chewed up by a wolf and shit over the side of a 300 foot cliff “.

    ” Aidan, you’ll parle with Conroy ” the Judge continued.

    ” I’m goin to beat him like a rented mule ” Seamies kid brother shot back.

    “Boyle, take it easy on Walshe, he’s young, let him live”.

    ” I would pick on him Judge but nature seems to be doin a good enough job of that already ” Boyle replied with a blood curdling half glare”. “Can I take down another gringo along with Walshe”.

    ” No, I want this done proper” ordered the judge. ” If they beg for mercy, let them suffer, if they don’t, hang em high”.

    The Judge looked on at the hombres as they tore off on their mounts toward tombstone hill. Seamie had already drawn his widow maker before the Posse had crossed over corpses creek.

    If yea play poker with an hombre
    And his stare grows cold
    Yea can put it down in writing
    That yea ain’t growin old.

  65. I hope Judge Rochford prevails tomorrow, the biggest date in his tenure yet with the 2 previous All Ireland finals!! If he gets it right tomorrow he will go up as one of our best managers ever with James Horan cause I expect this team go on to win Connacht and secure the easier Super 8 draw with Kerry but if he loses well then the pressure will mount on him Big time.

  66. I have a feeling Mayo will win but it will be a rather lucky win that will leave more questions than answers afterwards.

  67. I can only speculate that the 26 picked very much on training form. Drake often gets on the field ahead of others meaning he must be consistently good in training even when picked in forwards. Hasn’t translated but maybe soon it will.
    Nally often left out suggesting he struggles at bit come championship level. Bit surprised Boland left out but he didn’t feature as much in this year’s league. Caff has reputation of being a good training performer which is probably why he’s there ahead of Crowe. Have to say I can’t argue as we just don’t see what goes on in training. However that extra 5 or 10% a real championship game brings means a few real training performers drop off in a big game.
    I did hear Leroy is back training so wouldn’t be surprised if he made the 26. Not a bad sub in defense midfield or half forward. Would be surprised if Hanley made in it that quick. If it’s choice between Douglas and Regan I would pick Regan for left footed frees in last 10 or 15 mins. Conor OS scoring well for club I heard, if so he could well be in the 26. Faster and more mobile than Nally who is a fine footballer as is Kirby but without obvious pace where would we play him? Only FF springs to mind. COS can play multiple positions.

  68. If Galway play Flynn like they did last year we absolutely need AIDO in middle third as Galway have also 6’3″ Conroy in half forwards. Flynn was unlucky to get black card that day which is good motivation if any needed.

  69. Dancing in McHale park bumper to bumper, wait a minute, where’s me jumper, where’s me jumper, where’s me jumper

  70. @Revellino,.. Fantastic again, worth waiting for as always…., The Judge and the Hombre’s,… Paying the price, for the honour of the Plain of Yew’s.. T’will be a dear price to pay for whoever pay’s the price… T’will be a sweet prize, for those who want it the most, T’will be a day spoken about in year’s to come, T’will, be a resolution one way or the other,…The Judge says No Replays, Extra time, Do or Die, … @Bacon Factory End, where’s your jumper?…

  71. Nobody getting to much shut eye tonight I see, Old juge Rochford will be sleeping easy. Knowing his hombres are primed and ready for battle, Class as usual Revellino, Now ya’all get some shut eye ya hear.

  72. Awake and ready to roll. Game 1. The summer is about to start. Supporters one and all will roar these warriors home.
    Nervous conversation at half time where stranger give reassurance to stranger.
    40 mins of heart stopping play followed by a roar of jubilation.
    Strangers now best friends shaking hands and hugging with pride.
    Wounded supporters wishing us well.
    By 6pm we will be walking off the pitch after celebrating with our heros. Kids will have the autographs either on jerseys or programs and the grownups will be thinking about Game 2.
    Home to watch the naysayers and laugh at their cheap observations and predictions. We know better but calmly use inner voices to contain anticipation.
    Voices rough and tired; another week starts. A summer starts. A dream steps toward reality. Game 1. Hon Mayo.

  73. Awake again and just checking back that I wasn’t dreaming last night. I cannot believe that Crowe in particular could be left out. The lad didn’t put a foot wrong during the league. He has shown to be very adept at the art of defending, he is strong, focused, disciplined and critically for the future transition of this team he is still only 26. So does this mean that Drake possibly gets in ahead of him. Will have to wait til later to find out but if so WTF??? I think it would be ill judged, short sighted and grossly unfair to the lad if it turns out to be the case.

  74. For goodness sake,why would Stephen let some of our best players get some match practice,we have bigger fish to fry,I am reminded of the great Fran Larkin from Kilkenny when some young player was slagging him off saying he was going to be subbed,Fran replied i am not surprised sure anybody could Mark you,so it is with Galway,good league but this is a man’s game,Mayo by at least ten ,it just shows the strength of our panel of we can have twenty as players better than them boys,all the best to all travelling both sets of supporters,but I believe there will be years in the Galway supporters eyes on the way home,up Mayo

  75. Crowe has been suffering from a virus last few weeks. I presume that restricted his training and might explain also why he played full forward for Garrymore last nite.

  76. Thanks South Mayo Exile – if that has been the case then it would be reasonable to expect he might miss today’s game.

  77. Good luck to Stephen and The Team, if there are any changes before throw in, I hope it is kept under wraps until the last minute ( that’s what Dublin, Tyrone, and Clare Hurlers do). I hope we as Mayo Supporters will be able to say after the game ” Manic Work, Manic Aggression, Men Won”

  78. Game day. Have been thinking a decent bit over clashes with ye guys. First meeting Connacht final ’84 in the old Pearse Stadium. Lots of memories, ups and downs. Probably only ever I can recall having more fans than ye on two occasions in the championship. That day in ’84 and ’99 in Tuam as Galway football support drawn largely from the just the traditional heartlands. ’92 booed out of it in Castlebar and biggest disappointment probably ’96 as thought we were a coming team after making inroads in ’95. Have mellowed a bit over the years. Remembered being hyped in ’99 wearing my ’98 all Ireland winning t shirt even in the persistent rain. Remember a Mayo man beside me about 15 yrs older than me saying just on throw in ‘okay David Brady first ball and this can be your day’. All these years later I am that man. Less hyped more mellow as matured to thinking it’s all within the white lines. Safe driving to all.

  79. Good man KC i spent years wasting my time roaring and shouting but now I just enjoy the game and shake hands with other supporters after the game much better still want Mayo o win

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