The day before

Well, this is all a bit odd.

It’s the day before an absolutely enormous Championship match for the county and I’m marooned a few thousand miles away from the action. Odder still is that it’s the second Super 8s match in a row involving us that I’m missing, as the Meath game was on the day we arrived here.

But, of course, missing matches isn’t exactly a rare occurrence for me, certainly not this summer. I didn’t make it to New York and a wedding kept me away from the Roscommon game. Tomorrow’s match will be the fourth Championship match this year involving us that I won’t get to – that’s half our total for this summer.

By coincidence, we’re in the same part of the world we were staying in back in 2016 when we tuned in from afar to catch that year’s All-Ireland semi-final. A similar result to that win over Tipperary would do just nicely for us tomorrow and, should we do this, I can imagine celebrating the win with some of the same beer-laden gusto.

I am, of course, sad to be missing out on tomorrow evening’s game, which is set to be quite the occasion. While it’s not the first All-Ireland Series game ever to be played at MacHale Park – that honour goes to the 2001 quarter-final clash between Roscommon and Galway – and it’s not even the first time that Donegal have contested an All-Ireland Series match at the venue (they played, and beat, Galway there in the replayed 2003 quarter-final), it will be the first time we’ll have done so, having only played provincial and qualifier games in the Championship there to date.

On offer to the winners (or, in Donegal’s case, the team that earns a share of the spoils) tomorrow evening is a place in the All-Ireland semi-final. The most recent time a prize of that magnitude was on offer at a match involving us at MacHale Park was way back in 1996. In those pre-qualifier days, our win over Galway in the Connacht final that year sent us straight through to the final four.

A win tomorrow will do likewise. For sure, it’s a tall order and Donegal are deserved favourites going into this game, if only because they’ve enjoyed a far better summer so far than we have. They’re undefeated, they’re the Ulster champions and they drew with a Kerry team that pretty much hunted us out the gate the previous weekend. It’s easy to see why most of the money is piling on them.

But, of course, that doesn’t mean they will do it. As we all know, our lads perform best when the fire is at their backs, as it once more will be tomorrow. For us, it’s all very simple – it’s win or bust.

Our cause hasn’t been helped by the news, as yet not confirmed officially but those inside leaks to the Connaught Telegraph have been on the money all summer and I’m sure this latest one is too, that David Clarke misses out through injury. It’s another chance for Robbie Hennelly and, as many have argued here all week, this might in any event have been the right game to play him in.

Or not, depending on your opinion. Whatever. That decision has now apparently been forced on us and, like all the other injuries we’ve suffered this year, we just have to get on with it.

While neither Keith Higgins nor Paddy Durcan have been named in that leaked team it’s likely both will see action at some stage, perhaps from the start. While we won’t be picking from a full deck, the team we do field will be far from a threadbare outfit.

It’s one that we can expect will compete fiercely and will give its all to keep our Championship hopes alive. Which I’ll think we’ll do, though only after a pretty ferocious battle.

Back with some final pre-match thoughts tomorrow, by which time I should have the GAA GO side of things sorted over here and be ready for action. Up Mayo.

68 thoughts on “The day before

  1. The bottom line is that the ‘old’ Mayo must turn up tomorrow or we’ll be out. I still think Donegal are slightly overrated and I think ultimately the game will be won in the ‘middle 8’. Keegan will take Ryan McHugh.

    Let’s hope A Moran has the same impact as he had against Meath.

    Also we need to stop being cut open down the middle of the defence when teams run at us.

    At least we’re going to win all of our kick-outs now that Roberto is playing (ahem)!

  2. Just past by Applegreen service station in Julianstown, Co Meath on the way to Mayo for tomorrows game, big Mayo flag outside a house.
    Supporters along way from home.

  3. This is a game that we need our first choice players starting and flying fit. I had hoped that Higgins and Durcan would start and we’d get some good new about one or two of the other injuries. I’d have Clarke in every day of the week but Robbie gets his chance so best of luck to him.

  4. Chin up Willie Joe, at least you’ll be home to see us in the semi final and final!

  5. We’re in good shape to have someone as good as Hennelly to call up. Hoping he has a good game.
    As long as we get off to a good start and don’t need to dig ourselves out of a second half hole I think we can do it.
    If Donegal build a lead, McHale park will suit them. Let’s get stuck into them early like the Galway game in Limerick.

  6. So yet again the Connaught telegraph has insider information about the Mayo team..which should not be leaked…it’s not the first time this year and and it’s a joke yet again

  7. For the umpteenth time – Teams for programme have to be submitted by Thursday morning to Croke Park. Once it goes in there it’s going to be leaked let right and centre. I’ve said it before – only solution is for all teams to be named before this deadline. Solves everything.

    In any event there’ll be more than likely a raft of changes to that team before throw in.

  8. One of the Kilkenny lads said the intensity was `savage` in their game with Limerick. Ours has`nt been

    for a long while. If we dont hassle and harry like demons when we hav`nt got the ball Donegal will hammer


  9. I’m always willing to be surprised with GAA football. Martin Breheny writing in the Irish Independent says he backs Mayo to beat Donegal in Castlebar on Saturday. My feeling exactly, I’ll go with that. Up Mayo!

  10. So can anybody please explain to me why it’s always the Mayo team information that is leaked then?and why is it a certain local paper that has the scoop??

  11. Just to say that, Despite the Media, and some repeat, repeat, repeat blogger’s this game is about much more than just who’s in Goal… Robbie coming, we gotta back him to the hilt, now he’s one of ours… Phycologally I think it’s much better coming in if David Clarke has unfortunately picked up an injury in Training, just my opinion, much less pressure.

  12. The Telegraph have done Mayo no favors in my view…wasant their a spat between one of their reporters and Horan a few years back? Bunch of idiots..don’t buy their rag anyway.

  13. Game is in the melting pot with 10 to go, and Tom Parsons is called to the line…

    Warming up the vocal chords as we speak

  14. Mayomark, I’m just thinking the same thing. Even the sight of that man getting warmed up will rile up the crowd. As if we needed another excuse to bring the noise.

  15. It’s a great credit to Tom Parsons and the medical staff for him to be back so soon.
    To be honest I thought he would never play again.
    It was the most gruesome injury that I have ever seen on a playing field.
    This news will give a great boost to all involved tomorrow evening.

  16. With Tom Parsons togged I can just see our lads bringing a fire and fury performance from themselves.

  17. Hi, All looking good. What a year for Mayo Football. Very hopeful. Wishing you all well.

  18. I couldn’t have said this on here a couple of weeks ago as a Galwayman but I’ll say it this evening.

    The 2013 game between Mayo and Donegal was on eir a couple of weeks back. Mayo dominated Donegal but what was the platform….Hennellys kick outs. Have a look back on it lads, some beauties to the wings to guys on the run and bear in mind Donegal had Neiley Gallagher and Rory Kavanagh out in the middle.

  19. Regarding game-based training, it always runs the risk of injuries, but training is done at full game pace. This brings on new players much quicker and gives management a much better picture of who is ready to step up.
    In the last 10 days, several of Donegal’s game plays will have been used in training, to get our bucks ready for them. The Rochford element also works both ways. Our lads know what his thinking is and he will have used it to test our own lads when he was with us. They already know what he will bring to the Donegal set up and our lads will be ready for it

  20. Dream come true to see Tom P named.
    My God what an amazing guy.
    A credit to himself, family and county.
    God bless him. Going to be something else to see him get a run in, and in McHale pk where injury happened. Some comeback.
    Can’t wait and the butterflies are starting already.
    Best of luck to all and to 16th person too.
    Let’s make it the loudest ever in home ground.

  21. Guys, pardon my French, but I’ve got to say that, as we speak there are a shower if ignorant fucks making nasty, ill-informed comments about Rob H on Facebook. It’s shocking stuff and it’s time now to debunk this myth that we’re the Best Supporters in the Country. At the moment I’m feeling more embarrassment than pride in being a Mayo man.

  22. I’m a huge David Clarke supporter and I wish him a speedy recovery but best of luck to Rob Hennelly he’s a fine keeper too and he is our last line of defence and we should all get behind him and Back him to the hilt. Best of luck to the team and management Mhuigheo Abu Dia is Muire Linn

  23. Don’t read any more of it. Was worried there would be a backlash from ignorant people. I’m going to avoid now. Too upsetting and between Brolly and our own that poor fella must be tormented. Not right. Excellent goalkeeper who has had a few hairy moments like most but in the spotlight.

  24. I see on Google news that Clarke is ruled out tomorrow because of injury, how ironic if Hennelly will be called up by Horan, as he was called up by Rochford in 2016 replay v the Dubs, I wish him the best under the intense pressure tomorrow but must admit am slightly worried also, reasons as follow
    Command / security of the high ball into the square that will come from Donegal.
    Long range frees and 50’s
    Some things just don’t change in life.

  25. Can Anyone tell me where the Official Car Park in McHale Park is ,as i have a car pass for it please?

  26. Delighted for Tom Parsons if he’s fit for the bench but that may be a ruse because they’d only have him there if he’s deemed ready for match action (which I doubt). I’m a bit worried to be honest if that leaked team starts as our back line won’t have enough mobility to deal with Donegal runners from deep or the movement of their forwards. Aidan O’Shea seriously needs to step up too from his last few performances and I’m just praying that Paddy Durcan starts. I’m nervous because I’m afraid that if Donegal get a run on us it could be a chastening evening. I just hope we can get in their faces (and heads!) and stay there until full time.

  27. Is Tom Parsons definitely included in the match day panel? if so this will be a massive boost to all players, great for us supporters also to see him come in to do a job after his horrific injury last year.

  28. If people posting nasty comments bout Rob how dare they call themselves Mayo supporters.
    Stay away tomorow.
    We dont need ye beside us.
    We ALL must be singing and roaring together as one for EVERYONE ON THIS TEAM who have given so much in last decade.
    This time tomorow we’ll be planning our trip to CP for all ireland semi.
    And I believe and have always believed this year the flying doctor himself Padraic will be with these lads. It’s been an unusual championship
    this year and brace ourselves for what’s to come.

  29. Robbie has my full support. He is an excellent keeper and I’m getting a bit tired of this high ball thing – did ye not see the bombardment of high balls into his goal mouth including in the corner just under the woodwork that he handled brilliantly in the League Final against Kerry? I was at that League game against Dublin this year also where his goal mouth performance was nothing short of heroic. We are lucky to have him. I’m sorry it’s another case of being put into goal suddenly when the stakes have risen a bit. But make no mistake, Robbie is ready.
    I for one would get great satisfaction from another great Robbie performance and to suff with the critics!
    We seem to forget that Robbie is also an experienced keeper deputising for months for David Clarke earlier this decade when David was injured. Go n’éirí an t-ádh leat!

  30. If it transpires that TP is included in match day squad, it’s an incredible accomplishment and wonderful news…Perhaps he gets an opportunity to display his majestic fielding in Croker Sat week if Mayo can put in a championship performance that equals or betters replay v Kerry in 2017 semi final… Injuries, match ups, and use of bench will b crucial in determining outcome as Donegal have an exciting talented young team.. laced wit exceptional leaders… ‘Make Mayo great again.’ Best of luck ‘Green above th red.’..

  31. What a joke the GAA is becoming. We built a GAA stadium fit to hold 33k, and no we are told that we can only allow 25k into it. So this means we are loosing approx. €150k in revenue. Then to add insult to injury RTE is not showing the most important game of the weekend. Surely the GAA and RTE are some bunch. This bullshit about Health and Safety is the greatest load of horse manure that the GAA can come with. They are on about crowd control etc. Mc Hale Park has 2 places to enter in McHale road, could those not be opened to allow the people with match day tickets into ground, an people with season tickets enter at Sportlan gates. They are all worried about congestion on crowd coming in, and not a word when people are leaving.
    Surly more people will be leaving in bigger numbers than those entering at one time. If this is the new way forward, then its time the people cop on and not be taken as fools. Time for County Board lay down the rules. Newbridge or Nowhere.

  32. Good shout @Mairead. The problem I’ve got is that these aren’t Trolls – their profile pictures are plastered with Green and Red and they’ll be the first ones looking for selfies if we win tomorrow. I feel like throwing up. I don’t know Rob personally, but he has a family some of whom are probably reading this stuff. If it’s affecting me, what’s it doing to them? After 10 years on the road this team deserves better than these gobshites.

  33. If there ever was a match [poised for Mayo to win against the odds this is the one. Rochford is coming home. James and his team are waiting to greet him. Mayo the National league football champions are on the slide again this year. When we win tomorrow evening all talk will be burnt out black. Firesides long vacated will be dusted down once more. I believe we can and will win this one by at least four points or more. Tomorrow evening at this time we will know the score.

  34. Whatever your position on the goalkeeper debate, Robbie deserves our full and unreserved support tomorrow evening. Every kick and touch of the ball from him should be treated with cheers and roars from us, especially if supporters from Donegal try to unsettle him. A speedy recovery to David Clarke too.
    Maigh Eo Abú!

  35. That’s sickening to hear that Robbie Hennelly is getting such vile abuse online – his only answer is to ram it down their throats with a great performance tomorrow. I doubt he has the lack of sense to read that crap anyway. I like all of us on here would be over the moon if he steps up and delivers a performance that gets us over the line – we’ve seen him do it plenty of times – and i wish him all the luck in the world for tomorrow’s game. All we can do in the stands is get behind the lad like the rest of the team and hope they do themselves justice. I also think that if the goalie is the talking point at all during or after a game then the protection he gets from outfield is culpable too.

  36. I have to say that I’m ecstatic to see Tom Parsons back. What an absolute class act.
    I hope he does well being thrown into the cauldron like this. Something tells me he will. I think Robbie is also a total class act and if he is representing us then he will always have my full backing, He is an outstanding goalkeeper and human being and he brings several little things to the game tomorrow that are potentially beneficial.
    Long kickouts to what is now a highly functioning midfield means less pressure on our defense.
    Mayoball could be defined in one way as mopping up more than our fair share of breaking ball. Expect us to win 55 % + breaking ball.Less turnovers from kickouts.
    More forward momentum.He can drive a few past midfield too to keep everyone honest .
    Long frees are still an option and I think tomorrow tactical fouling by Donegal will throw more than a few of those our way.
    I love David Clark who also is an outstanding goalkeeper and human being. Circumstances may have conspired to give us an extra edge in this particular game.
    Kudos to Mairead et al who are drawing attention to any negativity against these fantastic ambassadors and rightly putting said keyboard warriors in their place.

  37. Everyone has a responsibility where it comes to places like Facebook. Every time you go on there and read anything they gain from it, people who post vile comments there want their idiotic brain-farts read and spoken about. The best thing to do is starve them of the oxygen they crave. Ignore that crap, treat it with the indifference it deserves.

  38. WJ, that team won’t start. Both Paddy and Keith will start instead of Eoin O’Donoghue and Fergal Boland. Paddy will play at 12 to nullify Mchugh. Aido will play midfield but drop in front of Murphy utilising same tactic used in 2015.

  39. All the best to Robbie Henelly tomorrow eve and all the lads. I know they will do themselves proud. Our simple job tomorrow is to roar them on. When our men hit our field tomorrow to do battle. Don’t just stand by silent. Forget your captive inhibitions and roar . Let them know that we are there with them. Through every tackle, every run to nowhere, every miss, hit and pass beyond. Roar them home. Every block every rush, forward and back. Let them know that we stand there. We stand together tomorrow. We stand together forever. We are Mayo.

  40. Hi All,
    Just a quick text to wish Mayo the very best of luck tomorrow. To be honest you were the only team that put it up to us in the final….replay…and final so you know you can win tomorrow. I genuinely mean that.

    Kind Regards
    Martin the Dub

  41. Has anyone seen the official mayo 26? Ed McGreal just sent a tweet which would infer that it is common knowledge. I haven’t seen anything

  42. I always feel there are people in Mayo who hope we lose so they can put the boot into certain players who they don’t like. People have to realise these are amateur players who are giving every second of there spare time into playing football for Mayo. No player (including the ref) will go out tomorrow evening to make a mistake. Boys stick together in all kinds of weather – especially if you are at the game.

  43. I’m glad team was leaked, it will take pressure off hennelly tomorrow. I can remember the shock amongst mayo fans the morning of the all Ireland final when it was announced he was playing. At least we have 24 hour to digest it this time. I wish rob Tom and all the lads the best of luck tomorrow. We will not be denied.

  44. Best of luck to Mayo tomorrow ,
    The younger lads have to play out of their skin to be assured of a victory,Andy & the older lads never cease to amaze me ,Up Mayo

  45. If you’re looking for reasoned comment on Facebook or twitter, you’ll be waiting. You could post on there you’ve solved climate change and you’d be ripped to pieces. Robbie is a very experienced keeper, I personally would have pick Clarke over him and maybe a few other as mayo no.1 but you know what Robbie, prove me mistaken. I hope more than anything that Robbie pings ball after ball to our runners leading to score after score that it rends donegals high press more than useless. I hope mcbrearty in one on one cant get past him. But it’s a team game. One a goalkeeper doesn’t concede easy goals it’s up the rest of the team. We’re best when we’re written off so let’s do this!!!!

  46. It will be so amazing to see Tom P run out on field – he is truly amazing. How lucky we are to have such fantastic players. Oh yea it a real sickener to see ‘fans’ making rotten comments. Raging. Lets make sure we drown out any even hint of negativity tomorrow.

  47. – Of course Murphy, Mc Brearty and Mc Hugh are match winners but it was Mc Fadden and Brennan that tore Tyrone to shreds in the first half of the Ulster Semi final.
    – The MODERN midfielder had to basically be able to catch, kick tackle, score , be on the goalline for frees and be able to follow their man.
    – Do you really want to see McGee and McFadden racing right down the centre of our defence with nobody able to keep up with them. Boyler or whoever is sweeping would need a few road sweepers.
    – All comes down to midfield and breaking ball there, we have been very poor at winning breaking ball for the entire championship until now. Can we really up it ?
    – We have lots of players that can match Murphy for pace but few can match him physically. Only the Osheas, Vaughan and maybe Leroy. Durkan on McHugh.
    – As Jack Charlton would say there is a lot of silly buggers going on with teams named, who is injured and who is on the benches. Believe nothing until you see the 30 players that are lined up for the national anthem.

  48. I never got the Robbie v Clarkie thing, still don’t.
    He has had some magnificent days for us and some not so.
    And so has every player on every team at every level and in every sport. Ya take the good with the bad.
    Best of luck to Robbie and everyone else tomorrow.

  49. Tick tock, tick tock, it’s approaching 18:00, Mr Gough blows his whistle, O’Neills size 5 is thrown up into the evening sun, Croagh Patrick in the distance, the crowd roar, GAME ON LADIES & GENTLEMAN, I suggest you hold tight.

    He who shouts loudest – wins.

    Make yourself heard.

    Up. Mayo.

  50. What are the chances they made the ‘Mayo flag score’ posters waterproof?! At least Elvery’s listened to fans calls for flags and are doing something.

  51. There’ll be a few changes to that team I’d imagine. Durcan Higgins and Diarmuid to start….in a last throw of the dice. It’s the only show in town now. There’s gonna be serious needle in this one, I don’t think the two teams are overly fond of one another and donegal always seem to bring the best out in aiden o’shea

  52. Best news on the team by far is Tom P. Doesn’t need to play tomorrow, enough on the bench or warming up. Has my adrenaline flowing never mind his teammates. Worth a few points having him there. Up Mayo!

  53. Thank you Martin the Dub for your good wishes.
    Much appreciated and here’s hoping it’s us that meet ye for another exciting game whatever the outcome.
    Still dreaming of seeing Tom P running onto co.ground, even for 5mins. It’ll be so amazing.
    Be careful Tom.

  54. I tuned out for the day and went to the Galway races. I would safely say if there was only 1 horse in a race I still wouldn’t pick the winner.

    I backed 1 horse and he was so good it took 8 other horses to beat him.

    I think secretly this Mayo team loves these massive games. I don’t believe after 8 years of duking it out with the best in the business, that they get nervous. They just get good.

    I have read all the comments and it’s to everyone’s credit that the support has come for Rob. If Tom is on the bench that would be the highlight of the evening.

    The job description is simple.


  55. Nervous. But I am expecting a massive performance from a ravenous bunch. Tomorrow should be a massive occasion. Bring your colour, flags and your loudest voices. It’s been a while since we helped these lads over the line.

    Up Mayo!!

  56. Getting Tom back is amazing if true. After seeing him and Seamie in the Newbridge stands, the possibility of them both being involved tomorrow is some turnaround.

    I hope that Robbie plays out of his skin tomorrow- as others have said I don’t think enough people appreciate the depth of talent we actually have in goals. If you look at some of the moments he’s had over the league it’s clear he has it in him to be a massive asset to the team. Of all the players in the panel, does anyone else have the same pressure? Fuck Facebook and the like, let’s get behind him here.

    Fearbolg – I’m going to chance the match on the phone tomorrow and hope the marriage and the result aren’t jinxed. If push comes to shove I’ll take the semi final spot though.

  57. It’s all coming together nicely
    O Shea
    O Shea
    Mc Donagh
    O Connor
    Can’t wait to see it all unfold, mayo by 2

  58. Joet1480
    Well said, we have 2 goalies that are not perfect, just like every other outfield player, they all make mistakes. Surely people on here remember scratching their collective heads trying to pick 3 players for man of the match when almost every player underperformed in some of our games this year. But somehow the finger gets pointed at our number 1. When a goalie kicks out a 50/50 ball and we lose it, he’s a clown, if we win it, he’s a genius. It’s the sort of stuff that’s normally reserved for the management, team loses, tactically inept, team wins, master tactician.
    Anyhow, really looking forward to this evening and hoping to be head scratching picking 3 for MOTM where everyone plays to their ability.

  59. So I’m just wondering was the alleged starting 15 leaked from the donegal camp?probably not but I’m not surprised..they obviously run a tight ship and slightly different to the crazy shenanigans that goes on down’s embarrassing

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