The day before

Image: @MayoGAA

So this is all more than a bit weird.

It’s not the prospect of a match taking place tomorrow that I can’t be at. Lord knows, I’ve missed plenty of Mayo games in recent years, among them a few big ones. So tuning in on TV won’t exactly be a novel experience.

What’s strange, of course, is that inter-county action is resuming at all at this time. When the GAA published its revised inter-county schedule some months back, the initial wave of the virus had subsided and so it was credible to think ahead to an inter-county season late in the year in a post-Covid environment.

But we’re not in any sense over the virus yet, nor, by the looks of it, will we be any time soon. Instead of having an inter-county season to raise morale with the worst of the crisis behind us, we’re now throwing the ball in on inter-county games precisely at the point when the transmission of Covid is more rampant than it’s ever been, where restrictions are being imposed anew and where further more stringent measures appear to be imminent.

That’s quite the backdrop. Like many others, I’m looking forward to being able to see some live action again – there’s only so much of that golden oldie stuff anyone can take – but, at the same time, it’s impossible not to feel uncomfortable that matches are going ahead in the current environment.

On balance, I’d prefer if they weren’t. Especially these two rounds of League matches (and not just as an excuse, from our perspective, to avoid relegation) where teams are criss-crossing the country and where Covid is undoubtedly on the move with some of them.

On the face of it, the Championship appears less of a risk. The matches will initially all be local affairs and teams will be getting knocked out every week so the dangers of transmission are probably lower. But, still, if the whole country is by then chafing under Level 5 restrictions can we really expect the Championship to continue?

For now it’s game on. And, if I’m honest, I’m looking forward to seeing the lads in action tomorrow, not least in light of the fact that it’s been so long since they last played a competitive game.

The break from last year’s All-Ireland semi-final to the first round of this year’s National League was a shade over five months whereas it’s now over seven months since we played our most recent League game. In so many ways, it feels like a lifetime.

So it’ll be good to see the team perform again and to roar like a loon at the TV. Nothing strange there as far as our house goes but everything else is odd and so totally different, no matter how we try to shut that reality out.

Back in the morning with a few pre-match game day thoughts.

26 thoughts on “The day before

  1. What do you mean by ‘golden oldie stuff’? I hope you are not referring to our senior citizens so many of whom have already given their lives to this terrible virus in such terrible times.

  2. Not at all, Mayoman in Down! I mean all those old matches they were showing on TV for months but thankfully have stopped doing so of late.

  3. Thank you Willie Joe.
    Why this match is going ahead in such dangerous circumstances is beyond understanding. what it does for all serious attempts to control the virus is unthinkable, Why should our young people bother when they can see mature adults crashing into each other and making a mockery of all advice we expect them to accept. Social distancing. What’s that.
    Elite sportsmen? seems like one rule for a few and to hell with the rest of us.

  4. Off topic, I know, but fair play to Galway on winning the semi final in the under 20s. That was a good Kerry team.
    Has to be said, the Mayo under 20s have to be watching that with a lot of bitterness. They lost only on penalties. Arguably having been the better team.
    I know Willie Joe covered it previously but it was a ridiculous decision to run off championships like that. Very unfair.

  5. Looking forward to the match and it’s safe enough to say you wont be the only one roaring at the telly like a lion 🙂 C’mon Mayo and someone throw a shoulder into Jimmy’s winning matches if he’s seen anywhere near the sideline 🙂 joking

  6. Few team talking points (assuming named team or maybe 13 of it start)
    Defenders for our next ten years David McBrien and Oisin Mullen. In my view two of the better underage defenders the last five years.
    Lee Keegan at 4, I think the idea will be he attacks when the opposition have numbers back.
    Paddy Durcan at 5, always reliable.
    Stephen Coen at 6, his best position, every title winning team needs a farmer oft heard. Henry Dixon was key to our 50/51 team, Liam OFlaherty to the Kerry 97 team, being serious Stephen Coen can be a dependable physical presence at 6.
    Eoghan McLoughlin with his pace at 7, which I think is his best position.
    Conor Loftus as a quarter back to ping the ball in to Aidan and Cillian?
    Matthew Ruane legs around the middle, we want to see him be consistent.
    Diarmuid hopefully involved around the middle.
    Mark Moran a quick and creative player.
    Fionn McDonagh, like Matthew Ruane we want to see consistency.
    Cillian and Aidan as chief organisers and bring physicality.
    Tommy Conroy latching onto ball is a dangerous weapon.
    I’ll assume a few grizzled warriors on the bench and in my view in a year with extra time after draws one needs to start with your most athletic team and finish with your most ‘control the game’ team. You need as many young legs starting these days.

  7. Hopefully, Mayo, Galway and the Rossies will all be Div One next year, and hopefully at some stage it will be safe for crowds to come back… The Rossies very impressive, finished the game very strong V Armagh.

  8. Rossies impressing in armagh against a very good armagh side.
    Make no mistake about it they require our full attention in connacht, can’t be looking past them.
    Looks like they have gained players thanks to lockdown, both murtaghs back and mullooly too

  9. so Horan thinks Stephen Coen is better than Padraig O’Hora and Conor Loftus is better than Darren McHale. Losing faith in this team selctions.Some of the best footballers in the County are not involved in the current panel while some not good enough still are.

  10. Watched Kerry v Monaghan.
    Kerry players did some serious bulking up over the past few months.
    D o Connor looks a lot stronger.

  11. Mayoabu That team does not suggest anything other than JH is giving plenty of lads chances with an eye to the future Presume we all want to see new talent coming through so hold your fire in the short term I am sure there are good reasons for picking the team selected

  12. Galway serious pipeline of players coming through, I’m told up 6 starters not playing today, really outclassed Kerry in second half (I know Kerry missing a few also).

  13. Well done to the Galway u20s … Well deserved win . Some serious footballers there .
    Can’t say I was as enthusiastic about supporting our other neighbour’s Vs Armagh

  14. The list of highly skilled young players in Galway at the moment is endlist.
    Looking forward to Tomorrows Match hopefully Mayo can win, could be the last we see of GAA for a while..
    Stay safe everyone.

  15. Exciting young team.
    Really looking forward to the game.
    A look at what the future might look like.
    New young cubs on every line.
    Oisin and David in the full back line.
    Eoghan half back, Mark half forward, and Tommy in the full forward line.
    Courage and faith.
    I saw where James did say he was going to go with lads who were showing form in training.
    Have to belive that’s why he picked this team.
    Disappointed to see lads being judged before there is even a ball kicked.
    That’s probably best left till after the game tomorrow, or even further out.
    Let’s see where the new young crop takes us.
    Mhaigh Eo Abu.

  16. Mike – mayo drew with galway u20 team in championship this year, lost to penalties after extra time. Mayo are reigning Connaught minor champions. Mayo schools have also won last 3 Connaught championship titles. No shortage of good young players in mayo.

  17. Can only think that O’hora is injured or its a dummie team. One of the best if not the best footballers in mayo at present, even if he had a couple of quiet games towards the end of the club. Intercounty is a different ball game altogether and he certainly has the right stuff. I suspect he will in fact start tomorrow.

    I’m really gonna enjoy tomorrow as possibly a one off match, as I feel there’ll be no more fixtures for this year unfortunately. I’d say it will be a cracker given what’s at stake for us and given the rivalry between the teams and the new P Joyce era.

    I’ll lap up all the analysis on this one. We’ve all been starved of what’s on offer tomorrow. Thanks for the great cover WJ, brings a sense of normality in far from normal times.

  18. I don’t think either mayo or Galway have named dummy teams for tomorrow. Don’t think there’s any value in it for a league game. Only change i can see on our side is if Kevin McLoughlin becomes available.

    Conor Loftus won’t be midfield for any throw ins but he may be there in general play as a playmaker, trying to give a few balls into Cillian/Aidan for marks. It could suit Conor not having a proper aggressive defender at him all game.

    Looking forward to the game now.

  19. Done deal, you’re right with those stats but the schools stat is very misleading and this is why… St Jarlaths is nowhere near its former strength for two reasons; 1. It’s no longer boarding. 2. Claregalway is now a massive secondary school and growing taking swathes of boys from areas traditionally drawn to Tuam. Athenry too has grown.

    On top of this, city clubs and those west of the Corrib have had much greater influence on Galway underage teams than in previous decades. Salthill, Moycullen, Oughterard, Barna, St Michael’s (this yesrs A minor champs), St James’ and Oranmore. These boys are split between 8 secondary schools and St Mary’s, for decades the standout GAA city school is like Jarlaths, no longer boarding and just not as string as they once were.

    Mayo are reigning minor champs, but last year was the first time in around 5 or 6 years that a Mayo minor team beat a galway minor team in championship. Looking back at the past 8 years Galway are well ahead of us at underage..and it’s something Mayo GAA needs to address.

    Dont be fooled by schools results. And while we may have talent coming thru. I am sure we do but Galway on paper have more. And their teams have been winning a hell of a lot more. Yes, a good few AIF’s lost underage but better to be getting to them and getting lads exposed to big games rather than being knocked out at the first hurdle in Connacht.

  20. Can’t see Connor Loftus play midfield even as a playmaker as he has a forwards style of defending where he tracks fair enough but doesn’t turn over the ball or put big pressure on the backs. Tom P in contrast is good at turnovers and they can be turning points in a game. So is Aido and so is Kevin Mc who if available could play in midfield. Connor as a forward playmaker yes but that probably means a marker on him. One way he could be used is taking a back step a bit like Ciaran Mc did with bigger players like Aido drawing in defenders to give him the space to use that passing creativity.

  21. Mayonaze, with st jarlaths not having boarders anymore it’s a level playing field for all. Just like you say galway has more schools than jarlaths you will find there is at least one school in every mayo town.If you look at the 5 players starting today who came into panel this year Mullen and conroy won All a Ireland B title with Ballinrobe, McBrien lost b final with st Nathys. From the rice college team who were unlucky to lose Hogan cup by 1 point mcLoughlin and Moran both start.

  22. A big thing for Mayo is keeping Mullin. You would hope his ambition to win big for his county is bigger than moving to Aus. If he doesbt stay I think it sends the wrong message to other emerging talents.

    Youd hope figures like Andy Moran and senior figures still involved like Aos, Keegan etc are advising.

    Best of luck to the lads today but I’m definitely in the ‘it’s only the league’ camp. All the matters is championship. If we were to go down to Div2 then it’s no big deal provided we bounce back up straight away. Different story altogether if you were to fail to do so.

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