The day before

The other James Horan

Photo: Thomas Gallagher (@gallagherteg) via Twitter

Nearly there – it’s now the day before our All-Ireland quarter-final clash with Donegal and I dunno about the rest of you but I’ve already had a few anticipatory shivers (at least I think that’s what they were – once you head over the hill at fifty it could be any kind of ailment) about tomorrow and the occasion and all the rest. It’s another cracking day up here but, don’t worry, there’s rain – perhaps quite a bit of it – on the way for tomorrow afternoon. And don’t forget the buses will be on strike then as well.

There’s obviously truckloads of coverage in the papers today about all of this weekend’s quarter-finals including our one. Starting with the Irish Times, Keith Duggan has a very good piece on Aidan O’Shea, Ian O’Riordan does an overview of all four quarters where he tips us – as well as Tyrone, Dublin and Kerry – to prevail and Malachy Clerkin does the preview of the game, in which he describes James Horan’s team as one that “drinks its whiskey neat and keep its holster unbuttoned.” He reckons that once we get the match-ups right we’ll do it with three to spare.

In the Irish Examiner, there’s a great, insightful piece by John Fogarty about coach Donie Buckley, which, if only half of it is true (and I’m sure it is), shows how lucky we are to have the Kerryman in our camp this year. Terry Reilly, meanwhile, delves into the deteriorating relationship between ourselves and tomorrow’s opposition, taking soundings from both sides of the fence when doing so.

It’s over at the Irish Independent, however, where more emphasis is placed (predictably enough, you’d have to say) on the pre-match ‘war of words’ than on the upcoming contest itself. Vincent Hogan has a piece on the James/Jimmy ‘rivalry’ and Martin Breheny has a similar dish on the menu. You’d think they’d have had a chat over their laptops in advance and agreed to plough different fields on this issue but, then again, this is the Indo we’re talking about here. Breheny also has a preview of the game where he tips us, pointing mainly (and a bit curiously) to Andy Moran’s return as justification for doing so.

That’s about it, really. I’m heading to Croker today as well as tomorrow – I’d agree wholeheartedly with David Brady’s statement on the (excellent) Second Captains podcast that Bank Holiday weekend is the best weekend of the entire championship, with a feast of action over the two days involving all of the top teams – and I’m doing so as part of a mutual support pact with the kids. I’ll be shouting for the Dubs (not too loudly or anything) in their match with Cork this evening and they’ll return the favour by yelling for us tomorrow. The small lad can fairly yell too, I can tell you.

I’m really interested, however, in the 5pm match against Monaghan and Tyrone, not least because if we do manage to clock (figuratively, Rory – and, no, I didn’t wink at anyone either) the All-Ireland champions tomorrow, then it’s the winners of this match that we’ll be facing three weeks hence. You’d never know, I might even rise to some audio ramblings from HQ later on if the fancy takes me.

Till tomorrow.

UPDATE: The fancy did take me – my audio report from Croke Park tonight is available here. Joe Brolly beats me hands down in the foaming-at-the-mouth stakes, I’m afraid.

51 thoughts on “The day before

  1. This is a massive game for Mayo. Was a step too soon making AIF last year. We are further along this year and can’t worry about who we have played this campaign. Donegal were worthy champions last year and we cannot argue with that. Some of the rhetoric coming out of their camp has been ridiculous and is only a means to an end. We have the players to do the job with a strong bench. Avoid the early sucker punch and we will do the business over the seventy minutes. Up Mayo!

  2. Like yourself, I have had a few spine shivers. I have read a fair few of the match previews and there is a general feeling that Mayo will come out on top. However, the one thing that I don’t buy into is the “war of words”. I really feel that it is the media that is hyping up the “war of words” and not the Mayo camp.

    The only comment that I didn’t like was the collusion comment by Rory Gallagher but yet again it was hyped up by the media However, has anyone got a video of the now “famous” wink by Lee after his booking in the final last year.

    Well, the best of luck to James and all the team

  3. Best of luck to the lads tommorow hope we see andy Moran have a statement game don’t buy Into this war of words only way to beat donegal is to put more scores on the board,play for 70 min and please not start like we didim last years all Ireland .. Wud lik to see plenty of green and red support in croker

  4. I watched the “wink” a couple of times, seemed to be winking at Jimmy Nallen as he was running in to talk to him. The incident was a high tackle because McHugh had put his head down, which is typically how a lot of high tackles happen, the forward tries to draw it.

    Why a defender would be happy with having to play 65 minutes on a yellow card is beyond me.

  5. Just looking back on the 2011 quarter final, Cork like Donegal now were defending champions and both had to come through the back door, Mayo have 13 players that played in that game the one big difference was the odds as Mayo were 5/1 to win that day.

  6. i love the Malachy Clerkin quote ” whiskey neat and Holster unbutoned”
    Also woth a read is Keith Duggan – Sidline cut page 10 sport irish times- I havent that link thingy, He comments very interestingly on the “words” of Jimy, Rory and James.

  7. I’m just looking at the pole on this website, 88% of voters reckon Mayo will win. I’m reading all the reports in the papers and on this site and HS all week. It baffles me really how we can have been installed such heavy favourites against the current All-Ireland champions (whom if as I suspect WILL actually have Mark McHugh available) with the very same team as last year. On the counter I look at our team sheet and it’s pretty much the exact same team as we had 2 years ago. Everyone acknowledged how much Donegal brought football to a new level of intensity last year. So just how this Mayo team which is essentially the same team for 3 years now, are supposed to be so far ahead of That same Donegal team leaves me scratching my head. Obviously what has happened here is McGuiness has won the psychological battle hands down and managed to deflect all the attention over to Mayo in the national media, and more important the national psyche.

    Now this is not to say that I don’t think Mayo can win the game. But, and this is a big but, Horan needed to get the tactics spot on. Looking at the teamsheet it appears he believes that this same Mayo team are better than last year, and he’s bought into the hype that Donegal are well back from last years level. If the team lines out as selected I fear that we could be stung in the first 15/20 mins just as we were last September. I had hoped to see someone like Barry Moran named in the full forward line, to play in midfield, and drop Seamie O’Shea back to help the defence. Andy Moran and Dillon can’t have enough football played this year to ask them to to the vital job of tracking back and helping the defence for 70 mins. The fullback line is going to be exposed once again, against the best full forward line of the modern era, when its been proven the only way to play them is crowd them out and starve them of possesion. I hate to say it but I fear if the team lines out as selected we’ll see a repeat of last years result. The whole thing is set up perfectly for Donegal, written off all week by all quarters, to come thundering out of the blocks. Can lightning strike twice? Yes it can.

  8. I feel like a bit of an intruder commenting on here. Im a donegal lass but i spent nearly ten years in Mayo so i tend to follow them a bit too. No more than last year, if we’re not to lift Sam nothing would be nicer than to see it go west. However, some of the anti donegal sentiment coming from some of the Mayo fans on various online forums is a bit disconcerting. I thought a lot of what Rory Gallagher said the other day was very silly to say the least and to be honest, not very many people up here are even talking about it. However, Liam Higgins, i must say that on the issue of the Lee Keegan booking from last years final, i have watched that game many times and the wee wink he gave after getting the card for nearly taking McHugh’s head off was plain and obvious for all to see. I had forgotten about it until i read the papers this week.
    Anyway, i really think we should all just focus on the big game now. Im very nervous about it and unless the lads are all at their best tomorrow i fear it will be the Mayo boys who march on. And if that be so, i hope to god you go all the way this time.

  9. I know it’s a cliche but has there EVER been a match as important /significant as tomorrow’s ?? My stomach doing summersaults my head is all over the place nothing but MAYO on my mind oh we have to win we just have to …. I know we can I know we should but will we?

  10. This is a Donegal team that has gone down to division 2 this year i don’t believe for a second that was the plan for Mcguinness before the league started.Im pretty sure the plan by any team is to stay up or win the division.Also every game i have seen Donegal play in the Ulster championship this year i felt they are beatable and they were beat and i believe that will be beat again tomorrow.I wouldn’t share the same opinion the mark mchugh will play.If Horan is as good a manager as we believe he will use what Rory Gallagher said to his advantage.I also believe that Mayo will be that little more hungry to win.Something Donegal has not shown up to this point.If Mayo were playing against Dublin i might have worried about them being up to pace.Don’t forget Donegal have played 3 games in three weeks tomorrow will be 4,Mayo will be fresh.

  11. Livenhope, relax,you’ll give yerself a hernia -its a knockout game,same as what we go through most times we’re in croker …no more,no less

  12. Are we nearly there yet?? The prayers to Monsignor Horan, the guidance of James and the Mayo team should bring the result we hope for.Mayo by 2pts.

  13. I couldn’t sleep last night – reading this, HoganStand and other forums, listening to podcasts, watching old YouTube clips… I even watched the entire Quarter-Final from 2011 v Cork yesterday. And for all the panic about Rob Hennelly – who I believe is a very underrated ‘keeper – he had a fine game that day v Cork, and even kicked an excellent 45. I really can’t wait for tomorrow. I am excited but very nervous. I do believe we are a better team and I do believe we will win, but it’s a funny old game and anything could happen. We need to keep our discipline. Silly bookings and, God forbid, red cards would kill us.

    Safe journey everyone. See ye all in Croker.

    Hon Mayo!!

  14. Also, first-time poster here and long-time reader. Great blog, some great articles, links and discussions. Keep it up Willie Joe!

  15. Watching again that clip of the Lee Keegan tackle, no matter how you look at it, it merited a booking and in my opinion was a clumsy and lazy effort by Lee, especially so early in the match. I hope he and the rest of the defenders will have learned from that, as it’s the last thing we want is a sending off.

    As for the outcome of the match, well it’s there for us but we have to take take our chances, as coring opportunities will be few and far between …..

  16. Are there any doubts over the pitch being playable!?? It’s lashing up there now..u have two games this eve and a further two again before we line out! And the forecast ain’t great either!

  17. Joe Brolly is on a rant again on Saturday game live.bit OTT.but he has a point about the cynical fowling.

  18. Well he should be ranting against Ard Comhairle and the GAA clubs, who through their delegates, decide the rules.

  19. Joe Brolly had a point but he was OTT. Tyrone deserved the win as they were the better side however how poor were Donegal that they only managed 0-7 v Monaghan?

  20. Really hope horan doesnt step down if were beaten tommorow, this is all falling perfectly into place for donegal.

  21. At least Brolly is consistent regarding the cynical fouling. He singled us out last year and now Tyrone have done it two games in a row.
    My problem with him is just that – singling one team out when everyone does it
    He was OTT though
    I wonder what kind of team he thought Tyrone were for the last ten years?
    Tyrone are just about getting over the line but pulling players down looks desperate
    Gormley should have gone as well for a punch at half time
    They almost seem outraged that other teams are allowed to foul them so they lash out, knowing they’ll get away with an elbow or a punch 50% of the time

  22. Sad to see Conor Counihan call it a day, I know it had to come but it is the end of an era.
    He did bring Cork to the highest honors and in both victory and defeat he was the most dignified in the sport and seemed a true gentleman and sportsman.The best for the future CC.
    I know it’s a long way off and still a pipe dream but if we do manage to get the better of Donegal and then Tyrone……….and if the Dubs beat the winners of Kerry/Cavan, I think the Dubs are there for the taking.
    The Dubs did beat Cork but although a nice game of football, there was a awful lot of loose errors and Cork made the most.
    Tyrone’s stats seem to be a year early…….14pts…..14 wides and 14 men.
    Anyway I have seen nothing so far to scare us yet and I think our biggest challenge could be tomorrow afternoon…………..yes, there is Kerry (and Dubs) ………….but if we get another chance sure we have to beat them sometime and if (and I believe we will by a margin) get the better of the Donnies then we can go on and confidently set our sights on Sam.
    Mayo by 8….10pts

    MaighEo Abu

  23. Juan,
    Exactly how is it falling into place? 3rd hard game in 3 weeks and this game is against a team that is used to Croke park and big games. I’d say Mayo fans aren’t the only fans sweating tonight.
    Mayo by 4

  24. Stay focused lads. Need everyone at 100%. Think the game is 50-50 but sense a big performance coming. Mayo by 3.

  25. Sad to see Conor Counihan step down.It was the right decision.He has done a lit for Cork football over the years but i think Cork need to get someone new in.Think it will be a some time before Cork will be competing for Sam they have to blood some new players .I don’t think Counihan will be the only resignation from Cork there is bound to be some players who have played for the last time for the Rebels.
    I have the sandwiches made and ready to go for Croker.The excitement is building and i prob wont sleep too well to nite.I get excited the same as when i was a child .its great to know in not the only one who feels like that.Mayo by 5 points.

  26. Dont think ye can read too much into Lees wink, but the high tackle would normally be booked so no qualms there either, We were very nervous to start, In the early minutes of the All Ireland final, EG Keanes poor handling, Alan Dillon put no pressure on Lacey tp allow him deliver the perfect ball for Murphy to score a great goal to settle Donegal and Cillian stupidily over reacted and was lucky not to be sent off when in fairness he should have been awarded a close in free, in any event it worked out well for Donegal because they got their seccond goal as Donegal counter attacked and the rest is history. We cannot afford to be anything like that tomorrow in the first !0 mins and I dont believe we will, James Horan is not perfect but one of his strengths has to be the way he learns from past mistakes. If our heads are right I believe we will sneake a win even if Donegal recover their form and if they dont ,We can win it well. I hope its a dry day but we have to take what we get. Any way Im in a rich vein of form at predicting the football results, last week and this week predicted every result correctly. So for tomorrow I predict Mayo by 2 or 3 points the most likely result. So lets see, Come on Mayo Im in virtually the same seay as last year for the semis versus Dublin

  27. Hi lorrie from Donegal can I have ur number I want to meet u tomorrow for a drink…I’m a good catch I have a good shot of road frontage and a165 mf wit a newly reconditioned engine wit a tidy cab

  28. I watched the game v Roscommon again last night..
    I’ll tell you what if we play as good as we did for the first 50 minutes for the entire game tomorrow we will win we were good in that game.
    Hope the bus strike doesn’t mess things up too much. I think there will be a big crowd up. Best of luck to the lads. Don’t forget the STUDS lads there were a lot of lads on their arses this evening!

  29. This evening’s game between Dublin and Cork was a textbook example of the result of amateurish coaching. Despite being over-run for most of the game Cork could easily have won. They didnt, because they lacked pace in so many positions, poor at retaining possession of the ball and had too few finishers. Dublin on the other hand, dont know how to preserve a lead, invariably took the wrong option and stumbled to victory. It certainly was a case of frantic pace and activity but very little cultured thoughtful play, eventually wearing down a very average Cork team.
    Best wishes to our Seniors and Minors over the w/e. I hope to God, our seniors in particular, desist from bringing the ball into tackles because with Donegal tackling in numbers there are by definition lots of free Mayo players to receive off-loads. May the Gods be on our side.

  30. This Keegan winking business is such a load of bollix. We were down by a goal and a couple of points by that stage we were really flying high? Far from the cute wink we were. Terrible grammer but it’s all in the saying. As for Trolly Brolly, he’d give his soul away just so people would like him, pathetic. Enough said, ignore and it will seep away. I almost feel sorry for him. I won’t roll him anymore ink.

    I have the aul ham softening in the oven as I speak. She’s a sucullent one. The keady loaf is cooling, tin foil at the ready. For the road tomorrow, wink or no wink of sleep.

    If we’re going do it, we’re going to have to beat them and I believe Mayo will.

    This is our time.

    “Come On Mayo!!!”

  31. Was away for a few days so purposely removed myself from the hype. Haven’t been this nervous/excited for a quarter final in donkeys years. I think it is because we are so close to success and there is nothing that I saw in the 2 matches this evening that would worry me. I think there is a big performance is the lads because I don’t think Horan would be feeding the media all the fighting talk if things were not on target.
    I still think there will be a surprise before throw-in in our tactics or a possible player switch. I am a little surprised that he seems to be going for a similar set-up the final, i.e. man-on-man, and not holding someone back, at least for the first half anyway.
    Anyway, time to go. Hope we all turn up in big numbers and roar our lads on. And also that everyone gets up there and back safely.
    Hon Mayo. This is yer time and yer chance.

  32. Watched last years AI again this evening and to be honest for the first 23 minutes of that game we weren’t there…………..way off the pace…. and……. they were good, however, I do see a more ‘in tune’ Mayo this year and I think D. Buckley has ingrained some of that Kerry ‘know how’ into our side.
    We have some great footballers but we made a lot of poor decisions in the past ,rather than play winning football, we tried too hard to play pure football, thus abandoning the need to be hard when needed.
    This time round we seem to have that hardened edge combined with a considerable amount of good footballing skills………………the endless hand passing has given way to clever foot distribution ( and that was the mantra of the great Kerry teams……..a good footpass is way less energy-sapping and can open opposition like a can opener)
    Am not talking of the high long balls into the forwards, like Cork this afternoon but the low bouncer in to the forwards, hard for the defender if the forward gets in front.
    We executed this very well against Galway and the Rossies and the ball has a better chance of ‘sticking’.
    If we can control the game for the first quarter tomorrow, then we will win comfortably, if not, we will have a bit of a climb but that said, I think we have come on a long way since Sept last and will go0 on to challenge Tyrone and whoever on our quest for Sam.
    MaighEo Abu

  33. Shag ye; don’t ye know theres strangers peeping into this site…have ye any pride?..can’t ye say that ye are going to have your ham in the Shelbourne or someplace like that..tut tut

    Mayo by a TKO

  34. As I always say I hope you don’t mind a comment from a Dub, fair play Mayo Exile you should be managing us next year to stop that amateurish coaching. Best of luck to Mayo tomorrow and Willie Joe don’t forget to educate your care on the history of semi finals between the Dubs and Kerry/the Dubs and Cavan depending on who we paly cheers.

  35. Like most I’ve no time for Brolly.. but I have to admit that he’s right about the Cavanagh rugby tackle.. its a disgrace and the rules are wrong. What I don’t get (for a supposedly intelligent man) it’s as if he only now realises how wrong it really is. how many years has cynical fouling been going for Joe!!

    On another note (and in reply to Lorrie the Donegal lass) I would ask the Mayo people shout/roar on your team, complain and give out about the ref, wave your flags and celebrate each score.. If we win.. do so with a bit of pride and if you loose do so also.. I’ve been at enough Mayo matches at this stage going back to 1989 to have come across the odd clown spouting s***e that everyone has to listen too.. Most think, ahh the poor auwl eejit dosn’t get out very often.. Before anyone starts thinking about singing Jimmy’s loosing matches.. remember they won a very important game last year and if we’re good enough to win tomorrow we’ve still won jack s**t. But I believe it will be another step to being our year and we’ll settle for that.

    The great and wonderful thing about our game is its rivalry and yet we all sit in the same stands. I’ll be the one with the green and red jersey shouting my head off at every turn in the game sitting beside the better half roaring on the hills..

    MaighEo Abu

  36. We have to appreciate , welcome and thank Martin the Dub ( see you in the final…….hopefully) and Lorrie from Donegal ( know well a lot from Buncranna, Moville, Carn and Ballyliffen) ……………last year was yous but this has to be our time. In any case it’s great to see such gracious and honest postings from those outside our County.
    MaighEo Abu

  37. Hear, hear, JJ.

    Martin – watch out for those cute Kerry hoors. I’d say they’ve been thinking about a possible semi-final against Dublin for some time and will relish coming in under the radar for it (assuming they beat Cavan, which I think they will). Still too early, I reckon, for either of us to be thinking about a possible Mayo/Dublin final.

  38. The refereeing in the first match tonight could be a good sign for us. He punished all the pulling and dragging and hopefully it has been discussed among the refs before the weekend. If Donegal are carded for stopping our lads or third man tackles we’ll be halfway there. I hope we took note of the performance too and emphasise the dangers of persistent fouling before the game.

  39. Lorrie, I know it’s not your call but way back in 96 I had a £20 bet with an acquaintance of mine from Carn, that we would take Kerry in the semi , now he was renowned for being a tight wad and I’ve never seen him since……………He could have got it back last Sept in tenfold but such is life……….Thanks once again for your honest post ………and of course, commiserations on tomorrows result but this is ours……………by the way if you know a Carn man up £20 , let me know……………All joking aside, you have shown an honest opinion on events .

  40. Rise and shine.I have had my run now time for the breakfast and then it will be time to head eastward. COME ON MAYO!!!!

  41. Mayoman, I take it no pints last night? We are about to hit the road, It’s a great morning in north mayo, I think they say rain in the east in the afternoon so a raincoat is a must. joe brolly is right about the rugby tackles, no place in the game but when you’re desperately trying to keep a lead near the end of a game it’s not easy to let a man run by you. One way to fix it is red card and not allowed play in the next game, simple enough.

    My biggest fear for Mayo today is getting dragged into brawls and mouthing with the donegal lads who like Monaghan and Tyrone are well able to verbally abuse to get the desired result. Cool heads will go a long way in helping Mayo over the line.
    Win this and meet the new one trick pony that is Tyrone, it’s a while since I seen one player carry the rest on his back. Some of their star forwards are living on former glories and we would be well able for them.
    Come on Mayo!!!!!!!

  42. Just about to go and the donkey is gone missing.Feck him anyway.Twil have to be the bike now…hope the rasher sanwiches dont get wet??meetin lads at Nelsons pillar.

  43. Steamy Windows I hope the go faster stripe on ur massy165 is mayo green,if it is u just might be in there.good luck and good luck mayo,by the way bewleys make lovely sarnies and tea in an ould miwadi bottle to go.

  44. Toe to Hand, you’ve restored my faith in the fine Mayo supporters. JJ, I could’ve warned you about them Carn men! SteamyWindows, that’s a grand offer but I’m the wrong side of 30 now to be meeting strange Mayo men up in the big smoke… I’d say you’ll have no bother attracting plenty lovely young cutties with that fine yock you’re driving though.
    Now, here’s to a great day’s football 🙂

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