The Farney file

Photo: RTÉ

Okay, the Donegal game is now boxed away and so it’s onto our Round 7 match against Monaghan next Sunday. This one is back on home turf with throw-in at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park set for the earlier time of 1.45pm that afternoon, which will seem even earlier as the clocks will have gone forward the night before.

Meath’s David Gough is the ref for it. The match isn’t on television – our first match in this League campaign that isn’t – but there’ll be live radio commentary on Midwest.

As the National League draws to a conclusion each year, the Farney lads are invariably up to their elbows in a desperate fight to avoid the drop from Division One. Malachy Clerkin of the Irish Times – a son of Kavanagh County soil himself – produced the wonderful stat twelve months ago that, in three of the previous six years, Monaghan had occupied a relegation spot in Round 7 injury time but in each instance they’d managed to wriggle clear to safety by the time the final whistle had sounded.

They’re back in the soup again this year. The mathematicians might demur but Donegal below them are certainly doomed while Monaghan need to beat us and then hope that results elsewhere go their way.

Photo: GAA

Armagh, just a point above Monaghan but with the head-to-head advantage over them, are in the greatest peril of getting sucked into the quagmire. If the Farney lads beat us and Tyrone beat Armagh then the apples will fall from the Orchard and Monaghan will, once again, have avoided the dreaded drop.

Roscommon (who play Donegal), Tyrone and Kerry aren’t entirely safe yet either but the first two play at home while Kerry, even if they lose, have significant points difference and the head-to-head advantage on Monaghan so, realistically, they’re not in any kind of serious danger. In essence, two from the current bottom three are for the hop.

Conor McKeown in today’s Indo has a good piece about Monaghan’s penchant for escapology and discusses Sunday’s permutations – that’s here.

Given Monaghan’s Houdini-like talents, they’re not the kind of gents any team would be rushing to meet in Round 7. Then again, I’m sure we’re not their ideal dancing partners in the League’s last chance saloon either.

As they know full well, we’re the team in the best form in Division One and, while we might shuffle the deck a bit in light of the matches to come the following two weekends, they’ll know that we won’t be in any mood to gift them a handy passage to the lifeboats.

The Farneymen can’t take too much succour from their past record against us in Castlebar either. We’ve played them there a total of eight times and we’ve won six of those games while they’ve won one and another one was drawn.

Photo: Irish Examiner (Piaras Ó Midheach/Sportsfile)

Our most recent win was last year in the qualifiers, a typically nervy backdoor encounter that we were thankful to emerge from with a four-point victory. That’s also, incidentally, the only time we’ve ever crossed swords in the Championship.

Aside from the League, we also played them in the short-lived Centenary Cup where, in Ballina in April 1984, they ousted us in Round 2, winning by 1-11 to 0-6. Aghamore’s Padraig Duffy got all our scores that day. From our perspective at least, perhaps the less we say about that one, the better.

Back in more recent times, Monaghan beat us in MacHale Park in Round 1 of the 2017 League campaign. That’s their only ever win over us in the League at our place and I guess we could explain it away by the fact that most of our players weren’t long back in the country following their post-All-Ireland final holiday.

As the match report linked above confirms, that was also the night I was surprised by the kind souls of Club ’51 with an impromptu celebration in the Sportlann to mark ten years of the blog.

As well as that Championship encounter last summer, we gave them a good flailing at Castlebar in the 2019 League, on a day we qualified for a League final we went on to win. We beat them handily on home turf back in 2015 too.

This is Monaghan’s first season under Vinny Corey’s management and so far it’s been a ropey enough campaign, as their current standing in the table confirms. They’ve won two and lost four of the six matches they’ve played and that’s relegation form, no matter how you cut it. Teams have gone down on six points in the past and, in truth, that could be the fate awaiting Monaghan the next day, even if they do get the better of us.

They opened this League campaign with two defeats. The first was at home to Armagh, where they were edged out at Castleblaney by 1-14 to 1-12, following which they shipped a 3-16 to 0-14 thumping by Kerry down in Killarney.

Photo: Sports Joe

Back in Clones for the next two rounds was when they bagged their two wins. The first came against a fairly hapless Donegal, winning that one by 1-20 to 0-15, following which they put a halt to the Rossies’ gallop, ending their three-match winning streak. Monaghan won that one by 0-14 to 0-11.

Back on the road in Round 5 saw them take on Galway at Pearse Stadium. That didn’t go well as the Tribesmen won by 1-13 to 0-10. Monaghan found no home comforts back at St Tiernach’s Park last Sunday either, where Tyrone had plenty to spare over them, winning by 2-15 to 0-13, in a game in which Monaghan finished with just thirteen players on the field.

So, it’s now do-or-die for them against us on Sunday, while we have the luxury of knowing we’re in the final the following weekend no matter what happens. You’d still think – winning being a habit as much as losing can be and all that – that we’ll still be keen to do the business. We know they’ll definitely fight like demons for a win that could well save them.

Which leads us to our usual denouement: how do you reckon this one will go? Let’s finish with a poll on that very question.

How will we do against Monaghan?

  • Win (83%, 662 Votes)
  • Lose (10%, 79 Votes)
  • Draw (7%, 60 Votes)

Total Voters: 801

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40 thoughts on “The Farney file

  1. A great position for McStay and co to be in and give game time to a few players returning from injury or on the fringe, surely the easiest team talk going “we are going to Croker in a week, and we have Roscommon first round of championship the following week, are you on the bench or starting?”

  2. Nice pressure free game to look forward to. I always liked monaghan (don’t know why) and would take no pleasure in relegating them but if that’s what happens then “oh well”. Hoping for one or two more to put the hand up for selection. Good luck to all in the mayo shirt

  3. Can see 5 or 6 changes for the next day. O’Connor surely must be rested and maybe Ruane too.

  4. Bad timing for Cillian to pick up an injury but good to hear Stephen Rochford say he expects him back for the championship. Hopefully some of the other lads (Hennelly, Mclaughlin, Mchale, Irwin, O`Hora, Hession) who have been out with injury can get game time this weekend.

  5. Daveslad, doubt that will go ahead. Maybe back end of year when championship over

  6. Credit where credit is due but the archives section on Mayo Gaa Blog is an absolute credit to you WJ. I have to hold my hand up and say I didn’t realise it was as easy to navigate as it is. I only started playing around with it after listening to Rob throw out all the player appearance stats on the latest podcast. Fair play WJ, we are forever indebted to you and the team for giving us these valuable resources.

  7. Thanks, Mayomagic2000, but I have to admit that the search tool wasn’t my work. Ultair, who contributes here, contacted me about making the archive searchable and he then made it happen. It’s a brilliant resource alright and I’m proud to be able to host it here.

  8. My Strong feeling for Sunday is that as we tune in to radios watching from the Stand in McHale Park next Sunday, at various stages of the evening, all 4 , Galway, Kerry, Roscommon and Tyrone of the other possible other will be in pole position to make the final. As for relegation, any two of the following can mathematically make the drop, Roscommon, Kerry, Tyrone, Armagh, Monaghan and Donegal.. only ourselves and Galway are absolutely safe , but Jack O Connor’s Kerry will have other ideas about letting Galway contest the final. ..It’s very hard to see Monaghan staying up this time, and nearest thing to a virtual impossibly for Donegal to stay up.

  9. My feeling is to give several of the recent returnees a run out, that is the likes of O’Hora, Conroy, maybe Cillian if he’s back, perhaps Rory Byrne. We should have enough for Monaghan at home with those guys plus the rest of the regular XV that McStay has been selecting.

    I also like Monaghan and wouldn’t take any pleasure in their going down, but this is a results based business and you’re measured over seven games in the league ultimately. We also need to be fair to the other sides in the relegation mix.

    Any word on the lads on the injury list, the likes of Hennelly, Harrison, Plunkett etc.?

  10. Lots of talk about depth of Galway’s squad,, referencing the 2020 winners. We shouldn’t forget Mayo were only beaten on penalties in Connacht QF. Just look at that Mayo team (again from the blog archives), and see what our lads have done.

    QUARTER-FINAL: Mayo 0-14 Galway 1-11 (Galway win 3-2 on penalties, after extra-time) (MacHale Park, 8/2/2020). MAYO: Jamie McNicholas; Jack Coyne, David McBrien, Luke Tunney; Aaron McDonnell, Rory Brickenden, Enda Hession; Oisín Mullin, Jack Carney; Ciaran Gavin ( 0-1), Frank Irwin (0-2), Paddy Goldrick (0-1); James Jennings (0-1), Mark Moran, Paul Towey (0-9, three frees). Subs: Kuba Callaghan for Irwin, Jack Mahon for Jennings, Pat Lambert for Moran, Adam Barrett for Gavin, Patrick Chambers for Brickenden.

  11. Very interesting that point catcol. Always thought that u20 team were one of the best we’ve put out in that grade over last 10 years. Really should have beaten Galway and we all know what happened afterwards. Not to worry, some of those players will go on to win major honours in the not too distant future, that I’ve no doubt.

  12. Km79 – on the match review pod, Rochy said he was confident Cillian would be available for the start of the Championship. As regards the injury itself, all he would say was that he had got “a bang.”

  13. I’d be resting a few of our players for Sunday as we’re facing into 3 sunday in a row. We should be able to give DOC, AOS and Conor Loftus a break and still be too strong. Bring in POH, Bob Touhy and Towey…..

  14. I’d expect the subs that came on last Sunday. T Conroy, K McLoughlin, P O’Hora, B Tuohy and P Towey will all start against Monaghan and all replaced on the bench by players that wasn’t named on the 26 last weekend

  15. When you look at the way Colm O’Rourke is struggling with Meath at the moment, ie getting stuffed by the Dubs and saying at the weekend that it’ll “take years” to get up to pitch, it underlines how well Mayo are doing and have done this past decade.

    It’s not so easy now Colm, is it? When i think about all the times that man has sneered and belittled our county…

  16. Agree @Mayomagic …change it up a bit re 26 .
    Great test for the lads against a physically strong Monaghan side ( with some serious footballers) really needing to win ..

  17. @Liberal role in the tie
    “It underlines how well Mayo are doing and have done this past decade”

    You’re absolutely right and with this relatively young team we will also do well for the next decade. There are so many players with their best football years ahead of them: Reape,Coyne.O’Brien,Hession,Ruane,Carney,Flynn,Carr,Conroy,Ryan,Bob Tuohy, Towey, Eoghan Mc, Callinan, Brickenden, Donnacha Mchugh. There are plenty in the Under 20’s that have every chance of making it. Morahan, Rio Mortimer, McMonagle, Jack Fallon, the Hurley brothers, Ronan Clarke and Maheady to name a few.

    The journey is only just beginning.

  18. With all the rain due this week it wouldn’t surprise me if some pitches unplayable and it would be a great kick in the arse to the fixture makers if mayo game couldn’t go ahead and the relegation battle be all messed up with no time to play the refixed game. It might get them to put some thought into it the next time.

  19. @Mind the House: We have to pinch ourselves to remember Rio is still only minor this year and a lot of those u20s mentioned still have another 2 years at the grade.

    Looking forward to seeing this year’s minor squad when it gets announced. Hoping to see a couple of the lads from that drawn u14 final between Crossmolina and Westport pushing through a year early. A couple really stood out that night (would bring back a lot of great memories across the county seeing a Mortimer teeing up a McDonald). Young Oisín Deane looked a fantastic prospect that evening.

  20. Your probably right on the u 20s gizmobobs ,meath played last night and won,and a highly fancied kildare team were beaten by westmeath.

  21. Mayo U20s are out in a one off knock out Connacht Championship game vs the winners of Sligo/Roscommon only 3 weeks from today on Wed April 12th. Unfortunately the Leo Murphy final didn’t go ahead a couple of weeks ago vs Meath for which it looked like they were putting out close to their full side with both Sam Callinan and Bob Tuohy listed as starters. This final may not be played as Meath had their first U20 Leinster win vs Longford last night and are playing off a round robin campaign. 20’s I understand have challenge games lined up for this and next weekend ….will the senior lads be released back to to 20’s for these games to get some game time or will they be only made available if at all for the championship semi final game on April 12th if at all? I would be of the view that lads should play their age group at Championship level and not miss an opportunity to win an all Ireland at their own grade (you are only 19 or 20 once )…it doesn’t appear this will be the case though…with the seniors playing Roscommon on Sunday April 9th.. Even at this stage the 20’s haven’t yet been able to field what should be their strongest side…..which makes it very challenging for management

  22. You’re right Liberal Role. Easy to snipe from the comfort of his seat in RTÉ. He’s not smirking now. Maybe when they win the “Tall Tin “ cup.
    Ah No Doubt, you have me praying for rain now.

  23. @Liberal role in the tie, very good post there. I also take delight in watching O’Rourke out of his depth. It isn’t 1980’s football anymore Colm. However, I beileve he is only trying to save his own back and buy himself time with that “it will take years” comment. Trying to be cute about it, but i’ve no doub the people in the know in Meath aren’t buying his comments…Colm’s in big bother I think.

  24. The reality of modern mgmt for team sports is that you need to be fully bought into modem methods or you’ll rapidly lose your dressing room.
    Players are so bought in that they expect best in class off pitch as well
    Regarding underage, we’ve been doing pretty well at bringing through players.
    There’s usually two star players with each minor team and we usually transfer them through to senior.

  25. Don’t know if it’s been posted already but John Fogarty has a great piece in the examiner dated Monday 20th march regarding the structure of the championship. It really goes deep into it and explains how it all works and makes good reading. He said as of now only mayo, Galway and westmeath are guaranteed a place in the race for Sam.

  26. Lots of talk about the Mayo hype machine going into overdrive. 65 posts in response to Willie Joe’s match report would suggest otherwise.

    The 2017 match report on Mayo v Donegal by Willie Joe drew 151 comments.

  27. Jesus, thats two managers let go before the end of the league. GAA is getting a bit premier league.

    I’d agree with Catcol, im certainly not hearing any “hype” in my circles. Yes the team is going well, and I beileve certain players need to be rested, but any seasoned supporter knows this only the league and Championship is very very different.

  28. I can understand Carr’s decision. Best to go now before his hair starts falling out

  29. Rory pulled himself out of consideration with that ticket rather than it being officially rejected…. but you’d have to imagine he didn’t remove himself for no reason so a few more layers to that onion and what went on behind the scenes no doubt (best information on that end of things was probably John Haran chatting to Ref and Enda the other week as they’d been preparing for Rory to potentially leave the club but John too smart to give much away that wasn’t already in the public eye).

    Jim has always said he’d have been willing to be “involved”. Never had any clarity on what level of time/commitment or what type of role that might be while he’s still hoping to focus on the professional soccer roles. That level might get tested and more visible over the coming few weeks.

  30. Hard not to feel for Paddy Carr. You get the impression it was a job he’s always wanted and he just got it at the absolute worst time possible and walked into a basket case situation. Seems like there are a few from the Donegal county board who should really be walking away.

  31. Agree with @catcol to. There is no hype at all from killala or ballina where I am from. Also none from crossmolina where I went to school and Jordan flynn and conor loftuses home town!

    It is so annoying whenever mayo are doing well other counties are like here goes the mayo hype machine..typical.

    It is only the league but we had a bad year last year and after 21 people said we were finished. That and keagan and mullin going..

    So I for one will enjoy the mayo guys having our mojo and confidence back we may not cross the line this year but by god do our guys never stop trying to do so!!

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