The glass is half full

Okay: I’ve had the full day to let it all sink in, while sorting out stuff back here at home after the fortnight away. Lots of grass to cut, so much so that I felt I should have been using a forage harvester and not a lawnmower on it – boy, it really has been raining round here these past two weeks, hasn’t it? Plenty of time, in other words, in which to ruminate about yesterday’s proceedings at McHale Park.

There’s lots of comment and analysis out there at this stage on the match, both here and in places such as gaaboard.com, mayofans.com and Hogan Stand. An Spailpin also provides his usual cogent thoughts on the game and it’s great to see No One Shouted Stop! back again in action too.

Like most other Mayo followers, I was well pissed off leaving Castlebar yesterday and most of my dark mutterings chimed with many of the comments made on the discussion boards today. In broad brush terms, what really stuck in my mind was the fact that it’s now two years into the Second Coming – which many of us thought would finally see us landing Sam – and we still can’t even win the Connacht title. This wasn’t meant to be how the Progidal Son’s second stint in the Bainisteoir’s bib would work out.

But now is not the time for us to be overly critical about Johnno and the championship team he is still quite obviously attempting to put together – Lord knows, there’ll be time enough to kick over the traces once we’re out of the race. The simple fact is that we’re still in the championship, still at the same point we were at before the ball was thrown in yesterday because, like then, we still need to win one game to reach the All-Ireland quarter-final.

This means that, three weeks from now, we face a game of equal importance to the Connacht final, though, given the insane championship structure we operate under, we won’t learn who our opponents will be in this shit-or-bust match till a week before the game. But if we win this showdown, we’re back in the hat at the business end of the championship for the first time since 2006.

We all know that our appetite for the qualifiers isn’t all that great but the situation we face this year is very different to twelve months ago, where we got dumped out of Connacht much earlier and so, after an inordinantly long lay-off, were faced with having to battle through three qualifier rounds to reach the All-Ireland series. This year we’ve only one match in the qualifiers and the last time we were beaten in the Connacht final – in 2005 – we used this route successfully to reach the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Sure, there are all manner of big beasts in the qualifiers this year but only four of them will be left in the draw to face the four beaten provincial finalists. Who we get will, literally, be the luck of the draw and, until the first two rounds of the qualifiers are played off, there’s little point in speculating about who our opponents will be. Personally, I’d favour a tough draw because there’s little merit in clearing a small hurdle just to reach the quarter-finals. We did this (having had to play three qualifier rounds) in 2002 and we were embarrassingly poor against Cork in the quarter-final. We got another soft draw (against Cavan) in 2005 and, while we redeemed ourselves somewhat against Kerry in that year’s quarter-final, we were still well beaten.

I’d prefer to see us having to earn our place in this year’s All-Ireland series and so would be hoping for the likes of Tyrone, Meath or Derry or someone of that ilk. If we can beat one of them, then we’ll know we’re in the quarter-finals on merit, with the added benefit of having come through an additional hard match. Had we won yesterday, we’d still be clapping ourselves on the backs and telling each other what great lads we are but we wouldn’t have had that extra match to bring us on. That’s why I feel Galway will, once again, fail to make it past the quarter-finals this year. We mightn’t even get that far but, if we do, I’d fancy our chances to go further than they do. In that respect, the glass is certainly half full, for now at least.

4 thoughts on “The glass is half full

  1. couldn’t agree more – the opportunity is absolutley still there to make an impression in 2008. We have our weaknesses but so have every other team – the only potential perfect 10 team came a cropper against Cork and are now also in the qualifiers like ourselves.
    There is room for improvement without a doubt and JOM has a bit of work to do to get the squad fired again up in the right way and to select the best team to take the pitch.
    But if you look through the online chats on other counties who fancied their chances but are now also in the qualifiers the “armchair analysis” of players and managers is much the same as ours – selection mistakes, players not performing, managers not performing, referee not performing, forwards not sharp enough, backs not hard enough, midfield not big enough and so on – everyone (like ourselves) has the benefit of hindsight and an explanation or a fall guy to hang it on !
    We are still good enough to meet any team that comes our way and I agree it would great to meet and beat one of the tougher ‘big beasts’. That would be good for confidence. If we meet a toughie and can’t beat them well so be it – we know where we stand. But as of now I can’t see one team in the qualifiers that we couldn’t beat on the day – whether we can get a consistent winning run against a number of top teams in succesion is another question !

  2. I hadn’t thought about it like that but, of course, there’s no reason to think that any other county’s armchair critics would be less cutting than our own!

  3. The game on sunday was unfortunatly not the happy result but it was Not a dismal failure.
    At the end of the day it was probably the best (hard fought, hard football and hard won) game on view in the championship to date.
    And in my opinion you’re both also right in asking for a good toughie in the next round. It’s the only way to see if progress has been made.
    But, it’s good to draw out some debate on the latest game played. Good rational analysis helps us to formulate and make the correct conclusions on all issues. Armchair Critics we may be however that’s all the opinions we have. It’s no harm to publicise them. It’s also my opinion that long term they might even aid a breeze to sway victories in our path and if so then surely they are a good thing.

  4. Debate is useful alright but I guess my concern is that it’s so easy (as the thread on gaaboard.com shows) for it to swing to extremes in terms of criticising players and managers. Had we won by a point – or even got the draw our performance merited – the post-match debate would, I think, have had a very different tone. Proof again of the thin line between success and failure!

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