The way back?


Just two days to go now until our Round 2A qualifier clash with Derry and although it’s eerily quiet at the minute it’ll be anything but at MacHale Park at 5pm on Saturday. We’ve lost our safety net – with the same amount of carelessness that we did twelve months ago, even if the circumstances of this latest loss to Galway were different from last year’s one – and so every time from here on that we take the field in this year’s championship it’s with the recognition that it could well be for the final time this summer.

Last year, mired in a similar predicament, we plotted a path all the way to the All-Ireland final, all the way to within a fingertip of ultimate glory. We don’t need telling – I had to laugh at Martin Breheny’s stat (he loves dredging up obscure facts, does Martin) in today’s Indo that no county has ever made it from Round 2 of the qualifiers to the final in successive years – that trudging that same road this summer is likely to prove even harder for us.

You largely make your own luck in life but we certainly got a few slices along the way last year to ease our path through the back door. Two home ties to start off with, then Westmeath in Round 4 (this year, if we get that far, it’ll almost certainly be either Cork or Kerry) and, thanks to Galway’s implosion, the gift that was Tipperary in the semi-final. If we do reach September this year, the road we’ll look back on will, for sure, be one littered with more significant hurdles than last year.

How well prepared are we to take that road once more? Writing in his tactics column in the Mayo News this week, Billy Joe Padden argues that Stephen Rochford’s team “have gone back considerably” since last year’s All-Ireland final replay. It’s difficult to argue against that.

The last time we had a player sent off in a high-profile match prior to Keith’s red card in Salthill was Lee Keegan in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry. Despite this, in the white heat of an All-Ireland semi-final tie, that day we produced one of the best halves of football we’ve ever conjured up against the team that ultimately went all the way that year. In Pearse Stadium earlier this month we had a moderate Galway team – let’s be honest here and acknowledge that they were nothing other than this – under the hammer and we failed to beat them, showing an alarming lack of composure in the closing stages.

Let’s not forget either that this year is the first time since 1978 that the county has failed for the second year in a row to reach the Connacht final. Sure, our run all the way to the All-Ireland final last year helps to mask that failure – and maybe a successful back door journey to the All-Ireland Series will do so again this year – but anyone who thinks this kind of provincial under-achievement doesn’t matter is kidding themselves.

I’ve always believed that for us to be in a position to punch our weight nationally we have to be masters of Connacht. If we’re not – and this has been the one constant of the Stephen Rochford era – then it’s difficult to see us continuing to compete at the business end of the championship.

But, of course, we’ve no right at this stage to be thinking about possible days out in Croke Park later in the summer. Because we’re in do-or-die land our only concern is how to get past Derry on Saturday. So we need to forget about everything and anything that might lie ahead further down the road. We don’t even need to be thinking about who we might pull in Round 3A on Monday morning. If we’re not capable of getting by Derry, then all that goes out the window, leaving next January’s FBD as the principal point of focus for us.

I have to admit that, despite our 1/6 odds and the 84% support for us in the poll here on the site, I’m seriously worried about Saturday’s match. Fermanagh gave us bucketloads last year and Derry are a better side than they are. Despite their current League status they’re well used to playing us and they have plenty of relatively recent experience of beating us too. They won’t fear playing us one little bit.

We’ve already shown this year – against Monaghan and Cavan – that we struggle to beat teams who set up defensively against us. Our build-up play is too slow and our tactic of kicking the ball into the inside forward line – usually into Andy who tends to get shepherded out to the wings leading to too frequent recycling, all too often done too slowly – isn’t paying sufficient dividends. If we approach Saturday’s game like we did those two League matches, it’s easy to see us getting into serious bother, not least given Derry’s ability to erect a solid defensive shield combined with the attacking qualities of players like James Kielt, Enda Lynn and Benny Heron.

Set against this, our League matches against Tyrone and Donegal showed that when our backs are to the wall we’re often at our best. To be fair to the team, that fighting spirit was well in evidence in parts in the Galway game too, in particular the period between Keith’s dismissal and half-time. If we’re to be in the hat for the Round 3A draw on Monday morning, however, we’ll need to see that kind of attitude being displayed for the whole seventy minutes.

So, the bottom line is that Saturday’s game is an absolutely huge one for us. A win won’t banish all the doubts but it would mark the first step on a possible road to redemption for us in this year’s championship. It’s a step we’re strongly fancied to take but only a significant improvement – both on the field and on the sideline – will ensure that this happens.

132 thoughts on “The way back?

  1. Willie …a very fair piece.
    Sets the landscape for this game very well with no nonsense regarding the team & individuals.

    The next eight days (hopefully) will be veryinteresting indeed regarding this Mayo football team.

  2. I think last year’s back door route will stand to us this year,going into the fermanagh game last year we were in uncharted territory after winning 5 in a row,this year the lads will have taken last year’s experience and I think itt will stand to us,mayo win by 5 points

  3. Yeah a lot of issues to address, I would agree with Billy Joe Padden, but hopefully things improve

  4. I’d be very concerned about this game too Willie Joe. Not at all confident of a win. Derry will be seeing us as a wounded animal and won’t be afraid of having a proper cut at us. They’re capable of taking out big teams when they want. I think we will seriously struggle on Saturday and even if we do get over Derry, I don’t know how much further we’ll go, being brutally honest.

  5. All of that has a ring of truth to it WJ but do factor in that both Boyle and Higgins were not playing for all the wrong reasons.Neither was Aidan and that is the problem.Our panel is too small to overcome 3 all stars missing.
    It surely matters if all our players not fit or can play.Dont undetestimate their loss as we simply do not have comparable replacements.Cafferkey is only back and Harrison and Keegan are doubts.This is the problem.
    For once our medocal and physio teams may hold the answer to our progression or lack of it.
    Hope lives but it is quivering.

  6. Well said WJ and carelessness is a good word to use for both years – in fact living in Galway, I’m a bit pissed off that they’ve allowed a limited Galway side to beat them two years in a row. I assume the team must be a lot more pissed off with that defeat in Salthill, where much of the damage was self inflicted, and we’ll hopefully see a reaction to that on Saturday. If that’s not forthcoming then it could be all over for the year.

  7. I’m not sure if its correct to state that we’ve ‘gone back considerably’ since the AI final last year. Since then we came within scoring difference of reaching a DIV. 1 league final in a very competitive division and got key wins against Tyrone and Donegal when really needed. Other than that, we only have the Galway game to go on and we were ‘heading for victory’ in the first half only for the Higgins red card to derail us. Granted, though we should have got an equaliser…….but this can happen in a once off game.

    Also, Kirby and Boland are additions to the team………..we’ll know more on Saturday evening.

  8. If anyone is nervous about Saturday then a listen to Brolly on the gaa podcast won’t improve matters. And while he is of course always ott and looking for headlines he does make some valid points as to why he thinks this team is finished and even a bad Derry team might take them. I agree with him that while Kerry, Dublin and Tyrone have brought in young players, especially forwards we’re still relying on Andy and Dillon is still there. In fact no inside forward has made a breakthrough in the last 5 years, conroy, varley and freeman have left and no one has stepped up. Any team cannot survive those stats. And no, Boland and d o’connor are not inside forwards. Also all those people that felt we’re better with out Aidan o’se are seeing a new reality, his power in the forwards is really missed. We need a forward to step up and score 4 or 5 Pts from play on Saturday, long time since that happened.

  9. Willie Joe, you laugh at Martin Breheny’s stat but it seriously annoyed me enough to check it. And yes it’s true but from a sample size of 1. To put yourself in a position to be able to make it from Round 2 to the All-Ireland Final in subsequent years you’d have to go from Round 2 to the final one year and then find yourself back in Round 2 the very next year. Only one team has been in that position before, Down in 2010 went from Round 2 to the Final and ended up in Round 2 the following year (via round 1), losing eventually in Round 4. A stat, maybe. An insight, no!

  10. I dunno, Benny Heron and Enda Lynn will get eaten up all day by the likes of Patrick Durcan and Colm Boyle.
    James Kielt is a forward I like and has a bit of power and class. Mark Lynch has been on a downer for a while.

  11. great piece Willie joe ,a lot of it made my stomach flip with nervousness,
    i haven’t missed a game all year,from the thrashing against dublin to that nail biting win against tyrone,
    i cant make the match saturday due to a wedding,im ragging, had considered asking the bride and groom to change the date of the wedding!
    hope everyone that can make their way to McHale park leaves the stadium hoarse but happy,
    we have to trust that stephen rochford and the lads can once again dig their way out of the corner that we seem to find ourselves in AGAIN ,you have got to hand it to them their grit and determination is just mind boggling,just hope their heads are in the right place, complacency has stung us too many times, game of our lives needed…
    im a wreck today thinking about saturday , i will be checking the blog non stop from 5 pm for updates if any of you would be so kind to let me know how it is going- thanks

    Cmon Mayo

  12. If they fail to win Sam this year would this be the first management team not to win any silver ware with a Mayo team in quite awhile?
    Not saying they won’t.

  13. I listened to it Puckout. He referenced disloyalty in the Mayo team and referenced Tyrone as having total loyalty to Mickey Harte yet a couple of months ago wrote an article about why the Tyrone players were depressed training under him. He completely changes his opinion to suit the current situation. He’s just a complete hypocrite, like that fella in the pub that’s mighty at telling bullshit stories.

  14. Yeah, on all known form we should be navigating this without all that much fuss, but a small part of me just cannot shake off a potential Tyrone 2006-like situation here

    Just on the Derry > Fermanagh point, didn’t Fermanagh come ahead of them in the league this year in fairness and they were reigning quarter finalists when we met them last year aswell.

  15. I also listened to the podcast…depressing stuff but needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. All of a sudden Tyrone is included in the pack that is powering ahead of Mayo…really? He references Brogan and Andrews on the Dublin bench while we still need Andy Moran and the like of Moran and Dillon on the bench…..a fair point and one we all know, but what are Mayo to do? WE simply don’t have the players coming through. Maybe it is all over but I don’t believe for a second anyone is giving up.

  16. I think that’s the point 14allnall41 is making, Maigh Eo go deo. Sam is the only bit of silverware left for us to win this year and if we don’t it’ll be two years under Stephen Rochford and co without winning anything. Holmes and Connelly won Connacht, Horan won five Connachts, Johnno won one, Mickey Moran won one, so did John Maughan in his second incarnation. Pat Holmes didn’t win Connacht but he won the League and Maughan first time around won Connacht a few times. Anthony Egan was there just for the year in ’95 and so, as far as I know, he’d have been the most recent manager not to win some kind of silverware when in charge of the county.

  17. Fermanagh finished a point behind Derry this year, Ciaran – they were both relegated from Division 2 with Fermanagh bottom of the table. I’m not sure either that you get to reign over anything by reaching the quarter-final the year before but I know what you mean – they had a decent gallop that summer and finished that year with applause ringing in their ears having given Dublin a half-decent rattle. I guess where I’m coming from is that, unlike Fermanagh, Derry have significant championship pedigree (Fermanagh have never won Ulster, Derry have won the All-Ireland) and they’d never have any inferiority complex playing us. Fermanagh were a tricky draw for us last year, Derry – despite the issues they’re having themselves – are a downright dangerous one.

  18. We have the player of the year award so the cabinet isn’t completely empty. Relax Jennifer K, do some tai chi, we will prevail, let’s pump up the volume and face this head on.

  19. Who was our manager the day Sligo beat us in Sligo in the first round? I think it was in 2000.

  20. What Billy Joe says in 100%.correct. But despite the fact that we have been playing without the full potential of a few of our ‘Trump Card’s’. We are better than we were this time last year.. Mayo at point in time are not capable of playing for a few months and several match’s at the full tilt of what we achieved on the 2 biggest championship day’s of last September /October… Like last year, including both All Ireland final’s,big mistakes either individually, collective or on the sidelines have been a dagger in the Mayo heart… Only in one match last year did Mayo keep the mistakes to the minimum, and we won the match versus Tyrone by a single point. A match that in any other circumstances Tyrone would and should have won 9 times out of 10..This year versus Galway, did Galway beat us or did we beat ourselves?.. Ditto against Dublin twice last year,.. Ditto again against Galway last year.. And in every other Championship match in between except for the Tyrone match, Mayo made big mistakes, usually letting the opposition get soft goals against us… Examples of which are, Colm Boyle getting arsed to ground by Giant Fermanagh Foward Corrigan for a goal totally against the run of play this time last year, Against Westmeath when Mayo were comfortable heading for half time, a comedy of errors in the Mayo defence leads to a Westmeath goal bringing Westmeath back into the match. These errors against team’s that Mayo subsequently defeated need analysis and elimination just as much as one’s that proved our downfall, it was Mayo’s habit of big errors in Match’s that led to Dublin’s victory in Two All Ireland finals… Now it’s not all negative by any means,.. Certain things have improved in Mayo this year, a glaring a nessarly example of which is the amount of goal chances Mayo are conceding, in the first few match’s of this year’s league Mayo were conceding multiple goal chances by our opponents, but the last few match’s of the league V Tyrone /Donegal and the 2 championship match’s to date Sligo /Galway I can only recall one goal chance against us, that by Galway and was well saved by Clarke… I think David Clarke had it right earlier in the year when he said that,.. ‘Mayo at their best could beat any team in the country, and when not at our best, any team can beat us’.. It’s quite a challenge for Stephen Rochford and the Mayo team to be at our very best, but that’s the task in hand, first step back to redemption begins on Saturday at 5pm… Be there and show your support!. Mayo Abu!

  21. Conor C, Down went all the way to the All Ireland in 2010, lost to Cork by 1 point ( Cork got lots of handy frees ), I was at that final.
    This match is set up for Rochford, ie, lets see if he can come up with something / somebody new / a plan to get over the line. It doesnt matter which team they are facing, plans must be made to deal with the opposition, eg, everthing starts with the Dubs from the kickout, invariably the plan is to deal with the goalkeeper firstly. If Mayo make it to quarters ( they should ), Cork are a team I would’nt fear at all ( if they get that far ).

  22. Willie Joe you definitely seem to be saying that unless this Summer gets much better and especially if we lose on Saturday that we need a new manager?

  23. Great piece there Willie Joe – as usual

    I watched back (God help me) the match against Cavan the other night. We were absolutely brilliant in the first half and wiped the floor with them.

    We- led 9 to 4 at about 33 minutes, after which Cavan picked up a yellow. Great points from Conor, Danny K, Andy, Fergal, and we dealt well with their scoring attempts. But a sitter missed by Lee, and a stupid piece of mouthing by Kevin Mac led to the ball being moved to a scoring position. Our 9 to 4 should have been 10 to 3. Then Cavan stole a point, and we went to sleep and let a goal in. We then did our usual thing and effectively lost the game in the third quarter.

    What’s the point here? We are not playing badly, but we are lacking a ruthlessness that puts a game to bed. Our big men don’t seem to impose themselves as much as they did. Tom Parsons can be infuriating at times. He goes from smashing through a defence to score, to being pushed over by guys half his size, leading to scores at the other end. He really needs to adopt a more consistently ruthless streak.

    Despite everything though, I’m don’t see this team as a beaten docket. Cavan, Monaghan, Galway – we should have beaten them all. Dublin was a disaster, but apart from 2013 & 14, we have been taken apart by Dublin in league games.

    Hunger, intensity, consistency – we need to address these areas.

  24. Ger I asked a question and wj gave the answer wasn’t meant to be a dig at management was just curious that’s all.

  25. When you think about it between 2011 and 2015 we won 5 Connacht senior titles in a row. A lot of those players were also involved in the run of winning 4 U-21 Connacht titles in a row from 2006 to 2009. So all things been equal, was it realistic to expect that these lads, along with a few newcomers, could keep winning the Connacht title every year. We are not Dublin and we are not in Leinster. Something had to give.

    In Damiem Comer’s interview after the game against Galway, the first thing he said was that everyone was saying that Galway’s win over us last year was a bit of a fluke and that was one of the main things that drove them on to beat us again this year. So they beat us this year and last year. They were the better team on both days. They are an improving team, where they will end up, nobody knows.

    For us we still ended up been only a kick of a ball away from winning an All-Ireland title in 2016. That’s what we have to cling onto going into these qualifier games. Can we get back up to that level again. Do we still have the heart for the battle, Saturday evening will tell us this.

  26. One importance to beating Derry is next year. Win this game and we are still at a certain level with new players likely to come in next year.
    Lose this game and its a hammer blow to the team we want to add future young players.
    I’v always maintained 2018 is the peak available selection for the Mayo senior team if we are in the right frame of mind.

  27. I wouldn’t pass any heed on Brolly – he was lauding the Down players for targetting McManus early yet if it was another day else he’d be calling foul. His opinion and his commentary changes with the weather and he’s really only interested in one thing – and thats brand Brolly.

  28. For some bizarre reason I was sure Fermanagh came about mid-table in the league WJ, apologies!

  29. Overall fully agree with the sentiments though and a superb written piece

    I don’t generally believe in gut feelings stuff and whatever and am always inclined to base my predictions on cold hard analysis rather than intangibles and so on, but I really can’t shake off a real nervy feeling about this one.

    Maybe its the depressing Dublin weather!

  30. Road to redemption indeed WJ..Went for a win in the poll but this will be a hungry Derry team and I hope we can match that hunger on Saturday..Rochford needs to get this team back on course. .

  31. Well reasoned piece WJ. On the debate are we better than last year I think we are. OK league was patchy but could see Roch &’co were experimenting. And we finished it reasonably well. I would put two caviats on us being better debate, one being AOS had a part in our late league form and the other being over reliance on Andy to win inside ball and no inside young guns grabbing his jersey. Besides that I liked the early figuring out Galway tact in Salthill until our red and I agree with some others that we haven’t gone for jugular much since 2014. Would be nice to see that ruthlessness return.
    I think our panel is a good bit stronger than Derry regardless of any lingering injuries and the home draw will also help mobilise the Mayo roar. Abroad for this one so I’ll have to rely on highlights and here’s hoping they are HIGH lights.

  32. A bit worrying WJ that a moderate team has beaten Mayo 2 years in a row, a lot easier to accept a great Dublin team doing to it to a Mayo team but a moderate team would be very worrying or perhaps Galway are a bit better than you think.

    I think it was Yew Tree who questioned why the lads on the podcast said Mayo were behind Tyrone in the pecking order, I have to agree with him as we heard the same guff last year about Tyrone. As it stands Mayo are still either the 2nd or 3rd best team in the country, the time to revisit this this is when the championship is over.

  33. I am in agreement with both Willie Joe and Billy Joe I am very nervous about this match. We have to get of to a fast start and take the game to them. Build up a lead and don’t let up. Give them the initiative and a lead and we will be in big trouble.

  34. It is worrying, Big Tom, and that’s largely why I am worried. Once I could take but twice is hugely concerning. I could be wrong, Galway could show they’re top class this year but somehow I have my doubts.

  35. After watching the galway game again ,(although my recording stops before injury time for some reason) we had some good plays , we were very unlucky , cillian could of had a goal in first half that rattled the crossbar , the goal chance near the end would of gone in most days . our kick passing at times was excellent . I know that’s a positive hat type thinking but honestly there is life in this team yet and ffs let’s really get behind them .

    I wish I could find that tomas o se quote from a piece he did after he hung up the county boots, it was something like this , ” Cork beat us , so it was to the qualifiers we went , I remember how the crowd gave us a right roar as we came out , we knew they still believed in us , it was a good boost” they landed Sam that year. Just fuck the doubts , we all have them , let them know we still believe , raise the roof . Come on Mayo .

  36. I think WJ is bang on the money about galway

    To be honest id be very surprised to see them in a semi. And if they are Kerry (who I’m still far from convinced by their current outfit by the way) would annihilate them if they make it as expected

  37. There seems to be a lot of nerves around about Saturday’s game. I suppose some are understandable.
    I have my worries about this year too, but not about Saturday. I think Derry are a very limited side, the Fermanagh team we played last year were much better to my mind.
    We struggled there, so maybe that’s where the worries for Saturday are coming from. But I think we’ll be fine Saturday.
    It’s later on that would cause me concern. But one game at a time,.

    But sure, as Sean says above, let’s get fully behind the lads and see where it takes us.
    If we’re not good enough or this team and the older lads have simply run out of gas, then so be it. But full support from us is the least they deserve until that day arrives.

  38. Derry for most of their game against Tyrone played well. Poor shot selection but overall performance was good.
    Galway are no great shapes. They will find themselves wanting against top oppsoition at the business end of the season.
    As Billy Joe said we have gone back against where we were last year but I believe we will turn things around. We have to. Derry will test our resolve and a below par performance will be punished. This team is not finished, if the team meeting did take place then great. It shows the hunger, desire and will to win is still there.
    Nervously going for a win.

  39. i don’t get the mindset of some people. oh the team is on the way down, we’ve produced no new forwards blah blah blah.

    the team lost an all ireland replay against the Dubs only 9months ago.

    what if tyrone knocked the Dubs out in the semi or monaghan in a quarter. this might turn out to be the best chance of winning it even if team is not at peak.

    The more the team keeps putting themselves in contention the higher the probablity of eventually getting over the line.

    There’s also an orchestrated campaign by the Kerry pundits to talk down Mayo i think. no new players, couldn’t win it at their peak etc to me this is an attempt to get inside the head of a couple of players you just get a couple of lads to think theyre finished and could have a big impact on a teams performance and get rid of Kerrys biggest obstacle on the way to a final

  40. reTEAM; Ithink S.R. should pick evan regan from the start on saturday and let him off . he is young and not afraid to have a shot. he will be more familar with mchale park than pearse stadium . i think he could score 6 or 7 points from play(LIKE PAUL MANNION ).evan’s time is now ,let youth have its chance.

  41. Team i would pick injuries permitting.
    need to roll the dice now:







    impact subs:

  42. I hope we give Kirby or Regan a go in the inside line and moreso I hope we take it. It’s a year too soon for loftus. As I said before, the young lads should be going through walls in training to get a chance.

  43. Centerfield, I think Kerry have their sights set on Dublin… Only a few issues, a few teams and a few individuals can dominate the GAA narrative at any moment in time… Mayo aren’t in the headlines at the for the moment. Aiden was center stage for a short time ‘Selfiegate’ that was a quite week when nothing of note was happening,. The idea of a Gaa star player obligingly taking a photo with a few children, being somehow worthy of negative headlines is laughable.. However real attention grabbing headlines were served up to us by soon afterwards , with Brendan O ‘Sullivan managing to serve a lengthy suspension for the taking of prohibited performance enhancing substances, all be it that it was found to be a genuine mistake, apparently without anybody knowing about it. Then Diarmuid Connolly in quick succession, and Jim Gavin taking the opposite view of his Kerry rivals by making sure that everyone knows about it… . Kerry have Cork to ‘not worry’ about, and it remains to be seen who Kerry will have to ‘not worry’ about afterwards… If it’s Mayo? ! And let’s wait and see first,! I’d give Mayo a better chance at the quater final stage versus Kerry than later on… So while we are out of the national limelight for the moment… Let’s get our own house in order, and prove to the GAA world that at our best, ‘there is no team that we can’t beat’!

  44. Tomorrow, I think. It’ll be on @MayoGAA first and if I don’t pick it up straight away, which could be the case as I’ll be on the road at some stage, someone else is sure to post details here shortly after it’s announced.

  45. Concerns are understandable if you take it we lost to a very average Galway team. So there is a danger we could lose to an average Derry team.
    However, we should be mentally more tuned in since our wake up call in salthill.
    But has Billie Joe Padden and Will Joe point out, we need to get it right tactically. It dosent need to be complicated. Throwing in AOS at full forward v Galway and throwing a few good balls into him may have been enough to at least win a few good frees.
    Im not in favour of setting out our stall defensively. We need to take this game to Derry and verify difference in quality of the two teams.
    We will have an idea, when team is announced, what is the thinking of the management.

  46. My old buddy Paddy has it about right. He is willing to give all of you doubting Thomas a ton for every pony you can get your shaky hands on between now and Saturday evening. You even get your pony back again. I expect to see that price plummet over the next 48 hours to evens at least. If everyone of you have the courage of your convictions and put your money where your mouth is. His price is about right IMO so I will keep my 2 p’S worth in my pocket. I believe in this group of footballers. I am going to McHale Park to see them beat this Derry team. Simple as.

  47. Derry are conceding 1-16 per game this year which is far from showing the ability to lock a defensive shield. 5-15 they conceded against a so called moderate Galway who played that game without Armstrong,Comer and Conroy. For one reason or another Derry have lost so many key players from their side that was holding their own in Div one not so long ago and that is why they have now dropped to Div 3 . I rate the current Derry team about the same level as Sligo and Mayo beat Sligo by 9ts without showing the “real” Mayo if you like.

  48. @mayomagic
    That puts current Derry team into perspective. Im sure they will go for one big performance against Mayo but maybe the bookies have it right. Definitely opportunity for us to give fringe players a run

  49. I had a nightmare last night I was a Mayo defender being continuously attacked (in a football sense) by up and coming Kerry U21s. Somehow I was from Knockmore and managed to hold my own hitting man and ball.
    Bring back the Knockmore shteel?

  50. A game like this probably sums up some of the Mayo supporters thoughts before important matches. The talk goes from us been finished and going nowhere to talk of us hammering the opposition out the gate. That’s some of the supporters I suppose, no middle ground.

    All I ever ask to see is for us to display the same heart, spirit and determination that we showed against Kerry, Tyrone and Donegal in the league this year, which I expect us to do. Maybe added to that, to take our goal chances. We missed a number of goal chances against Sligo and Galway, so you’d love to see us bury those kind of chances against Derry. Best of luck to all involved on Saturday.

  51. Galway might prove to be a moderate team but against Mayo they were really up for it. Their goalkeeper and backs aren’t great but the more high profile games they play the better they will get. Their Goalie didn’t look near as bad on playback as it seemed in the stadium. Having said that apart from Comer and the odd cameo by Walsh none of their forwards did extended harm. Conroy was good but has been inconsistent in the past. They hit us hard but if the ref did his job properly we would probably have won the game. Not sour grapes but they were momentum changing. They were very good for 2 short spells at the start of each half but yes we should or could have beaten them with 14. Apart from goal chance all our other chances were at best 50 50 and Galway clogged the channels. Kirby’s strike was good and Diarmaid could almost guarantee his chance by catching first. But normally he’s a good goalscorer and misses happen but that was our go for the jugular moment in that game.

  52. My main hope for the management is that they drill into our lads to go for the jugular and take the goal chances. In 2013/4 we were really dangerous after turnovers and buried teams in Connaught. Would like to see that ruthlessness return. I think team and panel is good enough to beat Derry, just this aspect I’d like to see more of. Being only 3 ahead of Tipp last year before COS late goal. Yes on they day they gave as good as they got but we should have been cutting through them more and have them buried. Derry don’t have 2 inside men as dangerous as Derry’s and Dubs showed a new tactic of 7 forwards to beat the blanket. If they don’t defend deep we win this game most times, if they do we need management plan and I have good faith in management to find one. Kirby and Nally are long range shooters so one or both starting would help the cause.

  53. Agree with centre field’s comments regarding Kerry pundits, they do talk down Mayo at every opportunity and see Mayo as the only threat to getting to the final. Assuming Kerry win this weekend their next game a quarter final, potentially against a Mayo team on a roll. Definitely not what Kerry want. We just need to survive until then.

  54. I’d be more than happy with a couple of points win no more injuries or suspension’s and a good run of the bench.
    If we want to get to the guarters we have to be improving every game and be in top shape if we hit croker.
    Jesus it puts the heart racing just thinking about it.
    Still one game at a time sweet Jesus that’s all I’m asking of you.
    Roll on 5 pm
    Up Mayo.

  55. I think we should win but need to treat Derry”s league form with a bit of a health warning. They were without the Slaughneil contingent for all of it and they’ve some serious players – just look at how well McKaigue marshalled Connolly in the club S/F.

  56. Quicker transition from defence to attack, get the ball into scoring zones quickly and take the shot when its on, none of the constant recycling trying to manufacture frees.

    No sweeper, not needed v Derry or most teams for that matter. Derry will prob play a double sweeper so Mayo really need bodies in advanced positions not standing in defence being a spectator.

  57. Every which way but Lose. These are strange times we live in, Jim McGuinness heading to China, Mayo heading to the GAA version of the Camino way. Diarmuid Connolly on sabbatical, Nestor cup has left the parish until July 2018 but like Adele, won’t be in a hurry to leave again. Roll on Saturday 5pm.

  58. It looks like Derry might try to rough us up a bit, so we need to be ready for this. Comments below made by Damian Barton, the Derry manager, in The Irish News:

    Derry underdogs can do things the Down way says Damian Barton.

    DERRY’S players could learn from Down’s fearless giant-killers and set their minds to shocking Mayo tomorrow, says the Oak Leaf manager. “They adopted a very physical and aggressive style and I wouldn’t be critical of that – an awful lot of players could learn from it.” Their up-and-at-’em display has shown other underdogs what can be done.

    Barton believes Derry will win in Castlebar, but the westerners – with three All-Ireland final appearances behind them in the past six seasons – are hot favourites.

    “We want to move to round three and we certainly got a really difficult draw. Both teams like to set up defensively and break quickly and we are really looking forward to it despite the fact that a very partisan crowd is going to really, really outnumber our support. There are a few niggles but we should have all hands to the pump and everybody will be available for selection,” he said.

  59. Good stuff HSE. Love that bit “They adopted a very physical and aggressive style and I wouldn’t be critical of that”. I’ll bet he wouldn’t!

    Mayo have dished it out over the recent past, but we seem slow to realise that others wait in the long grass to dish it back. There’s a certain lack of awareness of big hits coming. But, we should not be waiting for them. Retaliate first and be, in Mr. Barton’s words, very physical and aggressive.

  60. Cheers catcol, yeah Monaghan were taken by surprise by Down’s big hits, so we can’t fall into the same trap against Derry.

    We do need to do it in a disciplined way though, as we don’t want to go down to 14 players two games in a row.

  61. Monaghan were taken by surprise by Downs direct approach into stand out target man Harrison who was excellent in taking scores and quick distribution, until he went of injured. Down had no real plan B for that scenario. Lets hope we have a standout player in ff line, kirby my choice, and take the game to Derry. Opportunity here for our forwards to shine as forwards. Agree with mayomad above
    Any teams subs news?

  62. I get the feeling that no matter what Rochford does he’ll come under heavy criticism. A few people seem to be sharpening the knives for him.

  63. Keith Higgins 3 time all star in corner back position is not a good corner back according to joe bollix today. It’s a blessing in disguise he’s out he says.

  64. Probably unfair Maigh Eo Go Deo. he needs to prove himself. Our last two championship matches have arguably been lost on the line by massive bad calls. He will know himself that he is a goner if they lose tomorrow. As Willie Joe said no trophies in two years isn’t good enough.

  65. Rochford has had ample time to get his act together..You think that there will be knives sharpened if he gets this team to play like we know they can and come through tomorrow unscathed??Any other scenario and he’s been the master of his own destruction..

  66. In fairness to Rochford and I’m not his biggest fan but there wasn’t too many queing up to take over the Mayo job after the previous management were overthrown so I think he deserves a chance until our championship comes to an end

  67. I see both of you have the knives well sharpened already, Regina and Cynthia 🙂

  68. Cynthia – “Our last two championship matches have arguably been lost on the line by massive bad calls.” – Yea, of course, it was an awful bad call by Rochford when he got Higgins to knee Comer in the cojones.

    Regina – “Rochford has had ample time to get his act together.” – So guiding us to an All Ireland final in his first year in charge means he hasn’t got his act together.

  69. Stall the ball there, please – we’re still in the championship so team and management deserve our full support. Talk of knives being out is daft and pointless, we all need to focus instead on the big test ahead of us tomorrow.

  70. That’s my point, but they’re obviously not getting full support judging by a lot of comments I’ve been reading on here over the last few weeks.

  71. Hindsight, is a wonderful thing! And Mayo’s many fans like so many others are blessed with it. Sometimes I hear the auld fella’s in the corner of the pub, playing 25 and they can make the Mayo team of the 1960’s a better team than the Galway 3 in a row All Ireland winners with their hindsight… Mind you ‘hindsight’ is something they are expert’s at, to hear the ramications of playing the wrong card … Not much they don’t know, of course some of them might know why we won, but they would 100%.certain as to why we lost, if losing was to be our fate.. Foresight is a very different thing altogether, a manager has to make decisions, make calls, on who’s in? and who’s out,? one thing is for sure, if the team win’s he escapes the indept postmortem by those of us blessed with ‘hindsight’.. Only 15″ can take the field,… You hope that player’s understand the selection and carry out the the tactical instructions..and perform to the level that will bring you the win. Right now, the team the Stephen Rochford and Co select to start and the tactics decided on, are the Mayo team and the Mayo team tactics. This is the only team that will be representing this great county tommorow, there is no alternative. If you were awaiting a medical operation, would you be sharpening the knives for the surgeon yourself and critical of him/her before he/she had even washed their hands??? . Some of ye posters and no doubt Mayo Fan’s, please put yer knives back into the drawer where they belong , get behind the team, the tactics and the selection for the duration of the match, we should all be on the same side right now.. This is the ‘only show in town’.. Sure it will be still hard to listen to the auld lad’s in corner playing 25, still winning All Ireland’s in their own mind’s, ‘if only, if only, if only’!! .. Mind you some of them that I know, will be there on Saturday and well capable of lending their ample voices to the Mayo cause.. The other’s will still know everything after all is done and dusted.. As for’ Joe Brolly ‘.. Joe is a proud son of Derry, it would be surprising if he weren’t backing his home county for the match tommorow.. But he he will be outnumbered, outshouted and outmanovered by the’ proud son’s, daughter’s, grandson’s and granddaughter’s of Mayo at McHale Park tomorrow. The only thing Proud Joe will outdo us is in, is being ‘outlandish’!

  72. Maigheogodeo..You brought up the knives being sharpened in a previous comment and I was merely referring to it..What I meant was do we think the knives will be sharpened if the team play as we know they can..And the answer is no..Can you imagine this blog tomorrow evening if they don’t win?

  73. There’s real sense of skittishness around the buildup to the game tomorrow evening. It’s understandable to some extent, largely due to lack of consistency over the last two years.

    We’ve only played in patches under Rochford. Ten minutes of superiority and then lapsing back into their shell before doing enough to get over the line. Sometimes.

    Tomorrow I’m looking for that consistency. A consistency to the approach, application and delivery. We need to play to our potential for far longer than a few minutes at a time. I’m not saying we need a 60/70 minute total performance but we need and want to build some confidence and work toward a little momentum.

    Ultimately a win is all we want. But a signal from the lads that we have something left to offer would be warmly welcomed.

  74. @Rock. Yes would agree with that. Consistent in at least not having these bad bad spells of ten minutes.

  75. Good post leantimes,I can’t understand the amount of posters who are waiting for Mayo to fail I know some are loyal to Pat and Noel,but the panel made the decision so we must respect that,I feel Galway are a lot better than last year because of their physicality, and Mayo still matched them, Mayo by nine

  76. I’d be confident that we can get our performance levels up a notch to get the better of Derry tomorrow, however, our ability to get our performances back up to the level required to make it all the way to Croker for the 3rd Sunday of Sept is an entirely different matter. I do hope we see a bit of a shake up in the starting 15 tomorrow. If we could get a few of the younger lads putting in some really strong high octane performances, it could be just the tonic we need and could really get the buzz going again within the squad.

  77. Lookit, it’s one game at a time. That’s the way it has always been. Derry are the obstacle and Mayo will pass.It won’t be easy. Life rarely is. Mayo have too much and will come through this test, this step on this long road. We will get there. Mayo will rise, sure as cream will sour. Let’s just do our job tomorrow and support the Mayo men.That’s all we can do. Someday very soon we will roar smile into Mayo Mick’s lens and say cheese. Mayo by 5.

  78. The Derry Team and Subs

    1. Ben McKinless-B Mac Fionn-laidh-Baile an Doire
    2. Niall Keenan-N Ó’Cianáin-Seanmhullach
    3. Brendan Rogers -B Mac Ruairi-Sleacht Neil
    4. Karl McKaigue-K Mac Thaidhg-Sleacht Neil
    5. Ciaran McFaul-C Mac Mac Pháil-An Gleann
    6. Christopher McKaigue-C Mac Thaidhg-Sleacht Neil
    7. Carlus McWilliams-C Mac Uilliam-Baile Na Scrine
    8. Conor McAtamney-C Mac an Tiompánaigh-Suitreach
    9. Danny Heavron-D Heavron-Machaire Fiolta
    10. Ryan Bell-R Mac Giolla Mhaoil-Baile an Doire
    11. Niall Loughlin-N Mac Lochlainn-Grianloch
    12. Enda Lynn (C)-E O Loinn-Grianloch
    13. Danny Tallon-D Talun-An Gleann
    14. Emmett McGuckin-E Mag Eochain-Machaire Fiolta
    15. Benny Heron-B O hEarain-Baile Na Scrine

    16. James Kielt – Seamus O’Caoilte – Cil Ria
    17. Michael McEvoy-M Mac an Fhiobui-Machaire Fiolta
    18. Shane McGuigan-Seán Mag Uiginn-Sleacht Neil
    19. Conor Nevin-C O’Cnaimhin-Baile an Doire
    20. Mark Lynch-M O’Liongsigh-Beannchar
    21. Neil Forester- N Fuiristeair-Baile Stil
    22. Conor Doherty-Conchúr Ó Dochartaigh-Droichead Nua
    23. Oisin Duffin-Oisín Ó Duifinn-Baile an Doire
    24. Conor McGrogan-C Mac Gruagain-Droichead Nua
    25. Gavin O’Neill-G O’Neill-Beannchar

  79. Thanks for that, HSE. Power cut here in Aghamore while waiting on our team announcement … Hope the team is named before the laptop and the mobile run out of juice.

  80. David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites)
    Chris Barrett (Belmulet)
    Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites)
    Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis)
    Colm Boyle (Davitts)
    Lee Keegan (Westport)
    Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels)
    Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy)
    Tom Parsons (Charlestown)
    Fergal Boland (Aghamore)
    Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber)
    Jason Doherty (Burrishoole)
    Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
    Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber, captain)
    Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen).

  81. That’s the team on the website dated today. Clearly wrong as I said but that’s what they have up there…

  82. Your welcome WJ, yeah we seem to be leaving it late to name our team tonight alright!

  83. I can see that now, Hego, thanks – it’s a bit all over the shop there, isn’t it? Mind you, that’s a proper dummy team to name … unless there’s a late, late Diarmuid-esque appeal to the DRA that we haven’t been told about!

  84. Maybe some players having late fitness tests, should have something before dark, they need to get a good nights sleep

  85. If I drink much more wine I won’t be able to read the team selection until tomorrow!!!!!
    And I’m nearly certain when and if team selection appears it won’t be team that starts , might as well drink up and think about team selection at 4.45 pm tomorrow

  86. Jennifer enjoy the wedding tomorrow –i am at one too but should see the match in the hotel in Athlone Hon Mayo

  87. David Clarke (Ballina Stephenites)
    Brendan Harrison (Aghamore)
    Ger Cafferkey (Ballina Stephenites)
    Chris Barrett (Belmulet)
    Colm Boyle (Davitts)
    Lee Keegan (Westport)
    Patrick Durcan (Castlebar Mitchels)
    Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy)
    Tom Parsons (Charlestown)
    Fergal Boland (Aghamore)
    Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber)
    Stephen Coen (Hollymount/Carramore)
    Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
    Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber, captain)
    Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen).

  88. Thanks jr, wedding we are going to is a in marquee, but I’ve been told they are setting up a tele for the match , thankfully – least I will get to see it ,
    Mayo by 4 I reckon

  89. Strong team am torn between Killanley and Castlebar but will prob end up in Castlebar id be happier seeing Andy coming off the bench and Conor Loftus and Kirby starting but sure lookit isn’t that it

  90. Same as that and with mcloughlin sweeping and Cillian running deep the only option for quick breaks is pump it up to Andy, who is likely to find himself isolated.
    I hope im wrong put its like more of the same
    Diarmuid at centre half forward could be interesting capable of assisting at midfield also

  91. It does Jenifer I will have to make a quick getaway tho and head to Castlebar I live for Mayo matches can’t miss this one

  92. You trying your hand at match making Leantimes? Stay focussed on game and let those pair sort themseves out!!

  93. Well said on the ditch , we all need to focus on getting over Derry !
    Fair play leantimes -.ya can’t beat a bit of humour , back door sam regarding a quick getaway … I will fly the flag for mayo in Killanley , it’s going to be a great wedding

  94. On the ditch.. Is there any money outa matchmaking?.. Might just give it go… Before the ‘Government’ decide to start a quango that regulates it.. You know those in the what was known as the ‘Pirate Radio’ business are all millionaire’s now!

  95. It will be an awesome birthday and wedding rolled into one and a good result for Mayo hopefully.

  96. At leantimes, before you think of turning professional matcmaker a bit of advice from the Willie Daly, that wily matchmaker from loidoonvara.
    Backdoorsam, you take heed too:
    “when it comes to what a woman looks for in a man, it is simple. It is how big the bulge in his trousers is. And of course we are talking about his wallet.

    “A fella might have lost of all his teeth and never put a comb to his hair, but looks are no longer important because of the recession,” he said.

    “Women now want security, to be looked after and minded.”

  97. Exactly backdoor sam, like you said scene set for wedding / birthday celebrations
    Icing on the cake would be a mayo win too !

    On that ditch – are ya on the gargle !!
    I’m roaring laughing at your understanding of what women want

  98. Don’t worry on the ditch I didn’t come down on the last shower indeed I pulled out in the neck of time ( no double entendres intended) once because of a said woman needing financial security but that’s a story for another day tomorrow is all about Mayo and getting the show back on the road. Hon Mayo

  99. Jennifer K and BackdoorSam, I may see ye both at that same wedding tomorrow, assuming I manage to get up in 3 hours to make my way to the Train that will bring me west!

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