The weekend’s football action

Photo: The 42

The provincial skirmishes in this year’s all-changed-changed-utterly Championship continued this weekend, clarifying a few things in the process. This year’s likely Connacht champions for starters. Plus the moribund nature of the Leinster and Munster Championships.

There was a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God moment, with Colm O’Rourke’s Meath, who have consistently punched below their weight for a generation at this stage, finding themselves in the Tailteann Cup, having crashed out of Leinster at the hands of Offaly this afternoon.

There’s also the still developing story of Donegal’s vertiginous decline. Beaten today in Ulster by Down they’re at least guaranteed a place in the round-robin stage of the Championship but, on the evidence seen so far this year, that could prove an ugly experience for them.

Closer to home, Galway and Roscommon went toe-to-toe at a packed Dr Hyde Park this afternoon, in what was, in all but name, this year’s Nestor Cup decider. Sligo will, of course, have something to say about that, having demolished New York yesterday, but Galway will now be overwhelming favourites to seal back-to-back Connacht titles this year. If they manage this feat, it’ll be the first time they’ve done it in twenty years.

Roscommon came into today’s game a bit like the proverbial dog that had caught up with the car. They’d apparently worked since before Christmas with the sole aim of beating us on Easter Sunday but, having succeeded in doing this, it wasn’t clear what they were going to be able to do next.

Unlike us, Galway didn’t face off against them still knackered from playing a League final a week previously and with an overly welcoming attitude at the back. You always got the feeling that the home side would struggle against the well-organised shawl and so it proved over the course of a rather leaden first half.

When the Tribesmen went five up on the resumption, it looked like a right thumping might be on the cards. To their great credit, however, Roscommon roused themselves and the goal they scored to snatch a one-point lead, the ball inside claimed expertly by Enda Smith and finished emphatically by Ciaran Murtagh, brought the contest properly to life.

A wafer-thin advantage isn’t one any team can afford to sit on with over twenty minutes left to play. When Galway hit the front again, the Rossies were back to square-one, once again chasing the game. After Damien Comer’s goal, which was a touch fortuitous but he still had to win possession and finish to the net, which he did with aplomb, there wasn’t going to be any way back for the home team.

So Galway march on to the Connacht final, where victory there will guarantee them a spot as one of the four top seeds in the draw for the group stage. Kerry and Dublin will obviously be in that pot too, as will the Ulster champions, though, as ever, that’s not the easiest one to call, even at this juncture.

The line-up of second seeds is clear enough, a cohort that is, in truth, the weakest of the four pots. Clare, Sligo and one of Louth and Offaly will all be in there, with the beaten Ulster finalists the toughest nut to be added to that grouping.

After today’s defeat, Roscommon now find themselves back in the same position we’re in, as a third seed in the draw. Their win over us proved, all told, meaningless enough, though having had two hard Championship games under their belt won’t have done them any harm either.

Tyrone are in with ourselves and the Rossies as a third seed. The shake-out in Ulster and Leinster – where further progress (or the lack of it) for Down or Offaly is of particular interest – will dictate who fills the remaining slot. Whoever it is will definitely be from Ulster and it’ll be either Monaghan or Derry.

In addition, if one of Down or Offaly make their respective provincial finals then Kildare – Leinster’s other big underachievers, given their population and resources – will drop to the Tailteann Cup. Unless, of course, they beat the Dubs. I know, white blackbirds and all that.

If both Down and Offaly progress, then Cork will also fall through the Tailteann Cup trapdoor. That means there’s plenty on the line arising from the upcoming Leinster and Ulster semi-finals.

The draw for the All-Ireland group stages is due to take place on Tuesday of next week and will be streamed on GAA GO. By then the Ulster and Leinster semi-finals will have taken place – they’re fixed for next weekend – and so while first and second seedings won’t be determined by then, all the third and fourth seedings will, enabling the draw to take place.

Once it does, the focus will shift from the early exchanges we’ve witnessed so far onto the uncharted territory of the group stage and what lies beyond in this year’s Championship. This initial phase, which has shown the provincial Championship format to be more jaded than ever, will soon be forgotten once the Championship begins in earnest as the round-robin clashes get underway four weeks from now.

116 thoughts on “The weekend’s football action

  1. “If both Down and Offaly progress, then Louth will also fall through the Tailteann Cup trapdoor.”

    – I think that should be Cork instead of Louth.

    Tyrone are guaranteed third seeding, and the fourth will be Derry or Monaghan. Only defeat for Dublin against Kildare can change that, and then only if Derry were to lose to Monaghan.

  2. Galway look very impressive. A well balanced team who came from behind today, they seem to be the complete package. Building momentum too along the way. I think they are quite possibly the best team in Ireland right now though Dublin ,Tyrone,Kerry may have something to say about that.

  3. Thanks, FrostTHammer – I’ve edited the piece accordingly. I’d forgotten that Tyrone are also guaranteed a third seeding at this stage.

  4. Impossible in my opinion to say at this stage how good any team is .no one seems to have a total grasp on how the championship structure will work at this stage and Kerry and Dublin have no opposition in their provinces so don’t need to show their hand .Galway looked impressive at times today but also were opened up for goal chances and as highlighted on the Sunday game they have a peculiar kickout strategy or lack of one .could they beat Kerry or Dublin with Shane Walsh playing as he did today.a hugely talented player who also does some very strange things.

  5. I think Roscommon’s goal for the year was to beat Mayo though they nearly caught Galway yesterday. I think Galway will go close this year and may win it outright although Dublin and Kerry will be hard to beat. I fear for Sligo in the connaught final if Comer and Walsh are on song. As for Mayo I think its a year or 2 too soon to be serious contenders. Our midfield half forward line and full back line needs work so in my opinion we are a work in progress

  6. @Glorydays don’t understand why some people are saying we are 2 /3 years to soon to be serious contenders !

    We are still one of the best teams in the country we loose one match and people saying we won’t be serious contenders. They were flat out from playing the final the week before which they won and beat a Galway side that supposed to be serious contenders? And we are not?

    Kerry & Dubs have both been very poor this year you can’t judge where they are at after their hammering of a poor let’s be honest Junior B Tipperary side and a very poor laois side what divisions are tipp and laois in even?? I felt sorry for them both !

    It just makes me question the provincial championship even more they are pointless now .

    As an off the ball commentator Tommy Rooney even said sure there was more upset between the rivalry fans in mayo/Roscommon game in the stands then on the pitch as mayo are in the last 16 anyway !

    I wouldn’t write off mayo and don’t buy this that we are 2/3 years to be serious contenders go for it this year and every year we have a team we’ll able for it yes our defence needs working on but I wouldn’t write off mayo as serious contenders!

    Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions though of course!

  7. All that is great and awful about the provincials laid bare in one weekend, after two super opening weeks of action

    Down and Offaly prove that there are still upsets to be found, while Kerry and Dublin show all the limitations of their own provinces. Unfortunately it looks like there’ll be 3 very one-sided provincial finals which surely defeats the purpose

    Also, Down likely to get no real reward for beating a 2023 d1 side – in fact they’ll surely end up in the championship tier below them. Still lots of issues to be ironed out

    Galway did what they needed to do, and I thought they never looked in real danger to be honest even after Roscommon’s early second half burst. They’re still not convincingly putting away teams though, its as if we’re still waiting for them to truly pop. They’re still liable to be caught in a smash and grab type game the way they’re going. Some very silly decision making when 3 up – when 4 would have totally killed the game

    I thought Ian Burke had a great game, and Comer showed well and truly how vital he is to them, he has been some servant over the years. I think its madness if they drop John Maher, if there was a “breakthrough player” award of the year he would already be in pole position, but I don’t see Joyce leaving Conroy out
    Good opportunity for Joyce to try a few things for the Connacht final though, as it’ll be a facile win regardless, but I expect he’ll go with much of the same – whether that’s prudent I’m not sure, I’m still not convinced the squad depth is where its needed to be for the business end of the championship and a few injuries will completely kill their chances

    Even with everyone fit I just don’t see them turning over a Dublin or Kerry yet in the real heat of knockout championship. This is 5 wins in 6 though against D1 and D2 sides in championship, combine that with their league form this year and the fact they’re going for a 2nd Connacht in a row then its still clear they’re not an easy nut to crack and will definitely be building a lot of self-belief

  8. Galway looked good yesterday and went about their Business, Joyce will be delighted to get that win and come through without any injury’s. They will no doubt be in the mix towards the end of the summer but are still in the chasing pack. If Galway play any of Mayo, Tyrone, Derry, Armagh in croke park later in the season it is a 50/50 game. If they play Kerry or Dublin it is a 60/40 game.

    There is a lot of football yet to be played and we wont know where teams are at until we see how the 1/4 finals play out.

    Looking at the teams in pot 2 and pot 4 if we avoid one of the bigger ulster teams in our group we should have no issue making a 1/4 final and then it comes down to the luck of the draw and who is on the same side of your draw for the run into the all ireland final.

  9. In an earlier post i referred tongue in cheek that mayo should get their lawyers about being ranked higher than galway and now after reading it again it states “it must be noted that the winner of the league will be ranked higher than the team they beat in the final”. I presume they were just referring to the league only though it didn’t state it anywhere. I’m not looking for a change from 3rd seed but just wondering if I found a loophole in the rules. Any thoughts?

  10. Good spot @no doubt – Extract below from GAA Website. Does that mean if we get drawn in Galway`s group we go in as number 1 seed ?


    Ultimately the 16 counties that will compete in Round One the All-Ireland series are to be seeded in the following way:

    First seeds: The four provincial champions

    Second seeds: The four provincial runners-up

    Third seeds: The next four highest ranked teams at the conclusion of the league

    Fourth seeds: The next four highest ranked teams at the conclusion of the league

    It must be noted that a league final winner will be considered a higher seed than the team they defeated in the final. “

  11. That’s completely irrelevant for D1 but could have had an impact in D2 and D3 – it means Dublin are ranked higher than Derry, despite Derry finishing 1st in the table. Obviously the fact Dublin will walk Leinster makes it redundant but it could in theory take effect if Kildare somehow beat them and Monaghan beat Derry, and I’d say it could certainly play a role next year

  12. Jese, reading it as per JKEL88 posted is a bit crazy without a superceding definition elsewhere.
    I’m not a legal expert, but I do know from common sense you need a superceding rule written elsewhere to undo the last piece of text in how it is phrased in JKEL88 quote.

  13. ^^ by that I mean, if Derry and Dublin lost, Dublin not Derry would get the last seed 3 slot

  14. Ciaran – Makes sense what you are saying but there is a bit of ambiguity around it. If it says “the league final winner is considered higher seed than the the team they beat in the final”, i would take it as if we ended up in a group with Galway we would be the higher seed after beating them in the league final.

    TBH if we ended up in Galway`s group id be happier to play them away in Pearse.

  15. Galway looked good, but not as impressive as I had been expecting. Actually, they completely lost their shape and direction when Roscommon came at them with more purpose and pace early in the second half. The Rossies butchered another two very good goal scoring chances that had even one of them gone in, would have left Galway with serious questions to answer. In fact, I’d say the Rossies are rueing not going at Galway a little more in that first half, certainly Murtagh hinted at that in his post game interview.

  16. The Rossies could have won that game alright, Galway were o.k. but not overly impressive. I think they could improve though, if I was Joyce I’d move Conroy to the forwards when McDaid is fit enough to start along side Maher who apears to be a good addition

  17. Galway was the better team and deserved their win but a lot of breaks went their way in order to win and were well beaten on kick outs winning I think just 10 of the 39.

    The rossies will be left with what Ifs after yesterday. What If only the ball was palmed into the net instead of wide by full back Conor Daly in the 2nd half, if only Conor Cox could have stayed on his feet when put through on goal, if only the ball had fell to a Rossie player when it came back off the post instead of Comer. if only they had played in the first half like we did in the second. If only they didn’t gift possession so often to Galway that resulted in counter attacking scores.

    Roscommon can still still take positives from a competitive Div 1 campaign and now two competitive championship games against Galway,Mayo. Most impressive thing about Galway this year is their defensive improvement and it’s done without two important defenders in Silke and Molloy. Highest score they have conceded in league and championship this year has been 0-14, sides struggle to score much from play against them at all now and they do a number on the opposition top forwards for example Aidan O’Shea, James Carr, Ryan O’Donoghue held to 0-1 from play in the league final. Round 7 v Kerry Sean O’Shea 0-1 from play and David Clifford held scoreless from play. Enda Smith and Diarmuid Murtagh the main scorers against Mayo both held scoreless yesterday. As they say forwards win matches, defences win championships

  18. A league final winner will be considered a higher seed than the team they defeated in the final.where does it say it doesn’t apply to division one

  19. It doesn’t apply to Division 1 as obviously the two D1 finalists are the two highest seeded teams, so neither can possibly drop down to seed 4 if they don’t make a provincial final

    Seriously – “First seeds: The four provincial champions” couldn’t be any more clear cut. Do you really think there would be a system where you are worst off coming in the top 2 in D1 of the league than any position below it, despite winning your province? 😀

  20. I find it very hard to feel sorry for Colm O’Rourke he spent a generation sniggering at others with his smart-arse comments like the outdated school teacher he is (and we all sat in front of and thus recognise) funded by our licence fee.
    I remember him being particularly nasty and snide in comments about Ciaran McDonald. He knew it all but now we know he knows F-All…….
    His football knowledge was demonstrated in 2013 before our game against Galway in Salthill when he was asked who will win just before throw in ”Ah I’d say Galway” (off-handed as a foregone conclusion)………..we all know what happened next ………..spoofer

  21. Ciaran – We will find out the reason behind the wording once the draw is made and only if we are drawn against Galway in our group. As it stands it is very ambiguous and open to interpretation.

    Yes it is clear cut that “First seeds are The four provincial champions” but what is not clear is the caveat below it saying “It must be noted that a league final winner will be considered a higher seed than the team they defeated in the final”.

    As i said earlier, if we are drawn against Galway i think most Mayo fans would be happier to travel to pearse as seed 3 and keep our home game against the seed 2.

  22. Ciaran my point is yet again the gaa’s ability to leave loopholes.this whole system seems very odd .the amount of games to play to remove one team from each group seems farcical and to be honest with the horrendous defensive systems being played by most teams it will turn more people off going to games .the first half of yesterday’s game was horrendous

  23. The examiner saying today it’s an open draw as they got a reply from HQ . So how did everyone come to the conclusion it was premeditated for provincial runners up to be paired with a certain province ?

  24. @1989 totally agree with you ! Don’t feel sorry at all for o rourke he has something against mayo . Every match he’s asked who will win always picks the opposite team never mayo and I remember him to being nasty about ciaran Mcdonald!

    Also remember the hill 16 thing when mayo went up to the hill he goes talented teams wouldnt bother doing that they’d just get on with the game ridiculous comments from him.

    I don’t blame keegan for joking about maybe him wanting his rte job back after either ha!

  25. Because on master fixtures there was an error or so HQ now say it was an error

  26. Honestly how difficult is it to organise a workable transparent draw also Provincial championship is pointless in the present structure.

  27. Finally a return to Division 1 and 2 Senior Club League football this coming weekend, hopefully McStay lets all the fit panel members play and we will see which players are going well and it will give likes of Cillian and Tommy Conroy some match sharpness rather all A v B games behind closed doors

  28. Maybe Lee Keegan will come back to the Mayo panel and let O Rourke have his old job back lol lets face it we could do with Keegan. Stranger things………

  29. Huge congratulations to Dublin and their supporters who took the unbelievable brave decision to play a Leinster championship match in the home of their opponents Laois on this occasion for only the second time in this century. All found their way to O’Moore Park in Portlaois and back again to Dublin fair play. Back in 2010 the last time Dublin played a Leinster championship match in the home of their opponents, which was Longford on that occasion. Quite a few ended up in Salthill having keyed in Pearce Stadium, instead of Pearce Park into their Sat Navs… But they realized the error of their ways when they saw the Atlantic ocean, and actually heard one or two people speaking Irish, twas a hair raising experience and the match was over by the time they found Longford. Those away game’s are frought with danger for the fan’s. . But they will have the stories for to tell their grandchildren.

  30. TH doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen. Looks like more of the same again this time.
    Players and club s spoken to haven’t heard of them being made available.

  31. @Glorydays we do need a keegan imagine ha stranger things have happened like cluxton going back to the Dubs I was actually shocked at that one lol

  32. I don’t care how the next stage goes or who plays who. As far as I can see the whole thing is about making money. Gaelic games are a distant second.
    Mayo were right or lucky to lose to Ros. Yesterday’s game, Ros v Gal really shows how ridiculous the whole thing is.
    I see Mayo rising to the occasion and having a long fruitful summer. But I simply don’t like the GAA determination to make more money.
    Grand so!
    Maigheo abu.

  33. Glorydays – whatever about Keegan we could do with having McBrien, Hession, Callinan and Brickenden back involved. None of them played vs Roscommon.

  34. What’s the story with Brickenden? I would say hession will be back for the the round Robin and callinan /mcBrien

  35. So it’s an open draw for the 4 groups. Finally some common sense has prevailed. The GAA have really made this far more complicated than it needed to be

  36. Are our forwards going aswell under McStay as some of our local media make out , scores from play in last 3 games have been very scarce.ROD our best forward is contributing very little from general play as is Jack Carney and Fionn McDonagh who start every game now and Conor McStay as sub.Its not good enough to beat a top 3 team later in championship.
    2 goals conceded to Ross , 5 goal chances not taken by Galway in League Final, 2 goals conceded to Monaghan in last round of the League.Dont see the Conor Loftus and Jason Doherty at CHB working like some other journalists think it is. big problems there as we approach the round robin.Dublin, Kerry, Galway still well ahead of us at the moment I think.

    Mayo from play v Roscommon 6 points 2 points from starting forwards
    Paddy Durcan 0-1, Donnacha McHugh 0-1, Matthew Ruane 0-1, Tommy Conroy 0-1, Aidan O’Shea 0-1, Cillian O’Connor 0-1.

    Mayo from play v Galway 4 points 2 points from starting forwards
    Jack Coyne, Paddy Durcan, James Carr, and Jordan Flynn 0-1 each

    Mayo from play v Monaghan 7 points 4 points from starting forwards
    J Flynn, B Tuohy 0-2 each, S Coen, M Ruane, D McHale 0-1 each

  37. An awful lot of discussion about the group stages, seedings etc and attempts to forecast the make-up of the groups and I must admit that I have not got bogged down in that-what will be, will be. It does seem clear to me, while I don’t agree with it, that provincial winners will be seeded 1 and runners-up seeded 2.In an effort to get enough votes to get it thro’, the GAA have come up with a real dog’s dinner. I feel that the provincial championships will have to be played as separate competitions, or if not, the teams will have to be seeded, to avoid the ludicrous situation in Connacht this year, where the 3 strongest teams were on the same side of the draw. Surely the object should be to have the strongest teams competing for the All-Ireland. As far as Mayo are concerned, I agree with Glory days that they are 1 or 2 years away from being realistic contenders. We have introduced a lot of new youngsters in the last few years, who will take a few years to reach their prime. We also have too many weaknesses, lack of physicality and ball winners around midfield, a suspect defence, especially thro’ the middle and the lack of a marquee forward, such as Clifford, O’Callaghan, Comer, Walsh, who can change games on their own. We need to make significant improvement and I cannot see us doing it this year. I think that the expectations of some are way too high-we can, hopefully, make the Quarter-Finals and, depending on the draw, could make the Semi’s, but I don’t think we are good enough to beat Kerry, Dublin or even Galway, now that they have most of their top players back. The GAA are really going to have to take the bull by the horns and make drastic changes to the game of football, as it is almost impossible to watch games, as a neutral-I turned over at half-time in the Roscommon, Galway game, to the FA Cup Semi-Final-I could’nt watch it anymore. The game, as it stands, now completely favours the negative blanket defences, who funnel numbers back into their own third of the pitch and when they counter attack and get turned over, they commit tactical fouls to break momentum and allow them to get back into their defensive shape. I don’t have the answers, but changes have to be made to favour and reward teams who adopt a more adventurous attacking approach and to encourage the traditional skills of high fielding, kick passing etc. I would definitely scrap the present mark and only award it from kick-outs, which would have to reach the 45 metre line and other changes to consider include, frees from the 45 for tactical fouls, up the field, possible 10 minute sin-bin for such fouls, and possibly, a free in for passes back to the goalie. When I started watching rugby first, it was a boring game, with low scores and very few tries, but the authorities have consistently made changes to improve the game as a spectacle and encourage a more adventurous attacking approach and continue to do so.

  38. @JP & @catcol thanks for the updates hopefully brickenden isn’t in to much pain at least!

  39. @Glasagusderg but we beat Galway in the league final when they had most of their star/top players there ? Yes league is different to championship but we are pretty even to Galway Atm. Dublin as I said you can’t tell where they are at Atm same for kerry .

    I’m still sticking with my opinion that we are serious contenders yes we’ve lots to work on but seriously don’t understand why people are saying we are 3 or 4 years away from competing seriously! Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions of course !

    Dublin have been poor they must be desperate if they are bringing back cluxton and Co an 41 year old no offence to him though he’s a top class player but I mean I still think they are no where near their prime of 6 in a row ! This year is wide open it’s anyone’s game out of the top 6/8 teams in the country and I incude us in that never write mayo off as they say ha!

  40. GlasagusDearg. & In ROD we trust! – Just sit back and enjoy the season, we are going into the round robin as league champions so there is no basis for so much negativity about out chances or players available, we will be in the mix come the 1/4 final`s and if we get a favorable draw, who knows what we can do.

  41. Clare – mostly agree but believe Dublin is a big threat, remember they just lost by a point to Kerry last year with no Con. This years additions will help to. Mayo’s year will be down to how fit and well the squad is. We have at least 8 with some sort of knocks right now (Carr, McBrien, E Mc, Cillian, Kevin Mc, Brickendan, Enda, Walshe) 2 appear medium term (Kevin, Brick) and the rest sounds like they are close with limited information on 1 or 2 of them. The squad is decent but a couple of key omissions on a match day diminishes our chances to various degrees I think i.e. would we have done better with McBrien and Carr against Ros personally I think we would have but the blessing in disguise is this few weeks break could be just what the doctor ordered from an injury / fitness perspective. That’s of course a glass half full view the opposite hoping we didnt add to the list !

  42. There’s only 14 outfield players, so if we think in terms of a performance graph on scoring, defensive strength, fitness, physicality, height, raw pace and big game decision making. It doesn’t take much of an improvement in a few current players and the addition of returning from injury players to move us upwards.
    That’s just basic maths and it’s not a separate world to a senior inter county team on the field.
    Height and physicality for example.
    Rory Brickendon, David McBrien and Cillian.
    Put in those three and average out our height, weight and physical strength in contact.
    We’d be right up there at the top.
    Things can change quickly in our favour.

  43. One can add in James Carr to the above list of tall, physical players who can come back in.

  44. I was surprised to see the connaught final is in mchale Park? Are they trying to pick a neutral venue maybe ..

    @TheDarkyFinn true but I still think kerry are an average team without the Clifford’s and we could have beaten them last year in the quarters they were there for the taking but our heart just wasn’t in it last year .

    @JP agree with you good points!

  45. Nobody knows for sure where Mayo are at in the context of been able to say we are contenders . A lot of our players would need to reignite their form to what they’re capable of ie mattie , Ryan , Jordan Flynn have all gone off the boil imo . Cillian has been impressive when coming in now a few times and I honestly think there’s an argument if not starting he has to come in sooner , should of been introduced a lot sooner v ros ,he disrupts the opposition , he gives us a dynamic and composure from that experience.

    It will be a massive opener in the group games for us , im really looking forward to it .

  46. No one is really on or off form.
    We put out a B team against Monaghan.
    Monaghan are a damn good side.
    We beat Galway in the league final.
    We lose on a tennis court in the pissing rain with a ref totally favorable to blanket football and sometimes refs are simply like that.
    Croke Park high summer we will see where we’re at.

  47. I’m accentuating the positive, and have been all year, and would agree with most of what you say JP.

    However, depending on selection on any given day, our bench seems to me, brimming with impact subs, or, not brimming with them. In other words the selected team may have all the options on the field and actual subs don’t or won’t make a difference. This was pretty much the case against Roscommon – made much more difficult because if our injuries

  48. Similar to last year, if Kerry and Dublin are to meet in the semi finals it creates an easier path for a Mayo, Galway, Tyrone, Derry, Armagh to make a all Ireland final and win Sam in a one off game.

    It is highly unlikely that any of the above teams would beat both Kerry and Dublin consecutively in a 1/4 and Semi final.

    Galway are probably best equipped to do it based on Players available and where they are at in terms of development / game plan, however, we wont know who is where and who has the best path to the final until later in the Summer.

  49. While the first match against provincial champions, in group stage, not a must win. I think it could be a opportunity to lay down a statement of intent. Win first game away from home, against provincial champions, then the narrative around Mayo changes again. Might mean last match, we play in Group stages could be a dead rubber, and means we could rest players, before quarter finals. This it self could be handy in such a condensed schedule of matchs. I be hopefully that Mayo be at it, mentally and physically, for this match. The schedule of matches is going too be intense, later on in summer. and depth of panal so important. This one area I think Mayo have improved on over last 2 years, but think this will be tested during summer

  50. Clare the Connacht final is in castlebar because Sligo are unable to host a final due to capacity restrictions I would think

  51. To put my own views out there. On the overall I think we’re within touching distance of Kerry.
    I think we need the following changes.
    – I think we need Ryan O’Donoghue as a playmaking scorer at centre forward.
    – We need high fielding Jack Carney at midfield as we have enough match data to show that we have an issue there
    – We need a career defender at six. We simply do.
    – We need Cillian and James Carr playing off Aidan OShea. The idea here is to outmatch in height and power every full backline out there.
    – we get the bench impact weapon of Tommy Conroy’s pace in Croke Park.
    – We get David McBrien and if possible Rory Brickendon back on the field.
    I want the opposition looking around and seeing everywhere 6’2″,6’1″,6’4″,6’2″,6′ in every line of the field.

  52. JP
    Rare I disagree with you but I would take a very different point of view from you on selecting all the giants.

    A lack of physicality has never been an issue for us, we have always fielded huge teams in recent times, often at the expense of smaller more skillful players. There is plenty to correct but adding more bulk and size is just doubling down on what you do already.

    I was very impressed with Ian burke the other day for Galway and it occurred to me we would never trust a player like that in mayo where its all about guile, skill and creativity. We would be calling for him to be left out so we could bring in another 15stone powerhouse.

    That mindset of Power > Skill is one that needs to change in Mayo at all levels

  53. Jp and Supermac : two great posts there. The proposals are of course not mutually exclusive.

  54. @Supermac, off on me walk today I was musing on the balance of big physical players and smaller skillful players.
    I think in my view it’s 2 forwards and 2 backs.
    Ian Burke did cross my mind during that musing.
    In my own head I call Eoin Murchain and Enda Hession ‘The carry out’, really pacey skillful players who use the ball really well. They also match up really well on the oppositions version of an Ian Burke or Ryan O’Donoghue or Paudie Clifford or Darragh Canavan.
    I really like Ryan O’Donoghue obviously.
    I don’t like that the game is so big and physical.
    Here’s a point of view and think on it. Some of the best players in the game are pretty rubbish with the ball.
    It’s in my view a reality we need to tog big.
    I think we actually have not been physical at times.
    We’ve had a lot of mix and match teams down the years.

  55. While I agree that this is not an ideal competition format, I think that the 8 teams that reach the quarters finals will be the best teams in the country. This is not something that we could have said previously. The number of games is too many but this is probably a format that was likely to be passed. The politics within the gaa is interesting and in some ways shows the flaws of democracy but that is a separate discussion.
    I would not put money on us to win the All Ireland this year but in terms of expectations we need to be targeting a semi final and then let’s see what happens. Whether this year has been a true success is based on how we perform in the next few games (winning Sam is not the only measure).
    I am also intrigued to see how we use the break, and will be surprised if we do not change something in this period. While we can all have suggestions on who/how we should play, it is impossible to make accurate judgements without seeing how training is going which is why we need to trust the management team.

  56. Mikey, I agree to an extent. But things going well in training and then repeatedly not working on the pitch in match day scenario is no addition either.

    I would not give in to it being a year or two before we are contenders, we are contenders now, we have the players. If we have the right tactics, game management and bit of rub the green we can do it. McStay is building his attack around Aidan, in summer 2025 he will be 35 years of age, will he still be playing then? Doherty and McLoughlin will possibly be retired, Cillian will be 33. McStay said the rebuilding was already pretty much done by Horan, so 2023 is as good an opportunity as any.

  57. I’d be on the same page as Gizmo on this. Your game changers are what win you Sam. You need a few of them and you need them closer to their peak.
    Most players will never be a game changer. By the meaning of being consistent in all games and regularly being one of the main difference makers in big games.
    Diarmuid O’Connor 28
    Ryan O’Donoghue 25
    Cillian O’Connor 31
    Aidan OShea 33.
    There’s our four game changers.
    It’s right now we’re at a peak.
    Those four on form stand with the best four in all the other teams.

  58. JP, Gizmobob, I agree with you comments to a point, where I question is if we have sufficient leaders. If ROD, AOS, DOC & COC all play well in the final three games then of course we have a chance but will they step up? I am not convinced that enough players will stand up when the pressure comes on.
    Ultimately some of the players referenced have not delivered on the biggest stage previously so what has changed now. Some of the younger players have yet to show consistently against the bigger teams, can they? Possibly but not enough evidence for me that we have developed suffient leadership skills in the panel. I hope that I am wrong so let’s see how this plays out.

  59. I think where we’ve failed in semis and finals is too many players having 4 and 5 out of 10 games.
    Tyrone beat us in 2021 and a big factor was most of their players hitting 7/10.
    Too many underperforners drags down the game changers and consistent players.

  60. Some of our top players may not have performed in big games in Croke Park, the reason being they were well marked/doubled marked and targarted by the opposation teams , this should have left other players on our team free to perform but they did not perform on the day .

  61. Leadership is the big difference between ourselves and Galway imo. Hopefully Hession, whom we sorely missed against Roscommon, Callinan, Carney etc can step up from being great players to game changers. I would not lose faith that we will be involved in the business end of the championship

  62. Have to admire your confidence Clare. Dublin are poor, Kerry average and we are real contenders and pretty equal to Galway. Would agree with you if AI was played in March when we were at the peak of our powers and the heavy hitters were shaking off their winter slumber. Glasagusdearg, I would be in agreement with most of what you say. Don’t think we are ready for challenging yet but do think we should make the quarters and have an outside chance of semis. Think we are improving but will take a while to get to top level, Also agree with you on the standard and entertainment value of Gaelic football. Galway play an incredibly safe and conservative game. They are so effective at holding on to possession and would gladly kick and hand pass around the field for ages rather than risk giving it away. You have to be incredibly patient, have 100% concentration and be boringly methodical to match them or else have some inspirational genius way of breaking them down. Don’t see us.being sufficiently boring methodical or possessing the genius to get the better of them, so for me it’s Kerry, Galway or Dublin. Hope I am way out and as was said previously it’s all about opinions

  63. Clare, I really do admire your optimism and I hope that I am horribly wrong, but I want to see us improve and our younger players develop and, if we reach and give a good account of ourselves in a semi-final, that would represent good progress and give us a good foundation to build on for the next few years, but, with the best will in the world, I cannot see us making the final this year. While it was great to do well in the league and win the final, we still coughed up far too many goal chances, which will cost in the Championship, as we won’t be able to run up such big scores, as was evidenced against Roscommon. The league and Championship are chalk and cheese and almost involve two different type of games and our defending would need to improve dramatically,not to mention our midfield and our ability to score against well organized defences and our ability to close out games. For me, what I saw in the league, will not be good enough in the championship. Dublin and Kerry were not too bothered about the league and will be aiming to peak for the business end of the AI. Dublin, with the addition of Mannion, McCarthy and Howard will be aiming for one last hurrah for their older guys and will up for it, as will Kerry, who will also probably be too good for us, unless they lose Clifford, Galway are just coming good, with the returns from injury ETC. of Comer, Walsh, Burke and McDaid and the Ulster champions will be no pushover either. I so so hope that I am wrong, but I am looking more to next year when I hope that we can become serious contenders.

  64. @To win just once @Glorydays haha thanks sure you have to be a bit optimistic never know what mayo will do on the day as we have all learnt ha! Though after 21 I said to myself I would never get my hopes up for a final if we are in one till injury time haha .

    But yes I see what your both saying Dublin have been poor though this year but they do always pose a threat. Kerry still go by that they are an average team without the Clifford’s in it we saw that when they came to castlebar!

    Still think we are equal enough team compared to Galway even my Galway mates said mayo and Galway are the same Atm and would consider us above the Rossies every time and said when we lost to the Rossies we were just dead flat after the week before and this is coming from a bunch of Galway people who always slag me off for my mayoness haha!

    Yes maybe we did peak to soon or maybe we were just dead flat off our feet against the Rossies after the league and final week before but sure only time will tell when the round Robin comes around ha

  65. Another thought on ourselves are the younger players who might be able to show a good Croke Park level. They’ve already shown consistency and when on form can really hit a high level.
    I’m thinking David McBrien, Enda Hession, Jack Carney, Jordan Flynn and Tommy Conroy.
    It wouldn’t shock you if those five were to the fore in being a big reason we might beat a top team later in the summer.
    Those five have potentially a high ceiling this summer.

  66. According to the Irish Times results/fixtures summary on Monday, Connaught and Munster *are* paired – for a semi-final meeting. Good old GAA – the brave new world of pools, seedlings, preliminary QFs, QFs, will all return to Mama’s apron strings, with provincial pairings for the semis. So, if Galway and Kerry keep winning, they will play each other in the semi-final. If we beat Kerry in a QF, and Galway keep winning, we will play Galway. We will be ‘representing’ Munster of course!

  67. There are so many mixed messages about the format of the draw – its gone beyond a joke at this stage.
    Surely Croke park can come out and clarify the situation once and for all

  68. @Southmayo Exile – Agreed, it would be good to get some clarity in advance of the draw next weekend, it is like they are just making it up as it goes along. The poor auld rossie fans thought they won the all Ireland after beating us only to find out 2 weeks later after losing to Galway that they are in no better position than if they lost the Mayo game.

  69. Clarity is needed because there should be huge excitement about this new format. But it’s one cock up after another.

    How they can draw Connaught vs Musnster for a semi final when it’s possible that the Connaught & Munster provincial champs might not top their group? I can’t fathom it. If Mayo end up in group with Derry as Ukster champs. And we come top of the group & win our quarter? Are we then the Ulster rep? For God sake can they not just keep is simple for once. Its comical

  70. Lads an ladies, I was looking at the possible seeds for Sam an I spotted this on the Ah Ref twitter site, what do ye think, would it be close to accurate?





  71. @mayofocus. That’s the way i understand it. It’s the provincial champion or whoever beats them. All a bit crazy alright but we may as well roll with it and see how it goes

  72. Yep, RP McM, that’s it I would say. Unless, Down got to Ulster final. That would knock Kildare out I think.

  73. My understanding is that it is an open draw all the way,with 2 provisos,
    Provincial champions and the team they beat can’t be in the same group.
    Teams from the same group can’t play each other in the quarter finals,
    Semi finals an open draw.

  74. @Jr: Not quite, according to their own most recent clarification information.

    The avoidance of Provisional repeats and repeats from Round One only kick in at pQF and QF stage, so groups themselves are full open draw where Provincial Final pairings could be drawn together.

    Poor lack of clarity on not explicitly stating the predetermined pairings are gone this year* and not explaining what they mean by “Round One” when it comes to avoiding repeat pairings (they use Round One matches elsewhere to refer to just the 1st round of games in the Round Robin rather than it referring to all Round Robin games). Ambiguity like that shouldn’t be happening on something like a draw of this nature.

    * Haven’t read the piece in the Times to see why they’ve brought up preset Provincial Pairings again but nothing official from the GAA has suggested them and multiple other journalists have outright said they won’t be happening.

    Probably the best explanations I’ve seen:

    Colm outright saying the rota pairings won’t happen @8:35 at a time when lots were asking if the pairings would happen.

  75. Interesting to hear James Horan on the Irish Examiner podcast this week bring up how John Maughan dropped him before the 1997 All Ireland final with a brief 2 minute phone call, seems like it still bugs him.A crazy decision looking back starting Sheridan and Nestor before him as he was best scoring forward at the time, and the only 1996 Mayo All Star forward and when he did come in as sub he nearly turned game for Mayo, Maughan was never the best tactically.

  76. @ Achill 75 I would start Sheridan every day of the week for his free taking but I agree it was a mad decision as was starting Flanagan.
    He lost us the 96 final by not having Fallon named in the subs in the drawn game.

  77. Kevin O’Neill was as nearly as good at frees as Maurice Sheridan and would have offered way more from play as Sheridan never offered anything from general play at all.
    Liam McHale the best midfielder and footballer in the Country in 1996 ,Maughan then decides to play him in Full forward in 1997 and puts a 19 year old David Heaney midfield with Pat Fallon, baffling.

  78. My memory of that was the forward play in 1997 Connacht final was very poor and James Horan scored one point against Sligo and didn’t score at all against Offaly in semi final.I think David Brady had broken his leg that year but bringing David Heaney in at midfield was a strange one as I would never have seen him as a midfielder.John Maughan did make mistakes but I would say every management we have had have made mistakes in finals

  79. TSUDHONIM – wasn’t an article as such in the Times, just that results/fixtures panel they have on Monday’s which is very nifty I think. Pairings make sense if you think GAA, if you think local, if you think provincial councils. But of course, they don’t really make sense.

  80. Maughan took over a team in the doldrums in 96 took them to two All Ireland finals in a row, to another semi in 99 and were a cross-bar away from knocking out the eventual winners in 98. After he left, a few bleak years followed (last time Galway won two Connachts in a row by the way – maybe we’re seeing some parallels with the end of Horan’s second tenure!) until he took over again and took Mayo to another final from nowhere in his second year

    Also famously won a Munster title with Clare at about 30

    His record speaks for itself tbh..

  81. I will try and rekindle a few memories.

    1996 drawn final, Liam McHale was by far the best player on the pitch, but Mayo nr 11 was playing in a free role in defense / midfield area, each time he won possession he get it directly to the unmarked Meath centre back.
    96 replay, Mayo midfield suffered when McHale was sent off, if I remember rightly the other regular Mayo midfielder didn’t get into the game
    Playing Casey at full forward didn’t work.
    Horan was brilliant in the replay.
    Mayo corner forwards lacked pace and we’re not winning their own ball in 50 / 50 situations.

    In the replay Mayo didn’t play well in final 10 minutes, just didn’t seemed to not have the legs, very bad wides by full forward line in final 15 minutes.
    Maybe McHale wasn’t fully fit in 97, hence was moved to full forward, this move didn’t work.

    Give the management a chance before making any decisions.

  82. McHale was moved to full forward in 97 to try and change the dynamics of our forward play which was very poor in Connacht final.the problem was in the final when dermot Flanagan got injured early on John maughan brought James Horan on and changed personnel in four lines of our team.we were too far behind by the time everyone settled into position.John maughan was and is good football man but I suppose pressure does funny things to people.alot of optimism has gone from mayo supporters since ros defeat but we are still in it and the current management will need time to get it right and will make mistakes along the way

  83. For all the optimists on here and there is nothing wrong with being optimistic-I am a glass half-full man myself, but my natural optimism is being tempered by a dose of realism. The All-Ireland odds with Paddy Power—Kerry 7/4,Dublin 9/4,Galway 6/1,Mayo 7/1,Derry 14/1,Tyrone 14/1,Armagh 20/1. Must say I am a bit surprised that Mayo are better than 10/1.

  84. New podcast up now on Patreon. Rob, Ed and Ger are on it, chatting about club league, the new development panel, the legacy of Dr Mick Loftus, the upcoming All-Ireland group stage draw and more.

  85. @Gleasagusdearg I’m not surprised at all that we are better then 10/1 who do you think should be above us exactly?? I’m telling you come round robin you will be surprised. But I am always optimistic regards mayo gaa maybe sometimes to much but I think the guys deserve more credit!

    Entitled to your opinion of course!

  86. I still think 9/4 are great odds on Dublin

    A randomly off-colour 2021 (they barely beat Wexford and Meath ffs) and some indifferent league form (are lads with back pockets absolutely lined with celtic crosses really going to be prioritising a league at this stage?) seems to really be skewing some people’s opinion of them imo. They remind me a bit of Man City, people overreact to some careless points dropped in October or November, yet when the business end hits we generally always see them at their best. That’s what champions do

    They were more or less back to normal in 2022, hammering all round them until the semi final where they were beaten by the minimum by the eventual champions, missing their best forward through injury. For all we know we could be looking at an all time great Kerry side also, but time will tell

    This year they’ll have COC back and they’ve added 2 all time greats for good measure plus one of the finest forwards of his generation. They’ve already shown ominous form in their only semi-meaningful game this year.

    14 players from the 2019 winning starting team are available this year also

    It wouldn’t shock me if they even won the all Ireland handy enough to be honest, though I do suspect Kerry will have a huge say of course – but I do think we’ll see them beat anyone outside of Kerry comfortably enough in the latter stages. I don’t think Galway will match up well to this Dublin team at all and I suspect will need a favour off Kerry who they are more capable of beating given their respective styles.

    I don’t think Kerry are over reliant on the Cliffords (for one Paudie isn’t even their second best player..) and I think would surprise a few people even if David was missing. In Brosnan, Moynihan and Spillane there is still excellent talent there, who would all actually thrive more in Clifford’s absence

  87. @ciaran. I agree with all you say on the dubs and I also think they will be hard beaten but i strongly disagree regarding kerry possibly being an all time great team and for me they’re in the pack at best without David Clifford…. to use your man city comparison he is kerrys haaland except city would be fine without theirs.

  88. Kerry are a fine side but no way are they going to dominate like Dublin did and they don’t hold the same xfactor apart from the exceptional Clifford . Not much between the top three Dublin , Kerry and Galway . But as pointed out above by someone Dublin still have the potential to blitz teams . Betting value is Galway all day long .

  89. Dublin I see will have 2 home games again. Having said that, I’d rather face them in Croker than McHale Park

  90. Without David Clifford Kerry are still a very good side. Of course they would not be as strong, but it’s not as if they are replacing him with some junior B footballer.

  91. Maher is a good find for Galway but they coughed up enough goal chances against Roscommon to leave them vulnerable.
    Had a very easy run last year to the final.

  92. I know Joyce isn’t exactly Mr Bear his soul in interviews but he gave a fairly non-plussed response when asked about maher the last day

    I think Conroy might have been peripheral enough in the 2020 league but has been at Johnny Heaney ever-present levels since. I suspect Joyce considers him a vital cog in the team, and obviously McDaid has to come back in, so that might mean Maher drops to the bench, which in my view would be the craziest decision we’ll see all year

    On his current trajectory he could go on to become the breakthrough player of the season. I think Joyce missed an opportunity when Comer got injured in the league to find a potential new role for Conroy up front. In fact I think lack of experimentation and “safer” team selections could ultimately become Galway’s undoing (even if I do believe his tenure has been more positive than not until now). Even against Sligo now he has a decent opportunity to try a few things, but as the year progresses I suspect it’ll be relying on the same 17 or 18 the whole campaign, and its very much rosary beads out and hope Comer and Walsh stay fit and healthy. Many All Ireland victories have included left field changes as the year has progressed. I half wonder could the best thing that happens to Galway be a bad loss in the group stage

  93. Remember Kerry were deemed a dead duck without Gooch in early 2014 when he did his cruciate, and on top of that a few legends retired

    We all know what happened later in the year

    Don’t think its any coincidence JOD had the year of his life. I suspect top forwards (privately) thrive off being the main man, or one of them. All forwards not named Clifford or Sean O’Shea are clearly playing 3rd fiddle and below in the current Kerry forward line

  94. @ciaran still think kerry are an average team without the Clifford’s the Dubs would have had them in last years semi if they had con playing.

    Also that free that seanie is shea got was questionable to say the least .

    We also could have beaten them in last year’s quarters I was at that game and I actually said to myself kerry are not all that bar the Clifford’s and we were terrible last year !

  95. I’m with you Ciarán on the galway bad loss but I’d be thinking of connacht final and 3 group games

  96. 1.Kerry
    3. Galway
    4. Mayo / Tyrone.
    My rankings ATM.
    Dublin and Kerrys training tailored to peak later in the year as provincial finals no test for them .
    Think Roscommon game v Galway showed how much the Mayo match took out of them intensity wise . Maybe we suffered something similar after beating Galway in the league final .
    Hope I’m right anyway!!

  97. @My Ball

    Mayo have won the last meeting between themselves and each of those teams.

    You could argue it’s up to them to show that they are better than us

  98. You know what’s really funny I just saw some Rossies saying they are better off out of the connaught final now to concentrate on winning sam ( don’t think they have a hope to be honest on that ) .

    we got slated by everyone for saying that but it’s only facts haha just laughed at them saying it as that’s not what they said after they beat us haha.

  99. JP, I don’t think Aidan and Cillian should start together. Attack will lack pace with both starting. Cillian needed for impact sub; ditto Aidan for say the second or third pool match.

  100. @Catcol, Previously I posted something along those lines, but, if Aidan can be used really effectively at 14 I think it may cause likes of a Tom O’Sullivan to stay more at home.
    Also surely we can free things up a bit better that Aidan and Cillian can stay up high?
    Every forward up to 2022 was expected to fully track his man.
    You’d be hoping also Cillian is maybe a bit fitter this year.
    These things are a trade off. What will a fit Cillian give up defensively and what will he create in attack above the level of the other player option we potentially tog
    The other aspect is Cillians goal threat, difficult frees and penalty taking at which he is excellent.

  101. I can see pros and cons to:
    – starting both,
    – starting Aido only
    – starting Cillian only
    I’d probably lean with starting Cillian and keeping Aido for impact. Cillian gives you scores, frees and can win same type of balls inside as Aido, but obviously lacks the physical power of Aido to burst through but he’s no soft touch either. Come Croker time I’m not sure we’ll be getting the scores needed if Cillian is on the bench.

    Interview with Lee in this article:

  102. I think we need more pace around the middle. I’d consider dropping Fionn McDonagh into the middle, and having either Mattie Ruane or Tommy Conroy play RHF

    Cillian and Aidan needs to be tried. James Carr dovetailed nicely at times. Question mark about Carr’s fitness and form. I might leave him out of the 15 for the first game, but bring him back for the second game at home.

    Cillian or Tommy for me, or maybe a bolter.

  103. There’s a fourth option touched on before Gizmo.
    Being brave enough to bring one or both on after 20-25mins.
    The thing overlooked with that is that the player is quicker per minute relatively than if you start them and take them off.
    They get the half time break barely having worked up a sweat.
    They face opposition players a few % slower than compared to starting.
    The fourth quarter has 19% slower covering the ground 3/4 pace type runs compared to the first quarter. That was a large data set study done using data in modern times from inter county. players.
    Also isn’t that first 20 mins usually pretty low scoring? Like 4-2.

  104. Howdy folks, the GAA published this today. Might clear things up for one or two, myself included:

    Draw for the Sam Maguire Cup

    In the Sam Maguire Cup Draw, the 16 participating Counties will be drawn to four separate groups. Teams will be seeded based on Championship and League performance and each group will feature four teams (each group consisting of a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th seed).

    The Provincial Champions will each be a first seed, with the Provincial Runners-Up being second seeds. The 3rd seeds will be the four highest placed teams from the 2023 Allianz Leagues (who have not qualified for their Provincial finals). The fourth seeds will include Westmeath (as the 2022 Tailteann Cup Champions) and the next three highest placed teams from the conclusion of this year’s Allianz Leagues.

    Teams who are due to meet in a Provincial Final (seeds 1 and 2) cannot be in the same group. However, teams who have already played each other earlier in this year’s championships can be drawn to the same groups.

    The schedule of games for the group stages of the Sam Maguire Cup will be:

    Round 1 (first named team at home)

    20-21.05.2023 (Sat/Sun)

    Seed 1 (Munster/Connacht Champions v Seed 3)

    Seed 2 (Munster/Connacht Runners Up v Seed 4)

    27-28.05.2023 (Sat/Sun)

    Seed 1 (Leinster/Ulster Champions v Seed 3)

    Seed 2 (Leinster/Ulster Runners Up v Seed 4)

    Round 2 (first named team at home)

    03-04.06.2023 (Sat/Sun)

    Seed 3 v Seed 2

    Seed 4 v Seed1

    Round 3 (Neutral venues)

    17-18.06.2023 (Sat/Sun)

    Seed 1 v Seed 2

    Seed 3 v Seed 4

    Full fixture details will be confirmed by the C.C.C.C on Friday, May 5th.

    A finalised list of seedings for both the Sam Maguire and Tailteann Cups will be confirmed on Sunday evening once the Leinster and Ulster football semi-finals are completed.

  105. How can anyone do a full fixtures list with the provincial finals still to be played after may 5th.

  106. @sean Burke ah Ok thanks for letting me know still find it all quite confusing haha !

  107. Can Roscommon end up going to Salthill to play Galway in thier first game if they were drawn in the same group and assuming Galway beat Sligo?

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