The worst is almost over



It won’t, sadly, change the outcome but it’s still good to realise that, more than 48 hours on from the final whistle in this year’s All-Ireland final replay, the worst bit of the aftermath is all but behind us.

The awful, inconsolable finality of the match’s end, the sad trek out of the stadium and then, depending on what you did afterwards and where you were heading to, Saturday night and the post-match banquet (I wasn’t there), the highlights on TV if you were up to watching it (I wasn’t in the mood) and then the trek west on Sunday and the homecoming at MacHale Park (which I didn’t get to either, opting to stay back at base up here in Dublin).

All of which was then followed in turn by work on Monday, life beginning to return to normality but all the while punctuated by those intermittent stabs of grief over another All-Ireland campaign that came up agonisingly short. Monday after an All-Ireland final loss is normally a total pig of a day (and, God knows, we’ve lived through enough of them at this stage to know that full well) but the fact that the replay was on Saturday meant that there was an extra day’s buffer before having to face it.

But face it you have and now it’s almost done. And with it we’re done with the worst of the shock and dislocation at what befell us at Croke Park on Saturday evening. It’s not the end of the grieving process, of course it’s not and nor should it be either, and, as we put some distance between ourselves and last Saturday, it’s likely that the key factors which led to this one slipping through our fingers will be thrown into ever sharper relief.

As this happens, it will, of course, be the decision to field Robbie Hennelly instead of David Clarke between the sticks on Saturday evening that’ll stay in the spotlight. If this match has the capacity to haunt us for years – and I firmly believe that it has – then it’s this tactical gambit, which, in retrospect, can only be viewed as a mindbogglingly risky throw of the dice, that’ll be the principal focus of all the discussion to come.

There’s a long winter ahead, though, for this kind of introspection. We can’t turn back time and undo all the things that went against us on Saturday night but we can – and we must – learn from and seek to rectify the failings we displayed, both on and off the field, the ones that ultimately contributed most to what was in the end only a one-point loss.

We’ve been close, so excruciatingly close, to the pinnacle for the last five years, during which time we’ve been doing an awful lot right. As the immediate pain of this latest loss begins slowly to subside, the more focus that’s put on identifying and sorting out everything that was less than optimal this year will ensure that next year’s push for the summit has a greater chance of success.

And when we get there, as I still believe we eventually will, the pain we’re feeling now – like the anguish we’ve endured after every other loss – will be but a distant memory, like the defeats themselves. We’re still down now after Saturday but we won’t be for long and before we know it, we’ll be up and on the march again. Like we always do, like we always will.

113 thoughts on “The worst is almost over

  1. Had trouble renewing the kids juvenile tickets but had no problem with the adult ones. Anyone else have a similar problem? Couldn’t renew a Cairde ticket either as it defaulted to the standard season ticket. Hopefully the lads will be back to give it another right good bash next year.

  2. I hope management and players stay with it for 2017 so close its the small things we need to get right and Rochford will deliver I think so many of ye is right we need to win the league then the big one

  3. I too would like Rochford to stay. He got a call wrong on Saturday, but there’s an awful lot he’s done right this year. I really do think we can continue to improve under him.

  4. I Think Next Year Is THE Year To Judge Rochford by. Think he will have the team to have a full preseason and league to get fully organised and select his panel going forward. Really think he can make the difference.

    In Rochford we trust!

  5. Just watched it back Keegans black card was harsh! Connolly made the most of it in front of the ref! Black card is wrong shouting at a ref to influence his decision is wrong and lastly for the majority of the year refs have got it badly wrong! That said our sideline got things wrong too what could have been a master stroke turned out to be ultimate failure! If black card was implemented correctly yesterday 4 Dublin players would have walked!! Anyway just booked hotel in Kerry for league and away we go again! We will not lie down we will keep coming back until Sam finally makes his way to the West! Maigh Eo abu!!

  6. Leaving aside the changing of the goalkeeper debacle,I THINK THE BLACK- CARDING OF LEE KEEGAN was the defining moment of the game.Like liam mchale in 1996 it robbed us of our best player imo.We just were not breaking through the centre of the DUBS defence in the second half.We seemed to be going across the field too much. if lee was there we would be going through the centre more. Overall it was a trojan effort by mayo which just came up short. DAVID CLARKE is still only 32 years of age and can play for 4 or 5 more years for MAYO. I hope he does not retire.He may still be the all-star goalkeeper. I thought the mayo supporters were magnificent on saturday.

  7. Last night I posted this comment on FB having traveled from Kokopo PNG to Brisbane twice to watch on TV.

    ‘So I’m safely back from Brisbane. How I wish we had a different result. I’m in Ireland in January and I will get to an FBD Leauge game. Because that’s what we do. We lift our heads and our hearts and we go again. Mayo for SAM 17’

    A friend replied

    ‘Gotta give it to you Eoin, you may be the most hardcore supporter out there!

    To which I replied

    ‘That’s a very generous comment Seamus. But all over mayo and all over the world Mayo People are staightening up, lifting their heads and hearts and looking forward. Most importantly I reckon that’s what the players are doing as well. I am but one of thousands.’

    For me that sums it up. I am proud to be from Mayo.

    PS I have lived for 17 months in 32 degree high humidity. If you see someone at an FBD match in January suffering from hypothermia say Hi. That will be me.

  8. Fair play to you WJ on not just a wonderful piece (which exactly mirrored my emotions, add in a hangover from hell too!!) but also for all the hard work and effort put into the blog and the podcasts throughout the year. Top quality stuff. God bless your energy. Fucking C’mon Mayo!!! ??????

  9. I had to delete it, Ned – phrasing what you had to say in the provocative way you did left me no choice. It’s okay to have a discussion on this issue but it needs to done in the right way and that certainly wasn’t the right way.

  10. Does anyone know what happened to T Parsons? What collision/event caused that facial injury?

  11. Rocks free on 38 minutes into the canal end was indeed well wide. Did anybody else notice this?

    Push in the back on Mclaughlin 2nd half in front of posts but no free given.

    Keegan was never a black card. If anything Connolly should have gone for waving cards at the ref and trying to get a player sent off.

    Small should have collected a black card and later a straight red but was let stay on.

    The sickening tackle on Vaughan not punished.

    Parsons with blood coming from his head looked like he had been assaulted. No action taken. I will admit Doherty lucky to get away with stupidity right after Keegan goal. Dublin could easily have finished with 12 men.

    Cluxton never gave “3 cheers for Mayo” (thank God)and was reading his speech from a prepared script as if he knew he was going to win. He thanked the “Dublin supporters who followed us up and down the County, sorry the Country”. Seriously.

    Actually Stephen they never left Leinster during this campaign and only left the confines of their own county once. I wonder was he aware that there were Mayo people there who left their homes at 6AM and would have got home at midnight while some of his Dublin supporters left their homes at 4.45pm and were back indoors before he had even finished his speech.

    6 of the 8 officials were Leinster men. Great stuff altogether.

    Thats just having looked at a 20 minute highlights clip. Lord knows what i’ll spot when i sit down and watch the whole 80 minutes.

  12. I am coming across a massive amount of strong will amongst support to go at next year even harder.
    I think we can also retain our u21 title.
    I’v looked at the potential 15 and subs. It’s a very strong potential panel.

  13. Despite all the poor decisions by ourself and the ref, one thing I always feel is that at the closing phase of the big games we always seem to have lost our shape upfront be it due to substitutions or players dropping too deep. Always thing the closing stages of an AI Final are the real hard yards and different to any other phase in any other game, its the point you really need to push on. Point is we need to develop and plan a master plan for the home straight in finals, just feel we are never properly set up for this final thrust. Certainly our sub choices the last day did not suit this.

  14. We badly need another forward, that is what we are truly lacking. Is there that blistering forward talent in the county?

  15. Agree with you KL.
    We end up almost surprised by the final quarter. We don’t plan to have impact players for it. No Mayo management team up to now would do the equivalent of benching Mccauley so that he can help push for the win late on.
    In my view our Mccauley is Aidan. Next year we might also think about Higgins driving on from wingback to finish out. Andy fresh can do damage.

  16. We might not get a blistering forward. But two consistent 7/8 out of 10 forwards will do fine. Two/three points a game every game type of standard.

  17. first time to post on this site although an avid reader,I want to agree with done deal and hope David Clarke doesn’t retire as I feel he has a lot to offer and I didn’t agree with the decision to drop him and my husband, a meath man, thought it was a really bad decision,however it’s done now so onwards and upwards hopefully. I also think losing Keegan to a black card was a real turning point. Another thing I don’t see why we should have a Leinster referee as I feel it’s very unfair and I feel the campaign against Lee K got inside his head.

  18. The wait goes on and I must admit each final loss we clock up gets harder to take but it also makes me more willing to get back out and support the team next year. I think if anything we can agree that these Mayo players don’t give up.

    We are in this county if nothing but resilient. We are good at bouncing back. It’s time to get good at winning the championship.

  19. Some thoughts…
    First off míle buíochas to WJ for hosting this blog. Great way for an exile like myself to connect and feel connected with the County.
    Second, to put some perspective on this.. Dublin being written up as best team in generations is, viewed as objectively as I can, probably not that wide of the mark. 4 AI in 6 yrs including 2 back to back. That the same team over 4 games incl 2 replays beat us by the narrowest of margins both times says a lot about where Mayo are. A good friend of mine, Corkman said to me immediately after the game the reality is that Mayo will probably be in next years AIF. Who can argue with that? Not me. We are top, top tier and loss after heartbreaking loss hasn’t changed that. If anything the fire burns brighter than ever.
    And finally, because no post match comment can fail to address it, on the keeper decision I think Mike Finnerty on today’s news summed it up best in saying no one decision or incident can be held as decisive. Fact is 8 forwards played 80 minutes of football and 3 from play was the return. Both defences were extraordinary. Dublin got a few breaks. We didn’t. I personally think there’s nothing to be gained by flogging anyone on or off the pitch at this stage. Let’s see the match for what it was, a clash of two of the finest fittest hungriest teams playing field sports in the world. One team won by the narrowest of margins. Could have gone either way. It wasn’t to be for us. We rise again.
    Btw on the ‘point that wasn’t ‘ around 38 minutes, hawk eye works even where the ref doesn’t call for it. There’s a reviewer in the stands miked up to the ref. If a wrong call is made the ref is told and stops play and calls for a public hawk eye. Happened earlier this yr I forget when, but umpires had signalled a pt, ref accepted it but stopped play before the kick out (puck out? Can’t remember if it was football or hurling) when he got word from on high it was wide. Hawkeye then called and proved it.

  20. Well I’m still hurting big time and living in Dublin makes it so much harder to take – the crap been dished out is so hard to listen to, and I’m finding myself trying to avoid meeting people because I know what’s coming. It seems a strange thing to say, but in hindsight it might have been better had that equalising point not gone over in the first game. Rochford would now be in a better place, Cillian not having nightmares about that last minute free, and poor Robbie Hennelly wouldn’t have to live with the memory of that dropped ball that may or may not have cost us an All-Ireland.

    That said, despite all the misfortune that seems to come our way on these occasions , we sure gave it one hell of a go. And going down by just one lousy point after a hundred a fifty minutes+ of football, to supposedly one of the best teams ever to play the game, says something about these guys. It may not be a curse, but with all the pain we’ve been through in recent years, it might as well be.

    To those who say this team is finished, well I don’t think so. For a good footballing county like ours who love our football, we’ll be there or there about again next year. One has to admit though, that every time we loose one, the mountain seems so much higher to climb and right now the holy grail seems further away than ever.

    And Willie Joe I must tip my hat to you. The amount of stuff you put on the Blog in the lead up to this final, by two I might add, plus the afters is just amazing. Not to mention the enormous task in keeping an eye on the many hundreds of contribution and making sure their comments are kept between the hedges. Add to that all those audios, reading and sharing newspapers articles and the preparation and research that most goes into all this, It gives me a headache thinking about it.

  21. I hope Andy Moran stays on , he is 6 mths younger than brogan and he had a great season

    What do people think will he stay on ?

  22. Great piece WJ and well done on keeping the blog going during a very difficult period for all Mayo supporters yourself included.
    As I said in a previous post my sympathies are with David Clarke and Robbie Hennelly. I worry that an unfortunate selection decision could rob us of not one but two good goalkeepers. I hope not. I hope SR can repair the damage. I feel sorry for him also – it’s a horrid position to be in having made a costly error of judgement in your first year at the helm.

  23. Mayo McHale , I would echo your sentiments re Willie Joe and up you !

    This blog , hands down is the best of breed. It is brilliant , orderly , with incredibly well written articles and some unforgettable turns of phrase by the maestro. It is always insightful and always right on the money.

    The fact that he is tending to his flock now when they are down and helping them through this painful transition make him something much more than the creator and CEO of this blog.

    He is a unique Mayomsn.

    He gets my vote for Mayo media person of the year.

  24. Have deliberately stayed away from here since Saturday as just hadn’t the heart or stomach for it. Pleasantly surprised on catching up to see that most of the commentary is quite measured, considering the heartbreak we are all feeling, however I suspect that this is down to good moderation.

    The goalkeeper decision will indeed haunt us for a long time, I have no doubt, but hindsight is 20/20. It’s not a call I’d have made myself, but then, I’m not a risk-taker. I do however respect Rochford for backing himself and making the call; and Robbie for answering it. I’m glad the Mayo support has rallied around him during what can only be classed as a nightmare. I also feel terrible for David Clarke; he has served us with distinction fior a very long time and this had to be a horrible day for him too.

    Rochford I feel has made good strides this year given the circumstances in which he stepped in and the adversity he faced from the outset. I feel another year will bring similar strides hope his backroom team stay in place and I particularly hope that Donie Buckley sticks around.

    On the refereeing – it was sub-standard. It didn’t lose us the game – far from it – but as has been said elsewhere, all you want is consistency. That consistency might have cost us a couple of players too, but the current refereeing arrangements are simply not giving players a fair bounce of the ball. When even your opposition is conceding two games in a row that they should have lost a key player, you know something’s not right – and I know Dublin fans will say the same on that front.

    Our attacking is not good enough; it’s as simple as that. I will be the first to admit that I questioned Rochford’s defensive strategy back in Connacht, but I was proved wrong. We put in two extraordinary defensive shifts against the best attacking team in the land and they beat us by a mere point, which proves that I know nothing. Had we been able to take our scoring opportunities, we would be the ones laughing today. Our build-ups were too slow, our decision-making too poor, and we lack the ability to consistently shoot from distance. Too many times we were in what should have been scoring opportunities but chose to play safe and lay it off. I hope that forward coaching forms a key part of our preparation for next year and that we see some newer, young faces in the mix.

    I read a piece on (where else?) in which former Dublin player (how familiar this sounds) Barry Cahill writes us off completely, suggesting that Tyrone and Kerry (yes, Kerry) are the most likely sides to challenge Dublin’s dominance next year. Between that, the joke that is The Sunday Game, and the editor of the rag that is the Indo Sport suggesting that “a lot of ‘proud’ Mayo people seem content to settle for second best”, I am done. We have been accused of paranoia, of bitterness, but the evidence that we have been shabbily treated by factions of the Dublin media this year is pretty compelling. Mind you, some of our own are delighted to put the boot in too and drag uplast year’s events, but we knew that would happen and enough about it.

    The support was immense this year. It was special to be a part of it. And the players as always were outstanding, in every way, on and off the pitch. We don’t celebrate mediocrity; we appreciate and acknowlege a bunch of players who have given all that was asked of them and more, and instilled more pride in this jersey than most of us have ever known.

    Finally WJ, a sincere thank you for your commitment this year and for providing this service. Once again, it’s been an incredible journey, but one that unfortunately chewed us up and spat us out. As rollercoasters go this one saved the worst for last – while it was tense and nerve-wracking at times the only real low for me was Saturday. However the friendships forged and memories made along the way will certainly keep me warm for the winter. And np memory more so than savouring the elation of the Tyrone win in the company of yourself and your lovely son on that glorious sunny day in August.

    We go again. What other choice do we have? 🙂

  25. (Poor turn of phrase in my first paragraph there. Of course the fact that the commentary is measured is not down to good moderation. That’s down to the contributors, of course. What I meant to say is that good moderation has undoubtedly contributed to it!)

  26. That article helped alot actually. On we go. We have a great team and management. Magic of Ennis was the great memory for me in 2016 and the excitement following the Seniors through the backdoor with my little fella and the great feeling of togetherness with the fans in the crowds and on this blog.
    I know that Ennis feeling will be repeated in Croke Park where you are 2 minutes from the final whistle and you wondering where did it all go right. It can be in 2017, if not on we go…..

  27. Good piece wj. I hope you’re right about being there or thereabouts next year but I worry. How much more pain can these lads take? There must be mental baggage at this stage. I told my brother coming out of the ground that I now believe this team won’t win the all Ireland they deserve and that hurts a lot.

    Hopefully we can integrate a few of the 21s next year as we need a bit of fresh blood.

    I am probably being overly pessimistic given the way I am feeling now so apologies if that is the case.

    I read above that Clarke is 32 and also read this earlier in the week in a few places including Wikipedia. Is this true? Given the length of time he has been around, I think he’s closer to 36/37. Can anyone confirm? I hope he sticks with it regardless of his age.

  28. Cloudnine..6.59 Oct ist ” Mugged and robbed again” and it will continue until we’re good enough to beat the whole f—-n lot!

  29. Inbetweener your so right even in boxing its not only the man in front of you. You have to beet its the ref to and the only way is to knock him out mayo win have to loses respect for who ever we are playing no more been nice it is so true when people say nice people come last I don’t mean it in any bad way but if Rochford went it would be a bad thing he needs one more year I don’t think Clark will stay but I hope he changes his mind if he has his mind maid up he saved us more then once this year

  30. Pierce Hanley won’t come back unfortunaetly. He might when he’s in his 30’s but it wlll be too late then

  31. Brisbane Lions have been very poor over the past few years and by all accounts Hanley had a very poor season in 2016. This has led to rumours of a trade but they have a new manager now so that may change.

    I don’t think any of this points to a return home anytime soon. When he does, as Backdoor Sam said earlier, it’s likely to be a late career sojourn and too late for us.

    I haven’t heard much on how his brother Cian is getting on. He went out there with a cruciate injury so that would have taken most of last season to recuperate. He’s a fabulous footballer as well – two footballers we can ill afford to lose but nothing we can do about it.

  32. Only coming round to reading the posts here now. Still sick to the core. Anyone able to describe what a player is feeling now? I know my pain will go but can anyone describe what they might be going through now, I know I couldn’t.
    Never intentionally watched any post match stuff on TV but every clip I saw involved a Mayo man on the ground, trying to get up with at least one Dublin player preventing him by what ever means necessary from doing so. Having spent my post football life dabbling in MMA and grappling I could see the way some of our guys were pinned to the ground was not by brute force but by well practiced grappling techniques. I would hate to think this formed part of the Dublin training program.

  33. The man was earning over half a million a year in 2014 thats probably gone up since.

    Its only when you start to think of the sacrifices our county men make you really start to not only appreciate it but also wonder what on earth would anyone do it for. Pride passion etc its all good and well but then think of all 18-35 year olds you know from down home, a large % would of had a ball in either london, US or Oz these last few years , earned decent lolly and partied hard.

  34. Just to answer that point on David Clarke’s age. The match programme for the replay says he’s 32 (Cluxton’s listed as being 34 by the way). I read recently, though, that Clarke was 18 years old when part of the 2001 NFL-winning squad, which would make him 33 so I’m not sure which it is.

  35. Good news folks. We have been written off already for next year. Bit early in the year me thinks but there you go. Ref RTE website. Couldn’t read past the first few lines. Being the best football team ( albeit with no Sam to show ) in the country for 2016 is still not good enough. Well if anything is going to get our guys back in the groove this will but again I hope and expect that they don’t read the tripe posted on RTE or The

  36. The ages in the program were accurate. They had those players who are 19 but not turned 20 and 20 but not turned 21 yet. Those would be the ones most likely to be innacurate if someone just worked from there age grade teams.

  37. Well worth reading the piece by Dr Ed Coughlan in the Examiner today.

    He suggests that one of the biggest barriers to success for Mayo lies in our location.

  38. Clarke was minor in 2001 AFAIK. I think he was in goal for the minors in the 01 Connacht minor final. Could be wrong though.

  39. Thanks all for the kind words on the piece. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say in it and I changed the ending several times before finally settling on what’s there. Glad it hit the mark for some of you. I have a more raw piece, by the way, in the Mayo News today, one written at 6am on Sunday morning when my head was close to exploding and sleep was impossible. We all have our own ways of coping, I guess.

    That Tyrone match was a special one for me too, Anne-Marie – the Mayo fans really rallied behind the team that day and set the template for the incredible support we saw over the two final matches. Whatever about the heartache and the disappointment (which will dull in time, as it always does) the memories of those great days and being part of a truly special tribe will take a long time to dim.

  40. Mayo 4Ever. Did you sort out the problem? Mine kept defaulting to the standard one also. Did not have time to look further into it. How did you sort it?

  41. I find it very difficult to do postmortems so I had stayed away from commenting.

    Yes we are all at a low ebb but beginning to slowly come around. The joy and excitement we have got from this year (albeit Galway) has been second to none. I genuinely thank each and every one of the players, managers and backroom team for that.

    I think most of what I feel has already been commented on at many stages throughout the last couple of days so I will not start to rehash again.

    Its like a bad hangover where there is only two options. Sit and feel sorry for yourself or get up and do something about it. For me, its back to the clubs this weekend. No club, no county.

  42. Grappling forms part of the training sure enough. Ask any of the people who attend the training sessions. It serves them well also. I agree with KL in the last post. Gavin finishes with his best 15. In Mayo this will not happen. We do not do impact subs. The mindset does not appear to have changed from the days of 60 minute games. Remember the out roar last year in Mayo when Donaghy was held in reserve for second half. In Mayo a sub has a number greater than 16 and will not appear too early in the game. These were the inches in 2015 and 2016 in my opinion.

  43. I having the same trouble Mayo 4 Ever have you been able to get it resolved

    Had trouble renewing the kids juvenile tickets but had no problem with the adult ones. Anyone else have a similar problem? Couldn’t renew a Cairde ticket either as it defaulted to the standard season ticket. Hopefully the lads will be back to give it another right good bash next year.

  44. Clarkie was indeed minor in 2001. Not sure is he 33 yet, think he could have been born late in the year. AFAIK he was captain of the Ballina minor team that completed a championship 2 in a row that year. He also started in and won an under 21 club championship that year.

  45. Is there anyone else having problem renewing Juvenile tickets have ye been able to get it resolved

    I having the same trouble Mayo 4 Ever have you been able to get it resolved

    Had trouble renewing the kids juvenile tickets but had no problem with the adult ones. Anyone else have a similar problem? Couldn’t renew a Cairde ticket either as it defaulted to the standard season ticket. Hopefully the lads will be back to give it another right good bash next year.

  46. Folks, regarding season tickets, dont panic!. They are not officially on sale yet ( although some can renew them in their accounts). The season ticket account may not be set up fully yet. Next Monday the 10th they should be.

  47. Can anyone tell me how do you get to Aughamore from Ballina I’ll be coming in thru Knock do you have to go through Ballyhaunis? I want to go and see Aughamore V Ballintubber on Saturday am hearing great things about this Aughamore side shame on me tho don’t know how to get to Aughamore

  48. Kieran Shannon’s piece on our big man might seem a bit harsh but its the absolute truth.if we can’t get him to break the ice get someone that can.he has the potential to be the best but needs a lot more coaching.big star name but not a big star yet.

  49. There seems to be an issue with the Juvenille Croke park season tickets ,but as Mayo.Mick says the system may not be officially setup fully yet.
    I emailed croke pk and I’m awaiting a reply.
    Although I would change to Chairde tickets if they made Juvenille tkts available, mainly due to scanning issues which I had during the season.

  50. following mayo has always made me feel pride in where I’m from. As if I need reasons to be proud! Our will, our metal, our resourcefulness, our continuing belief that this is our year!! Everywhere we go to games, the people who travel, we know each other, maybe not always in name but in recognition from seeing them at every Mayo game. Following this Mayo team is like watching our family play, they represent us, we represent them! To see how we defended lees honour from the Cretans in Dublin over social media was a statement from supporters that you will not dirty the names of our lads. I believe that was a huge statement from supporters. For now we will lumber into the winter, discontented. The what ifs and the could haves, should haves will haunt us as they have in the past! We welcomed home our lads on Sunday evening in castlebar, I was proud of the turnout to embrace our heroes, all of them, home and to remind them that we will be back next year, as always, and we will give them the support they deserve.

    It’s the least we can do, we only give up our time to support them, they give up their lives to represent us!

    Dia is Muíre linn…….

  51. Rochford gambled and it backfired spectacularly .. but him and his team would have studied the stats carefully.. trailed it in training and believed it might give mayo that extra 2% .. Alas it was the wrong call .. way too high risk ..
    Hennelly is a top keeper.. has a good kickout and is an excellent shot stopper .. He’ll play for Mayo again ..

    Dillon and Moran might go ..

    Loftus, Reape, Ruane and Regan need as much game time as possible in the league

    Harrison and Durcan were revelations this year .. Coen played very well in final ..

    Throw a fully fit Cafferky and Barrett into the mix and things dont look too bad for next year ..

    Keegan is some player .. time to get rid of the black card .. a sin bin is a no brainer ..

    Goodbye 2016 .. Thanks to the mgmt and players .. inspirational bunch

    The supporters were immense too this year .. it will up several octaves ..

    Last but not least Willie Joe. Fantastic blog .. Thanks again ..

    Winter well, no doubt 2017 will be another rollcoaster year ..

  52. Curran for the Rossies was 43 when he finally called it a day inter county to the best of my knowledge. Clarke will be fine for another five or so years.

    Robbie Hennelly will be one of the counties hardest trainers over the winter. I wish him the very best in his quest for redemption, and it can only make him a better player. Skills, Skills, and more Skills, but to be honest all is forgiven in my mind we are all in this together.

    Shit happens, this county moves forward and up.

  53. It wasn’t the Hennelly decision that cost us. It was our lack of scores from play.

    Sort a few scoring forwards and we are on the way.

  54. I dont agree with you tonyk. Hennelly gave away 1-4 and a bad kick out resulted in our best player having no choice but to take a black card for the team in the first half. We only scored 1 point less than Dublin. I do agree we will need to find some scoring forwards but the first thing we are now going to to need to find next year is 2 new goalies.

  55. Just watched the game back there. I have to say that that Seamus O se, Patrick Duncan, diarmaid O Connor and keegan when he was on the pitch were absolutely immense. Vaughan was an enormous loss when he couldn’t resume the second half.

    It’s a Shame that Cormac Costello wasn’t marked more tightly when he came on. He got so much space and had free reign. I’ve made my feelings known on the changing of our keeper and it has clearly cost us. It will be a talking point until we win the bloody thing

  56. Is it insane to suggest Keegan at Half Forward?

    The half back line is plenty strong, even without him. He thinks like a defender, and he shoots like a forward. His goal finish was sublime. Given that he’s what, 5th highest scorer for Mayo in the Championship this year – it has to be worth considering.

    I reckon he is a candidate for the role of link up between attack and defence. He could do even more damage if he doesn’t have come from as deep.

  57. Great piece, WJ.
    Thanks for all the coverage during the year. For sure our day will come in the near future.

  58. @Backdoor Sam, I think Ballina, Swinford, Kilkelly, Aughamore is a simpler route where you won’t go wrong. The pitch is down a roadway near the village.
    @Jaden I have often thought about Keegan at midfield either selected there or effectively a 3rd midfielder instructed to in 75% of his game look to attack. You are correct. He is probably our most destructive attacking force with what he brings.
    Stephen Coen is able to do a fine job replacing Keegan in defence. Stephen Coen is actually bigger and taller than Keegan and roughly the same pace.
    SOS and Parsons are fine footballers but we do lack that bit of driving pace and scoring coming from the middle third.
    I had a thought that for next year Keith Higgins in at wing back from the bench is another pacey attacking threat. Not to score himself as he doesn’t score too often but to drive on and create overlaps when possible. Witness the goal he laid on versus Tipperary. So imagine Keith Higgins 100% fresh coming into the final we just witnessed. He’d be ghosting past most of the players togged at that point.

  59. Backdoor Sam, just to embellish JP’s point re the Aghamore pitch – I’d say the Ballina, Swinford, Kilkelly route is definitely the best to take. When you join the N17 coming out of Kilkelly continue on it in the Knock direction for around 2 miles and then take a left at Bruff cross (which isn’t really a proper crossroads since the Eighties when the N17 was widened), onto the L1913 – it’s signposted for Aghamore. The village is about a mile in that road and the pitch is on the left-hand side after you come through the village and pass the church and the old school (which are both on the right).

  60. Keegan is an awsome player but please not in the half forwards. Please no more talk of converting backs into forwards. The one positive we can take out of this season is the defensive play is finally coming together, lets not take our best defender, one who will most certainly be marking Connolly again next year and put him in the half forwards. Keegan can score but he can kick some awful wides too, beacuse he is a defender not a forward.

    The only players introduced into the forwards need to be young hungry players like Reape, Irwin, Loftus etc. They need to be players who fave grown up playing as a forward. Out of the 6 forwards starting on saturday only ican see only 2 playing next year in the forwards, the OConnors, the rest are good hard working players but there isnt enough scores in them. AOS isnt a forward and never will be at this stage. 4 games v dublin in forwards, no score, For AOS its midfield or the bench. Jdoc works really hard wins ball, played really well but not enough scores. Kmac is not a heavy scorer, Andy may not be back. Forwards are Mayos big problem, there are players with real potential but they need to be given the games and time to progress. If Mayo go back with the same forward lineup or a defender thrown in there then they are doomed to repeat past failures and we will be here again next year saying the same old things.

  61. It tend to agree with Mayomad about switching keegan to the forwards , we cant keep trying this sort of quick fix sticky plaster type thing when it comes to forwards. We need two good forward thinking players who are natural with their back to goal. Whatever it takes to get the 3/4 lads from 21s bulked up do your best to do so , s&c and lifestyle for 6 months. What time frame does it take for a 20/21year old to develop into the senior s&c requirement? We seen flashes of brilliance from regan ie the roscommon league match but it was easy to tell he was not holding onto it enough, too easily dispossessed which must come from not being involved for lets say near three years was it , injury in league game v kerry in15 fecked his progress too youd imagine.

    Hopefully barry solan is staying on as he is obviously the best man to bring them through the process.

    Is under 21 changed to under 20 for next season or 2018?

  62. As a Dub who supports Mayo(Dad was a Bellmullet man), can I just say THANK YOU to Willie Joe for this piece and the blog and all the hard work you do.Well done to the team for an amazing season and well done to the supporter’s for been behind the team when it’s needed most.

  63. Sean Burke, U21s cant be that far away, Lofus, Reape are in this current panel, irwin can step right into the panel, Tommy Conroy playing senior club football for years, darren Coen, Douglas, Kirby, Gallagher, the players are there and need to be brought into the panel, not fbd and a few league appearances, they need to be in the panel full-time and given the time to progress in the set up.

  64. – Defiant is a word I like to describe this current Mayo Team because you can beat them with football, punch them, head butt them, pressure the ref and call them every name from bottlers to chokers to losers but you cannot stop them coming back.

    – The Mayo support this year has been incredible not just the numbers but the colour and the noise. I think I seen Ann Marie way down in front rows of 307 and at least two other guys further back standing up and urging the crowds around them to lift it and they did. Yes, you have as Pebblesmeller calls them the Sunglasses brigade but they just appear at Semis and Finals so best ignored, the day out is more important to them than the result.

    – 2018 was the year I had pencilled into my head for Rochford to deliver when he was appointed manager, I did not expect an AIF appearance this year. Rochford brings a game plan for each game that is now obvious but the goalkeeper change will haunt him for a long time to come and hopefully will not undermine his authority.

    – Great to have perspective from other counties thinking of Cantini, Gamechanger, Martin the Dub, Jaden (surely Jado !! ?) and many others

    – Finally thanks to WJ for the amount of effort and professionalism you put into this blog, super place to drill into

    – We are getting closer…..

  65. The marker for good shooting by forwards is 50-60% roughly. Pretty certain over the season Keegan was around 60%. The thing to check is across the season and seasons what is your shooting percentage. Don’t foul blog I think used to sometimes have the shooting percentages for players listed.
    Also across seasons how much of a goal threat are players.
    To just state that we can’t lose Lee Keegan in defence ignores the every improving direct replacement of Stephen Coen. It also ignores the major goal threat that Lee Keegan is. Again goals are predictable in that certain players get them much more often each year.
    I would have SOS sit in front of the defence as he was. Select Lee in the forwards but just allow him roam forward from midfield.

  66. Well as a Mayo man living in Dublin, I’m nearly over the worst now. The extra day (Sunday) was a real help but I still gave as good as I got when returning to work on Monday – just like our wonderful team. If we the fans feel the heartache, can you only imagine what the players must feel and especially Robbie H.

    First things first. I hope Robbie stays on. He’s a good keeper and we should all get behind him now and encourage him to stay the course. Mistakes are a fact of life with goalkeepers in every code. And perhaps we are a bit quick to forget that Stephen Cluxton was at fault for 2-2 against Kerry but his forwards dug him out of that hole. Scoring just three points from play from our forwards is a poor scoring return that would rarely if ever win you a match never mind an AI final against a serious outfit like Dublin. The fact that we were there at the very death shows the extent of the defensive effort put in by our heroes against a team that has been hammering teams out of sight for nearly 30 games running.The lack of a real impact off the bench is a continuing problem for us and we need to take the time over the winter to devise a proper attacking strategy to back up the excellent defence and midfield now in place. Finishing games with a really strong 15 is another absolute requirement.

    And talk of black cards and refs, while understandable to an extent, is a distraction. I thought the ref gave us quite a few soft frees to be honest and I even got a text from a Dublin friend during the match asking if the ref had property in Ballyhaunis!

    Onwards and upwards and finally many thanks WJ for your Trojan efforts throughout the year – greatly appreciated.

  67. To the Mayo Football Team ye gave us a great year 2016. Thanks to wives partners families Mom’s and Dad’s and to our Hero David Clarke ye all made us proud. Next year 2017 will be the year as John Hogan said what’s another year. Up Mayo
    Willie Joe nice comments

  68. those are the subs listed, from a guy received those this
    morning .brogen for andrews 47 minutes. 0.1 point dub
    mdm for mannion 52 minutes dub
    moran for moran 55 minutes 0.0 mayo
    costello for kmac 56 minutes 0.3 dub
    a dillon for doherty 61 minutes mayo
    if those are right i have no video to check
    who was picking up the replacement for kmac

  69. Club championships on over the next 3 weeks. Every promising foward needs to be looked at and those with the potential to step up to intercounty needs to be brought into training camps in preparation for the league ahead. Enough of defenders to forwards, AOS to ff, AOS to hf, stop moving the same players around hoping for different results. The current team simply does not have enough scoring players, time for the next generation to have their shot.

  70. From where we started out in 2011 , we have come a long way . Our fitness levels, body strength, aggression in the tackle , and reading of the game , is as good as any of the top teams . Where I feel we can improve for 2017 is in the movement and angles of shooting in the forwards . would it not be worth looking at bringing in a good forwards COACH to work on way of refreshing our forward play .

  71. I think we are overlooking the way we set up and play too. We never seem to have forwards off the shoulder or when aido or andy caught clean balls the quick lay off was never on. Why is that , is it because our gameplan dictates that our wing forwards, chf and somtimes cillian are too far back when we make the transition from back to forward play. Surely we can compromise this slightly even to create more goal chances.

  72. Likewise I am getting over it slowly too but looking forward to Championship this weekend .
    Will eagerly be watching Ballinrobe v Crossmolina, see how Conor Loftus does .

    Yes by all means push Lee Keegan forward, I was championing it all season but that said, I dont believe for once second that anyone bar Lee would have marked Connelly, Kerrigan(few years ago) or Cavanagh in the same manner.
    The man is just a FIFA 10 out of 10 in man marking and attacking halfback .
    Really is too good to loose in defense but yet if played midfield or halforward he would also be too good to loose from same position.

    One man I would like tried nearer the goal next League campaign is Diarmuid O Conor . I See alot of James Horan 1999 about him for a role at Fullforward.
    He is accurate, has an eye for goal retains possession so well, direct runner, links play, ball high in air, over top, on ground he is a top player, be worth a go anyhow .

    What we loose in him playing halforward we can compensate by playing Matthew Ruane, Conor O Shea Cathal Carolan, Jason Doh , Leeroy or the likes as the 10 and 12 .

    Cillian should benefit from pace in alongside too and with Loftus , Reape or Regan playing that little bit deeper we would have a very young forwardline but whats the League/FBD for but to introduce these guys .

  73. Three points from play from our forwards sounds bad but surely those same forwards must have created decent scoring chances for Dublin to foul them and give away 10 scorable frees. Take AOS for instance. He created a goal chance and won a few frees as well that ended up as points. Not a bad contribution to the scoreboard even though the record shows 0 against his name. I think Dublin don’t allow any team score too much from play. They prefer to concede a free instead. It’s less psychologically advantageous to the opposition than a score from play. But we do need more of a finishing threat in our forwards. i agree with the rest who advocate developing the u21s but don’t expect miracles from them next year. It can take a while for a player to develop into a top class forward capable of un-hinging a seasoned defence like dublin in an all ireland final.

  74. Outside the boot, by all means play these guys in the league but they need to be starting and be part of the championship panel. What about a forward unit for the league of,

    Loftus, Gallagher, DOC
    Reape, Irwin, COC

    Thats the kind of thing that needs to be seen in the league, right through the league, not just a game or two.

  75. That was a great piece WJ and it goes some way in healing the downs after the disappointment of not bringing Sam home.
    The euphoria of finally achieving that goal is put on hold for many to enjoy in the future.
    It has been a great time over the last 6 yrs and our lads, SR and staff have given their all in the quest, long may it continue.
    We may not have reached the pinnacle but the input of all over the last few years and particularly in the last 12 months has seen us rise once again to come within a point of equalling the best team of the present era. This being acheived with a manager who has not been in the seat for a full year yet is testament that overall we are in a good place and with a few tweaks and time to make them, Team Mayo will become even better.
    We had a shaky start to the league this year and lost our Connacht crown and it seemed that we would have no chance of Sept football………………how wrong we were.
    Have faith, keep it in Mayo and those trying their best for us and all will benefit……………postponed glory is so much the sweeter.
    Thanks once again for this wonderful site WJ, you do indeed keep the Mayo heart beating all over the world.
    MaighEo Abú

  76. Adam Gallagher ? Mayomad was not making the junior first 15 this year. Youd have to think hes a lot of improving to do to make it back onto senior panel where he didnt get a look in after three league games in 14 (?) , he looked to struggle v kerry i think it was after two good games v kildare and tyrone.

  77. Sean Burke, I believe he was travelling and had fitness issues but a natural footballer, obviously had something to offer to make a horan panel in the first place. Was using him as an example of what we should be looking at. Not moving the players already there around and hoping for different results.

  78. Mayomad. Spot on there with 5 of them front 6. Just one i would not agree with.

    And yes they start every game in the league. Not just 5 minutes here and there.

  79. It’s probably actually the most positive I have felt in the last few years at the end of the season (bar 2012)

    The last few seasons I looked at Dublin as the real juggernaut the following season. However in 2017 we could quite fathom-ably see them more like their 2012 selves than anything since. A lot of their key players are the wrong side of 30 next season, and I’m not at all convinced they’ll be as hungry either. As I said yesterday they had two chances to really come out all guns blazing in finals this season and make history, but instead they were untypically flat and lacking in composure for long periods of both matches

    Looking at the rest of the field, Kerry are at a real crossroads now, with the younger fellas not ready to emerge yet and the geriatrics well over the hill. Tyrone are still lacking several top quality players, and Donegal are well on the way down. Cork are having a real identity crisis, while the likes of Galway, Roscommon, Monaghan etc will just flatter to deceive again. So it’s not looking like a vintage 2017 for Gaelic Football by any stretch and it’s an All Ireland well there for the taking (cue a Kerry larceny job 🙂 )

    Lets not kid ourselves though, we aren’t exactly going to be roundly feared ourselves either. When all is said and done we looked a clear level below recent seasons, in losing to Galway and scraping past Fermanagh and nearly blowing it against Westmeath. We have a real issue with holding on to leads and playing for the full 70. As ever we are super at getting back into matches and producing ten minute shock and awe spells but we need much more ruthless-ness and consistency. We should have beaten Tyrone by far more than we did and the second half the first day was disappointing in that when we did draw it back level it was more than there for us to push on and finally win the thing

    Where we were far better this season was defensively, and if we can finally get something out of our forwards, to add to this, it’s more than there for us. That should be the real aim this winter. It’s hard to see any players declining majorly and we do still have a very favourable age profile.

    So all in all I’m looking on at 2017 in a very positive fashion at the minute

  80. Under 21 (is it even under 21 anymore from next season?) is a mental age group though, JP. Any team is as likely to win it as go out tamely in the first round

    We were well beaten by Kerry in 2014 minor though, they’ll be no doubt roaring favourites to commence their dominance in the grade. Donegal were good that year too and of course Dublin will be strong

  81. You know your Aughamore and its roads well Willie Joe!!! Actually I drove through that village a couple of hours ago. ( Soldiered with them in Senior Championship in the past before a club was established in my own area).

    May I avail of this opportunity to do as many others have done and thank you sincerely for this wonderful facility which you have established, maintain and run so smoothly. Your blog is a home away from home for so many. You have no idea what it means to such as my brother who touched back down in Abu Dhabi on Monday morning having made the journey twice in the hope of being a witness to our setting foot on the shores of the promised land. ( He will make the journey again in three weeks for my daughter’s wedding). Rest assured WJ that your marvellous forum is never taken for granted. Go raibh mile maith agat

  82. Thanks for the kind words, Sourceoftherobe. I’ve no excuse for not knowing those roads well enough, I even managed to get around some of them on two wheels this summer and grand they were too! Good to hear of the blog’s reach over to the Middle East.

  83. I’d love to see a real top class former player come in as a forwards coach for Mayo. The forwards we have on the panel have all the ability in the world to score more from open play, they just need someone in the mould of Ciaran McDonald or Padraig Joyce to really help them perfect the art and get the shot away.

  84. JammerCee, I see your point but can it really be taught? That is the sort of skill you either have or not. Ciaran Mc prob cant even explain it, its just something he does. would be great if he could, id rather see him working with youth teams, thats where talent is nurtured, when they hit senior intercounty its prob already too late.

  85. Interesting graphic doing the round on Twitter at the moment. It shows the amount of games development money per registered player Croke Park spends in each county. It ranges from Galway getting €15 per player up to Fermanagh getting €68.7. We receive the princely sum of €22.30. Meanwhile our opposition in last Saturday’s All Ireland receievd €274.70. That’s correct folks, two hundred and seventy four euros and seventy cents per player as opposed to twenty two euros and thirty cents.
    Any journalist or pundit pointing this criminal inequality out is immediately rounded on as anti-Dublin. In the worst of the recession when they took the allowance off people caring for blind people they still maintained the extra €1 million per year for Dublin GAA. To think with all those advantages they’re still only a single point better than us.

  86. As the numbness of Saturday evening wears off, a whole mixture of emotions and feelings well up and intersperse….sadness, pride, desolation, frustration, hope, anger. What if we had done this? What if we hadn’t done that ? How many more times do we have to talk about lessons to be learned? How many more ways can we find to fail to win an All Ireland Final? So many questions unanswered and unanswerable. But all we can do now is look to 2017 and try to keep it all together as hard as that will be considering the age profile of so many key players, mental fatigue risk, deficiencies in our forwards scoring capabilities and now even the managers own self image/confidence in his own decision making going forward. I do believe this particular group of players has missed the boat but it won’t stop us supporting them through thick and through thin…this year, next year, next twenty years.

  87. @Ciaran. Just think we have a much physically stronger team next year. Just works out due to last years 19 year olds n 20 year olds that most the team from the final n subs are underage.
    From 1-9 Im confident its the best platform any team will have. Then there is a strong talented full forward line.

  88. Jim Flag – see part of what I posted after game on Saturday after watching on telly to confirm what I saw in Croke Park earlier – got no traction since and nothing in any media (maybe you & I need to go to specsavers !)

    KildareExile says:

    October 1, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    What do ye think about D Rock free wide about 37/38 mins (after Dublin free moved forward due to D O’Connor block down of original free) – am I only one with bad eyesight ??

  89. @Mayomad I wouldn’t imagine taught from absolute scratch (i.e. fullbacks scoring 50 yards out on the sideline with the outside of the boot!) but I do think it’s always something that can be worked on and improved – even at senior intercounty level.

    There’s definitely natural shooting ability there in DOC, COC, Doherty, Regan and Loftus and if the right coach could get them putting the ball over the bar and in the back of the net more consistently then I’d be very hopeful.

    Many times Mayo in the last few years have dropped a simple shot for a point 30 yards out straight in front of goal straight into the keepers hands, definitely something to be worked on.

  90. PS @mayomad I forgot to say, definitely agree with you about nurturing the young talent and having the best training the development squads. I really see AM in that role for Mayo in the future one day (please god not next year or the year after that either!)

  91. Jim Flag –

    Maigh Eo Go Deo says:

    October 1, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Watch Rock’s free from 38:30 in the 2nd half. It looked wide to me.

  92. I’m still too numb to say much about it all. The inequality of it really annoys me and then to hear those dublin fans that couldn’t even be nice in victory capped it off on Saturday night. I seen 2 of them telling a young Mayo fan to fuck off back to the bog and leave the football to the lads that know how to play it. Depressing stuff.
    I live abroad and look at the way it’s all set up a bit differently than a lot of Mayo people and indeed others from around the country, I look at it and see the game being choked to death inside the next few years because of the money and population imbalance in the country. Dublin will continue to win at ease, who’s to stop them ? 4 SAMs in 6 years! 4 leagues in 4 years!
    Its for all intents and purposes a Provincial team that’s over funded and has home advantage all summer.
    It’s a miracle that Mayo can even give them a fight, well done Mayo.

  93. Well done WJ, the blog is an ingenious connection for the best supporters in the country, if not the World. Enjoy the break as we all look forward to 2017.
    Well done ‘Ned’ for highlighting Daragh O’Shea’s article on Rob Hennelly and his gloves from the Irish Times. I recall reading it at the time of publication and agreed then with every word.
    It’s a pity Steven Rochford didn’t take time to do read it too.
    I hope David Clarke gets his well earned and deserved ‘All Star’ award. Maybe there will be justice, poetic or otherwise at the end of 2016.

  94. Dave, I agree with you on everything you have said above. Looking at that map re funding that’s doing the rounds on Twitter – the mind boggles. Dublin get €1milliom extra straight off from the sports council on top of all the other funding, not to mention its commercial earnings.
    It is very depressing & I don’t know how players keep going if they know all this. Unfortunately in this little country of ours I can’t see anything changing any time soon.

  95. This funding thing, if I am understanding what I’m reading correctly, Mayo are being totally shafted!? Or maybe there’s more to it . . . .

  96. i would rest Aiden O Shea for the next few games in the coming months let him sit it out on the sideline now it is time to blood younger players we need a forward in the ilk of Padraig Joyce mould

  97. I’d like to echo the comments of all who have complimented you on this blog WJ. Not least of all my brother Sourceoftherobe. Yes I am the middle east correspondent. I can tell you that the GAA is alive and well in this region. I am heavily involved as coach for the ladies junior team with the local club Na Fianna. An Irish student has started GAA football in a local school here where my two daughters are attending and I am helping in a coaching capacity here too. The day before I travelled for the replay we had forty children for our first ever GAA training session in the school. Nationalities included Pakistani, Israeli, Lebanese, American, English and of course Irish. They all enjoyed it immensely. What a great feeling as a Mayo man to be involved in it.

    There are many of the locals out here who know, not only know that Mayo were in an All Ireland against Dublin but they could name many of the players on the Mayo team. I’d like a situation to arise whereby a Sheikh might be asked if he knew Diarmuid Connolly to which he would respond: “No, but I know Lee Keegan”.

    My presence in the Middle East as a GAA man brings to mind Private Cowboy in the film Full Metal Jacket when he said “I hate Vietnam. There’s not one horse in the whole of Vietnam. Now there’s something basically wrong with that”. If I ever end up in some outpost on this planet where gaelic football is not played I would have to conclude like Private Cowboy that “there is something basically wrong with that!”.

  98. Thought we were magnificent in final but lets not forget how magnificent Dublin have been over the last number of years…No other team in the country could match them the way we did….Dublin are going nowhere for a few years yet so we need to keep going and please god we will get our reward some day….

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