This is one quiet build-up

It’s Wednesday already with the Connacht final on Sunday but, going by the nationals this morning, you’d hardly notice. Not a sausage about the Hyde Park decider in the online variants of either the Examiner or the Times this morning and so all I’m able to put in front of you with your porridge are two pieces in this morning’s Irish Independent.

The first is a brief interview with Noel Connelly, where the issue of our defence is discussed. Noel takes the line of pretty much poo-pawing the whole topic, saying that “every team from the provincial stage onwards is going to be defensive” and by the sound of it refusing to get drawn into talking about specifics. Which, if this was his intention, was probably the best tack to take in the lead-in to the match. Actions, not words, will show us fairly quickly whether or not we’re wising up in this area.

The second piece from the Indo is a longer one with ex-Sligo manager Tommy Breheny, who was in charge the last time the Yeats County claimed the Nestor Cup, back in 2007. Then as now, Tommy’s brother Mark was on the team and this year Tommy’s son Cian is also involved, with the teenager likely to get his second championship start at midfield on Sunday. Tommy sketches a number of similarities between how Sligo are doing now compared to eight years ago and he gives his countymen a chance this time round, though only if we’re “a little bit off”. We have been warned.

That Sligo success in 2007 was only their third ever Connacht title. It came 32 years after their previous win, one recorded by the county against us after a replay in MacHale Park. RTÉ have put extended highlights of that famous 1975 victory on their website (here) and they’re well worth a look. The game looks so different, MacHale Park looks very different too. It was, in truth, an utterly different world back then. Mind you, different world or not, there’s no way Barnes Murphy should have got away with that sly kick on Willie McGee.

I did a piece myself some years ago on that distant contest, the first Connacht final of which I’ve any kind of first-hand memory. Shorn of much else to link you to, that one is here.

Switching from looking back to looking ahead, the Mayo News podcast is now online and as ever it’s essentially listening. It’s available here:

Want to talk about the weather? My focus, to be honest, is still on the Westportif cycle route on Saturday (we’ll get wet, by the looks of it, but hopefully not totally doused) but the indications at this stage are that we could have some rain to contend with at Hyde Park the following afternoon too. That forecast could, I know, change beyond recognition – hopefully for the better – between this and then.

Weather Roscommon


Nothing for it, I guess, but to end with a poll on Sunday’s decider. What will it be – the completion of the five-in-a-row for us or a fourth provincial title for them?

Who'll win the Connacht final?

  • Mayo (86%, 323 Votes)
  • Sligo (14%, 51 Votes)

Total Voters: 374

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44 thoughts on “This is one quiet build-up

  1. Should we get passed Sligo, which we should to do..
    looks certain to be: Derry, Tipp or Tyrone, Monaghan or Donegal in Quarter final
    we cannot get Galway again I believe as they try to keep team you already played apart if they can.

  2. Weather forecast for Sunday not looking great, particularly given I’ll be stationed on the terrace with the young fella.

  3. The team has to be announced tomorrow morning otherwise 2000 fine from connaught council

  4. Sunday is important for shape of team.
    Believe Cillian is vital to play in terms of match practice.Also day for Diarmaid to step up.This thing about including players because they are workers is nonsense.All 15 must be workers now.
    Really think if Jason Doc os picked we need to see huge improvement.Willing to give benefit of doubt but he may be option off the bench from now on if he does not perform.
    For sake of others no room for sentimentality for any player. Jason can be match winner but Sunday day to prove it in my view.
    We will have too much for Sligo but frankly need good performance before next test.Dont go along with this one point will do.Over Sligo? Has to be more than that if we have any ideas on going further.Thats evident in my view

  5. Diarmuid did step up the last day. His passing was top drawer. Won a kickout. Agree with you on all your other points.
    I really want to see a solid defensive shape with a sweeper. Could get caught later on in the year if we dont have this embedded. Very late that we haven’t road tested anything new defensively. Our half backs not attacking as much and the usual help from midfield n half forwards wont halt a Dublin wave.

  6. Re Jason Doc stepping up, he has been doing this for the past 18 months or so. Against Galway he did a lot of his work in the backline and still popped up to knock over a point at a critical stage.

    I would imagine Jason Doc to be one of the first on any managers team sheet. Indeed, he must be a manager’s dream, because he is the type of guy who will fill any role for the team, he can score and while not in Cillian’s class on frees he is not bad. Diarmuid O’Connor is shaping up in similar fashion, but I fear this injury could constrain him.

  7. Have to disagree with you somewhat Willie Joe on Noel Connelly’s comments in the Indo.

    Indeed, I detect the emergence of Connellyspeak: a form of reassurance that all is well followed by details that are far from reassuring. (Should we hashtag this?).

    Last week he was assuring a clean bill of health, while detailing the O’Connors’ injury problems. in the Indo piece he asserts that “I would be lying if we said we are not looking at that to be more defensive…[but] wouldn’t really buy into exactly what Joe Brolly and Jim McGuinness are saying”.

    All fairly forthright, perhaps even justifying the headline, No Defensive Worries for Mayo. However, it is immediately followed by this:

    “They do have a point – the evidence is there over the last number of years that it has been a position that we have been targeted in”. Which is what I gathered Brolly and McGuinness were saying.

  8. I think Doherty had a poor game the last day.
    However, he is a proven scorer and had an excellent season last year.
    The main problem for me is that both Doherty and Diarmuid O’Connor are two similar players. I’d play one or the other – but not both. They’re both vying for the same jersey in my opinion. Doherty is not a corner forward, not remotely quick enough, and was poor as a result the last day.

  9. You could well be correct there, Catcol, but I felt it was best to give him the benefit of the doubt (for now at least) as regards what he had to say.

  10. @Connelly’s Brigade, I would agree with you there in relation to Diarmuid O’Connor. In fairness to him he did do well against Galway but I feel that to accommodate him in the team means there is a follow on impact for 3 players, himself, McLoughlin and Jason Doc. To include Diarmuid the last day, McLoughlin was moved to no. 12 and Doc to no. 15, even if he didn’t spend much of his time in that position. So if Diarmuid is not 100% fit, then to have McLoughlin back at 10 and Jason Doc at 12 leaves the team more balanced. You would then have the likes of Ronaldson, Dillon, Conroy, Freeman, Sweeney, Kirby and Regan all battling it out for the last forward position!

  11. Cant agree Catcol that Jason has stepped up to the level needed particularly against Galway.Agree with Connellys Brigade there isnt room for two docs on the team if you get my drift.
    Jason has potential but first on team list? He does not score enough and to pop up for a point now and then is not enough.
    I hope I am proven wrong on Sunday but as we have a lot of decent subs now is the time for him to shine.I also hope Conroy steps up and no running into corners if given a chance.
    These lads have all had good games in the past but it is consistency like that of Highins and Cillian we need more of.

  12. Doherty wins the dirty ball that the fancy dans won’t compete for he puts in a full shift every day he goes out Tyrone targeted him in the league for special attention if you have 10 or 12 players on any day that gives more than Doc you won’t come out to bad

  13. People want us to be defensive and use Higgins as a sweeper of sorts but still expect to have 3 in the full forward line?
    COC and AOS are our new ff in my opinion. We need the likes of Doherty to win the dirty ball like McLoughlin does. We need players like him to cover back defensively if we are to afford ourselves a sweeper. Diarmud offers similar qualities and we need all three of them in the half forward line.
    Come the business end of the year I can see us lining out as follows..
    Barrett. Keane Cunniffe
    Boyle Vaughan Keegan
    OShea Parsons
    McLoughlin Doherty O’Connor D
    OShea O’Connor C

  14. This dirty ball thing and workrate and turnovers is the most exagerated aspect of rating and comparing players.
    You would swear it in anyways compares to scores or assists.
    Horan put out there the line that JDoc was one of the best wing forwards in the game. Sorry but not anyways close to Connolly/Flynn/MacNiallais.
    Pretty much impossible to convince devotees of workrate otherwise. Fancy Dan Alan Freeman was holding off two Dubs on the ground while Kevin Mc looked on? That ball looked dirty as they come. Jason Doc is a fine player but seasonally far from a top three player for us. Id take the intelligent useage of posession and ability to catch kickouts of young fancy dan Diarmuid anyday. Jason Doc has had good games the Galway game was not one of them.

  15. Diarmuid O’Connor was one of the standout performers for me against Galway. His distribution was excellent all through and didn’t put a foot wrong. Doherty kicked a fine point when it was needed badly. Maybe it wasn’t his finest game but he did more than enough to justify another outing.

  16. Didnt JDoc give away two scoreable frees? One certainly. Then hadnt he also a turnover or two against him and a low volume of posessions in total. While not having assists. He won I think one scoreable free. In terms of scoreboard impact factoring defence/posessions/assists/scores for/frees for and against. No better than neutral.

  17. As a Sligo man we’ve got it all to do.

    I do give us a chance if we can tame Aidan O’Shea – he is an absolute colossus. Taming him next to impossible though. His second half display in the drawn match against Kerry last year was one of the finest I’ve seen by a player in the context of the game, the stage, Mayo being don’t to 14 at the time, the opposition etc.

    Will be interested to see Donovan on O’Connor – I think Donovan is the most underrated back in the country for years now and really hard done by not to have an all star. Will be a good test for both.

    Sligo have young players in key positions – full back Kevin McDonnell, Brehony and Murphy at midfield (age 19 and 21)….hopefully someone somewhere is out there parroting Alan Hansen when he said “ya canna win nothing with kids”!

  18. JP are you basing your value of Doherty on one game?
    Who is our version of Flynn Connelly that you want to replace him with?

  19. Doc getting a hard time on here today, i think hes a great player and has done more than eneough to start against Sligo. He brings a bit of steel and aggression thats badly needed. Hope he has a big game sunday and can keep the doubters quiet 🙂

  20. Jason D definitely worth his place! My main concern would number 2 and 3 based on the Galway game. They had a torrid time in the 1st half and even though both have admirable qualities there must be serious doubts going into all Ireland series if we progress!

  21. I thought McLoughlin was poor enough the last day.He didn’t seem to get into the game like he usually does.He had a super game against Donegal in the last league game.
    I hope Diarmad is rested the next day .We shouldn’t need him and a broken bone takes a while to heal fully as has been shown by the reoccurrence of Evan Regans broken collar bone. We should have enough cover in the panel for situations like this.These lads could be needed worse later on.

  22. Jason is one of the most improved footballers in the squad. That’s not to say there is not more room for improvement. The inclusion of DOC is going to increase pressure on potential half forwards. I was happy with DOC the last day given that he is only 19. He has pressure coming from within his own family circle to improve his game going forward. It all raises the bar for all forwards on the Mayo team.. It was one of the smartest moves that the new managers made so far and it has not been picked up by anyone in the media yet. I also expect Micky C to have a big year, but I say that every year.

  23. As a matter of interest would any of ye be surprised if Mayo absolutely annihilated Sligo ?

  24. PJ you raise an interesting point about McLoughlin. We really need Mac to be on his game. When he is, we purr like a BMW; when he is not, we’re like a Toyota that has been recalled, all promise and no delivery.

    I hope, to continue the motoring analogy, that Management are labouring away at fine tuning this engine; Daragh O’Shea’s comment that a dip in form can happen and can be hard to reverse, is a chilling reminder that we are a long time on the road and fatigue may be lurking.

  25. Sean Burke I wouldn’t be surprised at all and the reality is here that we need to be winnin by 7 or 8 points. We’re a top 4 team. Simple. Sligo play div 3 football.

  26. I doubt we will annihilate Sligo, they’re a good enough side that put up some serious scores in different games this year. I think Mayo win by a few scores if we are focussed. Remember what happened Roscommon! Cock sure and bang, beaten by an “inferior” team.
    Stay focussed and don’t let up for the 70 minutes.

  27. But Dave serious scores against who? Poor teams. If this is tight forget about any shot at an AI IMO .

  28. Canteni I agree that Aidan O Shea was immense in last years first Semi Finals but the best game I have seen him play was against Donegl in 2013. There are not words capable of aptly describing what he did that day, I was hoarse after that game cheering the ultimate warrior as he showed all the GAA family what our game is about. He was sublime and his performance will be long remembered by all privileged enough to be present at that game. This was about setting the record straight and he did with absolute honour and unbridled skill. It was one of he best midfield displays I have ever seen in my forty odd years going to inter county games, a joy to behold that day.
    Just wondering how Mayo will be fined if they don’t name their team tomorrow night, Kerry are naming their team tomorrow night and they are playing Saturday night !!!

  29. Sligo haven’t won a game outside Markievicz this year. Have people’s expectations dropped that much of our team that they expect anything but a 5-10 point victory against a mid table division 3 outfit? No insults to Sligo intended, but they’ve had their ambush and we’re not as foolish as our primrose and yellow neighbours.

  30. St Pats you didnt manage to read where I said Jason Doc is a fine player who has had fine games? Then explained that Galway game was not one of them?
    Finally it is myself who has said player valuations should be seasonal. Raising the point he needs a bigger performance is no big critique. Im not getting into some debate where my points are misrepresented with each passing reply and counter reply.I did not call for any Flynn/Connolly type replacement. I didnt even call for him to be dropped.

  31. Gamechanger, the game against Donegal was the best game for Mayo, we clicked that day and everything gelled together, we could do no wrong. Hopefully we will have more of these days this year and bring Sam across the Shannon. Maigh eo abu. Roll on Sunday.

  32. Sean, it all depends on how Sligo set up.. I think if they go man 4 man and try and take us on at the running game or physically try to mix it up then we will anialiate them.. but if they put everyone behind the ball (ala West meath dub game) then it couled be a slow grind.. It’s going 2 b damned if we do damned if we don’t type game me thinks.. best scenario is we win comfortably where everyone puts in a good shift, no injuries, no red cards, little fanfare and move on to the draw.. This team is perfessional enough now to do what is required and to that end I would expect them to try and kill off the game as quick as possible..

  33. Funny the donegal game mentioned today..had a look at highlights last night on youtube and god we were sooo good ..had forgotten we were 20 pts up at one stage…has there ever been a more low key run up to a connacht final than this one?? Perfect..

  34. Team announced:
    1. David Clarke – Ballina Stephenites
    2. Ger Cafferkey – Ballina Stephenites
    3. Donal Vaughan – Ballinrobe
    4. Keith Higgins – Ballyhaunis (Capt.)
    5. Lee Keegan – Westport
    6. Tom Cunniffe – Castlebar Mitchels
    7. Colm Boyle – Davitts
    8. Seamus O’Shea – Breaffy
    9. Tom Parsons – Charlestown Sarsfields
    10. Diarmuid O’Connor – Ballintubber
    11. Aidan O’Shea – Breaffy
    12. Kevin McLoughlin – Knockmore
    13. Andy Moran – Ballaghaderreen
    14. Cillian O’Connor – Ballintubber
    15. Jason Doherty – Burrishoole

  35. Team: Clarke, Caff, Vaughan, Higgins, Keegan, Cunniffe, Boyle, S.OShea, Parsons, D.OConnor, A.OShea, McLoughlin, A.Moran, C.OConnor, Doherty

  36. @gamechanger

    Yes that was a super performance by O’Shea but you have to put it into context that it was a game they absolutely annihilated the opposition….it is much hard to reach the heights when your back is against the wall in a tight encounter and heads around you are beginning to dip…real leadership stuff.

    Anyway..I wish him no luck on Sunday – we need him off his game if we are to have any chance.

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