Thoughts turning towards Sunday

Mayo Dublin flags at Croke Park AIF 2013

That awful tragedy on Sunday night has, I think, fairly much knocked the stuffing out of many people. The utter senselessness of accidental death at such a tender age is beyond comprehension and at a time like this words are less than useless.

As others have said, Darragh’s death also places Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final into context. Sure, it’s an enormous day for the county, of course we want to win it and if we do and go on to reach the summit, it’ll mean everything. But football isn’t everything – far from it, in fact, as Sunday’s tragic accident proved.

In another sense, though, great sporting events – and the sense of fellowship and belonging they engender – carry within them the ability to lift the collective spirit in a profound way. There will, for sure, be a definite air of poignancy around Croke Park on Sunday but surely the best tribute all of us – players and supporters alike – could pay to Darragh then would be to do what we can to rock the rafters of HQ and secure the win we all crave in the sport he himself represented the county in with such distinction.

Mayo GAA paid a nice tribute to Darragh on their website yesterday and the piece (here) also includes details of Darragh’s funeral arrangements tomorrow and Thursday.

Difficult though it may be, we need to start thinking about Sunday’s match. The coverage has begun to ramp up in earnest this morning and will, no doubt, continue to do so between now and the weekend.

I don’t have time at the minute to do an extensive trawl through everything that’s out there but here’s a quick sample of it.

There’s an interview with Dublin manager Jim Gavin (who always manages to come across sounding more like a management consultant rather than a Gaelic footballer bainisteoir) which makes an appearance in the Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, Irish Times, Herald and RTÉ. As you’d expect, all of these pieces are pretty much the same – the short version being that we’re great lads altogether and that they won’t change their style of play on Sunday. No, I don’t believe him either.

Noel Connelly is also in the papers today – there are pieces with him in both the Irish Independent and the Irish Times. He doesn’t come out with any management psycho-babble and it’s clear from what he says about Dublin that he’s not buying Gavin’s ‘core principles’ guff either.

As already noted in the comments, there’s a piece with Conor Mortimer in the Irish Examiner. I wouldn’t be too hard on the Mort – it’s only the guy giving his opinion, after all, but I would question his memory. He says that we were “seven or eight points down with 15 minutes to go” in the 2006 semi-final. Firstly, we were never eight points adrift that day (seven was as bad as it got) and Alan Dillon’s equalising point came as early as the 54th minute. It was still one hell of a comeback, though.

There’s also a feature on the RTÉ website with Keith Higgins (here), where the captain talks about Diarmuid Connolly, Aidan O’Shea and the impact that Pat and Noel have had.

It being Tuesday, it’s also of course Mayo News day and there’s a bumper 16-page preview of the big match in this week’s edition (paper and digital versions). You’ll even find me in it peeking out from behind my online mask in a feature piece with Danny Carey, who also has interviews with Conor Mortimer and Mossy Quinn. There’s also plenty of good analysis from Sean Rice, Edwin McGreal and Billy Joe Padden and loads more besides. And if that’s not enough for you, they’ll also have the pre-match podcast available to listen to later on today. UPDATE: it’s now online – here.

Finally, though, there’s a great piece in today’s Irish Examiner from Kieran Shannon, which I think is fairly appropriate given the collective mood at the minute. Kieran was part of James Horan’s backroom team and in this wide-ranging piece he argues strongly about the need for sport to channel more noble character traits within us. Many of us – and I’m a prime culprit in this myself – can be very quick to point to external factors when things don’t go our way but Kieran reminds us that “while sport aspires to be fair, sometimes it isn’t, just like life itself. Most of us will live beyond middle age. Some of us will sadly be taken way a lot earlier. For those left behind, sporting defeats help somewhat steel us for that devastation; they makes us more resilient, better, people.” Wise, profound words, not least in light of Sunday night’s tragedy.

‘Till tomorrow.

70 thoughts on “Thoughts turning towards Sunday

  1. Still not ready to think about the match after hearing about Darragh’s tragic death those of us healthy enough to go to Croker on Sunday should count our blessings and rock the stadium for all we are worth on behalf of ourselves and those Mayo footballers and supporters no longer with us who gave all to the cause these are special days to be a Mayo supporter let’s live them and not take them for granted

  2. i have no doubt Mayo will rock the rafters on Sunday, and hopefully win this game well, its just the fact that a young fella that played so well and won for himself and all Mayo people and is now lying silent and wont have anymore wins or losses thats hard to take. Let you all take care on the roads.

  3. The call to rock the rafters of Croke Park should be noted by all concerned. There’s an additional onus on us all to acknowledge and celebrate the life on a young man who represented us all and did it with huge distinction.

    What’s more he went there with his team, he played with no fear and he left victorious.

  4. Too soon for me to comment also about the game, I would like to talk about the dedicated man marking of Connelly and Brogan ,how to unsettle Cluxton but to be honest just cant get into it .
    RIP Darragh . Hope someone picks up the mantle and courage and unwilting confidence this young man had, with even kicking two early wides he settled down in the game and continued his shooting scoring 1-02 and was for many man of the match in that game . He and conor Loftus gave great displays .

  5. Great piece by the way WJ, wasnt saying anything to the contrary just how I am feeling at the moment, whereas last week, was brimming with excitement as regards the match ups and tactics etc .

  6. Well said Rock, well said.
    If anyone going on Sunday is not going to shout themselves hoarse then please give your ticket to someone who will. Sunday is no place for the “sunglasses-in-the-hair-brigade” who make their customary visit to Croker when Mayo play, to be seen! A la the Galway races. You won’t see them in January at a cold, wet and windy FBD game, or a 3 1/2 hour journey to Derry in a dead-rubber league game! It’s amazing how they always get tickets though.

  7. Wholeheartedly agree with you I was one of those gang that travelled up and down the country to league games and to the Fbd on wet Sunday’s in January and I could never get a ticket for the all Ireland final until the last few hours after begging and coaxing people I bought a season ticket in 2011 and have one ever since best money I Eve spent

  8. Now pebblesmeller, nothing wrong with sun glasses in the hair, I sipped many a glass of Moet from the premium level with that look.

  9. I thought maybe a video on the big screen of him playing in 2013 would be appropriate way Croke Park could mark this tragedy.
    On here I’d almost suggest a match discussion silence as mark of respect. Match just seems trivial now.

  10. Sad times in mayo gaa. It makes you think of all the arguing and complaining that we do as fans and how daft a lot of it is. I suppose it brings things into perspective a little.
    I think it is important to remember our role as fans. Maybe in the past we were caught up complaining about some guys not playing and others getting taken off, and whatever other stuff that aren’t really in our remit, and in doing so, took our eye off the ball with 10 to go in the final. Let’s as a group take ownership of the things we can control, and not get caught up in the stuff we cant. As WJ says, we can shake the rafters in HQ this year. Let’s every one of us make sure that walking out of HQ, win or lose, we can stand over the fact that we shook the place to it’s foundations and showed the country what football in Mayo is all about.

  11. Might be better off pebbles. Look at the trouble Tiernan Mccann got into because of his!

  12. Darragh Doherty’s not loosing his bottle after early misses marked him out as a man to life. So tragic.
    My thoughts are with his family and friends

  13. Sorry Pebbles. No hair is not a “problem”. It’s a plus, a spit and a rub in the morning and it’s perfect for the day.. 😉

  14. Fair play ta ya Ray Bans boy. I’d have an after dinner cognac with ya Saturday eve but I’ve no doubt a man like your self will be languishing at the Shelbourne and I’ll be holed up in the Skylon. You could stick bit of green and red sticky tape on the handlebars of the aul Bans. It’s a great job altogether and won’t affect the aul Ray Bans from banning the aul rays. Can ya get that Moet stuff on draft or do they only do it in the botlles like the Bulmers?

  15. Excellent piece that WJ. Nothing has ever dampened my enthusiasm for a big championship game but honestly the horrible news about Darragh has .

    Even before the tragic news ,the FF line of 13 minors was the magic I’d always remember ,stylish and lovely to watch.RIP young man , Mayo GAA will never forget you.

    Best of luck to Mayo on Sunday .

  16. Enjoyed that piece WJ, very well put…..I believe it will be hard for the players to focus this coming weekend so not sure how this will effect the outcome.

  17. Agree that the applause on the 13th minute is a a great idea and a lovely tribute. Check out the #13ForNo13 hashtag on Twitter and help spread the word.

    The Dubs did similar for Alan and Steve Harris earlier in the year. I think it’s worth letting the national media know as well, cos unfortunately the match commentators didn’t have a clue why the crowd was applauding at the time despite an extensive social media campaign in the week leading up to the game.

  18. Brady s idea cool but I think Mayo could win the match for him too I had to laugh a mort s comment s over o Shea is he for real.

  19. This is a great idea. It will be a very emotional tribute. We should lift the roof surely!!

  20. What if Mayo score a goal at 12:59? Just saying, will we all be able to clap for 13 seconds without cheering like loud yahoos? Just a different thought on things.

  21. Loving that idea. I for 1 will be clapping(as will everyone around me). With a lump in my throat on sunday. Past experience tells me that the best tribute you can pay to anyone is to go on and achieve what they aspire to. As a out and out mayo man in my opinion by the way he wore the shirt with such pride,I think it’s safe to say that nothing would bring that young man more pride than to see those boys no more than himself giving it all for the remainder of this all Ireland series, where it brings us.

  22. Word starting to come out of the Dublin camp that Diarmuid Connolly going fullforward with Bastic sweeping in front of big Aiden.

  23. Has anyone ever being on the hill when we were playing the dubs what it like , jst being told from the club its a hill ticket , what do ye think ,happy I have a ticket but not looking forward to the hill,

  24. WJ, that’s really mighty stuff from KS.
    And talking about T.O’Shea handing the match ball to Cluxton manifests what he’s saying.
    (“He could take it, knowing neither victory nor
    defeat defines your honour”)
    It is said that you learn more from defeat
    than victory. Much easier to shake hands when
    you win, than when you lose.
    Let’s accept with dignity and graciousness, the outcome, on Sunday.
    Whether it’s victory or defeat.
    And let’s let the country and all those watching overseas hear our passionate roar – for Mayo and for this young man, Darragh’s.

  25. Facetheball I imagine there will be a minute’s silence organised by the GAA before the match as is customary. This, however is a way for fans to make their statement, and what better tribute than to raise the roof as a group in acknowledgement, remembrance and celebration of a wonderful talent. It’s nice to see the Dublin supporters’ groups rowing in behind it too.

    I can’t think much about the game this week either; my heart isn’t really in it. I think Dave put it best above… I didn’t know the lad, but I know the devastation that comes with a road traffic death and the senselessness of the loss of a young life, and can only imagine what his family and friends are going through right now. But the next few weeks and months will be even harder for them.

  26. And PS, WJ, read that wee piece in MAYO NEWS.
    Well done, you really have done Mayo football
    fans a great service.
    Gwan Aghamore!

  27. Spoke to a few of the lads after training this evening and there is a very confident,without being cocky,vibe from them.
    We will do this!

  28. Liam says:
    August 25, 2015 at 10:45 pm
    Word starting to come out of the Dublin camp that Diarmuid Connolly going fullforward with Bastic sweeping in front of big Aiden.
    This makes perfect sense would be idiotic to not mark OSheas with a midfielder same as Donnaghy in 2006.
    Heaney and Derek Kavanagh couldn’t handle him.

    Also they’ll want to get Connolly close to goal so that they can kick it high and try to negate Keegan influence. The may push rock in there aswell for height

    Personally I would go with a double sweeper formation. 1 half forward and 3 up front AOS, COC And Doherty. Go long and early into them Doherty could do damage off breaks.

    We need to let the ball do the work and really compress the space around midfield and defence.

    Absolutely cannot get into this craic of an athletic battle like in 2013

  29. I see the Dubs are going into overdrive talking up AOS, more of the same from Bastick this evening repeating the Jim Gavin media script.

    I’m based in Dublin and, whether it’s justified or not, the Dubs are growing more confident of beating us (and possibly a bit distracted by the thought of playing Ciarrai in the final) the more our performance against Donegal disappears in the rearview mirror.

  30. centrefield/Liam,
    I hope those rumors are true regarding the positioning of Bastick and Connolly. In my opinion Connolly is a greater danger out the field as he can kick points from distance and is a powerful runner with the ball that would make him a serious threat coming at our defense from deep. He is not, however, a natural full forward and I would sooner him on the edge of our square than out around the 40.
    As for Bastick, if he is going to mark the space in front of Aidan, then he won’t be out around the middle third which will allow us to target our midfield on our kickouts. Bastick doesn’t have the legs to do a “Barry Moran”, i.e. sweep up in front of goal AND be out around the middle for kickouts. And, in the event that Dublin do employ that tactic, well Mayo will just have to use Aido as a decoy and play our other forwards, thereby removing 2 Dublin players in Bastick and O’Carroll from play.
    Removing Connolly and Bastick from the middle third would remove a lot of height, bulk and power from Dublin’s point of view. Given that that is an area of the field we expect to be strong in I can’t see Dublin ceding that area of the pitch so willingly. Methinks the Dubs could be leaking misinformation!

  31. The Bastick and Connolly moves are complete bullsh’t. I see we’ve also rolled out Barry Moran this morning for blanket media coverage on the Mayo duvet. Lots of skirmishing going on at the moment and much of it is best ignored.

    I see Yerra Yerra has tipped the Dubs by three in the Times today. Excellent.

  32. I think it would not be a good idea to honour Daragh in the way suggested by Brady, a deserved minutes silence followed by a minutes applause before the game would be a far more appropriate gesture. I can’t imaging that the players would or should be expected to break their concentration and collective mindset for that minute. It would be a very dangerous distraction and would almost certainly cost them some percentage of vital focus, I’d be inclined to do what the poor lad would do himself, clear the mind and win the bloody game. RIP

    I think that Mayo will have too much for the Dubs on Sunday. They have played a succession of teams that are swimming in a much shallower pond than they are. They gave Kildare a whipping and looked great and when Kerry met them they too brushed them aside so Kildare are not an accurate yardstick of good form. Any of the top teams would have hammered them with a similar score. Mayo and Kerry beat Cork,Galway, Donegal and Tyrone and when we both met the Dubs in 2013 we were not as strong as we are now, I respectfully suggest that they were lucky to win those games as there was just a bounce of a ball between all teams.

    The Dubs are a fantastic team but so too are Kerry and Mayo and Sunday next is the last Sunday in August and it will be the first top team that they have met in championship in 2015. I can tell you if Kerry had a stroll in the park like them and were meeting Mayo at this stage of the year for a first test I would say its hard to see a victory for us here. Mayo are a top team and have nothing to lose here, the Dubs have become more defensive but will in fairness go toe to toe with ye so the best team will be able to stretch their legs and use their full skill set.

    Opinion is very divided down here in relation to the outcome of the game but there are several undisputed facts,
    The Dubs have had no test yet.
    There is a relentless tide of shite talk in the Dublin and national media regarding their status.
    They proved very brittle in last years semi final when things deviated from script.
    Mayo are far stronger in midfield.
    The Mayo half backs will give the half forward line plenty to think about providing ye are winning the possession stakes in the middle.
    O Shea will keep a few of their wandering horses very close to the paddock which will be beneficial to Mayos defensive structure.
    There are a few guys on that team that will not react well to a good welt of a shoulder so don’t stand back !
    Hon Mayo ?

  33. Did anyone read Mortimers article in the examiner ?

    Absolute Rubbish….

    Everytime theres a big game he says something controversial ………just wants to me in the media

  34. Mayo51 I read that article and I really don’t see where he is trying to be controversial. He has made observations and points that seem quiet valid from where I am standing. I wouldn’t see them as being critical of Mayo, quiet the opposite I suggest and he is backing them to win the game on Sunday and rightly so in my opinion. Take something to numb the sensitivity,,,

  35. Looking from outside in I could see us lining up like






    I think we will start with Barry again but this time I think he will play around centrehalf back as Dublin will look to hit Dean Rock at 11 with Cluxtons long kick outs.
    I imagine Cillian Brennan will be a the sweeper as he is strong in the air, fast, reads well and can setup attacks.
    With Brennan dropping back to sweeper I think Johnny Cooper will be giving the no.6 role and allow to attack and follow Jason Doh, in that if Doh goes back into defence Cooper will follow him.

    Diarmid and Kevin Mc on McCaff and McCarty are going to be titanic battles and whoever gets the better of those battles could well be the deciding factors as a few points tagged on from our 10 and 12 or their 5 and 7 could be what sways the game in favour of winners.

    I think Cillian will be at his best and we will need him to be.
    He will be up against a great player in Philly McMahon but one who hasnt being tested for a while and one who is very cocky and also temperamental.
    Now Cillian is no angel either but he should look to exploit McMahons edge to his benefit and maybe see McMahon loose his rag.
    Outside Dublins starting back 6 they are very weak and will be interesting to see what will happen if a marquee defender for Dublin is carded.

    I think Chris Barrett and Boyler are our Best options for sweeping and would have every confidence in them assisting Caff and Higgins.
    Talk of Connelly going inside is supposed to be true with MDMA given a free role and Bastick starting at 8 .
    That would mean no Andrews or McManamon but I do think Andrews is a greater threat to us with his pace.
    Deploying MDMA in a free/full forward role will look to upset our sweeper system but so long as one of the two pick him up it should be fine.

    There will be alot of switches and changes to the Dubs setup but thats a credit to our lads and just how scared they are of us.

  36. Connolly caused damage operating at 14 in 2012 against us, he was pretty much the only Dublin player who turned up in the first half. Outstanding footballer.

    That move suggested above is pretty contradictory in a way though, it means Connolly will be 14 and no doubt Bastick given the 13 shirt (metaphorically, MDMA will prob wear it) as a result, so no Dean Rock? That ain’t gonna happen surely

    I don’t think they’ll bother with a sweeper anyhow, Jonny Cooper will prob do the double marking and let COS track Doherty moving out the field. McMenamin/Andrews to start 13

  37. ^^^ Excuse my ignorance but who’s Cillian Brennan? Do you mean Ger? Is he even involved this year?

    Not a hope in hell Cian O’Sullivan will be left out though

    Does this talk of Dublin starting 3 mids actually have a reliable source? I’d be amazed but happy if it transpires!

    We’re only gonna play with two inside anyway so why would they even pick a midfielder to play in front of Aidan, when Cooper can just double up on him. That’s if they bother to double up, they’ll fancy themselves at midfield and in the half forward line to greatly reduce our service into him, and any ball that does go in, they’ll back ROC

    That hypothetical team looks one of the most negative Dublin ones since 2010, and I’d be pleasantly surprised if they go even near that. I’d love if they do though!

    MDMA as a free role, didn’t that pretty much cost them the match against us in 2012, not playing him as an orthodox mid?

  38. There’ll be plenty of mayo fans on the HILL….its the only tickets we coudl get.

    Dara O se says Kerry by 3….a weekly columnist from Mulhollands bookies in a Galway paper said to look at 11/2 on Dublin -7 !!!

    Our boys already know they’ll need to play the best they’ve ever done….but i believe we can produce this performance. C’mon Mayo!!!

  39. Cian O Sullivan was a corner back at the start of his career and he will start in front of Fullback line from what I hear with licence to roam as and when O Shea does .

  40. Not saying you came up with the team ‘Outside of the Boot’ by the way, but seeing it on twitter myself and it surprises me greatly!! But just ‘rumours’

    That 11/2 mightn’t be the worst bet in fairness, they beat Kerry by 7 in a ‘one-point’ game throughout in 2013, even really tight matches can have a team nab a late goal in injury time to put a flattering look on the scoreline.

    For very long odds I can see his point

    We can have a good laugh at him next week hopefully, but I’d hold off til then 😀

  41. I was thinking alright Outside of the Boot haha! They’ve a lot of young lads though in the panel this year I wasn’t sure! Thought he could have come off under 21s last year perhaps

  42. I do think it makes sense as is the versatility of Brennan to follow O shea and it by no means weakens Dublin and I also think the MDMA free role would upset our sweeper system to a degree .

    But I think Andrews is very underated and could do damage if he starts .

  43. I do not want to hear any talk about red cards, yellow cards ,black cards or the ref. Let the team do whatever it takes to win like Kerry.
    we are long enough on the road now to add a ruthless streak to the physical and mental toughness this team has.
    Give it our all and have no regrets.

  44. Agree Andrews is quite underrated, he had a blinder against Kerry in the semi 2 years ago! K Mac is probably best used as an impact sub

    Yeah Anne Marie I won’t take much notice of their “starting team” until 3.30 sunday!

  45. Convinced we can win it but really it is on the day.
    I acant understand the fuss with mortimer….he just said what he believed and I agree with some of it.
    The team announced will show no change….the team starting different matter.

  46. Anne-Marie, Kiltimagh can have that effect on people. I know as I come from there!

    C’mon Mhuigheo!!!

  47. Ger Brennan is not with Dublin this year. It will be osullivan sitting infront of Aido with a free role, i expect him to be named in corner forward for them. I wouldnt beileve any a them rumours coming out of Dublin camp, connolly might drift in and out alright, but sure numbers mean nothin now days. Aido will be drifting in and out aswell. The winning of this game will come down to kick outs, simple as that. Everything starts for them from there. If i was connelly or holmes, id say lamp the ball straight into cluxtons little square in the first minute, let aido clatter into him regardless if he wins the ball or not, give him a goid rattle early as he is a volatile charachter, it might knock him off his game.

  48. Hi. A better bet is 5/1 for Mayo to lead Half and Full Time. Not a gambler but like to see what PP offers!. At this stage a win is what is important and have no desire to make money from it. Ciaran 2.

  49. Ciaran,
    I wouldn’t read too much into that pundit for Mulhollands. He tipped Galway to beat us and has consistently backed against us this year. I’ve backed Mayo at -2 at 4/1 and personally think it’s the bet of the weekend.

  50. exactly Juan, lamp it in early and often. even if the dubs use 3 men on aos he still is going to win a certain amount and head for the net. theres no stopping that fact and they will concede frees and penalties all day long if aos is targeted by his teammates near goal. ive seen somewhere that danny kirby is doing well in training, hes another nightmare waiting to happen if hes used in conjunction with aos. Stick robbie h in goals from the start and give him free taking if coc is off form again, as can happen, and coc should leave the long range frees to hennelly anyways. Im not sure if 13 seconds of clapping is a good idea, give Daragh Doherty a proper minutes silence before the game, not a clap during the game.He deserves a minutes silence for Gods sake. I keep wondering where he would have watched the game and if he d be onto the lads on the senior panel to see what he should be doing to prepare himself to play senior. Poor fella. No sense to it.
    Finally, i doubt h and c will take any heed of dublins “leaked” team news, its smoke and mirrors.

  51. Absolutely , lump it up to Aidan. its practically impossible to cut off supply if every man jack knows he can either kick for a point or land it in the mixer for AOS to play puck.

    Deal with that Dubs.

    Stomach in knots here as well. will be refusing food by Saturday afternoon i’d say, only porter will keep me sustained.

  52. I felt the Mortimer article wasn’t bad actually.

    He pointed out that Aido had been at FF before with mixed results to put it mildly. Indeed it’s worth remembering that Aido’s career (indeed the same could be said for many of the team) was on the ropes when JH arrived.

    It’s to Horan’s eternal credit that he developed the talent that was in the squad – talent that was about to go down the tubes under Johnno. O’Shea’s move to midfield revived his career. The S&C work, the continual honing of his fitness, the development of his footwork and ball skills have all helped to make him a midfield legend.

    The further work of developing his forward skills also began under Horan and it is to the current management’s credit that they have – so far- extracted so much from his placement at FF.

    That he is giving the Dubs so much to think about is a further reflection on the team this year. I do feel our management have the capability to be as creative and adaptable as the Dubs.

  53. A long ball into the square as early as possible should definitely be considered. Pop it high and long and sicken anything that gets in the way once it comes down.

  54. If anyone actually has it in them to rewatch 2013 (I do not blame you one ounce if you don’t), it’s interesting to note how much Cillian got the better of Philly Mac in the early exchanges- an unfit O’Connor, who has come on in leaps and bounds since

    That said he didn’t really do that much damage so it mightn’t really concern Dublin heading into Sunday, but as a result he could be a bit of a trump card- I’ve barely heard a word about him in the build up

  55. I agree Ciaran, ive watched it several times, freeman also cleaned out o’carroll till he was taken off. Theirs a big weakness in that fb line. As i said in my last post, high ball in straight away, an let Aido do the damage. Teams have done it to us for years….its pay back time now!

  56. Alan Freeman at 13 could cause a bit of extra consternation for the Dublin back line with two big men to deal with. It would almost certainly mean they’d have to pull even more men back and draw our half forwards a little extra space to pick off scores.

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