Time to move on

I don’t know if this is true of everyone but I find this weight of history bollocks about Mayo teams and finals to be just that – bollocks, I mean – because, fool that I am, I’ve approached every single one of them expecting us to win. Once the final whistle has confirmed the latest HQ defeat, it’s painful enough internalising all that negative shit but I find that 24 hours of processing is usually enough.  The match is over, it’s done, we lost (again) and there’s nothing we can do to change this.

The fact that we’ve lost so many finals almost without interruption over the past twenty-five years isn’t, to be honest, something I give an awful amount of thought to on an average day.  When another one gets added to the list, it obviously leads to another 24-hour pain in the hole but that’s about it.  Mental scarring?  Give me a break – this is sport we’re talking about and if we felt so weighed down by what’s gone before then surely the rational thing would be to give up trying altogether and become a 21st century version of the likes of Cavan and Louth.  But we won’t give up and neither should we.

A good rant about a bad performance is always useful. I’ve certainly found it to be therapeutic and with 2,703 hits on this site yesterday (that’s more than Mulley and his bloody Fluffy Links for chrissakes), it appears that plenty of you have felt the same way too. Now that we’re got over the day after the day before and we’ve all had a good chance to blow off some steam, it’s time, I guess, to leave Sunday’s result where it belongs and to move on and think about the next match up ahead.

In  doing so, though, I think it’s only appropriate, following Sunday’s debacle, to lay down a marker (this is the time of year to lay down markers, isn’t it?) for the championship season that lies ahead.  Which is this: in this championship campaign, Johnno either needs to prove he has the capability to send out a team that can play to its potential or he has to accept that it’s time to stand aside and let someone else have a go.

This will be Johnno’s fourth championship campaign of his current tenure and, in that time, he has led us to victory in only one major match – last year’s Connacht final in Salthill, a game we should have won handily but only just managed to win by the minimum margin.  Set against this, he has presided over an utterly shambolic 2007 campaign, a stuttering 2008 season and a hugely disappointing end to our 2009 championship where we came unstuck against a very mediocre Meath team.

None of this underachievement has anything to do with the weight of history and all that nonsense.  The plain facts are that under Johnno we’ve been punching well below our weight in high summer and the issue that should be occupying all our minds now is how this fourth championship campaign of the Second Coming will go.

We’ve got a tricky draw in Connacht this year but if this team is properly focused and plays to its potential, then there’s no reason why we can’t retain the Nestor Cup.  That should be our ambition for now and all our efforts should be focused on achieving this goal. What, if anything, lies ahead can wait for now – retaining our Connacht title is more than enough to be getting on with at the minute.

To be more precise, the only match that counts for us at the moment is the one against Sligo in Markievicz Park on June 5th.  We know it’s one we could lose, having been beaten there as recently as 2000, and so we need to be 100% focused on what’s likely to be a full-on contest with Kevin Walsh’s Magpies five weekends from now.  We may have a match against Galway to look forward to in McHale Park a few weeks after that, we may even have another day out at Croke Park later in the year but at the moment we’ve got the Yeatsmen to deal with and we shouldn’t be looking any further than this.

For my part, I wish Johnno and the lads all the best for the championship campaign that lies ahead.  You’ll hear no more carping from me about El Jefe until our championship season is over and like every other Mayo fan, I hope to be looking back on a campaign where we played to our full potential throughout.  I’m realistic enough to know that such a campaign is highly unlikely to end undefeated but if we go under having given our all against superior opposition, then that’s something we’ll just have to accept.  But another year that ends in the underwhelming manner that our 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons all did most certainly won’t be okay and it’s as well to make that clear now.  Just in case, like.

27 thoughts on “Time to move on

  1. I think it is imperative that we retain Connacht this year. Anything else would be a massive backward step. While Sligo are on a good run and will be tough any team looking towards the business end of the Championship should be beating them.
    On top of that if we play Galway it will be in McHale Park and having beat them in Salthill last yr we have to be looking at defeating them in Castlebar.
    After that it depends on the draw for QFs, put us up against Cork for example and what would be required at least is a whole hearted performance full of fight and vigour.
    Against someone of the ilk of the Meath team last year and if we don’t beat them then it’d be obvious no improvement has been made over the 12 months. Tbh that would be tough to take.

  2. Couldn’t agree more WJ. Time to move on and look ahead to the Championship.

    As you said, this year is the crunch one for JOM. I’ve generally tried to be supportive of him, but if no progress is shown this year, then it’s obvious that it’s simply not working under his stewardship.
    But until the Championship is over for us, the players and management get my full support.

    Sligo will be tough beat, no doubt about that.
    If we do retain the Connacht title, that kind of tough provincial campaign should leave us well battle-hardened.

    For what it’s worth, here’s my starting 15 for Markievicz Park:


    Barrett Cafferkey Higgins

    Vaughan Cunniffe McLoughlin

    McGarrity O’Shea

    Dillon Kilcoyne A Moran

    C Mortimer A O’Shea Varley

    Varley deserves his place for his league performances, although B Moran could be an option if we wanted go down the ‘twin towers’ route again.

  3. Yes WJ think we’ve all had our chance to give out and bitch and moan about Sunday and thanks for the opportunity and the space to do that! Time is a great healer as they say, by June 5th we’ll be chomping at the bit and rarin to go again. Agree totally on the weight of history stuff, total shite, to quote a hated (by me anyway) Corkman, fail to prepare and prepare to fail! I think thats where the missing ingredient is in pushing on.
    Let’s hope that is our last disappointment of the year and that when we go out of the Championship it will be like a lion, having fought and scratched and bit our way through a tough battle with whoever, but with heart and guts and effort aplenty.
    Come On Mayo!

  4. Excellent piece as usual. I was gutted on Sunday and really felt for you after what you wrote after the game.
    However, I normally read your piece through google reader so your 2,703 hits may underestimate the number of people following your site.

    A cold bucket of water in the face in April is much better than getting it in August/September!

    Keep up the good work.

  5. Biggest test of managers carrer lies ahead of him. All I want to see is our potential realised. Im not even demanding a connacht title…Galway are as capable of beating us as we are of beating them. What I wont put up with is lack of passion, a lack of a game plan and a lack of decision making. If I see those 3 qualities in evidence this year Ill be happy and i suspect a few decent results will be achieved as a result along the way.
    Wishing the boys my full support for the summer ahead

  6. Good sentiments all ’round. I’m fairly glad that we’re playing Sligo first as they’re a team on the up and will be a challenge rather than trundling over to New York for the international relations and expat entertainment show. The lads (team and management) will have a lot to do before then but it’s something concrete to focus on. I’m very confident they’ll get down to this straight away when training resumes the day after tomorrow.

  7. Well called WJ. We have all lanced the wound and yes, it is time to move on.
    By way of advice, I would point out that anyone who has done a GAA Coaching course in the last few years will be aware that after each training session and after each match, each coach is supposed to ask himself a few basic questions. They vary with who gives the course but in general they are along the following lines:

    After the Training Session
    What was the goal I set for the session?
    Did they learn what they were supposed to learn?
    Have I clearly shown how this is to be used at competitive game pace?
    How will I follow it up in the next session?
    How would I rate MY performance and how could I improve it?

    After the Match
    Did we have a clear game plan?
    Did the players understand what they were supposed to do?
    Were the players fully motivated?
    Was I able to evaluate whether or not the game plan was working?
    Was I able to adapt the plan to suit how the game was evolving?
    Was I decisive in making the changes necessary in a timely and objective fashion?
    What have I learned about our style of play from this game?
    What have I learned about individual players from this game?
    Were my tactics appropriate for this game?
    What do we need to work on in training?
    How would I rate MY performance and how could I improve it?

    In common with hundreds of coaches around the country, I use this with several under age teams and at times I find that it is my performance that contributes to a loss of a game. I don’t know what system the Mayo management uses, but I think it might be a chastening exercise to undertake at this point. I would also recommend that it is used after every training session leading up to the June Bank Holiday weekend.

    Keep The Faith!

  8. You know Four Goal, I would pay cash money to see Johnno answer that list of questions, one by one.

    I know where Willie is coming from on the positivity. The list of lost finals is easy journalistic shorthand. There are different reasons why we lost each one and maybe someday we can go through them. But they do add a weight and, while we might wish it were otherwise, it’s not.

    I saw a minor put the head in the hands on the big screen in the Minor Final last year after he missed a shot, and I thought: my God, it’s got him already and he’s only eighteen years of age.

    I’m sorry if this is getting everyone down but I’m still shattered by Sunday, and the past four years. I hope they can bounce back. I’m damned if I’m tipping my hat to some bastard who claims Mayo don’t have the players. Sure we have the players. How can we not? It’s just a question of getting them to play on the day. And that’s a question of management. What else is the manager for?

    I’ll stop, I’ll stop. Fair play to Four Goal.

  9. WJ moving on IS the only option but let this not be a means of codding ourselves either.
    There is a need for real honesty among the players themselves and between the players and management as they reflect on this game.
    Let the pain of this humiliation be the source of real strength when it comes to the crunch in late summer or autumn…..and let those lads who feel that pain most lead the comeback!

  10. I live in Galway, in hurling country, so I don’t have to take too much of a ribbing, but we are fooling ourselves if we we ignore the consistency of Mayo’s failure at either winning finals, or winning in Croker, or both!!! By the law of averages if you reach a final you should be fairly equal to your final opponents (in the long run). Therefore any county competing in a final say 18 times (at all grades)should, you’d imagine, come up with anything between 6 and 12 wins (all else being equal). Mayo’s return of one significant final win (out of 18 or so) since 1985 defies logic and mathematical probability. If you were to throw in variables such as bad reffing, negative tactics by opposition, the opponents being more skilled, injuries to key players, or anything else you can think of, it still does explain how our final honours have been so limited. On the other hand, it begs the question, is there something that is a constant in Mayo teams in a final and this is where one needs to look at something that is deeper and more profound, do we really have belief? have we a winning mentality?

    I wish I didn’t have to voice this perspective, but we cannot ignore the facts, we have a psychological burden to overcome. I aslo believe that it can be overcome, see how long I took the Ireland Rugby team to win the Grand slam, a gap of 60 odd years. All sports have great tales of teams overcoming ‘the weight of history’, e.g. Clare in 1995, and so on!!

    Therfeore, let us honestly appraise the situation, we do have baggage, that is a fact, it makes us mentally weaker, especially in finals in Croker (our u21s won in Ennis!). However it does not have to be permanent and terminal, it will come good eventually.

    Anyway back to Galway and hurling country, I am one of the coaches on the Girls u16 gaelic football team, and our team from Clarinbridge won the Div 2 county final in Pearse Stadium last night with my young lassie scoring 2 points into the town end proudly wearing her Mayo socks (clashing as they did with her maroon jersey), having been close to tears on Sunday in Croker. Its that type of spirit and unconditional support that will eventually see us through.

  11. I’m sorry but I cannot agree about Sligo, divison 3 was pretty pathetic in my opinion. I’m glad Sligo won as a Connachtman but I am also glad because hopefuly Sligo may get get caught up in a degree of hype. I would be more worried about Sligo had they been one of the two teams in the div. 2 Final.
    The Connacht Championship is a different beast, its time to move forward and move on. Last sunday there is not one county in Ireland at this present time I could see coming within 4 points of that Cork team. Thats also a Cork team who made quite a few mistakes themselves but have nearly any entire second team of top quality players to come.
    I to agree that the hand of history or whatever is pure bollix, we where outplayed and that is that. What really annoyed me was when the ref. made an incorrect decision against us or one we imagined so, our players sood there shrugging shouldeds and not getting back quick to mark, the Cork player had already knocked the ball in to their forwards before our players had even realised the ball was gone. All to often Mayo players battle hard to win back ball they had no right to win, to pass it (or the next player ) straight to a Cork player.
    Aiden O’Shea neads to stop trying to run thru 2-3 opposition players from 15 metres out (fair enough 5 metres out), it won’t work, he loses the ball and another chance lost. I know he is young but someone needs to tell him to pass the ball, as soon as Conor lost the DIY disease Aiden appears to have caught it. That said Aiden has great potetial. Remember Seamus, he looked a lost cause and now in my opinion he is brilliant.

  12. A few quick thoughts
    As JOM pointed out the players today lost a final, not all the finals.
    The history makes people think there’s a ‘curse’ or something wrong with Mayo as a football county. Supporters on this forum were enraged and tearing apart every aspect of Mayo football to come up with a reason for losing, the county board, the manager, the players. To quote John Giles “Analyse each game on its own merits”
    I don’t think there’s one single reason for losing those finals.
    As KK & Tyrone have shown, working with young players is the only way to guarantee success- and even then it’s tricky- ref. Laois
    I’m not going to insult peoples intelligence by trotting out the ‘getting to a final is an achievement itself’ It is, but ‘nearly never bulled’ etc. GAA adds to the richness of a county’s life- and brings it together. Some counties don’t have the same shared experience as Mayo and are the poorer for it, in sporting terms and socially.
    Winning will come- but only if a calm rational analysis is done on what need to be improved and that analysis is worked on furiously.

  13. toothless display no leadership from the bench or captain.we need a hardman captain that will keep the team on their toes(roy keane figure) to many players going through the motions.Clarke is class should be irelands no 1 against the aussies, defence in reasonable but 1.17 not championship standard, midfield a disater when you think of wj,tj mchale sean maher falon whats gone wrong,forwards looked like they had never met before, wouldnt be to hard on aidan only young and won a lot of ball will come good yet, you would wonder what instructions he was playing to tm as captain leadership, distribution shot selection ????? no point in looking back now with sligo ahead now a huge game for us but it is jom job to put out a team that is focused and will fight to the death for the green and red in every game if we have to go down at least go down fighting with pride pls no more of what we seen on sunday and having to listen to cork saying they had a harder workout in training come on mayo wake up for christ sake

  14. Good questions being posed. Two distinct things occur to Mayo teams on Croke Park or Finals. They either lose narrowly after an overwhelming amount of possesion being wasted a la Meath 1996, Tyrone 2008, Meath 2009 as an example. However after winning some notable semi or quarter final Mayo teams also tends to implode to a shocking degree in the subsequent match. Walloped by Kerry in 2004 but a great win v Tyrone earlier. Classic v Dublin in 2006, horror 4 weeks later.The minors of 2005 beat Kerry in semi but got hammered by Down in the final. Castlebar in club 1994 beat Eire Og in semi but lost final to Nemo 3-11 to 0-8. Knockmore also walloped Eire Og in semi 1997 but got mangled by Xmaglen in final. St Gerards of Castlebar beat a highly succesful St Pats Navan in 1997 semi and got eaten in Final by a team from Dungannon.
    On the other hand winnable matches v Tyrone and Armagh minors plus U21s v Tyrone and Armagh as well were lost because we blinked. Our latest defeat doesnt worry me. What does worry me though was the manner of it and the gap in scores. As posited earlier, if a team is good enough to reach a final and also good enough to take out serious opponents on the way to it; then we have got to ask the question as to what happens between smi-final and final that produces increasingly shocking performances. Like WJ I too believe that we can win every final, I expect us to win. I would probably differ from WJ in that I believe that some of the players or officals dont share that same belief.

  15. I’m not sure we’d differ at all there, ontheroad, but I’m just saying that I’m happy to say no more until after this championship campaign is over …

  16. Time to reflect now.
    I just wonder if we can change our perception with a few championship wins. It has to be all or nothing if we dont want to be stuck in this shitty cycle of looking good for a while and then falling down.
    Mayo is full of people who have thrived in all aspects of business, politics, etc. Mayo people can compete with any other county in all other areas of sport without talk of hoodoos and piseogs. Mayo people are as good as anyone and better than most so lets have faith.
    Our journey is proving longer and more difficult but lets get behind the lads and Johno for one goddamn almighty effort this year. You never know like…..

  17. Sunday is forgotten now by anyone outside of the county( apart from Colm O Rouke I guess), so time for us to look forward again. Personally im already looking forward to seeing how the next Mayo team lines up. it will give us an indication of whether or not lessons were learned.

  18. The reason we have such poor outcomes in Croke Park is because we have such poor inputs. Lets take Sundays match as an example. We had 17 inputs on Sunday namely the 15 players who started, McGarrity who came on at halftime and the input of the manager. Out of those 17 inputs 8 were poor and 9 were average leaving us with no chance of victory. Of the 8 who performed poorly 4 were really poor and are repeat offenders which leads us to the manager who continues to select them despite the repeated evidence that they are just not good enough. I am sorry to say that this in itself puts the manager in the very poor category also leaving us with 5 really poor inputs.
    Sadly unless this situation changes dramatically we are going to continue to have days like last Sunday.

  19. I am afraid i have to line up with those who believe the weight of history is a millstone, until we get a loughnane or even a ferguson who has sufficient cojones to carry this weight and face down this demon then we will see lads scared to trot out on that croke park turf on final day.

    But that being said , i am behind johnno until this season ends and will then reassess.

  20. Galway (SF v New York): E O Conghaile; K Fitzgerald, F Hanley, A Burke; D Meehan, G O’Donnell, D Burke; B Cullinane, N Coleman; G Sice, F Breathnach, J Bergin; E Concannon, P Joyce, N Joyce.
    Worth a note I think , Michael Meehan was made captin.
    As bad as we are we have a few more players found than they,except for Concannon.
    Our players Know now that that preformance just won`t cut it, and when we do beat Sligo (div 4 team last year) the league final will be forgotten by players and fans a like.Our players need to apply an attitude which should be what ever it takes to win ! just like the Kilkenny lads have been doing over the last few years

  21. not so sure a win over sligo will erase all memories Mossy. What it will do is give us an idea of the type of team and tactics Mahony will be using for the year…..waiting with interest.

  22. interesting article i ntodays times regarding O’Mahony and Mayo.

    Replying to Joey and others on how to go forward and win things (especially in Croker)

    I believe the best way forward is to look at past success and what type of team was it that made (or v. nearly made) those successes possible.
    therefore I look to the 96/97 teams where we drew 1 and were narrowly beaten twice in successive all irelands.

    This team was made up of all mainly six footers plus (big men), along with a v. decent place kicker.
    Unfortunatly what they lacked was maybe a small bit of guile and definitly a whole lot of luck but these were the teams that came closest to winning the flippin thing in the past 60 years.

  23. Hardly O’mahony’s fault.

    Where is the leader of that team.

    Where is the courage.

    Where is the pride and determination.

    I didn’t see a single hit in the game.

    They will always have excuses until mayo people stop listening to them

  24. Every one on this web site seems to think Tom Cunniff will be our answer at 6 but what if after been injured he does`t work out?
    A Moran last year done well at half back why not try Trevor Mort at chb .He loves to hit why not there .Even Billy Joe would be a better at chb than Howely . Howely is not a bad player just not a chb.Maybe try him at corner back. Like to see AOS at 11 and Barry Moran at 14 with Killer at 15 and Varley at 13 feeding off them .Hart at 10 and Dillon at 12 . thats plenty of six footers

  25. Sorry but A Dillon ain’t no man to mix it.
    And moving Trevor Mort to CHB would surely be a bizarre descision so close to championship. Has he ever played in defence ??

    I agree with you on moving TH out of CHB to corner.

    But you also have said you think A Moran did well enough but you don’t even have him in your fw line……

    what’s your team Mossy cos it pretty confisuing ??

  26. Clarke

    Howely Cafferkey Higgins

    Vaughan Cunniffe McLoughlin

    McGarrity O’Shea

    Dillon A O Shea P Hart

    Varley B Moran Killer

    jmp, Andy Moran was`t bad last year but our two half backs this year have been excellent this year,i wont have A Moran in my starting fowards. He is too inconsistent there

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