Time to stop thinking about hype and start believing

In seven days time, we face Kerry in this year’s All-Ireland semi-final. Given the county’s underwhelming championship showings in recent years – this is the first time we’ve made it this far since 2006 – it’s great to be back in the shake-up once more. In light of what almost happened to us in the first round over in Ruislip back in May this year, you could say it’s almost miraculous that we now find ourselves among the last four standing in the 2011 championship. But here we are and next Sunday we get the chance to qualify for our sixth final in little over twenty years.

We’re heading to Mayo ourselves later on today and, as well as another assault on the Reek (weather permitting) and picking up a bagful of tickets for Sunday, I’ll also be interested in gauging what the mood is like on home soil as we count down the days until our clash with the Kerrymen. I’m hoping to see a bit of colour about the place and I’d also love to hear some fighting talk about our prospects. It’s an All-Ireland semi-final, after all, and we’re in it.

Almost as soon as the final whistle sounded the last day, the talk started up about how important it was that, after this great win over the All-Ireland champions, we shouldn’t lose the run of ourselves. The lazy punditry, which in advance was all about how we’d get the shite roundly hammered out of us by Cork, now moved on with equal confidence to predict that after every win of this kind we always took leave of our senses and only recovered them after we got the shite roundly hammered out of us in the next match. The earth-shattering advice imparted to us was that our best defence against future disappointment was that we should vigilantly guard against hype. It’s for your own good, you poor dears.

Hype, is it? The on-board dictionary on this machine defines this particular noun in the following terms: “extravagent or intensive publicity or promotion” or “a deception carried out for the sake of publicity”. Based on these two definitions, I don’t think that excessive hype is anything we need worry unduly about over the next week or, indeed, if we do manage to fell the Kerrymen, I don’t think it’s anything we should be losing sleep over for the coming month either.

We definitely lost the run of ourselves in the lead-in to the 1989 and 1996 finals but I don’t think the same is true of the three we’ve been since then. By 2006, I’d say that the dominant emotion in the days and weeks before the decider was one of growing trepidation. It’s counties who come from nowhere after a long absence who tend to hype up their achievement in reaching the business end of the championship. This year, the only ones that’ll do this will be either Donegal (if they reach their first final since 1992) or Dublin (who last made the decider in 1995). It certainly won’t be Mayo.

No, it won’t, I can almost hear the rejoinder – because ye won’t be in it. And this is where we reach the nub of the problem facing us. The greatest enemy facing the team’s supporters the next day isn’t any exaggerated sense of self-worth, instead it’s a chronic lack of self-belief. That’s why we had that pitiful turnout at McHale Park against Galway back in June, it’s why we were outnumbered three-to-one by the Rossies in the Connacht final (a match I even missed) and it’s also why so few genuine supporters were there to witness the truly joyous sight of our toppling the All-Ireland champions at Croke Park on Reek Sunday.

In all three matches, there were many – including plenty of our own supporters – who believed we would fall on our faces and it was obvious from all those empty seats that many more felt that way too even if they didn’t say so publicly.

In doggedly grinding out those results, however, James Horan’s Mayo team of 2011 has shown character by the bucketload and they’ve also demonstrated their enormous self-belief.  It’s now high time for the rest of us to start believing in them too.

The most tangible way we can do this over the next few days is to get a ticket for the game and get to Croke Park on the 21st. I’m not saying we’re going to win this one – this is Kerry we’re facing, after all – and I’m certainly not claiming we’re good things for the All-Ireland this year but in a very short space of time James Horan has fashioned a Mayo team that we know will give its all for the county.

As supporters we can’t ask for more than that and if we really are supporters what we need to do now is get out there and support. So, no more talk about hype: self-belief is what we need now and it’s also what we need to show, both to our own lads on the field and to the wider world, at Croke Park next Sunday.

31 thoughts on “Time to stop thinking about hype and start believing

  1. Nice piece WJ. However i see the nohypeplease thing (mainly doing the rounds on twitter) as a bit of craic nothing else. I don’t see its use by Mayo supporters lack belief in the lads who have been tremendous. I said in the run up to the Cork game i feel we are good enough for anyone on our day and that we could beat Cork. I feel the same this time around, if the lads put in the same workrate and eliminate the goals we can take kerry. Maigh Eo forever!

  2. Moved into my new house late last night – the first thing I did was plant the Mayo flag in the garden, even though flags are supposedly banned by the lease. Just marking out my territory!

  3. I’m not having a go at the nohypeplease thing amongst our own supporters – I agree that it’s just a bit of fun and I do think that hard-core supporters believe in the team and its ability. However, the falling away in support at matches hasn’t reversed at all this year and it does show that outside die-hard fraternity there still isn’t enormous belief in the team amongst our own supporters. I’d place a large amount of the blame on JOM’s expectation-lowering campaign and, despite the change of management, there’s no sign yet that the support that used to be there is ready to commit again. I think it’s very important for the team the next day to see that the Mayo support is back behind them in numbers and so we need to see any many Mayo people as possible in Croke Park on the 21st.

  4. There will be a big Mayo crowd there next Sunday. I think we have a real chance of winning. Kerry will have big problems refocusing on Mayo as they were expecting Cork. Just a little question for you, how many of our subs would be starting for Kerry if they were Kerry men? Mc Garitty, Gardiner, Feeney— Makes you think doesn’t it.

  5. Well amongst our lot including myself 3 were in Croker for the Cork game, i bought 7 tickets on Thursday for next weeks game (I opted out on season ticket so not to be a loner!!) Thats over 100% increase in any man woman or monkeys book so hopefuly that an indicator for next week.

  6. flying in for this one , am meeting quite a few people who did not attend the quarter final , there will be a very large mayo crowd, i dont think they will be found wanting in terms of support for the team.

  7. The bottom line is no matter how they try to dress it up, Kerry simply do not rate us. This is pretty much the same team that wiped the floor with us in 06 and 04. Jack O Connor said as much in the Keys to the Kingdom saying he went home after the Mayo Dublin semi final in 06a relieved man and I am sure he did the same a few weeks ago after the Cork semi final. He will tell his team that if Kerry can boss the first 15mins physically and on the scoreboard with an early goal, Mayo will lie down as their predecessors did. Thats why it is vital we lay down a marker in the early stages, winning the breaking ball and physically dominating the exchanges. Put them back on their arses and let them know ” not today boys not today”

  8. Have recuited 7 new supporters for the match sunday, that would not normally go to match’s, and their under strict orders to wear the colours! Will try to round up as many more as i can, the team needs to see masive support the next day, win or loose. It has been some turn around from that day leaving pearce park, ( i had thoughts of giving up alltogether that day leaving the pitch ) My young nephew said to me on the road home “sure we might win the next game”. Thankfully i kept the faith!

  9. great piece wj.my gang on sunday will number round14 thats up from 7 at the quaters,mayo will travel in numbers,everybody wants to be able to say.I WAS THERE WHEN WE BEAT KERRY.

  10. I dont think the Mayo fans will let this team face into a semi final v their greatest persecutor without the support they will need and deserve. One week to go – It can’t go fast enough !! And your right Thedirtyball – along with Jack O’Connor all my kerry friends dont give us a 2nd thought. The tactics will be exactly the same by Kerry. We need to understand what Jim McGuiness and Donegal know and thats is that you cant win a game in the 1st half but you can lose it – I dont care if its not pretty and I guarantee you that all in that stadium bar the Yerra’s will rise everytime a blue jersey loses possession, misses a score or hits the ground courtesy of a Mayo hand nudge or shoulder. A safe journey to all !

  11. Could’nt aggree more WJ. If we play with Heart and Passion hype won’t come in to it, the ability is there. J Horan has instilled a bit of self belief into this team and we as supporters have to also bring a confidence to the table. Show this team that we belive in them.

  12. I hope we turn up in numbers on Sunday. While I am as thrilled and suprised at our progress this summer, the lask of support, especially in Roscommon was a low point. Puts paid to any talk that we have the best supporters in Ireland – we have more fair weathers than most counties.

    Back to next Sunday, the win over Cork cannot be underestimated from the point of view of team morale. This group of players has been run down at every turn, as much in the county as outside, so beating a top ranked team will stand to them.

    I hope that our lads have not bought into the talk that we have achieved our targets and that everything else is “playing with house money” as one of the national dailies said. Kerry is not an unbeatable team, Down showed them only last year.

    Finally I’m sure that the lads will go into this game believing that victory is possible. The supporters need to say “We believe” as well!

  13. I genuinely feel we have a chance of turning Kerry over next Sunday, my only concern is that Mayos full forwards should take their scores early on to help settle the team, while they do trogan work off the ball especially Freeman,(who collected the ball in the full back position vrs cork) they need decent ball into them early, this is were the likes of Andy Moran need to be more direct and feed the ball in quicker instead of over doing it with the soloing, i know he is one of our best players but i think if he supplies the full forward with more ball Mayo will score more

  14. Well though the last two weeks have dragged. Glad to be getting to our week now.
    Cant stop thinking about 04 and 06. How bloody niave we were with tactics or lack of. This time we are different. This Kerry team are showing signs of regression like Tyrone. Its not as evident as they have not been tested yet. our style of play will cause problems to anyone. BUT we must forget that we are playing Kerry. We are playing a jersey next week, that is all. Give them no respect.

  15. The biggest tactical mistake we made in 06 and 04 was the marking duties on Declan O Sullivan, for me their most valuable player. james Nallen should know that better than anyone ! Hopefully the matchups will be better next weekend. For once I am not worried about our forwards. I think Freeman will explode next week and really anounce himself on the national stage.

  16. I agree with you dirtyball Freeman is a class act and i reckon he’ll hit the onion bag next Sunday, his direct style of play will worry the Kerry backs plus he never seems to give up the ball to easy which we can’t afford to do against the kingdom.
    Good piece in the rag of a paper the Sunday world by David Brady where he states that the yerra manager is a bully and that Mayo should play our own game and not to be worried about Kerry, dead right C’mon Mayo!

  17. I think Brady mentioned it on telly the last day,show them no respect.It’s no good sitting in the dressing room after getting walloped by 15 points and thinking “well at least we gave them respect”.
    I don’t think Mayo will win on Sun as I think Kerry are a level above us.However if we can harness that intensity and drive again we’re in with a shout.The lads and Horan have been brilliant this year,i hope they get the support they deserve the next day.Cmon Mayo!

  18. Agree totally with wj. Lack of self belief is our problem not hype.

    It is not a surprise that the support was down this year. After the dismal reign of jom we need convincing that the sun is going to shine before we go off without our coat. I think we lost a little faith and it was not all the supporters fault. We have endured a lot of hardship and needed convincing.

    This team has improved 100% in each game and now has earned our support by their achievements and not just because they are wearing a green and red jersey. We as supporters should be enjoying the run up to this game and to the final because that is what it is all about. This could be the start of the best few weeks of our lives as Mayo fans. I am convinced we can beat Kerry (and then Dublin or Donegal) So get out the flags and the bunting, contact the cousins in Dublin and tell them that we are on the march. This is not hype; this is Mayo people proud and expectant coming to Dublin to support our team.

    Normally we are two but for this match the distaff side of the family are coming for their first visit to Croker. Including a nephew on his first visit that makes six of us. (credit to the GAA on the admission prices for kids) I have no doubt from what I am hearing that we will have a big support on Sunday. And that is as it should be.

    So crank up the hype, the enjoyment and the expectation. That is what we are about in Mayo. It will not affect the team one iota and it will make the occasion so much more enjoyable for everyone. I have just bought my first Mayo jersey for twenty years (finally found an xxxxl and got the wife to put a gusset in it). Will be leaving at 6.15 on Sunday morning and hope to get mass in a convent along the way. With the the tay and sangwiches safely stowed will blow the horn all the way through Meath and will be sitting in Croke Park at 9.15 in high expectation.

    Maigh Eo abu.

  19. The ‘Dirty Ball’ is spot on……Marking Declan O’Sullivan tightly is absolutely critical. Our backs are well fit to do that if the fitness is there. Also early scores from the forwards. Given the comittment by all 15 against Cork the last day, I think we can take it that the work-rate will be there again. It’s a match worth ‘dying for the County’ in (….easy said from an armchair !!), and if all 15 do that, they will win.
    Remember it’s a semi and in our last semi against the Kingdom, we won by 6 points…….C’mon Mayo !!

  20. I honestly believe we need to stay within 2/3 points for at least 45min, if this happens i can’t see why they can’t go on and play to their full ability and maybe win the game even.

    Its an obvious thing to say i suppose but we can’t go down by 6/7 points at any stage i don’t think. Confidence would shatter and Kerry would take full advantage.

    On the crowd, i think we will have the most there, i think it will be 20% up on the last day at least. I know of several people coming over from London and Manchester that weren’t at the last game. A lot of people do this anyway since i can remember, uncles and relations make it over for s/f stage since Dubs 85, it’s like a tradition all most with people overseas.

  21. Looking forward to Sunday. I agree with view that we have to get in kerry’s face’s,( Like Tyrone) and as regards match up’s, I would like to see Feeney marking Galvin and give to Galvin what Galvin has dished out, down the years, only more , crunching shoulders every time he moves in the first ten minutes and then out play him, Feeney is the man for this. We will have laid down a marker for ourselves and give Kerry something to think about .
    I also think that, plan b, option could be playing Aiden O Shea at full forward,with two corner forwards playing off him. If Kerry are allowed to play a sweeper in front of Aiden then they will simply break the ball, to the sweeper.I can’t see any of the Kerry full backs able for his physical presence. This could be an option when McGarrity comes on.
    Kerry are around a long time, like Cork, they have won it all and if it is really put up to them, in a high intensity game,will they want to know.

  22. This is the best mayo team in 40 years of watching, no fancy stuff ,just good dogged football, an ingredient lacking in Mayo teams of memory………..Yes, Kerry are confident but thats only down to history and they have to deal with a different breed now……….no group of ‘stars’ can beat a solid team and that is what this Mayo side is about……..Be prepared for a shock anyone who has foregone conclusions on Sundays outcome because Mayo can trounce Kerry, yes I did say ‘trounce’ and the outcome of a wilted Kerry side will mean a Mayo dominance of championship football over the next decade.

  23. Everyone is talking about the need to deal with the Donaghy threat. It is absolutely crucial that we learn from the past.
    I have no doubt Kerry will hoof in a few early skyscrapers if for no other reason than to drive Mayo minds back to 04 and 06 and put the wind up our lads and attempt to undermine their confidence (which I think must still be a little tender against Kerry). Dealing effectively with this early on will have exactly the opposite effect and actually build confidence and be a great start.
    Easier said than done!
    If you were James Horan what would you do?

  24. Cafferkey on Donaghy is a real problem alright. He has not a hope against him in a 50-50 high ball situation. What to do.
    1) Start Alan Feeney
    2) Give Caff 10 mins(max) and replace by Feeney or McGarrity if things going bad.
    3) Starve them of possession out the pitch and force him out there.

    Donaghy is my biggest fear. We have tonnes of pace at the back but little or no aerial ability which will not have gone unnoticed by JOC.

  25. I’ve heard a few put forward the idea of putting McGarrity on Donaghy. Dont know if it would work, but it would show a degree of thinking outside the box and 2006 any preparation for him was non existant.

    In reality, the match will be won further out, winning midfield stops them streaming through as much as it gives us posession going the other way.

    Kerry does not “like it up and at em” either, we need to be in their faces, showing no respect. Its time for us to shed the clean, nice image. How would Tyrone face Kerry.

  26. I think that the high ball in might be a problem but if we can show that its a too one dimensional approach,then they have to find another plan, donaghy has not shown his old form recently and does not like being pressured, neither does ‘the gooch’ ,they both can turn it on when well in front but can be panicky when under the hammer. Our mid field and the team as a unit can stop this by denying them possession and that is the key because without ball no team can play. Our forwards need the coolness to be able to take their scores without rushing it, young O’Conner, Moran and Dillon have that quality. Great sportsmen always seem to create so much time for themselves and O’Conner has that . Ten years ago I left Hyde park after the rossies snatched that injury time goal and though down in defeat,I commented and took great heart that there was one exceptional talent in red and green that i seen as a light for the future, my comment that day that if half the team had his heart for battle and his ability that we could go a long way……today we have a team like him……….Trevor Mortimor

  27. We have to win around the middle of the park. If the ball is not going into Donaghy he’s not going to cause any damage there. Personally I would put Tom Cuniffe on him. I also think Kerry will try and isolate Gooch and Donaghy in the FF line and then let the ball in for Gooch to pick up the breaks and get the scores.
    That was the gameplan they played against Limerick although it was not really needed as Limerick on the day were unofortuantly outclassed completely in nearly all areas.
    Going back to markers so I would put Tom C on Donaghy, KH on the Gooch and leave Ger C. or Alan Feeney as a sweeper minding that vital extra space and trying to pick up those breaks.

  28. “Kerry does not “like it up and at em” either, we need to be in their faces, showing no respect. Its time for us to shed the clean, nice image. How would Tyrone face Kerry.”

    This said by, sixpointup. Hits the nail on the head for me.

    Look back on the 06 video, we stood off them, we were almost lethargic in our approach, this led to confidence been shattered. fcuk the respect, we are too long around these big games the last 25 yrs now to be lookin up at teams admiring them.

  29. What I would do about Donaghy is this:
    1. I wouldnt be inclined upset the backline with any untried or untested options like using McGarrity and although there is a certain logic to this it is a bit dodgy to try this kind of tactic in a big game as a first option.
    2. It boils down to a choice between Cafferky and Feeney who must break every ball off him with a sweeper (McLoughlin or Trevor) in front of the FF line to help mop up breaks or act as a second defender to bottle up the big man if he manages to get clean posession.
    3. Reduce the supply of quality ball into the FF line as much as possible particularly from their half back line bursting forward – man to man marking is needed here (and pulling and dragging outfield if necessary to kill the flow)

    If the above does not work then all I can say is fcuk them for a shower of talented bast****

  30. Time to stop looking back lads! Self belief is the only belief!! Ar aghaidh linn. MAYO’S YEAR. Keep the faith.

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