The weekend’s action

Mayo Connacht JFC 2015

Photo: @ConnachtGAA

So, it’s off and running once more, the real action of the summer has begun. Today saw two matches of interest from our point of view – both played in Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon – while further North, up in Ballybofey, the nation was treated to a fine display of pulling, dragging, pushing and all kinds of cheating in front of the cameras of The Sunday Game.

The match of most immediate interest from a Mayo GAA point of view was, of course, today’s curtain-raiser in Carrick, where the county’s Junior team were bidding to claim a first provincial title at this level since 2012 when they faced off against a strong Galway side.

After a ropey enough start, an Andrew Farrell goal midway through the half put our lads briefly into the driving seat but the sides went in level at half-time. Although the Tribesmen got the first score after the break to reclaim the lead, Sean McLoughlin’s charges were soon back in the ascendancy and they had established a three-point cushion as time was running out. It was all Galway in the closing stages but all they could manage in this period was one further point, as our lads held out for a gutsy 1-12 to 0-13 win.

The newly-crowned Connacht champions will next face British opposition (over there, as far as I know), in the All-Ireland JFC semi-final which is due to be played on 25th July. If they come through that one, the All-Ireland final is scheduled for 8th August.

A match report from the Mayo Advertiser on the Juniors’ victory today is here.

In the day’s main event at Carrick-on-Shannon, meanwhile, Galway did what they needed to do to book a date with our lads in four weeks time. By all accounts, they didn’t exactly set the world alight today but it sounded like they had no need to, as they were always in control against a pretty limited Leitrim outfit.

Our Connacht SFC semi-final against Galway has now been confirmed for Pearse Stadium, Salthill, on 14th June with a 4pm throw-in.

And so onto Ballybofey and today’s ill-tempered clash between Donegal and Tyrone. Donegal were expected to win and they did and the match was expected to be dominated by the usual tedious macho bullshit that these two counties repeatedly serve up, which it was, so pretty much everything went to script.

I’m no fan of Donegal – and would, in truth, have liked to see the both of them lose today – but Tyrone’s antics as time was running out made their defeat a richly deserved one. All the usual tactics came out – including Sean Cavanagh starting a tangle with Neil Gallagher, the sole purpose of which was to get the Donegal man, already on yellow, sent off – but this time they were to no avail, with Cavanagh himself getting the line soon after for a stupid high tackle.

I could say more but instead I think this rather brilliant 8-second video sums up the whole sorry affair better than any further words could do.

Finally, commiserations to the county’s hurlers who, at half-time in yesterday’s Christy Ring clash with defending champions Kildare at James Stephens Park, Ballina, looked well on the way to causing a major upset. They led at that stage by nine points – thanks in no small part to the turbo-charged injection provided by Keith Higgins who was a late addition to the starting fifteen – but the Lilies reeled them back in after the break, winning in the end by five points.  A report on this one is here.

74 thoughts on “The weekend’s action

  1. is any one else sick of hearing of all these rumours of dissent in the Mayo camp? It seems to be the same old story every year such a one stormed out during training blah blah blah as for Tyrones tactics today desperate Donegal looked impressive at times can’t help thinking though it’s a two horse race between Dublin and Kerry though i wouldn’t rule out a Mayo Kerry final tho lets take one game at a time and get over Galway first

  2. Hard to take too much out of the Galway match either way. Apparently Walsh kept them in the dressing room for an hour after the game so he clearly wasn’t too pleased with what he witnessed.

  3. I wouldn’t pay much heed to rumors Backdoorsam. For the most part they turn out to bull.
    Great win for our juniors yesterday – well done lads.
    I listened to G bay FM for the first half and they were not impressed. They did mention 20 mins in that if Mayo were playing Galway yesterday it would have been game over already.
    It is hard though to sometime judge a team on a performance in Carrick…..I think we were lucky to come out with a one point win in 2006.

    So its all roads to Salthill in 4 weeks. Lets hope some of our injuries especially to Cillian clear up. I would think Mayo management will be nervous this weekend with club championships taking place. Lets hope nobody gets injured.

  4. Watched donegal and tyrone yesterday it seems this handbags and verbal crap is getting worse.they seem to think this is the way to play.mickey harte is a great manager but he loves to get everything his own way and if he doesnt he takes a sulk with the media.the shoulder tom cunniffe gave to peter harte was one of the best I ever seen text book but mickey cried foul afterwards.the way to stop their horseshit stop starting game is keep the gams simple and hit hard the old fashioned way

  5. We were not impressive yesterday but the green shoots emerging i.e. Liam Silke and Damian Comer were both outstanding. We will be better the next day as firstly we have to be and secondly if the last few years cannot motivate us I will be lost for words. The question is will a much improved performance be good enough and lets face it a 20 point drubbing yesterday would do us no good. We beat the Rossies in the Hyde on the q/f of 2012 by 11 points and it did us no favours. Lots of questions about us but a lot of questions albeit of a different variety about ye.

  6. Fair comments KC.
    Was at the game yesterday in Carrick.
    It is true – if we play like that on June 14th Mayo will win pulling up there is nothing surer.
    It was a horrible game to watch.
    In truth Leitrim set up to keep the score down.They had 12 men behind the ball at all times.
    We were very lackadaisical though because calling a spade a spade Leitrim are an average division 4 side and that’s exactly what they looked yesterday.
    They had no real penetration.Noel Connelly was sitting close to me in the stand & I doubt he will have too many sleepless nights after watching that performance.
    In saying that though – from a Galway perspective – it was all about getting the win & suffering no injuries.
    You’d imagine the motivation and intensity levels for the Mayo game will be ratcheted up hugely.
    If not – then Mayo will stroll past us in 2nd gear. We need a win like never before in our history I think after the past number of seasons.It has been very tough to be a Galway football supporter over the past 7 or 8 years.
    Our u21 AI wins the only ray of light in that time.
    Anyway I good we at least give ye a good rattle in Pearse unlike 2013.

    On another note – is anyone else incapable of watching what passes for football in the Ulster championship these days?
    Say what you like about rivalries with the Dubs,Kerry,Mayo but at least when you go into battle with them you get a game of football not the manure that passes for football up North.

  7. I enjoyed the Tyrone game yesterday, the constant pulling and dragging was annoying but all in all i felt it was a good game, considering the conditions. I wonder is it time for Mickey Harte to step down? Relegation coupled with another early exit from the Ulster championship does’nt bode well for him. Can’t see them causing too much problems to any big Div 1 team this year. Maybe its time they gave the u21 managment a chance to step up and rebuild for a couple of years.

  8. I was impressed by Donegal and rate them as serious contenders. One of the few teams I could see beating Dublin. McNailis good player, McFadden excellent, Mcglynn excellent as he was against us in league and shows ye need to let some backs be adventurous. Lacey still great with the ball but might be vulnerable defensively against a good CF. Murphy held well but did the biz when the game needed closing. Agree with Carney on Mcelhinney, fans can be coloured by good score taking but he’s an up and coming talen for sure. Cavanagh unlucky it was Gallagher who initiated that tussle and it was Donegal trying to get him sent off. But I think the attacks against Ulster this time unwarranted, for the most part entertaining game though there was some daftness at the tunnel at half time, couldn’t work out what the he’ll caused it. The negative bit was Justin Mcmahon seemed to be mouthing at Murphy all day which is pity cause he marked him quite well. Of course no idea if any of it abusive but commentators noted it. If we meet them later this year expect titanic struggle to beat them. Tyrone not adventurous enough until too late, that was why they lost. Maybe not enough good forwards, the 2 corners were good and Mattie Donnelly at times and Peter Harte dragged them into the game but Donegal have a lot of quality players. Tyrone will be no pushover in qualifiers, will be better than most.

  9. Think you are a little bit hard Willie joe on that game yesterday.

    Have to say I found it fascinating. First half was terrific – in what looked like terrible conditions. Donegal did a lot of the things they did against Mayo including scorching pacy runs, slick passing, very slick and great scores by the likes of McBrearty, McGlynn and McFadden.

    As for Tyrone, they had a great spell in the latter part of the first half and Peter Harte was on fire, but Donegal quietened him in the second half.

    Was I sorry to see Tyrone beaten? Certainly not – agree with most that they are the masters of the dark arts. The contribution of the two McMahons, Joe in the half-time tunnel shuffle, and Justin all through on Murphy – did he actually touch a ball? – merited a dedicated camera alone.

    Roll on Armagh and the Athletic Grounds.

  10. I thought yesterdays Ulster Match was top class, think we are all guilty of a blinkered view of Ulster football at the minute

  11. First half was good quality football. Second half was poor , the tone was set for the ultimate match up in sledging by the half time bollix . You’re not going to change it though ,thats the way it is up there and furthermore they pride themselves in it , it’s like they believe it makes it a more manly game in Ulster compared to the rest of us little girleens type thing . Let them at it . I don’t believe it makes a blind bit of difference in the end result ,if McMahon had of not opened his mouth to Murphy all day and just marked him like he did ie very tight ,same outcome, unless a player reacts with a punch to the sledging it fails as such.

    Btw Donegal in general engaged in more dark arts than Tyrone yesterday in my observations. That Gallagher Donegal manager is a right aul …………..

  12. Must say I thought the football contest yesterday was great stuff. Donegal showed their true worth in rough and tough conditions.

    And when push came to shove (literally) and the chips were down Michael Murphy came up trumps with 2 long range frees and that top class 45 from out on the RHS.

    He hadn’t been getting a sniff all day and listening to him speak after was very revealing as well. He was asked what it was like to be out there (and getting all the mouth throughout the game and knocks and belts he got). His response was it was great and that was where he wanted to be because those were the true tests and that’s what he wanted to be tested against.

    Same sorta stuff came outta McBrearty and (not bigging up the win just content that they played well). Seven different scorers and all from play yesterday bar 3 points. Against a team like Tyrone that’s impressive stuff even at home. They have 4 weeks off now before Armagh. Should be another good test.

  13. I thoroughly enjoyed the Tyrone Donegal game. Was hoping for a Tyrone win. Plenty of sledging goin on and plenty of off the ball stuff which is enjoyable. And some great scores and counter attacking play aswell, more importantly. Typical hard northern football. We could learn a thing or 2 from it imo.

  14. Have to say Willie Joe, I agree with catcol, you’re a bit hard on the Donegal Tyrone lads. It is after all Ulster football, first match of the Championship and a lot at stake. Yes there was the usual pulling and dragging, but there was also some very good football, coupled with great defending, some fine running off the ball and also some great scores.

    It was interesting to see Tyrone were able to break a lot of the Donegal tackles and won some handy frees in the process. A ploy we might see more of this year, bit like, if you can’t go round them, then you’ve got to go through them. Tyrone also showed that by dragging the defenders wide, it is possible even against a well organized defence, to create space for runners on the inside.

    I see that according to the Leitrim Manager, Galway set up very defensively at times and on several occasions had fifteen men in their own half. No doubt they’re working on this type of strategy for the Mayo match. It will be very interesting to see what tactics we employ in a few weeks time.

  15. Is it me or was the Donegal defence just not the same? Remember the four or five players around every attacker? That didn’t happen yesterday.

  16. Yeah Joe Mc, I thought the same thing too, they didn’t look as solid at the back as they normally do. Tyrone created a lot of goal chances against them. Cork also scored four goals against them in the league semi-final. They seem to be a bit more gung ho at times in terms of their attacking policy, which might leave a few more gaps at the back. At times Lacey, McGlynn and McHugh all seemed to be going forward at the same time. I was thinking at times, McGuinness would never let them get away with that. One thing about them though, they are very efficient in front of goals. Especially early on in the game yesterday, they must have a very high percentage in terms of scores taken compared to chances created. Some of the scores they got into the wind were top drawer scores. Murphy’s 45 at the end was as good as any score you are likely to see this year as well.

  17. Yea, HopeSpringsEternal. Their forward skills are great to watch. I wish we had them..

  18. Enjoyed the match in Ulster. Some fantastic skills and scores in tough conditions. Pleased tyrone got beat. Lost lots of respect for them after their antics in u21 final. Obviously no change in their behaviour as they never stopped mouthing and sledging again. This time however they came up against a team equally well versed in the dark arts. Don’t like the idea of being on field only to stop opponent playing such as Mcmahon on Murphy and McGee on Kavanagh but while its one thing to man mark a fella is it necessary to mouth abuse at an opponent for 70 mins. Fair play to Murphy he must have felt like throttling Mcmahon but he kept the head and kicked two monster kicks late on. Re Galway they did what they had to do and will provide serious opposition on june 14

  19. I must say well done M.Murphy for holding the cool, must be the mayo breed in him. I don’t think Mcmahon would carry on like that with the great Mick Lyons of Meath or a few others of that era.

  20. “Plenty of sledging goin on and plenty of off the ball stuff which is enjoyable.”

    That is baffling. “Sledging” is one of the most pathetic, low, unsportsmanlike parts of our game today. A couple of our lads in the past have been on the end of some pretty disgusting stuff (Meath and Tyrone, I won’t say anymore). How you can find sledging enjoyable is truly beyond me.

  21. Does anyone know who coined the phrase “sledging”? Where did it originate from?

    Also, while we are it….who coined the phrase….”to coined a phrase?

  22. I’m open to correction on this but I’m nearly sure that sledging originated in cricket of all games many years ago.

  23. If you want a laugh, and a good laugh, read Sean Cavanagh’s comments in the Examiner today on sledging:

    It’s in the Indo too, but not as extended.

    Love the bit where he criticises McQuillan’s handling, allowing the initial rough stuff to go unpunished, so “that was a symbol for everyone else, saying we could move to stage two and go and push the boundaries even further”.

    Stage two! Pushing the boundaries!

    And Justin McMahon?

    “I wouldn’t have had Justy down as that type of guy…Justy was obviously marking Michael Murphy tightly and they would know each other very well. I haven’t seen the game back but in real time I didn’t think he was doing things that were over and above what was happening in other parts of the pitch.”

    So, by Tyrone standards, Justy is only learning his trade. Wait until he gets up to speed.

  24. @Catcol you have beaten me to it. I seriously could only laugh after reading the piece. Bad enough to insult people constantly throughout the game but then go and insult everyone else’s intelligence after. Tyrone really are in a dark place.
    Interesting piece too from James Glancey who suggested Galways cynical fouling was rampant on Sunday. More folks committed than Donegal and Tyrone combined seemingly

  25. Plane and bed booked for Galway. I would be very grateful for information on tickets once available. Think it is going to be close. Galway were impressive last year in the second half when their forwards let loose.

  26. Interesting to read in the Irish Times sports section, that Keith Higgins is returning to the hurling panel. He claims he was prevented against his wishes from doing so by the county football Management.

  27. @Mayo McHale
    Just read the piece. Not once does he say that he was prevented from playing with the hurlers. He actually said it was easier to be dual player at 22/23 years of age, not 30 years old.

  28. @Catcol and St Pats Oldie, you know what the most annoying thing will be, some player from an innocent team will probably be black carded or sent off for innocuous sledging in a big game at an important time. Its like when the black card came in first, which county was one of the first to suffer, Mayo of course when Richie Feeney got black carded after a few minutes in the All-Ireland Club final. The main culprits seem to get away scot free, its easier to punish the weak I suppose.

  29. Ah it’s harmless oul stuff mayomark. Adds to the bite and intensity. Was the game ruined on Sunday? No it wasn’t. Full of bite and temper. And some great play as a result. As I’ve said before, If we had similar bite weed have 2/3 all Ireland’s now in the modern era. IMO

  30. Thanks Catcol for that, it is a truly great laugh alright. I think this guy is taking the piss in fairness.

  31. 100% correct. We need more badness in our players on the pitch, the thing is that it mightn’t be something you can learn at 22-30 years of age. Watch videos of Mayo in recent years and see how innocent we appeared when the higher placed teams were playing us like fools. Throwing aos boot into the crowd, lying on the ball when it’s a free, kicking the ball away before we take a free and a million other little things. Let’s see if they watch the videos and learned something or is it all just giving it a lash and praying it’ll go ok on the day.

  32. @ hopespringseternal….nail on the head there..undoubtedly some one not as glic as mc mahon will catch a sending off when a ref decides to lay down thel law …and knowing our luck…!!

  33. I think Catcol u shud at least give Cavanagh SOME credit for trying to be open about this topic?
    Or maybe uve closed de door urself!

  34. Alf Stewart,

    Sledging did start long ago in Cricket and Australia have got most of the credit. The Aussie team of Shane Warne et al had quite a reputation at it which the English could not handle at all. Most of what is recorded is quite amusing banter but that is probably because not even the gutter press would print the worst.

    Sean Cavanagh is quite right in saying that it has the potential to push players with personal or family problems over the edge. On top of this is the potential of social media to put pressure on players who have a poor game or make the mistake which costs a match. I recall in particular that Mickey Harte’s son Mark took horrendous abuse from Tyrone supporters when he was on the Tyrone team. They were convinced he was only on the team because he was the manager’s son.
    I do not believe that Sean Cavanagh would be a major culprit himself as it would only be distracting himself from playing football.

  35. I don’t mind tough football, it can get us all excited, so long as the intent is not cynical and the ref should be able to police the physical stuff.
    The reason it’s called sport is its meant to be sporting. It’s fun and entertainment, the opposite of cynicism. The game has cleaned up a bit with black card but sledging is cheating plain and simple. Cavanagh actually quite honest and sheds some light on it. I’ve no time for fans on here calling for us to be uglier. Although I hadn’t heard of the boot throw, Kerry’s antics last year were after the game was won and did not lead to them winning. It was silly and demeans Kerry. But Kerry’s AI defeat of Cork some years back (started off by Tadhg C taking out Nicholas Murphy Cork’s best player) is wiped from my memory banks as a legit AI victory because of it was borne out of an act of extreme cynicism. Likewise I don’t really count Kilkenny defeat of Tipp a few years back from Tommy Walsh tipping Benny Dunne’s helmet so he couldn’t see the ball in a challenge although for that one Dunne was stupid to get sent off but again act of cynicism won the game. I saw a player in Sunday’s game take a painful belt in the face but held the other side of his face soccer style looking for punishment on his assailant. That needs stamping out too. Sounds from Cavanagh piece the culture from club right through is some sledging and players accept it. I’d say it’s mostly backs doing it. Don’t expect refs can police verbals, umpires might help but mostly the culture needs tackling. Media can play a role but the GAA needs to send out a strong message on it.

  36. Attempts at intimidation and verbals is one thing, but researching opponents family members (brothers, parents, wives, sisters etc.) girlfriends, family history and family difficulties is quite another. That tactic is not player driven. That tactic requires organisation and targetted individuals. That tactic comes from the top down, and, if any manager or backroom staff member denies it as being anything other than that, well they are lying. Plain and simple. That type of information is researched, gathered and presented to whatever player is assigned to deal it out. Some counties would view it as normal practice and no different to giving a player his nutritional/hydration intake, or sleep/rest requirements for the week, in the lead in to a big match.
    It is not solely the expertise of the Ulster teams though there is no doubt it is more prevalent in the northern counties, with some being more schooled in the practice than others. Is it a coincidence that the Tyrone minors of 2013, Tyrone U21’s of 2015 and the Tyrone seniors already this year, are at the forefront of the accusations? You would hope it is because surely a man like Mickey Harte, who has gone through enough personal trauma himself, knows exactly the impact that family difficulties and tragedy can have on a person.
    Whether we like it or not sledging is a tactic that has developed, and has been allowed to develop by the GAA, in the same way as any other tactic has evolved. Someone started it, others experienced it and decided if you can’t beat them join them. The tactic gets perfected and copied and brought into the game plan in the very same way you might withdraw your half forward back into a sweeper role, or employ a blanket defence. If, by sledging your opponent, you can put him off his game by even 1% or 2%, that could be just enough to get the win. That might be just the difference between winning and losing. That, at intercounty level, is all that matters, it seems.
    A mate at work told me a story only this week of when he was 16 and on the sites in London. This lad was/is a very handy soccer player. He was involved in the Sunday morning pub league matches, very very amateur stuff, “puking on the sideline” sort of stuff. Local pubs playing each other to work off the hangover from the night before and then go on the beer for the day. However, there were 3 northern lads on his team. Big lads in their mid 30’s, driving a mixer all day and carrying the hod. And there was him, a light slip of a 16 year old. He was told by these 3 lads, in no uncertain terms, that whatever it took to win the game you did it. No doubts, no questions. Leg breaking tackles, elbows to the face, over the ball challenges were all fair game. If you shirked it, they would do you! They were of a different mentality. It seems that they haven’t gone away you know!

  37. OvertheBAR, should I give Cavanagh some credit for his opennes, for coming out so to speak? Mmm

    There’s no question that the Nordies are the masters of these dark arts. As Pebblesmeller rightly says, it’s a structural and organisational thing, which is why they are masters and others are mere amateurs. And Tyrone are Capo di Tuti Capi.

    One example: In the semi final of 2013, Mayo were awarded a penalty. The immediate, and I mean immediate, response of Tyrone defenders was to surround the ref and point to the big screen.

    So that? So that you confuse him, sow doubt in his mind, gain that vital edge, which could result in a throw in, free out, or whatever. This doesn’t happen off the cuff, and it mightn’t seem the worst case, but it’s the professionalism, the knowing what to do: penalty decision pending? – spring into action and carry out your duties which involve whatever it takes that you can get away with.

    As the man said, move on to stage two, push the boundaries.

    And ‘Justy’? Justy doesn’t have to play the ball at all. Just hold, pull, body check, mouth, be in the face of Murphy all afternoon and that’s your corn earned.

  38. Our club played a Tyrone outfit a few years back. The research they had done into the lads was beyond belief. We had one player who was from the north originally, he got singled out for special treatment in particular, family history etc. The term free state bastards is the favoured term and I see Brolly and the rest of them crying cause Laois and a few others called them Brits. I watched them in action, it had to be seen to be believed. Every time we missed a point or a free you’d see the Tyrone scrotes straight into our lads ear. The same shower went on to lose an All Ireland during which they got caught on camera spitting on lads heads and in their faces.
    Pebbles is right, I know Facebook makes the research easier but this kind of shite comes from the top down. Amazing also how everyone who has a story of sledging mentions a Tyrone team..

  39. Yeah, sledging, verbals, gamesmanship, whatever you call it is not nice, and indeed can be nasty, but it’s up to the officials to deal with it and the GAA to ensure its implemented. Tyrone may be the most obvious at it, but make no mistake, every successful team have been able to maximise every aspect of the game (or what is allowed in it) as they deem necessary to get over the winning line. I think Mayo over the JH era have moved on light years from where we were in terms of physicality and steel, but I still think we are still ‘too nice’ and a bit naive when it comes to the crunch, and we will remain All-Ireland-less until we learn to be mean enough to be successful.

    Yeah I hate all Tyrone stand for, but I have to admit I also admire what they have done to be successful – they took the choice to either continue to be a decent football team with good players but succumb to the aristocrats of the game when it came to the real business of winning All Irelands or learn how to stop the aristocrats strutting their stuff by whatever means and thus giving themselves a real chance of winning an All Ireland. I must say if Mayo took the same route some 15 years ago, I’d be a very happy man.

    One moment sticks out for me – Tyrone had beaten Kerry in 2005 AI and shocked the GAA world and had forced Kerry to get beefed up and more physical. When they met again in the 2007 AI Final, I was convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Kerry (being Kerry) would not be caught like that again – well they were. Youd really have to admire Tyrone for that. Tommy Walsh was setting the world alight that year and was Kerry’s star man that season – Tyrone sent Joe McMahon from No12 back to corner back to mark him – I was sitting close to that corner for the first half. There was tugging, pushing, pulling jerseys (and god only knows probably sledging of the highest order!), but with all that going on, every ball that came into that corner, McMahon seemed to come out with it – job done, Walsh had a ‘mare, Tyrone won. There may have been some unsavoury stuff, but the GAA have enough officials and enough cards at their disposal to sort it out. At the end of the day, the records show Tyrone won the AI that year. They choose not to continuously live with the notion that ‘Kerry always have the best players so they will always beat you’ – rather they chose to do something about it. Needless to say we also played Kerry in 2 all Irelands in the same period. Enough said. We just say ‘we did not have a good enough team to win the All Ireland’ in 2004 and 2007. Difference is Tyrone didn’t accept that, and fair play to them

  40. Pebbles , I enjoy your posts most of the time but that’s a bit of a turnaround from your comment on sledging (John cuffes piece) .

    Another thing I’m only a slight lad and I can tell you with great confidence im the finest buck around to tend brickies, majority of lads on the hod would be fit and fiery rather than big and bulky and you don’t drive a mixer either , lol.

  41. Anyone who read the book This is our Year which featured the soon-to-be-ousted-for-being-too-honest Kevin Cassidy knows that players are directed to do it. In fact, he said that at the start of that year, the Donegal panel made a conscious decision to do it, and, going even further, to practice doing it so they could get better at it.

    Practice makes perfect you know.

  42. This is a bit off subject, but it’s about the organisation in Tyrone. I am a photographer and always have problems taking photos of teams before a match. Some years ago I had to photograph a Tyrone minor panel in Longford and was expecting the usual hassle. The Tyrone panel tore out on the field, shot into three perfect lines, in complete silence, and their photo was over in 20 seconds. I never experienced that before or since. They were drilled to a point.

  43. @ regina, yeah it was like after Limerick last year all I could think of was that God must be a Kerry man after what we had witnessed on the field of play that evening. As you said with those referees, you just never know what they will do sometimes, laying down the law at the wrong time is often their forte.

  44. I think Tyrone’s achievements under Mickey Harte have been immense. I thought their AIs versus Kerry were very enjoyable, much more so than the AIs of 2004 and 2006. The Tyrone of the Harte era has contained some excellent footballers, men who did not hide when it matters. I certainly find it much easier to respect them than to impugn their characters using a moniker from the safety of my sofa, certainly safer than sledging.

  45. If I had a recording of what was said or proof of some kind Catcol then I will accept that.
    That wee story u told bout de penalty, don’t see what it’s got to do with sledging.
    And de kerry feker kicking de ball away was worse.
    U mention a lot of accusations but can u actually quote me some of these abusive sledging comments that were actually uttered.
    Personally I would judge behaviour of this sort (mentioning personal stuff) as a sign of a warped mind and really Disgusting) – and whoever it comes from, whether a Tyrone or a Mayo man, it is totally unacceptable.
    And Liam, if it is “coming from de top” are you saying Mickey Harte sends guys out to De pitch, armed with info about mothers, girlfriends, dead relatives etc, to utter abusive/vile lines, then I don’t believe you.
    Others maybe but not he.
    Unless you have proof of course!
    I think de dark arts are practiced by more than just de Nordies.

  46. I see in today’s Indo Colm Parkinson says that he first met sledging when playing against ‘Pillar’ Caffrey’s Dubs. So it’s not all Northern teams.
    And a player like Tim Kennelly is quite as capable of sledging as he is of taking out an opposition star player with a cowardly punch as in the 2009 Final. As is a player who throws an opponent’s boot into the crowd.
    Unfortunately match officials are not in a position to do anything about sledging. The offender is not likely to engage in it within earshot of the ref etc. And while he may sometimes know that something is being said unless he actually hears it he cannot act.
    The only way it can be countered is if players go out with mini recorders on them. With modern technology it would, I am sure, be possible. Even at that it would need to be forensically done to stand up at an investigation. And knowing the GAA authorities we will be a long time waiting before we see any such action. As we are waiting to see some real action on ticket touting before All Ireland Finals. Every year lots of promises but has anybody ever heard of action being taken? It would be easy for the GAA to open a small office to receive unwanted tickets, pay face value for them and resell them to genuine supporters, i.e. a supporter with a club membership card.

  47. I couldn’t care less if you believe me or not. I’ve personally witnessed it at club level against a Tyrone team, numerous people here have spoken to minor players from 2013 and the Tipp management exposed their shite at U21 level to the nation. Mickey Harte may not hand them a sheet about each opposition player but the practise has become ingrained in Tyrone football at every level during his tenure and in the culture of Ulster football in general. What amused me even more was when Joe Brolly did a long winded winge piece about Northern teams getting called Brits and such, when the first word out of any northern player is “you free state bastard”.
    As an aside, I’ve always liked Tyrone. They’re hard men and anyone who makes Kerry nervous in Croke Park deserves respect, but talk of family’s and such is beyond the pale. I actually think the Dubs under Pillar Caffrey were the worst shower I ever saw for goading, taunting and pointing at the scorer board. That’s what always made 2006 so sweet….

  48. Didn’t say I didn’t believe u Liam rather that I don’t believe Harte would condone such behaviour (telling players go out and say personal, abusive Stuff).
    But u seem to have heard from certain players about past occurrences – and also to have experience of it urself – and I do believe u on this.
    I really am trying to say that basically, if it is going on, it is unacceptable and disgusting, and needs to be stamped out.
    And I see now Liam that you balance your argument by saying you respect Tyrone for the way they put it up to Kerry etc.
    When I heard Spillane going on about “puke football” a few yrs back, it seemed to me that – although a big part of their game was about Stopping de opposition, they played some very good football too. But Spillane wouldn’t admit this and he came across as bitter because Tyrone had taken 3 of “their ” all-Irelands.
    I was happy to see a team who had never won an all-Ireland before, go and win 3. While Kerry had a shite.
    As I said, this “sledging stuff” (the personal abusive Stuff) has no part in our game.

  49. IMO Harte does not condone this nor do I think Canavan and Dooher would. Players or clusters of players taking it on themselves in that county and the culture obviously comes from somewhere maybe the clubs, maybe some previous underage setup. Haven’t read Cassidy’s book so can’t dispute that comment re Donegal. Bit surprised that a management year would condone it but ya a few teams maybe get the idea from management. Good that this disgraceful behaviour is being talked about although I always felt we had a pure game because it’s amateur compared to soccer which has had so many cheats… guess I was naive there. Give me hard stuff any day compared to sledging cause at least the ref can see that. Hope this story runs this year to out this worst type of cheating.

  50. Sledging has gone on for as long as I remember.
    Remember cillian I Connor getting it against the dubs in 2012 when taking long range frees and 45s.
    Aidan I shea was guilty of it last year in semi final.
    Armagh vs Tyrone 10 years ago were sledge matches.
    I could keep going all day.
    Rivalries cause tension

  51. It’s quite clear that the structure in Tyrone (and they’re by no means alone) accepts and encourages this type of behaviour. There are countless incidents spanning club, underage and senior inter-county teams. This is not an accident or unfortunate coincidence. There might not be a written edict from management teams but they certainly haven’t made any great attempt to stymie these practices.

    Now – any chance we can move on to Salthill? Any word on our walking wounded?

  52. Sean Burke, how do you mean that my comment is a “turnaround” from a previous post? In my comment above I have just stated what I see to be the case, i.e. that sledging goes on, is practiced and perfected and some counties focus more on it than others. I haven’t stated anything about whether I believe it to be right or wrong, acceptable or not. Maybe I haven’t presented it that way, but that is what I meant.
    In my previous comment, in John Cuffes piece, I have commented on what I think you have to do to win. My own personal opinion is that a bit of sledging, or banter, is no harm and is probably a sign that your opponent is worried enough about you to attempt to put you off your game. To get to the level that these boys operate at you must be physically and mentally tough, so, some “whispers in your ear” should not affect you that much. But, when is “a bit” gone too far? Where does acceptable sledging merge into unacceptable private intrusion into family life/history/difficulties? It goes back to what you are prepared to do, as a county, as a manager and as a team, to win.
    At this point, 64 years without winning an All Ireland, I would gladly accept us sledging our way, all the way, to an All Ireland victory.

  53. Ya know Pebblesmeller, I have to agree with you. Every other team will win “at all costs” and justify it, with nobody saying sorry. So should we!!!!

  54. You’re delinerately speaking out of both sides of your mouth without commiting yourself to the issue. You question it by saying “but when is a bit gone too far ” then you don’t give your opinion on the bit too far issue but skip a line and type you’d gladly accept us sledging our way to an all Ireland .

    Don’t be afraid to spit it out ,if you’re okay with players whispering into someone’s ear about their dead parent , just say it. I’m not okay with it and furthermore I would voice opinion in a very aggressive manner to anyone who would condone such scumbag behaviour . Some people have completely lost the run of themselves , why on earth would anyone want this in GAA . It does exist ,that doesn’t mean we accept it and embrace it. It needs challenging and sorted the frig out , which I think it will be.

  55. Pebblesmeller – I would disagree with you at a win at all costs. Yeah bend the barriers but whispering into a young lads ear who has lost his father “where is your daddy..” is way below the belt. You gotta be a serious c**t to do that and fairly fucked up in the head.

  56. Here’s another instalment, from the Examiner again.

    This time it’s Brendan Devenney giving us an insight into the Nordie psychology, which we ‘Free State bastards’ would have difficulty in understanding:

    By the way, and in answer to previous posts, with the Tryones of the world, sledging is only one item in the portfolio. It’s not the only one and it’s a continually evolving approach.

    How to respond, as Sean Burke and others have questioned?

    Don’t do the sledging, but have a strategy for dealing with it and for the other nastiness that will inevitably come our way. Isn’t that why we have psychologists in our extended back up team? Though, I’m not aware of who replaced Kieran Shannon

  57. I know lads, if anyone sledged me in my day, he would get as good as he got. This sensitivity to words puzzles me, especially the wringing of hands. I am not, for one second, condoning verbal abuse, but it is happening and will happen, so, in my mind, deal with it. We are supposed to be men and on the football field, warriors, combatants. My mother had a great expression, “God be with the days when men were men and pansies were flowers”

  58. Sean, you accuse me of not committing to the issue, what part of “after 64 years without winning an All Ireland, I’d gladly accept us sledging our way, all the way, to an All Ireland victory” do you not understand? That’s as committed as I can be I’m afraid.

  59. Thanks for the link catcol. The thing is in life whatever the situation is, human nature will always test rules and regulations to the limit. The key to stamp it out is to put the proper punishments in place to deal with the guilty. Look what happened to the banking sector here in Ireland. The politicians and regulators did not regulate properly so the bankers, developers, etc. just absolutely went to town. They went as far as they could in terms of bending the rules and then went much further on past that. Unfortunately that is human nature in action. If you put a gang of young kids together for a game without any rules, they will call each other names, pull, drag, pinch, scrap, scrawl and bite each other to get to the ball (like a typical Ulster Championship match!). That is why society develops rules and regulations and has someone to implement these laws. Sadly again at the end of the day we are let down by those who are meant to be in charge, the GAA authorities and referees in this case. The guilty win out and the phrase, crime does pay, comes to mind. Will this ever change.

  60. Well it’s cleared up now anyway , the rules are I’m not allowed attack the man in here but the ball so there is not much more I can say to you cause it’s not really GAA talk , we’d be going into a different topic completely .

    What will happen in the end because it’s a small country and a smaller GAA community is it will happen a guy one day who will be willing to sort it out after hours and that will send a message that it won’t be tolerated.

  61. Declan Bonner the Donegal minor manager has put the cat amid the Tyrone pigeons. He highlighted the abuse Michael Carrioll his minor captain got v Tyrone in the minor match. This what he said .

    “It has been alleged that two Tyrone players mocked Carroll about his father’s death. Francie Carroll, a former Donegal footballer, passed away in February 2014 after a short battle with cancer. Bonner has blasted the treatment of the 17-year-old from Gaoth Dobhair as ‘toxic’. “If this is what is going to happen in games, then I don’t want to be a part of it,” Bonner said. “I would rather walk away than be involved in something that has become so toxic. “Sledging (attempting to disrupt an opponent’s performance through personal abuse) is part and parcel of the game now, but there are certain boundaries that should not be crossed. This whole thing has gone to a new level and in our minor game against Tyrone on Sunday, those boundaries were crossed to sickening levels. – See more at:

    I actually knew the late Francie, Tyrone will regret crossing that family, of that I am certain.

  62. I said earlier that when does a bit go too far, well any reference to past family members is too far. I am not going to be portrayed, or have my words construed, as some kind of Neanderthal that thinks it’s acceptable for an opponent to come out with that shite. There’s a world of difference between off the ball belts, verbal intimidation, even the old mother or sister stuff and researching and targeting an individual who has lost a family member. Whatever about it occurring at senior level, if it occurs at U21 and minor level then that is an altogether different matter.
    However, I go back to my original post that sledging is a tactic now, the same as any other, and as long as one team is gaining an advantage over another by using it, it will be difficult to eradicate.

  63. Ahh right lost your bottle now I see. You knew fine well what you were saying . You’re samarter than me with words so you’ll twist it to suit now as you had left an opening in your interpretation to skew it to suit if it came on top as I had already pointed out .

    ” what part of I’d gladly watch us sledging our way to an all Ireland do you not understand”

    That was your response to me describing the dead parent taunting which is what is being discussed all week and you are well aware of what was being discussed . If you want to play silly beggars because you’ve lost the aul nerve ,work away .

  64. If we win an All Ireland by sledging I want no part in it. Wouldn’t even celebrate it. Sport is sport. The problem is out in the air now, so let the GAA come up with a strategy for minimising it. Soccer do it with racism.

  65. Players were getting baited on the field about dead relatives 20 years ago. We all know what was reputed to have been said to a Mayo player to start THAT brawl in the 1996 replay. And if you think that that was the first instance of it ever heard in an All-Ireland final, then I have bad news for you about Santa Claus.

    If Declan Bonner is only experiencing this kind of thing now, I would suggest that he has led a sheltered life.

    Pebblesmeller’s comments reflect the real world of top-level GAA competition. Sledging is not going away lads. We can hold our noses up in the air and congratulate ourselves for not stooping to that level, but that won’t stop other teams doing it to us.

    It’s a tactic. It’s a pretty low one, but if it didn’t work to some degree, teams wouldn’t bother doing it.

    All-Irelands are not handed out based on sporting play and gentlemanly conduct. That’s something we are very slow to learn in Mayo.

    We have fewer football All-Irelands than Wexford and Tipperary. But we must be the world leaders in High Moral Standards.

  66. So because other teams are going around saying abusive things about our dearly departed, we should too?
    Sorry Davy J but I’m with Shuffly on this one.
    And if we experience it on de field of play, we should NOT stoop to this level –
    We should answer with physicality and an increase in tempo and use the vile talk to inspire us to up the ante and take de gobshite to the cleaners.
    For the record, if I was MY dead brother or Dad that an opposition member abused, I’d wait until de final whistle and then I would busht de bastard!

  67. “So because other teams are going around saying abusive things about our dearly departed, we should too?”

    Nobody should have to take it that far. But if a Mayo player said something less nasty to an opposing forward, that still succeeded in putting him off his game, I wouldn’t have any problem with that.

    That doesn’t mean that I want football to be this way. It means that football IS this way and has been for 20 years and more. The teams that do the maximum that they can get away with – whether that be sledging, kidney-punches, feigning injury, time-wasting, elbows off the ball or whatever – will be the ones that succeed.

    Tyrone are the classic example. Simply put, they decided after their semi with Meath in 1996 that they would not be bullied any longer. They became the bullies. They don’t give a damn how much bad press they get, how much they’re demonised, how much hand-wringing other people do about them. They win All-Irelands by any means necessary. That’s what it’s about.

  68. DavyJ it would seem that Tyrone do indeed care about bad press as they’ve gone to the bother of issuing a press release this evening denying the allegations against their minor team. My Facebook newsfeed has been FULL of this sledging talk all week (I’m from Donegal but lived in Mayo for ten years which is why I follow this blog occasionally. … always feel the need to explain myself! ) Personally, I only saw the last twenty minutes of the minor match as I had to park about two miles from McCumhill park so I can’t really comment about the antics during that game. I will however say that I have never seen so much continuous and sustained mouthing etc from any player during almost the full duration of the game as the job dear Justy did on Murphy last Sunday. He wasn’t the only one, on both sides, but jaysus it really was a stand out performance in obstructive play.

  69. Well I don’t think we didn’t win an all Ireland in the last few yrs because we are too soft and gentlemanly!
    We have some very tough and physical boys who are not afraid of the rough stuff.
    We don’t shy away from the attritional stuff when the going gets tough.
    All Irelands were not won due to. 1) giving away easy scores at vital times (Brogan + Donaghey/O’Donoghue and. 2) not having enough killer finishers up front.
    Both of these frailties are still very much in existence.

  70. Any player that runs out of a dressing room and engages his opposing player with comments relating to the dead or vulnerable is below contempt. If this occurred on the public streets of Ireland in any location the offender would be headline news in at least his local or county papers and rightly so.
    This is a continuing theme from a select few (mostly) Northern teams. This bile will become acceptable if it is nor strongly dealt with. There are certain arenas that camera footage can be scanned and certified and professional lip readers can give conclusive confirmation of the verbal exchange. The Sunday game has sidelined many a player for over robust physical exchanges, should the footage not be available to the required expert for parusal to root out this behaviour and publically humiliate the abusers and their ADVISORS. I don’t think anyone would complain if some low life who was being disrespectful to the dead or impaired was named and very justifiably shamed for this indefendable behaviour on any street or pitch on this Island. Telling a fella he will be bet up a stick or he is usless as opposed to abusing a mans dead or challenged family members are poles apart.
    A bold leap using available technology is badly needed to rid our games of this trash

  71. I heard Tyrone’s statement re the allegations of sledging read over the airwaves this evening and it appears that no such sledging occurred, that Tyrone players would never dream of doing such a thing and the they are all angels sans wings. Paper will take ink and any sequence of words can be broadcast over the airwaves whether they make sense or not. Tyrone must take us all for fools if they think we will believe a word of their statement. In fact such a blanket denial is tantamount to an admission of guilt.
    Incidentally as I recall the leadup to the big fight in 1996, and I was pretty close to it, Ray Dempsey held Darren Fay as he tried to make a clearance, Colm Coyle came in to add his tuppence worth, others then joined in and history records the rest. I don’t think sledging had anything to do with that.
    And neither do I think that the soccer authorities have ever done anything effective about racism in the game. A bit of a fine here and there but have there been any ground closures, points deducted or anything substantial. Yes for pitch invasions etc but for racism???

  72. I mentioned the soccer racism campaign, it was a media campaign directed mostly at the fans but I believe media campaigns make a difference. Fans and players do take on board positive advertising of the format used.

    Agree that sledging never lost us a big game, it’s for the most part ineffective as a tactic, most of these lads have been around the block, but when family stuff comes into it, yes hard to see how any player can keep his composure and it probably works at that level of ugliness. TV panelists need to repeat whenever it’s spotted in a game that sledges are cheats and not sportsmen, guessing it doesn’t exist in the women’s game. Brolly’s attack on Cavanagh led to the black card for cynical fouls and it has improved that aspect of the game.
    Fed up of people here suggesting we have to stoop to low levels to win an AI, our lads are plenty tough. Play harder within the rules than opponents on any given day and you usually win. Get good players if ye can find them and train them to high level. That has more chance of winning.

  73. Wouldn’t fancy davy j in charge of our u12 team.Such vile abuse as tyrone have been guilty of over the last month at senior u21 and u18 tells us all we need to know about them. This has nothing to do with being hard tough and manly. qualities I admire and are necessary to succeed. Rsorting to mouthing about dead or alive loved ones spitting in an opponents face etc have no place on any sports field and if that’s what is acceptable to some then that really is a sad state of affairs

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