Two more takes on the Mac and Johnno affair

Although neither of the two principal characters in this particular soap opera have said anything in public since they both spilled the beans to the Indo earlier in the week, there are a few more reports on the Mac and Johnno affair that are worthy of a mention.

Ray Silke takes Mac’s side of the argument in his piece in this week’s Mayo Advertiser and the fact that Silke was O’Mahony’s captain when Galway captured Sam in 1998 hasn’t been lost on observers, notably those keen ones on gaaboard.com. I was also slightly surprised to see that John Maughan’s weekly column didn’t appear in the same paper esta semana and it appears that Silke, who normally writes for the sister Galway publication, was put into bat instead. Maybe John M is keeping his powder dry for another occasion though the opportunity to get his own back on The Deputy, who of course wasn’t slow to give his tuppence worth about what Maughan should and shouldn’t be doing when the latter had the bainisteoir’s bib on him, must be at least a little bit tempting at this stage. When he does eventually break his silence on the issue, I’d say it’ll be worth reading.

Keith Duggan could write about Mayo’s footballing misfortunes in his sleep at this stage and his article in today’s Times (premium content unfortunately, though I see it’s now been posted on that thread at gaaboard.com) is, as you’d expect from the writer in question, an even-handed and eloquent account of the saga. It’s difficult not to concur with his closing sentence where he says that if Mac’s footballing days for the county are over, then “the game itself will suffer most of all”. That’s true, I’m sure, though most of the regret that will be felt at his passing will be for ourselves alone to bear.

5 thoughts on “Two more takes on the Mac and Johnno affair

  1. To Mac or not to Mac, that is the Question

    The debate raging among Mayo followers over the last week has been interesting to follow. On one hand there appears to have been a communications issue that would appear to rest at Johnno’s door. But the dogs on the street knows that Mac is, and has always been, his own man and this means he has never been the first in line to say “Yes Sir, No Sir, 3 bags full Sir”. So Johnno’s line that he gave Mac the same chance as everyone else is probably accurate, but Mac was probably waiting for a different and stronger message telling directly him to come to training and to play in a few challenge matches.In any case, I hope that Johnno will have a chat with Mac and that it gets sorted out, regardless of the outcome.

    But the whole episode leads to a different question, namely: is there a place for Mac in Johnno’s plans?
    We all have seen Mac in full flight and at his peak he was untouchable. Remember the semi against Cork in 1999 when he owned the game for the first 20 mins and Mayo would have won in a canter if he had not got injured. Remember when Crossmolina won the All Ireland Club Championship and (again against Cork opposition) he was sublime. That is only two games from the many that he ruled.

    But then look at the All Irelands of 2004 and 2006. Both times he was marked by Aidan O’Mahony and on both occasions he was subdued. I know he was injured in 2006, but when marked tightly he is controllable. Remember the drawn Quarter Final against Laois in 2006? With a tight marker there he was again made to look very ordinary. Yet against Brian Cullen later the same month (who is not a tight marker) he had a field day against the Dubs. So the word got out – Mark Mac and young Mort tightly while breaking 50/50 at centrefield and you will beat Mayo. (Note that young Mort failed to score from play in either the 2004 or 2006 final – Kerry had their homework done). The fact that we were dire under the high ball into square at the other end just added to this formula.

    But having said that, I still think that Mac could be one of the missing bits of Johnno’s All-Ireland jigsaw. Let me explain. If you look at the balance in the Mayo team now, it has come a long way in 12 months. I remember what we were all saying after Salthill last year and most of it has been taken on board. The missing bits are now in the forwards. We seem to be able to get good scores from 30+ yards but our prowess further in frightens no one. The reason for this is that we do not get enough quality ball into the full forward line.

    There are 3 basic ways to get a ball into the full forward line. You can run it in – we do that a lot. But generally that leads to points (or frees that result in points) as defenders can get back at the same speed as a forward carrying the ball. If you look at the goals that are generally scored, the majority come from a kicked pass that opens up a space inside.

    The second way in is the high ball into the established ball winner (a la Donaghy) who will then either plant it first time or lay off the scoring pass. We have tried to play this ball, but we do not have the power player in the front line to make it work on a regular basis (that is the other bit of the All-Ireland jigsaw that is missing!).

    The 3rd way was the one used best by Armagh and involved the chest high ball played diagonally into the corners. (That was why they played such strong men in the corners.) And this is the precise type of ball that Mac would supply all day long.

    If Johnno is building for next year, then he may not want the distraction of having Mac for just one year. However, if he was to find the other part of the jigsaw, he might not have to wait until next year.

    Pick up the phone Johnno!

    Keep The Faith

  2. Maughan seem’s to be keeping his powder dry alright, Maybe he feels he’s to close to the situation, being a cross man and knowing both men well and doesn’t want to get dragged into it. I’m sure though he has enough contacts and speaks to enough people to know the girtty facts of the story

  3. It’s easy, I suppose, to place Mac up there on a pedestal and, as you say, FourGoal, a few teams, notably our friends down South, were able to neutralise him over the years but I still struggle to see who might be better than him at no.11 for us. Dillon certainly wouldn’t be and while Pierce Hanley might have been, that’s one we’re never going to get the answer to.

    The days when Mac could haul us to an All-Ireland virtually on his own (as in 2004) are gone and, as I recall it (and despite his incredible winning point against Dublin), he was far less influential in 2006 compared to 2004. Nonetheless, I still think that his talents are still needed and that he could have a major part in our Championship campaign this year.

    I think that with all the new guys coming through – especially the likes of Tom Parsons who could, in a short time, become our new folk hero – Johnno could well be building a team that could take us back to being one of the top few teams in the country. In that context, Mac could have a big role to play this year, hitting that kind of ball you mention into what is now a settled full-forward line. If the team’s on song, then Mac’s the man to conduct operations in attack and, if he’s fit, we’d be mad not to give him the role of doing so.

    Good to see you back in action again, by the way Nooneshoutedstop. I was beginning to think that someone had (shouted stop, that is!).

  4. Hi Willie Joe,
    May I add my tuppence (two cents) worth here?
    As I would expect, your analysis of the implications arising from the McDonaldgate affair is spot on.
    You have alluded to the political implications for O’Mahony; as far as I am aware you are the only one to have alluded to the fact that Johnno should have concerns about his political career.
    He squeezed out a third seat for Fine Gael at the last election, very much against the national trend. To do this he had to attract a crucial number of cross-over voters. Furthermore he had to come in high on the all-important first count results so that he’d remain in the race and pick up second and third preferences, not only from Mickey and Enda, but also from Fianna Fail voters who crossed over after registering their first preference. Last but not least, he had to come in before his colleague, Michelle Mulherrin.
    The Blueshirt strategy worked admirably and I give them due credit. It was high-risk all the way but it succeeded.
    Thus John the Messiah also became John the TD. However, a swing of less than 500 first preference votes to John Carty, the leading FF contender could very easily have left Johnno in deep doodoo.
    Are there 500 disgruntled McDonald fans out there? That’s for the rest of us to speculate about and for O’Mahony to find out.
    If he fails to achieve something tangible on the football front this season, like an All-Ireland title, will 500 Mayo voters say, “If he hadn’t shafted Ciaran, things could have been so different?”
    If voting patterns at the next election mirror those of the last one, O’Mahony may live to regret the cack-handed way he handled McDonald’s omission from his plans.
    On that issue, I hold O’Mahony 101% responsible for the present controversy.
    A manager has the duty to manage; O’Mahony has the ultimate authority to select his panel but also the responsibility to ensure that all concerned knew his conditions for inclusion.
    Did he ensure that he got a direct message to McDonald and did he further ensure that it was going to be a case of, “My way or the highway?”
    With a double negative here, how could he assume anything; it was his duty to find out!

  5. Hi Lar

    The Johnno bainisteoir/politican dichotomy is one that has concerned me for some time, right as far back as Salthill last May when it was patently obvious that the team was nowhere near being ready for that do-or-the-qualifiers showdown with Galway. I certainly feel that our Connacht campaign last year took second place behind Johnno’s political one -how could it have been otherwise, seeing as any serious attempt to get elected to the Dail is a 24/7 activity when the campaign is in full swing?

    I guess the penny finally dropped with me about him being first and foremost a politician was at the launch of the Club Mayo initiative in the Garda Club earlier this year. Johnno got up on his hind legs and gave a political speech and the realisation dawned with me that everytime he opens his mouth nowadays, the TD button gets pressed first.

    That all makes what he’s had to say about the Mac affair so problematic. Who are we listening to here and can we take what he has to say at face value? I’m not so sure we can.

    There’s two ironies here. The first is that over the next four years (if Biffo decides he wants to wait that long) Johnno’s political and footballing ambitions should be in synch so if Johnno feels Mac can help him make us a better team and get us closer to Sam, then it’s in his and our interest for Mac to be in the squad. (That’s the clearest hint, I reckon, that he doesn’t). The other is that the political cycle favours Johnno if he does want to ditch Mac: will anyone hold it against him in four years time? I’m not sure they will.

    You’re absolutely spot on, Lar, in relation to how shaky Johnno’s seat is. Remember that FF used to routinely take four of the six seats on offer when the county was split over two constituencies so FG now holding three out of five is fairly exceptional. A number of factors helped Johnno the last time, not least Enda’s leadership of FG (which lifted the Blueshirt vote well above what could reasonably be expected next time), FF’s total state of disorganisation, the Bev factor and the fact that, in John Carty, Johnno wasn’t exactly up against a top-drawer sitting TD. All of these factors (including Enda as leader) could be absent next time out, which makes that 500-vote cushion look anything but comfortable.

    Which is why he really does need to win Sam between now and 2012 to be sure of getting re-elected … which is why he can’t afford to cast aside someone as talented as Super Mac!

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