U20s bow out to Down

Just a quick mention for the county’s U20 footballers who this afternoon were knocked out of the All-Ireland U20 B Championship. They lost at the semi-final stage to Down today, in a match played at Breffni Park that ended 2-10 to 0-15.

I’ve very little information on today’s game, aside from the details of our scorers, courtesy of Mayo GAA on X. Here’s the list: Tom O’Flaherty 0-5 (4 frees), Jack Mulchrone 0-2, Cathal Keaveney 0-2, Oisín Cronin 0-2, Conal Dawson 0-1, Diarmuid Duffy 0-1, Sean Morahan 0-1, David Dolan 0-1 (a free).

Today’s defeat means it’s the end of the road for the U20s this year. When Peadar Gardiner took over as manager, leading a well-regarded backroom team, and with the introduction of a round-robin format for the provincial Championship, the portents looked good for this year.

That’s not how it turned out, however, as an extremely competitive Connacht Championship ended with us slipping to a bad defeat to Sligo, which, combined with a loss to Leitrim in the previous round, saw us finish bottom of the round-robin table.

Being in the B tournament, while not the route we would have wanted to go at the outset, gave us the opportunity to salvage something tangible from the year. They beat Leitrim in the Connacht B final but they were edged out by Down by the narrowest of margins today. Commiserations to them.

53 thoughts on “U20s bow out to Down

  1. Firstly, I think you could see that the decision was taken to go with a very young U20 panel, for whatever reason. Many of the lads are U20 again next year and some are even U20 the year after too. The year or 18 months difference at that age is a lot and results in our lads going in against older lads who are more experienced and also several Kgs heavier with more S&C work done. Many of our lads were in the minor panel last year.
    The question needs to be asked, what was the mandate given (assuming there was one) to the management team? Was it to build and develop a squad for next season and the season after? Or was it to win this year? Because from the outside looking in it certainly appears they were ready to sacrifice this years competition (and some of those players who will be too old to play in it again next season) judging by the panel they chose.
    Secondly, and more worringly, I was unimpressed with management this year. In the Sligo game they appeared rudderless and “caught in the headlights” a little. Once Sligo got control early in that second half our sideline seemed static and leaderless. Looking down from the stand that evening there didn’t seem to be any direction, instruction or encouragement from our sideline. They seemed very mute. There was loads of lads in and around our sideline but no one directing things out on the pitch. Compare that to Henry down the other side who was a bundle of energy and instruction and he certainly seemed to be on top of his remit.
    Great players don’t always make great managers/coaches and while our sideline is stacked with stellar names that does not necessarily mean they are brilliant coaches. Also, many of that management team came direct from the Senior Ladies set up and, as someone who spent over 11 seasons coaching and managing in Ladies football, those two codes are very diffferent sports. What works in Ladies football does not always work in Lads, and the physical demands, speed and distances in both running and ball movement are very, very diffferent.
    There are some very promising players in that group and their disappointing end to their season is not the end of the road for many of these lads.

  2. Hugely disappointed also with the u20 campaign especially with the big name management and players who showed a lot of potential at minor level. Regarding the love for McGuinness on other threads if the ulster championship was run on league basis Donegal would have 1 win and 2 draws and be midtable. Only saying.

  3. Agree, Glorydays, it really doesn’t look good for the current U20 management set-up after this year’s set of results at U20 level. As I’ve said here already, no Mayo team should be losing to Leitrim at any grade or indeed losing to Sligo three years in a row, these results are completely unacceptable and they should raise eyebrows at Club Delegate level as well as County Board level. U20 is a grade where you need to be doing well in in order to keep the Senior team fresh / relevant. We have failed to do this over the past 6 years, (you could say we’ve failed for 15 years, the 2016 All Ireland win as well as the 2018 run to the final sort of papered over the cracks at this grade). I know that the bulk of this year’s team will be underage again next year, however from looking at some of the games it appeared that we were way off the pace in terms of S&C, this is something that has become more apparent over the past number of years, you could argue that our S&C at senior level is also off, there are a number of players who have been on the panel for 2 or 3 years who do not seem to have bulked up to compete at the top level. Tyrone are a county who seem to get an awful lot right at underage level, look at their U20 team this year, they resemble a senior team, they also play a fast attacking brand of football. What are Tyrone doing right that we aren’t? We have a similar pick. They got their house in order 30 years ago and in that time have won a dozen or so underage titles, we’ve won three in 40 years.

  4. Agree with the above regarding the 20’s. TsuDhoNim had a very good post on another thread which is worth reposting here.

    Don’t ever like to call for management to go but I’m not sure this campaign could have gone any worse? Like, what were their objectives? Ok they clearly went for a younger squad and if the sun was to ‘blood’ these lads with the view of target 2025 then that’s a very strange strategy and even if that was it, then what were the goals for 2024. What were they looking to achieve because the performances were flat. Fellas generally noted for scoring ability, couldn’t score! We created nothing. Our middle third was over run and we didn’t seem to have any progressive style or pattern to our play. It genuinely couldn’t have gone any worse.

    Way Out West is right, our record at u20 has been abysmal and I’d hope that more than a few eyebrows will be raised. Serious questions need asking and I’m not sure the current set up is the right one to be in charge next year. Of course we cannot blame the current management for previous years but 2024 was a disastrous year and Gardiner was in with Sheridan prior to that.

    One of the points flagged by TsuDhoNim was on panel retention. That was messy to say the least. I dunno, but perhaps a totally fresh voice might be the way to go.

  5. @Mayonaze: Woops. Well spotted. I tend to click on the latest replies and figured I might have been in this thread when replying to the u20 chat. Need to pay better attention to my surroundings & help keep threads on topic. Mea culpa.

    Repost:
    “I tend to go out of my way to look for positives and search for the silver linings when looking at games, simply more enjoyable that way for me when I’ve no direct input on fixing anything I might feel is broken, but hard to disagree with any of the critical comments. Here or elsewhere. Even in the context of all the injuries this year (before & during the campaign – they were pretty brutal), it’s a tough year to pull too many positives* from.

    A lot of talk on questions to be asked. I’ll happily throw down a few bouncing around my head.

    1 – Panel Selection: Did we get it right?

    Day 1 we could all see it was a light & mobile panel (lots of mentions of age, but some of the younger lads among our best for size & physicality. I’d suggest the shortage was as much on player profiles to balance match-ups when needed, rather than simply more older lads with more S&C), especially in the middle third.

    Chats were had here and on the Discord on the clever strategies we’d need for restarts using speed & movement without obvious targets to hit high for primary possession, but none seemed to appear for the year and we seemed to consistently be going high & long. Often to disadvantage. On the occasions where the initial concerns came to light and we were (relatively frequently over the year) getting overrun with power in the middle third, we didn’t appear to have a Plan B to attempt to stop it (or didn’t appear to want to use some of the limited options we did have available, partly feeding into 2 you’d imagine).

    2 – Player Retention: What went wrong?

    Keen not to specifically name individuals but glancing at the panel over the year we can all see names that were removed over the course of the campaign (and some obvious omissions that weren’t among them). Each will have a unique story but the trend among them begs the question if all was ok with morale in the camp? If not morale what issues did we hit & what do we need to do going forward to avoid/mitigate/remove those issues?

    3 – Tactics/Motivation/Confidence: Where and why did these go wrong?

    Easy to nail these fairly generic catch-alls whenever a result doesn’t go in your favour but I think there will be lots of folks wondering about match-ups gone wrong (and yet retained), worryingly frequent collapses – especially in the 3rd quarter (hard to know how much was tactical tweaks by opponents getting them on top or just our lads coming out flat), consistent shooters (at club/school/county) hitting very inconsistent returns, incredibly poor returns on goal chances created and a severe lack of intensity (tackles/presses/turnovers) in a number of games.

    Not sure the correct framing of this question beyond… what went wrong? And, possibly more importantly, how is it going to be improved and fixed for next year?

    * My own highlights (excluding the Down game which I wasn’t at and didn’t have available to stream) being some great performances from Darragh Beirne (outrageous workrate and tackling, his timing on when to stick the hand in as good as anyone in any position I’ve seen at u18… and coming packaged as a silky forward that’s saying something), Eoin McGreal (on a team challenged for size and physicality he was a rock for us this year, saying something when again an u18 member of the panel. You’d wonder how different some of the games might have been if he’d started and continued the year fully fit), David Slattery (looked right at home given his first year breaking into the underage setup. An outstanding prospect for a proper Barrett-esque defensive-defender, something we’re in relatively short supply of) and John MacMonagle (outstanding in every game and in the one he missed you could feel his absence in every attack that got through the middle).”

  6. For me you can’t be anything but excited about football after watching score taking of armagh and donegal.
    The importance of athletic quick 5 to 12 can’t be underestimated and indeed their ability to kick in the run .
    Paddy, donnacha, mcbrien, Loftus, diamuid all tick them boxes then flynn, Ruane and mclaughlin tick two of them and Coen, Boland and Carney different tradesmen to add to the greater team .
    Importance of Diarmuid can’t be underestimated he ruane and a fit on form Flynn are as good as about and hopefully we can start at basics with the Cavan game and build from here .
    It is a lower base we are starting from but we have a great opportunity to grow into the games and hopefully reach peak .

    One thing also noted was the inside forwards accuracy and with a fit Cillian (rewatched old youtube videos) and he can and will be the difference maker but need to release Tommy to halfforwards and allow him play the stefan Campbell type role .

    Lastly give Peader a chance, he had them lads u17 and knows them best, was it his decision to go with such young team, probably not but he’s a good experienced guy with Mayo at heart so nobody will be harder on him than himself but just time to forget about that year and concentrate on seniors

  7. What annoys me so much about this debacle of a campaign is that with our pick we should be looking to win Connacht every single year at u20 level. This idea of focusing on one group because they are particularly talented is just crazy to me. Its something that a smaller county with an exceptional group might do.

    Just because they weren’t good at minor, doesn’t mean you disregard lads for a better minor group. Some lads are late developers and we are now in danger of losing those lads or missing out on them.

  8. @Outside of the Boot: “… he had them lads u17 and knows them best”.

    Are you thinking of Sean Deane?

    Peader was in with Maurice as a selector with the 20s while these lads were minor. Unless he was involved with the minors too without it getting much/any attention?

  9. Good post TsuDhoNim.
    The two aspects that really irk me and wete frankly unnacceptabke for a now fallen out of top county. We’ve fallen out of top county at senior with it’s roots in the poor player development at u21/20.
    1. It’s deeply deeply unnacceptabke to be in a situation where we are not having the full potential panel involved. It was too many names for it to all be perfectly explainable. Players left mid campsign. In a choice of having a particular mgmt ticket or our full potential panel the best choice is in having a full panel.
    2. Mgmt should never ever be togging a team that is very obviously not tall enough and not heavy/strong enough. Tog the young lads a year early is not remotely any kind of explanation.
    The county had now had its on and off field morale sunk to the floor at this grade.
    I.now (and I think it’s genuine to have such concern +) have concerns whether all players will be involved next year?
    Are players going to only be picked in positions they played at county minor? There’s players who know they were picked at county in a position that is not their strongest.
    People who follow schools and underage club could see a clear “pick star minors” policy whether deliberate or not. I’ve learned a long time ago that Gaelic football is a sport about your actual matches track record. The guff about monitoring players in training that you hear. If a player has it, then he has a track record in matches and that is what needs extensive scouting and monitoring.
    Twk of the most athletic players underage in Mayo are from Swinford. Swinford are not going to be before any big audiences in schools or get much local media attention.
    Our u20 mgmt there isn’t a hope in hell they’d know those two players. Now, why is that considered niche? What’s so tremendously difficult about having a rigorous list of every potential player?
    What if a player with good skills goes from 5’10″11 stone at 15 years of age o 6’1″ 13 stone
    at 18. That’s now a totally different physical prospect. To mind our full potential pick requires a data based approach.

  10. @TsuDhoNim it’s a really good post. The issues around player retention and panel selection would be very concerning. It cannot be good for morale and I don’t see how that can be good for 2025.

    @Outside of the Boot… Deane was minor manager in 22 and 23. Gardiner was part of the u20’s mgnt (which didn’t fare well unfortunately). I know Deane had his critics but his track record at management is miles ahead of Gardiner’s. Also, just because someone played for Mayo doesn’t make them better placed to be a manager (that’s something Mayo Co Board and supporters seem to place far too much emphasis on). Take Galway’s last two underage All Ireland titles, u20 in 2020 and u17 in 2022, neither manager played senior for Galway (fairly certain they didn’t and might not have done much if anything underage either as players; Donal O Faharta from Spiddal and Alan Glynn from St Michael’s). Also if you’re saying that you don’t think it was Gardiner’s decision to go with a younger squad then are you suggesting he’s just a puppet manager? If so why leave someone like that in the role? And I’d imagine that certainly was his decision or that he at least had a key part in forming that decision along with others on the management team.

    Finally, of course he has Mayo’s interests at heart. Every single one of us would but like anyone he should be judged on his performances and let’s be frank, it was a terrible year and if Co board are happy to just say ‘carry on there, no problem, then we are going nowhere, fast.

    I’ve said it before. I was excited when I heard the current u20 management ticket get the gig. This was copperfastened when I heard Gardiner interviewed about his style and objectives but talking the talk and walking the walk are two very very different things.

  11. @ JP your point on morale is exactly what I’m saying. It’s rock bottom now. I just don’t see how the current management can get the gig for 2025 (sorry WJ if crossing the line on this but it’s such an important role – it’s an age category where we have to be maximising our playing pool and it’s clear we haven’t been).

  12. My view is that the year we had and the issues that arose require a fresh mgmt team. Not being able to keep everyone involved is already a problem created for next year.

  13. Does anyone care about the FA cup anymore?
    I don’t see it working to be running competitions in parallel.

  14. There is a very strong possibility that this year’s u20 management team will be reinstated for at least one more year. This will be after a “review” by a county board committee who will be happy with the review they carried out. Sadly in Mayo it looks like a cosy cartel with noone asking the hard questions.
    Do you think Tomas o Se would be reinstated as u20 manager in Kerry if they lost championship games to Clare and Tipp – would he f@#£

  15. If that’s true about conditioning, firstly it’s absolutely shocking and negligent (if true) and secondly why then would a manager of the 20’s say that everything is being done and that quote, ‘no stone is being left unturned’?? It doesn’t add up at all. The performance and noises emanating from this u20 campaign are damning.

  16. @SouthMayoExile, if a Kerry manager lost to Clare and Tipp he’d hardly be let back into the county let alone go near managing a team ever again. So I see the point you’re making…should losing to Leitrim and Sligo be acceptable for a Mayo manager. I think the answer is a categoric ‘no’. Leading on from this, if the manager of the team wasn’t a former county player would there be more of an outrcry?? I think most certainly there would. There’s absolutely no chance that person would retain their position.

  17. Let’s be honest lads and ladies anyone that thinks this CB will be proactive is living in a dream.

    Our CB are a joke. How they didn’t even attempt to do a fundraiser in NY last month sums up how rudderless they are.

    Every mgmt team excluding the minors should be brought in for a review at the end of the year. But they won’t because the CB are terrified to admit they were wrong.

  18. #Frosthammer, I think the provincials would decline further in the publics interest played off in parallel to the league.

  19. Anybody lucky enough to see Tyrone u20s or Kerry u 17s tonight in the Munster final tonight will see how far we are behind on the basic skills of the game and conditioning…
    You reap what you sow and due to neglect at underage for many years we will suffer big time at senior level in the coming years….

  20. Tomthumb

    Very impressed with Tyrone U20. No5 and 11 were a joy to watch. 3rd goal was textbook counter attack play, 50 yard kick pass outside of the boot straight into the chest, goes by his man with strength and speed and low into the bottom corner.

    Excellent mindset not to panic when Roscommon got back into it. They would give our seniors a game.

  21. Tyrone obviously have a brilliant underage coaching set up
    Always produce great minor u20/21 teams as well as an outstanding Omagh CBS school team last two years

  22. Yes. Tyrone are doing a lot of ground work, properly and have their Centre of Excellence working ‘properly’. Unfortunately the facts are plain and clear to see @ Tom Thumb (you’re right) we have been on a slippery slope for years underage. Many refuse to admit it and unfortunately the people running the show think it’s being run the right way. One big happy clique, skipping around in circles patting one another on the back.

    We have no forwards coming through onto the seniors. No midfielders who can catch a ball…

  23. @Matonaze agree there.. Why is it we don’t produce forwards I’ve always wondered…

    Midfield is a concern mattie ruanne is definetly coming back into form but we should also have other options to. People blamed reape for alot of mistakes but I would look more at our midfield it’s harsh that goalies get the blame they can only do so much yes reape has had some meltdowns but at the end of the day it goes down to mid field for alot of those kick outs.

  24. Don’t produce players with good vision and kick passing ability unlike the top counties

    But we sure produce athletes ?

  25. When present management team depart then all is not lost as history tells us they will get another chance at it in a couple years…….

  26. TomThumb
    Think Soccer has a huge effect on this

    From reading and listening to the likes of Karol Dillon on twitter and Mick Bohan Dublin Ladies manager they say its usually Players who play a high level of soccer at underage that are much better kickers of the ball in Gaelic then the average and have more chance of been two footed.
    Mayo as a County has low participation in soccer in comparison to Dublin ,Galway, Kerry and Donegal where they alway have better kickers than Mayo. Mayo also has a much shorter soccer underage season due to the smaller number of clubs and its played in Summer condensed with the Gaelic.
    I think its a valid point.If you look at Mayos best 2 kickers Ryan O’Donoghue and Cillian O’Connor they both played Kennedy Cup for Mayo and ROD played for Sligo Rovers.
    David Clifford played at a very high level for Killarney Celtic and in a Kennedy Cup Final for Kerry.Oisin Mullin recently said in an Irish Examiner interview he played alot of soccer with Sligo Rovers at underage.Paul Mannion for Dublin was capped for Ireland at underage level and Diarmuid Connolly played for Home Farm in Dublin.
    You cant get away been good at soccer without good proper kicking technique while you can at Gaelic to a point.

    https://twitter.com/KarolDillon8/status/1655144379923791872?t=fCPYjo4NQjnEZro_r_hO0Q&s=19

    https://youtube.com/shorts/_bmylAs0XFk?

  27. We have an excellent full panel team available to us on a 13 year tranche. A senior panel is typically aged 20 to 33 from youngest fringe players to oldest players.
    Paddy Durcan is 33 in three years.
    The current u17s are 20 in three years.
    There’s the scoring forwards we need Ryan, Tommy plus more from the new players. There’s going to be sufficient depth of defenders.
    To make the midfield options competitive requires the potential options to be really working on leg strength and jumping skills. It’s very evident to the eye test that we’ve lacked players who can get up high. Bob Tuohy with more strength work can probably be a strong fielding option.
    There’s a tranche of forwards coming through ages 17-20 that have the skills but simply need the necessary power and pace.
    If a player has a high skill level, but is on the smaller side, then they need to have even more time dedicated to being explosive. Look at how powerful the Canavan brothers are.

  28. @MayoMax: Can you go a little more into what was meant by “proper S&C” and on it being “completely ignored”?

    I’m not suggesting you’re intentionally lying, it’s possibly just a difference on nuance or language, but I do find what was said utterly unbelievable.

    Those sound like incredibly serious accusations and if true the type of thing that should lead to multiple senior resignations & contracts being cancelled with potential legal ramifications. Along with making liars out of multiple public faces among Mayo GAA, including the current manager who was part of the 20s setup for the last number of years and has made multiple comments on how well all is being run.

    Lots of the lads have been under contracted county S&C coaches for 5 to 6ish years for the academy entrants (which would be the majority rather than the exceptions). They’d have had dedicated S&Cs at minor, at 20s and for any of them that were on 16s/19s development panels in between. From a quick google (don’t know any of the individuals personally so just going by their public LinkedIn profiles) some of those coaches they would have been under (including within that ‘ignored’ window) are now engaged at senior level for Mayo teams. We’ve even got shared a fairly detailed breakdown on the specific timeline of how the S&C programme was being rolled out for the newly organised 19s Development Panel when that was first introduced, specifically with the goal towards helping develop players specifically for this 20s group.

    These are lads that have experienced decent S&C setups with competitive and successful clubs (or some with experience around the extended Senior Panel or family members that have competed in underage All Ireland Finals/Senior AIFs for us) so hard to believe for a moment they’d accept anything less – never mind it being entirely ignored – at county level. It’s quite literally beyond belief.

  29. @TH: Always interesting to watch the correlation with Kennedy Cup teams. Our own minor finalists in ’22 with lots of lads among the first ever Mayo Kennedy Cup team to make the KC Final in ’19 (and only pipped by 2 goals by a DDSL side packed with familiar names from Irish underage soccer that have gone on to feature with LOI, Premier League and Serie A sides – Kevin Zefi, Sam Curtis, James McManus & Justin Ferizaj all fairly familiar names from that winning side that pipped us. Zefi unsurprisingly doing most of the damage).

    A huge fan of a lot of the work Karol Dillon is doing. Every new release from his PhD, which I can barely scratch the surface on technically, proving an excited read at this point. Bilateral skills a severely underappreciated and under coached part of GAA you’d fear. Hopefully one of his recent posts… https://twitter.com/KarolDillon8/status/1790073316163592454…. is one we can look back on and smile in the future. We’ve enough hurt around our squads at various grades to be driving our lads on hard.

  30. TsuDhoNim – in light of your response to the comment from Mayo Max I’ve now reviewed that comment and have decided to delete it. On reflection, making an allegation citing unnamed “sources” isn’t an acceptable basis for doing so, in large part for the reasons you’ve detailed. Thanks for responding to the comment in the way you did.

    Mayo Max – please note above for future reference.

  31. Problem with Mayo underage soccer though is theres much less fixtures in comparison to the DDSL and even the Galway League and its played in Summer along with the Gaelic where in Galway and Dublin its played through from September to April.
    Also think basketball can be really beneficial to youngsters.You see the clubs in Mayo who have basketball teams doing really well at underage, Crossmolina are one that comes to mind.Could more Gaa clubs use there community halls and clubhouses to play provide basketball over the winter when the Gaa season is over.

  32. TH agree to an extent but Crossmolina underage bar this one crop have not been really featuring for past number of years so may not be best example as many of their teams appear to be in Divisions 3 or 5.
    But it shows the importance of good coaching and what it can do for a group.

  33. Crossmolina would not have huge numbers so I wouldnt be expecting them to be competing with the town teams in Divsion 1 in every grade.

  34. TH the player populations by age groups are quite interesting, and you can try correlate them to building booms by area versus time. Some clubs would surprise you with pick they have.

    Naturally as planning laws have become more restrictive rural clubs will suffer and the Town teams will become stronger over next decade or so.

    Take U12 this year for example, from mail issued by CB the clubs with the top 6 numbers registered are:
    Westport – 73
    Castlebar – 56
    Claremorris – 46
    Burrishoole – 44 (Surprised me, likely spill over from Westport town growth?)
    Ballina – 42
    Balla – 38

    Crossmolina, Ballinrobe, Breaffy, Carras and Bellmullet have between 34-36 each.

    Other clubs currently senior that may surprise people with their numbers are Ballaghaderreen – 28
    Ballintubber – 28
    Knockmore – 24

    Killmeena 32, The Neale 30, Aghamore 32, Lahardane 29 all bigger picks than them 3 senior club teams.

    The Likelihood of regional teams being needed as rural areas numbers decrease will likely become more evident year on year.

  35. @TsuDhoNim what I meant by S&C ‘ignored’ was only aimed at u20’s under the previous manager. Very easy to give lads a mediocre programme and only 5 or 6 do it. This year lads were giving extremely good plans with measures ensuring they were all doing it. All you have to do is ask the players….

  36. Is it fair to suggest that the current u20 management only got the gig because Horan was part of the ticket? I’d wonder how much input Horan actually had?? From looking at performances I’m going to guess it was fairly minimal.

    Why was Tom Mulderrig overlooked. He is someone with a massive depth of knowledge of the players coming through the academy system and I’d wager knew/knows a lot more than the current management.

    Ah, look…it was just a terribly disappointing and underwhelming year. A complete flop and I’m worried about morale going into next season. I just don’t think it’s good at all and whether the right players are selected. There was no progression this year. Even if the younger lads had shown improvement over the season, that would have been something encouraging but there was none of that. It just doesn’t feel right at all.

  37. @MayoMax: You might excuse me if I ask a few questions for clarification. This is potentially an important issue, so I’d like to understand your view on it better. I, like most here I’d imagine, wouldn’t be friendly with any of the young lads on the panel (think I spoke to parents twice during the year with lads that would have been involved both this year and last, both speaking very positively – but to a relative stranger you wouldn’t expect anything else) to ask them directly.

    “…only aimed at u20’s under the previous manager”

    Is this suggesting the issues were with the S&C provided to members of last years u19 development panel? (18 of the 33 on panel were tied up with u20 (13) or u17 (5) panels last year, so potentially a factor for at least some of the 15 others)

    Or suggesting that the u20 management ignored S&C for u19s & u18s on previous 20s panels to purely focus on S&C for the older lads on it?

    I’d assume it’s the former, the latter seems incredibly odd, but thought I’d clarify as it’s slightly ambiguous.

    “Very easy to give lads a mediocre programme and only 5 or 6 do it.”

    This is a bit of a shift in direction from ‘ignored’….

    Is the suggestion that the quality of the programmes weren’t up to scratch? Or is this a generic “it is easy” rather than suggesting that’s what actually happened?

    Similarly, on the players. Is that saying it would be easy to happen in general, or is the suggestion players were not implementing the assigned programmes in previous years without checks in place to monitor them?

  38. Interesting TsuDhoNim and agree this is a very important issue. What is your opinion on what many feel is that by merely glancing at our underage teams in recent years, that they aren’t anything like at the physical level other counties are at. You don’t have to be an expert in S&C to see this.

    Even at senior level. Take someone like Tuohy. He’s a in his 2nd full season with the seniors and physically doesn’t look ready. He was bullied off a few balls in the league this year. If he was from Tyrone would he look the same? No chance.

  39. @Mayonaze

    You don’t need to be an expert in S&C to see our lads are lighter than other counties, but you do need to be an expert to tell on sight if it’s because we’re not doing enough or if other counties are overworking their young lads.

    Taking Bob Touhy as an example. He is training with the Seniors but is the best thing for Bob to get a new S&C program to bulk up quickly in the short term or keep him on his existing multi year age appropriate program? Which is going to give the best results over the long term?

  40. @Frost… I dunno. Not gonna pretend I do know. But you look at the Dubs and Tyrone, successful countries, getting results. I think it would be fair to assume they are getting it right and as such, that their strategy on S&C is right. Our boys just seem a bit scrawny.

  41. @Mayonaze

    You say you are “not going to pretend” to know, but you immediately follow it up by pretending to know – “think it would be fair to assume they are getting it right and as such, that their strategy on S&C is right.”

    If you are not an expert how can you determine what a fair assumption is?

  42. @Mayonaze: I’d have thought physically Bob looks real solid for his age (he’s still u21 yet). Not many from that cohort nationally ahead of him physically (or at least not getting game time to illustrate it to an outsider like me).

    Cillian Burke down in Kerry, Ordhran Murdock in Down and Ben Cullen in Tyrone (who’s crazily still u20 this year – he’s a beast) about the only ones that spring to mind ahead of him. I’d have Bob at least equal (very debatable, not suggesting I’m right) with any of Ó’Curraoin (Galway), Breathneach & McEneaney (Dublin), Frayne (Meath), Daly, O’Donnell & Ruairí Canavan (Tyrone), Gilmore (Derry) & Evans (Kerry) that I can think of getting into senior squads regularly enough for me to notice (Might well say more about my poor memory than be a true reflection on how many have stepped up).

    I’d have thought (super subjective, a very humble opinion and informed by nothing but my eye) he was more short on the psychological aggression & fight (within the rules – and things that change game to game not a permanent thing) to apply the physicality, rather than on actual size/build/S&C itself. Sam (also from that age group) wouldn’t come close to him on various S&C metrics but the short-er comings there normally mitigated by his aggression to win the ball and throw around the bit of weight he does have.

    Certainly improvement needed there on the application, but I’d apply that to the entire panel at the moment rather than aim it specifically at Bob. The type of thing that would hopefully come with confidence & determination, sadly we’ve looked a little shy on both this year.

    Outside of individuals and looking at the more general mismatches people are noticing, I don’t think too much of that is S&C related? I seem to be in the minority there, at least vocally, but get more convinced of it every time I watched our 20s play.

    That’s nearly all player profile selection, IMHO. A quick look at Tyrone, Meath or Louth 20s in recent weeks and all the S&C in the world wouldn’t have our lads matching up to them toe to toe. Their size/height/physicality would always have been streets ahead. S&C will help lessen the losses, improve ball retention rates slightly and shift odds on 50/50 by a couple of percent, but it won’t remove the mismatches or natural advantages completely.

    We’re picking a lot of great athletes, some great speed and oddly enough for us even a few great footballers… but we’re tending to pick a single type of profile. I’m as big a fan as anyone of a silky attacking half-back, and as a county we’re famous for them, but at a certain point it’s nice to have something different to be able to turn to and not having to shoe-horn them in when we’re crying out for a high fielder or a disruptive physical presence. Works out fine at times when you can outplay the opposition and lean on your strengths…. but when you hit a spell in a match when you’re not on top and need a way to handle/prevent their strengths, sometimes you need those different match-ups to compete.

    Think it was Boyler who put it as “investing into those project players”, in our case those big lumps of midfielders that can soar into the air and field a ball (the timing of hearing rave reviews on u20 eligible, All Ireland Basketball winning final MVP, Seamus Howard’s outstanding midfield performance for Belmullet just raising those questions even louder – Ironically enough against Davitt’s as it happens) or that extra tank of a defensive defender that can simply stop the run through the middle could be enough to move the needle on some of the issues.

    A gap there in what we’re bringing through (or trying to bring through) on the conveyor belt, but I’m not sure how much we can drop it on the S&C door (before ever getting into the complex issues around overtraining too young and injury issues resulting you’ve touched upon since I started my novel here – though I’d put our recent minors or 20s against any Dublin side in recent years with plenty of confidence, Tyrone streets ahead of them recently).

    When we see our young lads moving through the ranks, with Bob & Sam joined by Donnacha McHugh and Jack Carney still u23 and would only just be breaking into most sides nationally with Jack Coyne, Enda Hession, David McBrien & Oisín Mullin all u24, it’s hard not to think we’re getting the lads into good shape to hit the ground running for senior.

  43. Are many of our older u20s physically there yet? Can some of them make the jump next year to senior and develop even more before they are ready to get minutes?

  44. @AC: A few ready to compete. Not sure how many I’d be backing to win those competitions just yet. It’s a relatively young panel at senior and unlikely to have many free spaces open up (Robbie, Aidan, Cillian, Rory & Padraig the only lads on the panel that started the year over 30 and potentially years left for each of them if they want them) without a serious push. That said, a run with their clubs and who knows.

    Conal Dawson, Sean Morahan, Tom O’Flaherty & Darragh Reilly have all been involved with the extended panel this year (along with Diarmuid Duffy, John MacMonagle & David Dolan who are still underage next year and involved this year). None would be out of place but probably a few steps away from getting league minutes just yet. More likely some limited FBD time & kept within the extended panel, but I could be miles off. By the end of the club campaign we’d have a much better idea where they might stand.

    Jack Mulchrone (a pacey attacking half-back so facing pretty fierce competition among the squad) & Finbar McLoughlin (fairly two footed, though we didn’t get to see him open up shooting too often, pacey attacker so under slightly less fierce competition you’d imagine) probably the next closest that might get involved. Neither managed to throw a serious claim down in the 20s campaign (not many did), so you’d imagine both will be looking for a solid club run to turn some heads.

    I wouldn’t be shocked with any of Melvin (u20), N Hurley, D Hurley, Clarke, Silke, Slattery, Gilmore, Feeney (all u19 yet), Beirne, McGreal, or Mortimer (all u18 yet) managing a run for potential inclusion in the extended next year to help their development.

    Feeney probably the best built to be ready for it out of all those mentioned, but with someone like Clarke and his long range shooting you could sacrifice a lot of size and still potentially be worth a spot. A year can be a long time at 17-20, be it physical changes or just skills or form, so who knows how the picture might change between now and November.

  45. Yes should have done better than finishing bottom of the table in Connacht but there was fine margins within that group that could easily have landed Mayo in semi final at least. This year I don’t think was really expectations about winning a provincial title however 2025 the expectations should be much greater given will be picking mainly from 2022,2023 Connacht minor winning teams and maybe a few from this years minor team who look favourites to win Connacht again.

  46. @Frosty…ah stop man. You’re just picking there with that response to me. I haven’t the time nor energy to bother replying further.

    @ TsuDhoNim. Fair play to you. Great knowledge. On the S&C an awful lot is still debated between the ‘experts’ and not agreed upon.

  47. @Mayomagic…there was actually quite high expectations this year. Finishing bottom, regardless of fine margins, is still a disastrous outcome, but it’s more to do with the manner of performances. Collapses. No sign of improvement. Players not available. Others leaving. Lads not being selected who probably should have been. Like, nothing positive. Not a shred.

  48. @Mayonaze
    Would be expectations as is the case with nearly every Mayo team but I don’t it was overly high for this year. The Minor team in 2021 wasn’t one of the better teams, Roscommon and Sligo were a lot stronger at that grade which meant Mayo management had to choose more of the 2022,2023 Minors and some of them probably drafted in too soon

    If next year Mayo U20s don’t reach the Connacht final at least then serious question will needed to asked.

  49. @mayomagic: Nahhh. I’d say they were high this year. Prior to the start of the campaign there was a realistic chance (not favourites, but more than capable) of winning the All Ireland, with Connacht a very realistic goal. At least before the year started.

    Losing Ronan Clarke, Dara Hurley, Cathal Corless (injuries), James Maheady and Luke Feeney would have dampened hopes & expectations. Having injury issues during the campaign to Eoin McGreal, Sean Morahan, Jack Melvin, Lorcan Silke, Paul Gilmore and Rio Mortimer while losing a couple of others dampening them a bit more.

    That said, with the talent available we could have done better in the Roscommon game (poor conversions, especially on multiple goal chances, combined with a collapse around the middle to powerful runners cost us the win) and should have done better in the Leitrim one (sticking with faltering matchups, again lacking conversions when on top – especially on multiple goal chances – and a more sustained collapse around the middle to powerful runners we never managed to fix or mitigate). Still not entirely sure how we got blown away in that second half to Sligo…. it looked at times liked we’d stopped trying, the collapse was so significant and the errors piling the pressure on so unnatural for the lads. Sligo were good in those opening minutes of the half, but we were dreadful.

    The lads spent most of the year looking short on energy, short on drive, short on confidence (what I’d assume to be the main factor having them short on conversions) and it resulted in them looking well short in multiple performances. The Galway game the only one we’d feel they got out of 3rd gear.

    In spite of all the issues mentioned, they were a final round win away from going directly into a Connacht Final and pushed a solid Down side to the last kick of the game (didn’t see this one so can’t comment on how the game itself played out), despite conceding 2 goals in Down’s first couple of scores. That’d be the same Down side who went into the Ulster Championship as reigning Ulster u20 Champions and managed a draw against Tyrone, now the red hot favourites to win the final, after a late Tyrone score after Down lead for the entirety of the game.

    Expectations were fair, but they were high. That’s a hell of a (young) panel. We found ourselves well short of them.

    They’ll rightly have higher expectations next year. Throw back in a few of the missing bodies, potentially add in a few of the minors if they’re up to it (you’d expect 3 or 4 at a minimum), throw in some of the 19s unfortunate not to make the panel this year, give the lads that extra year S&C and things should certainly be in a better place. I wouldn’t let that be a reason to write off the issues we faced this year and asking questions on where, why and how some of them arose. They were numerous. Attempting to write it off as “age” I’d never agree with.

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