U20s self-destruct as Sligo claim historic first provincial title

Photo: RTÉ

With just eight minutes of normal time left in this evening’s Connacht U20 decider at Markievicz Park, we looked all but home and hosed. Frank Irwin had just stroked over a free to stretch our lead to five points and, with Sligo reduced to fourteen players, their hopes of a first ever provincial title at this level looked all but over.

Twelve or so mad minutes later, however, and Sligo were the Connacht champions. As had happened us in the semi-final against Leitrim – only this time fatally – the contest careered wildly out of control from our perspective and we conceded two shocking goals, to add to the two we’d already let in before the break.

Sligo only managed to post four points in the entire game but they bagged four goals as well and that was enough in the end to land them their first provincial U20 title. Huge congrats to them on what is in every sense an historic achievement for the Yeats County.

From our perspective, though, we have to see this as a Connacht title we let slip through our fingers. We had oodles of possession, enough to win two games, and while our cause wasn’t helped by those two first half goals, we battled back both times and in the final quarter looked to be well on our way to victory until that calamitous finish.

It was Sligo, however, who got the better start this evening. Two points, the first from a free and the second from a turned over restart, got them moving and eight minutes were on the clock before we opened our account, Jack Fallon landing a nice one from distance.

Rory Morrin levelled up the contest two minutes later. Cian O’Connell executed a nice rob and fed the Ballina man who belted it over.

Sligo’s opening goal was the next score. Jack Davitt was its instigator and finisher, collecting the ball out the right wing, playing a pop pass and taking the return at pace to bring him in on goal. He smashed it low and hard to the corner of the net.

We settled ourselves well, though, after that setback. Two good scores by Paddy Heneghan were followed by one from Frank Irwin – Paddy providing the assist – to square the game once more.

We then conceded a second goal, this one a bad one from our point of view. Jack Davitt did well to claim a raking pass played inside but we really should have been able to cut it out. Even when the Sligo danger man had the ball he still had plenty of work to do as we had bodies back but he calmly picked his spot and found the net for a second time.

Photo: RTÉ

Again we battled back. Points from Paddy Heneghan, Tom O’Flaherty and Frank Irwin (a free) hauled us level once more.

They went back ahead in rather bizarre fashion when an attempt at a point seemed to rebound off the crossbar but the umpires flagged the score. It seems goalie Bryan O’Flaherty punched the ball back out from behind the crossbar but on TV it was impossible to see the incident in that kind of detail. In any event, the score stood and Sligo took that one-point lead into the break.

The match became even cagier on the resumption. We owned the ball for long spells and were content to handpass it around, waiting for an opening, while Sligo were equally happy to sit deep and seek to catch us on the break.

Ten minutes passed before the first score of the second half. We won a charitable enough free when Paddy Heneghan collided with one of their players and Frank Irwin converted it to level the match once more.

A rapid downfield move soon after saw Frank Irwin provide a great assist for his Stephenites clubmate Rory Morrin whose point saw us lead for the first time in the contest.

Another ten minutes of cautious play ensued, with our lads still holding the bulk of the possession but with nothing further added to our tally. Sligo were still in it but surviving on proverbial scraps.

When Paddy Heneghan’s effort looped over the Sligo ‘keeper and landed in the net it looked like the breakthrough score. It was a total fluke from our perspective and a hammer blow for them but we could with some justification have felt that it was due recognition of our second half dominance.

When Sligo’s corner back Shane Molloy was harshly dismissed on a straight red for a challenge that would hardly have resulted in a yellow card at Senior level, the tide seemed to be going out rapidly on the Yeats County. Frank Irwin then nailed the resultant free to stretch the gap to five and we now had the scent of victory in our nostrils.

Only then the roof fell in on us. A bad mix-up in the Mayo rearguard allowed Eoghan Smith to grab possession and boot the ball to the net and then the same player landed a free from well out on the right to cut the gap to one.

We tried to take the sting out of Sligo’s resurgent challenge by playing keep ball and we even added to our tally, with sub Niall Treacy notching a good score. Three minutes to go and now two up, we still looked the likelier winners.

But then we conceded a fourth goal, this one proving fatal for us. There was no real danger when Sligo captain Jack Lavin let fly from fifty yards out but somehow no-one was able to cut it out and this speculative effort ended in the net.

That was the game’s final score. We still had time to mount a few more attacks but these all broke down before we even got a shot away as the jubilant Sligo lads held on for a famous victory, winning it in the end by 4-4 to 1-12.

This is underage football so there’s no point going overboard about the manner of our defeat. Many people, myself included, weren’t overly enamoured with our ultra-cautious playing style under Maurice Sheridan but, you know, had we won tonight I doubt any of us would have been complaining.

Instead, it’s best to end by saluting Sligo once more on their historic breakthrough provincial title win at U20 level and to wish them the best in the All-Ireland Series. They’ll know this was one they won against the head but will, I’m sure, treasure it all the more as a result. And more power to them too.

Mayo: Bryan O’Flaherty; Alfie Morrison, Ruairí Keane, Conal Dawson; Fenton Kelly, Donnacha McHugh, Aiden Cosgrove; Frank Irwin (0-4, three frees), Jack Fallon (0-1); Tom O’Flaherty (0-1), Dylan Thornton, Seán Morahan; Rory Morrin (0-2), Paddy Heneghan (1-3), Cian O’Connell. Subs: Bob Tuohy for Dawson, Cian MacHale (Bohola Moy Davitts) for O’Connell, Niall Treacy (0-1) for Fallon, Conor Reid for Morrin.

71 thoughts on “U20s self-destruct as Sligo claim historic first provincial title

  1. Very poor performance. Passing over and back at the 45 even when a man up. 14 man Sligo out scored Mayo. But poor finishaes has been the pattern in all games so far. Although a poor team it is amasing that not one player from such football strongholds as Knockmore and Belmullet could get on the panel.

  2. Good luck to Sligo.Their GAA Community have had a terrible month.They deserve their title fair and square.
    They are in a semifinal now…maybe they can go all the way.I hope they do

  3. Terrible game to watch. . We had some talented players out there but the hand passing, back passing and stupid loss of possession on so many occasions was so depressing! Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise because I would not like the prospect of that team facing Kerry , Cork or one of the Northern teams. Congrats to Sligo

  4. Well done Sligo.fair play to them they were the better team and deserved to win. They went the direct route went for goal and it paid off. We were fannying about with the ball passing it backwards and sideways anywhere but towards the goal. Dont want to be harsh on Rory Morrin but he should have buried his goal chance.

  5. Full congrats to Sligo. As per usual the goals were our undoing in a final. Sligo’s first two were well taken after good direct balls inside but the final two were calamitous, the third in particular the whole defence was left ball-watching. When we did manage to get the ball into the forwards there was some good play, particularly from Morrin and Heneghan, but as has been noted this year and the last we have problems in transitioning the ball up the field. The last five minutes especially we seemed to lose the heads.

    We shouldn’t be too hard on players and management. Maurice obviously felt this style of play was our best chance of landing a title. Two finals, and this year being so close. Underage success isn’t the be-all end-all when it comes to senior. There is potential in that team for senior development.

  6. Fitness seems to be an issue scraped through against Leitrim when we seemed to ease up and did the same thing tonight against 14 men just don’t seem to respond well when the pressure is on

  7. Thanks for the report WJ, most of which I agree with. Even if we won,I for one would be complaining. Having beaten Galway on a terrible night, we have struggled against Leitrim and failed against Sligo.
    We have some very talented players but unfortunately they have been hampered by negative coaching. When a player receives the ball why do they always look back to find a player to pass it to? It’s boring and negative and doesn’t deserve success. I hope we’ve seen the last of that approach.

  8. Congrats to Sligo. Great boost and a few good players. Self destruct is right wj, endless passing sideways and backwards, no variation in their play, Heneghan’s goal should have been enough to seal it, but we got complacent and paid the price.

  9. I’ve said enough about this elsewhere. Anyone that watched the game knows where we went wrong both on the pitch and on the sideline but not in any chance in hell did the Mayo keeper get up and clear a ball that had crossed over the bar. In fact he could hardly reach the bar. Time for umpires to be fully in control of their senses.

  10. Congratulations to sligo…no harm kicking in a long ball or two every so often. It’s not all about possession and making stats look good. Nice to see sligo play with the abandonment young players should be afforded.

  11. Hard to begrudge Sligo, given the manner of the victory and the terrible few weeks those young men must have gone through.

    That said, we really were the authors of our own misfortune this evening. We were winning by five points with six minutes to go, being a man up. That’s a horrendous way to lose a game in any man’s language.

    Hopefully Maurice will reflect on his footballing philosophy, because for the third successive game, chaos took structure to the brink, only this time, it triumphed.

    Frank Irwin, Paddy Heneghan and Morrin good for us this evening, hopefully Sam Callinan won’t be a long-term casualty. Hard to take much else from the campaign at this moment in time.

  12. U20 is all about sourcing 2 or 3 players each year fit for senior football…frank irwin and paddy heneghan looked promising and mchugh has already been identified by senior management. BUT we still aren’t producing or unearthing specialist forwards/finishers. Sligo on the other hand had reliable finishers in number 15 and 11. Having said that mayo will still be a top 4 team at senior

  13. Our Galway pod is now up on all platforms, in case anyone wants something other than the U20s to focus on.

    Thanks all for your restraint in the comments, by the way, which is noted and appreciated. Fair play everyone.

  14. Not blaming the players but who is coaching this nonsense. Got exactly what we deserve??? nothing.

  15. Success breeds success. No U20 provincial title for four years now and counting. A handful will make decent Senior players in time but no winning mentality. Dreadful stuff towards the end. Good luck to Sligo in the semi’s.

  16. Claremorris u18 county champions and not one player called up, shocking mark Maloney, Dara Joyce should be there

  17. As we all seem to be reading off the same page and the so called Sheridan ball is proper scutter and miles away from what we want to be playing but even though we have some good players coming through and Tommy cillian Ryan already in our team can anyone explain why we as a county we don’t produce as many good natural scoring forwards as other counties can , I’m not having a dig in any way to any coaches on here but over the years it really has been our down fall just not having that couple of consistent top forwards what is not been done that should be

  18. Absolute puke football to watch…in fact some of the worst football I’ve seen the green and red play in a long time was at u20 level this year and last under Maurice Sheridan. Lads running into already congested areas and handpassing…it was hard to watch tonight. And as for the last goal…I’ll say more…you would see it at a junior c match

  19. Mayo underage teams performances are reminescent of Mayo seniors before the advent of James Horan. Consistently underperforming, lacklustre, no killer instinct & appear to be making it up as they go along.
    This evenings capitulation says it all.

  20. Oh dear what a way to lose that was shocking stuff. I am sick of losing finals Another year slips by without underage success. Surely there will have to be some kind of review as to the coaching and whats going on in the underage academies in the county. Thats two bad campaigns for Maurice Sheridan and co. It has to be a serious worry for us in years to come. Lovely words from the Sligo captain dedicating the win to yhe memory of Red Og. RIP.

  21. @It means nothing to me… “For the third successive game, chaos took structure to the brink, only this time it triumphed”. Magnificent line, description quite profound!

  22. There’s an obviois flaw in only trying 80% probable passes. You’ll not try a 50 pass for a goal. Here’s the thing.
    One can safely try as low as 25% probable pass for a goal chance and it’s the mathematically correct decision. In a lower scoring game safe to try a 20% pass for a goal chance.

  23. @JP… I don’t exactly know the maths but I agree with your general philosophy as regards possession!.. When Mayo went a point down with about 2 or 3 minutes of added time remaining, the ultra safe method of hand passing didn’t manufacture a scoring chance, in fact Sligo looked much more likely to score with a man less than Mayo.. More lessons to be learned!

  24. We were by far the better team in all 3 games and finished all 3 games in terrible fashion, too casual and trying to sit on a lead. We almost got caught against Galway and Leitrim and ended in a disaster against Sligo, up 5 points playing against 14 men and yet Sligo finished much stronger. Tactics and conditioning seemed to be an issue. Sligo had few scoring chances yet got 4 goals. We were vulnerable to the high ball into the square as we have been in Senior for years. When we played direct ball we were much more effective but as others have posted too much what Martin Carney once described as windshield wiper football. On a positive note I think there are several players who can make it at senior in the future on that team.

  25. I believe the controversial pt sligo got was indeed a pt, from my view point I think the keeper put his hand under the crossbar to put the ball clear

  26. The only good thing to come out of that, is that ( hopefully ) Maurice Sheridan never gets near the Senior team. Imagine travelling all over the country to watch that. I have for nearly 50yrs, but that would finish me. Managers nowadays trying to be too smart for their own good. I remember old lads with one foot on the pedal of the bike, that never played, but they could read the game.

  27. The Same muck with UCG but the team got
    Over the line with the sheer talent on the

  28. That is surely a wake up call to the Mayo co bd.
    What is the point in clubs and coaches from u6 and upwards trying to teach the skills of the games to youngsters only for Sheridan and his ássistants to try and drive these same skills out of them.

  29. I watched early on with increasing frustration as Mayo shovelled the ball back and forth for at least 4 mins. But then came a shout from a Mayo management figure dispatched to the opposite sideline (in front of my position) to keep an eye on things. He yelled “keep the ball”. Yes indeed, this was proof of their instructed priority.
    Soon after Sligo broke, did a fast one two, and banged in a goal.

    I thought Irwin was immense. Fallon too had a good first half. I was expecting a lot more from Donnacha McHugh but he consumed most of his possessions by running laterally i.e. across the field.

    I have to say, I was expecting more from Sligo.
    They have some natural forwards who won it for them. They were overrun for a lot of the game, but were far more clinical. We have to thank them for putting us out of our misery.

  30. Well done to Sligo ; great for them young lads to get over the line..
    It wasn’t a great game alright but you can’t blame Mayo Management for some of the terrible efforts at goal in the second half..

  31. Joe.
    I totally agree with you. Most footballers who reach this level are intelligent, clever people. Let them play what they see in front of them. Too many looking over the shoulder at the stats man. Bullshite. In the Tyrone game in the league with a quarter of the game to go and wind behind us, we kicked it back to midfield, rather than shoot and miss. Keep shooting and get half and you win.

  32. Just to say I didn’t see the game. Getting more and more depressed with what is going on. @Joe’s point about this being a wake up call to the county board is telling. Also @MyLeftfoot observation that all a mayo management figure could do after a 4 min period of Mayo shovelling the ball back and forth was to yell “keep the ball”. @Nephin point of managers trying to be too smart for their own good also telling.

    Is there a culture problem with the way Mayo teams are playing football? Evidence from displays seems to point that there is. And where is this coming from? I’m afraid we have to point the figure at the very top and the senior management in place.

  33. At least James Horans teams go out and play attacking football. The Mayo u20 style of play or
    game plan actually made it difficult for us to win !! God help us if that’s the rubbish being coached at development level in Mayo .
    Absolutely shocking stuff to watch

  34. The under 20’s did try hard , have a decent level of quality and I thought they had a lot more in them tbh.
    There were some fine individual performances and particularly pleasing was some of the fielding and point taking.

    Also we are seeing a new generation of good midfielders. There are several players on that team who will make it at senior.

    If there was a failure today then it was the sideline.

    There is little doubt that too much attention is being paid to stats at this level. And if you’re going to have a system of play then clearly this particular type of play is not successful with Mayo players.

    Generally speaking Mayo players like the Kerry style of direct football. We are good at it. It defies credulity that our motto is to go man to man and then we pass the ball back and forth laterally.Man to man football is (or should be )direct football.

    When it gets to competition at any level we need to make sure our players go out with a winning mindset and a ruthless mindset. A winning /ruthless mindset would mean that what happen today would not “be allowed “ to happen. Make no mistake it’s being allowed to happen. Not enough attention is being paid to teaching this.

    Basically at under age level I think all the training should be as if it’s the last fifteen minutes of a close game.

    We have to be aware how others perceive us and -it seems to me that-most teams feel with Mayo you always have a real chance of winning especially if you pressure them in the latter part of the game. It can go the other way too meaning we ourselves are only at our best when we are behind on the scoreboard.

    Calm ruthless dispassionate play was all that was required to close out that game. Clearly it’s not natural for us and it has to be trained. But each successive loss like this means – as a county-we get labels attached which only increase the need to focus on how to close out a game.

    As has been pointed out here we hand passed our way into giving up possession repeatedly which ultimately cost us the game. Ball handling was very poor and our passing game is counter productive.

    The good news is that this is coachable. The question is are the coaches coachable ?

  35. I suppose if we had won this evening, it would have done more harm than good.

    The negative, three inch, lateral to backwards, skill quenching, kick pass dodging, brain numbing, let’s drill the football out of them tactics, would have won out, and we could salivate at having more mind bursting football madness to look forward to.

    This is Mayo though, and there is no guarantee that there will not be a repeat of this lateral to backwards riverdancing next year.

    Someone said ” at least this is only really a stepping stone towards the senior set up.”.

    Unfortunately it’s the last time that most of these young lads will get to pull on a Mayo jersey and it’s almost criminal that as young lads they were not allowed to play with a degree or abandonment.

    The more I watch Mayo football, the more I notice how the players are been shackled and the football drilled out of, what are fine footballers.

    If negative tactics are been drilled in to young footballers it’s hard to expect them to play fast, forward moving football when they get to the senior ranks.

  36. Revellino. I agree i00% with you. I’m delighted to see Sligo winning. They deserved this win. I hope they will go on and win it out. It’s about time we get a system in place where we let lads play what they are good at and not brainwashed .

  37. Firstly, congrats to Sligo. As for Mayo, we have some very impressive young players coming thro’ and will be seniors before long, but, in a way, I am glad we lost, because I couldn’t watch any more of this boring, pedestrian, lateral, over and back, ad infinitum, passing..What a complete waste of a talented bunch of players and, hopefully, this will be the end of Maurice Sheridan and I hope that he doesn’t get inflicted on any more Mayo teams. For God’s sake, County board, appoint managers to our county underage teams, that favour exciting direct football, that makes the best use of our undoubted talent.

  38. Should have said well done to Sligo ! I wont fault our players and agree there are 6-7 there will big futures if developed the right way. This though was tactically poor and does warrant criticism of the sideline team, this cannot be defended, all you have to do is look at Mayo’s last 4 possessions in this game and several long passages of play with 20 -30 hand passes and literally going nowhere. Using vast amount of energy also allowing Sligo to finish a fresh team even with 14…The handpassing game was not even well coached as someone said above. As I said earlier what really annoys here is this is / should have been a good team and beaten all 3 teams easily but sadly shocking sideline tactics did them…simple. The criticism is valid and not defendable IMO…

  39. People presume we have 20 players with sufficient talent to play a certain way at under 20 grade. Having only won 3 of the last 12 under 20/21 titles – not sure where that presumption comes from.

    Dont like the hand passing either. But Sligo played alot of men back. It’s not pretty. Thought game was managed well but two individual mistakes for late goals rattled the team – as it would even a senior team on final day.

    People far too quick to criticise.

    If Jim McGuiness took over Mayo in 2011 people here would have called for his head at the end of the season and there would have been no 2012 title!!

  40. Mayo2022 – I think your missing a couple of points there, this team was good enough and was much better than the 3 teams they played IMO anyway – it was how they set up, system they played and tactics used was there down fall plain and simple. None of the 3 games were managed well they were at the other end of the spectrum. Look at Mayo’s last 4 possessions last night and you’ll see exactly what I mean as other posters have said it looked like they had the football coached out of them

  41. @Mayo2022, The only way Jim McGuinness would have won an All-Ireland managing Mayo in 2012 is if he had traded places with James Horan.

    I can’t comment on the game yesterday evening because I didn’t watch it, I done a bit of painting instead and enjoyed watching it dry.

    There is nothing wrong with having a plan as long as it works and you achieve your ultimate aim and in the case of Jim McGuinness he had a plan and he delivered an All-Ireland, job done and he’ll be a lifetime legend in Donegal.

    But at least if you have a plan you better make sure you are good at it.

    Dublin could bore the life out of you at times under Jim Gavin, people tend to forget that, but they were successful because they were good at what they were doing.

    But nobody should ever attribute one ounce of blame to players at any grade and especially youngsters, it’s not youngsters who are failing in Mayo, it’s adults, and not adults who play the game.

  42. @Mayo2022.

    Leitrim had enough talent to score 2.-5 against us in the final 15 minutes or so of the semi final.

    Sligo had enough talent to recover a 5 point deficit, with a man less.

    Sligo deserved to win last night simply because they gave it a go. We seemed to tie up the closer we got to the final whistle.

    Sometimes we play so many handpasses backwards, I think our lads would get further up the pitch if they were instructed to play in to their own goal.

    The thing about this year’s team, there were plenty of lads on it that showed plenty of promise and some great scores last night it was only that everything didn’t seem to tie together.

  43. Comhghairdeas to Sligeach they had the greater hunger and did it in memory of Red Og Beannacht De lena anamh dilis. We basically gave the game away and let’s face it the last goal was a fluke and should gave been saved!
    Not sure if we should be overly negative as we have a number of fine footballers coming through le cunadh De. Who would want to be a Mayo GAA coach with some of the vitriol on the blog! I am sure they did their best for their county as they did in their playing days- Mr Sheridan and Gardner legends!
    Let’s get behind our county and go neiri le foireann Sligeagh!
    Mhuigeo Abu!

  44. Would say at least three players from last night will play a huge part with our senior team in the next few years.
    Mission accomplished.

  45. @ viper I agree with you.

    The dubs were boring at times under Gavin, keeping the ball etc but it worked. Jim McGuinness would be branded puke football here but it worked.

    I’ve no great love for the style of play, but for 52 minutes yesterday it worked, Mayo were 5 up and a man up.

    Then a young lad who was trying his best made two massive mistakes.

    And I presume the people saying sligo had a go and deserved the win werent at the game. I give them full credit for the win, and congratulations to them, but to say they had a go with 13 men parked behind the ball is taking it abit far.

  46. @ Thedarkyfinn – I take your point on the last 4 possessions. But the players looked shell shocked at that stage after being up 5 and conceding 2 goals.

    It wont be popular here, but I was impressed at the way the players picked pockets of space and worked scoring opportunities against a blanket sligo defence – particularly in the first half.

    But that came at cost, our defenders were 1 v 1 and Sligo got 2goals. Very hard to get the balance right

  47. The only way to save Gaelic Football and make it attractive to play and watch again is to ban the hand pass at underage football, and then went they learn the skills of kicking the ball bring it back for adult football with closed fist pass only.

  48. One more year – I’d say that 4 that didn’t feature in any of the 3 games Jennings, mchale, Henry and Tunney will also be involved with seniors in next few years.

  49. There is no question Sligo were very defensive but where they did “give it a go” by comparison to Mayo was their willingness to take on their man and break the tackle when they were in possession themselves – in fact it was the striking feature of the game if you watch it back was these diametrically opposed approaches when in possession.

    Someone mentioned the last 3 or 4 minutes and I was astounded that Mayo simply stuck with the game plan of back and forth across the filed – they never even brought the ball into an area they could have manufactured a free because no one was willing to take on their man. By comparison Dylan Walshe for Sligo picked up a breaking ball near the end and soloed deep into Mayo territory with 3 or 4 players chasing him. The ball ended up with a line ball but it bought Sligo a lot of time because Mayo took the line ball and the whole anemic process started again.

    Despite the fortuitousness of the second half goals (lets not forget Mayos goal was a fluke too), I thought the 2 goals by Davitt were masterclass in staying cool in a goalscoring situation and but for a misplaced pass, Lee Duignan would have been in for a 3rd.

    The “controversial point” wasn’t the least controversial. Mayo keeper put his hands behind the cross bar pushing up through the net – in fact Sligo centre forward looked to have scored a perfectly good point in second half that was waved wide – would certainly have come close on hawk-eye from where I and those around me were standing. As noted by WJ I also thought the sending off was extremely harsh.

    There is no doubt Mayo dominated the game and their lack of ambition on the ball played into Sligo’s hands but it still took a lot of mental strength for Sligo to come back with 14 men because even when they got the first goal, Mayo replied with a point and they came again. Sligo have lost a lot of underage finals in the last 10 years or so and a lot of them by a point….We got a bit a luck in the end last night but we did make it and I think it was long overdue – but those lads won’t care one whether anyone agrees or not.

    From Mayos perspective I thought young Thorton was outstanding throughout and I was pleased to see it as I went to school with his old lad.

  50. @justathought – Seems to be a lot of hype around Jennings as keeper, people were even calling for him to come in and replace Rory Byrne at the start of this season in the senior panel, he hasn’t seemed to have played for U20 in past 2 seasons. Is he still underage next year does anyone know ?

  51. You would swear Maurice Sheridan had committed some major crime based on reading of a number of these posts. In fairness to him, he has achieved a lot more on the GAA field than most of us posting here ever have. I am not a great fan of the way our U20 s play. I am not too keen on so much lateral hand passing. But we should have won the game last night . Even playing this way we were well in control. Then two terrible mistakes cost us two goals. Those errors were not down to our style of play. Congratulations to Sligo on winning but if anyone thinks they played a free flowing game and had a right cut at us, then you were not watching. They packed the defence, went negative and hit us on the break. It is a difficult style to play against because if you kick it long there are extra defenders to cover. Many here criticise JH for not playing an extra defender in his teams. No one can criticise Sligo management for same. We dont really know what style we like in Mayo. When playing against blanket defences we usually dont do very well. See our games v Tyrone and Galway under K Walsh. You have to be really calm and patient in those type of games. Calmness and patience are not characteristics Id associate with Mayo on or off the field. We thrive on chaos, end to end 15 on 15 football. See our win v Kildare. Unfortunately not many teams play this way. Kerry have the talent to go long with big physical men and great footballers up front. We do not have similar in Mayo. So our managers design strategies to win and these have got us so far, but not over the ultimate line. Sheridans strategy is to keep ball, to probe and be patient in waiting for an opening. It’s not too pretty on the eye but with 5 minutes left last night it looked as if it had been effective. Then calamitous errors and the game is lost. He is not the first manager of our underage teams not to succeed. Our record at underage in recent years is quite poor and they did not all play a similar style to last night. It is becoming common place and so easy to critice managerment when games are lost. If thats the case 31 management set ups must be in the firing line each year across the country.

  52. Mayo very very poor last night.
    As regards red card under the rules 100% red.
    Deliberate high tackle.

  53. There was lots of criticism when we beat Galway and Leitrim. We didn’t look in control for lots of the match especially in first half. So much of our game was not probing. We hand passed the ball backwards or laterally at least 139 times and I didn’t count them all.

  54. to win just once, I agree with a lot of what you say there. I also think, Maurice Sheridan is getting a lot of unjust criticism. I’m not saying that I’m a huge admirer of his style of play, but blaming him for last night’s defeat is pushing it. Imagine the halftime talk last night. Mayo have scored 8 pts, 6 from play. They are 1 pt behind, even though they played with the wind. This is mainly down to slackness in defense in letting Sligo in for 2 goals. One of Sligo’s points also looks dodgy enough. So, you’re telling the team, to get tighter to their men at the back in the 2nd half. Other than that, not a lot of change. 22 minutes in to the 2nd half, Sligo haven’t scored, and Mayo have scored 1. 3 to go 5 pts ahead. The goal may have been fortunate, but one of the points, could just as easily been a goal. Then, a high ball in from Sligo is messed up by Mayo defense, and Sligo goal. This is followed by a Sligo free from distance. Even then, Mayo put an excellent move together and score a point, which could just as easily been a goal. Mayo 2 pts up. Then disaster. Sligo kick in a hopeful high ball from 50 yards. It deceives everyone and finishes up in the Mayo net. Game over, Sligo win by 1 pt.
    The point I’m making about the management, is that like it or not, they had put the team in a position to win that match. Then a combination of player mistakes and a freak score won it for Sligo. It is hard to blame the management for that. Having said all of the above, I want to give credit to Sligo. They stayed in the game and never gave up. Having beaten Roscommon and now Mayo, they are worthy champions, and I wish them well in the all-Ireland semi final.

  55. Did anyone else notice that we don’t seem to go for goals? The one we got was an attempt at a point and we blazed two real chances for majors over the crossbar (I don’t know whether the players in question were going for goal and simply leaned back a bit too far, or whether they went for the safe option). This is compounded by the fact that we didn’t register one against Leitrim and the one we got against Galway came from a defensive mistake (we tapped a couple of chances over in that one, too).

    Sligo demonstrated that goals win games (even sometimes, when you’re not going for them).

  56. Another hard watch last night.

    The game wasn’t won or lost in any one area or any one factor but the one that stood out to me, again, was the inability to execute or even go for goals. Playing a system that through slow buildup won’t create as many goal opportunities in favour of possession is one thing but repeatedly refusing to execute or even try the ones that do come about is painful.

    On 10 minutes Cian O’Connell wins a great turnover in the heart of the Sligo defense, pops an off the shoulder pass to Rory Morrin who does fantastically to shrug off Sligo captain Jack Lavin. At this point Morrin has Paddy Heneghan completely unmarked to his right (where Cian really should passed it rather than to Morrin under pressure) or the ability to drive for goal himself but instantly pops it over the bar from the thirteen meter line without ever considering a goal opportunity.

    42 minutes we had our move of the match. Fast ball. Not kicked but at least it was fisted fast with the intention of attacking the space in behind with fast running towards the opposition goal. Our long kick out to the middle broken by Jack Fallon to Bob Tuohy. Ball from Tuohy bypassing the congestion in the middle to a breaking Aiden Cosgrove in space. Quickly fisted on by Aiden to an on rushing Frank Irwin who then slipped it through to a rampaging Rory Morrin thundering in on goal with an unmarked Cian McHale supporting at the edge of the square. It was glorious. Not entirely sure if Morrin took the point or just failed to execute an attempt at goal but either way we got another point when a goal looked certain.

    50 minutes we got the fortunate Paddy Heneghan goal. Not even a sniff of a half chance there as a shot at a point fell short and looped perfectly into the net. Paddy deserved it, had worked his socks off yesterday and popped some lovely long range scores.

    57 minutes Dylan Thornton picked out one of the best balls we’ve seen over the three games with a looping hand pass over the top into the space for an onrushing Niall Tracey (was noticeable this space opened up when both Tracey and Heneghan made solid aggressive bursts towards space at the same time pulling Sligo cover out of position, something badly lacking in all three games). I think Tracey did go for goal on this one, the shot sailing over the bar by just a foot or two, but in this case he had Paddy Heneghan rushing through the middle unmarked for a fantastic opportunity had the pass been played.

    Three relatively poor results where we stumbled over the line in games we dominated at times (some serious questions to be asked on the game management, I don’t think it was tiredness, that caused the collapse in all three games). Not a fan of the possession style football as a goal rather than as a means to an end, we were pulling up to go lateral as a first choice command when they were scrambling rather than as a last resort against a blanket defense, but with a little more work on confidence, execution, decision making and skills in and around the square we could have blown teams away in spite of the “hold the ball” stuff. We managed 2 goals (one from an unforced turnover and one from a point dropping short) in the campaign with 0/6 great chances against Leitrim and 0/3 great chances against Sligo (1/4 if you want to include Paddy’s lucky one as a chance).

    Looking at the positives from the year Sam Callinan is a star in the making. Great work rate, blistering speed and reads the game as well as any I’ve seen at that grade. Look forward to watching a lot of that young Ballina side develop over the next few years with Sam the pick of the bunch.

    Frank Irwin, Jack Fallon, Paddy Heneghan, Dylan Thornton and Alfie Morrison all put in some great showings. Look forward to watching them closely at club next year. Imagine we’ll see Frank back involved with the senior squad this year for sure and the others wouldn’t look out of place at all.

    With two more years at the grade yet Conal Dawson and Tom O’Flaherty look like huge talents. Tom got taken on speed, strength and power once or twice where the age didn’t help but his work rate and determination more than made up for it.

    Other lads involved with the senior team like Ruairí Keane and Donnacha McHugh were a little on the underwhelming side relative to what we’ve seen them do in the past but having only watched the games on TG4 they could well have been doing mountains of work off the ball the cameras missed. Glimpses from both of the potential there but never imposed themselves on a game.

    Bob Tuohy looked a bit special coming off the bench. Bags of talent there and seems to have a great footballing brain. Unfortunate not to get more time to shine. Be interesting to see if Barry Moran and the lads can get him and the other young lads at Mitchels to shine.

  57. I do not like being dragged into controversy but I have to respond to this statement which appeared all over international media today.

    Russia’s military carried out an intercontinental ballistic missile test Wednesday, with President Vladimir Putin warning the launch would “provide food for thought for those who … try to threaten our country”

    First of all I did not threaten anyone least of all you ,Mr Vladimir Putin! My piece on the blog about the U-20’s and the never ending lateral passing was fairly anodyne and in no way should’ve provoked your international outrage. I was merely making the point that Mayo people tend not to be ruthless and we need to be trained up for it. How on earth this resulted in retaliatory inter continental ballistic missiles being fired is beyond me if I’m being honest.

    I don’t know if this show of force is a distraction and somehow related to the Mayo senior game this coming weekend as I know you’ve relatives in Connemara (Renvyle I believe)but, if so, you can consider this a casus belli to us Mayo folk. It’s an outrageous provocation.

    You can expect James Horan to give you a piece of his mind on Sunday. The more I think about it the more I believe Galway should lose two players (Comer and Conroy and maybe Finnerty at the very least)for the game as a result of this outrage.

    Finally ,Mr Putin,please learn to spell my name properly before taking it in vain again.

    It’s spelled Food4thought.

    Suas Maigh Eo

  58. Firstly congratulations to Sligo got the rub of the green but what side doesn’t in a competitive competition and Connacht U20 was this year with next to nothing between Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon.

    The flak Sheridan is getting is a bit OTT yes he won’t be managing the seniors but in a game lost in fine margins..

    Lastly a poor Mayo support in Marky Park last night, the 6pm throw in on Wednesday evening didn’t help though the underage teams do not get a fraction of the support that the seniors get many of which probably didn’t even watch the game on TG4 last night.

  59. Give Sheridan a break. He did a great job on Clifford in the Sigerson. The 2 goals we conceded at the end were criminal.

  60. Why the hell would we go for a manager that is based outside the County. Sheridan has been living and working in Galway for years and has never been involved in the Mayo club scene since he stopped playing for Balla.

  61. Food4thought. Very good.
    Now if we get an inter county ballistic performance on Sunday we’ll be well happy.

  62. Ah , funny you should say that,Revellino.

    A few years back a young fella by the name of Carr launched the first ever inter county ballistic missile against Galway. This probably fell foul of international law by way of cruel and unusual punishment of innocent defenders statute.But it was not illegal at inter county level.
    Judge for yourself. Freedom fighter or terrorist ?


  63. @Food4taught,.. I like to call that unstoppable ballistic guided missile the “Carradonna”

  64. I am sorry if I offended anyone with my criticism of Maurice Sheridan-it was not personal and I am sure that he is a lovely fella. But a managers job is to get the best out of the talent at his disposal and, for me, he did not do that. People say that we were beaten because of two late goals,due to mistakes and which had an element of luck about them, but, for me, we should have been out of sight by then. We have many talented players, but, presumably, because of the way they are coached, there was nobody prepared to break the tackle or take on a defender and nobody running into space, because they know that they won’t get the ball and it is annoying because we have the players capable of that. Instead we have this predictable safety first keep ball. Ironically, we did’nt do this very well, when it would have benefitted us, when 5 points up. Then when we went behind we were so wedded to the game plan, that we wasted the remaining minutes with more of the same. Our game plan was too predictable and easy to defend against and nobody will convince me that Sligo have a better team/panel than we have. I would prefer to lose playing a more exciting brand of football and, at least, having a go. I feel that the natural instincts of some of our talented players is being stifled and I hate to see this, especially at underage level.

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