Useful workout to start the New Year

The Kevin McStay era got off to a positive start today, as a youthful Mayo team had it pretty much all their own way against Sligo in this afternoon’s challenge game at James Stephens Park in Ballina, played in conjunction with Mayo’s charity partners Mindspace Mayo. We led from first ’till last and had eleven points to spare on the Yeats County as we ran out winners by 1-20 to 1-9.

There was a large attendance in bright winter sunshine at Ballina for today’s New Year encounter. We came out of the blocks fast from the throw-in, which was won by debutant Bob Tuohy. He fed Matthew Ruane who fired over with just thirteen seconds on the clock.

Four further points from play followed in short order. Jordan Flynn, finishing from range after a nice passing move, Conor McStay after a super Diarmuid O’Connor pass, James Carr who was played in by a quick-thinking free from Ryan O’Donoghue and Jack Carney, fed by Jack Coyne, all posted scores as the home team raced into a five-point advantage in as many minutes.

Sligo had scarcely advanced into our half at that stage and already the gulf in class between the two teams was painfully apparent. It wasn’t just that, though, as our crisp passing and high workrate in the tackle evidenced the amount of work the panel appears to have already done.

The Yeatsmen, by contrast, kept fumbling the ball, which they had difficulty to keep possession of, and struggled to string together passes in any kind of coherent fashion.

Our next score came thirteen minutes in, when Conor McStay bagged our only goal of the game. Jordan Flynn, Diarmuid O’Connor and Stephen Coen were all involved in a well-worked move, finished with aplomb by the Stephenites player as we eased eight clear.

Sligo eventually opened their account, with a free from David Quinn after Luke Towey was fouled. We added two more points – a free from Ryan and a fisted score by Mattie – before Niall Murphy pointed a 14-yard free for them. That was awarded when ‘keeper Colm Reape dropped a ball he’d done well to catch, then touching it on the ground outside the small square.

Another Ryan free and one from play from Conor McStay brought our lead briefly into double-digits. The visitors responded just before the short whistle, though, Niall Murphy bagging their first from play as we took a nine-point lead into half-time.

As became apparent over the course of the second half, a major consideration for today’s game was to give as many players as possible a run-out. We started to run the bench at the start of the second half and, by the finish, we’d made eleven replacements.

The players we brought on (those whom they replaced are in parentheses below but the changes weren’t announced so I haven’t got them all) in the second half were Enda Hession (in place of Donnacha McHugh), Bryan Walsh (for Conor McStay), Rory Brickenden (for David McBrien), Paul Towey (for Ryan O’Donoghue), Jack Fallon (for Jordan Flynn), Jack Tuohy (for Conor Loftus), Aaron McDonnell (for Diarmuid O’Connor), Fenton Kelly, Alfie Morrison (for Jack Coyne), Rory Byrne (for Colm Reape) and Ciaran Boland.

There’s not a whole pile to be said about an increasingly disjointed second half. The result was beyond doubt at this stage and the constant changes on both sides meant there was no clear flow to this period of the game.

Jack Carney’s eye for the posts – he ended up with four excellent points from play – was, however, noteworthy and so too were second half scores from Jack Coyne, raiding upfield, and from James Carr, who shot languidly over from way out on the right, as well as nice late points from subs Jack Fallon and Fenton Kelly.

On the debit side, our clumsy concession of a goal – from a high ball pumped in by David Quinn, which Colm Reape claimed but then fumbled, allowing Donal Conlon to punch to the net – won’t have impressed the brains trust on the sideline. It was the only time the visitors got within sight of goal and, in light of our long-standing record of coughing up cheap three-pointers, you’d have to think that a clean sheet would have been a box we’d have liked to tick today.

That aside, though, this was a highly satisfactory run-out for the lads. There was an obvious hunger to our play today and on this early evidence it looks as if we’ll be ready for the serious action once it gets underway at the end of this month.

Best for us today were Jordan Flynn, named Man of the Match by John Maughan on Mayo GAA TV, Diarmuid O’Connor, Mattie Ruane, the young full backs Jack Coyne and Sam Callinan, while Jack Carney, James Carr and Conor McStay all impressed up front.

The paucity of the opposition helped, of course, in making our lads look good but from our perspective there was nonetheless plenty to be encouraged about in some of today’s individual performances. Now it’s onto the Dome for the FBD as our preparation ahead of the start of this year’s National League continues apace.

Mayo: Colm Reape; Jack Coyne (0-1), David McBrien, Sam Callinan; Stephen Coen, Conor Loftus, Donnacha McHugh; Matthew Ruane (0-2), Diarmuid O’Connor; Jack Carney (0-4), Bob Tuohy (0-1, mark), Jordan Flynn (0-2); Conor McStay (1-2), James Carr (0-2), Ryan O’Donoghue (0-3, two frees and a mark). Subs used: Enda Hession, Bryan Walsh, Rory Brickenden, Paul Towey (0-1, free), Jack Fallon (0-1), Jack Tuohy, Aaron McDonnell, Fenton Kelly (0-1), Alfie Morrison, Rory Byrne (GK) and Ciaran Boland.

120 thoughts on “Useful workout to start the New Year

  1. Nice to see such a spread of scores from midfield up and while it might be ”only” a challenge it’s always better to be winning than losing.

  2. Thought it was great game and great to see new players been given a chance and the younger ones were god today I thought conor mcstay was good and Jordan flynn mattie Ruanne seem back in form Ryan O D and Diarmuid o connor also flying lots to look forward to I think!

  3. The difference in physicality/conditioning was very evident today. I don’t know how many times we turned them over but there was a stage at the start of the game where they couldn’t get out of their own half.

    Was a little bit disappointed with the showing of Paul Towey when he came in. I know it may have been a hard game to come into and he appears to be a hard ground player. The ball didn’t seem to stick to him and he didn’t do much to hold his hands up for a jersey down the line.
    Carney, Callinan and Flynn outstanding. Jack Coyne showed a lot of good signs although he was fired out of the way a couple of times, nothing a bit of s&c wont fix in the long run. Assured performances from the older heads Coen, Ruane and DOC. While it was hard to gauge Conor Loftus as a potential 6 for the future.

  4. Good start made it a comfortable win.

    After 15 minutes Mayo 1-5 to no score
    Remainder of the half Mayo 0-4 Sligo 0-3
    2nd half score Mayo 0-11 Sligo 1-6

    Decent workout especially for the new faces who should be involved again in the upcoming FBD.

    In other news a eye catching loss and huge score (4-23) conceded against Leitrim. Yes no Tooreen players but their replacements should do better.

  5. @ Clubman51 – hopefully we get to see plenty of towey in the league but he has yet to impose himself in an intercounty game, that being said he is still very young and this could be the year he kicks on.

    I liked the look of callinan in the full back line but he is a very good player so could be wasted there going forward. Thought Jordan Flynn was the best player in green and red today, he had really brought his game to another level in the last 12 months.

  6. Our first pod of 2023 is online now for club members. Mike is joined by his Mayo GAA TV wing-man John Maughan for this Final Whistle episode and he also speaks with Mayo manager Kevin McStay.

  7. Felt sorry for Reape in goal. Not much to do but poor under high ball and conceded 1-01 directly. David McBrien suffered from having nothing to do and will get more opportunities against better teams. Callinan continues to improve and must be close to being a starter in competitive fixtures. Flynn was outstanding as was Carney.

  8. Happy intercounty football new year to all.
    Pity to see our keeper making basic mistakes, can easy happen when you have little to do.Hopefully it wont affect his confidence. All players make mistakes but the poor goalkeeper is exposed when he makes them
    Sligo appear to be in poor shape and we could have New York or London in the final
    Roll on the start of the league.

  9. Great to have football back,

    Been on my back for the last 2 weeks with this dose so even a challenge up in Mayo was interesting today!

    Did Mayo kick the ball more today ?

    I’m sure McStay will want to develop a kicking game for Croke Park.

  10. Shame about the goal, the point I wouldn’t be too bothered by looked to be going over bar so was worth trying to grab it. His talking and management of defence seemed good though.
    For goal defenders seemed to let the Sligo forward in unchecked? Seemed be no one near forward man.

  11. Was mcStay showing a ruthless streak by changing keeper,wont do much for Reapes confidence particularly playing virtually at home.

  12. Wouldn’t say so JR everyone was let loose today. If was ruthlessness on display there would be others pulled.

  13. Wouldnt be too harsh on Towey. He came in for 15 min and only got one or two balls in a very disjointed period.
    Thought Fenton Kelly looked impressive in his little cameo. Bob Tuohy as well, who played most/all of the game, if that means anything I’m not sure.
    Useful runout but Sligo were atrocious really. Galway in the dome should be interesting.
    Flynn and Carney should both have moved onto another level in 2023. Also nice to see Ruane showing something more like his 2021 form after a considerable down year in 2022.

  14. Jordan Flynn is a credit, has been on an upward curve. It comes back to what Andy Moran used say about ‘compound interest’ of improvement.
    We definitely have a lot of athleticism that we can add into our 15/21/26/34 this year.
    This year I think is about our 22-25 year olds and the form they can bring to the championship. They will be where we get the extra depth if we get it.

  15. Enjoyed the first half. Sligo very slow to start, but once they did, they brought a bit of physicality, and slowed our momentum. All played very well in the first half, but Bob Tuohy really stood out for me. I expect Jordan and the ‘senior’ players to make an impact, but here was Tuohy, used as a sub by Castlebar and the U20s, catching well, breaking lines and scoring – could have more of course. I liked the way they tackled – thank you Donie Buckley. Thought Loftus at CHB was very good; perhaps he benefits from facing the ball and going forward, rather than having to turn.

    Mass substitutions really make things disjointed,, and the game petered out in the late second half. Fallon caught my eye, and I was disappointed by Towey.

    Question:: how many of the newbies do posters think will play themselves into the first 20?

  16. Always find out more in a challenge than training. The Mgt team will know after todays game that some players are not up to it. You dont get 2 many chances at this level. Thats football

    Hurlers a real disappointment, conceding a cricket score to virtual minnow
    Hurling team cost 228,909 euros to run last year.
    Cost benefit analysis needs to be done quickly, can better use be made of this money

  17. Unfortunately I did’nt see the game and I know that it is difficult to make any judgements based on an early season challenge match against opponents, who by all accounts, are not as advanced in their early season preparations, but I wonder was anyone able to identify or see any clues as to a system, a style and a pattern that we are likely to adopt going forward.

  18. James Carr worked hard. Hit two scores: one handy one in the first half after a quick free from Ryan. The second was a very difficult score from out in the right wing that not many would take on.

    No doubt a talented player, but still waiting for him to explode and get his game to the next level. Would love to see him kick 1-5/1-6 in a few games.

  19. Interesting to hear that Catcol – I was watching via the stream and it looked to me like Loftus had a couple of errors / run into tackle once or twice. Obviously very early in the season and can’t take too much from it, but will be interesting to see if he’s in again at 6 for FBD.

  20. I would not be in agreement with Declan O’Brien above re the cost of running our hurling team. Remember we did not have the Tooreen boys!

  21. While there were some good performances in green & red and a big score kicked, don’t forget what was up against us today. In reality Sligo were well off Mayo’s pace, skill execution and physicality, and they will struggle to get out of Div 4. There was a noticeable gulf in terms of size and strength between the 2 teams.
    I was impressed with Bob Tuohy, Jordan Flynn and Jack Coyne today.

  22. @GlasagusDearg
    I know it was Div 1 v Div 4 but, we moved the ball quicker, and with kick passing, we were more direct.
    Not so much lateral or back passing, although some of our more senior players reverted to that at times.
    Early days, and time will be needed to bed in a system that management want, but on 1st viewing i liked what I saw.

  23. Declan,hurlers deserve the same treatment as the footballers
    We have not won an AI since 51,how much have we spent?

  24. Wouldn’t agree with such negative comments about the hurlers. It’s like youd hear them saying in Kilkenny, Waterford etc about their football teams. Does show however that hurling without Tooreen is at a low ebb in the county. Satisfactory work out for footballers. No more than that. Playing a game is better than training. While lads can’t necessarily play themselves on to county panel at this time of year, they can play themselves off it so I am sure those new lads especially felt today was important. Onwards and upwards. It could be tough year, with a difficult draw in Connacht, a competitive Div 1 and a Galway team at their best in 20 years. Maigh Eo abu

  25. Thought John Maughans commentary and analysis on the podcast today of some players performances was really good today.No bullshit just very honest ,calling it as he sees it on some of the players who havn’t stepped up to the plate in recent years and nailed down a starting position.Was very refreshing to hear, too much talking up of potential players and nearly men in this County, will see in a couple of weeks time do these players step up to the mark.

  26. That comment about the hurling team costing €228,909 and therefore needing a cost/ benefit analysis is pretty ridiculous. The Mayo hurlers made it all the way to the Christy Ring final (only a year after winning the Nicky Rackard and being promoted) on only a small fraction of the financing given to the senior football team who only scraped as far as a quarter final. They were without all the Tooreen players and Keith Higgins. Also, Leitrim (in hurling) are hardly ‘minnows’. They are on a similar level to ourselves in that code. Perhaps we should do a cost/benefit analysis on the senior football team (given the millions pumped into them annually for little tangible return) but you may not like its findings.

  27. While yesterday was just a challenge game there is always something to be taken from any game, the most important thing from the game is the return from injury of several players like O’Donaghue, Carr, McBrien which bodes well for the upcoming league. Also good to see a fair few new faces in the panel which runs contrary to the narrative pushed by some posters before christmas that McStay wasnt bringing in new players. Most importantly yesterdays game was a charity event and as such i hope Mindspace, an important organisation did very well out of it.
    Just on some posts referring to the hurlers, could not disagree with you more Declan O’Brien, The Hurlers deserve to get the same support from the county board as the footballers do regardless of results or what competition they play in. The same goes for the Ladies teams when they finally become part of the GAA organisation.

  28. Yes it was division 1 v divions 4 team but still thought the guys played well and kickdd more which made the scores happen more and they seemed to be playing with their confidence back unlike last year!

    The Galway game in the league will be interesting and hopefully Tommy conroy wil be fit for that and we owe them one for last year ha! We only lost by a point to their full strength team and we werent playing our best at all and loads injured so we are well capable of beating them looking forward to a new era under mcstay!

  29. McStay is “very hopeful” Keegan will stay on . Great news and fully expected imo. I think we will see him for the last few league games. Inter county Season is then over by end of July at the latest and that will be it for him. Let’s hope it ends in the ultimate success………

  30. @Km79 thats great news thanks for that fingers crossed one of the greats that deserved a celtic cross!

  31. Mayo for Liam

    Exactly my point

    (Also, Leitrim (in hurling) are hardly ‘minnows’. They are on a similar level to ourselves in that code)

    Leitrim same population as castlebar & we are operating at the same level is this worth 228k per year

  32. OHora back in 6 weeks .I was beside the management and thought there was great chemistry between McStay and Rochford .There was plenty of communication with the players from the line Rochford was constantly calling the shots getting players in position . Watching MC Entee and the Sligo line it was mute no directions coming from it .

  33. Bit by bit Jack Carney is establishing himself as one of the key players for this mayo team.

    Has been been putting his hand up since first called in and continues to go from strength to strength improving incrementally everytime and still with further room for improvement

    I expect him to be a central player for this team and a future captain if he continues his trajectory

  34. Tus maith leath na hoibre.
    always good to win, against anyone.
    I hope we keep on winning now and more importantly, to win the final game of the year.
    I believe Lee will return and I expect a really positive year ahead.
    Maigheo go deo.

  35. The thing that annoys me is whenever we support them after win other counties say its typical mayo hype (Espcially my Dub mates :p ha ) ridiculous every other county is the same I guess its just because of our history I suppose!

    But feeling very positive after that even though it was against a division 4 team they were kicking the ball a lot more ! @Brendan O’Hora Great to hear mcstay& Rochford calling shots at the players and not keeping head down way it should be they seemed to be playing with a flare& confidence back!

    @facetheball I would say Tommy conroy hopefully back for league heard he was doing 3/5 trainig sesions which is great lots to be positive about!

  36. Clare,there is indeed a a tendency here in the blog to think that teams that win meaningless games should be the backbone of our league and championship teams.
    Take the Sligo game and FBD for what they are,games to give lads a chance to show what they can do
    After the FBD there will be a cull.

  37. @JR yes I knplow its only a challenge match etc but should still be positive and not negative theres been too much negativity in general since the Tyrone final and the team I am sure have felt that.

  38. Does anyone not think it’s time Connacht gaa let us know how the tickets for the Fbd game are going to be made available

  39. OK poster, time to get serious. How many of the newbies will make it to the Allianz league panel?

    For me: Jack Coyne, Bob Tuohy, Conor McStay. Perhaps the sub Fallon.

    I’m not including the likes os Callinan, Reape, McHugh, McBrien, who are on the panel, or some panel.

  40. Love the positivity Corick Bridge. My glass will always be half full and I read somewhere the other day that the last time there was a change of Monarch in England, Mayo won the AI the year after.

    2022 was a write off for us. The amount of injuries was savage. Lets hope we get some luck on that front this year. I still think if we can get Tommy, Ryan and Cillian on the pitch at the same time then we will be a handful for anyone. Even if those players were at 80% fitness they would still cause teams bother.

  41. Queen Elizabeth 2nd was coronated in 1953 so I the English monarchy angle needs a rejig 🙂

  42. Actually it seems the coronation was not needed to be a monarchy change it seems, your point stands 🙂

  43. I think the most obvious take home from the last day is the Donie Buckley effect. Although our tackling has been decent the last few years under JH, it hasn’t been at the same level since Buckley left. Our work rate, physicality and tackling in packs completely shook Sligo.

    Eamonn Fitzmaurice and Jack O’Connor took the mantle to go out and win every game. The Galway game at the end of the month is huge for this group in my opinion. First proper home game and a chance to lay down a marker for the coming season. Beat Galway and Roscommon as often and as much as possible. Winning the Nestor cup should be number one priority this year, never mind anything else. I have a feeling this team with its pace and youthful profile and hopefully with the aforementioned 3 scoring forwards will be a match for anyone in Croke park.

  44. Don’t wish to rain on anyone’s parade, but we beat an experimental Div 4 team in a challenge match at the beginning of January. It doesn’t mean anything in the bigger scheme of things. It no doubt meant a huge amount to the new lads who got a run out because playing for your county, especially a county like Mayo is a great honour. It probably was worthwhile for management because I am sure they were keen to see their team on the field of play, rather than at training. The FBD is worthwhile, but not of huge importance, the league is a good yardstick of where we stand, but it is all about the championship. P Joyce made a big deal about FBD and league last year because he was in the process of trying to build confidence in his team. It worked for him. I doubt if he will be as up for those competitions this year, other to find a few more players to augment his already strong panel. Therefore I expect Mayo to be in with a good shout of winning the FBD and to keep our place in Div 1. I was not too impressed at seeing us qualify for League final last year, and less impressed after we were hammered in the final. J O Connor set out to win everything with Kerry last year but with the panel he has, that was no surprise. Championship is what really matters and we have got a tough draw. Can’t see us doing anything too spectacular this year and will be happy with obvious signs of progress. Our great team from the decade after 2011 are gone so a fair bit of rebuilding required. I think we have a good management team and we need to be patient with them. We also have some very good players, but in my opinion we are well short of the team we had in 2016 – 2017.

  45. TWJO – We’ve reached two finals with our ‘new’ team, dethroning Dublin in the process. Diabolical luck ruined us in ’22. If we can hold an injury free and stable 20 together, that will help us a lot.

    One question we need to answer (and raise in the first place). What to do with AOS is a perennial question. But the follow on question now has to be asked. Is there an AOS replacement out there? AOS is not the player he was but we tend to think we can mould him to fit any eventuality. Can we fit someone to take his place, like the defenders we have actually replaced and the attackers (Ryan for Andy Moran)?

    Step forward Bob Touhy. Very young, very raw, but he reminds me of the young Aido. Able to catch ball for God’s sake and do something with it. It was ballsy of McStay to give him game time the last day, and there is a reason for that. Yes, I know we overhype players in Mayo, and he is very young, but replacing Aido is a priority and we have got to try out replacements.

  46. I’d disagree that there isn’t a better similar player than Aido on the panel. Jordan for one. He does all the heavy lifting that Aido was renound for, but more importantly he regularly chips in with scores, in stark contrast to the Breaffy man.

    Aidan has slowed up considerably since ’17 which impacts very negatively on the thing he was best at: winning ball, carrying it, laying it off, and tackling. All these aspects of his game have gradually gotten worse. The inevitable scourge of age, especially for a big man. Just stating facts.

  47. @To win just once last year was awful luck for us with all the injuries I think we will be in a much better place this year I don’t think we will cross the line this year but definetly be in a better place. I agree with @Catcol!
    Bob Touhy give him time and he will be great player I think.

    AOS either leave him on the bench as a sib impact I think is his best posotion thats just my opinion. Who brings a player back on in a semi final when he wasnt playing well? Only in mayo hope mcstay does not do stuff like that! Anyway in the past.

    But plenty to ne positive about and yes we all know it was a division 4 team but a win is a win and for good cause for mindspace!

  48. Kerry are 10 points down to Cork at half time in tonight’s Mcgrath Cup game.
    Of course it will have little bearing going forward but it shows what can happen when regulars are missing as we saw with our injuries last year.

  49. @Mind the House…Mayo in 2022, also shows you what can happen when certain “regulars” are continuing to be selected despite the evidence as to their merit’s.

  50. Jack o Connor will be a happy man leaving Cork this evening. He Will have no problem now getting kerry players to get there feet back down on the ground and back into the hard work.

  51. Clubman51 – it’s a bit of a stretch to credit Donie Buckley with our tackling the last day. With all due respect to Sligo, that’s a common theme when Mayo play lower ranked sides.

    Remember the Tipperary semi final in 2020, Sligo & Leitrim championship games in 2021, even beating Dublin in the All Ireland semi final was down to our forwards winning turnovers high up the pitch.

    It’s an interesting point, but we seem to constantly produce forwards with huge work rate.

  52. Leantimes – that’s a low blow, a sneaky one too by avoiding naming names. You’re long enough commenting here to know that kind of trash-talk isn’t welcome so please bear in mind for future reference.

  53. It’s starting to resemble old times here with Willie Joe having to step in and dish out the ”yella” now and again. LoL.

  54. Whenever the season ends that sligo game will be long forgotten but its great to win any game and in a match with little relevance a win really means nothing more than stopping the sunamai of abuse that would come the way had they lost. Possibility of playing galway twice in two weeks is mouthwatering and probably be two totally different performances

  55. Just on the mention of age and pace, the % drop is small and can be made up by making the player a bench impact player. I’ve often thought what gets ignored is the idea of a sub late in the first half. Let me outline the context
    One has a quality footballer, but if you start him he fades badly 30 mins into the first half and ten mins into the second half. You sub him on 45 mins. Total playing time around 47 mins.
    Bring the player on for a pacey but more limited footballer on 30 mins. The older player enters a 15 min half time barely having broke sweat. He starts the second half with his energy levels at 98%.
    Total playing time the same around 47 mins.
    Crucially this quality footballer played this 47 mins with higher pace against a slower opposition pace. The difference in performance ability is not a few % in my view it’s huge but it’s considered too left field and managers won’t try it.
    There’s a further angle to this that first 30 mins to my anecdotal evidence is lower scoring than the final 30 mins. You want to be the dominant team on the field when the defensive side of the game is waning for both teans.
    Super, super brave would be bringing on first half subs of Cillian O’Connor, Lee Keegan and Aidan OShea. Can we be honest with ourselves that we have faltered in most of these finals and semi finals by being too pick n mix on the pace side of our selection.
    2012 Donegal targeted Alan Dillon with Karl Lacey
    2013, 14,15,16,17, 20 we faded in the last quarter
    2021 we lacked the power and pace to really hurt Tyrone.
    It’s getting tiring to read and hear the constantly trotted out view that we are all powerful and pacey. For me we’ve always to not nail the pace side of things in semis and finals against quality teams.
    Kevin McLoughlin would not have scored his game winning goal against Armagh if he started that game. We would have started Dara Canavan and Cathal McShane in the 2021 final. The game was there to be won, those two players came on and took the game away from us.

  56. @Michaelincork so kerry lost this evening know only Jan but still and they say they had loads of players missing but yet were delighted to brag about their slaughter over us in league final when they knew we were missing loads of players due to injury and we didnt even want to be there! sorry but nearly makes me laugh .. they rely to much on clifford. This year is way open I think .

  57. Clare, you are a great character.Dublin are humble winners while Kerry are not.Dublin the team to beat this year.

  58. One thing I regularly see is people saying players have lost pace. From what I see, most lose very little until they hit about 34 and it can be noticed for sure by about 35. I exclude players with serious injuries like Cillian who will be quicker next year than last and Andy in his day who took a few years to recover full speed after his Cruciate. Many retire not because of pace drop off but because of the demands of Inter county GAA. Several stars of our 2010s gang hung on until their mid 30s with most still performing well up to their last year when games dried up and they contributed to keeping us near the top. Mileage also plays a part and the odd injury actually gives players a break and can lengthen their careers. I would expect Tommy C to be only about 80% this year although younger than Andy was with that injury .. it seems to take 2 seasons regardless. Even in Pro Sport E.g. Virgil Van Dyke still very good but still maybe 10% off his best. So we’ll need new corner forwards to emerge and push Tommy to impact sub this year. I can see Aido and Cillian getting game time in FF line but with more reliance on Carr and McStay and maybe Towey Carney and Orme pushing… though Carney could play anywhere from midfield forward. Diarmaid is always an option in FF but that relies on enough half forwards coming through. At HF O’ Hora is actually an option going by club championship (if we unearth enough tight backs) as is Eoghan Mac.

  59. Good post JP – as usual! If I’m not mistaken Aido came on late in the first half of the opening league match v Sligo in ‘22 and made a big impact. We really do need to manage that side of our game.

  60. @Clare poor defending and goalkeeping was the issue for Kerry tonight than missing Clifford. They also wouldn’t have won the All Ireland last year without the improvement they made defensively

  61. @Mayomagic I know they were missing players tonight I am saying so were we in league final but yet they forget we only lost to them a point in the league before all the main injuries but yet braged about slaughtering us in league when they knew we were missing loads of keys players that is my point!

    @Jr thanks haha I agree think Dublin will be the team to beat kerry won’t do 2 in a row .

  62. The Kerry/Cork game last night was a nothing game for Kerry as our game against Sligo was. Other than one or two putting up their hands for future selection. Both results were meaningless and whatever about taking an interest in our own game which is natural, reading anything into a kick about down in Munster in the first week in January is ludicrous. We’ll take in the FBD games for entertainment and clues but I know some will read far more in to the results than management will. The first game that should be viewed seriously by Mayo supporters is the opening league game against Galway and even that will certainly come with a caveat or two.

  63. Good post JP. It’s a 26 man game now and that is something the Dubs perfected for years. They really embraced the squad element. Doesn’t matter who starts. The bench is just as important.

  64. @JP

    I agree with your points but I don’t think you have given a completely rounded view of the situation.

    It makes equal sense to start the older player and introduce the younger more energetic for them early doors, this creates an even larger energy mismatch between the teams coming down the straight.

    This is a far more nuanced debate than you make it appear

  65. My take on the Sligo game

    Nothing much to get excited about but nothing to get despondent about either.

    The attitude was good from everyone, and if that can be sustained we will be competitive this year.

    Quality wise there wasn’t much to be taken from this game. Nothing there to suggest we have a taken a big step forward or indeed backward.

    All in all, we look to be well prepared for the next phase of the season. Which is the FBD, where we will learn a little more about ourselves.

  66. @Shuffly Deck With regards to Aido he needs to be an impact sub the best position if I am honest but its just my opinion. I don’t think Tommy conroy will be fully fit or 100% after such an awful injury but great to hear hes back training and hes young so he’ll get back to 100% after time. Hopefully cillian o connor is more fit and back to his old self he seemed to be coning back into him in club championship.
    I thought conor mcstay was good as forward.

    I do think we will be in much better place this year then last don’t think we will cross the line but definetly in a better place.

  67. yes subs so important as we have learned to our cost over the years against the Dubs ( Connolly, Costello, etc)
    Kerry won the AI final last year with players from the bench. Galway had nothing to bring on.

  68. @Frosthammer, My thought was where the slower player is the better footballer. So the idea was they were being subdued by the fact they were struggling with the pace of the game.
    The quicker player being more limited wouldn’t be able to be as productive with scores or passes.The idea was to never at any point in the game have a pace weakness as a team.

  69. @JP

    No worries. Your analysis was good but incomplete. In our modern world, these kinds of analysis are often used to imply that there is a correct, right or wrong, answer to a very nuanced scenario. This is a pet hate of mine ATM

  70. The death occured yesterday of one of the most successful managers in Mayo Football Fr Martin Newell.He is the only man to coach a Mayo school to a Hogan cup title with St Colmans College Claremorris in 1977, the first Day school to ever win it back in a day when it was always the strong football boarding schools of the time, they also lost the 1981 Hogan cup final by a point to Carmelite college Moate. He coached the Garrymore gaa club to an impressive 6 County titles in 1974,75,76,79,81 and 82 and lost a County final in 1977, they won one Connacht club title in 1981 and then ended up losing an All Ireland final to Nemo Rangers of Cork that same year.I think he managed the Mayo Seniors for a period in the late 70s or early 80s not sure what years he was in charge.
    I know he was mentioned in John O’Mahonys book a few years back.

  71. And the legendary ”Màirtín’s mountain” @ Sam óg, that we wore down to a molehill. A good trainer and coach,no doubt.

  72. In all my time in St Colman’s in mid – late 1980’s I never knew that Fr Newell RIP managed Garrymore Senior team. I have wondered how this club got to such heights back then, produced such good footballers for many years and maintained Senior status for so long.
    Another Galway teacher won an All Ireland during his time in St Jarlath’s, again we never knew this during our School days, humble men indeed.
    Unfortunately those two men were not involved in the Schools teams management during my time there.

  73. I never knew that either @mayo88 but I often wondered why the Garry lads didn’t get flogged quite so hard in training as say , the Davitts lads.
    I finally get my answer. ?

  74. The Irish Examiner are reporting that Mayo veterans Jason Doherty and Kevin McLoughlin commit for 2023. Hopefully Leeroy will do the same and cap off a positive first week of the new season,

  75. Are the FBD games being streamed by Connacht GAA or anyone, thought they would be with the limited capacity in the dome, but see no mention of it anywhere

  76. Fr Martin Newell also won a Senior County title with Claremorris back in 1965 lining out at Full forward against Castlebar.

  77. New pod just gone online for club members, in which Mike chats with Colm Boyle and Ger Flanagan about new Mayo players to watch out for.

  78. Ian Burke certainly looking very sharp on his Galway return, last year’s final could in time be one of the real what if moments if he and Peter Cooke were available. Two outstanding talents

  79. Ciaran – you could write a thesis about what would have happened if certain Mayo players weren’t missing for All Ireland finals down the years.

  80. @Sam OG thats sad news to hear.

    @JKEL88 thats great to hear they are staying on two fabulous players ! It would be such a boost if keegan gave it one more year really hope he does one of the best from mayo he owes us nothing though I understand with a young family to as I work in childcare ha :p so its hard ! I have feeling maybe a hoping feeling but I do think hell give it one more year fingers crossed!

  81. Mayo and Galway part 1 of 3 next week. I’d say it’ll be more shadow boxing than anything but will be interesting nonetheless to see who stands out

    Incredibly all Galway sides are underdogs in the club semis this weekend. Moycullen look over priced to me, what is it with Derry teams being so overrated by bookies (incl the very average county team last year)? In reality its very hard to call – Moycullen have serious momentum, a very well balanced team and great strength in depth. Galway teams seem to always beat Derry aswell! Clifden will win the junior too I feel. I’m still not fully convinced by Dunmore though

    I’m sure Cliffords boys will win their semi pulling up and you’d expect Rathmore to be very strong too in the intermediate. Can’t see KOR beating Crokes though, but I think they’ll rattle them more than expected

  82. Gaway v Leitrim was sold out tonight with a capacity of a mere 1,200. 7,000 was at the last outdoor Galway v Mayo FBD can anyone tell me why next Saturday’s game isn’t played outside in a county ground instead of the dome?

  83. @Mayomagic…At a guess I would suggest that that the Connacht GAA Council would hope to recoup much of the difference between an outdoor fixtures and a game played in the Air Dome with the TV subscriptions, in terms of revenue.. Two other factors might feed into the decision, the preservation of the County pitches for the National League, and the reduced likelihood of injury to players playing on a uniform playing surface in an Irish January.. Just my opinion on the subject!

  84. I see Rte are showing live coverage of the Galway Mayo national league game in a few weeks.
    Great to have the games back..
    There is huge interest in Kevin Mc Stays opening league fixture..

  85. See we face Galway on Jan 14th looking forward to it we owe them one for last year :p we are well capable of beating them. @Tuamstar thats great to knlw its being shown thanks for that!

  86. Mayomagic. I believe all games in a competition, in this case the FBD league have to be played either inside or out.

  87. It will be interesting to see how Mayo shape under McStay alright its hard to know but he will need no injuries to have a decent chance. Moycullen have not hit top form but will need to improve to win but yes Derry teams are overrated. Cant see Kilmacud losing.

  88. On the latest podcast Boyler is still very bullish about David McBrien at fullback with the proviso that he gets an extended injury free run. That’ll do for me. Would be a major boost if we could tie down a dominant full back.

  89. Lean times, I understand the Connacht Council are under severe pressure to allow the dome be used for refugees.
    May happen after the FBD

  90. @Jr…As it happens I see on the news that the Corporate Box’s in Croke Park are to be used as accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.

  91. @Leantimes you can still use the streaming service while having the matches outdoors. Make no sense to have these games played indoors in a small capacity, Dome surface is hard which runs the risk of injuries also.

    @Joe. G.?? all game are set there but that doesn’t mean all games in a competition need to be there. It’s a knock out competition, should be open to change of venues especially when Mayo v Galway would attract 7k plus

  92. @mayomagic

    The year before that game you reference 2,500 showed up to Castlebar for a rescheduled game after the intended meeting was cancelled due to a frozen pitch.

    With the schedule so tight there isn’t space to reschedule anymore, so imo it’s either the dome or risk the entire competition being a washout.

    Not sure yet if I’ll watch next weekend but I’d be pretty certain I wouldn’t if it was outside. There were a few games in last year’s league that were almost unwatchable due to the weather, and there’ll be more this year

  93. There will be plenty of chanes to see games outdoors in February and March. Guaranteed at least half the league games will be destroyed by the weather – wet windy and a farce. Miserable for players and supporters. I think most of our league games last year were played during a weather warning for either wind or rain.
    The dome is ideal for the FBD.

  94. @JR.. Only once in my life was I in one of the corporate boxes in Croke Park.. whatever about being a refugee in a corporate box, I was most definitely a fish out of water.

  95. @Mayomagic..A few years ago, can’t exactly say what year..I went to Mchale Park on a beautiful frosty Sunday in early January to see Mayo play Galway…a nice crowd of a few thousand had turned up..Sun on my back standing on the McHale road side of the pitch, but unfortunately the pitch was deemed unplayable due to frost… The following Wednesday we played Leitrim in the FBD..The weather was beyond horrendous, hail stones, wind and cold..The lines on the pitch which were fine the previous Sunday were washed away with the elements.. and the lines were very important because the new regulations regarding the goal keeper lockouts now having to go beyond the 21 yard line, which we could only gusss at where it should be… Two days later
    again I McHale Park on the Friday we played Galway, again the same horrendous conditions as on Wednesday v Leitrim.. The pitch was destroyed for the entire League campaign and in an effort to repair it tons of sand was brought in..I was in McHale Park for those 3 occasions and I certainly questioned my own sanity of attending any match in such conditions..I think now that Connacht has an Air Dome that we should certainly make use of it.

  96. How is it ideal for the FBD when only 1,200 can attend? Mayo under McStay and Galway off the back of reaching All-Ireland final would have attracted at least 6 to 7k next weekend if played in outdoor venue. And if the issue is protect the MacHale Park surface then play it elsewhere plenty of venues would be more than happy to host the game. Let’s not forget Mayo used Carrick, Marky Park and Hyde Park for league “home” games last year.

  97. @Mayomagic…”Ideal” it may not be, but the weather, in a Connacht January, for pitches, players and punter’s is rarely “Ideal” either!

  98. Play the game in Dome not fit to play outside most days this time of the year, but get GAA GO to show it and we can all watch it from home.

  99. Most counties in other provinces would be very happy to play in the dome. Good pitch means good football, good for early confidence, more of a forwards game. Reduced injury risk another plus as others have said and avoids unnecessarily destroying county pitches. The only negative is money but if subscription tv even come close then it’s worth it.

  100. I watched Mayo lgfa U14s against Cavan on Sunday morning and it was a great exhibition served up by both teams. After all the rain we’ve had recently it would have been a lottery on a club pitch. Maybe not ideal for attendances but if we got an afternoon of wind and rain very few would turn up for an FBD game. If you can’t get a ticket watch it on @Mayogaatv.

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