Waiting for the storm

As the long lead-in continues to our All-Ireland semi-final clash with the Dubs, I’m delighted to welcome FourGoal McGee back into the guest slot to provide some thoughts on the coming battle.

It’s a bit like the time between storms. We all know what the last one was like but we are keen to speculate on the damage that the next one could do. And we all have a view, because we have seen many storms before, and though we are not in control of what will happen, we like to raise what we think are the factors that will affect the outcome. Will we get blown away? (We like to think that we are a hardy bunch and that this will not transpire). Will we come through unscathed? (This is the big storm that did damage last year and we could feel the brunt of it this year). But maybe it blew itself out last year? (Maybe, it certainly doesn’t look as potent as last year but it could strengthen in the next two and a half weeks).

But of course, it’s not the weather that concerns us, it’s much more important, it’s football!

We are back where we wanted to be, playing championship football in September, albeit still in the semi-final. It is actually remarkable, for a county that is dismissed by the professional commentators, that we get to Croke Park so often. And if you look at the next two weeks, a team in an All-Ireland (juniors), two teams in All-Ireland semis, the ladies team in the quarters. And that on top of the lads getting to the NFL Division 1 final earlier in the year with the ladies winning Division 2. What most other counties would not give for the run we get every year.  We really do have a mighty county that keeps us in excitement for so much of the year.

So what can be said then about Sunday 2nd September? Well a few things are different about Mayo this year:

  • We have trained to peak in September. This is obvious from the way the team seems to have that bit extra towards the end of matches. I said before the Sligo match that Sligo would be in it for a good while but that Mayo’s strength would be the telling factor. Sligo had actually peaked for Galway as they seemed to begin their speedwork earlier than we did. Mayo were infinitely better against Down, but then Down actually peaked against Monaghan. So we are improving with every game. Another step chance will be evident the next day.
  • We can cope with being without a key man. Remember against the Dubs in Castlebar? No Cafferkey, but Shane McHale stepped in and was outstanding. Remember when we didn’t have Aidan O’Shea against Kerry. We were going to get bet out the gate, but we won instead. So losing a key player is a loss, but the dynamic in the team now lends itself to producing replacements who perform to the highest level when the call to arms is made. But Andy’s loss is different, I hear you say. Yes, it is. But that just means that the call to arms is even louder and the response must be even greater. I believe that we have the men in the squad to take up the fight. There are numerous permutations being thrown around. I for one have faith in JH and his merry men to have a Plan B ready to unleash on Dublin. I would even expect there to be a Plan C that could emerge as well to keep Gilroy on his toes.
  • Our backs are one of the tightest units around now. We have dispensed with the sweeper nonsense and the pressure we put on the ball carrier is immense. Very little is scored against us from play, particularly in the second halves of games.
  • We have learned some of the dark arts. For years we were the nice guys. Mayo footballers were so nice that opposing teams would nearly bring their sisters along cos the Mayo lads were so nice. I’m not sure about the sisters now, but there is an edge to Mayo that was missing before. We won’t be pushed around anymore. To me that is a positive development.

And what of Dublin?

  • They have not yet peaked. Dublin would have a similar training plan to ours, so laboured performances up to now should not be given huge importance. On 2nd of September they will be much faster, they will be in front of their adoring faithful and just one goal could set them on fire.
  • Taking Brennan out of the No.6 shirt has strengthened them at the back and they are now difficult to score against. But this year, they haven’t been playing like a team. Men like Connolly have been sussed out. Backs now know that marking him tightly neutralises him. The Brogans are misfiring all year. For Dublin’s supporters, this is a cause for concern.
  • They are better at controlling the pace of the game than any other team. But there really should be a time limit on the space between a free is awarded and when it is taken. At the end of the Laois game, they used a full 2 minutes to prepare for a free and only a minute of injury time was added. In the meantime, the Laois rhythm was broken. However, refs seem to think that a forward can take too long over a free, but a goalkeeper cannot. Fair? You tell me! But they will do everything in their power to break up the rhythm of their opponents, making them difficult to beat.
  • One of the most telling points was brought to my attention by my son. He is born and reared in Dublin and is proud to be a Dub, but at 17 years old is one of the most shrewd young lads I have ever seen to read a game. I asked him what did he think was missing in Dublin this year and without hesitation he replied “Mickey Whelan”. And he is right. Last year, Mickey gave them that extra little bit that brought them from 4 points down with 6 to go to being winners. This year Mickey is not there. But will they find the X Factor from somewhere else? Maybe, maybe not.

A fascinating contest awaits. There is no doubt that we are in better shape for this storm than in previous times. But what type of storm will show up, that’s the question!

Keep the Faith!

37 thoughts on “Waiting for the storm

  1. I agree that all Mayo fans should keep the faith as you said at the end of this piece..its like climbing craogh patrick (or the hill at the back off my house) its harder going up it than down it….its harder driving up too dublin being so nervous than coming home when you know that we have won…i think we should give dublin a seven point lead like in 2006 and come back and win by a point….

    Mayo for sam 2012 ( seniors,minors,U21s,minors,wemen)

    lets hope its a windy day on september the 2nd!!!

  2. Nice well balanced article FourGoal McGee.

    I am agreeing with you on Andy.

    Although any player is a loss, and taking into account that Andy in particular was playing very well and is a good leader, I dont think that he is the loss everyone is making out.

    He was cleaned against Leitrim yet Mayo still scored 4-20 with 13 different players kicking points and goals. Leitrim are shite people will say, but against Down, Mayo had scores from 9 different players so Mayo are not overly dependant on anyone. We nearly won a NFL title without Aidan O Se who was also heralded as a detrimental loss at the time he got injured, and we still have to see the best of him this season.

    Stick Gibbons or Aidan O Shea centre forward and it strengthens up your forwards again. Gibbons lined out in club championship for his club at centre forward against Claremorris and cleaned up, while O Se played much of his minor, U21 and club football at centre forward. O Se also linked up wonderfully when he came on against Sligo. Both could play as a 3rd midfielder which would take a lot of pressure off Mayo around the middle.

  3. Like all Mayo people I can identify with the optimism and glass full sentiment of this piece. The trouble however with accentuating the positive all the time is that reality can be obscured.
    I would love to see this commentator and others deal with real limitations and worries without necessarily losing the positive flavour. Facts remain Mayo have not really been teated this year.Leitrim ,Sligo and Down were hardly world beaters and this WAS said in advance of games -It is not just hindsight. Dublin minus Micky Whelan or not provide a real challenge. Also Andy’s loss is severe – I am not overly inspired by the refrain- Ah James will have a plan. There was supposed to be a plan for Donaghy in 2006 and it didn’t happen. I would of course HOPE you are right and you and James deserve the benefit of the doubt.
    In a nutshell- Mayo are likely to win ONLY if they play better than they have all year and if everything goes right for them. Hope not optimism.

  4. I agree with CiderMan..the more cider you drink the better you write..i agree with anyone who drinks cider…even though i prefer the good old fashioned black stuff!! I feel like we could talk about football beer and women till the cows come home if i ever met ya..

    im going on a booze cruise and will be back for the semi final…i have gone seven years in a row but can only remember 2 of them…

    Mayo for sam 2012 ( seniors,minors,U21s,minors,women)

    lets hope its a windy day on september the 2nd!!!

  5. Cider Man

    I could not disagree more. Cleaned against Leitrim…I did not see that. His loss is inestimable. The Down defence was poor and any sub for Moran will have t
    O play out of his skin.

    Such optimism is hard to fathom.It is not as you state balanced.

  6. This game is where we wanted to be after last year. Horan will have wanted us to be here now as would the players and all supporters.
    Its not important who we play. Its all about winning now. To win Sam we must beat the best of the rest.
    So its the Dubs now. A misfiring team, but have experience and are a very gud team on their day.
    The dubs are very dependant on a few key players Cluxton, Nolan, Flynn, Brogans and Cullen. . They must score goals. They are weak in midfield. Cluxtons kickouts must be countered like in Castlebar.
    They will not like playing us because they do not rate us. Deep down they are thinking of another All Ireland.
    Mayo are hungry. We are dangerous. Our backs are solid, midfield strong. And have options up front. Just have a feeling that things are swinging our way.
    Hello to Dad getting out of Castlebar hospital tomorrow. He remembers 51. He wants to remember 2012.
    Hup Mayo.

  7. Listen, the loss of a great player is not what’s important. What is important is how everyone else reacts.

    A player can use it as an excuse, or he can do something about it and make sure he wins without him, instead of surrendering to that trap door.

    Talk of inestimable losses, worries, and all the rest is loser talk.

    Andy Moran is injured? We don’t need him.

  8. In fairness to James horan and his team behind him, don’t have this team relying on one player! While Andy was and is our go to man on the inside line, others now have to step up and be counted! And we have good honest hard working and grafting lads just chomping to get on! Let’s have a bit of faith in James, jimmy, cian and co to have this team primed and raring to go! I know I am!!

  9. Agreed we have to move on without Andy but saying his loss is not valid is just nonsense.Also saying he was cleaned against Leitrim has no factual basis at all. I believe how we deal with his loss is important .let’s discuss that not just say we will be fine. What in your view is the plan b or plan c.
    Fair play to James Horan. He does not subscribe to rampant optimism but rather insists how hard it will be and how everyone needs to be up for the challenge. Hype has no part to play in that.

  10. Perhaps the Dubs will peak in September but last year they were playing much better even in August. They were brilliant against Tyrone in the quarters last year, and had played well throughout the preceeding league. They have not played well this year outside some of the earlier league games.

    I am a lot more confidnet going into this game than I was in 2006.

  11. im in agreement with most of what everyone is saying,dont worry about the ref,he isnt there to help us or the dubs for that matter. our lads have to help and protect each other.dont rely on him to be our friend,he wont be.as for andy he is a great loss to our cause for sure but his absense isnt fatal,jh will have a plan or two in place on sep 2.it might be aos at cf or ron mcg at full .

  12. Cool Hand Luke you will see the value in my wisdom after the match is over.The wind will play a big part in the result.Its like drinking a point of the lovely black stuff the more you drink the better.The bigger the wind on september 2nd the better. I hope u understand now.

    Opt 2 miss teek i agree with your comment on August 16th at 8:15 my ticket is not for the hogan stand its for the cusack.Do you know where the best place to have a few points before the game is in croke park..i will bring a six pack for half time anyway.

  13. Wind – I think your “witticisms” are now becoming more than a little tiresome and are adding precious little value to the debate. As a result, I’m putting you on moderation watch and would ask that you stick to the point when making any further contributions. To be clear, banging on about the wind and point/pint drinking don’t constitute sticking to the point.

  14. Some posters have the opinion that our optisim in unfounded, I cant garuntee that Mayo will win on the 2nd Sept, but certainly hope the team are veiwing their chances in a positive light. You have got be objective, but also imagine the senario that your team win’s, no matter what the setback’s. In the course of the match some thimgs will go Mayo’s some the Dub’s. Who ever wins at the end of 70 min’s plus, the team that scores the,most, usally the team that keeps on the front foot more than team their playing. If you look at it this way , Aiden O Se will have another month training behind him after the bonus 65 min’s in the quaters, he should be nearing the shape he was in near the end of the league, look at the 3 new recuits to our defence, Keegan, Boyle & Keane surly we have to be the envy of most county defences. Look at the confidence our two goal scores Conroy & Doherty should gain from scoring goals in Croker. They should be feeling good about themselves for the semi, something we could’nt be too sure about coming into the quater final. Their is nothing like goals to get a forward confidant & believeing in themselves. I think self confidence in a team is worth another 5 or 10 o/o. Ok Andy is a considerable loss but our plus’s amount to alot than our minus’s in the last 12 month’s. So for me the glass is more than half full, just hope Wind dosent get his hand on my glass, Cheers.

  15. I am much more cofident than i was in 2006, Dublin should have beaten us that year when they let a seven point lead slip, we then went on only to be hammerad by Kerry.
    We have beaten Kerry this year hammerad Dublin and were unlucky with the goal against Cork in the league final. So keep the faith, and we shouldnt be talking about old players coming back in to the squad as that only demoralises a team.

  16. If Alan Brogan is indeed out for the semi final then the pitch becomes much more level in my view. His loss is as great to Dublin as Andy is to us. I obviously do not wish bad luck on anyone but if he is out I think Dublin will struggle. Now I know we have to get into the game one way or another,whoever is playing and we will do our best. I just wonder if Dublin could live with the loss of Talisman Brogan as he is a good player in his own right and a major provider for his brother.

  17. A view from Dublin with Mayo connections.I enjoy reading all the comments from muintir Mhaigh Eo.However hate to rain on anybody’s parade but there will be tears shed all over Mayo on Sunday after the Dubs v Mayo game and it won’t be tears of joy.

  18. Sorry Willlle Joe

    I get carried a bit talking rubbish about women booze wind etc. etc. etc.

    I will most certainly stick to the point in the future.
    I disagree with lobitin i dont firmly believe that mayo will beat dublin i think that we will be hammered off the pitch. But good luck to lobitin his comments are understandable under the circumstance i hope that he is right though. I believe that mayo will win by a point if conor mortimor comes back he loves playing in all ireland semi finals against dublin in croke parke. I hope that Andy Moran will be back in time for next 2 Sundays time so he can stand in corner forward and do the job.
    I enjoy reading your site and putting in my contribution so please dont block me..
    Some are well informed and some have a lot to learn

    Thanks Wille Joe

    Yours Faithfully

    the WIND

  19. He might speak nothing more than hot air, but at least WIND is proving good for a pun or two

  20. I don’t know whether or not we will beat the Dubs. What I do know is that we now have a team well capable of beating them (and anybody else as well). I am confident that we will be there or thereabouts. And for me it is great to go to a Mayo match where I am not afraid of getting a hiding and looking forward to a cracker of a display of good honest football from our lads. That is a change.
    These lads are very good – they are tough, hard-working and very skillful. I think they have a confidence about them now that we have not seen in a Mayo team for a long time. Lets hope they have the bit of luck as well that will see them over the line. In any event I am sure we will finish the year in a way that will make us all proud.

  21. It’s good to know that we’ll have the WIND behind us all the way !
    Perhaps we’ll get to play with the WIND in both halves !

  22. Agree with diehard.This stuff about wind is silly and annoying frankly in my view.
    This team has turned a corner and I think will hold it’s own in Croker. If this is enough will depend on how well we cope without Moran and on everyone doing their job .

  23. I don’t want to be seen as imperious but perhaps Willie you could cut Wind some slack.I know he is not contributing much to the debate but he seems to be a fun guy. As they say in Connemara-scaoil amach an bobailin

  24. Quite right, WC, you wouldn’t want to as imperious as well as cranky. I think, to be fair, our windy friend is being sufficiently indulged at present. Now then, back to more important matters: you said the other day that we won’t be shedding tears of joy on September 2nd. You wouldn’t want to elaborate further on why you think this may be the case?

  25. First of all I would like to thank all my fans on the wonderful fantastic superb website created by the one and only Wille Joe.I have got a ticket ( even though some people suggest that i am some ticket i still cant get in without buying a proper ticket) for the Hill 16 it was the cheapest ticket going. I will be on the hill on september the 2nd with a big huge very expensive banner thanking all my fans on this website for support through thick and thin…Thanks so much guys u are a reason to get up in the morning.

    Second of all Back to the big round ball. I was talking to one of mayo players today who will remain nameless hes busting with confidence. I tell ya its hard not to be impressed with the attitude shown..thats commitment boy. He told me that he has trained so hard and cant wait for the showdown just bring it on to f**k was exactly what he said. Im a lot more confident than yesterday following that.I may sleep tonight now. Ill put it this way a few of them dublin fans on that hill wont want to see me again after 2006 thats why i will park my self up there again.

    and finally third of all Thanks again to all my supporters (and to the great man himself >>WILLE JOE <<) i can tell you one thing is for sure ill sleep easier tonight boy

    The WIND
    (thanks again)

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