Wasteful Knockmore just come up short

They say goals win games but, you know, points help too. Accuracy in front of the posts even more so and, on that metric alone, Padraig Pearses deserved their win over Knockmore in today’s Connacht Senior club football final. They recorded just two wides compared to fourteen from the Mayo champions as they emerged from James Stephens Park the victors on a scoreline of 1-13 to 1-11.

The pitch in Ballina is heavy at the best of times but this early in the year the conditions underfoot at the venue were always going to militate against flowing football. Throw massed defences and a generous helping of lateral handpassing into the mix and this was never going to be a contest for the purists.

For all that, though, it was a compelling title decider and, with both sides enjoying periods of dominance, it was a game that saw the narrative shift more than once. Boiled right down to its essence, however, it was a match that Padraig Pearses led from first to last.

Given the prevailing conditions, goals almost counted double today such was the important of a green flag. The Rossie lads got off to the perfect start in that regard, when they won a penalty after just three minutes. Burly full-forward Hubert Darcy sent Colm Reape the wrong way and Pearses had a lead they’d never subsequently relinquish.

It was the dream start for the Roscommon champions who, although they’d contested the 2019 provincial decider, had never before tasted provincial success. Playing three-times Connacht champions Knockmore in their own backyard could have been a daunting assignment for them but once they’d hit the front so early in the game, they quickly warmed to the task facing them.

Knockmore were still that goal in arrears – and struggling to get a toe-hold in the game – when the Pearses ‘keeper Paul Whelan was black carded for dragging down Aiden Orme. Hubert Darcy swapped his attacking responsibilities for net-minding, as he stood in between the sticks while his teammate was in the sin bin.

Despite the advantage of the extra man, Knockmore were unable to get back on terms, going in two points behind at the break. Their wide count was already creeping up at this stage and they suffered a bad blow when key man Kieran King hobbled off with what looked like a painful leg injury. His presence in their backline was sorely missed in the second half.

The tie – and the destination of the Shane McGettigan Cup – was effectively decided in the third quarter. Pearses’ attack caught fire – with Man of the Match Paul Carey especially prominent – and they sped seven points clear. It looked then like they’d win in a canter.

Knockmore, to their credit, fought back bravely and, firing 1-2 without reply, cut the gap back to two points at the second water break. The goal, which had brought this tie back to boiling point, was bundled to the net just before then by substitute Charlie Bourke.

In a match of such tight margins, the next score was always going to be crucial. Knockmore had the momentum but Pearses had greater composure when eyeing the posts and the excellent Paul Carey – who ended the day with eight points to his credit – steadied the ship for them with another long-range score from play. They followed that up with two further quick scores, thereby negating the goal Knockmore had bagged before the water break.

Back came the Mayo lads again but, once again, their wayward shooting let them down. With normal time up, though, they’d reduced the gap to three points and when Peter Naughton bagged their tenth point of the day soon after the margin was once more just two points. Extra-time was now a real possibility.

On a day when Padraig Pearses answered every hard question asked of them, however, it was they who bagged the next score, sub Tom Butler the man who notched this one. Deep in stoppage time now, only a goal would do for Knockmore and with every Pearses’ player back inside their ’45 it would be well nigh impossible to engineer a major.

Aiden Orme did, however, get a sight of goal and he went for it. His shot was too high, though, and the ball flew over the bar. Once it was kicked out again the ref blew the final whistle and Padraig Pearses were, for the first time and deservedly so, Connacht champions.

Hard luck to Knockmore – things didn’t go right for them from the off today and they’ll be disappointed that they weren’t able to give a fair account of themselves. While they might have nicked it at the death that would, in truth, have been an injustice as the Roscommon champions richly deserved this breakthrough provincial title win. They now go on to face Leinster champions Kilmacud Crokes in the All-Ireland semi-final at the end of the month and the best of luck to them then.

92 thoughts on “Wasteful Knockmore just come up short

  1. That 2 wides to 14 says it all. Knockmore had a bad day alright and a few injuries too both before and during the game.

  2. Knockmore aren’t the best of scorers at the best of times and today showed why, shot selection and decision making on that big wide tally was very poor. Also they didn’t make the best use of the extra man when the Pearses keeper was black carded.

    Their success has been based on good defensive displays. 0-6 conceded in the County final which included marking All Star Ryan O Donoghue out of the game and 0-8 in the last game against Tourlestrane. Average score conceded coming into the final was 0-10 i believe.

    Today 1-13 conceded and Carey lad especially ran amok with 0-8 that was the difference in a deserved win for Padraig Pearses.

  3. Knockmore were very disappointing. Their build up play was so slow and there was very little movement running off the ball . I think it was Dempsey that could be heard roaring to move move move . I’d say the players will felt very frustrated by their performance they didn’t look to come close to their performance against Belmullet.

  4. Very frustrating to watch…Knockmore made the same mistakes of mayo club and county teams of the past:
    -Lack of a plan B
    -Failure to break down a blanket defence
    -Failure of forwards to take easy chances
    -Bad decision making

    The subs lost the head in front of goal also and cost them big time. They will be kicking themselves Knockmore. 14 wides to 2 is a damning statistic.

    Just following on from a previous point…How come club and county teams who may not have produced better teams than in Mayo can produce natural forwards….you just had to look at pearses inside forwards and their conversion rate. It is long overdue that more is done underage at county and club level to do more sessions with forwards as an individual group and focus more on breaking down sessions. If Galway and Ros can do it how come we still can’t do it….and likewise for playing against blanket defences

  5. Watched on TG4 without an audible commentary so I could not identify most of the players.
    But overall the game reminded me of the Stephenites All Ireland Final of about 25 years ago v Crossmaglen. Lots of possession but no end result.
    AS I see it the best answer to packed defences is to get the ball up to your full forwards before the defensive reinforcements arrive, presupposing your full forwards can win and use the ball when it comes up to them. I think Knockmore lost all three counts today. Aiden Orme seemed to play a lot of his football around midfield and that did not seem to help. Many have been calling to have him on the County team but on todays performance I don’t see him making a major contribution there. Nor do I see Kieran King making a difference in our defence.
    I hope Knockmore can buckle down, retain their Mayo title later this year, learn from today and go on to win next year.

  6. Today highlights the difference between winter and summer football and anyone on here writing off fellas based on a game in January should know better. I’d take Niall Daly over Kevin McLoughlin all day long on a wet pitch in January. Croke Park in August, Kevin Mc all day long. The game today suited Pearses. It’s a bit like Corofin last few years, they might get caught in Nov, Dec down the country, not a hope in Croke Park.

  7. Knockmore, for what ever reason, never seemed to reach the form of 2020. Second year syndrome maybe but they still had a great year. They are a young team and have come a long way in 2 years. January football can be a lottery but they will be disappointed with their shot selections and the 14 wides.

  8. @Big Mick I’d take Niall Daly in the summer and winter as he’s at his peak while Kevin McLoughlin is well past his peak with a load of mileage on the clock.

    In regards to Corofin successful years, I think they got their toughest battles in Galway and Connacht because that’s where the best opposition was.

  9. MO2021
    Kevin McLaughlin turned the Connacht Final against us when he came on at half time also got that crucial score against Dublin in the semi final.
    One of the top10 players in Ireland in the last decade in my opinion and criminally underrated even in Mayo never mind elsewhere.

    What Corofin did to Nemo and Crokes would not have happened on a wet field down the country.
    Their style of play was perfect for better and more open pitches.

  10. If Aidan Orme wasnt playing today Knockmore would have been hammered so people should lay off with the few wides he kicked in early January against a heavy blanket team like Pearces. There is no other better left footed inside forward in the County, if there is please name him??

  11. The point about blanket defences is interesting though. Horans running game plan will always struggle to break down a massed defence, even in a mid ranking side. What do people expect when paddy Durcan, eoghan McLaughlin etc get the ball at wing or corner back and put the heads down soloing like lunatics up the field with the ball. That they will arrive at the opposition 50 yard line and there’s going to be heaps of space for the Mayo inside forward to move into and receive the ball and take on their men one on one??
    Come on now. The frustrating thing is that Mayo have show ability to play differently in flashes. The piece of play leading to Aidan o sheas first half goal chance in the AI final last year (where Mcnamee blocked him) was perfect example.
    Hennelly 55m kick out to S coen. Instant turn from coen and 40m kick pass to Ryan o D. He turns, looks up and picks out AOS 20m from the Tyrone goal directly in front.
    This play took about 3 seconds and the ball was moved the full length of the pitch. The Tyrone defence was ripped to shreds. When AOS received the ball, apart from his marker mcnamee, there wasn’t a man from either side within 20 m of him apart from Niall Morgan the goalie.
    Yes he missed the chance. But that is not the point. The way the ball was moved and the chance was created is the key. Why don’t we see this more often?
    I’ll put it this way – if paddy Durcan or eoghan Mc or Oisin Mullin received that ball instead of coen in the lead up to the chance, what would have happened? I’d say 90% chance they would have soloed up and gone on a “run from deep”. The chance would never have been created then.
    I would love to see T Conroy left inside all game and the ball moved to him as quickly as possible to avoid/bypass a blanket defence. Imagine if you are a Tyrone or Dublin defender in Croke park next summer and Conroy is receiving the ball with 30m of space around you and him in front of your own goal – a scary prospect for any defender.
    An added bonus of this style of play is that is expends less energy, thus reducing the fade outs we have seen with Mayo in the second half of all Ireland finals in particular when the scores really dry up for us.

  12. I think the total debunking of our running game is going to the other extreme. Against Galway in the Connacht final, we were irresistible in the second half. Against Dublin we adapted from the worst of situations: think Diarmaid’s flying run, Conor O’Shea’s hoosh, playing keep ball in the second half of ET.

    Mayo have lost an FBD match, Knockmore lost a provincial final. End of.

  13. I think it’s somewhat incredible the tearing down of this Knockmore team. Some of the Facebook comments also are strange. They didn’t perform on the day. They won a county title without their best player arguably in Darren McHale for a majority of the head and clearly not operating at 100%. Also missing Ruttledge lad and Stadler from last year’s final. Very young squad as a whole and stretched to its limits.

    Poor shot selection. Possibly their worst performance of the year and still could have won a Connacht title. Easy kick a team when they’re down.

  14. Larry Duff, Paddy Durcan frequently kicks the ball long to pick out a player on the half forward line or further upfield to set up a scoring chance.
    Example: he picked out James Carr, leading to that wonder goal in 2019.
    He kicked long to Tommy Conroy in extra time versus Dublin (2021) leading to Tommy’s super second point.
    As far as I am concerned Mayo do have a kicking game that they do use at times.
    I think Paddy’s kicks are mid range kicks with maybe one bounce.
    Other players can pull off even more impressive kicks (Kevin Mc, Conor L).

  15. Your 100% correct Catcol sure its only the aul FBD league and sure lookit James will have taken loads of learnings from that game

  16. It would be good if everyone calmed down a bit. Many of the comments posted here post-game, both on Friday and again yesterday, do those who posted them, nor indeed the blog’s reputation as a place for reasonable debate, any good. It’s one thing to express off-the-cuff remarks in the middle of a game – which I’m wont to do myself as much as anyone else – but post-game you’d expect more in the way of calm-headed and rational analysis. In this regard where do you even begin with a comment that “Knockmore have no forwards”?!

    It’s going to be a long year if these kind of mood swings continue …

  17. Agree with Catcol and WJ above. Crazy to be getting carried away and worked up with a loss in the FBD League, a game that was played in a total artificial setting with a largely experimental team. Yes, Galway were full value for the win, but that game will mean nothing come the Championship at the end of April. There’s lots to be positive about regarding Mayo football going forward, think of where we were after the 2019 All Ireland Semi Final versus where we are now. We were an old and tired team in 2019, now we have unearthed some real young talent, Conroy, Mullin, ROD, McLaughlin are all top quality players and are as good as what is out there in the country. Yes, we should have won last year, but there is nothing that can be done about that now. The way I see it, there are 4 teams that can win Sam this year, Tyrone, Kerry, Dublin and Mayo. On our day, we’re better than each of them.

    Hard luck to Knockmore yesterday, Padraig Pearses gave possibly the best exhibition of shooting in January that I have ever seen, only two or three wides for the full game is some statistic. Pearses were much the bigger team, you could see this early on in some of the match ups. They are a team that are built and suited for winter football. Knockmore probably played better football in 2020 than in 2021, maybe the harder faster pitches in the summer suited their team and style. They are still a very young team and will possibly win more Mayo Championships over the next 5 years. As others have said, the likes of Westport and Ballina need to push on, they’ve been hyped up an awful lot by some over the past 2/3 years, it’s now time to deliver.

  18. Pearses had Carey and Darcy and that was the difference.
    I still think Shane McHale is worth a look at.
    Aidan Orme might be better as a playmaking 11.
    Colm Reape is worth a look at.
    McHale outmuscled the Dalys and they will be first choice Roscommon.
    He outmuscled every opponent all year. I don’t see what more he can do.
    The thing is as well, watch his football apart from the kickouts and tackling.
    He makes all his passes, he makes good decisions on the ball. I don’t see a better Mayo midfield partner for Matthew Ruane.

  19. We are all just cranky and pissed off WJ.
    It’s just a bit toxic at the minute.
    I haven’t seen this mood in Mayo before.

  20. Very good point Way out West about taking 2019 as the baseline. We’ve made some progress from that position, when Dublin pulverised us for ten minutes of the second half. We shot our bolt by half time in that semi final.

    Don’t agree though on ‘ yes, we should have won last year’; I think we’ve allowed a narrative to develop that we should have won the All Ireland. Fact: Tyrone were a better team in that match. What was frustrating of course, was that most of our players had poor games – the Mayo News player analysis gave most a score of five. The other aspect was that Tyrone left the door open, they were shaky, as any team about to win a big one after a long time are. I haven’t watched it back, but my son did last week, and, he said he hadn’t realised how good Tyrone were, Morgan in particular. My son is a proud Dub, but has been a dedicated Mayo supporter over the past few years.

  21. Following on from previous comments…I don’t just think it’s one game the Tourlestrane game was a poor standard also. For all those saying why aren’t there more Knockmore men on the Mayo squad I think we saw why…I didn’t see anyone outside of those already on it who if they can’t do it against the Sligo or Ros champions then will unlikely do it against a Div 1 team.

    Also you can have a running and kicking game not just running and handpass…the ball needs to be kicked and a few runners coming off shoulder not 5 ot 6 lads running and handfasting and allowing defences time to set up or blankets to get organised. Hard luck Knockmore but I’m commenting on the similarities to other finals which is disappointing to watch…the game was there to take and they didn’t take it.

  22. Yes, I think many supporters are cranky – good point, 1989.
    At the risk of wading into treacherous waters, I strongly agree with the sentiments of Catcol above when he challenges the notion that Mayo should have won the Final last year.
    How can anyone say that?
    I believed before the game, and believe now, that it was a 50:50 game.
    Now, we certainly could have played better, and Tyrone certainly played a few cuts above, but for me the game was anyone’s beforehand, many things considered. For me this is a central point.

  23. @catcol, when you were at the game rather than watching it on tv then I can tell you Tyrone were no great shakes at all, they’ll never win a handier All-Ireland and that’s a certainty.

    Of course they did deserve to win and nobody can say any different but focusing on Tyrone is a diversionary tactic and I believe it’s one of the main drivers of a clear and obvious divide in Mayo support.

    What is driving genuine football people bananas in Mayo is the cohort who try and peddle this idea that the opposition is always that bit better in the finals and that’s that, I’m sorry but that is not that at all because the majority of players and the management have held their hands up and said they did not perform on the day.

    It’s a pointless exercise looking for new players in the county until the day comes that we can make the most of what we already have and it is the responsibility of the manager to be able to get the most of of what he has and develop a system to suit what he has rather than constantly trying to develop players to suit the one trick system.

  24. Must say it was an interesting weekend of football all round. Didn’t get a chance to see Kilmeena but fair play to them on a fantastic victory. As for the FBD game, some good and bad points to take away. Nice to see more kicking in our game, changing things up and keeping the opposition guessing. Certainly wouldn’t be too worried about the result this early in the year. James is definitely trying to build a quicker style of play which I like. Good to see a few new faces in there too. Young Callaghan from Ballina looks like a talent although I thought he was a wing back.
    Watched the Knockmore game on tv yesterday. For January football and a soggy pitch I actually thought it wasn’t a bad game. Pearses absolutely ruthless in front of goal which was the difference. I certainly wouldn’t be one for going in hard on Knockmore though. Average age of the forward line yesterday was 21 which is incredible to think. And they still created 27 scoring chances. On another day it could have been a comfortable win for them. Plenty of scope for development considering they were missing Stadler, lost King after 20 minutes and McHale and Rutdledge only 50% fit. But credit to Pearses, got the scores on the board and that’s what matters.

  25. I have to laugh at the numerous posters from other clubs coming on to give Knockmore a kicking and would suggest maybe they turn their glare at far more hyped, more resourced, star-studded clubs like Westport, Breaffy and Ballina and ask why they cant get the job done at county level.

    Knockmore have started 2020 and 2021 as rank outsiders with the bookies to win Mayo SFC and managed a back to back, while missing their main forward and with a physically small team. Its a hell of an achievement. Perhaps some of the teams listed above could learn from them instead of sniping

    I also have to laugh at the countless posts about ‘Player X didnt exactly put his hand up for the county team’ following yesterdays game, i can guarantee none of the Knockmore players gave a solitary sh1t about putting their hand up for county yesterday, their only concern was for their club and winning a title as it should be.

    Spoiler alert: Most hardcore club people tend to prioritise club fortunes over county, as it should be

  26. Geelong were training today for the first day of preseason after Christmas and there was no sign of Mullin. When he’s not out there at this stage there is clearly some kind of delay on this proposed move

  27. Couldn’t agree more with Supermac above. One thing that is very evident with Knockmore is their level of work rate and willingness to die for one another on the field. When they went 7 down yesterday I thought they were finished. But by god did they fight back to try and win the game. And look at the end of the day they didn’t win but it wasn’t for the lack of trying with again an extremely young team what hasn’t physically developed yet. That Pearses team are seasoned with 7 county players. No push over by any means. How many other club teams in Mayo would have fought like that? I’m not saying Knockmore are the finished article by any means but by god they definitely have the right principles needed in a team to achieve success.

  28. Regarding Orme, I think he was one of the best players on the pitch yesterday, bar a couple of bad wides. He took the fight to Pearses in the first half at a critical time, getting scores and creating turnovers, when their backs were to the wall.
    King going off injured was a massive blow for Knockmore. Prior to this he was Knockmore’s best player by a mile. He looked fit, sharp, and was constantly an outlet, driving forward. Not sure how he’d fare at intercounty, but yesterday he may just have been the difference to the outcome.

    Knockmore’s wides were inexcusable so clearly they deserved what they got. Surprised the didn’t bring Rutledge on earlier.

  29. @Swallow Swoops, the 2-14 to 0-15 result is a far cry from a 50:50, had we given it our all and lost by a point or two then while it would have been disappointing we would be over that now and looking forward to the season ahead.

    So losing the game in itself is not the issue, it’s the manner of the defeat which is the big problem.

    Many have lost faith and feel their loyalty is being rewarded by being made fools of.

  30. I for one can only dream of my own club achieving what that Knockmore group have achieved in the past 2 years. And for some reason people seem to enjoy sniping at them every step of the way. They’ve beaten Ballintubber 2 years in a row. They’ve won a county title 2 years in a row. They’ve done it with huge changes to personnel across both seasons something very few town clubs could do let alone a rural club.

    They died with their boots on yesterday against a seasoned outfit who have felt the pain of a Connacht final loss in 2019 and spent 2 years growing. This Knockmore team could easily be 2-3 years ahead of where they would have thought they would be in terms of competing for county titles. I can’t imagine they will care less about the experts from over the fence telling them they’re doing everything wrong and haven’t this or that. They’ve won games, titles and respect. When they’ve lost they’ve learned.

    They’re defending county champions this year. Its hard to not see them being there or there abouts again. But it’s good news for my club if everyone is to believed that Raymond Dempsey hasn’t a clue and Knockmore are well found out!

  31. The further you go, and the more you achieve in this county, the bigger the amount of abuse you end up getting.

    In a way, aren’t the teams that didn’t win the county title, luckier than the team that did win it. If you get beaten early doors in the county championship, you can slink off in to the darkness and not too much said about it.

    Progress though, and win your county title, but at some later stage come a cropper, and by jaysus the scythes are sharpened.

    It doesn’t pay to be successful in this county.

    The County team follows much the same march.

    Achieve miracles by getting to an AI final. The support rises and rises above the flames of the teams achievements. But by Christ, if and when the team fails to win the Charriot carrying the centurion’s is turned upside down in this county, and the centurions who had been battling towards eventual victory all year, and are dumped down into the flames that had been powering them to their immortal glory.

    Oh to be a Mayo footballer.

  32. Revellino- well said. The county teams in the bad old days when we couldn’t even reach a connaught final never mind win a connaught title never got the kind of abuse a lot of the players on the current team are getting.
    You could say the same about previous managers as well.

  33. Viper, I know you’ll forgive me for not responding in depth. I’ve read many of your thoughts on the final and your strongly-held ideas for improvement to the team in the time between then and now. I know you hold sincerely to them.
    I know people have varying views on all of the above.
    I still hold the view that it wasn’t a match with our name on the cup beforehand. When I say a 50:50 match, I’m talking about the probability of who might win. Neither team ‘should’ have won but either ‘could’. That’s my point. It has nothing to do with the result. But it has a lot to do with expectations.

  34. As a mayo man living in Dublin I have to agree with Revellino. I’m involved with a club here in Dublin, only intermediate but the level of criticism of players is shocking when I compare both counties. I’ve been watching the club stuff in Mayo over the last few years and in my opinion the Knockmore model is extremely impressive. The age profile of the players and the success they have already achieved is incredible. I’d say they are the youngest group to ever win a county title in Mayo yet alone back to back? But you would wonder why they would bother. Same for the managers. The time these lads put in to represent their club and county only to be abused by the hard core keyboard warriors who have never kicked a ball in their lives. Not saying their on this blog but I saw some weak comments on other social media platforms about players and management in knockmore over the last few days. Not to mention what happened to the Mayo management in September after the AI final. No one is above a bit of criticism but I agree with Willie Joe. It seems to be toxic at times.

  35. Hard to know what the delay in oisins move is when geelong announced it nearly 2 months ago, looks like it might be put on hold for a year possibly

  36. @Revellino, your point may be valid had Mayo won at least 1, 2 or 3 of the All Ireland’s played in since 1989.
    But, But, when you don’t get a single win then there must be something very wrong.
    I believe it’s the mindset.
    For me the 2021 defeat was the worst for many years.

  37. @Swallow Swoops, yes but my point is that the performance on the day by the majority of players coupled with a lack of a clear specific game plan and game management took that 50:50 chance away.

    Nobody can deny that fact, no matter what spin they try to put on it.

    It wasn’t our first rodeo, but we managed to make it look that way.

    This mindset of Mayo reaching an All-Ireland final being some kind of “miracle” needs to be nipped right in the bud, it’s totally unhelpful and totally inaccurate, look at the players we have produced and the money that has been spent on the team.

    Miracles are for the Carlows of this world, saying it’s a miracle is just a convenient way of covering up the cracks.

  38. @mayo88.

    I don’t want to get in to some G8 type summit on this topic, and believe me I’m as guilty as some others when summing up performances,

    But.

    Can you inform me, at what particular stage am I entitled to lambast a player or a member of the management team ?

    I’ve never kicked a ball in a mayo match or at a Mayo training session for that matter. I’ve never actually done anything that might improve the team except buy a few tickets and shout for them at games.

    Does this qualify me to run down a player or a manager ? No.

    Does every player that lines out for their team (be it county or club), do they try their bery best, every time ?

    Absolutely.

    Does every manager that puts out a team believe that they are putting out the team that will give them the best chance of success ?

    Absolutely.

    Here is a list of players that have produced a perfect performance in the past 50 years.

    Doesn’t exist.

    And now a list of managers who have never made a mistake.

    There aren’t any.

    Anybody is allowed query a players ability or a manager’s strategy.

    To query formations and managerial decisions is one of the joys of following and enjoying your team, be it club or county.

    Someone assuming that these players and managers owe a person / supporter, anything other than the expectation of their prime performance, whether that happens or not, is a case of that someone regarding themselves a little bit above their level. The players and managers owe us absolutely nothing regardless of how many AI’s have been lost.

    These players and managers only owe to themselves.

  39. Players playing below their ability on big days is probably the hardest pill of all for supporters to swallow. The big stage and the opportunity to showcase your talents after all the hard work is so inviting and time and time again, players dont step up to the plate. And its why so many of us are finding it difficult to come to terms with 2021 imo.
    Maybe the infusion of outside blood may put that bit of mental steel into us. Speaking of which the addition of McGraynor to the Westport panel is fascinating. The Kevin Keane injury was a big blow to westports hopes last season, reducing the effectiveness of the ‘módh direach’ route as a mixer to the more calculated ‘keep possession’ built up. McGraynor should be around 27 and was promising enough in the past to play for any county.

  40. Interesting reading all the comments. The mood of the Mayo public/supporters has been really low since the final. To me its the worse loss of all and the pressure will be on management-players if there are losses in the upcoming league games. I noticed no new additions to the backroom team which is a pity.

  41. @Revellino, exactly, “other than the expectation of their prime performance”, but we didn’t get that did we.

    Nobody is even asking or expecting a perfect performance, you don’t need to have a perfect performance to win, Tyrone and many more have shown us that, every team and manager will make mistakes but if your team happens to top the charts on a continual basis then of course supporters will start to look at what’s going on.

    It’s not just Mayo supporters questioning this, every media outlet in the country and even some internationally have questioned Mayo’s mentality.

    They can’t all be wrong.

  42. Viper, this is just a general question.

    How good were Mayo at the final whistle against Dublin?

    (How much better were the Mayo team who beat Dublin by three points in comparison to the scenario of the same team losing the game by a point in normal time?)

    Are they different teams or the same team?

  43. @Viper.

    Regardless of what level performance we get, the question is.
    Do we have the right lambast the players / management ?

    I don’t think I have the right.

    Explain to me why you think you do.

  44. @Swallow Swoops, same team but different mindset, this is the fascinating thing about team sport, some people see a team sheet only but if you’re not mentally up for it then it matters not what names are on the team sheet.

    There is far more to winning a game than the group of individuals, look at the Dublin team that won six in a row.

    Would they have won six in a row if a less intelligent manager than Jim Gavin was in charge of them ?

    I doubt it very much, so the word “team” extends far beyond the players.

    On a separate note, would Mayo have gone on such a journey over the last decade without the fans support both in the stands and financially, not a hope, so it’s a two way street, can’t be expected to shout one day but shut up the next.

  45. @Revellino, to be fair to you but it’s a straw man argument you are making because nobody on here has said “I have a right to lambast the players / management.

    People are entitled to an opinion based on the facts and evidence presented and it’s not as if players or management have not acknowledged that they simply did not perform or need to take learnings.

  46. Mabye this current Mayo team played as good as they are in the final in 2021 – regardless of who the manager is.
    When did this team play any better before the final?
    Remember the team in the final last year was not the team of 2017 that had players like – Clarke, Barrett, a fit Harrison and Boyler, Higgins, Vaughan, Seamus, Tom P, Doherty, Andy and Cillian. If all these 11 players were fully fit and available I would have said we underperformed big time and left an all Ireland behind us last year.
    But that team is gone and I saw nothing in our performances against Galway and Dublin to suggest we were going to beat Tyrone. I couldn’t understand the confidence among a lot of Mayo people before last years final.

  47. I’m tired seeing us losing 50:50 All Ireland finals. I think we all are. Ontheditch, I’d agree, the underformances are the hardest to take. Time after time. It really would make you feel like giving up on them. But we don’t give up, we keep supporting. But we can’t ignore it and pretend everything’s ok. The vast majority of criticism is deserved, fair and not at all abusive.

  48. Despite Knockmore’s reluctance to kick points from thirty yards out and some terrible shooting I have a few questions about the refereeing.

    1 On three occasions yesterday a Roscommon player took the ball from the ground between his knees, once inside his own big square. Is this no longer a violation of the rules?
    2 Shortly after their penalty and in their own large parallelogram a Knockmore player was held down by the pressing down on both shoulders to prevent him jumping for the ball.

    3 In the second half after a ball went out over the sideline (on the clubhouse side) a Roscommon player delivered a straight elbow to his opponent’s face, beside the linesman and not too far removed from our pre match ‘Come Dancing’ Referee.

  49. For some reason I find it impossible to get excited for football in 2021. I feel that nothing will change from last year.
    2021 no different to any other year, play well to win a Semi final and do not show up for the final.

    One good thing for 2022, their is no one single team that we can say will win the All Ireland at this stage. Early days but I do not see any County way out in front of the pack.
    Mayo got to get out of the habit of taking out the favourites at Semi final stage only to limp out at final stage.

    Revellino, I prefer to see a manager dogging his players along the full length of the sideline ( my way ) that going away quietly with head down when things are not going his way during a game.

    Viper, you make valid points and have a great way with words, a bit like a Journalist or Reporter.

  50. It is pure torture all these losses mounting up. Will anythng change for the 2022 season? Like what ‘learnings’ is there going to be on year eight of James Horan’s as manager. That is what I am waiting to see from 30th January onwards. It will be interesting to see will the backroom person who breached the covid regulations twice be still involved.

  51. You keep supporting your team no matter what…club and county, that’s a given. We have had an incredible level of support the past 10 years but supporters have a right to be critical and fed up as long as the criticism does not drift into personal abuse.

    I think Mayo people have probably been criticised from the outside for being too devoted to the team and not asking the hard questions…that’s what I’ve been told anyway what the perception of us is.

    We are a unique team in the amount of finals we lose and chances we get. You have to take your chance when it comes along. Hard luck stories, bad luck, not showing up, sending offs, blaming refs, mistakes on the field and on the line…it all gets a bit repetitive.

    I think last September broke a lot of people but as mentioned we had no right to win, it had to be fought and earned and we didn’t do that. All the talk before the game was ending the curse etc etc and they was feck all talk about Tyrone.

  52. There was so much at stake in this years final. Mayo had the support of 31 counties. A win for Mayo would have established them as the only Great outside of Dublin in recent times.
    Defeat and any of the 31 counties would fancy themselves when meeting Mayo in a final.
    And thats where we are at. A giant step backwards. A bigger hill than ever to climb.
    So much so that those of us in the autumn of our lives are begining to doubt will we ever get over the line. And as long as players are overawed by the occasion on the big day this will not happen.
    Most posters are trying to identify where the focus needs to be to reach the holy grail. But there is no doubting 2021 hurts for everyone.
    We dont have to go searching for excuses for knockmore,blaming ref decisions, blaming conditions etc, the wides statistic tells it all.

  53. Point of correction @mayo88. We did not take out the favourite in the semi final last year, that was Kerry. In fact I can’t remember the last time we beat the championship favourite. Possibly 2012?

    To all the people still giving out about management, what exactly do ye want? Someone new to come in 3 weeks before the league? We’re not exactly cleaning up underage titles (arguably 4th best in Connacht at minor level recently). You can be angry/disappointed with last year’s final without burning the house down to final the solution.

    I’ve yet to see a credible alternative mentioned to Horan. People naming Jack O’Connor who lives over 4 hours away and had eyes for the Kerry job the whole time when managing Kildare.

  54. Well i thought/hoped James Horan would have freshened up the backroom team. A new voice, different ideas – anything at all at this stage would have been worth a try!

  55. Citog I agree. Why can’t the Sunday game do a 10 minutes segment each night on the rules with examples. The amount of people that don’t know the black card rule is unbelievable. For the Jerome Henry controversy did the ball travel 20 metres for the mark? I did not see the game.

  56. Im logging off this blog for a few months and enjoying the season, cant be reading this negativity for the season ahead.

    Hopefully some of ye can put it behind ye and enjoy the year ahead watching our exciting young team.

    Mayo for Sam 2022!!!

  57. @Wide Ball, I’ll tell you what people want, they want improvement, and that does not automatically mean a change of manager unless the manager comes out and says “I cannot” do any better.

    And of course James Horan has not said that, he has actually said the opposite, he has acknowledged that he must learn from his own mistakes.

    We must not forget that James Horan not only has years of experience in management but has completed a Masters in Personal and Management Coaching at UCC, not to mention his work with Sky and access to some of the top coaches in a number of sports. He also knows from his own experience both as a manager and a player how costly mistakes are in finals.

    So the question needs to be asked, what is going wrong for James Horan, a man with a wealth of experience and badges to go with it, is he too set in his ways, has he the right team around him, is the pressure simply too much when it comes to the finals, which could have drastic implications on his decision making and does his often look of resignation on the sideline feed into the players psyche in times of need ?

    I want to see James Horan succeed but I also know that if he does not learn from his own mistakes that he will not succeed and that would be a terrible shame.

    So many things are fixable for Mayo without making wholesale changes, so when people call for change it does not necessarily mean a change of personnel, it can mean a change of attitude, a change of approach and so many more things, from the County Board down and I include local media as well, too much is written and milked out of curses and 1951, 96′ and so on. That needs to stop.

    2022 will be a defining year for Mayo football.

  58. The view of Kevin McLoughlin as published in last week’s Indo.

    “isn’t every county, he asks, a loser in a particular season if they haven’t won an All-Ireland title?”

    I would surmise he is not trying to excuse any failure but at the same time for a player’s own sanity, they have to find a way to park it and get fresh motivation to go onto the next season.

    If a great number of supporters are fed up with dashed expectations, I can only imagine it is 10x that for most of the players.  

    Looking ahead to the league,  we hope any lingering effects of last year’s final defeat will be gone after the first game.
    Use several fresh faces to give older guys a break is likely to happen as it fits Horan’s philopsophy, but it has its own risks as we found out in our 2020 relegation.

    Beating Tyrone in the league may be a small step to kickstart the “recovery” but then again, we have frequently been able to beat previous year’s all-Ireland winners.

  59. Sean Kilroy – I agree with you. There was a time when logging into this site was enjoyable. However since last years all Ireland things have changed. I notice a lot of the old reliables seem to have left the site. There are some new contributors who are spinning the same story since the final and it’s got very boring and tedious at this stage. There are other people who obviously have an agenda to get rid of Horan, Hennelly and Aidan o Shea. I can only imagine what they will be like if we lose a few league games. The enjoyment and light hearted nature of some of the old contributors is gone and missed

  60. @Revillino
    I believe we’ve had conflicting views on here with you but I 100% agree with you here.
    There are some posters who seem to think lads who put their lives on hold and make the sacrifices for years owe them something.As if winning means more to a supporter than players…the guys who actually put in the work.
    Look,I go to all the games and have been at all the finals same as most on here,we were all disappointed in Sept,it was probably the worst one for me.The way people work through and deal with that disappointment is telling.
    The massive sense of entitlement in some (still a minority,but vocal and prolific in posts) is as baffling as it is irksome.

  61. Viper – that’s a reasonable, constructive post. The main problem I have is with the constant, underhand digs at players/management since the final, from a handful of contributers.

    During the club championship when Belmullet/Knockmore won a few games, their management/coaches were praised (deservedly) but only as a stick to beat Horan with. Then you’d people blowing up the performances of club players, just to have a dig at certain Mayo players and Horan for showing favouritism.

    The whole thing has got very tiresome to read at this stage.

  62. Totally agree with you Southmayo Exile.. getting well sick of the same auld drum been bet over and over again. I’m going to skip out of here for a while for my own sanity. I don’t know how you do it Willie Joe

  63. @Wide Ball, I understand, and you’re right to be irked about it, we must work with what we have but I firmly believe that there is enough talent already there that are capable of winning an All-Ireland, if they are willing to change and adapt and that is where the big “if” comes in.

    If we take Rob for example, the criticism he has received has been well documented at this stage and there is no doubt that he has been caught out of position on several occasions which has had costly consequences.

    The most common reaction is to say, “we need a new keeper”, a few names have been banded about, are there any blatantly obvious candidates out there, I’m not sure there are.

    I would like to see a focus by management on improving Rob’s game and I think that good coaching and a more vocal backline can help eradicate his sometimes poor decision making and positional sense, because an improvement between the posts can be as good as finding a half forward who will chip in with 3 or even 6 points in a game, most people tend to forget this though and focus only on the shooters. -3/6 conceded is the same as +3/6 scored.

    There is nothing more demoralizing than seeing your hard earned 3 points being wiped out by a mistake that is totally preventable.

    You can’t produce players out of thin air so you must compensate for that by making tweaks to the system to suit the players at your disposal, but you must get your defensive structure in order before you even start thinking about finding new forwards, and start with your number 1.

    There was a lot of focus after the All-Ireland on the chances we missed, I’d suggest people have a look at how we conceded many of our scores as well, and how far off our markers were.

  64. If Oisin stays, it is a huge boost for us. I just hope he is not being pressured into staying or going if that’s the case.

    Should he stay, it is time for him to be unleashed in the half back line or midfield! Don’t want to see another absolutely incredible prospect being shoehorned into full back line.
    For all his talents, he is not a corner back or a full back. I would personally rather have a couple of dogs in full back line, lads who just love defending & shutting down their opponents. It’s not flashy, but it’s what wins All Irelands.

  65. Conor McGraynor was a quality player, I’m writing past tense as at county level he is inactive for a few seasons.
    If he was one of Westports best forwards would we call him in?
    I think he’d get a call if he was really tearing it up is my view.
    He’s a big framed fella who can move. Out and out forward role has been his career.
    For some quirk of genetics or other reason we’ve not had too many big forwards the last ten years.

  66. If Oisin stays, he must only be played in one position: midfield. It’s a no brainer. We need to utilise his strengths to the max. Plus, we’re short of talent at midfield, and he’d be the perfect partner for Mattie.

  67. I haven’t been on here for the past few months for similar reasons to those already expressed by several posters. Tyrone rose to the occasion better than we did and got their tactics spot-on, they deserved to win. However, for me everything surrounding that All-Ireland final was wrong from a Mayo perspective.

    -The carry on concerning tickets in the lead-up to the final;
    -Players being selected out of position;
    -The tactics adopted on the day itself. Horan and MacDonald had been at the other semi-final but didn’t seem to have learned anything from the mistakes that Kerry made in getting turned over repeatedly by Tyrone;
    -The flare-up on the touchline during the game. Have you ever seen anything like it in an All-Ireland final before?
    -The amount of simple chances our forwards missed;
    -The aftermath, including some overwrought social media stuff by disappointed fans (as usual), as well as comments in the media by senior players to the effect that Mayo supporters should be happy with our lot. Is it too much to expect that the team will turn up on All-Ireland final day?

    As for Oisín Mullen, we will know the outcome of his situation soon enough I suspect, not much point in hashing it out here. Irrespective of what he decides, good luck to him.

    In any case, it’s probably time to be realistic about our prospects in the near future. We have been under-performing for the past decade or so at underage level, with the exception of the two All-Ireland winning sides (who were probably carried over the line by a couple of exceptional talents). We have taken regular hammerings from Galway and Ros in that period.

    I would be very surprised if we are a regular fixture on All-Ireland final day this decade. Time to go back to basics, and in particular to put an end to the in-fighting that has characterised Mayo GAA since time immemorial.

    To me, it’s no surprise that the counties that are serial All-Ireland winners in either code- your Dublins, Kilkennys, Kerrys etc.- rarely if ever see their internal issues splashed across the national media, as seems to be a habit with us.

  68. I Don’t buy this idea that “you never see the internal issues in Dublin and Kerry etc splashed across the media as they are too busy winning”.
    That is just simply not true. Dublin GAA is the highest profile sporting team in Ireland. Off the top of my head, in recent years I can think of the Diarmuid Connolly Saga and the manner in which he left the panel and fell out with Jim Gavin, the circus around Cluxton all last year, and the few players and management getting banned for training illegally during covid as three clear examples of some dirty linen getting a good public washing.
    They weren’t all goody two shoes in Kerry either. The manner in which Keane was made apply for a job he had no chance of getting last year and how they courted Jack o connor left a sour taste in plenty kingdom mouths. It was a grubby enough episode for the Kerry county board.
    There’s plenty of scandal to go around in the GAA well beyond the Mayo borders I can assure you of that.

  69. 74 and counting posts basically criticising Knockmore and Mayo football. 41 posts on the previous thread about Kilmeena winning a Connacht title (and a large portion of those are also criticising Knockmore and Mayo football). I think this highlights where this blog has been at for the last few months. It seems people (or at least a certain section of people) on here are more interested in focusing on the negative and taking every opportunity to have a go at Mayo football than celebrating when a Mayo team actually wins something. Trawling through post after post of negative complaining and sometimes outrageous claims is tiring and definitely not enjoyable reading, which the blog once was. I think I will call it a day on coming here because it really isn’t worth it any more and stick to going to games or watching on tv and enjoy them for what they are, a sporting pass time.

  70. The blog is as good as it ever was (in other words, fantastic), with our peerless moderator and gaffer in charge.

    It’s certain posters, who don’t know how to let go of a bone, and keep picking it…

  71. @Mayomad, I’m not sure enough people actually understand what the different types of criticism are and that constructive criticism is actually hugely beneficial in many aspects of life.

    So if we were to accept that the opposite of criticism is “praise”, what would I do with an otherwise good employee who has a weakness of missing Monday’s, would I fire him, praise him or criticize him with the aim of improving him and making him a better person.

    The biggest disservice any coach can do to a player is allow him or her continue with sloppy habits and not direct constructive criticism their way in order to help improve their game, if that player takes it personally, then I know they haven’t got the mental steel that I require.

    And the biggest disservice anyone could do regarding Mayo is to come out full of praise for them after the All-Ireland final, how are you supposed to improve if every mistake you make is praised.

    If you look at my own comments regarding Rob, what do you think a good coach would do to help him, praise him, drop him or sit him down and criticize some habitual mistakes he makes in order to improve his game.

    The latter should always be the first port of call.

    There will always be those who will prefer to only read positive comments where it’s all a bit of a mature pastime to them regardless of whether Mayo win, lose or draw, and that’s entirely their prerogative and then there are others who actually want Mayo to improve and succeed and to do that you must address the negative aspects, in a constructive way.

  72. I think everybody should relax get ready for the league games coming up and be in good voice to support the team when the league games begin. It will be flat -out for us supporters then until the championship is over in July. I did not get a ticket for lasts year final and watched it at home, but I was amazed at the numbers of mayo supporters that travelled to Dublin without tickets just to be there when MAYO won the all-ireland. There was no way Mayo were not going to beat Tyrone in a lot of supporters minds. Let 2021 be a lesson for us in 2022. THE all-ireland in not won until the final whistle sounds in the match and MAYO are ahead on the scoreboard.

  73. @viper. You obviously have coaching experience yourself, not necessarily in football realm. I agree fully with your post above. Many poster comments are offering constructive criticism. Other keep looking to find excuses for underperformance.

  74. @Larry Duff: I didn’t say that there’s never trouble in those counties, what I suggested is that they are better at managing it internally than we seem to be. You mention Cluxton but he hasn’t said a word in the media, which goes a long way towards dousing the thing.

    With Mayo, it seems like every closed season there is some sort of acrimony or distraction going on, whether is was the players’ heave against Holmes and Connelly, the farrago of the interview process for their successor, the fallout from the last New York trip and public bust-ups with would-be benefactors, speculation over bust-ups within the management team, the shabby way Rochford was treated after his final season etc.

    I would also agree with Jimbo on the over-confidence thing in the run-up to the All-Ireland final last year. I was one of very few posters on here that was circumspect about the challenge that Tyrone offered, many seemed to have believed that it was only a matter of turning up, which is quite incredible when you compare the recent records of the counties involved.

    JH has been known to say that his first reign removed the BS from Mayo football, but honestly, there seems to be a lot still floating round.

  75. Some of the Mayo players in action in the 1st round of the Sigerson tonight and a link for NUIG v University of Ulster at 7pm https://pod.link/1577166942/episode/52cafdc63603059e7785dcdec691d877

    University of Limerick
    Eoghan McLaughlin Westport
    Jack Coyne Ballyhaunis
    Connell Dempsey Knockmore
    Paul Towey Charlestown
    Jack Mahon Charlestown
    Conor Igoe Bonniconlon
    Luke Tunney Westport

    IT Carlow
    Keelan McDonnell

    IT Sligo
    Luke Jennings Ballinrobe
    Fintan McManamon Burrishoole
    Evan Reaney Ballinrobe

    NUIG
    Tommy Conroy The Neale
    Fionn McDonagh Westport
    Gavin Durcan Castlebar
    Ultan O’Reilly Castlebar

    Letterkenny IT
    Sean Neary Bonniconlon

  76. Excellent article by Anthony Hemighan Western People about revisiting the decision to have all league games played outside the county. This is something us supporters could get behind. Keep the posts coming Viper – great analysis always.

  77. Looking forward to seeing more of Towey in a Mayo shirt. The sigerson fixture must be the reason he wasn’t in the FBD panel recently.

  78. Coming late to the party here (happy new year everyone!). Good to see everyone came back in great form after Christmas 😉 though the varying perspectives above are mostly fair and with merit.

    Firstly commiserations to Knockmore and I’m glad to see some pushback against some of the earlier comments – well said Supermac. It was a very frustrating game to watch and while the shooting was abysmal it was still a hard way to lose, knowing they had the winning of the game. To their credit, they didn’t put the heads down and kept trying to the end. Padraig Pearses were excellent and full value for their victory and I’d love to see them win it out now.

    It Means Nothing to Me, I can’t help but agree with your sentiments, as much as I’d like not to. The hope died for me last September, and I can’t see that win happening now any time soon. But it was far more than just losing a match and the poor performance that suggested all was not as it should have been on the day. It was the events prior to and subsequently that nailed the lid on the coffin. I didn’t renew my season ticket so will be saving the car tyres a bit this year. That’s my choice, as was rarely missing a game in the past, and what is it they say? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out! Maybe stepping back a bit will bring some perspective. That said, I am still looking forward to a few days out, and seeing how our young guns progress but the obsession levels are low and the cynicism is at an all-time high. Perhaps the lack of expectation will deliver a surprise. (It’s the hope that kills you!).

    At the risk of being accused of taking a dig, I think Horan’s refusal to communicate over the past year hasn’t helped matters. People who are invested in the team – and put their hands in their pockets to support them – really welcome the odd update or piece of news from the camp. Clarification on injuries, for example could have put lots of mutterings and rumours to bed throughout the year. Holding a press night nearly a month before the final spoke volumes. Tyrone didn’t shut up shop, and it did them absolutely no harm, and we get it, he doesn’t like the media stuff but allowing things to fester instead of nipping them in the bud is counter-productive, and it’s a missed opportunity to control the narrative too.

    A comment made by FW above caught my eye – re lads “putting their lives on hold” and making sacrifices. I finally got to sit down and start Andy Moran’s book over Christmas (and if you haven’t read it yet, make it your business to do so – it’s a fantastic read and a lovely tribute to his teammates) and he basically rubbished that notion early on. He was adamant that players committing to the team aren’t sacrificing anything for the greater good, that it is their choice to play and to work at playing at that level, and it is probably even a selfish decision to devote their time and energy to it for their own fulfilment (I’m paraphrasing greatly, but you get what I mean). I used to subscribe to that notion years ago but at the end of the day, they are grown men who decide to put in the time and the effort, and fair play to them, I admire them hugely for their discipline and sporting prowess, but they are not making sacrifices for us! That said, I doubt anyone feels the losses more than they do. I’d have given anything to see Kev Mc get that Connacht medal.

    Fully in agreement with Anthony Hennigan’s article. It has been such a joy to have games in the Stephenites this year (a very handy commute!) and compared to the sterility of McHale Park it is such an enjoyable experience. The Mayo hurlers are playing three NHL games in Ballina this year. Rather than traipsing up to Clones or Omagh, I know where I’ll be those weekends and I’m really looking forward to those games.

    Wishing you all a happy and healthy year ahead.

  79. Yeah Ann-marie, I read Andy’s book and it is a great read.
    I’m now reading Aidan o Mahony’s Unbroken. He echoed what Andy said. He said that it was only a sacrifice for the wife/partner , family and friends. He mentioned a few times that it’s a very selfish thing, when you’re playing for the county.

  80. Would second the recommendations of Andy’s autobiography, it’s a philosophical read which is a real insight into the mental side of the game, and a major departure from the usual turgid stuff you get with sportsmen’s books.

  81. Can understand the Hennelly criticism to some degree. However I suspect some posters haven’t seen much club action based on the calls to replace him.
    Let’s just spell one thing out clearly – Rob Hennelly is the best goalkeeper in club football in Mayo at the present time, and by some distance. The next best option in 2022
    is probably 40 year old David Clarke.
    You’d swear we had a Rory Beggan or Niall Morgan clone somewhere in the fringes that is being kept out of the side by a breaffy conspiracy the way some people talk.
    Rob (with all his attributes and his flaws) will play every game for Mayo in 2022 that he is fit and available for. I’m absolutely certain of that. Unfortunately the other goalkeeping options in the Mayo set up are well off the level required to play in a intercounty senior team competing for sam. There’s a couple of promising youngsters like Luke Jennings but 2022 is too soon for him I’m afraid.
    So basically, incremental improvement from Rob is our best chance of an improvement in that sector, but I must say, I think he’s already a pretty solid keeper at this level and will probably be in the top 5 Mayo goalkeepers ever by the end of his career.

  82. Larry Duff. Please give us a break from reading all the positives about Rob. How many goals did he concede in the 2021 championship? Enough said

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