Westmeath 2-12 Mayo 0-21: too close for comfort

Well, that was a lot closer than I certainly expected today’s Division Two North clash with Westmeath at Cusack Park would be. While we were never really in danger of losing this one, we never looked like we’d win it convincingly either. Three points separated the teams at the finish and you’d have to say that was a fair enough reflection of how the contest had gone.

We had a disjointed air about us early on, a reflection I’d say that had something to do with the flurry of late changes we made before the ball was thrown in. We made three switches to the starting fifteen and several more to the bench as well and I don’t think we can claim to have improved matters in the process.

It was a surprise to see Ben Doyle start instead of Enda Hession, who’d enjoyed such a solid debut last weekend and who could really have done with a second outing. The young Westport player didn’t have a happy time on his debut, coughing up a few cheap frees, which Westmeath converted, and he was also off the pace for their first goal, which they bagged opportunistically with just two minutes played.

This happened when an attempt at a point came off the upright and Loughlin was on hand to win the race for the rebound. He had plenty of time to round Robbie Hennelly and slot it to the net.

We opened our account on five minutes. Eoghan McLaughlin – who started instead of Rory Brickenden – ended a patient move with a left-footed strike to grab our opening point.

Heslin, from a free, restored the home side’s three-point advantage. They looked by far the more settled team at this stage, though even then their tactic of withdrawing everyone into their own half had the look of one that wasn’t eventually going to carry the day for them.

We seemed rushed and uncertain by comparison. A heavy shower of rain that fell as the match was underway made ball handling and bit tricky and we repeatedly lost possession through a mixture of fumbles and misplaced passes.

But gradually we began to warm to our task. Paddy Durcan – who gets my vote as Man of the Match – was to the fore, shooting over on the burst. Then Conor Loftus – our third change from the team we’d named in advance, as he started in place of Kevin McLoughlin – smashed over a nice score from well out.

We had a penalty shout (a new rules one) soon after. Ryan O’Donoghue was fouled close to goal but all we got was a free. While this didn’t seem to be rough justice from our perspective, when we got pinged under the new rules in very similar circumstances a bit later on, that decision took on a very different hue.

Cillian banged over the resultant free to pull us level. Two nice points from Mattie Ruane – who put in another big shift for us today – after the water break sent us two clear and we began, for the first time, to look a bit comfortable.

We swapped points, Egan for them, Conor with an absolute peach for us, before Heslin knocked over a free for them to cut the gap back to one.

Then came the penalty award for them. I’ve no real problem with it – Diarmuid O’Connor did foul his man and, under the new rules, the decision to black card him and award them a spot kick was merited. But sauce for the goose and all that – if that’s the way that decision went then the earlier one should have gone our way too.

Heslin sent Robbie the wrong way from the spot. Now back in front by two points, Westmeath had the chance to apply some pressure on us but they failed to do this. Instead, by the time Diarmuid came back on, after a minute was played in the second half, we were just a point in arrears.

It’s hard to understand the home team’s approach in this period. They kept the bus parked, with fifteen behind the ball, only coming forward during infrequent breakouts.

We wiped out their lead with points from Ryan O’Donoghue, from a mark, and a free from Cillian, after Oisin Mullin had been pulled down and the ball was moved up for dissent.

Heslin edged them back in front – the Westmeath lads were now hitting the deck at the slightest touch – but we responded with a score from Jordan Flynn from a quick pass by Cillian. They had the final say of the half, though, Heslin hooking over off his left to send them in a point up at the break.

We made three changes before the restart. Colm Boyle came in for Ben Doyle, Kevin McLoughlin replaced Jordan Flynn (who was on a yellow so that made sense from a precautionary point of view) and Fionn McDonagh gave way to Bryan Walsh.

They got the first score of the second half. O’Toole claimed a forward mark but then proceeded to claim a fair few yards as well before his free shot at the posts which he pointed.

That was the only score they got for close on twenty minutes, however, as slowly but surely we tightened our grip. We sent over five points without reply, finally gaining some ascendency in what was turning out to be a contest that was way too close for comfort for us.

Tommy Conroy, who never really sparked today, scored after a neat one-two with Ryan and then, after Diarmuid blazed a goal chance narrowly wide, Cillian knocked over a free off the outside of his boot from well out on the right.

We had a scare soon after as a ball into Heslin who was steaming towards the square looked no better than fifty/fifty from Robbie’s perspective. The ‘keeper was brave and decisive, though, taking ball and man to clear the danger and leaving Heslin briefly seeing stars.

Westmeath’s defending was agricultural at the best of times – with lots of slapping, hitting and holding – but the free count against them was now starting to mount.  Worse still from their perspective, these fouls were being committed within range from Cillian’s point of view and the Ballintubber man really had his eye in today.

We re-took the lead, one we took into the second water break, when Cillian pointed after, once again, Tommy was fouled and, once again, the ball was moved up for dissent. Just before that break James Carr joined the fray, replacing Conor Loftus. Once play restarted we got to enjoy the uplifting sight of Boyler on the charge upfield. The move ended in another free for us and another score from Cillian. Paddy then raided forward, knocking it over from the right wing to extend our lead to three.

Connellan burst forward to pull one back for them. Then Bryan Walsh won a mark, didn’t fancy a shot at the posts so instead dinked a quick pass to Ryan who gave it back to him and, now closer to the posts, he found the target.

Rory Brickenden came on for Eoghan McLaughlin, ten minutes out now from injury time, as we moved four clear. Oisin Mullin, up in the opposition’s full-back line was the player fouled this time. Same result from Cillian, though, who pointed with ease.

We should have closed out the game without too much effort from there. But two well-taken ‘45s by Loughlin gave them renewed hope, the first one coming when Robbie superbly turned behind a close-in goal attempt for them.

Scores then came in quick succession. Kevin McLoughlin, Heslin (a free) for them and Paddy all pointed in as many minutes before that great Westmeath servant Kieran Martin, not long on the field, booted over two fine points to cut the gap right back to the minimum.

We’d made our final two changes by then, Aidan Orme replacing the out-of-sorts Tommy Conroy while Jack Carney made it a proud day for Kilmeena as he was introduced very late on for Diarmuid O’Connor.

With the game in injury time and just a point separating the sides, the notion that we might yet get felled by a last-second hammer-blow wasn’t at all fanciful. It was then, however, that Cillian showed perfect timing in getting his first point from play of the day and he followed this up with a free soon after for his eighth point of the game. This was the final score of the contest as we won in the end by three points.

This wasn’t a great performance, it was in fact little more than a middling one. Early on we looked too rushed in what we were trying to do and we made way too many unforced errors.

We found Westmeath’s rather crude park-the-bus approach difficult to break down, though it didn’t help matters that the ref too often took a charitable view of their repeated blatant fouling. Eventually, though, it was the concession of too many scoreable frees that proved their undoing.

On the plus side, we won and the win guarantees us a place in the Division Two semi-finals, regardless of how next week’s match against Meath goes. That semi-final game is a big one because if we win it we’re back in Division One at the first attempt.

Ahead of that, though, we’ve a Round 3 meeting with the Royals back at MacHale Park next weekend. We’ll want to keep this winning run going but I’d say James Horan will also be keen to eliminate from our play the next day the things that made today’s win way harder work for us than it really should have been.

Mayo: Robbie Hennelly; Ben Doyle, Oisin Mullin, Lee Keegan; Michael Plunkett, Paddy Durcan (0-3), Eoghan McLaughlin (0-1); Matthew Ruane (0-2), Diarmuid O’Connor; Fionn McDonagh, Conor Loftus (0-2), Jordan Flynn (0-1); Tommy Conroy (0-1), Cillian O’Connor (0-8, seven frees), Ryan O’Donoghue (0-1, a mark). Subs: Colm Boyle for Doyle, Kevin McLoughlin (0-1) for Flynn, Bryan Walsh (0-1) for McDonagh, James Carr for Loftus, Rory Brickenden for McLaughlin, Aidan Orme for Conroy, Jack Carney for Diarmuid O’Connor.                     

Who was our MOTM against Westmeath? Pick your top three performers

  • Paddy Durcan (36%, 675 Votes)
  • Matthew Ruane (16%, 306 Votes)
  • Cillian O'Connor (11%, 212 Votes)
  • Robbie Hennelly (9%, 173 Votes)
  • Conor Loftus (5%, 93 Votes)
  • Ryan O'Donoghue (5%, 89 Votes)
  • Oisin Mullin (4%, 73 Votes)
  • Lee Keegan (2%, 34 Votes)
  • Colm Boyle (2%, 34 Votes)
  • Kevin McLoughlin (2%, 32 Votes)
  • Michael Plunkett (1%, 25 Votes)
  • Diarmuid O'Connor (1%, 22 Votes)
  • Bryan Walsh (1%, 18 Votes)
  • Eoghan McLaughlin (1%, 17 Votes)
  • Jack Carney (1%, 17 Votes)
  • Tommy Conroy (1%, 15 Votes)
  • Jordan Flynn (0%, 9 Votes)
  • James Carr (0%, 8 Votes)
  • Ben Doyle (0%, 8 Votes)
  • Aidan Orme (0%, 6 Votes)
  • Fionn McDonagh (0%, 5 Votes)
  • Rory Brickenden (0%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 913

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88 thoughts on “Westmeath 2-12 Mayo 0-21: too close for comfort

  1. Very disjointed performance today and we were bailed out by Durcan, Cillian and Ruane. Was Hession injured? Our full back line was very easily breached. Boyle lucky not to give away a penalty. We got out of jail and that’s fantastic but we will have far tougher days ahead!

  2. T Conroy very quiet today and Cillian also (from play).Its a reminder that this is a new team that still needs to develop further.
    We need to close down the centre of defence…giving up too many goal chances. Isn’t it ironic that goal chances are stemming from centre of defence yet Durcan has been excellent?

    We have a lack of natural full backs..it’s a bit makeshift there at the moment.

    Hennelly going well in goal to be fair.

    The big question is whether some of the young lads are good enough…only time will tell

  3. Durcan the difference for us today. Incredible player. Ruane also put in a good shift. Plunkett was solid too.
    Despite scoring 0-21, the FF and HF line was very only average today. Frees kept us in the game.
    FB line would be the main worry. Need Harrison back there. Championship FB line is anyone’s guess

  4. Ye cannot be blaming the full back line for everything, runners from midfield and centre forward have cause alot of damage, think back to All Ireland finals of 2020 and 2017.
    Football had moved on but the basis is the same,
    Corner backs must be very fast over 20 or 30 yards, have alot of power, quick reflexes and play the simple ball forward, fullback must be very physical, great hands, and the ability to compete with the biggest full forwards.
    Here is the big issue, if all half back attack, there is huge spaces left in front of full back line, remember the first 10 minutes of the 2012 All Oreland final, the semi v Tyrone in 2013 and the final v the Dubs.
    I didn’t see today’s game, but take it from me Mullin is the first of his kind that I have ever seen in a Mayo Jersey, this guy just seems to glide around the pitch, has almighty hand / ball skills, just goes through players with so much ease, imagine the opposition having to deal with him closer to their goals, I know where I would position him against the best teams.

  5. Its going to take a lot longer to replace the 6 retired lads than we think. These young lads are going to need time ,just as well we are in division 2. TC was a big disappointment today against a Team who will be in division 3 next year. A few gaps at the back as well, against better opposition we would struggle badly. On the plus side Mullen ,ruane and Duncan very good to day.

  6. It’s a hard one Mayo88. Mullin running constantly at the opposition defence would cause a lot of nerves their end. But it speaks volumes of our defence when he is being played at no.3.

    What to do…. if only Stevie Coen could find an extra yard of pace he’d be an ideal full back. A modern day Mick Lyons.

  7. If ever there was proof that it’s the old Dog for the hard road, today was it. Cillian’s free taking ability as well as the work he does on and off the ball is what keeps the forwards moving. While he scored only the one from play, it was pretty much the only time during play when he was in a scoring position from what I could see. He’s well marshalled by all opposition, and spends a bit too much time out the field to be scoring much from play. Boyle was very good bringing the ball forward as was Lee. Kevin Mc had an efficient day without standing out.
    And then there’s Paddy, who’s just outstanding.
    Not a great day, not a terrible day. Made hard work of it and that’ll be the case on a day like today. I do think we had to work that little bit harder to get the same decisions off the ref, but that’s always going to be the way in these sorts of match ups. I have to say if the new penalty black card rule is going to be applied, it needs to be applied consistently, and it certainly has not been so far. It’s a fairly awful tinkering with the rules and makes what’s already a tough job for the refs a harder one again.
    On to Meath the next day – I’m sure James will be gunning for the win there but we need to find a bit more fluidity and cohesion in our play, or we’ll find ourselves in bother. Not only that, we may get accustomed to Division 2 football as I can’t see either Cork or Kildare (who I’m going to assume are our likely opponents in any Div 2 semi final we may be getting to) won’t leave on a plate for us. That would assume we make the Division 2 Semi Final which on Balance you’d have to think that Meath will beat Down to assure that outcome.

  8. – Priority for Mayo is to get back to Div 1, two steps taken in the right direction even if today’s step was a shaky one.
    – All Westmeath have to play for this year is promotion to Div1 as they have no chance of Leinster or Sam and no qualifiers. Therefore today was a huge game for them.
    – Ontheditch is absolutely correct in previous thread with the comment about any player on the Mayo panel needs to be a standout player for their club and this is not the case currently.
    – If Harrison is going to play championship for us this year he needs to start against Meath. We cannot be depending on such a great servant like Boyler to plug corner back for us….
    – Paddy, ROD, Robbie,Oisin, Ruane to a lesser extent and Flynn until he was subbed were the best today…..
    TODAY…..
    – Are we going backwards, forwards or spinning our wheels. Our tendency to let in a very early soft goal is killing us in so many matches …time to get it sorted.
    – Well done Mayo woman who have just beaten Galway.

  9. Folks. Think it’s a bit unfair criticising the full forward line when for most of mayo attacks there were 29 players inside the 45metre line. No space to make space. Most teams don’t play that defensive anymore so with a bit more space we should see more from them. Everyone entitled to their opinion but right now with 2 wins from 2 they have earned the right to given time.

  10. Mayo just did enough .. Opposition were very ordinary.. Loads to improve on ..
    Ladies got off to a great win … Some very intelligent players and good management team .
    Good results for our 3 teams .. learn and move on

  11. Delighted with that days results. Mayo men, comogie team and the women this evening. Well done to all three teams and thanks for the enjoyment.
    I was very impressed with the women against Galway. Tough game and super ending from 6 down.
    Maigheo abú

  12. Could be wrong but don’t think a semi final place is guaranteed just yet, although highly likely. A loss to Meath with Down beating Westmeath and Meath means 3 teams on four points, putting it down to points difference. Although we’d have to lose by something in the order of 9 points or more to not make the semis.

    Question: Is it a trip if you hit someone in the hip?

  13. We need a dedicated sweeper to protect the FB line.
    been needed for the last 10 years but let’s keep repeating that mistake. We’ve conceeded 14 goals in the last 7 champ games against the Dubs

  14. I would dispute the characterization of that Westmeath team as “very ordinary”. I thought they were well coached , defensively strong , excellent on the counter attack and have a number of stars on their first team and bench. I think they’ve made a big leap forwards and were unlucky to lose v Meath and one could make the valid case that ( but for some wayward shooting and excellent goalkeeping by Rob H ) they were somewhat unlucky today. If they had a little more discipline in not giving away frees and we would have been beaten today. To me they are now the second best team in Leinster and improving at a rate of knots. They will be trouble for any team other than Dublin/ Kerry.

  15. A sweeper wouldn’t have stopped the first goal, that was just down to a defender not reacting quick enough. I’m also not sure it would have stopped either of the goals in the all Ireland, certainly not the first one as it came from the throw in.

    Paddy Durcan attacks too much to play centre half back. We need a natural number 6 that can cover the full back line. What’s the story with Stephen Coen? He was a mainstay in the team last year.

  16. Next week will tell us where we really stand. You’d be expecting a strong response after today’s less than convincing win. Still a win is a win. I listened to the game on Mid West and you have to love Paddy Durcans marauding runs upfield and direct attitude to scoring. There aren’t many like him. Also, now that Robbie is undisputed No. 1, let’s hope he brings it to a new level and proves his detractors wrong. Maigh Eo Abú!

  17. Agree that Westmeath are not a bad team, they came second closest to the Dubs last year. The goals kept them in it, the first one was slack defensively, the second the result of a good build up to the penalty (which I thought was a bit soft). They will give relegation play off a good go.

    The positives, we scored 21 points without our ff playing well. I think that we stopped playing long ball in as their backs were tight and the ball was slippery. 21 points is still a good score, and we did not waste many chances.

    Meath is another good test, a physical team who we were lucky to beat last year, win that and we can go in with some confidence into a semi-final, lose and it creates some doubt, lets see how tomorrow goes but I would be hopeful that we can make it 3 out of 3.

  18. Agree with Wideball would love to see Stephen Coen back in the half back line, don’t think that he made a mistake since the resumption of football last October, and played very well every game. Would also love to see an out and out natural in our full back line like Brendan Harrison, fully fit, he’s as good if not better than anyone else in the business.. Westmeath were forewarned about Tommy Conroy, and got players around him super quick anytime the ball came near Cillian with all his experience struggled to get possession from play close to goal, Ryan O Donohue won a fair bit, but further from the goal than we would like,.So credit has to go to the Westmeath full back line,in fairness they were brilliant.. A win is a win, but did we miss a trick today by not bringing on Darren Coen, we could have kicked over the blanket and won some marks… The tackling by Westmeath in the full back line was excellent, and Mayo depended on allot of long range point scoring which we did very well to be fair.. I think Westmeath are set up for the Dublin team in Leinster with great tackling and saturated defense, and I hope it works out well for them.. Durcan played a Captain’s part and showed once again just how good he is… Despite what some are saying, Mayo are not mathematically absolutely certain of being in the semi’s,… It’s also possible for Meath and Down to also be on 4 points after they have played the 3 regulation league games, and then it’s on scoring difference, which should see Mayo there regardless, but don’t count your chickens.. Down could beat Meath tommorow, and beat Westmeath next week giving them 4 points, and Meath could beat Mayo next week giving them 4 points.. Unlikely as it seems if that was to happen, it’s down to scoring difference then.

  19. I have huge admiration for the kicking accuracy of Darren Coen Leantimes but bottom line is he lacks pace big time at this level. Horan is trying to build an athletic quick team to compete at the top table which can be seen in his selections. Darren may be utilised as a like for like sub for Cillian going forward but I’m glad we kept Cillian on for the duration today.

  20. Does anyone know if eoin o Donohoe is still in the squad or is he injured . He and Harrison are the only out and out corner backs with experience in there. Wing backs playing in the corner won’t work. I would very much fear for that fullback line today if it was kerry or Dublin.

  21. Wideball a sweeper plays in that role from the throw in so that’s exactly the type of goal that would be counteracted by a sweeper.

    As for Hennelly i’ll personally believe in him if/when he delivers under pressure in an AIF not a div 2 league game v Westmeath

  22. I think you have to have all players in correct position for throw in so the sweeper can’t be dropped back.
    Hennelly has given great performances for us over the years.Dublin in the league in 2019 and league final that year too.
    For me I am not sure the workmate when the opposition have possession is high enough.It needs to be when playing the way Horan sets up.
    When we lose possession everyone needs to up the intensity I am not sure we always do.

  23. You have to set up in the orthodox 15 positions for throw in, 6 defenders against 6 forwards. So you can’t have a sweeper in that situation anyway.

  24. In fairness Westmeath were worse than the Ulster teams of the last decade, 15 in their own half even when we were down to 14. What sort of management decides to use those tactics. I suppose its a reflection of how much they respected our forwards who I thought under the Circumstances a knock of 21 scores was quiet impressive. Don’t want to point fingers but no point in trying to breed in young defenders who just don’t have the physical stature to try to man mark a big physical player like Clifford or Rock if the liklihood presents itself later on in the Summer.

  25. An old saying and a true one, “one sallow never made a summer”. A big win last week and the talk was we had the season nailed down.
    To be fair all that happened today was highlight the fact Westmeath were not given the credit they deserve.

    In terms of defence and tightening things up, like last year centre back is the problem. When he returns play AOS there. He’s good round the mid field area, tackling and closing down space so centre back would best suit his skill set.

    Pointless him being in the forwards he does not contribute enough on the score board.

    We have a young team and there will be performances like today from time to time but the league is about results and we won so, happy out.

    Conroy is now a marked man so he will have to develop his game to shake off the extra attention.

    Hopefully, that’s the poor performance out of the way so onwards.

  26. Listened on Mid-West – great commentary btw.

    Have now seen 5 mins of YouTube highlights. First goal was shocking – simply shocking. The lack of reaction by our backs when the ball came off the post was criminal.

    Good spread of scores; good long range ones by Paddy, Cillian, Conor. On commentary Ryan appeared to be outstanding.

  27. Full forward line got no ball because of blanket defence, was a good result considering two freak goals against a solid team, well done to all the lads.

  28. Kickham’s man , may I say I completely agree 100% with you about Aido’s best position. It’s either great minds or, ah well never mind.

    I thought against Down we played what was in front of us and did it reasonably well. Like Tipp in the semi last year we were loose at the back ( a little) but we know how to tighten it up quickly if we have to ( A.I.F). Horan is doing a great job and we can look forward now to more winning.

    My humbly submitted thesis regarding Aido. I’m a big fan but everyone understands that his unique skill set and size combination make it hard to find his best position.I would submit that because of his skill set and because of the nature of our biggest competition ,Dublin and Kerry ,that Aido is best positioned at #6. Here’s why.

    Aido reminds me of the idea of the keystone. Rock solid. Unmovable. Everything is built around that. His presence would give the younger defenders even more confidence in their forward raids if he was “minding the house” In the event he was being lured out of position to open the center he could revert to thinking zonally as a sweeper ,something he does incredibly well. ( Fwiw -small point –Donegal would not be inclined to kick out the ball over the top of midfield)

    Watching Kerry against Galway shows how dangerous the long kicking game is against any team. When played well ( requires super accurate passing,super fast running and constantly interchanging movement by forwards and therefore defenders well removed from their markers)the modern game of hand passing and lobs for“basketball goals” make it almost impossible to defend against once the overlap has been achieved.

    The kicking game goes like this. Kickout to the wing , then into the corner. Options then open up, deft inside play leaving the defender for dead and straight on goal,or more likely back out to the middle where the hordes of on rushing cavalry practically guarantee an accurate hand pass followed by an accurate shot, another hand pass or lob.

    Now imagine that Aido is at number six. For opposition kick outs he would be positioned just behind our midfield “ fielders” There is very little clean catching going on nowadays and there’s nobody like Aido to mop up dirty breaking ball. His skill and power would be obvious here. He has fast hands and is able to off load quickly and can be an accurate foot passer. He is the consummate dispossesor at close quarters if the ball doesn’t initially break his way.

    This is especially important if Mayo want to press high themselves. Having Aido right behind midfield means the opposition almost can’t go long down the middle.

    It’s going to make the opposition goalkeeper long kickers think twice.They are going to have to be even more accurate if they don’t want the possibility of launching an immediate serious counter attack against themselves. Mayo have this counter attacking game down pat and no opposition wants to encourage any more of that caper.

    Also,as we saw with Donaghy and Murphy there is no one like Aido to mark the big men. Having him defending in the square to watch the big guys including Murphy / Clifford is essential to avoid that kind of catastrophe. It “almost “shuts down the opposition big boy game.

    Marking big guys at midfield for kick outs is a waste of Aido’s time and a counter productive use of him.Just break the ball, if fielding is not possible ,and Aido is waiting.

    We need his presence defensively. We have two running midfielders ( number 9’s if you will ) in Diarmuid and Matthew Ruane. We need a number eight with the number six on his back.

    All of this assumes that Aido is fit and not injured. It assumes that we take our usual man marking approach to the uber dangerous opposition players in big games.I think Aido could last the full game at number 6.

    I hope this has been tried in practice because it plays to Aido’s and the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Food for thought.

  29. Don’t think Aido will play CHB, the obvious one to come in is Coen. Horan is trying next year’s players in absence of FBD but expect closer to championship team in the next 2 or especially in semi. Can’t see Doyle or Orme getting in during championship and probably not Hession either so important to start priming the 2021 team now. The result v Meath not as important as blooding semi final likely starters as we’re almost certain to progress. Can experiment some more for Sligo/Leitrim. Be good to see O’ Hora, Harrison and even EOD as they’re probably more likely to feature in bigger games.

  30. Don’t forget team is probably in heavy training at present for the championship. Not enough recovery time. Cusack Park always a place that is hard to get a good result in. David Lynchs kick pass over Boyles head for their goal chance was something else. His dad played on an AI winning Moate college team @ CHB. The men at either side of him were John Maughan & Val Daly.

  31. On balance I really think Oisin is wasted at full back. Right now on current form is that Oisin is our best middle third player. But he’s only getting in to that area on occasion. Free him up by partnering him with Matthew Ruane. Oisin can mark a taller midfielder as he has a huge leap.
    That then frees up Diarmuid to move up to the half forward line.
    We have to get two full backline specialists into the full backline.

  32. Happy to get the win, id stated here yesterday it would be an extremely close game. Westmeath are well drilled in their ultra defensive formation. They are never really going to ship a hammering unless they get a buck sent off early, at the same time their never going to out score top teams with their approach. It was always a day for kicking over the blanket, happy to see us score 21 points tbh.

    Id agree that Mullin should be in midfield, he is the closest player in the Country to Brian Fenton, the way he just glides across the turf, can field and score too. Unless it happens soon I dont think we’ll ever see him in MF for us, I beileve he is going to Australia next season which will be a disaster for us.

    Harrison needs game time a.s.a.p and id like another look at David McBrien at FB, we appear to be in bother there, but getting game time into Harrison would strengthen that line immensely.

  33. @foodforthought, some very detailed analysis there, in regard to position for Aidan.
    I’m a firm believer of the long ball, but a very speedy full forward line is required over the entire game.
    The Dubs would play the ball around Aidan if he was at nr 6, there game is spreading the ball around the 45m line and then wait for a speedy bust by a player into space, followed by a hand pass.

    Think back to All Ireland final of 2020, Mayo looked fairly comfortable by half time, Mullin was wining Dublin kickouts, driving forward and many scores were taken from the mark, Cillian was close to Dublin goal.
    Then what the fuck happened in the 2nd half, the 2019 second half semi final was too much on management’s minds, Cillian and others were moved way out the field, allowing Conroy to go it alone.
    The biggest issue for the opposition when playing the Dubs is well known by now, their defenders always seem to have too much space to carry the ball forward unopposed, they then tire the opposition into making an error with their across pitch passing, punch holes and looking for the runner to make that foray into the small bit of space or a free is won. Like any other team the Dubs have 3 or 4 mainstays, Cluxton, both midfielders, Rock and O Callaghan, imagine if those guys didn’t fire on the big day.
    Against the Dubs its all about mobility and speed. Surely Mayo can develop guys to fill certain roles.

  34. Struggling to analyse yesterdays game. 21 points against an extreme blanket was a good score to put up, but we looked so vulnerable to the counter attack. We have a lot of pace in the team, so I hope that was just a consequence of lacking fitness. I was very surprised how strong Westmeath were in the tackle, & in turn how we were consistently unable to break the tackle. But very hard to analyse things accurately so early in season.

    Full back line is my biggest concern though. I think we could get away with one of Mullen or Keegan as a 3rd man back there, as most teams only play 2 in full forward line. That would allow one of them to roam & ger forward at will. But I think we need 2 out and out defenders in the full back line for a start. Harrison, O Donoghue, young Coyne perhaps. It’s not a flashy role but it’s what is needed. Imagine the damage Mullen could do from half back or midfield.

  35. I hope Pat is watching,plenty of puke football from Kerry,with the out most apologies to Gamechanger,and I hope that Kerry cop themselves on and win the game

  36. Anybody watching the Dubs v Kerry will see how the Dubs can score goals from nowhere, very predictable from the Dubs, ie, let the opposition into a false sense, grab a few goals, take the life out of the opposition and carry the ball into the corners, move it across the pitch and wait for the opening, Kerry sitting back in case more goals are conceded, inviting the Dubs on.
    Not yet half time, the Dubs going through their exact routine, building up to a faster 2nd half and finish.

  37. Kerry have clearly learned nothing. Comical stuff at the back . How bad must Galway have been last weekend !

  38. Kerry full back line even worse than us :^) Dubs opening them up at will. Tight game in Salthill.

  39. That second half from Dublin gives the chasing pack hope .
    Only 4 scores I think and one was the penalty
    They seemed to have nobody to take on a long range point when needed
    The quality of their replacements no longer seems to be like for like
    Maybe there is hope yet

  40. Take note Mayo management, when Kerry withdrew David Moran from midfield they were a better team, their smallest player and captain Murphy was brilliant, as I keep saying, speed and direct ball will trouble the Dubs.
    Fair play to Kerry after a woeful 1st half they grew into the game and finished with their best players.
    Kilkenny appears to have lost something, he has not been right today or last week.

    Less space must be given for the Dubs kickouts and fill pressure must be applied in the middle of the pitch.

  41. Dessie Dolan is painful listen too, talking about Galway footballers like it’s 1998!!

  42. Watching Meath v Down, Meath looked very good first 15 mins despite being down to 14 for 10 of that. Down more into it now but still down 6-3
    Am I right in saying that if Meath win this we are in the semis? Both Down and Westmeath will be on 0 with ourselves and Meath on 4 points

  43. @Mayo.Dunphy…hope you’re wrong about Mullin. Needs to be priority for Mayo GAA that he stays in Mayo and others who follow behind of similar calibre. Mayo allowed Pearse Hanley slip away which proved disastrous from a Mayo perspective. It cant happen again.

  44. In fairness Mayonaze how do u expect an amateur organisation to stop a young lad from taking the opportunity of playing pro sport?

  45. Spot on TH, RTÉ has a history of “sure he’ll do” type of decisions over the years and then we’re stuck listening to that for decades sometimes irrespective of quality

  46. Looks like Clare may well be topping the south division – they’ve beaten Kildare so that’s Kildare and Cork on 2 points with Clare on 4. Clare s toll have to play Cork and Kildare have to play Laois, who are in the relegation spot. Not sure how it would work if all 3 are in 4 points but Clare are in a great spot now.
    We are certainly in the promotion spot along with Meath now, next weeks result will determine if we are winners or second place finishers. A draw would put us in top spot on Points difference.

  47. East Cork Exile, I’d agree with you. There is only so much a county board can go. Some will say get him a job, perks etc etc but it’s not the same. If the lad has his heart set on being a professional athlete then no one should stand in his way.
    Also think it’s wrong to say Mayo allowed Hanley to leave, he was an amateur player, not under contract so can come and go as he pleases and definitely didnt need to ask permission. I think MayoGAA have done really well in keeping players, we have really only lost one player to AFL, other counties have lost alot more.

  48. You can’t make a player stay but you can make it very difficult for him to leave by offering him great opportunities and a well paid job here. Look at what Tyrone did to retain Cathal McShane who had practically signed on the dotted line for Adelaide I think it was. If you do your utmost to retain a player with a good job, car, sponsorship etc and he still chooses to leave then so be it and good luck to him but you can’t stand back and do nothing.

  49. So which is it mayo mad , you compliment cb for dojng well only losing one player and also say they cant do anything to keep players from going. ie mind their own .

    Quite frankly who gives a shite about one man’s career compared to the monster that is mayo football . Everything and I mean everything , give him knock airport , croagh patrick and Ashford castle, whatever it takes to keep him . He will be the difference .

  50. Sean Burke,even a night in Ashford castle would be enough to keep most players,seriously though I hope that we can keep him,and when we win Sam that the county board do better in presenting the medals than they did in 1951when they sent out in the post,come to think of it a months holiday in Ashford castle would be appropriate

  51. I think Oisin gets a good discount for Ashford anytime he wants, so thats that one sorted. Im trying not to breach WJ’s house rules, but without revealing much, as it stands their is more chance of Harry Kane lining out for Mayo next season than Oisin Mullin. If its weather and lifestyle he wants then no one can stop him.

    But no young buck from this County grows up dreaming of playing in the Grand Final for Sydney Swans, its all about Croker and landing the big one for Mayo, and that gives the co board or benefactors a chance, offer Oisin whatever it is Clifford got for staying put, and even staying in IT Tralee, the yerras somehow even (ahem) enticed him to stay in Kerry and not Dublin for college.

    Let the powers that be or benefactors come up with something to make Oisin stay, its done all around the country.

  52. Clare going well?

    It is looking good now with a great chance to experiment next Sunday. Chance to rest some.

    How did James Carr do yesterday? Where is Mark Moran hiding?

    I just sense that James Horan and Ciaran Mc + know what they are doing.

    Fair Play to John Maughan and Offaly.

  53. Ideal situation against meath to give Jack Coyne a starting spot and more game time to Jack Carney

  54. If players like Rory Byrne, Eoin o Donoghue, Darren Coen, Fergie Boland and Padraic o Hora dont get decent game time against Meath – then what are they doing on the panel. These lads are in the panel a few years now and are not going to get any better. If they are not deemed good enough to play next Sunday – they should really question themselves as to why they are staying on the panel.

  55. When is Jason doc, an Brendan harrsion back in the mix of things does anyone know?????

  56. Feeling like we need Harrison back sooner rather than later … I always thought that Eoin O’D was a pacey corner back leading to me thinking Horan would have included him more often … I’m very unsure what our best 15 is and what James is really looking for

  57. Some people would want to take their heads out of the sand. Seriously, if you still think it’s amateur then you’re just not clued in.

    Every county has sponsors, obvious ones, quiet ones etc etc. There are deep pockets that can be availed of and to be absolutely frank, if Mullin cannot be enticed the stay then forget about winning an Ireland anytime soon and that is not an exaggerated remark. It’s not that one man will win it alone, but someone of that influence must be retained at all costs. It raises the level of others in the squad and it sets a precedent too.

    The AFL clubs were drooling over Clifford. He isnt leaving Kerry. Any idea why?? We already lost a star in Hanley at the worst time possible. Ok if he had left when we had a poor side but Christ, if he hadnt gone to Aus we’d have won a few All Irelands, nevermind one!

  58. GAA hasn’t been ‘amateur’ for a long time, the counties that embraced the professional side of the game and moved with the times are the ones that are dining at the top table at the moment. You can go on about populations etc, but money and sponsorship backing is the main reason why 4/5 teams have pulled away from the rest in Gaelic Football. (Same in Hurling). In order for Mayo to remain at the top, we must hold on to all our assets, our biggest young asset at the moment is Mullin, it would set Mayo back years if he was to go to Australia. Kerry moved the moon and stars to keep David Clifford away from the Aussies, it cost them, but keeping him in Kerry will mean they’ll win All Irelands in the next decade. We lost our greatest underage talent of the 00’s in 2007 to Australian Rules, over the next decade we came within milimeters of winning Sam, maybe Hanley could have brought that extra 1% that was needed to get us over the line, we’ll never know for sure but we’ll always question it. Let’s hope Oisin stays, because to be honest, we won’t win an All Ireland without players like him.

  59. MayoDunphy hits a point too…no kid in Mayo even thinks about playing AFL. If youre talented gaelic footballer (or even a mediocre one!) you dream of pulling on the green & red and being on that special team that one days brings back Sam, again.

    So this all boils down to money. You can call it ‘professionalism’ if you like, but again if you know anyone who plays senior intercounty with a top side then you’ll know these guys are elite sportsmen. And the very elite get looked after.

    I’d be amazed if Mullin or any other top Gaelic Footballer (unless from a county with no hope of every winning anything, which might be some excuse) would opt for AFL over GAA if he was assured of a comfortable lifestyle or at the very least provided with the platform etc to achieve same.

    I would hope Moffatt & Co are prioritizing this.

  60. If two teams are level on points it is decided between the result in their meeting who finishes ahead. If 3 teams finish level on points its based on scoring difference. If Cork beat Clare they will more than likely top the group unless Kildare better Corks result by 4 points. That group is still wide open with all 4 teams still in with a chance of finishing in top 2. Yes Laois need a massive turnaround in scoring difference and hope Clare beat Cork but anything could happen. Mayo v Meath to decide who tops the group. I don’t like the system, Mayo could win all 3 group games but then lose the semi final and miss out on promotion. In a one off game anything could happen.

  61. I actually cannot believe that in the year of Our Lord Twenty Twenty One AD we are still banging on about Pearce Hanley. There is no way anyone can say with any level of certainty that we would have won any, let alone multiple All-Irelands if he stayed, and 14 years after his departure it surely is time to let it go. The sense of entitlement baffles me, that we think we are somehow entitled to a say over anyone’s future, or a claim to anyone’s talent in any sport, let alone in an amateur game.

    While we are all Mayo football fans and I really do hope Oisin stays, and I agree it would be a huge loss if he left, if he has an opportunity to head away, and more importantly, if it’s what he wants to do, I hope he pays precisely as much heed as Pearce Hanley did to those who would have held him back. And right now it’s hard to see how he can live up to his potential being played in the position he currently is.

  62. I wish we never had to ‘bang on’ about Hanley leaving but it was a massive loss and do you not think in 2012,13,16, 17 his presence would have got us over the line!?

    Given the decade we’ve had it genuinely saddens me even discussing this topic but it’s an important one and Hanley is being referenced because we are in an almost identical situation now with Mullin and it would be disastrous for Mayo football to see a talent like his lost.

    Of course, if he wants to leave then that’s his decision. That should go without saying, but the point already made is that who grows up playing GAA with the ambition to make it in Australia? Few, if any. I can understand a desire to be a professional but why choose GAA if that is ones ultimate desire? That being said however, the reality as most know is that GAA is slowly moving in that direction and for several years players have been enticed/persuaded, whatever word you would wish to use, to remain in Ireland and you would hope that those of influence in Mayo football would be be doing their utmost to retain the best talent. I certainly hope they don’t adopt such a laissez-faire approach. We are ditched if they do.

  63. Hanley could have made the difference, we were so close, that’s what hurts the most and that’s why we’re still talking about it. He was free to make his choice, and good luck to him, but I think if we don’t land Sam within the next few years it’ll always be a topic up for conversation, that’s just the way it is.
    Losing Mullin would be a disaster. A big disaster. We are building nicely with some quality young footballers, I think we could seriously challenge next year for the big prize, maybe even this year if all goes well. Mullin is key to us staying at the top table. Losing him would be like Kerry losing David Clifford or Dublin losing Con O’Callaghan, both are huge and vital cogs in their respective teams. Oisin is free to make up his own mind, but as a young player, do you dream about winning Sam or playing with a franchise down under? To me, the GAA means more than just a game, when you look at the crest over your heart, that represents us as a people and a county, nothing is bigger or more important than that. (Club is the same). For the record, I think he’s wasted at FB, he’d destroy teams on his own if he was even slightly higher up the field given his skill set aerial ability and speed. Anyway, let’s hope he stays, I don’t want to be having the same conversation in 10 years time about what might have been.

  64. Im led to beileve that Oisin is more or less gone next season, Covid and such was a stumbling block for lots of AFL clubs, impacting on finances, but its looking like things will be back to normal in 2022.

    If its what he truly wants, a life in the sun, professional lifestyle etc then so be it. I just hope our Co Board and other benefactors did everything they could to “persuade” him. He’s the 2020 young footballer of the year ffs, we all know he’s a special athlete, give him a house, car, “expenses”, the third secret of fatima, whatever the hell he wants!! The boy is a special talent and so far off his peak its scary how good he could be.

    Last point, this bullshit of AFL vulchers poaching our talent for peanuts has to stop? Have they no young players of their own to develop!!. Our county board are trying to sell a few oul tiles to resurface the pitch, why are the GAA organisation not charging these clubs for taking our members??? Oisin should cost them a few hundred grand to to sign him, followed by add on’s if he progresses. This money should go directly to the county and club who developed him. Yes the game is not proffessional, but this could be brought into law. Stop the AFL having a free pick and choose of our talent, let them pay for our players.

  65. Lots of counties have lost players to the AFL. We are not unique. Saying Hanley was the missing link is bull. Clifford is a great talent but he was well out of it in last years all Ireland and missed some soft frees. The league is one thing but championship is a different ball game. AI is Dublin to loose. They ran out of steam yesterday.

  66. Obviously Mullin is free to do as he pleases but the AFL poaching young talent from this country (with the help of former GAA players) is a worthwhile conversation, as it absolutely impacts the future of our national games at intercounty level and club level. Shrugging the shoulders and saying “well if that’s what they want” is all well and good, but all that serves to do is shut down discussion about this which will have repercussions down the line.

  67. Mayo Dunphy – you know that “I’m led to believe” comments about players aren’t acceptable. I’m willing to allow more latitude on this occasion as it’s pretty much an open secret that AFL clubs are pursuing Oisin but I don’t think it’s fair to be airing a whole discussion about the possible life choices of a 21 year-old. I’d ask you and everyone else to pull back from this kind of debate.

    Craggy Boglands – that’s about the the fifth or sixth comment you’ve sought to post about the same player. You only post about that player. You know, I’ll wager, nothing about the situation on the ground regarding that player, his state of fitness, how he’s doing in training (if he’s training), his ability/willingness to commit to what’s expected of him at this level etc. etc. You’re going to have to give this a rest as I’ve had it with comments along these lines from you.

  68. @Jr…why is it ‘bull’ to say or suggest that Hanley was the missing link? Please elaborate. Also, didnt know Clifford transferred county… 😛

    @Mayo.Dunphy…exactly, the lad should be sorted out for sure, just like Clifford was and is. Seán Cavanagh was another.

    Horan came back to the Mayo job to win an All Ireland. Simple. Without being over-dramatic, but our chances of doing that over the next 2-3years without Mullin, are significantly reduced to say the least.

  69. “But the one thing, personally and it’s something I’ve said to some of my friends, I grew up dreaming of playing for Kerry. I never grew up dreaming of being an Aussie Rules player.”

    That’s either in you or it isnt , unfortunately it’s found in supporters more commonly than players , a gra for the county team .its also varies from county to county . You could be the most gifted footballer a county has ever produced but not really be a supporter is my point . Kerry football people are the most serious I’ve ever came across , it’s a different type of culture .

  70. Did the Aussies actually want Clifford? They usually go for the fast, athletic, box to box type players. I don’t see where Clifford would fit in to an AFL game as he wouldn’t be near as skilful with an oval ball. Kerry have lost 3 players in the last 4 years so they don’t have all the answers either.

  71. Clifford has no interest in playing Aussie rules – if he did he would be out in Australia.
    The second best player of the 5 in a row Kerry minor team – played midfield, cant think of his name – is out playing Aussie rules and is a huge loss to Kerry. Two other Kerry players are also gone in last few years.
    Reality is – Mayo county board can set up Oisin with an attractive job, sponsored car etc but if he really wants to give Aussie rules a go – he can’t be stopped. Of course we all hope he stays.

  72. – The Mullins/Hanley saga had been done to death – we get it.
    – All the young lads currently on the panel need to be given time and space to maximise their contribution to Mayo Senior Team.
    – Undue focus on one good developing player is wrong and unfair on all the other young players especially if they are reading this particular thread.

  73. Some posters calling for some kind of law to be introduced to prevent AFL poaching players or at least force them to pay a fee. I cant see how this would be possible considering they are amateur players. They are not under any contract and are free to take up a job offer wherever it is, im sure there are labour laws in place protecting peoples right to pursue employment and that’s what AFL is, a job. If the GAA see this as an issue and really want to keep players in Ireland then their only option is to make intercounty players professional and contract them. Yes county boards can come to an arrangement with a player regarding jobs, perks etc (private backing may also be involved) and if the player is happy with that then fine, (although would there be issues in the dressing room regarding some players basically being paid to play while others are not?). The GAA cant have it both ways, insist on maintaining amateur status for players while also expecting them to act as if they are under contract professionals.

  74. Mayonase, Hanley may not have developed into a great mayo senior. He could have opted out. The point about Clifford is that he has not produced it on a big day yet.

  75. Jr – between the all Ireland final and replay in 2019 – Clifford as a 20 year old scored 6 points from play. He was fouled for at least 4 more points. That’s 10 points.
    If that’s what we call not going on the big day – none of our forwards have done it on the big day.
    Last Sunday he kicked 5 points from play – 4 of these with his weaker right foot – and I would say Dublin will be happy enough with the way they marked him. He is at a level now if he is restricted to 4 points from play and no goal – opposition are happy. If we had a player close to his ability over last 10 years – we would easily have 2-3 all Ireland’s in the bag.

  76. The notion that Clifford isn’t good enough “on the big day” is utter nonsense and should never have been uttered. He’s a class player who would walk onto any team in the country, including the greatest team of all time, the Dubs under Gavin.
    South Mayo exile has pointed it out very well.
    Willie Joe, i understand that you provide all the money for the website and therefore set the rules. This site is absolutely a credit to you and the stats are phenomenal. You have the right to censor as you’re the man running it.
    However, I feel that the Eoin O’Donoghue issue has to be addressed. We had a full back line on Saturday that struggled against a div 2/possibly div 3 team. Eoin has always given a good account of himself – as you say we don’t know how he’s going in training. Why did Horan name check him in the interview with the WP earlier this year? It’s utterly essential we have a player who is naturally a full back line player – Hession looks good there, Mullin and keegan are wasted there and are not FB line players. Harrison is a brilliant corner back but is injured. Has to be scope to bring in Eoin. Maybe he’s injured but this lack of information on injuries and the mockery of a panel released for Saturday’s game leaves a vacuum, which is filled with misinformation. Sorry about the rant – I get that you’re running a site (and running it well!). Just feel these issues need discussing.

  77. No, you’re fine Tommy Joe. There’s definitely an issue with a lack of hard information about the panel at the current time and it’s difficult for any of us to say anything about potential playing personnel in light of this. That’s the way James is choosing to go about it and while it’s his absolute right to do this the dearth of information is causing widespread frustration for fans and the media alike.

  78. Tommy Joe, Clifford and Kerry have to prove it on the big day. If Mayo only drew with Dublin in a final with an extra man for almost half the game we would be called all sorts of chokers. Kerry were hailed for their performance.. Clifford missed 2 very easy frees against Cork last year. He is now a marked man and will find it very tight against the better teams in the championship. Forget about the league, some teams in heavy training and some just beginning to ramp up. Dublin will have no game in leinster.

  79. Jr, completely agree on the 2019 final – Kerry had an extra man, had a penalty and were a point up going into injury time. 100% we’d have been called chokers. However, my point is on Clifford. He was 20 – Tommy Conroy didn’t perform in the 2020 final and we don’t talk about it. And I completely think it was just stage fright. He’ll be great if he gets there again. I personally think Clifford now would walk onto any team in Ireland. He’s top class.

  80. Southmayo Exile well said. Clifford is absolutely phenomenal and in my view was outstanding as a 20 year old in the final. Remember Killarney, he tore us apart. He would walk on any team in the country

  81. Can anyone in this group name the players in the current squad that are vying for the two corner back positions. I’m talking about lads that actually play their club football in those positions

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