Who’d have thought it, eh?


Here we are now, all the lads and ladies! Cast your mind back to June: who would have thought that the lads would come through three rounds of qualifiers and beat the reigning Ulster champions? Or, indeed, that the ladies would reap revenge on Galway to gain supremacy in Connacht once more before galloping their way into a semi-final spot against the Dubs?

I talked about the year of the underdog last week when I mentioned how the ladies team, against all the odds, managed to sweep into the final four. I still believe this rings true.

Michael Gallagher of the Western People used a colourful phrase last week which I had never heard before – “Die dog or shite the licence”. After a few minutes on Google and a brief conversation with the auld lad, I found out the meaning.

This phrase describes perfectly how I felt after the lads lost to Galway. It felt as if we had hit the wall. We thought we were invincible but it was soon plain to see that we were anything but. The dog was either going to die in the qualifiers or it sure has hell wasn’t going to shite the licence come August!

We played all three qualifiers in a very unconvincing fashion and even though we were winning, it didn’t seem like the Mayo team of the last few years. And, then, to play like that against Tyrone – unbelievable! It makes you wonder if the whole Galway fiasco was just a dream?

It also made me think of Manchester United under Ferguson. They often played match after match, scraping by on one-nil scorelines, playing poorly for a good chunk of the season. Chugging along in second gear but still grinding out results and then really turning on the style when needs be.

It’s the sign of a great team, one that can play poorly but still win games and then to have the odd trick up their sleeves for the likes of Tyrone. The dog is most certainly alive and kicking and if he does shite that licence, we’ll have to get it framed!

I talked about the girls’ glory over Galway last week so I won’t repeat myself. I know it’s a cliché but their quarter-final win against Westmeath wasn’t exactly one for the faint-hearted.

The game hinged on a single point running into the final stages before Niamh Kelly, thankfully, fired over a score meaning only a goal would do for Westmeath. Again using the word thankfully, it was a goal they did not get.

Ladies manager Frank Browne mentioned the six-week gap between the Connacht final and their quarter-final as a reason for the mistakes they made against Westmeath. In fairness to Browne, he has put the girls through their paces in challenge matches throughout the six-week gap. It all goes back to that fact of being able to fork out the wins despite not playing as good as you can be.

Dublin will be a tough task for the Mayo ladies. They put on a blitzkrieg of a show against Westmeath and then narrowly beat surprise packages Donegal in their quarter-final tie. Much like the boys, I feel the ladies have been hiding a trick or two up their sleeves and wouldn’t be surprised if they play the trump card against Dublin. When you have experienced warriors like Martha Carter mixed with the youth and enthusiasm of the likes of Doireann Hughes who grabbed a vital goal the last day, it’s the perfect mix.

Frank Browne said in an interview with the Western People that he had got a text from one of the players on the men’s senior team which read “Quarter-finals are all about getting to the semi-final.” It’s so true. Who cares how you get there as long as you get there? And we are there: who’d have thought it?

38 thoughts on “Who’d have thought it, eh?

  1. Leaving McHale park that evening in June and hitting the road back to Galway midwest radio were discussing the match. Terms like “a tired team” “too many miles” “karma for the heave of noel and pat” were being thrown around and to be honest it was hard to see an alternative view based on what I had just witnessed. To finish the analysis and as a tribute to Galways win The Galway Shawl was played over the airwaves. As I sat in traffic coming into Ballinrobe listening to this preparing for an All Ireland semi final seemed like something we might not experience for a while. Credit the guys and the management team for sticking to their guns. There is more left is us as well! Maigh Eo Abu!

  2. Nice piece Darragh. You could follow the thought process a little further, “semi-finals are all about getting to the final”!
    Ladies football in our county is booming, particularly when you consider the age of the current senior team (bar Cora and one or two more). The standard of football from U16 down is terrific and the dedication and commitment shown by the girls/ladies is every bit as whole-hearted as the boys, probably even more so. I’m involved with a ladies club in Mayo and I see it first hand. The future is bright in both lads and lassies football.
    However, and this is a big point, until Lidl came on board there was little or no exposure given to the ladies game, from either local or national media. The mens clubs and Mayo county board should be more welcoming and co-operative towards ladies football, and not just when they are looking to the ladies clubs to fundraise for them!! Anyway, rant over.
    Hon Mayo.

  3. From what I can gather from the grapevine there will be a big Mayo following at the game on Sunday. Time to man the teraces once more. We have a great team and we should celebrate this golden age of Mayo football. They owe us nothing at this stage, we owe it to them to be loud and proud next Sunday in Croke Park

  4. Have a read of Dara O Se in today’s Times. I agree that I don’t see this game being an open game of football. Mayo will defend, contain and aim to shut down the Tipp machine from kicking into their forward line. It might not be pretty but Mayo are too seasoned and will aim to win ugly if needed. People will probably be giving out after with the wat Mayo play….well we lost the last two semi final’s playing “nice” football didn’t we.

  5. Agree with yew tree, Mayo will defend heavily against tipps danger men and runners trying to cut through to supply them. This will not be a free flowing shoot out like some people are saying, It’s a game to be won and I’m sure Rochford wants no theatrics or fireworks display on Sunday, just do the job as efficiently as possible.
    It would be nice to see loftus on the field at some stage if possible, Carolan too, Carolan had that thing where he would burst through a heavy defense and get a shot off, something that we missed against Tyrone.

    At this stage I would be happy win a 1 point win and no injuries or players not available for the final, but, I will put up the following scoreline

    Mayo. 3 13
    Tipp. 1 12

    Mayo can get goals and will need a couple to be safe. Again, a 1 point win is sufficient and the biggest thing is no injuries or red cards to leave a full panel intact for the final. We should really win, but tipp are such that I didn’t book a flight for September, there’s football in them.

    Cmon Mayo!!!

  6. I’d like to see Mayo get 2 or 3 goals in this one if we come through. The 2 O Connors, Andy, Regan and Aido seems best equipped, Kevin Mc if he gets upfield a few times and Freeman if he gets on. Need at least 1 and probably 2 to win most finals so hopefully lots of goal drills in training. Doherty who was a goal specialist at start of his Mayo career finished his real well in Kildare game.

  7. This has been a funny season for Mayo. I was at our first league game v Cork in Pairc ui Rinn.It was hard to believe that day that Cork would be relegated, that Mayo would stay in Division 1,that Cork would be beaten in Munster by Tipperary and then do badly in the Qualifers and that Mayo would be beaten by Galway in Connaught and then end up in the semi final while Galway were beaten in the Q.F. by Tipperary.Strange times indeed.

  8. Coldrick isn’t that bad. He’s not as picky as Gough which can only help if our tackling is slightly off like the last game.

  9. If Quarter Finals are all about getting to semi-finals, and semi-finals are all about getting tot the final and i presuming the final isn’t about something other than winning no matter how, it begs the questions as to when is it not all about getting to the next round?

    Truth is only Finals are all about the result and nothing else because nothing else after the final matters…unlike quarter finals and semis….

    Maybe i’m being a bit facetious but sometimes these so called pearls of wisdom that players come out with would get on your nerves…but i guess whatever works for them!

  10. Cantini talks some sense.
    We are using a slightly different style of play this year to previous. If we are to win I want to see us winning by playing well – not by just falling over the line like the Westmeath game! We need to go into a final with confidence in our new defensive system. Whoever we play, let it be Dublin or Kerry, the lads need to be sure of themselves and of their roles on the field and especially the roles around the defensive play/setup as it is new to us. A stuttering performance would lead to the players and management questioning themselves going into a final. A finely tuned win against Tipp would give us confidence or assuredness when preparing for a Dub/Kerry attack.

  11. If I was to ask ye all now would mayo win all ireland? Most would say 1 game at a time. Can’t look to far ahead. BOLLIX. everyone if us here are thinking that this might be the year. And I’m telling ye it could be. Winning back to back all irelands is hard done. So dublin are top side rightly so but they can be beat. Kerry can be beat. Defensively porous. Run at them and cause them hassle. Tipp won’t stop us from getting to final. They have few division 1 players in a lower division 3 team. So yes we need to be cautious but we are too strong for them . Our age profile is good and our experience will be huge. I lived with kerry fellows in England and they believed every year they would win. Winning was and is the only thing.

  12. You are right of course Toughnup. We all think this might be the year. It’s just our particular history and the emotional involvement of everyone that has us all scared of our shite of even thinking about it

  13. I agree tough up. Can’t wait for Sunday. Tickets got, flag up. UP MAYO painted on silage bales. Green and red scarecrow in field freshly seeded. Living in wicklow most people think I,ve lost it. Don’t care. Wicklow by circumstances mayo man always. Tiocaidh ar la’.like the rower,s said. P.s. Only a Irish man could get done for ticket touting for events not half full.

  14. I hear ya pat. At the u21 final in ennis the mayo fans around displayed the emotion of enivetable heartache. Thank god we csme through in the end and won the title.It comes from all the near misses. I myself try to stay positive and I try not let emotion rule me. Our emotions drag us toward old feelings of despair. God knows mayo supporters have had their fair share of heartache. It will end if we believe we can do it

  15. Www. Gaa.ie/the gaa/ rules regulations. I went on for the crack to confirm once again about black cards and suspensions. The cynical fouls make good reading. If black card was used correctly there would have been a heap of players sent off in Tyrone game

  16. Hon Mayo! I can honestly say there are at least 3 names on the starting I can’t really be sure about never mind how we’re going to set up, it just builds the suspense even more!

    In any case this group have what it takes to get over Sunday and go all the way

    Only 4 more sleeps!!!!!

  17. I thought Liam shee dy was very smug when he was on about the double last Sunday I really hope Mayo win.

  18. Ah Cait , your being too sensitive there!. When the general public are writing off Tipperary chances, of course he’s going to back his own county. If he didn’t, imagine the backlash he would get from some of his own people!……….. I remember talking to a local journalist in a public house in the Castlebar, more than 10 years ago now. He told me :Mayo hadn’t got the slightest chance of victory’ in the pub , Mayo were playing in the All Ireland the same year. There was an event on in the TF, in Castlebar, a preview of the All Ireland, the same journalist was due to speak at the event. So off I went to the event as well in the forlorn hope of getting an All Ireland ticket. The same journalist said ‘he couldn’t see Mayo being beaten’ or word’s to that effect, to the paying public. Do any of the ye remember the the year? , there have been so many. It was the year, Jimmy McGee & Nell McCafferky were special guests of organising committee of the same event. What a strange combination of the experts all talking about Mayo’s chances of winning the All Ireland. I’m afraid Cait some things you just have to take with a pinch of salt!

  19. Mayo will defnitely win the match on sunday.Stephen Rochford will have them ready to do the business. I was never more confident of mayo winning a match in my 50 years of following MAYO teams.

  20. I forgot that lean times just want Mayo to win I wonder will tipp target diarmuid o Connor he could really open up tipp.

  21. Jimbo, your not Jimmy McGee anyhow! he’s in Rio, he’s still taking about Zico, & Pele. I think the only time he didn’t talk about them two esteemed footballers was that night many year’s ago in the TF in Castlebar, that particular night, Mayo Gaelic-football ers were held in almost the same esteem. . Cait from what I’ve seen so far from Tipperary, they play a good honest type of a game!, I don’t mind too much if Tipperary do a double, so long as it’s their minor and senior hurlers. I’m sure Liam Sheehy would settle for that!

  22. Mayo won’t be beaten by Tipp in this game! If it were to happen they de need to beat themselves as has happened so often. I’m nearly 100% sure that they’ve left that kind of form behind them but then again life is life!
    There was a time when we used to dream about having a team good enough to win the AI. Seemed we were always waiting for something…a star! a few decent forwards,new FB, someone else at MF etc etc.Well, as they say there’s no time like the present when we believe we have most of the bits lined up to make real serious progress in this great year of 2016.In the games that remain it ll be the relative character of teams that will determine the ultimate winner and our stock in that department has no doubt risen through out the field and off field,in a timely fashion in recent times.
    Our hopes can be other worldly with no limits but an expectation of a useful victory v Tipp on Sunday is no harm to admit to but I won’t be celebrating until it happens!

  23. Should we win Mayo will have a training and recovery advantage. Back in 2004 when we had a team well good enough to beat Kerry they used the spare week to do weight training. That stood to them in the final. With Dara OS unable to play their 2nd midfielder I think it was Willie Kirby had the game of his life and our midfield was below par. Their other midfielder I think was Eoin Brosnan a runner and they kept pumping in high ball on top of our shortest corner back to Johnny Crowley a tactic few associated With Kerry. Jack O Connor had some serious cuteness. Some of our lads had stage fright that day but not Ciaran Mc who played his heart out and scored one of the best points ever seen in Croker. We’re so battle hardened now by comparison and present Management have buy in from the players so it’s all about the players giving 100%. We know the Tyrone performance wouldn’t win an AI so team will be looking to improve again on Sunday. I can see Tipp having huge problems coping with AOS any time he goes FF. That to me us a weak point. We know about their attack but not sure their personnel at the back are strong enough. May take patience if they like many before go double sweeper but if they don’t our forwards should be going for the jugular.

  24. It’s amazing. I was in town thus morning. Plenty flags and all that. But so little talk. I remember a time when getting to semi final everyone would be chatting bout it. But we are regulars now at semi stage. We’re not western walkovers anymore. We’re live contenders. Consistency has evaded us this year. From now on nothing less that consistent performances will suffice. Hoping for more of the same that got us over poor innocent quiet red hands lol

  25. The comments at the moment are the same as most comments made before we played Galway. The reality is that Tipp have a chance. not as good a chance as Mayo have but the could win. In the same way as if we were playing Dublin we have a chance even though Dublin would be strong favourites. For some reason supporters of most teams are much too harsh/down when their Teams have a loss ( even a one point loss ) Look at the calls from some in Tyrone for M Harte to stand down. His team lost by one point and Mick did not kick the bad wides. Had he won he would be a hero. In same way when a team wins in this case by a point we as supporters tend to get carried away. Sure Mayo should win but that is no guarantee and that is the reason we follow any sport. Sometimes results are different from that which everyone expects. Lets hope not this weekend

  26. I think people are getting a bit carried away with our performance against Tyrone. They were average enough on the day. We were the better side and that was that – we easily could have lost too. It doesn’t mean we are now transformed from the team that scraped past Westmeath. We need to keep tabs on reality.

    Im looking forward to a good double sweeper against tipp, and it choking the life out of their ff line. Then catching them on the counter until the game is beyond them. Maybe start a scuffle or two to kill off any attempted comeback. Tipp are like mayo in times past; honest, attacking, naïve.
    However, with all this talk of how great tipp are, one thing I hope doesn’t happen is that we don’t respect them too much. We should be looking to use our experience to hurt them early and drain their confidence like Kerry did to us so often.

    Also if our players can be experienced, it is about time our fans started using their experience too. We have to keep a lid on things.

  27. I hope that Tipp are on the pitch first on Sunday. I want both team and fans to experience the Mayo roar which displays emphatically our numeric advantage in support. I recall the 2012 AI against Donegal. Mayo took to the field and we gave them a mighty roar. When Donegal came out it was clear there was at least a three to one advantage for the men from the northwest. It really shook me and many of my fellow Mayo supporters remarked on it. I have no doubt that the teams heard the audible difference also. Physiologically we were a point down before the game even started. From semifinal stage on it’s the whole package. The supporters have a crucial role to play cos they not only give their own team a huge boost but they also have a negative effect on the opposition. How many times do we see players on the field gesture to the crowd for more support? Let’s not be found wanting in this department. It’s important that every Mayo supporter, man woman and child is hoarse for a week after Sunday. Then we will have played our part and the team will have played theirs.

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