Out of the limelight

MacHale Park in January

It’s Connacht final week but, from our perspective, you wouldn’t really know it, would you? Sure, the minors are on the card for Sunday at Pearse Stadium – and good luck to them, their provincial final against Galway throws in at midday – but the senior decider isn’t of great concern to us.

It’s the first Galway/Roscommon final since 1998 and only the third Nestor Cup decider between the counties in thirty years. If Galway do it it’ll be their first Connacht title since 2008 and their 45th in all (putting them back to just one behind us in the provincial roll of honour). If the Rossies win out it’ll be their 24th provincial crown and their first since 2010.

I’m not planning on taking in Salthill on Sunday but some of you no doubt will, not least given the minors’ appearance on the undercard at Pearse Stadium. For those thinking of going, ticketing details for Sunday are here.

While the neighbours are gearing up for their big day on Sunday – and good luck to the both of them in it – we, meanwhile, have to be content with our place in the shadows the previous afternoon. It’s not a position that feels in any sense normal but it’s one we need to accept as the new normal and get on with it.

One of the odd things about the qualifiers is the absence of any national coverage about us right now. After the Galway defeat there was plenty of analysis of what befell us and what we need to do as a result but since then we’ve largely dipped out of view. The news yesterday about Tom Parsons, for example, didn’t register at all with the national media.

Maybe that’s no bad thing. We’ve had more than our fair share of the limelight in recent years and as we walk the qualifier tightrope – all the while knowing that with one slip-up we’re gone – it’s no harm that there’s less focus on us.

The local coverage continues unabated, though, and Billy Joe Padden’s tactics column in this week’s Mayo News is worth a look – it’s here. In it Billy Joe lays out in stark language where the team now finds itself and what the lads need to do on Saturday, both to stay in this year’s championship and to preserve the legacy of all they’ve achieved since 2011:

The reputation that they’ve worked so hard for over the last five years is at stake. Everything they’ve sacrificed and strived for over the last five years is on the line.

This is about salvaging their season and keeping this team alive. Because if Mayo lose to Fermanagh then things are never going to be the same again for this group of players.

It’s all on the line, for sure, on Saturday. And while there’s less interest in us this week the match is being broadcast live by RTÉ on Saturday so it’s the perfect opportunity for us to show that we’re still a force to be reckoned with. A strong – and winning – performance from the lads, backed by a boisterous show of support from the stands would be the perfect start on our road to redemption.

Ticketing details for Saturday’s game are here.  If you’re a Season Ticket holder you’ll have got the email from them by now letting you know the story there. Basically, your credit/debit card will have been debited with the entry price for the game and it’s self-scanning entry via your Season Ticket card at MacHale Park. At the risk of lighting the touch paper, it’s unreserved seating in the stand for this one.

50 thoughts on “Out of the limelight

  1. Good luck to our men on saturday (and Sunday). Hope this is the start of another exciting run for our teams. Though the feeling is very downbeat and I am anxious about Fermanagh I also have a feeling that we can weather these storms and come to the latter stages of the season with a stronger team who know they are survivors. Come on Mayo…give it your all…and thanks for the years of fun and excitement.

  2. In a note on the season tickets. Have people’s account being debited yet? Email said the 5th but mine has not come out yet. Anyone else had this happen?

  3. @Mickyg my account has been debited alright, make sure your credit/debit card hasn’t expired in the last while or you might be in bother

  4. Interesting thing that, MayoSprings,concerning the tennis.You ll often notice a player winning the first set 6-0 and on top of the world, but come the first serve in the second and you can see straight away that there’s something up!! You ll find unforced errors and double faults coming out of you don’t know where.
    So it’s obviously a psychological jam that sets in,bred probably out of over confidence.And the effect is so pertinent that it can be active even within a game of minutes duration! From what I ve known you get through it by keeping it simple and by doing the basics right for a while ….get the ball over te net and keep it on court without any glory shots and then your game will return…if you have a game!
    It looks like there could be a relevance in that for Saturday!!!

  5. Expect an explosive start with many markers laid down. We have to be measured in the opening exchanges and insure there is no reason for a red or black card to be shown.
    There is an All Ireland is this group, they and we have to believe that but more importantly they have to work even harder for it now.
    Fermanagh are the test we need at this stage. We don’t just need to win we need to lay down a marker that we are no busted flush. Mayo by 4

  6. Supporting this team when they are going through an all together different type of challenge than the glory days up in Croker.

    It is not only just important to attend but to be as loud as we can be.

    Our team has a lot to be positive about rather than all the negativity that is about. We trained to peak later and that conditioning should be coming to our aid now. The intense training pre-Galway undervalued them and that was a mistake, for the betting folk you can get us a 12-1 now that would surly pay for a serous celebration in the back end of the year should the team do what we all know they can.

    Listen there is no doubt that Caff is a big loss but in essence our best team is there bar one. I know we have lost an important squad member in Gibbons too, mind he was far from a clear cut starter.

    Get behind the team as we always do, prepare to loose your voices and roar the boys on!

  7. Willie Joe hopefully they give us something to shout about, its difficult to be shouting when no scores are coming from play

  8. Yeah Inbetweener, that’s a good point alright, to try to keep things simple for this game. James Horan said a couple of silly things before the Galway game but one thing that we didn’t take on board was what he said about our shot selection. He was saying that we should minimise our 2 from 8 type shots, i.e. like the ones we were taking on early in the game from all angles and that we should maximise our 6 from 8 type shots, i.e. the ones we were taking on just before half-time when we popped over a no. of simple points from inside the scoring zone. So the mantra should be, keep it simple lads.

  9. Hope springs, it helps with the score taking if forwards are selected in forward positions. Started with 3 recognised forwards, 4 if you count AOS who isnt a renound point taker. More attack minded players in forward unit will increase options and lead to increased scoring from play.

  10. Yeah mayomad, we really do need to get the balance right up front between workers and scorers. Even though Dublin play a sweeper system it takes nothing away from their attacking play, which is what we should be aiming for. We really do need to have natural forwards in our full-forward line especially.

  11. Hope springs, exactly. Biggest mistake make last year was taking off a forward to play a sweeper v Dublin, allowed Dublin to double team Aido and offered a free man for kickouts. We made the same mistake in the replay too.

    Dublin play a sweeper at times when needed, O’Sullivan plays number 6 but will sit deep if required where he is protected by midfield and hf. Easy transition to attack with 6 forwards in position.

    The Galway game was poor from the forwards, but only 3 were recognised forwards and Galway had a free defender as we sacrificed a forward to play sweeper. Personally I would go with a forward line of,

    Loftus, Cillian, Diarmuid
    Regan, Freeman, Reape

    I would play KMc at no 6, but not as a sweeper as such. He plays there for club and can pick a pass to turn defence into attack quickly with a pacy and mobile forward unit.

  12. MayoMad! Your second paragraph goes to top of class. Your first sits right beside it!
    Hope Springs…sitting in same row if you substitute ‘movement ‘for balance! They ll score if they move at pace for each other.

  13. Why always the big delay in announcing the team? The usual answer is not to let the other team know what we’re doing. But more often that not the team, when it’s finally announced, is not the team that will line out on the day. Usually there will be at least two changes in personnel, not the mention all the positional switches. But what I can’t really figure out is why Mayo never seem to publish the list of subs. Everyone is the country knows our panel so why keep the subs a secret? I know…I’ve very little on my mind when I pose these queries. But I’m just wondering…

  14. I cannot see our fellas being as naive or careless this time around. My hope is that we got caught out against Galway and that we have learned. A few forced shake ups in the starting team seems very likely now. Sine JOM pulled plant people here have said that Mayo played their best football with AOS in midfield and I’m inclined to agree….still think on his day he’s hard to handle in there and way more likely to get a bitta softness from a ref if it’s going round. The system with him inside the last while doesn’t seem to have worked. I know a load of goals against Sligo and one against Donegal but against Dublin twice…..not a sniff and feck all since either. The brothers O’Shea in the middle Saturday evening and a hard fast running game and we’ll win.

  15. Backline: (think still a strong six with injuries)
    Harrison Keane Higgins
    Keegan Coen Boyle
    Subs: Durcan, Nally

    Midfield:
    SOS Barry Moran sub: Conor OShea

    Forward line I’d go with.
    Kevin Mc AOS Diarmuid (best balanced hf line)

    Regan Freeman Cillian (Regan pace, Freeman height, Cillian bulked up so is more suited to a low mileage role)
    Subs:
    Loftus
    Andy

  16. I’m not that much into who plays where. I think there’s not that much between one lineup and another but I do think that Kc L and Higgins are two players who always know what’s going on around them. I’d like to see them both in the forwards but at the moment Hoggins is best placed lcb. Because of Kevin’s speed of though, passing ability good reading of the game and a good moppet upper of messy ball and a worker,I think he’d do well at 11.This would mean AOS to MF with bro or Barry and JD to come in on the wing.
    FFL same as JP and we have what looks like a nice set up …..so long as they play for each other and the team.

  17. Inbetweener, there is merits to having KMc and Higgins in the hf line. As you said can read they game well, speed, passing ability etc. The only worry I would have with them in the hf line with presumably DOC is the lack of a scoring threat, neither player is a heavy scorer, Higgins in 2013 scored very little from the half forward line. If the opposition sits deep and covers the ff line then we would need a hfs that can score from distance regularly.

  18. The players certainly wouldn’t have needed reminding, but the stinging criticism from so many pundits of the Galway hurlers this week will not have been lost on our lads as they look to get their heads into the right zone for Saturday. Here’s hoping for a very acute and relentless response from our men in black and lime !

  19. MayoMad …Both MC L and Keith haven’t had what you de call any real time looking at the posts recently and you can’t point out too many who have been reg consistent scorers in recent times. I d be of the opinion that the score rate of the division would improve greatly with the two boys having major time there more due to the smart movement that I believe would result from their presence.Too much of our scoring imo has been so hard earned ….fair dues to the many wonderful individual efforts that have been responsible but I. still
    maintain all the time that this is where we fall down.The scoring machine for what it’s been reminds me of my ould tractor….gets the job done,
    not too pretty like and with a lot of hassle. It’s to do with the gears and the steering and the whatever else.People say we ve gotten big enough totals to win games and indeed we have BUT not v the big guns and lately not v the small guns either.
    But sure it’s all only talk at the moment.
    Roll on the real thing on sat!!

  20. @Declan cheers for that all sorted now. Good to go.
    Expecting a better performance and hopefully 3-4 pt win. Best draw we could have gotten as we will see if Galway was a blip or the start of the end for some of this great team. Think Fermanagh will be tough but there defence is there weakness. If aos is ff we need to leave Regan and coc to feed of him. Agree with sweeper (if playing with one) comes from hb line with midfielder dropping in to create extra man. Think coen is man for the job. With seamie and b Moran in the middle.

  21. What the hell is this crap about Reape. James OD has to wait until 23 to get a proper run with Kerry and peaked so far at 24 because of niggly injuries but he was a long time waiting in the wings. And we’re talking about springing a rookie. Not unless he’s really standing out in training.
    We need to get driven experienced heads on, Andy Moran being the prime candidate. Freeman has plenty of ability but Andy’s attitude is what stands out.
    If we get a run on Fermanagh maybe then give younger lads a good run.
    Loftus too soon back to start, Freeman should be ahead of him for selection for this game.
    Also some people writing off Donie. I hope to see him take the field at some stage and prove people wrong. Though management have the inside track I’d prefer Durkan to Coen in HB line because of his pace though Donie could return.
    If Durkan or Donie starts Boyler should be the deep CHB, if Coen does he should be the one for that role. Nally could also fit it but midfield / HF would have to drop bit more if he plays.
    Also need fully fit players prioritised to start.
    For me AOS midfield for this one and we can bring on at least 1 more natural forward or playmaker at 11.

  22. Have sympathy for COS dropping back the team list but the way to answer is to kick on big time any chance that comes his way as Diarmaid did last year.
    With Aido at midfield Kevin Mc, Cillian, COS Andy or Alan D can play 11.
    Wildcard is Barry Moran FF. If Kevin Mc picked 11 as playmaker, then most mobile wing forward to come in would be COS.

  23. Some good posts about different players and I would add Cathal Carolan to the mix, he’s a fella that’s not afraid of going through a crowded defense and leaving a few bruised defenders behind him to get on a ball, he can kick points too. I was a bit down to be honest after the Galway game, I felt beforehand that we could lose that game and said as much but as of tonight I am thinking there’s going to be a big effort put in this Saturday from the start and Mayo will win with a few to spare.
    Its hard to see these particular Mayo players letting a single defeat like that Galway one, derail their dreams and especially since they took ownership of the dream last autumn.

  24. Scuffly Deck. Regarding Reape, why is he on the senior panel if not ready to play a part? Its not a child care centre they are running in McHale Park. Surely every player on the panel (an injury plagued panel) has to be a viable option to play on Saturday. If he is not ready to step onto the pitch then why is he there and Irwin, Conroy, Sweeney sitting at home. Trune O’Donaghue was 22-23 when he broke into the Kerry team but Cillian was 19-20 when breaking onto the Mayo team, that didnt go to bad.

  25. I’d go with a team of:

    Clarke
    Harrison
    Keane
    Higgins
    Keegan
    Vaughan
    Boyle
    Coen
    SOS
    Diarmuid
    AOS
    Kevin Mc
    Regan
    Freeman
    Cillian

    Almost every match that we have played this year, we have died a death in the second half so our plan B options in the second half would be: A Moran, B Moran, Durcan, Nally, Loftus and Dillon. So that team and subs should give us a good balance of mobility, experience, youth, physicality and freshness. We’ll see how it goes anyway.

  26. Right – this is a rough sketch of what I’d set out on Sat –

    Hennelly

    Harrison – Keane – Higgins

    Durcan – Boyle – Keegan

    S O’Shea – Coen

    McLoughlin – A O’Shea – D O’Connor

    Regan – Freeman/A Moran – C O’Connor

    Rationale – Higgins is needed back to coral Corrigan and is better attacking from deep. Keegan and Durcan provide pace and aggression on the wings and should be allowed use it too.

    I’d stick Stephen Coen in the middle as a runner and linkman. This man is a future Mayo captain and will be central to our hopes for many years. I reckon he can play a role similar to Fenton for the Dubs. He’s athletic, strong and is a mature footballer already.

    I’d bring McLoughlin back up because he’s work on the breaks and distribution is required further forward. DOC comes back in and he’s a huge addition. AOS starts at chf early on to ensure we dominate possession.

    Inside I’m looking for guys that can win their own ball and score. COC, Freeman and Moran can all do that. Regan showed well against Galway and was unlucky to be called ashore in my opinion. All of them can kick frees too if required.

    I’d be looking for Loftus, Vaughan, Nally etc to make an impact from the bench.

  27. I see digs on gaaboard about Club 51 and the Camden Arms? what’s the story there?

  28. Mayomad, I haven’t seen anything to suggest reape should be thrown in for his debut in a do or die situation like this. Andy, dillon, Doherty and cos would be ahead in the pecking order imo.

    My starting 15 for what it’s worth :

    Henelly
    Harrison, Keane, Higgins
    Keegan, Coen, Boyle
    Seamie, Aido
    Kev Mc, Cillian, DOC
    Regan, Freeman, Andy

    Loftus and Barry Moran haven’t played enough recently to be considered as starters, but could come in with 15 minutes to go. Durcan and donie will provide defensive cover. If a sweeper is necessary, Coen or Seamie are the men for the job. Not one of the forwards!

  29. putting Coen in midfield alongside seamie in a must win game would be suicidal in my humble opinion, Fermanagh have a more than capable middle third. why would we go with 2 second midfielders and no primary midfielders? Aiden and big bird are our primary midfielders, so one of them to partner either seamie or Coen. anything less, we might have the same results as against Galway, where we got over run in the middle third. Mayo have to line out as strong as they can, no second measures. Coen is a natural centre back, and will be our number 6 in the future, but not at the moment. he is cover for nearly all 6 backline positions. id hope Rochie would start Aiden and Big bird (who needs games) at 8 &9, with seamie and coen to come in. id like duirmuid to play 11, as his ball carrying abilities and direct running would open up the forward line, where cillian and one of regan or andy would cause big damage either side of freeman. I think freeman has had loads of chances with Mayo, but Rochie could get the best out of him!

  30. …and Padraic Joyce, Derek Savage, John Divilly, Tomas Meehan and Michael Donnellan were ALL under21 when they won Sam in 1998. Paul
    Clancy who came on as a sub was 22.

    If you’re good enough. You’re old enough.

  31. MayoDan Im not expecting Reape to start or even be on the bench for Saturday but he cant just be there for development or to make up numbers. That is just daft when experienced players were dropped from the panel to accommodate him. Reape must be on the panel on merit and therefore be a viable option to play. Otherwise its a bit of an insult to good servants of Mayo football like Michael Conroy to be left sitting at home, intercounty career over.

  32. With this in mind, someone like Evan Regan could be viewed as a ‘late bloomer’ on the senior intercounty scene. Granted he had nasty injuries last season.

    IMO if a player hasn’t nailed down a starting place on a senior team(or gone close to doing so) by the time he reaches 22, he probably isn’t going to be of the standard required to win an All Ireland and that’s what we are looking for. Obviously there are exceptions/late developers etc.

  33. Fair enough mayomad but why did you pick him to start above? There may be players more deserving of a place on the extended panel but it’s pointless debating it. They wouldn’t warrant a starting/sub position either.

  34. Toggin out time fast approaching….’Stand up as I call ye out’ as someone famous used to say!
    There are not an awful lot of options when it comes down to it!

    CLARKE
    HARRISON. KEANE HIGGINS
    DURKAN. BOYLE. KEEGAN

    SOS. AOS.

    DOC. K MC L. JD.
    REGAN. FREEMAN. COC.

    All these teams are so strong on paper and you wonder a bit about the worries we have. I rem it was the same last year when I tuned into Mayo.v. Sligo in the centre of France. There was a certain fear around then too. These fellas had something to prove then and it didn’t take them long to do it!
    Different situation on Sat but they’ll be looking to get the wagon back on track!
    Kevin McL at 11 to make the forwards tick.
    Powerful MF if both are ready, other wise look to line or change around.
    Durkan needs starts to dev his true potential.
    Charles commanding presence at back to settle affairs in front.
    And Ann Marie,when is it going to be Saturday?

  35. I don’t think that the two big men approach in midfied works anymore. You don’t see too many teams now going for that approach as the opposition will just run the ball around them. Dublin go for Bastick and Fenton, Tyrone have Cavanagh and Mattie Donnelly. One big man and one mobile player. You seen at the weekend Kerry going for Donaghy and Sheehan and the Tipp lads just left them for dead at times.

    So I don’t think that a midfield pairing of Barry and Seamie or the two O’Sheas together would work for us any more. That’s why I have mentioned that Stephen Coen could be a good man to give us some balance in midfield along with Seamie and having Aidan at 11 would still allow him to win primary possession but he would not have to waste energy up and down the pitch. Stephen Coen would be his legs. Ideally you wanted to have Tom Parsons in there but in his absence Coen is about the closest to him. He did a good job for our U21 team this year and we seen Brian Fenton for Dublin do the same thing in terms of stepping up from the U21 team to the senior team.

    Seamie and Barry Moran were our midfield pairing for the 2006 U21 All-Ireland final so surely to God 10 years later we need to see some new blood coming into our team. Barry is only back from injury as well so it would make more sense to have him as back-up for this game.

  36. MayoDan, I dont expect Reape to start on aturday but personally, if it was me picking the team I would start him along with Loftus and would have Carolan getting game time also. I would liketo see Rochford being brave in his selection and trusting these guys. They are the future and the way forward for Mayo football.

    We all laughed at Galway playing 5 debuts and a inexperienced defence but worked out very well for them.

    I hope im wrong but the more I think over the Galway game the more it looks like this team is in decline with their peak well behind them. Reverting to the team and tactics of 2013 isnt the way forward. The future lies with the young and I would like to see them given a shot.

  37. Hope springs, I agree 100percent with your reading of the midfield. Parsons was brought back in as Dublin totally exploited the lack of mobility the two O’Sheas offered in 2013. Going for the two big guys is not the answer. I would go with Coen with AOS in the middle. But as you said as long as its one big guy and one very mobile guy.

  38. Clarke
    Harrison. Keane. O donoughue
    Higgins
    Keegan. Boyle. Durcan
    Coen. Barry
    Kevin mc. Diarmuid. Jason Doc
    Regan. Cillian

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