Game day: points are key today but so too is performance

It’s a case of once more unto the breach this afternoon, this time in the form of what’s likely to be a tasty NFL Division One tie up in Healy Park against Tyrone. The match throws in this afternoon up in Omagh at 3pm. (That’s new time – did you remember to put the clock forward?)

This shouldn’t have been as important a fixture for us as it clearly now is. If we’d played anything close to the level we’re capable of last Sunday we’d be travelling North today with six points on the board and still in the hunt for a place in the final. Instead our calamitous display against Cavan means we head into this one with dark thoughts about relegation swirling in the air.

Those thoughts will come sharply into focus if we leave Healy Park today empty-handed. Put simply, if we lose today then we’ll have to beat Donegal next weekend and hope that this will be enough to keep us up.

The Rossies, already relegated after last night’s HQ hockeying, might yet save us but, you know, the Lord helps those who help themselves and we could do a lot worse than starting to aid our own cause this afternoon.

The result today is key, of course it is, but equally important is how we perform. We’ve been off-colour performance-wise all year – being brutally honest, we’ve rarely performed well since Stephen Rochford took over. I know, we fronted up impressively against Tyrone and both days against Dublin when it really counted last year but those displays were the exception rather than the norm.

We need to break from this standard practice of playing well within ourselves, of struggling to win games we should close out with ease, of losing games we could just as easily win.

Today’s test for sure isn’t an easy one, The way we failed to make headway against Cavan’s crude version of the blanket defence bodes ill for how we’re likely to fare against the county that has brought suffocation to an art form in Gaelic football.

We always tend to struggle against them in the League and today is likely to be no different. Wouldn’t it be great, then, if today proved to be the day when we ripped up that narrative and showed all and sundry that we too can chisel out a result in the face of adversity at this time of year?

Hand on heart, I’m not expecting a whole pile out of today’s game. Whatever about the result, though, how we perform is, for me, of greater importance. Another underwhelming, flat display would be a serious worry whereas if we give it everything and still go under it’ll at least give us something to build on, not just against Donegal but more importantly for the summer too. Here’s hoping we’ll get such a display from the lads today.

However they perform, I’m not going to be there to see it. Kids’ activities have ramped up sharply of late and parental taxiing duties could mean that I don’t even get to see the live broadcast on TG4 this afternoon. If I don’t see it live I’ll see it later on this evening and so will be able to post some sort of match report here.

Here’s to two much-needed League points. Failing that, here’s to a much-improved performance from the lads. Up Mayo!

48 thoughts on “Game day: points are key today but so too is performance

  1. All we can hope for is that Thursday evenings clear the air session has its desired effect and has worked out most of the issues that have been bubbling of late. Time for all the talking now to be done on the pitch or its Division 2 we’re heading. Tyrone will be in no mood to let us have our comeback performance either and will relish the opportunity to put another nail in our coffin. Time for leadership both on the pitch and on the sideline.

  2. Entirely agree – whatever about the result, I want to see a bit of grit and endeavour today. I know it’s the league and some perspective is required, but we can’t continue hand out free passes to the likes of Dublin and Tyrone.

    At some point the message needs to go out that we’ll be seeing them all later in the Summer.

  3. I don’t think we were too bad at all against Cavan. Some really great long range points by 3 players in particular which is an area we’ve been critical of our team on. We missed a much higher % in 2nd half most likely because of the extent of Cavan suffocation. Players were trying stuff out. Our kicking stats showed up on TV half way through 2nd half were way higher than Cavan’s.
    Where I would be critical is when we got our noses just in front late on we should have gone into Cavan mode and generally the openness of our defense without a sweeper. We needed a “how do we kill this game” mentality, the type shown vs Tyrone last year. Man for man most won their battles in the 1st half. It was a very good football match and Cavan played some great stuff. Their last 2 points showed a great sense of abandon.

  4. @45. “clear the air” meeting on Thursday evening? Tell us more!

    All I can say is if it needed clearing I hope it worked. There is a fair bit of despondency around these days and the general feeling is that this team is on the slide. I would hold off on any judgement until later today. There could well be a response from our lads in Omagh who must be hurting a bit by now.

  5. Expect a massive response today and back to basics approach . Similar to how we played them last August. Hoping for a similar result too

  6. The sideline getting one thing wrong picking Keith as FB. Yes it’s an emergency measure without or first 2 full backs and a problem other players might also find hard to solve but I think we need to try a few more options there before championship. It’s a very challenging position on the field. Appreciate Caff’s long term service to Mayo more now that he’s been out for an extended period. However we played most of last year’s championship without a recognised FB.
    The one team we knew was an aerial threat Tipperary we deployed Barry Moran as sweeper and Keegan FB which had a good result defensively but led to a poor enough team performance because Tipp always had an extra man outfield until reaching our defense. Would playing Keane there with a fast sweeper have given us a much better performance that day? In any case the result justified the tactic. Against Tyrone we sacrificed Keegan to do a man to man on Cavanagh which worked very well. The biggest FF threats this year come from Kerry, Galway, Monaghan’s McManus and Tyrone’s Cavanagh. Donegal’s McBrearty also if we play them though not tall is very strong for his size and they can throw Murphy in if we show any weakness in FB zone. Ros have good FF options but the improvement bridge to win Connaught final maybe too far for them. Dublin’s threat more from runners though much is made of O Gara in the air by pundits I haven’t seen much of it and think Rock is really their main aerial threat up front. We saw against Cavan that Keegan’s long shooting very useful to break down blanket defenses.. he’s our consistently best shooting defender. All the other half backs can score but all capable of wides as well.
    Dublin use the same player Cian OS as sweeper in all the big games and if anything happens him, Rock or Cluxton they are a 3 or 4 points weaker team, in Cluxton’s case even more. Problem is their first 15+6 probably at least 4 points better than the pack. That said Dublin on opposite side of draw so like last year no point worrying about them for now so it’s how to get a FB system for all the others in our path.

  7. I expect a response from our lads today and I expect them to lay down a marker.
    I can’t stop thinking that management and players are trying one system/tactical approach behind closed doors (with a view to the summer and NOT showing our hand) but producing another one on match day, an off the cuff approach, in the hope that it will be enough. I’ve no proof, obviously, but there’s too much experience and brains on the sideline and quality on the field to be playing this badly. Call it a hunch but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a trick or two up our selves.
    For me, we MUST persevere with Boland, Conor O’Shea, Loftus and Regan. That is the area of the field we need options in different styles, tactics and selection. The only way for those lads to develop and progress is in games and we have to be patient. My problem with last week was it was the senior players that performed worse and offered no guidance to the young lads. It’s time for the senior players to man-up and produce the goods today.
    We’ll need everyone getting at least 7 out of 10 to travel South with the points today. But we can do it. Also, Sludden is their danger man and he needs constant attention.
    Hon Mayo.

  8. Great comment Shuffly.I don’t know where you get all the breath from! For me all I can say is that if you’re full back you have to stay awake 100% and not leave yer man smiling behind your back! The same goes for the corners but it’s absolute for FB.
    We are up against it today considering all the circumstances but with the fine day and grand trip in the offing for the happy travellers and that prospect of a staunch green and red backlash it could turn out a very interesting day indeed.
    Best of luck to all involved!

  9. I have a hope for the best attitude today..2 back to back lacklustre performances are more than enough..

  10. One thing that I notice about the throw in times today is that the Cavan and Kerry game starts at 2 while ours does not start until 3. That will mean that at half-time in our game we will know the result from Breffni Park. That is a bit of an advantage to us anyway.

    In relation to our U21s losing yesterday, one silver lining is that any of these players deemed good enough for the senior squad will now be free to concentrate on that.

    Let’s hope that we will see plenty of heart and spirit from our team today anyway, that’s all that we can ask for really as supporters.

    P.S. I was almost going to listen to the death and funeral notices on Midwest Radio this morning to see if the death of Mayo GAA was announced. Lately it seems like the wake has started already in a lot of quarters. Hopefully there is still some life left in the Mayo GAA dog, then again maybe by this evening we will have to listen to those notices on Midwest!

  11. HopeSprings …. You’d make a great sheep dog.. You’d have an eye for every gap in the field! Keep up the good work.

  12. Diehard – I’m sure all will be out in due course…. I do really hope we see the response today that we were looking for seven days ago.

  13. Well Midwest had the death notices on yesterday at 5 instead of having the game live on radio! Then the match reporting was poor to the only good thing was whoever was operating the Midwest twitter account was on the ball compared to that of Mayo GAA which was woefully behind!

  14. Aidan – just to be clear, this isn’t a place for spreading tittle-tattle so I’m happy that 45 hasn’t enlightened us further on that point. For what it’s worth, I’d happy if the air is being cleared because at least it shows that there’s a desire to get us out of this current rut we’re in.

  15. Just seen the subs list now. Here it is: Robbie Hennelly, Donie Newcombe, Caolan Crowe, Stephen Coen, Donal Vaughan, Shane Nally, Jason Doherty, Conor Loftus, Diarmuid O’Connor, Aidan O’Shea, David Drake.

  16. Aidan to make a huge impact from the bench. Willie Joes post count to go off the charts with the ensuing debate of whether that is Aidans role!!
    Clear the airs are par for the course even at club level. For the panel and managements ears only.

  17. @willie joe why I want to be enlightened is I believe that even if one did take place that it would not be common knowledge and would be kept in house!!!
    Enjoy the game!

  18. Shocked to hear Jason Gibbons playing with ballintubber today. Given 3minutes last week. Baffled

  19. How dare one of more experienced players give a pep talk before an absolutely vital game !
    Honestly I think sometimes people just want to find fault with anything o Shea does at this stage

  20. Good 1st half performance from Mayo. Clearly up for it. Keegan huge loss. Class goal from Parsons after a peach of a ball from Cillian. Hope they can keep it up.

  21. An improvement from last week. Kick passing is much improved and quicker intothe ff line. Tyrone very limited but are getting planty of chances but are kicking awful wides. Keegan card a setback but correct decision.

    AH NOW, why so shocked. were you in the huddle to know what AOS was saying. Im sure the manager had already given his instructions. Nothung wrong with a senior player giving encouragement.

  22. what would Tyrone give for a forward that can shoot a point? Well done to all Mayo players and it’s great to see a bit of grit shown when needed.

  23. What a goalie we have….well done David Clarke and well done all….a lovely day surely. Tom parsons … yer right there!

  24. Well we might have something yet,well done to management and players,Stephen must be found something right

  25. A good win, much needed. A big improvement on last week but wont still serious problems particularly in the forwards.

    Tyrone very nasty at the end, O’Neill needs to be banned for that assault on Cillian and the end. Also the Mayo medical team needs a talking to for leaving an obviously concussed player on the field.

  26. Great win
    I’d love to face them in an AI final as we clearly have a mental edge over them
    And we can’t say that about many teams

  27. Rumours of our demise have been slightly em ,,,, overstated ! Well done lads, Super,

    This is why I will support you to the grave,

  28. I think we should make clear the air sessions a weekly event! Disgusting tactics from Tyrone in the dying seconds. If that sneaky hit on Cillian doesn’t get dealt with retrospectively then something’s wrong with the world. Agree 100% km79 – we really have the hex on Tyrone at this stage.

  29. Well…it’s still in our hands.

    Performance wise, you cannot fault our effort and endeavour. We were out on our feet with 10 mins to go.

    Tyrone absolutely kicked it away. 17 wides??! That’s the worrying take away from Omagh for us in that we are giving up chances. In saying this, we were much better overall defensively not coughing up goal chances. We had 5 shots in the 2nd half, 4 went over. We gave away some terrible ball in the last quarter. We have a lot to do in our forward play still bit today was an improvement.

    Now we need a result at home in Castlebar.

  30. As hard as win as we’ll earn for a long time. Rochford and co got it spot on! Well done to all and the dirt came out of the Nordies as expected. The hit on Cillian and punch to O’Shea must surely be dealt with retrospectively as Kirbys was?
    Heart, bravery, patience and some wonderful displays by Barrett Higgins and Parsons

  31. Yeah, really surprised the hit on Cillian wasn’t red. He looked like a boxer struggling to get back on his feet. Vaughan too took a few belts.

    Mayo should keep quiet about it though, let the GAA do what they want with it. We should keep it in the locker should we meet again later this year.

    Mayo have the players to play defensive counter attack football. Thats what we did in the finals last year and it got us over the line today, just. That’s how we will beat the other top teams. We can get away with open expansive football against weaker opposition.

    Still think McLoughlin has to be played in sweeper role.

    Nally will push for a starting place come the summer.

    A fit Barrett too adds more strength at the back.

  32. Excellent win away from home and under pressure to deliver two points.

    Tom Parsons deliivered today after a lot of criticism last week. He was superb all through and dominated Donnelly and Cavanagh. I thought Durkan and Boyle ran hard all through, whilst Higgins and Harrison gave Sean Cavangh very little room to manoeuvre.

    The Tyrone boys reverted to type the minute O’Shea came on. McCarron really is a thorough tramp. Mouthing off constantly and the late hit on Cillian was a cowards effort.

    Can never beat them enough to be honest.

  33. Clark was excellent again, still needs work on kick outs but was again a massive presence in the square.
    also Barrett’s return was impressive. I thought Coen played really well and his kick passing was excellent as it was with many of the other lads.
    Top clas goal from Parsons, fair play! all direct kick passes, ending with Andys lay off to Parsons.
    Simples really!

  34. Absolutely great result at a difficult venue. I really didn’t think we would pull this one off.
    Towards the end….the sly punch to Cillian’s face which laid him low and not knowing which way to go…..The punches to Aido’s face at the final whistle…all systematic of what Micky Harte and his followers have brought to the game. Without even mentioning the blight of the fourteen men behind the forty-five metre line. (I won’t even dignify it with the title which has been attributed to it involving an item of bed-dressing.)
    Micky is oft regarded as a type of venerable semi-priest/favourite uncle type who is happy to take the pulpit at places like the basilica of Our Lady Queen of Ireland in Knock, Co. Mayo. And preach his message. While, simultaneously, presiding over the organising and sending out of the greatest shower of thugs who ever vacated a dressing room in Gaelic football.
    Well done, Mayo.

  35. Well done Mayo, team and management! David Clark again made us proud with great saves and Great goal from TomParsons, classy interview too! This was one nasty game, Lee Keegan was subject of many improper hits that were never called. The late hit to Cillian O’Connor was completely inappropriate and he showed true grit to stay in the game but where were the doctors? It was clear at the end of the game he needed help off the field. Hoping the GAA takes a serious look at that and other missed calls affecting player safety. There is no need for that to be allowed, if honestly missed by the ref, then the GAA needs to step in address. These players put in way to much to have to face direct attacks. So proud of the team today, never lost faith and never will! Maigh Eo Abú!!

  36. Juan – got your message, thanks. I appreciate the sentiments and, as requested, I won’t put it up on the blog. You’re welcome to resume commenting whenever you want.

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