Slipping past Sligo

Photo: @ColmGannon

Today’s FBD League fourth round clash with Sligo was the day’s only men’s inter-county fixture to go ahead, which it did at James Stephens Park in Ballina this afternoon. Thanks to a scoreline of 1-10 to 0-11 in our favour, it was also a game in which we got our first win of the year.

It was a match that wouldn’t have gone ahead at all had the venue not been switched this morning from Enniscrone to Ballina. Fair play to the Stephenites for being able to host the fxture at such short notice, thus ensuring that Stephen Rochford was able to have another look over his playing personnel before the League gets going next weekend.

We made one change to the team we’d announced in advance. Footballer of the Year Andy Moran made his first start of 2018, lining out at top of the left in place of local player Ciaran Treacy.

We had the wind behind us in the first half and, although it was the Magpies who got the day’s first score, via an Adrian Marren free, we dominated matters on the scoreboard from then until the break.

Seven points without reply put our lads in a commanding position. Diarmuid O’Connor bagged our first score of the day, with Jason Doherty edging us ahead with a free. Evan Regan, from play, Jason Doherty from two frees, Evan from another free and then Paddy Durcan from play stretched our lead to six.

Sligo pulled one back before the break and they then made short work of that five-point deficit, with the wind now at their backs, once the ball was thrown in on the resumption. Fewer than ten minutes were played in the second half before the Yeats County, with five points on the spin (six, if you include the one they got just before half-time), had squared the game up.

Stalemate didn’t prevail for long, though, as we struck soon after for what turned out to be the game’s decisive score. An Evan Regan free came up a bit short but Jason Doherty pounced to guide it to the net. Aidan O’Shea followed this up with a free and so we were back in control of the game once more.

It was after these scores that Stephen Rochford started to empty his bench. Diarmuid O’Connor was the first to leave the fray, Conor Loftus coming on for him. Subsequent switches saw Shairoze Akram (for Paddy Durcan), Shane Nally (for Stephen Coen), Ger McDonagh (for Jason Gibbons) and Fionn McDonagh (for Jason Doherty) all get game time before the finish.

Sligo kept plugging away and it took two further placed balls – from Jason Doherty and Evan Regan – to ensure we maintained a bit of breathing space down the closing straight. Sligo bagged the day’s final score, Adrian Marren’s free as the game entered injury time providing some nice symmetry to their scoring. But when the final whistle sounded it was our lads who’d prevailed by a narrow two-point margin.

So that’s the 2018 FBD League done with. Having lost to both Galway and Roscommon and only managing a draw against Leitrim, before today’s win over Sligo, it wasn’t a campaign that shot the lights out from a results point of view. But that’s never what pre-season games are about and we can instead look back on these matches with some satisfaction in light of all the experimentation we did.

The absence of several first team players – Keith Higgins and Tom Parsons are the latest confirmed absentees for the Monaghan game next weekend – will ensure that some of the new faces who featured this month will continue to see action when the serious stuff gets going.

Which it does, next Sunday up in Clones. Farewell FBD, hello again, NFL.

Mayo: David Clarke; Brendan Harrison, Ger Cafferkey, Eoin O’Donoghue; Colm Boyle, Michael Hall, Paddy Durcan (0-1); Jason Gibbons, Stephen Coen; Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O’Shea (0-1), Diarmuid O’Connor (0-1); Jason Doherty (1-4, four frees), Evan Regan (0-3, two frees), Andy Moran. Subs: Fionn McDonagh for McLoughlin (blood), Conor Loftus for O’Connor, Shairoze Akram for Durcan, Shane Nally for Coen, Ger McDonagh for Gibbons, Fionn McDonagh for Doherty.

54 thoughts on “Slipping past Sligo

  1. All the regulars back bar the injured 4 and Tom Parsons .Thought Evan Regan stood up today looking to take on his man every time and shoot.
    Eoin O’Donoghue impressed at corner back reads the game so well.Midfield was very poor I thought, Stephen Coen was very quite and is very lateral in possesion when on the ball while Gibbons won alot of possesion in the 1st half his distribution of the ball lets him down think Aidan O’Shea was just maybe lacking fitness like a few more of the regular starters back today.
    Hopefully Tom Parsons is back for the Monaghan game next week we need him back in midfield badly would like to see Shane Nally beside him.We need to get 2 points next week takes alot pressure of panel for the rest of the League.

  2. I thought it was a good game with both sets of backs doing really well. IMO the stand outAyoade players were Caff, Regan, O Donoghue, Mcloughlin. I thought Akram looked really comfortable and strong when he came on. AOS and Andy lookedo class though both were a bit ring rusty. Great venue BTW.

  3. Akram is a great player and plays an intelligent game with his head up. I would like to see him get game time in the league if it is possible. Based on what I have seen up to today Clones will be a big ask. Roll on Sunday

  4. Rochford confirmed after the game today that Parsons and K Higgins won’t be available for the Monaghan game next week and C O Connor a doubt with the flu. So it looks like most of todays team will start again next weekend and as Rochford said the sort of performance in Ballina today won’t get you any points in Clones

  5. Akram will push Colm Boyle really hard for the No 7 jersey, AKram should make the 2018 Championship squad

  6. Eoin O’Donoghue will start next week. He’ll be the one player I expect to see breaking into the championship starting team if he has a good league campaign. He’s been there two years and that’s how long it takes to get up to first team S&C wise. I think he’ll replicate Brendan Harrison in 2016. It also frees up Higgins as for further up the field or better yet as an impact sub. I like Evan Regan but he takes one step to many, try’s to turn his man 3 times when twice is enough and generally takes too much out of the ball. He’s trying too hard it appears to me and forcing things when shots aren’t on. Understandable in front of your home crowd I suppose.

  7. With so many unavailable for next week there won’t be many changes to the team today. I would start Nally in place of Coen or Hall. Also, if Andy is lacking fitness it may be worth using him off the bench. Maybe start Reape or Treacy.

  8. Enjoyed the trip to Ballina today, can i just say a very well done to all at the Stephenites club who pulled together to make it an enjoyable day albeit a cold one..

  9. Sharoize is a fine player. But at least one season too early to be talking of pressuring Colm Boyle. Colm is at his full man strength and a confident All Star type player. Sharoize might get there too someday, just not yet.

  10. At game in Ballina. When are the GAA going to get a referee who knows the rules and is able to implement them?. This referee from Leitrim today was clueless. I counted several times today Mayo players were dragged down rugby style and not even a free awarded. He also forgot to bring black cards with him. If he did a few Sligo lads would have taken an early shower. As for the game itself it was hard to play ball in the conditions with a strong breeze and a heavy pitch. In fairness to both teams they fought hard and at half time Mayo were leading by 5 points playing with a strong wind. Sligo started of brightly in 2nd half, and scored some nice points from 30/40 mtrs out, something Mayo could not do in 1st half.When we got the goal we kept our composure and held out to win. Clarke made a few good saves and he also made a silly mistake in trying to go past 3 Sligo players and lost the ball for Sligo to score a point. Really silly stuff by Clarkie. Full back line did OK, Harrison was off the pace. Half back line did alright, again like Clarkie , we gave away a silly pass and again they scored a point. Midfield was very hard to get a clean ball. Gibbons caught a few, but the players up front were all over the shop and it was impossible for him to give a perfect pass. He did run the whole pitch from goal to goal. Coen did link up well but in fairness he is not a natural midfielder. Half forward line of McLaughlin and O Connor were good. O,Shea all over the place and was way off the pace. Full forward line where Regan was sharp and willing to take on his markers, At times he tried to do the impossible and if he took his chances first he may have got a few more scores. Doherty got his frees and put them over, again a bit lacking in pace. Andy as usual does a lot of shouting looking for the ball, and at times not being able to control it. Our subs today all came on in 2nd half. Apart from Akram, the rest just ticked the boxes. So its roll on next Sunday.

  11. With Tom Parsons out for next week as well we’ll be under pressure in midfield in the next few weeks. Seamie O’Shea is injured as is Donal Vaughan, who played in midfield for a few of the early league games last year, so it’ll be interesting to see how we get on there.

    From reading the report of the match in the Mayo advertiser it seems that Mayo’s goal came from a free that dropped short and we managed to bundle the ball over the line through Aidan O’Shea and Jason Doc. That is something that we were really poor at last year. We had a number of frees drop short last year but we never seemed to have anyone close to goal, especially a big man like Aidan O’Shea to capitalise on this.

    A perfect example of this was the free that came off the post in the closing stages of the All-Ireland final, we had no one in there to win the breaking ball. Lets hope that we improve in that area this year, its the little things at this stage that we are looking to improve on.

  12. The free that led to the goal was actually an unreal strike from Evan against an almighty breeze!

    Good workout today. It actually looked like we might have had a training session before throw in!!

  13. It s good to get the FBD over without any major injury worry being added, despite the desperate weather conditions. There s a few lads there have given Rochford something to think about it, which is progress

  14. When do galway and roscommon have to fulfill their 2 fbd fixtures by ? I’m damn happy we don’t have to worry about them 2 nonsense games.

  15. Will this year 2018 be Andy Moran’s last chance to win a Celtic cross, his legs have a lot of mileage since his debut in 2002, sixteen years ago

  16. If we’re short in midfield for league solution is simple, use AIDO preferably with Shane Nally who appears to be consistently good regardless of position. Gibbons also has the big and mobile attributes which could work well if he gets a run. One poor league game v Dublin but in a previous league run he played well along with Adam Gallagher.

  17. Not happening Revellino, todays cancelled game wont have to be refixed. The Fbd final is fixed for a few weeks time when there is a break in the National league.

  18. Looked at twitter feed 2day & assumed Mayo would win easily when leading by 5 points @ 1/2 time. Read 2nite that Mayo had played with good breeze n 1st 1/2 which puts a completely different perspective on that 1/2 time score – but of course we werent told but it appears we shud be happy with what we are getting – typical Irish.

  19. I’d say yea are happy with that Tuamstar. Would have been tough to have to play both fixtures.

    I know it would be.great to have everyone fit for the league but having a few lads out really throws another opportunity to a few lads to earn their stripes. It won’t be easy to take the win from monaghan next week, but if we could win that 1 it would be massive to bag them points. A o’shea will have to have a big game.

  20. Whatever about winning games over the coming weeks it would be really interesting to see how reape, treacy and regan get on. In the scoring from play stakes. I’d give them plenty of gametime and see what they can do under pressure and the league is pressure these days. Akram and co should get a few runs too, they have the skill for sure, it’s just the speed and physicality that’s the question. If Mayo do enough to retain division 1 status and can try out the younger lads at the same time, anything else is a bonus.

  21. I agree, Shane Nally should be given a chance in midfield. Fine player who rarely disappoints, an is well conditioned for the engine room.
    I hope Evan Regan is given plenty of league time, it’s what he needs ahead of the summer i think.

  22. Another FBD over. Did we uncover a new scoring forward who can kick and score from 40 yards with either foot on a regular basis?

    No. Ah blast it. Thats what we’re lacking and thats what has cost us a few All Irelands. The search goes on.

  23. Clarke;
    Harrison, Crowe, O’Donoghue;
    Boyle, Coen, Durcan;
    Gibbons, Nally;
    McLoughlin, O’Shea, D O’Connor;
    Regan, Doherty, Reape/Treacy;

    I think that’s the best we have for next weekend. Caff hasn’t shown enough form since returning from injury and Crowe has always done well when I’ve seen him. Bring Andy on for the last 20 or 30 minutes after Reape or Treacy have his marker tired. Regan and Doherty will be important on frees as it’s going to be a slog this time of year.

  24. @Jim Flag
    Jack Reilly from Charlestown is consistently kicking 8-10 points for his club playing senior football and playing in midfield. He’s a natural two footed player and yet no call up this year. Anyone who follows club football in the county is scratching their heads.

  25. Wide Ball
    What is Caolan Crowes best position, he seems to play mostly CHF for his club but has played for Mayo underage on the halfback line. Not sure why he would be though of in a fullback roll. This is a position that needs experience of having been played in. Surely Ger McDonagh and Kevin Keane or even Seamus Cunniffe if he ever gets fit are better options than Caolan Crowe as Fullback

  26. @Mayomessi
    Caolan might wear 11 for Garrymore but they’re a very defensive side so he really plays as a half back or sweeper.

    Rochford has always used him in the full back line over the last 2 years whenever he has played. I disagree that you need huge experience to play full back. We haven’t even played a specialised full back the last 2 years and have done fine. Neither have Dublin.

    I went for Caolan over the other options as he’s been in the squad for the last two years so is more experienced than Ger McDonagh. It usually takes more than a year to return from cruciate injuries so we may not see the best of Keane this season.

  27. I regularly hear about Reilly from Charlestown here in a positive light. Does seem he may be overlooked.
    Dave mentions Akram an Co getting a run, presumably meaning the newbies. Surely ye couldn’t categorise Akram as lacking pace. My recollection of underage he has similar afterburners to P Durcan. In top 2 on panel for speed I would guess which is a very useful attribute. Abroad for whole FBD so not sure how he’s doing S&C wise but obviously match experience is a big thing. I have a feeling Akram will be retained. Have a better feeling about lads who haven’t fully cut it before like Regan and Gallagher (in his case stalled by injury) than some newbies. Experience counts.

  28. For FBD fixtures, while we would all love to see a new player blast onto the scene and shoot the lights out, or tear up the field from the back and find the right pass, to me, management use it (or at least I would) to gauge players attitudes, motivation, their character if you like as much as anything else!

    Talent can be nurtured, but having “the right stuff” to want to perform, and want to work hard, and want to embrace the mud and the s#it and all that would say to me, yeah this fella wants this, we can work on the rest. O’Donoghue the perfect example yesterday. He has obviously taken great motivation from been in and around that panel (similar to Harrison a few years ago) and even from his club mate Chris Barrett as hes a carbon copy in the making if you ask me! Really impressed me yesterday, heart of a lion, ballsy, backs himself, and wasn’t waiting for things to fall for him or happen, he went and made things happen. He is a def starter next Sunday and after that, it will be his jersey to lose into 2018.

    Looking at Monaghan solely, Id be content with our back 6, and our front 6, and the options we have off the bench but I would huge concerns with the middle of the field. Mobility and athleticism is the big short fall for me, we didnt have that yesterday. Id look at Diarmuid midfield next week, even with AOS if needs be. We def need legs in there, Sligo over ran us at times, thats not good.

    I suppose looking onward into 2018 as a whole, we do lack cover around the middle, and if say TP or SOS were to be sidelined for any reason, well Im not sure who the next best is. I think management may think its Coen, I dont.

    Last point is Jason Doc, he is still so under rated, what a huge 18 months that man has put in. Hes one of the first names on the team sheet for me, himself and McLoughlin really clock up the miles and are such huge link men in all good that Mayo do. Tireless and selfless!

  29. Regans decison making has to improve for him to evolve into a genuine championship option. He has a problem with positioning his body too low to the ball, when its fed into him, which allows defenders to swallow him up too easily and he’s also prone to taking too much out of the ball. The former can and may will be addressed by bespoke S&C. Not so sure about the clarity of thought required when in possession to improve decision making? He appears to always wants to create a positive outcome, i.e. beat a man, kick a score, or provide an assist. He’s a very old school in that regard as a corner forward and I don’t think you can afford that luxury at inter county level nowadays, sadly. Just look at how successful Doc was last year for us. Worked his absolute socks off as always but was incredibly clever in how he used possession and the positions he took up all around the pitch. He was a real pivot in the game plan. I’ve yet to see any real evolution in Evan’s game to suggest he has the where with all to do the same, and he’s around a while now. Even if we were to consider him potentially as a long term successor to Andy in a more inside role, I just don’t see the capacity for selfless running, and the ability to consistently maintain possession when there is no score on. I’d love nothing more than for him to prove me wrong though.

    Excited for the start of the league but its going to be a slog as usual, be under no illusions about that! Akram and O’Donoghue for me look like they could break through. Anyone who thinks Akram shouldn’t be pushing through and putting Boyle etc under pressure is talking nonsense. Look what Con O’Callaghan has done and Akram was one of the standout players when his u21’s put Con’s to the sword in 2016. If you’re good enough you’re old enough. If we can find 2 new genuine champions options in this league I’d be happy. Out from that, I am at a loss to understand why Shane Nally didnt feature more last year in championship. Every time I have seen him he has been fairly standout and his long range kick passing is a joy to behold. Would love to see him evolve into a strong midfield option, that prospect excites me to be honest!

  30. Shufflydeck, no, I didn’t mean Akram isn’t fast in running terms, I meant in speed of thought at the division 1 level where it’s very fast thoughts that get a player out of trouble. And being able to take the abuse handed out by the likes of Tyrone kerry and co. I have no doubt a good run of games in division 1 would benefit those young players by letting them see the pace and physicality of the game up close.

  31. Clarke
    Harrison Cafferkey odonoghue
    Durcan Boyle Nally
    Gibbons D OConnor
    Mcloughlin AOS Gallagher
    Loftus Reape Doherty

  32. Exiled in Dublin, for many years Jason Doc has been quietly doing his thing but so many have felt he did little to warrant his place.
    My view is that during the league games when he was injured last year it was his absence that we missed most.
    The amount of work he does on and off the ball (as does Kevin McL) is immense. Those 2 would certainly be MVP’s for me anyway.

  33. @Exiled in Dublin. Paraphrasing myself, but as I posted previously Sharoize is a fine young player and may one day be a Colm Boyle standard of half back. But in 2018 from what I have seen so far at club, county and just judging by his physique I don’t believe he will be putting pressure on to gain a starting half back spot. There are too many players at a minimum a season in further development ahead of him. Look at the names; Patrick Durcan, Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan and Chris Barrett. It is a serious standard of physique and championship football ability to dislodge one of those.

  34. I fully agree FDBinashui, he’s always worked tirelessly and selflessly for the team but in 2015 and 16 his role was probably more focused on defence, and that may have led to him not getting credit where its due. Last year though he really was a fulcrum in attack, so many good things came through him. His role was crucial to our game plan evolving form ’16 to ’17 IMO. But it wasn’t just about hard work and tracking a la ’15 and ’16, it required serious on field smarts to execute what he was being asked to do. I’d imagine McEntee has had a big hand in shaping his role within the team and evolving the overall game plan with his skill set in mind. Never one to take a step back either.

  35. appreciate that Jp and its a fair point but if the Dubs are able to promote 3 to 4 and more from the their 2016 vintage then we need to look at why we’re not developing ours at the same rate. There are prob a whole host of valid enough reasons in terms of the Dubs having better facilities and more finances, less travel etc, that’s fair enough, but S&C is only one part of it, albeit a very important one, and a large element of that S&C development can only be addressed by minutes on the pitch. We have to allow these guys time to develop but there really should be no reason why we cant expect them to start pushing sooner rather than later.

  36. When do these lads get time on the pitch “Exiled”? The FBD is played in dreadful conditions, with mainly experimental teams. Division 1 is very competitive and as we saw after the loss to Cavan last year, the pressure for them to stay up from the CB and sponsors will force a very strong team out earlier than anticipated to avoid relegation. We’ve Galway in the first round of the championship for the 3rd year on the trot so in fairness to the management, they’ve limited enough game time to give lads. If you get 1/2 lads pushing through every year your not doing too bad. The reality is that we are 1/2 strong subs away from beating Dublin. We need the likes of a Paddy Durkin, Keith Higgins and Andy Moran coming off the bench with 20 minutes left, not going the other way. I believe Eoin O’Donoghue could force his way into the championship team and would be hoping Loftus would have a big league campaign also.

  37. Our 2016 u21s are getting close to the team. But it will be the older ones who were u21 and u20.
    Sharoize was u19 in that year.

  38. It’s a very simple answer as to how dublin are able to develop players. They have a bigger pick of players and some great grounds to train on, 54 full time coaches spread over the county and massive funding. I played in a club ground in north county Dublin that would embarrass man utd or Barcelona, we played in all weathers under floodlights and allweather pitches. That being said, I often wonder if training on a wet sodden pitch is like carrying extra weight on your back and that on solid ground your legs and lungs are stronger because of it?

  39. Con O’Callaghan is really the only player from the 2016 u21’s to make the breakthrough for the Dublin seniors.

    Whereas we have brought through Diarmuid, Conor Loftus, Stephen Coen and Fergal Boland to play senior intercounty. Brian Reape & Eoin O’Donoghue would be a year younger than those 4 and I think they’ll play championship this year. That would be 6 of the starting team transitioned to senior in the space of 2 years. Not bad by any means.

  40. Stretton is a better option in HB line than Akram. Has the height, coupled with a more athletic build – seems to be that little bit ahead in S&C.

  41. Dave, Dublins biggest advantage isnt coaches, grounds, funding or even player base, all these help but location is by a distance thier strongest asset. Mayos players are spread throughout the country which makes collective training difficult particularly in winter. All Dublin players are prob 30mins from training. Gavin has more hands on time with his panel and the younger players coming up, he sees alot more of them. This isnt Dublins fault but rather an economic imbalance the whole country feels on different levels. Gavin can make 3-4 changes to his team beacuse he has way more time to work with those players. Rochford cant carry out 6am training like Gavin can, he cant havr team meetings and evening training virtually 7days a week like Gavin can.

  42. The Strong Dublin U21 teams was 2010,12 and 14. J Cooper, J McCarthy, D Rock, J McCaffrey; C Kilkenny, P Mannion,D Byrne, J Small, B Fenton, C McHugh, E Lowndes, C Costello etc came from those 3 teams.

    Con O’Callaghan carried that Dublin 2016 U21 team on his back they were lucky to win Leinster. 2017 Dublin U21 team was far strong team especially defensively.

  43. You’re right Liam, there’s limited opportunity to blood these guys and you’d imagine Dublin’s a v b games are bringing their younger guys on at a more rapid rate. Coupled with other advantages that have already been mentioned it’s prob not fair of me to assume we can achieve the same turnover. Akram is a guy who excites me but I’ll take more informed opinions on him not being ready this year, would love to see him pushing though!

  44. Anyone ever think of playing Akram in the forwards? He has pace to burn, we are inundated with backs who have pace, need more forwards. Remember where Andy Moran started his career? I think Kevin Mc was a back starting out as well.

  45. Sharoize played upfront for Ballaghadereen in the U21 B final. It was not until late on in the game that he had much impact. You would expect a Division one senior standard forward to be very dominant at U21B level.
    He is more suited to wing back in my view.

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