Game day – time to stand up

We’re not yet half-way through February but today at Pearse Stadium we’re due to play our third match in this year’s National Football League campaign. Galway, already feeling right at home on their return to top tier spring football, provide the opposition and the match throws in today at 2pm, preceded by the ladies’ League clash between the same counties, which gets going at midday.

Even as I sat down to write this bit of pre-match babble, it wasn’t clear if the game today would go ahead at all. But Galway GAA have since confirmed via Twitter (here) that both the ladies’ match at 12pm and the lads’ game at 2pm are on.

So, despite the raw February backdrop, it’s game day against Galway. A game that’s been given rather a high billing – including an outsized preview on RTÉ – which means it’s being portrayed as a meeting with pivotal significance for both counties.

Because it’s only February it’s important, however, not to build this game up to be of greater significant than it deserves. Sure, it’s a derby game and, yes, they’re getting a bit under our skin of late but what happens today at the Salthill venue has little or no relevance as regards the championship and, in particular, our meeting with them in the Connacht championship in May.

Galway have started the year in flying form. Two wins from two is an impressive start and if they targeted a positive opening to their Division One campaign then they can be rightly happy about how they’re getting on. A win over us today and they’ve all but guaranteed their place in the Division for next year, leaving them free, if they want, to push on towards earning a place – surely against Dublin – in the final.

And a win over us is obviously what they’ll want today. Kevin Walsh seems to have drilled it into his players that every time they take the field against us they need to be aiming to beat us. Their recent record against us is good – Stephen Rochford has yet to taste victory as manager in a match against the Tribesmen.

Part of Galway’s playbook against us nowadays is to front up physically. That was their approach in our last two championship meetings and they even, rather laughably, rolled out the rough stuff in that FBD mudbath encounter last month. We can definitely expect to see plenty of the same at Pearse Stadium today.

Assuming this happens, we’ve no choice today but to meet fire with fire. Monaghan came out swinging at us up in Clones and Kerry did the same in Castlebar last weekend. We’re in danger of getting a reputation of being a team that can be bullied and it’s important that any such narrative is smothered and quickly.

So, first and foremost today we need to show – in a match that’s being televised live on TG4 – that if the going gets rough then we’re well able for such an environment. That could make for some robust exchanges at Pearse Stadium this afternoon but if that’s the way it has to be then so be it.

Will we win today? There’s no reason we can’t, even if the prevailing conditions will turn the match into a bit of a lottery and where our opponents appear to be quite a significant bit further down the road with their training than we are right now.

A win for us would, for sure, be great, a second loss in a row would be less than great – not least with the Dubs coming to MacHale Park in the next round – but it would be no cause for panic either. After all, it’s still only February.

The morning isn’t looking hectic weather-wise but once I’ve signed off here I’m getting ready to hit the road, as so many of you will be doing too. Safe travelling to all of you on the road today, here’s to the right result at Pearse Stadium later on. Back later on with all the usual post-match stuff. Up Mayo!

********

Andy Moran is a player who always relishes meetings like this – who can forget his comeback goal for us at Salthill in 2013? – but, of course, football is likely to be far from his mind today, following the death yesterday of his father Vincent. Sincere condolences to Andy and his family on their very sad loss.

102 thoughts on “Game day – time to stand up

  1. Comh bron do Andy agys a clann ar bas a athair. Beannacht De lena anamh dilis. Go neiri le foireann Mhuigheo (na cailini com maith) inniu i Gaillimh. Mhuigheo Abu !

  2. I love your blog Willie Joy. It gets my fire and passion flowing big time for what’s going to be a battle between the two great rival. I know its only the League but God my nerves are in bits as we really do have to win this game just to lay down a marker and even from a psychological both of view. As you say there is no reason why Mayo can’t beat them as we are after all the Kingpins of Connacht for the past number of years . Come on lads you can do it. Roll on 2pm. Hon Mayo

  3. My best wishes to Andy today.

    Difficult though it may be given the personnel missing, we need to stand up to any rough stuff today, irrespective of the result. The most important scoreline will be in May.

  4. A lot of juggling to do to get to the match today and a lot of will I, won’t I. But when you read the blog, there’s only one answer. Time to start clearing the snow off the car!!…

  5. To be honest WJ – this continual portrayal of Galway as being over physical is quite frankly bemusing.
    To call it by another name it’s bullshit.
    I was at the game last year and have watched it again recently online.
    There’s no evidence whatsoever to support that line of thinking.
    I enjoy this blog a lot but it’s coming across lately on here as if every team that play against Mayo is somehow pure filth.
    I know as a Galway fan who goes to most games that we are not a dirty or overly physical team.
    In fact I would like if we were a lot more physically ruthless in all honesty.
    Rant over.
    May the best team win today.
    And sympathies to Andy Moran and his family on their loss.
    Andy comes across as a gentleman as well as being a super footballer.

  6. there is no continual portrayal of Galway as being over physical. As with anything in life you see what you want to see. Galway need to get the balance right between physical and cynical and then maybe the team you support will be in the championship come September..

  7. I agree Galway could well bring the filth today alright and we need to be ready for it.

    Lets win this one for Andy Moran, if nothing else.

  8. As for today’s game. I don’t care if it ends up 12 a side as long as we beat them and show them we’re no pushovers in the process

  9. Galwayman – there’s a big difference between Filth and Physicality. Nobody is accusing Galway of being a filthy team but they have gotten the upper hand on us physically in both of our last championship meetings. Comer’s hits last year were big turning points in the game and Mayo’s failure to respond to them ( apart from Higgins act of madness ) ultimately cost us the game.

    I agree with Willy Joe that we need to remove any notion that we have a soft centre, as teams will start to exploit that and to me the most annoying aspect of the game against Kerry was not what Kerry got up to, but that we stood back and let them away with it.

    All we’re saying is we need to meet fire with fire so if it gets physical then let’s let everybody know that we’re well up for that stuff to.

    Sincere condolences to Andy and family.

  10. Time to stop this continual ranting about other teams being over physical. We are no angels. If you give it you must take it. W started the bust up with Meath in 96 & they finished it.

  11. What on earth does a game that happened over twenty years ago have to do with today’s game, jr?

    As for Galwayman’s comments, I don’t think anyone thinks that Galway are a filthy team. However, they have had men sent off in several recent meetings with us (three in the last game!) and clearly are ready to go to the trenches if necessary. Given the lack of fight on show in our last NFL fixture against Kerry, it’s important that we match their aggression, especially with a championship game between the two counties in May.

  12. We paid dearly for out lack of discipline last year, Galway and Dublin.
    Getting sent off is not a mark of standing up, fronting up, it is plain stupid/selfish
    AOS is an example of an athlete who has learnt that. Others, even senior players, still need to learn

  13. Rubbish lads. Lets move on.. If i remember Mayo had 4 red cards last year in the Championship , three for striking , and discipline in the big games have definitely cost Mayo a shot at winni g Sam. In the Fbd game played in atrocious conditions two Galway defenders (making their debuts at senior level) were sent off for pulling and dragging nothing over physical.

  14. great stuff as always wj.

    i always get the impression from your blog that you would still love to be out there in the heat of battle.

    may 2018 be our year.

  15. In truth, all the top class teams have sublime “footballers”, but they also have 2-3 enforcers. Dublin have Philly, Cooper, Small and McCarthy. Kerry have Enright, Morley – and now it seems Shanahan and Crowley. Donegal – Magee and Murphy. Mayo – Boyle, Keegan and Cillian. Galway are still novices in this regard with Comer and maybe Kyne – although not a nailed on starter. But, let’s face it, this is nothing new in our games, and maybe this is why management make selection calls on the lads they deem need “wing mirrors”.

  16. Condolences to Andy and family Tough game for Mayo today Galway going well and ahead of us in training and preparation which allows them to be ahead of us physically as well No need to feel sorry for ourselves on that score as we are well able to dish it out when needed There’s a difference between being physical and doing what Kerry defender did to Evan Regan even if fitzmaurice was wearing blinkers Galway should be favourites today and to be quite honest I am more concerned about the game in May Having said that I don’t love to win today

  17. Our basic fitness is way behind Galway at this stage of the year, which will lead to a Galway win today by 3 or more points. Please bare that in mind at the end of today. I’ve always said, Mayo are a fast ground horse, simple as. Obviously hope we win it but just cannot see it based on the fitness levels. Hope im proved wrong.

  18. Also, we’re probley the most physically aggressive team in the country when we want to be. For some reason in the league the players seem “not bothered” in the aggression stakes, but come championship we’re a different animal. Kerry were fired up last Saturday, fair play to them. Question is, will they be able for it in the summer when we are “bothered”??…I think not.

  19. Won’t make it to Salthill today so watching the ladies game now. Pitch isn’t cutting up at all but it’s probably a bit heavy. No significant breeze that I can see.

  20. Sincere sympathies to Andy and his family. Sad days for them. Great that he got see Andy be Player of the year. Rest in peace.
    Up Mayo. Hope they win this one but we will not get too worked about it if not. It’s still only Feb.

  21. Looks like December in Castlebar and March in Galway..Crazy…Best of luck to both ladies and gents today..RIP to Andy’s Dad..Particularly sad that he didnt see his son win a Celtic cross but I’m sure he was so proud to watch him through his greatest season in a Mayo jersey..

  22. Condolences to the Moran family.
    Also best of luck to Mayo today. I foresee a win for the green and red because the points are needed. Hopefully the game goes ahead and they all get through the game with nobody injured because of snow or rain in the ground.

  23. From Facebook…

    ?Three changes to the Mayo starting team, Caolan Crowe, Michael Hall & Cillian O’Connor(Captain) replaces Brendan Harrison, Shane Nally & Neil Douglas. In the subs David Drake wears 2 & Peter Naughton wears 23.

  24. Could be game over now, Mayo in total disarray, Loftus can’t win a ball in the corner, O Shea the one Mayo player doing well, I didn’t realise Durcan was playing until the 15th minute. Mayo attack is to slow and too lateral, playing into Galway hands, ie, they are getting numbers back easily.

  25. Poor stuff so far, we don’t seem to have much of a clue how to break down the Galway blanket. Galway are obviously intent on crowding us out in their half and getting Comer one-on-one with whoever’s minding the Mayo house. Ger was badly caught out for Galway’s goal.

    We do seem to be against a strong wind though, and still only two points down, so let’s see what happens sa dara leath.

  26. Like a lot of our league games the last few years. When a team plays a blanket defense we’re clueless on breaking it down. Get caught on the break then.

    Positives – we’re doing well at midfield.

  27. Not too bad. Only 2 behind and we can play much better than this.especially up front. Definately winnable.

  28. I’ve nothing against Ger Caff but he has had a very poor first half he was caught out badly for that goal why oh why don’t we try Ger Mc Donagh at full back God knows he can’t play any worse

  29. To be fair to Caff, for the Goal Gibbons should have caught that ball in midfield and been able to claim a mark. Caff should have done better but the initial error was in midfield.

  30. Getting stripped of possession very easily, and the shooting is wayward to say the least.

    Galway’s complete inability to counter at any kind of pace means they can’t press any advantage their back line gives them.

    Caff badly exposed for the goal. Loftus is bringing little to the table. Durcan on the other hand looks sharp and focused, probably the best player on the pitch today.

  31. Good to see Gallagher coming on, Loftus wasn’t being as effective as we need our forwards to be. To easily pushed off the ball.

  32. Mato were poor today like last week, difference between the sides like last week is the ability to score from play. Cillian was daft and now misses the Dublin Game, Duirmuid lucky he didnt get a straight red also. Galway looks to have the measure of Mayo and tried to stamp that dominance late on, they will arrive in McHale park full of confidence

  33. It’s a plus that cillian is suspended bar frees he offered nothing from open play today and I think should have been subbed before the sending off.

  34. Poor, poor performance, even allowing for a difference in fitness levels. We never looked like winning it in truth, and some of our lads plainly let the side down towards the end of the game.

    At least it’s only a league game, but it looks now as if we’ll have to do it the hard way again.

  35. well today proves that there is not any great talent coming through ,will have to make do with the old guard for championship

  36. CoC getting sent off might be a blessing in disguise—he has sailed very close to the wind with that elbow for a long time. Hope he learns. It will be some tussle in May.

  37. Nothing really to see here, it’s February, we’re barely training and galway are a lot fitter

    Thought o ‘shea worked very hard though and was our only bright spark

    Pathetic from COC and we’d be no doubt up in arms if it was an opposing player. He’s surely hanging on to his place by his fingertips by now. Appalling leadership

  38. An awful game to be honest. The pulling and dragging at the end was terrible to watch. Why Aidan continues to play this game is beyond me , he gets no protection from Refs at all. He is a great man never to react to anything. We are a little behind in fitness but we will beat them in May. They gave it everything today, like Roscommon of two years ago.

  39. Aiden fantastic today and all the crap he has to put up with. Those linesmen and ref have to be awful stupid and unfit to officiate games. All control lost. What’s this flashing a few yellows in the air. Crazy maddening. Will Aiden have to be taken off unconscience before these unprofessional officials wake up and do the job they supposed to do. Every year same story.
    I’m livid now.

  40. The lack of development at underage is starting to show. We have been destroyed by Galway at underage for 5-7 years. No one seem to mind. Totally outplayed today. We look so naive. Our scoring return from play by our forwards in first three league games must be the lowest of any team in the league

  41. Ok everyone complaining last week about my suggestions that Cillian not doing the business got any comments today? If he is a leader, we have problems, if he is our scorer for the year we have problems

  42. Age old problem with Mayo fannying about with the ball up front doing everything with it except scoring where as Galway as ever have forwards and midfielders that know where the posts are. God help us against Dublin it won’t be pretty. We appear to have no one coming through the ranks the team seems to have lost its way and before anyone says it’s only the league and we’re not fit yet blah blah blah it’s only the league for Galway Kerry and Dublin too

  43. Galway look safe now in Div1 so mission accomplished I suppose. Mayo look very poor and slow but conditions were very bad. If Galway can continue to improve Mayo will be in difficulty but it’s a few months away to Championship. It’s great to see us finally looking like a half decent team and Comer is a great choice of captain. We look like a team full of pace and drier weather should see us moving well.

  44. To answer you JC Cillian needs a break from football he’s not enjoying it and his temperament is suscpect And he’s not contributing much from general play

  45. It’s not the lack of fitness that is telling – it’s the lack of discipline. Both teams seemed to have that in short supply today, but Mayo should know better.

    Officials lost control of the game, that should never happen. No COC next week, might be a blessing in disguise, workrate and deadball work are not up to his standard of old.

    Croker could be a bloodbath next week. Did I see Durcan limping at the end? – that’s bad, he was Mayo’s MOTM today.

  46. Mayo were bullied all over the pitch, no forward able to win a ball ,no forward able to score from play , stupid play from certain players, aiden o shea taking free kicks, no full back, ,APART from that Mayo were great, its going to be hard to avoid Relegation now.

  47. Ray start talking when you know where you are in August. Yee didn’t move too well in Croke Park the last couple of years

  48. I agree that calling a spade a spade Cillian should have been sent off earlier . That was atrocious “ leadership” and dangerous play . I am disgusted that Mayo are behaving just as gnarly as Kerry or Dublin . No matter which way you cut it today was an abject “footballing “performance by us with very few leaders . But Aidan O Shea is getting better all the time . I have to cling to something . Diarmuid’s form is also much better this year. No doubt we will improve but in no way do we look like a division one team at this time of year. There is a lack of depth of talent on this panel now.

  49. Its only February, its only January, its only may blah blah. But there is also the possibility we are been overtaken by an upcoming Galway team who will be very confident of beating us in May . Lose in May this time and id be thinking its over for a while. Today it was noticeable how the early twenty lads in Galway are way tougher than our lads in this age bracket . Conor loftus is a great footballer with bags of potential but for crikeys sake have they no steak nor spuds in crossmolina ?

  50. Cillian should not see any more game time in the league.
    He need a stern talking to by management.
    Has been sailing close to the wind for a long time now.

  51. Losing to Galway again, this is getting beyond a joke now. If Galway had gotten any foothold in the middle in the first half, we would have been well & truly hammered. Fitness & wind issues or not, we must have 75% of the ball in the first half & we were completely inept up front. Galway were better in the 2nd half playing into the breeze. Nervous for May now, never mind the rest of the league!!

  52. after watching that game… I do feel that it doesn’t need too much analysis. lets just let this one go. Congrats to Galway, walshe is an incredible athlete. regrettable actions from O’Connor and the general finish to the game was in bad taste but let’s not turn on each other with varied opinions of what this means as it means little. The lads know exactly what to do and what is needed. Stephen Rochford knows that caff is still dodgy and that he hasn’t unearthed a scoring forward but we move on now with what we have. 6 or 7 starters to return while these current Mayo lads are shaking off the cobwebs and yes that process is not pretty to watch. Galway are much further down the line at the moment and good luck to them.

  53. Mayo management have not nurtured some of the under 21 team of 2016 where is reape and ruane? Same old failings players tried and tested. Galway are a head of mayo in terms of forwards. Comer has bullied mayo backs but won’t do the same to dubs or Kerry.

  54. It’s only Feb calm down really looking forward to Dublin game we have nothing to lose cillian was so silly what he should have know better.

  55. I knew this was going to be a tough league. Im worn after that. The poor forward play. The galway goal. The battering / constant targetting of aiden – he is going to be seriously injured on the field of play. And the usual blind umpires. How does he keep going. I am sick to the teeth of getting beaten by Galway. We need about 5 leeroys ready for mid may against them!

  56. Jaden, the dubs game is in two weeks time and its in Castlebar. But sure dont tell Dublin that, they might not turn up.

    Re Conor Loftus, hes not a target man, thats not his game. The supply into him was cat, much the same as the ball going into Douglas and Regan last week. Aido would have struggled to win some of them.

  57. RC you seem to have all the answers, though are suspect you’ve only emerged from under your bridge recently to post here. Can you explain how Aidan picked up a yellow card while he was laid flat on his back and being dragged by the Galway lad?. Seriously – just because he’s a big lad shouldn’t give the opposition free reign to try to box the crap out of him each game.

    Well done to Galway, by far the better team today, but it has to be said the ref completely lost control early in the game. Cards could have and should have been issued earlier. No complaints with Cillian and Diarmuid seeing the line, both deserved it.

    Now on comes the annual onslaught of people writing us off for the year, in early February.

    The sooner Parsons, Seamie, Vaughan, Barrett, Keegan and Andy are back to shut that crowd up, the better.

  58. ‘‘Tis annoying but I’ll not get too excited, yet :-)!!
    I was listening on Galway Bay, they were v excited. One of them was reckoning that there’s trouble in the Mayo camp, said McEntee left pitch after ‘melee’, headed straight to dressing room & Rochford wouldn’t even look at him. Idle talk among the Galway lads I hope!
    I’d feel Cillian could take a leaf out of Aidan’s book re. bit of self control in these situations.
    The cheering of missed scores etc . . on the radio sounded terrible.
    On we go!

  59. FDBinashui, he got his yellow for the same reason as the fullback both parties guilty of handbags and grappling.

  60. There’s the 2 boys now, one “don’t let him bully you” and the other “handbags and grappling”.

    Unwritten rule of GAA refereeing – allow players to box Aiden O’Shea as much as he likes, the minute Aido reacts, issue a yellow to both, even if O’Shea is on his back on the ground.

    Such fucking horseshit.

  61. But if Aidan reacts it’s him who will be penalised. There was a free for Galway in first half and Aidan barely tackled the lad. Yet they can all jump on top of him and he gets a yellow. So if he retaliates what will happen?! He will be sent to the line. I really do not know why he bothers anymore. To be honest maybe Mayo should boycott playing until refs and officials buck up – protect all players and all counties equally. It’s frustrating and it’s going on for years. COC is frustrated and sick of it but when he acts like the dubs and Kerry lads we all say he deserves to walk but they don’t get shown the line for the same shit. Personally I’m not too bothered by today’s result but I find it frustrating that we don’t get the same treatment – exact same hopeless way I felt after oct 2016 and start of 2017 season – in a tight important match we will be screwed. And we were last sep. Nothing has changed. I’m not saying we deserved to win today or last week but fair treatment throughout should be guaranteed and it’s just not and it might account for some of our disarray – damned if we do damned if we don’t. So when we pull up our socks like we always do and end up in a tight affair in a semi/AI we still won’t get over the line because we won’t be treated fairly. We should not have to beat the ref too. Sick of it but still thought we were shite today!

  62. Horseshit is right FBD. Then the lad will have to put up with his name being dragged through the gutter on social media etc. I don’t know how he keeps going. He is some man no matter what anyone says. A decent lad.

  63. Totally agree also. Why all the talk bout Cillian and Aiden. The abuse they get is wicked. Sick of it. How Aiden keeps playing is beyond all my understanding. Fair play to him.
    What about Comer and Conroy. Dirty players and they get away as if saints. Support our lads because we’ll be there when it matters.

  64. Rc, that’s utter bollox, and to prove it, just remember the Dubs fans comments about how Connolly is targeted. Back under your bridge there like a good girl.

  65. Aidan trying to hit a ball out of the oppositions hand early results in a free in for Galway Aidan lying on the ground being dragged around by the neck = a yellow card for Aidan, what games are the refs and the linesmen watching.

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