Following Mayo's footballers

Mayo 0-8 Kerry 1-9: dubious penalty award swings contest Kingdom’s way

I wasn’t able to make it to Castlebar today but from my vantage point up here in the metropolis, I could clearly discern that the conditions in McHale Park weren’t exactly ideal for a game of ball.  On such a day, flowing football was never going to win out, making it likely that a mistake on the part of one of the match’s participants could prove to be decisive.

And so it was, with an absolute shocker of a penalty decision awarded to Kerry by ref Maurice Deegan swinging the tightly-fought contest decisively in the visitors’ favour with little more than five minutes left.  The outcome was rough enough justice on a hard-working and committed Mayo team but, once they sit down to analyse the match properly, they’ll realise that our own failings – especially amongst the forwards – also had a hand in how the match played out.

The jungle drums that had been hinting about possible pre-match switches proved correct, with the Feeney brothers replacing Chris Barrett and Trevor Howley prior to the throw-in.  Alan and Richie joined their Mitchels clubmate Tom Cunniffe in the full-back line, with Ger Cafferkey taking up station at centre-half.

Kerry had it pretty much their own way in the opening quarter of the game when they went three points clear – via scores from play by David Geaney and Darran O’Sullivan and a free from Colm Cooper – but they might have been well clear before we got going at all as we could have conceded two goals by then.  O’Sullivan’s shot for his point could as easily have ended in the net and debutant goalkeeper Robbie Hennelly saved well with his feet from Geaney when we were three down and visibly labouring.

Ronan finally got us going with a trademark long-range effort after 19 minutes and we settled well after that, with frees from Aidan Campbell and Mark Ronaldson pulling us level soon after. Geaney and Andy Moran – who fired over a beauty from way out on the left – then traded points from play before Aidan O’Shea scored from a tight angle to edge us in front for the first time.  A free from Geaney, after Ronan was pulled for overcarrying when caught in possession, squared it up at half-time.

The third quarter saw us gradually take over, with Jason Gibbons putting in another strong shift at midfield.  Kevin McLoughlin got our opener after the restart, ending a move that began at the other end when Alan Feeney was fouled after outfielding Donaghy. From the free, Tom Cunniffe burst forward powerfully and the ball was channeled to McLoughlin who popped it over from out on the left wing.

A free from Geaney cancelled that one out but a free for us from Aidan Campbell restored our one-point margin.  With twenty to go, Darran O’Sullivan got his second of the day to level it up once more.

Neil Douglas, who had replaced Mark Ronaldson early in the second half, pointed to edge us ahead again and we held onto that lead until five minutes from the end of normal time.  By then it was looking as if our good recent run against the Kingdom in the league was going to be extended but instead the game’s course was about to be altered by an atrocious refereeing blunder.

The score that turned the game in Kerry’s favour came seven minutes from time when Robbie Hennelly was adjudged to have fouled Darran O’Sullivan in the square.  Having seen the incident a few times since on television, it’s now abundantly clear that the penalty award by Maurice Deegan was an absolute travesty.  O’Sullivan wasn’t in control of the ball and he was airborne when he barged into Robbie close to the goal-line.

At worst it was a 50:50 collision but O’Sullivan could, and probably should, have been penalised for flattening our man. How the ref could have adjudged that the incident – involving a Kerry player with a long track record of going to ground a tad too readily – is beyond me, as it obviously also was to the outraged home support.

It was all to no avail, though, with sub Bryan Sheehan sending Robbie the wrong way to score his second penalty goal at McHale Park (this was his previous one) and put Kerry firmly (albeit unjustly) in the driving seat.

In a low scoring match played in poor conditions, such a score was always going to be decisive.  We missed two frees, they added two more points from play – from Sheehan and sub Kieran O’Leary – and they ended up victors by four points.

As I wasn’t there to see the match for myself, I can’t with any validity opine at length on the team’s performances today.  According to the lads on Midwest, we worked hard throughout the afternoon (a fact confirmed by what I’ve seen since on the deferred TV coverage) and with Cooper and Donaghy making such limited impact on the scoresheet, it’s obvious that the backs performed okay.  PJ picked out Tom Cunniffe, the Feeneys and Kevin McLoughlin for special mention in this regard, along with debutant Robbie Hennelly whom he said was hugely impressive between the sticks.

Jason Gibbons did well at midfield and PJ says that Ronan did okay there too. Tom Parsons came on too late to make any kind of positive impact on proceedings.

The forwards, however, obviously had an off-day and you can’t help but think that we missed the cutting edge given to us the last day by the injured Alan Freeman and Enda Varley. A return of just eight points is pretty poor no matter how you parse it and it’s also worth noting that we didn’t score until the match was 19 minutes old, failing also to get a score in the last 17 minutes.  To make matters worse, we kicked 11 wides over the seventy minutes.

Such statistics will land you in trouble against most teams in the country, against Kerry you’d expect it to lead to a hiding.  The fact that our defeat could mainly be attributed to Maurice Deegan and his shite refereeing perhaps tells us as much about where Kerry are at the minute as it does about us.

Overall, I think we can chalk this one down as a valuable lesson learned.  This league campaign could well see us getting a few more hard knocks before it’s over but if, in the process, we find out more about ourselves as a team then there’s no need for us to become too downcast at this stage.  I’d far sooner see us lose games at this time of year than see us crumble in the pathetic manner we did last summer following a spring campaign of such promise.  If today’s defeat helps us understand our strengths and weaknesses a bit better, then ultimately it may prove of more use to us than a narrow win might have done.

MAYO: Robert Hennelly; Richie Feeney, Alan Feeney, Tom Cunniffe; Peadar Gardiner, Ger Cafferkey, Kevin McLoughlin (0-1); Jason Gibbons, Ronan McGarrity (0-1); Aidan Campbell (0-2, frees), Andy Moran (0-1), A Dillon; Aidan O’Shea (0-1), Aidan Kilcoyne, Mark Ronaldson (0-1, free). Subs: Neil Douglas (0-1) for Ronaldson, Tom Parsons for Gibbons, Jason Doherty for Douglas (inj.).

Comments

  1. Mayo put back in their box for the time being again. Dubious penalty decision but sure you have to take them when they come, Roll on June.

  2. Hennellys inexperience gave away the penalty–he should have kept his hands out wide.
    Our full forward line was our main problem.
    Mcgarrity had a great game but was dispossed for a vital Kerry point.
    We now need to beat Galway to help avoid relagation
    I would not worry as we are team buildind & i feel you learn more after a defeat.

  3. johnno[not TD] says:

    As WJ said,hopefully Jamsie can take some positive points from todays reversal

  4. Was at the match WJ. McLoughlin was outstanding. Agree with the comment re Cunniffe especially a good second half.

    I actually withdrew my jaundiced opinion of Andy Moran…for 20 minutes. He was the equal of kerrs finest, then he started to spill ball. Near the end when we wanted the ball dropped into the square Andy went for a spectacular point , hard driven from the outside of the boot and well wide…only in Mayo do we do the spectacular.

    Campell foraged well, the work rate was good but the fare is boring and workmanlike and a long way from a threat to any decent side. Dillon plays to his own beat, meandering around the place and slowing up the ball for the others. He squandered away an awful pass when we were on top , giving vital possesion back to Kerry. Kerry did what they had to, gather two points in a gritty battle. We need more than hard work though, we need a touch of class and leadership , especially up front. Aiden O Shea needs a break from front line action, he simply is off the pace. By the way, very impressed with Hennelly. Kerry will have a huge problem with their man in goal, he gifted the ball twice to our bucks. Back to the exam papers again.

  5. We did some good things today – like managing Gooch and Donaghy fairly well (although Donaghy opened us up a couple of times and Kerry could have had two first half goals). We won a decent amount of posession but used it poorly at times. Other bright spots included the two Feeneys, Cuniffe and McLoughlin at the back and Campbell up front. I feel Campbell could be very effective if he settles into the team.
    However, we gave away posession several times through poor kicking into the forwards, we mishandled the ball far too often and we managed a few really bad wides (Kilcoyne, Gardner and Parsons).
    Overall, it was an awful day for football and mistakes were bound to happen and it would be unfair to be too critical.
    In fairness to Deegan, who had a poor match overall, it would have been hard not to give the penalty. From where I was it looked like a penalty. On the other hand McLoughlin was lucky not to get a red.
    I was disappointed with Ronnie who didnt get on the ball much and he cannot complain at being subbed. I think there is more in him if we could start to move the ball faster from out the field and open up the game by playing the wings a bit more. As for Aidan O shea we need to stick with him despite some shortcomings – I feel he will come good before the championship if we allow him time to develop a bit of confidence.
    Looking forward to Tuam.

  6. Just a few observations (taking account of the terrible conditions here of course)

    1. Effort. I thought the Kerry forwards worked much harder when not in possession that ours did. Although our back did well, Kerry defend as a unit but we still defend as individuals.
    2. Composure. Shots are still taken on from crazy angles and positions. Risky passes taken when a simpler option was on. No ‘street smarts’ shown in terms of winning frees.
    3. No fluency in attach – When the chance arose Kerry showed that they could attach at speed and create a score in 2-3 passes. I saw no evidence of this from Mayo. FF line tried but were poor.

    Positves. Full back line. solid against quality opposition.
    McLaughlin – classy footballer. Lucky not to be sent off though for the trip
    McGarrity – Worked really hard.

  7. mayo backs were brillant at times today considering most ad never played against such high standard forwards before it was however i forwards who lost the game for us. alan dillion as captain of the team was terrible today and showed little leadership qualities, andy was out on his feet after 50 mins aidan k n mark r were totally ineffective the other 2 aidans given game time can b a nightmare for any county defence. overall alot of work needs to b done n forwards play we ad da posession today just couldnt convert.

  8. I thought that counted as a performance from the team as a whole.Early on Kerry threatened to run riot as Down did for the first 20 minutes the last day.We upped the workrate in the middle third after that and should have taken at least a point at the end.
    A couple of things could make us much better.
    We need a reliable free taker,some of the frees we missed today with the wind behind us would have you tearing your hair out come summer and that free Killer missed just after the peno was tragic!That would have left a one point game.
    We need to get quicker and more varied ball into the FF line.Did you see the way Down got in for the goals the last day?Ball straight in front of the foreward with two men sprinting in to the box bang in the net.
    I remember in the 80`s lads saying that Mayo were the best team in Ireland to get the ball to within 30 yards of the goal but after that it all broke down.We still have those problems but I feel we have better forewards now we just need to be more accurate with our final ball into the FF line.
    Having said all that I went home happy with the way the lads fought for every ball and gave a great display of team work all day.Looking foreward to kicking some Galway ass next week!

  9. thedonfergaloni says:

    Some of these lads need to be brought back to under-12 level to learn the basics of the game. A lot of them struggled with a simple task of picking the ball off the ground. Most of them struggled to catch the ball at the first attempt with it often ricocheting off their face or chest. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Alan Dillon was shocking and along with Aiden O’Shea should have been hauled off long before the end but injuries may have forced Horan’s hand in that regard.

    Positives are there though. The backs coped very well against a strong Kerry forward line. Cunniffe and McLoughlin in particular were outstanding. With others to come in there could be plenty of good competition there which is no harm at all. The forwards need a lot of work but they weren’t helped by the amount of ball wasted by kicking it into an isolated AOS. Kilcoyne and Ronaldson never stood a chance.

  10. a covie supporter says:

    We have no leader in the forward line, Dillon was poor, should stay on his man and hold his position on the field, as for O Shea, whom I dont rate, his best days are behind him, he reminds me of Austin Gibbons, came in with a huge reputation, but has never delivered, he is either a nervous player or lacks confidence at this level, at the end of the day, we should have taken two points in Castlebar, you must get something from your home games, Kerry played with a swagger and appeared to be faster, certainly their backline had the measure of our forwards, the changes should have been made in the FF line early in the second half.

  11. nally_stand says:

    Couple of points after watching the Tg4 coverage:

    – Still giving teams the head start took 15 minutes for mayo to get up to speed, are they trying to sort this out? as its been there as a weakness for the past 2 seasons.

    – Hennelly wrapped his arms around O’Sullivan and that was the deal maker for the penalty.

    – Think Dillons distribution was poor again, I hope the balintubber connection isnt keeping him on the team I think he should have been subbed.

    – free taking needs to be looked at we need two consistent free takers and please lads can we kick from the ground if we are not going for the quick free

    – shot selection in the forward line was poor again we do the hard work to get it in the zone and too often the end result is hurried and wasted lets take a leaf out of downs book – possession is vital if a kick isn’t on lets re-work it to a better position that means the forwards have to be constantly in support of each other, think this is lacking at the moment.

    – big battle next week, could go either way as galway will be hurting too after too big defeats

  12. It was a day for backs to the walls. The conditions were terrible and both sets of backs played well and both sets of forwards struggled to keep onto the ball.

    Having said that we had many great oportunities. Some of the build up play was fantastic however the final chance was wasted terribly. In the 3rd quarter of the game we dominated possesion but could not convert. This is very deflating to the hard working players involved in the attack and very inspiring to the opposition who see you cannot deliver on good overall play.

    And this is where we fundamentally differ from Kerry. They have expert lads e.g. the Gooch who will deliver those chances after that sustained build up. We don’t (not yet anyway) and haven’t had for some time.

    The penalty decision was ridiculous as were several other decisions that went against us but you have to get on with this. Great teams still overcome these problems and yesterdays game shows where we are in terms of being a great team.

  13. east cork exile says:

    Hmmmm. tis early days yet but would like to see the team settle down a bit now and get those key positions sorted. Some of the comments here worry me, shot selection, basic skills, picking the ball off the ground, free taking consistency, lots of wides, those have been problems through the last campaign also. Lets hope they can be rectified….its a 3 horse race to avoid relegation, ourselves Monaghan and Galway. If we can beat the two of them then we should be ok.

  14. I think there are a lot more positives than negatives to be taken from that game. From 1-7 I thought we were excellent. Robert Hennelly was very solid and, at worst, extremely unlucky for the penalty.

    The full-back line was superb. Alan Feeney’s first start in an NFL game and he’s thrown in full-back on the best full-forward in Ireland – his solid performance is all the more impressive against that backdrop. Richie was a wee bit loose in the first half but drove on, especially after the first quarter and Tom Cunniffe was the best player on the field, bar none. Perhaps Gooch is easing his way back into it but he couldn’t escape from Tom and, being honest, Tom was a greater attacking threat than the Gooch – has that ever happened before? The man’s pace is phenomenal and he certainly has loads to offer. Whether it is on the wing or in the corner remains to be seen. We know it is not at six at least.

    The wing-backs were both excellent I thought, worked very hard and easily got the better of their opponents, although they’ll face much better wing-forwards in the future. Ger Caff started off tentatively at chb but soon got to grips with Darran O’Sullivan and kept with him for pace – no mean feat. I think he really could blossom at six.

    At midfield McGarrity’s workrate was hugely impressive, he really busted his chops in the game and that’s very encouraging to see because we know he has the ability. Jason Gibbons had an indifferent display but he worked hard and has more ability.

    The forward line was where we had problems though. Aidan Campbell was very solid and considering he is only coming back, I think he still has more gears to go through so I wouldn’t be so harsh on him OnTheRoad. I’m amazed that he is at the level he is at already given his two year absence. But after that we struggled. Dillon had a mare – first one in a long time though so you’ll allow for that. Andy was way too deep and didn’t work Brosnan enough and we got far too little out of our full-forward line. Freeman and, to a lesser extent, Varley were big losses. I felt Aidan O’Shea was unlucky not to get a few frees but he definitely is not at the top of his game. But it is only February. The two corner lads had days to forget, especially Killer. Neither of them seemed to be alert to getting in off the breaks from the high balls into O’Shea . . .

    We deserved something from this game and didn’t get it. Same old story? I don’t think so. Just bad luck. This team is a work in progress and we cannot be reaching out for the same tired old lines after a reasonable display in February. What I liked from Mayo yesterday was the workrate off the ball. We forced a lot of turnovers and the intensity Horan had Ballintubber tackling with seems to be something he has imbued in his Mayo team. I still think the curve is an upward one.

  15. Oh, and there was no way McLoughlin could have got a red card for the trip – a trip is a yellow card, nothing more. He has really grown into a fine player too and has showed as much in the last two games. He always had the potential but finally seems to be able to show it at senior level.

  16. MayMan – you are absolutely correct that the penalty for a trip is a yellow card. However, if the ref decided it was rule 5.6 “To behave in any way which is dangerous to an opponent” then he could have got a red card.
    That said McLoughlin had a super game – he looks so comfortable on the ball and always seems to use it to good effect.

  17. topo d rite says:

    On first view the penno looked like a ridiculous decision, the replay showed that hennelly wrapped his arms around his opponent, and that is what the referee gestured that he was giving it for. If the keeper was just a bit smarter and stood up his man, he would have fallen over the end line. Other than that, we were the better team over the 70mins and when we failed to open up anything more than a 1 point lead when we were on top, we were left vulnerable to that sucker punch.

    No major harm done yet, but the relegation derby game in Tuam should not be lacking in spice and intensity. I expect that Horan will, however , continue with his experimentation and we could see 5-6 changes in personnel again.

    BTW the throw-in in Tuam will be a half-hour before Ireland KO against the Scots, 2 defining games, a sprint from the shed in Tuam to the nearest pub methinks, 2 rounds of nail biting no doubt!!!

  18. MayoMan. My apologies. I thought I actually praised Campell but on re-reading the line I included him in a general observation. My teachers were right, no application or concentration. Aiden Campell was very good and has more to offer. Will be a huge threat going forward this year.

    I hope that James Horan wont shirk from the hard decisions and one of those is what to do with both Dillon and O Shea. Real competition for places has to mean that guys on the bench must believe they will get real game time if the men on the pitch are not doing it. Dillon cost us dear yesterday with a lethargic display and a lack of concentration.

  19. Maybe Alan Dillon needs a break – hes playuing for us and NUIG and also had a long club season last year. He looked tired anyways. As to Tom Cuniffe beating the be-jaysus outta Gooch fair enough but lets see how he copes with him come July and not go overboard based on one damp miserable february day out. Also – I dont know about this analysis og Ger Cafferkey coming to terms with Darren O’sullivan. O’Sullivan scored a point (when he coulda scored a goal) and he setup and won the peno. So thats not a bad contribution. If you think it isn’t compare that to our CHF playing against a man whohasn’t played inter-county in 2 years.

  20. Agree with the comment re Darren O Sullivan, personally I thought he ran his man ragged, was at the heart of every Kerry move and forced a solid McLoughlin into a foot trip such was the petrol still in his tank. Put bluntly…we are still in the market for a centre back.

  21. Yeah Dillon was poor alright on Sunday, but the forwards as a unit were pretty dire.
    I agree with the above, Dillon could probably do with a break. We know exactly what he can do anyway, maybe try another option there for the next couple of league games.
    Either way, come the summer, I expect Dillon to be a definite for the first 15. He’s a class player.

    This game against Galway should be a real dogfight, we never get anything easy out of them. You’d imagine the loser will face relagation.
    Galway were pretty shocking against Monaghan, but there were signs of slight improvement against Down. If our midfielders are on their game, I’d expect us to clean them out there. A massive improvement is needed from our forwards though.

  22. Dillon was poor on Sunday but to suggest dropping him? Lunacy. Maybe a rest might be no harm if the Sigerson is coming up but I have to say that against Down he was excellent. Won an awful lot of dirty ball and pushed Andy very hard for Man of the Match. If we dismiss everyone on the basis of one poor game, we’ll have no one left in the summer.

    On Ger Cafferkey, I thought O’Sullivan started well but after the first quarter Cafferkey got to grips with him. O’Sullivan’s pace is eye-catching but there’s often not enough of an end product out of him. And for the penalty you’ll notice it was Gardiner and not Cafferkey who let him go. I think he is very much worth persisting with at six and, on the evidence of what I’ve seen so far, I think he’s our best option there.

  23. Dillon had a poor enough afternoon but this can happen to anyone – bad egg for the breakfast or something! He is a good player and a vital part of Mayo’s future line up.

  24. I think we all agree that at least two of the starting Mayo forwards are out of sorts at the moment. What tickles me is that we should not countenance dropping them as if some day they are going to explode. In the last world cup in rugby Ireland and Eddie O Sullivan kept the same first 15. After a while the subs know they wont get a chance and the guy on the pitch knows he wont be dropped and the end result is we win nothing.
    Nothing like the long finger beckoning and a spell on the hard seat to test whether a player has the right stuff. To me at least not a single Mayo forward on display last week should feel secure in his spot.

  25. Ontheroad, Dillon has had ONE poor game this year. ONE! He was excellent against Down.
    Stop the knee-jerk reaction as if he’s been out of form for a year.
    Aidan O’Shea is a different story, I’ll agree with you there. He hasn’t played well for Mayo seniors since the Meath match in 09.
    Johnno gave him chances to play his way out of his slump last year, but it never happened. Maybe a spell off the team is what he needs, and the rest of panel might benefit as well.

  26. Tubberman
    You say AOS had a bad year last year but you say it as if he was the only one!!! as far as i’m aware the whole team were pretty much pants so you can’t blame one 20 year.

    An aweful lot of pepple ruling him out including someone saying his best days are behind him.

    Lets face it lads at 20 most players should only be showing potential.

  27. Sorry Tubberman but ontheroad is correct. No one is above the team !! And therfore no one should be below the team either. As far as I can see all he pointed out is the policy of your place on the team being guaranteed is absolute nonsense in the long run. And its not knee-jerk reaction to a bad result. Management have to show (and new mgt esepcially) that they won’t be massaging anyones shoulders with the knowledge that they dont have to worry about their position being safe.

  28. johnno[not TD] says:

    Agree with Tubberman. Does anyone believe that JOC wud drop the Gooch cos of HIS non performance last Sun.come on knockers give a class act like AD a break

  29. There is a massive difference between saying that Alan Dillon should never be dropped and saying he shouldn’t be dropped after one bad game. I don’t think any player in the Mayo squad thinks their position is safe after last year. But if we drop a lad after one bad game, especially one of our most consistent players of the last ten years, then that is being as reckless as refusing to drop a player at all.

    Next thing we’ll be hearing that Horan won’t drop him because he’s from the same club . . .

  30. seriously think of da 2 players names being thrown around n most of des comments aos as much more 2 offer 2 da mayo team dan alan dillon will ever ave. dillon doesnt seem 2 b a player who is ever willing to die for da cause and as never been as effective a player as aos has alread bn should ave bn taken of on sun n will b disappointed at james horan if he starts against gway….. dont get me wrong tho aos was awful on sun n needs 2 get back to doin wat ever it was he was doin wit minors few yrs bak however as a young player droppin him of team may not b da correct option.

  31. johnno[not TD] says:

    Christ mmayo are you for real!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. look id love 2 b able 2 say dillon will come good come cship but im just not sure he will…hope im proven wrong we ill really need a strong leader as captain if we wanna ave a gud run n cship…..as 4 aos i feel he is 2 good of a player 2 give up on so easily…

  33. Jesus christ mmayo, I am getting a headache reading your posts.

  34. @mmayo please go easy on the txt speak, it’s hard for us to to read and even harder to understand

  35. johnno[not TD] says:

    …..and harder still to believe!!!!!

  36. sorry guys ill use proper writing in future.

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