Following Mayo's footballers

Marvellous minors mash Kerry

For a performance like this one, I’d gladly drive across the country every day of the week.  The lads were absolutely superb all over the field today, they won every individual battle, they passed the ball around with authority, they defended like tigers and they got some truly memorable scores.  Kerry literally didn’t know what hit them and, midway through the second half, they were reduced to belting our fellas in frustration as they simply couldn’t match us in the footballing stakes.  It was such a joy to see our lads utterly dominate a Kerry team in this way and the manner in which the young princelings lost all shape and, ultimately, all respect was simply a hoot.  What a day!

Writing about the match in advance last night, I expressed the fear that we might struggle to stay with Kerry today, an analysis that implicitly accepted the proposition that we had left the match behind us at Croke Park last Sunday.  But it was also an analysis that was – a bit like the Kerry backline – torn to shreds this afternoon in the Gaelic Grounds.  Left it behind, indeed! Instead, it was, to borrow a few terrace chants from that other football code across the water, more a case of “Can we play you every week?” or, perhaps, “Are you Leitrim in disguise?”

While it’s true that Kerry started the match today in better form, taking the lead with a long-range point from play after little more than a minute, once full-forward Aiden Walsh goaled at the other end after four minutes, we had taken a hold on the game that we would never subsequently relinquish.   Kerry pulled one back from a free soon after but from then until around five minutes from the break it was all one-way traffic as we hit them with a succession of points, the pick of the bunch being this glorious left-footer from Aghamore’s Cathal Freeman.  During this purple patch, as we raced 1-6 to 0-2 clear, it was obvious that our Croke Park failing – all those wides – wasn’t going to be repeated: we didn’t hit our first wide till the 18th minute today and we ended up with no more than five or six wides all day.

Then, just when it looked as if things couldn’t get worse for the young Kerry princelings, it did when an attempt at a point by Raymond Geraghty came back off the upright and Alex Corduff reacted fastest to gather the ball on the rebound and lash it to the net.  With the lads now ten points clear, I found myself, to my disbelief, texting “Easy! Easy!” to The Brother, even though the match was little more than twenty minutes old at that stage.

From then to the break, however, things swung back towards Kerry, not least because the ref and his match officials went into the dreaded “go easy on the poor fuckers getting trimmed” mode.  Their goal came directly from such cack-handed officiating when a line ball was given to Kerry despite the fact that our corner-back John Broderick had his jersey visibly pulled right in front of the linesman.  Despite this clear foul, Kerry got the line ball which was dropped into the middle where Barry John Pat Joe Mickey Mike pulled on it and in it went.

That could have been the signal for a princely rising but it wasn’t and instead we closed out the half with two Aiden Walsh points.  This was the first: an absolute monster of a free, well beyond the range of anything I’ve seen kicked by the senior team this year.  The second one was a close-in effort, dispatched with ease and efficiency and it sent us in 2-8 to 1-2 ahead at the break, the lads getting a rousing ovation from the noisy Mayo crowd as they went in.

It was fairly clear at half-time that the match was as good as won and the team got a winner’s reception back out onto the field but the lads still needed to close the deal in that second period.  They did so with admirable ease, soaking up whatever pressure Kerry were able to apply, making them fight for every ball all over the pitch, making sure that every score Kerry did manage to get had to be worked for.  And we kept scoring at the other end too, so that, by midway through the half, we were 2-10 to 1-7 to the good and chants of “Mayo! Mayo!” were ringing around the Mackey Stand.

Five minutes later and the Kerry heads had dropped, as it became obvious to them that there wasn’t going to be any more big days out in Croke Park for them this year.  Instead, they started to take their frustration out by way of sly belts and general man-before-the-ball stuff which culminated in a bit of a donnybrook out in the middle of the field and then to a straight red being issued to Kerry corner-back Padraig Reidy for his overly physical attempt to keep Alex Corduff under wraps.  The Knocknagoshel youngster hadn’t completed his walk to the line all that long when sub Dean Gavin delivered the game’s coup de grace, his thundering effort hitting the crossbar and bouncing over the line for our third green flag of the afternoon.

Another Aiden Walsh free completed our scoring tally but they managed to bag two late points before the final whistle, reducing the margin between the team to ten points at the end.  A lusty roar rang out from the Mayo crowd after the final whistle sounded, as subs and supporters made their way onto the pitch to mob the young heroes.  And I’m sure there were a few Kerry tears at this juncture as well.

It was a wonderful performance from the lads and, like last Sunday’s effort, it was a real team accomplishment.  Once again, the backline was superb with Kevin Keane again giving Kerry’s marquee forward BJ Walsh a torrid afternoon.  Eoin Reilly was superb at centre-back, the midfield were excellent, Cathal Freeman was outstanding, Aiden O’Shea likewise and Alex Corduff and Aiden Walsh ran riot in the full-forward line.

What was wonderful about today’s performance was the confident and calm way that the lads moved the ball around with purpose, always looking to give the probing ball, never hitting and hoping.  It was noteworthy too that in moving the ball with speed, their default means of doing so was through a succession of accurate foot passes, the majority of which found their man.  Their coolness was exemplified late on too when the Kerry lads decided that they were up for a bit of belting and our guys had the good sense to know that there was no point mixing it with this defeated rabble and risk missing the All-Ireland final as a result.

Ray Dempsey can take great credit for molding this young team into the highly effective and well-functioning unit that they’ve become over the course of the summer.  They looked anything but All-Ireland champions the day they scraped to an undeserved Connacht title against Roscommon back in July but they’ve come on immeasurably since then.  Today’s result will – especially for those of us lucky enough to be there in Limerick today to witness it – live long in the memory but these lads will now know that further glory is there to be grasped next month in Croke Park.  The rest of us mere mortals know that the hunt for tickets starts now.

Comments

  1. a brilliant performance…well done to Ray Dempsey and his team…

    brilliant!!

  2. well missed the game and missed the coverage so what a shock to the heart it was to finally get to aertel to get the result…

    wow!

    fairplay (I feared the worst going into this that we would get one hell of a backlash) but looks like he lads believed in themselves and played their game not overly concerned by what their illustrious opponents would do – their is a lesson here for our senior boys!!

    nice to know we will have representation on all-ireland day and who knows could this be the start of something beautiful…

  3. "Akamore man" says:

    Good to see a young Aghamore man playing such
    brilliant football. It brings back memories of 51.
    Keep up the good work and I might see Sam back
    in Mayo again before I die!!. Akamore man.

  4. Willie Joe says:

    Cathal was superb today and I’d fully expect him to be one of this team that’ll graduate to the senior ranks sooner rather than later. Hopefully they can now finish the job next month and land our first minor title since 1985.

  5. As Barack Obama said on Mid West last night “This is change we can believe in”

    A magnificent performance that had all the things that you want from a Mayo team – heart, organisation, strong minds and no little skill. Ray Dempsey has instilled a toughness into the lads that is only going to benefit them going into the future. The job he is doing this year, as well as the job which Pat Holmes/Noel Connelly are doing at u21 the last 3 years show that the conveyer belt is truly working.

    In 3 – 5 years time Sam will be a realistic possibility and if many of the young players we are seeing at all grades can make it through, and Pearse Hanley was added into the mix we might have the best bunch ever to wear the red and green.

    I’ve been thinking if this is the most complete performance I’ve seen from a Mayo team? I don’t know, and it may still be the sheer elation of the win but I can’t think of any others.

    The Senior players could learn alot from those that are going to be biting at their heels.

  6. Willie Joe says:

    I’d say Ray’s lads have a better chance than Barack of landing the big prize!

    It was a superb performance yesterday and it was certainly one of the best I’ve ever seen from a Mayo team at this stage in an All-Ireland championship. The six-point win over Kerry in the 1996 semi-final would compare fairly well, though maybe that’s because it was also a win over Kerry.

    I really hope we can go on and complete the job now as this would give this bunch of players every incentive to take the seniors to the next level. There’s talent coming through, that’s for sure, it’s how these guys are brought on that’ll be the key thing.

  7. AWESOME. for me its the best mayo performance i have seen at any level. even the cynics amongst us were shaking their heads in disbelief and admiration. We did a kerry on kerry!!!! Im not saying we will definitely win the final but it will take an exceptional team to beat us. we’ll know more today.

  8. FourGoal McGee says:

    On the Barak Obama theme, I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King. If he was to be alive today and to visit Mayo, He would have no problem adapting one of his famous speeches to instill a bit of belief back into our footballers:

    I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” (Speak, sir)
    Somebody’s asking, “How long will fear of failure blind the visions of men,
    Reduce their confidence, and drive away the belief that we can reach our sacred goal? (How long)
    Somebody’s asking, “When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Ballina and Castlebar and communities all over the County, be lifted to reign supreme in Croke Park? (How long)
    Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will victory evade us and glory forsake the Green and Red? (How long)

    I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, (Yes, sir) however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because the flag is flying high with our youth again (Yes, sir)

    How long? Not long, (Yes, sir) because we have a crop coming that fear no one – especially Kerry!(Yes, sir)

    How long? Not long, (All right. How long) because you shall reap what you sow. (Yes, sir)
    How long? Not long (Yes Sir) because I have been to Limerick and have seen the work that Ray Dempsey and his team has done.

    How long? (How long?) Not long: (Not long)

    I just hope that I have a ticket on the day it happens.

    Keep The Faith!

  9. Great Performance… Was delighted i made the journey. Great to see so much Green and Red in the stand too. Brilliant atmosphere around the place. Croker here we come…

  10. Willie Joe says:

    Hear, hear, Brother FourGoal! I have a dream … that I’ll get a ticket for the All-Ireland.

    Likewise, Claire, I was delighted I’d made the trip down from Dublin – it was worth every mile to see that kind of performance.

  11. They have their work cut out for them looking at Tyrone today, but what a manager and what a team. Dempsey was always the clever poacher, he has brought these lads on incredibly since the connaught final & quarter final. Best of luck to Ray and the team. Would be nice to see the Tommy Markham in Castlebar on Sept 22nd

  12. ontheroad says:

    Well done to the minors. They have kept up a remarkable record for this proud county of ours. Since 1999, a ten year period we have had a team or teams in A finals every year bar 2002 as far as I can recall. 1999 saw the minors in a final v Down and Ballina in the club final. 2000 saw the minors return to a final. 2001 saw Crossmolina win the club title, Mayo win the league and the U21 s reach an All Ireland final. 2003 saw Cross lose to Nemo in the club final. 2004 saw a senior and u21 double final. 2005 saw the minors in the final to Down and Ballina win the club. 2006 saw another senior and u21 double final with a title win for the u21s. 2007 saw us National league finalists. This year we are in a minor final. Now I dont want to rain on our parade but we better keep the powder dry until the final is over. In 1999 I saw the best ever performance from any Mayo team when that years minors destroyed a strong Cork outfit only to lose the final to Down. The pressure is on and I for one hope that those minors realise this. Too long we have shielded our lads from reality and then wondered why they are mentally short on the big day. The pressure comes from the fact that both Roscommon and Galway have won the last two minor All Irelands. We are up against an outfit that are well drilled and full of belief. We simply cannot afford another blow up in Croke Park. Properly motivated and psyched this team with one bound and leap could free us from a lot of miserable baggage that we have accumalated in Croker on the big day over the years. Ar dhiadh libh agus tabhair grim ar an corann seibheir a gasurai. Suas Muigheo.

  13. can opener says:

    Well done to mayo who are a good side but green and red needs to calm down before he writes a report. the references to the Kerry team are disrespectful . maybe he needs counselling after 2004 2006 etc

  14. Maybe I need a few cans before writing – can I borrow your opener?

  15. Got Omen… Ogrady was on the minor team last time they won an all ireland. Hes selector now!

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