Leitrim loss means no FBD four-in-a-row

Leitrim v Mayo Final Score

Photo credit: Mayo Mick (for all photos in this report)

It’s the start of a new year of football and this afternoon, for the first time in James Horan’s tenure as manager, we tasted defeat in the FBD. Not just that but today – for the first time in ages (possibly since 1994 but I’m not sure if that is the case) – we went under to plucky little Leitrim. So, that’s the 2013 FBD campaign sorted for us and with it whatever hopes we might have had for a pre-season four-in-a-row.

I wasn’t in Ballinamore today so there’s little or nothing I can say about how the match unfolded or how individual players performed. In terms of how the scoring went, though, it sounds as if the home team made most of the running throughout, easing into a five-point lead early on before Darren Coen – a late replacement on the starting fifteen for Evan Regan – notched our first point of the year.

Pre-match huddle

Points from Alan Freeman (a free), Michael Conroy and Lee Keegan – who captained the team today and was only one of three survivors from the team that started last September’s All-Ireland final (Michael Conroy and Enda Varley were the other two) – then followed, cutting the deficit to one. Soon after, Barry Moran – who came on early as a sub for the injured Jason Gibbons – fired over to level proceedings following a fine upfield run by Tom Cunniffe (great to see Tom back in action, by the way). The first half ended at five each.

Having worked hard to fight back from that ring-rusty opening quarter, it might have been expected that we’d then push on and claim the victory that everyone expected us to get. Fair play to Leitrim, however, as instead they quickly made it clear after the break that they were intent on seizing this particular day.

Darren Coen point 2nd half

Twice they took the lead, twice we reeled them back in, with frees from Alan Freeman and Enda Varley and a point from play from Darren Coen edging our total up to eight. But it was Emlyn Mulligan – once again Leitrim’s standout performer – who made the decisive final contribution to this afternoon’s scoreboard at Ballinamore, with his late pointed free securing a deserved one-point victory for the home side.

So an opening day defeat it is but not one, I reckon, that should set any alarm bells jangling. Our lads are just back off their holliers, their training ban has just ended and most likely they’ve little or no collective work done, while Leitrim already had a morale-boosting win over the Rossies under their belts from last Sunday and, no doubt, a desire to gain some kind of revenge for the thumping we gave them last summer. They seemed to be more up for it today than we were, which isn’t exactly an enormous shock, and they got due reward for their endeavours.

Leitrim have now got a possible FBD final appearance in their sights while we’ve got two more pre-season matches inside the coming week to get us ready for the 2013 league campaign.   It’s only when the NFL gets going properly that it’ll be in any way valid to think about how the team is shaping up for this year and only then in the context of our preparations for the summer battles that lie ahead.  Seen in this light, today’s pre-season opening fixture – and how it played out – is likely to be of little or no consequence in the broader scheme of things.

Mayo: Kenneth O’Malley; Michael Walsh, Shane McHale, Keith Rogers; Tom Cunniffe, Keith Rogers, Lee Keegan (0-1); Jason Gibbons, Seamus O’Shea; Conor O’Shea, Enda Varley (0-1, free), Cathal Carolan; Darren Coen (0-2), Alan Freeman (0-2, frees), Michael Conroy (0-1). Subs: Barry Moran (0-1) for Gibbons (inj.),  Colm Boyle for Conor O’Shea, Ger Cafferkey for McHale.

18 thoughts on “Leitrim loss means no FBD four-in-a-row

  1. TBH when i seen that Mayo team my first thought was where will the scores come from? first game and all but that team selected today wasn’t going to beat a Leitrim side missing only a few in fairness to them they should have won by more.

    Horan will pick stronger team v Gmit,Roscommon and should finish off the FBD with two wins. No trip to New york this year for Mayo but that was probably part of the plan anyways.

  2. Dont think its the end of the world, had to wait an age for any news of the game while listening to rte radio over here. Speaking of rte, good to hear Billy Joe an the p[anel today, chip of the old block there WJ, might go some way to redress the balance bias.

  3. It’s not the end of the world today that we lost but……. We did have 12 players on the pitch starting who were part of the squad last year. Tom Cunniffe is hardly a new comer and Barry Moran replaced Jason gibbons after 5 mins due to injury. Darren Coen replaced Regan & Darren played FBD last year.

    I’m a bit concerned because Leitrim with emigration etc are fairly depleted. Some guys didn’t step today when given a chance and that is disappointing. I expected alot more and I’m fairly sure James Horan did too. I know it’s early January & it’s “only” the FBD but at this time of year in this competition you find out alot about players. Some will be given another chance, some won’t. That’s how the cookie crumbles…..

  4. Just bashing out something now, Digits, but fire ahead yourself if you want to. If you were there today it’s likely to be of more relevance to what I have to say (which won’t be much, to be honest).

  5. I wouldn’t worry too much Patriot. You were never going to find brand new players on a cold, wet pitch in the middle of January. Just back from holidays, no collective training done, the result was never important. In fact, you wouldn’t want them flying as they need to build up slowly and try peak in May. And, to be honest, a lot of the time those playing well in the winter don’t produce in the summer as the wet, slow conditions don’t suit fast forwards (or, more pertinently, the conditions suit the slower backs etc.).
    It will be important to have a few more options though this year. I would hope Freeman could get back to the form he showed a few years ago. Also are Shane Nally and Cathal Freeman worth looking at? Think they are playing for NUIG at present. I would also be very interested in Jason Gibbons this year – I think he has great potential (though he didn’t really show it in the club final).
    By the way – nice piece in today’s Independent by Tommy Conlon. Worth reading if only to highlight the bias shown by that twat.
    http://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-football/tommy-conlon-its-a-very-fine-line-between-passion-and-propaganda-3350308.html

  6. Only highlight of today, was Tom Cunniffe’s return. Impressive after long absence, nothing new up front, but early days.Anyone think James Kilcullen could add something at midfield , I surely do. A powerful man, good in Co semi and final ,and class v Cork in league 2011.

  7. Great review there WJ when you weren’t at the match! Just some of my views on the more interesting things from the match today.

    – Enda Varley lined out at CHF today, and performed the role of the playmaker. It was an interesting experiment – he had more room to operate away from the full forward line and he sprayed some good ball around the pitch and looked more confident than last year – wonder whether it will be repeated.

    – Solid performances from Shane McHale, who certainly got the better of his man – from Michael Conroy who won some good ball, and played smart – from the returning Tom Cunniffe who looked the part going forward and will provide even more competition in the backline – and Lee Keegan who lined out at CHB & hit a class shoulder and kicked a booming point in the second half. However, when he goes forward, we need someone to hold down the CHB position.

    – We had at least 4 gilt-edged goal chances all missed – any one of them would have won the match. We need to place the ball, not blast it.

    – Most of the possessions lost today came from ball into the full forward line. Some of it was inaccurate but some of it just wasn’t on, needs to be smarter. JH was also concerned at the movement in the FF line.

    – Joe Brolly would be disappointed by the distinct lack of tactical fouling by Mayo – unless it is tactical to foul within scoring distance. When the other team have a free taker as good as Mulligan …

    Still though, it’s January!

  8. Id prefer to peak in September and not May! Mayo will beat GMIT on wed night easily and we will learn nothing. In defeat you see and learn more about players.

  9. At the game, we were very sluggish in the first quarter then came back into it nicely. In the 2nd half I thought a lot more ball could have been carried into the forwards rather than kicked long. It obviously wasnt working but we persisted. We had an overlap at one stage but just let fly. Lack of fitness could be a factor for that and its to be expected! Conroy showed well as did Cunniffe, Richie Feeney & Shane McHale. Finally many a club would be proud of the facilities in Ballinamore.

  10. Could Digits and Trevor tell us who was marking Emlyn Mulligan and how did he or they fare? Mulligan is one of the best around so he should provide a good test for a marker.

  11. Not too worried about yesterdays result, I do have a question though maybe someone can shed light on – Where is Aidan Walsh? he was a great Minor 2008/2009 and seems to have dropped off the radar does anyone know is he on the panel this year?

  12. we didnt create enough in front of the posts but in saying that we had a couple of goal chances that would have sealed the deal. horan took all the warm up and pre game drills no sign of our new man buckley? is he still in usa or whats the story there. agree with poster above, ballinmore is a top class ground.

  13. Keegan was on him in the first half, and started slugglishly before improving. At some point in the second half Tom Cunniffe seemed to take over. As far as I recall Mulligan only scored one from play, the rest were all frees. When Mulligan was influential though was when his marker, Keegan or Cunniffe, was on a rampage up the pitch and our move broke down – he was left open. That’s a tactical problem.

  14. Isn’t Aidan Walsh playing for some college? he was one of Mayo’s better players in U21 championship last year.

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