Mayo 0-15 Kerry 1-6: pointless visitors sent packing after the break

Aidan O'Shea catch

Photo: Mayo Mick

Unexpect the expected, eh? I doubt of any of the 7,124 souls who were at a wet and miserable McHale Park this afternoon would have thought in advance that they’d see Mayo hold Kerry scoreless for the entirety of the second half (and the rest: Kerry failed to score for a full 42 minutes today according to the Irish Examiner’s John Fogarty) but that’s what happened in today’s clash between the counties in the opening round of this year’s NFL Division One. After an evenly-fought and very competitive first half – which ended all-square – the visitors effectively failed to show up for the second period as our lads eased home to the handiest win we’ve had over the Kingdom for many a year.

Before we start getting carried away with ourselves – and I don’t, in truth, think there’s any danger of that happening – it’s important to note that this was a very callow Kerry team we faced today, shorn of nearly all their household names. While they managed to put it up to us pretty well in the opening half when they had the wind with them, they failed to make any headway at all after the break and once they were reduced to fourteen men midway through the second period – when Anthony Maher, already on yellow, stupidly got embroiled in a bout of handbags and picked up a second yellow in the process – there was never any way they were going to get anything from today’s encounter.

I watched this one on TG4 – this bloody chest infection still hasn’t lifted and I’ve a hairy enough working week ahead as well so I felt it made sense to take the easy option today.  With the rain spilling down at McHale Park for much of the afternoon and knowing how difficult it would have been to keep dry under that cavernous stand when the rain is falling and the wind is blowing, the couch seemed even cosier but, needless to say, I felt a bit cheapened at the end to have missed seeing us send the Yerras packing in the fashion we ultimately did this afternoon.

There was one change to our starting team, with Colm Boyle – a man who must surely relish playing the Kingdom by now – lining out instead of Donal Vaughan, the Ballinrobe man having cried off before the throw-in with reported hamstring trouble. Colm lined out at six but with Richie Feeney frequently roaming back behind his midfield we had plenty of cover in that area for much of the afternoon.

We played into the wind facing the Albany end for the first half and it was Jason Doherty – who emerged as our top scorer today, with six points (five from frees) – who got us going with an excellent point from play. After Michael O’Donoghue replied in kind for the visitors, Jason then landed three frees for us, the third a super, long-range one, to push us clear for the first time.

Jason Doherty pointed free

Photo: Mayo Mick

We looked very comfortable at that stage, winning plenty of ball around the middle, quick to capitalise on the breaks and moving forward with purpose. But the course of the match changed quickly as Kerry started to threaten our goal, with David Clarke out quickly to save smartly from James O’Donoghue. They pointed the resultant ’45 – a real boomer from Johnny Buckley – and then soon after O’Donoghue had the ball in the net, smashing it into the corner after he was played in by Darran O’Sullivan.

The goal stung us back into life and a swarming downfield move ended with Richie Feeney thumping over a lovely score (a bit like this celebrated one he’d got against the same opposition last year) to level proceedings.

Richie on the burst

Photo: Mayo Mick

The points started to come thick and fast then, with Michael O’Donoghue and O’Sullivan scoring smartly for them before two real peaches from Michael Conroy brought us back on terms. Then Anthony Maher blasted over a long range one for them and David Clarke gifted them another when his kickout went astray and Conor Cox returned it over the bar with glee. That was, however, to be the end of the glee for the Kerrymen because, with just half an hour played, they already had finished their scoring for the day.

Two down at the break wouldn’t have been a disaster for us but it was good to see the lads fight back to secure parity ahead of the short whistle. Jason popped over another free and then Kevin McLoughlin – who looked a bit lost placed so far forward early on but who became more and more influential as the afternoon wore on – steered over the equaliser.

It had been a tough enough half for us, with our early dominance having given way to a more pressurised period as Kerry had had a good hard look at our goals. From my vantage point on the couch, the Kerry lads seemed to be working very hard, continually applying pressure when our lads were in possession, often deep in our half, which meant we struggled to get the ball forward into their danger zone.

Alan Freeman replaced his Aghamore namesake Cathal – whose debut didn’t really get going at all today – at the start of the second half and with the wind now behind us, it was obvious that we were in for a different kind of half compared to the first. Not as different as the Kerrymen might have imagined, though.

Kevin McLoughlin pointed a free from over near the stand to get us off the mark in the second half and to edge our noses back in front. Jason landed his fifth free, and sixth point of the day, soon after to double our lead and then a long scoreless period ensued, as the conditions and the heavy going underfoot – what a contrast to the billiard table surface on show at Croke Park last night – took its toll on both set of players.

Tempers were starting to fray too, with a schemozzle breaking out on the far side of the pitch involving several hard chaws from both sides. When things calmed down, ref Padraig Hughes pulled Aidan O’Shea and Anthony Maher aside and while the resultant yellow meant little to our man, Maher’s was his second of the day – the initial one given for persistent fouling in the first half – and so the visitors were down to fourteen men.

Maher's marching orders

Photo: Mayo Mick

Last year, it took us three matches before we figured out the best tactic when playing against a team with a man down but we had no such trouble today. Kerry rarely troubled us going forward after that – with Ger Cafferkey getting better and more authoritative at the back – and while we took longer than we should have done to turn the screw on them, once we did it was obvious we were going to win and win well.

Another cracking point from Mickey C and a second free from Kevin McLoughlin pushed us four clear. Barry Moran replaced Seamus O’Shea to provide fresh legs in the middle and Enda Varley – always a great option, it must be said, off the bench in the spring – came on for Richie Feeney, who had a marvellous game but had been floored by a massive, wholly legitimate, hit just before he was subbed and who I’d say was well ready for a rest after that. Enda justified his appearance by landing the final two points of the afternoon, both of them screamers from out on the right wing as we closed out a very comfortable six-point win.

We had several strong performers today. Ger Cafferkey was named TG4 Man of the Match and he was immense today but so too, just behind him, was captain David Clarke. Keith Higgins, Colm Boyle and the bearded Chris Barrett were all prominent as too was Aidan O’Shea who gave a gutsy, battling performance in midfield. Richie Feeney seemed as happy as a pig in shit in the conditions today and he covered acres of the McHale Park pitch, putting in a very strong shift across the middle third. When Kevin McLoughlin started to roam he did so with increasing effect too and when scores were needed Jason Doherty, Michael Conroy and sub Enda Varley were ready and willing to supply them.

James Horan sounded pleased enough in the TV and radio interviews he did immediately after the final whistle had sounded. And well he might have done too: his charges are off to a flyer in this league campaign where, in such a tight division, every result gained will be vital. Next up it’s the visit of in-form Tyrone who will, no doubt, provide a sterner test than that offered by what was, in truth, a very mediocre Kerry outfit today.

Mayo: David Clarke; Shane McHale, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Tom Cunniffe, Colm Boyle, Chris Barrett; Aidan O’Shea, Seamus O’Shea; Lee Keegan, Richie Feeney (0-1), Cathal Freeman; Kevin McLoughlin (0-3, two frees), Jason Doherty (0-6, five frees), Michael Conroy (0-3). Subs: Alan Freeman for Cathal Freeman, Barry Moran for Seamus O’Shea, Jason Gibbons for Aidan O’Shea (blood sub), Enda Varley (0-2) for Feeney.

30 thoughts on “Mayo 0-15 Kerry 1-6: pointless visitors sent packing after the break

  1. Great , I know 1 swallow doesn’t make a summer but an opening win in the league and it to be against Kerry makes it an excellent start, that we kept them scoreless adds the extra spice.

  2. Great start to league 2013
    Thought Caff OShea a nd especially Richy Feeney were outstanding
    To me Lee did not look comfortable at no 10 also Conry and Doc kicked great pts as did varley when on at the end..quality ball going in and excellent movement. But jeez Kery were poor .still roll on Sun next.
    Bit of a mix up re Cairde tickets and jackets which were to be there today came away without either.

  3. Great to win, great to beat Kerry, and great to get two points. Did we learn anything?

    Richie Feeney does trojan work and will be a great half forward option. Jason Doherty’s free taking was a revelation, and McLoughlin’s wasn’t bad either. Shane McHale is a tight defender and forwards won’t like him. Tom Cunniffe looked loose but will benefit hugely from a game like this.

    Still, I felt we lacked penetration when we went forward. We had to rely on wonder points, whereas Kerry when they were motoring were very economical, direct and set up goal chances that would worry any defence. We didn’t get into those situations

  4. I know ,I know its only the league but its amazing how tables can be turned,for all the older people who sat through another Kerry/Mayo game back in 1981 when the losers went in level at half time having scored 1-6 and never scored in the second half.Nice to be able to wipe the memory after today.
    Good win but I agree with Catcols last comment.

  5. Happy days in prospect! Obviously the lads had put in quite an amount of work in the ‘close season’ which indicates an appetite to go forward from 2012.
    Good to see new options emerging on the free taking front – no longer we we have to pick a player primarily on his free taking ability.
    Richie Feeney was a big success at 11, Lee Keegan and Cathal Freeman were less so but worth another run. With Andy Moran and Alan Dillon to come into the mix with today’s panel we seem to have more strength in depth than ever before.
    Looking forward to Tyrone who also seem to be motoring well at present.

  6. Agree with Catcol and others – overall some real positives, Richie F, Mickey C, Mid field and all of the backs were good. First half was very good but the 2nd half i thought we were actually wasteful given our dominance. Full forward line is still a problem – it’s crying out a ball-wiining full forward who can take direct ball when the Conroy and Varley are not open. Although Andy M, and Cillian O’C will come back in I still think we are missing a pacy, physical forward who can win ball and score goals. I dont think we would have scored a goal today if we had played another 70. Same in the AI final. Let’s see what happens against Tyrone. Great start though.

  7. this is where a county like mayo needs to be-beating top teams(ok kerry were short regulars) consistently. not so long ago we’d be raving about a victory like todays. in my opinion we should be aiming to win every game in div 1. looking forward to ger caff v stephen o neill next sun… well done today lads.

  8. Thought Clarke’s kickouts were very poor today. Hes not given the midfielders any advantage. One indirectly led to the goal even thought there was a questionable call by the linesman.
    Thought cunniffe was shaky enough but hes one player that needs loads of football. Has the ability to be the CB as he has te pace and power. He’s a confidence player and hopeflly Horan doesnt tinker with the team like last year when he made 5or 6 changes every week. Thought Shane Mchale was very solid early on but was a bit lost when he followed his man out to the half back line.
    AOS did a good shift at mf even though SOS didnt provide much help. It was day made for seamus and he didnt put his hand up. Richie was very good. The role suits him as hes a ball player and it showed today that hes a lovely kick passer.

  9. It was obvious that Feeney would be closer shackled in the second half because he was in the thick of every move in the first half. He still put in a great second shift but with much less room.

    But for me the moving of KMcL out to the half forwards at half time just shut the shop down on Kerry. We really have to play him out there. Two great Varley points at the end were the icing on the cake.

    Like everyone else I’m really surprised at the lack of strength in the Kerry squad. In other years they had loads of fringe players that would make the first 15 in any other county. Not any more!

  10. What have Kerry done at minor in the last few years?? They were atrocius aginist dublin in de semi final even though dublin nearly let them back into it

    Just signed up for the Cairde Mhaigh Eo scheme. Great idea and it gives something back to supporters that go to alot of games. It covers all club championship and league games, underage and all nfl games. For e that goes to many neutral games, il definately save 200 or 300 euro in the year. Its a great incentive that encourages ppl to go to more games.e Hopefully mayo will get to the nfl semi and finals and we’ll save a few more euro Great scheme and the jacket is great as it gives Mayo supporters an identity. It took us ten years to follow club tyrone who ll all be dow kitted out next week.

  11. A win over Kerry at any time is always welcome, and should put a spring in the step of Mayo supporters facing into the new season. The performance itself despite a very heavy pitch and difficult conditions was first class, with some very well taken points both from frees and open play.

    The only criticism I would have and this has already been covered by catcol and others, is their lack of penetration up front. There never seems to be a player coming through the middle at pace to receive a pass and create the extra man. A tactic which is always guaranteed to open up defences and more often than not, results in a shot on goal, or the winning of a close in free. Have we a player for that role ?

    That said a great start to the new season !!!

  12. Great win today and that was the main thing. The sending off was a defining factor but we were good value for the result given the work and effort alone against the wind in the first half.
    I think guys are being a little harsh on T Cuniffe. He was named at wing but set the task of man marking Kerry’s marquis forward and pace man DOS. And frankly over 70 minutes he did a great job on him.
    Also hard to judge fellas over 70 minutes considering the conditions. Kerry had tactics to send in the ball early and it seemed to be paying off . whereas we were more concerned with holding onto possession rather than putting it in straight away even though the guys inside were making great runs.
    i wonder was this a tactic though. I have a suspicion it is and could be a way we are going to be playing i.e. we are going to dominate the middle third over 70 minutes and work off that.

  13. Good win good start to the league however it would have been a bad blow if Mayo lost to that Kerry line up. Tyrone game will tells us more next weekend.

  14. Great start lads. Thought we looked a well drilled confident side who knew what they were dong. Kerry were poor in the second half but we gave them no ball and you cant score if you have no ball.
    Defence is rock solid. Mchale and cuniffe are two great options. Caff was excellant and it was great to hear him speak so well and confidently on TG4 afterwards. We are moving forward and it is up to each player to improve he said.
    Midfield was very strong. AOS handles some amount of ball. SOS is a 60 min player. Needs to improve stamina.
    Feeney really put on a show yesterday. He is always looking for the ball and needs to be left there. Fair play to him for getting up straight away after being poleaxed. No white feather there,
    Lee looked lost at times but worth another go.
    Well done Doc. looked very sharp and was a handful for Kerry.
    Mikey C was class and again is an awful handful for a defender. Lovely to see him beat two defenders in the first half and kick an outrageous score. If Gouch did that everyone would be falling around the place praising him-Yerra only Kerry forwards can do that. blah blah blah.
    Varley made a big contribution coming on. Supersub maybe?
    So where are we now?
    We have a very physical skillful experienced team with a good bench that will average 12-15 points per match.
    Problems are in the ff line. We dont pose a goal threat. Need 60% of possession every match. Andy anyone???
    Keep moving forward lads. its going to be a tough year but…………..

    FF line still needs work. Just need right combination.

  15. Thought that both sides played well in the first half in difficult heavy conditions but Kerry ran out of steam totally after the break. As others have pointed out, it was a good first day out and it was an efficient performance.
    Kerry fans will be worried that not too many of their fringe players put their hands up for future selection.
    When Vaughan was ruled out, I’d have preferred to see Higgins moved to the half back line and bring Keane into the corner but maybe he was not fit enough to start either. Tom C mixed the good with the bad at CHB and deserves a run of games to get up to speed.
    I think that Keegan might need a bit more time to adjust to the role in the HF line but we have to find a spot for him as he’s too good to leave out.
    Feeney covered a lot of ground but we still have trouble picking the killer passes that open up defences. For all our possession, we never looked like troubling their keeper and our half forward line never got close to goal in threatening positions.

  16. Lee Keegan did well enough I thought in 1/2 forward line. One thing he has is pace and that’s a great thing to have in the team.

    An area we could do with looking at though is how to play the conditions on offer by the Gods.

    e.g. Lee yesterday was bombing through the middle at one stage in second half and no Kerry fella could catch him. Unfortunately he took the option to hop the ball on the greasy surface. And that the was the end of the move as the ball skidded immediately on the grass and was subsequently spilt and lost.

    Another was with Alan Freeman in FF- He tried several times to turn too quickly for the surface he was playing on. The better option was to just make sure to gather in tight the possession and just stay standing and look to lay it off. OveralI thought he did quite well too though and was v. unlucky not to at least win a free that time when Marc O’Sé took him down

  17. Tuas Maith and all that. Beating Kerry anyday is a good day, but we’re fairly used to that from the League the last few years.
    Big bonus is that its a home match with 2 points in the bag, job 1 is survival in this league as they have finally got the system right and its where the 2013 All Ireland champions will be coming from. To hav any change of being competitive for the big one you have to be in Division 1, and our first mission has to be to ensure we stay there. So to that end, we’re off to a good start. Win our next home game and then alot of that pressure is off.
    As others have said, concern is lack of penetration through the middle. Mickey C and Vaughan kicked some fine points off the wing, and its great to see, but those are arguably percentage shots (although Mickey C seems to be capable of it all the time) and cant be relied upon. Look at the results from yesterday, not to read too much into it as its only one game, BUT, we were the only team not to score a goal, even though Cork and Dublin scored one each from penalties (no-one seems to miss penalties since the spot was moved closer).

  18. Whats the story with Pat Harte is he back in the panel this year??

    would love to see him fit and starting at centre half forward I think he has height power and pace and could work as the man who makes direct runs on goal, plus look at that for a team spine Cafferky, Vaughan, AOS and Harte, also would still like to see Vaughan at midfield for one of the league games, Higgins up to half back line and Keegan on the other side.

    Thoughts anyone???

  19. Well dome mayo but it was a poor kerry team, tougher test next sunday against tyrone and the dublin game in a few weeks will tell us more and if the hunger is still there, but at the end of day u can only beat wats in front of you so well done mayo but i think we,ll hav to improve on sunday to beat tyrone….

  20. Agree with most of what is said and great to win. We do need to threaten the goal. You will rarely see a team winning an All Ireland who rely on point kicking. A day always comes when the shooting is just a little off and you end up with a lot less points that you should. Thats when a goal or two makes a real difference.
    I agree that Lee Keegan should be given time to settle into his new position. He is real good footballer – big, strong, brave and skillful and not overawed by any occasion. I can see him causing mayhem for defences later on.
    On a less positive note – they tore us open on a couple of occasions and they were unlucky not to have scored two more goal!

  21. The match programme included a fine article by our own John Cuffe, with his photograph at the bottom and a fine handsome fellow he is!!

    I really enjoyed the match. The highlight for me was Bryan Sheehan missing an easy close in free.

  22. Gráinne I am blushing, deteriorated since that photo was taken! Yesterday we beat what was put in front of us, no hype, no harm. I was wedged at the back of the stand, frozen like a block and it took ages for the place to clear. Something perhaps to be looked at in an emergency God forbid that it would ever happen.

    Cannot complain with yesterdays performance, points in bag etc. but…and I actually have no problem with this, what is the rationale with placing Keegan at ten. Is he duplicating what McLaughlin is at already? Are we stiffening our defensive formation from further up the field as per the modern game or does Keegan play as an attacker at club?

    Feeney did well yesterday, I had him as my MOM for endevour, work rate and linking play, I still prefer him behind the 8/9 guys though. Pat Harte would be a good leader at 11, he carries a stick and uses it when needed. We never threatened once for a goal, that worries me. They were in three times, once Clarke blocked and once the defence di what was needed.

    AOS stood out but as a pair their combo did ok, a lot of Kerry comment today is their happiness with Buckley at mid. Food for thought there, Gibbons or Geraghty for a run with Aiden. All in all we did what we had to. Next Sunday will give us a better picture where the ship is docked at. Also maybe a tweek at 6, Cunniffe is a good defender, maybe not there but hes worth a few runs at it

  23. Good win, nice to get the league off to a winning start.
    We beat an below- par, Kerry team who had a man sent off, half way into the second half, so lets not get carried away.
    However, we played well, got some very good scores from open play and frees. We had solid performances from Cafferkey, Mc Hale in full back line. Boyle in half backs did well , fearless as usual, Cunniffe needs to stay closer to his man , he is suspect under a high ball, and has been all along, he is very fast and good, going forward, but he needs to get his defending improved,( Gooch turned him too easily in Croke Parke).
    The O Shea’s work well together. Jason Doherty proved that he needs to be in full forward line, close to goals. Richie Feeney is a very honest skillfull player, can play any where, Conroy got some nice points, now I hope he keeps getting them.
    Kerry tried to intimidate us when they realised we were better than them, it was important to stand up to them, which we did.We put down a marker that we won’t stand for that.
    Tyrone game will be interesting, they will play football first and if this does not work they will try intimidation as well, so it will be a test in both fronts.
    Same can be said for Dublin, Donegal and Kildare.

  24. Think Cuniffe should get a good look in at 6 and could be a great option in championship, Vaughan wasnt overly impressive last year.

    I think midfield will be BM and AOS again come championship. They worked very well last year…and I think SOS’s skills can let him down big time, especially his distribution so I think he may fall behind the 2 big boys and Gibbons (in terms of using the best option on the ball) come championship.
    Hopefully JH will look at the forwards big time and nail down a consistent free taker

  25. Perhaps he means from the right hand side where Cillian didn’t take them last year? I’d like to see Cillian try them from that side at least.

  26. Yeah cillian had a stormer on frees vs dublin but i point to the all ireland and our missed frees which cost us dearly. And yes we need someone from the righy digits id agree. I believe there is a gap that has been left since the quit that needs addressing

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