Dillon’s decision a timely boost

Alan Dillon

Photo: The Score (Cathal Noonan/Inpho)

Alan Dillon’s announcement – on the night that he was named Mayo Club Footballer of the Year – that he intends to stay on with the senior county team for 2015 is a timely boost as a new year of football action beckons. The Ballintubber clubman referenced the many retirement announcements made in recent weeks (to which Galway’s Sean Armstrong was added to the list this morning) before confirming that it was never his intention to follow suit.  Speaking to Daniel Carey in the Mayo News, the two-time All-Star confirmed that “the body and mind are good at the minute” and he was bullish too about the team’s chances for next year, saying that “We’re close. Hopefully 2015 will be special.”

James Horan also spoke at the Club Stars awards on Friday night, where he said that next year could well be a “spectacular” one for the county. James laid heavy emphasis on the leadership role that the players themselves have taken on in recent years, stating that the players “have taken a lot of stuff on” and that “they’ve led it out themselves”. In this context, he reckoned that the task for the new management team could be summarised as follows:

So the managers’ job, as I see it now, is giving these lads the environment they need to express what they have, and try to get the County Board and all those guys to give everything they can to make sure the team is as successful as possible.

James was also, by the way, very positive about Mike Connelly’s appointment as County Board chairman. Writing in this week’s Western People (report on that here), he said that “Mike has shown himself to be a great supporter of the senior team and a shrewd negotiator who knows how to get things done.” High praise indeed.

Further aside – that first piece from the Mayo News linked above contains all the information you need to know (if you don’t know it already) about who won what in this year’s Club Stars awards.

But back to Alan Dillon’s decision to stay on next year, which I think is a real positive, not least in light of what James had to say about the importance of the players taking a lead role in driving us on next year. While Noel and Pat will, of course, be at the helm and will have their own ideas – and the final say – on the players they want to use and how they want to use them, it’s a real bonus to them that all of the panel from this year will be available again next year. Having a wise old (well, not really old – as someone who is the wrong side of fifty I’m entitled to say that) head like Alan Dillon around can only be seen as a positive.

Sure, he’ll need to be used sparingly next year but that was also the case in 2014 when, after missing all of the League campaign, he returned to good effect for the championship. Four points from play against Cork in the All-Ireland quarter-final and three in the drawn semi-final against Kerry showed that he still has what it takes to contribute when it matters and the way he was interchanged with Michael Conroy over the summer at corner-forward might well be a tactic that could usefully be reprised next summer.

42 thoughts on “Dillon’s decision a timely boost

  1. Great news. A fantastic player who has taken an unfair amount of stick over the years from a certain section of fans. He could be our Pirlo next season, one of the best foot passers in the game still. Delighted he’s staying on.

  2. Delighted Alan is giving it another go. Great player and role model. When you look at the like of Armstrong packing in it, was Brolly right when he said Galway don’t take football seriously? Is the commitment there from our neighbours? Am I being too harsh as I do realise they could very well beat us in Salthill next summer so maybe I should tread carefully 🙂

  3. Armstrong was treated poorly in 2014 , any game he came on it, he made a difference.His commitment to GAA was total and was not getting the recognition he deserved. His Mayo mother can now shout for Mayo again.

  4. I have to hold my hand up and admit that I had written Alan Dillion off far too soon. I think he proved to everyone in this years championship that when he was fully fit, and recovered from his operation earlier in the year, that he is still worthy of a spot on the panel. 2 years ago his form was disappointing and the writing was on the wall, in my opinion. However, he took time out, had his operation to repair that long standing muscular injury that was preventing him from training at 100%, came back stronger and finished the year a better player than the ’13 version.
    With a new management team and, hopefully, maybe a couple of new faces on the pitch, I think it is important that there is continunity of sorts to help “bed-in” the new people. No-one can doubt his commitment to the geansai and, whilst I was often critical of his selection ahead of other players at times, it is impossible to doubt his ability as a player.
    I still rave about “that” pass he pulled off against Tyrone in last years semi-final. Receiving the ball tight to the sideline, about 30m from goal and double marked, he swiveled and nutmegged a Tyrone defender with a beautifully weighted foot pass, the ball cut through 2 more defenders behind and bounced into Freemans hands. Freeman scored a fabulous point from it but the score was all about the pass. To be able execute the accuracy and weight of pass in that stressful situation says it all about his ability.
    I have to admit I called it wrong. Fair play and Hon Mayo.

  5. Yes great news about Dillon. The commitment of these guys is unbelievable and bodes well for 2015. It will the strength of the overall panel that is crucial.

    Re Galway, I’ve already referred to James Kavanagh’s scathing assessment of the Galway training regime as he bowed out.

  6. Yes a timely boost and Horan’s assessment of the new chairman even more so. A fresh approach, some new faces to provide competition, sort out goalie/FB area, then there is no one to fear.
    The darkness of 2014 is starting to lift already!

  7. Good to have Dillon on board for 2015. His performances against Cork and the first game against Kerry were excellent, even if he was worryingly anonymous in the replay.

    Time waits for no man though. Alan will not get many more chances to win an All-Ireland medal. 2015 is a very big year for him. How well-deserved it would be if he were to get the reward he deserves for his years at the coalface.

  8. Delighted Dillon is staying on. Certainly has more to give I feel and is still in great nick. Some wonderful news for us just before Christmas. This time last year I was still a bit depressed after the final but this year I have huge hope for 2015

    I’m also happy enough to see Kavanagh and Armstrong retire (from a Mayo POV :p )! Army did well when he came on in castlebar and was always capable of getting a couple of scores. They’ll be a loss to Galway even if Kavanagh didn’t really get going this year (mostly due to injury tbh he’s a very capable player) and SA often flattered to deceive

  9. Puckout we certainly don’t have issues in goal in fairness. I’d even go as far as saying we have the best options in the country all round. Our third choice Kenneth O’Malley would be pushing to get into most county teams. Hennelly is in the top 3 with Cluxton & Durcan and Clarke is also top class when fit

    At Full back I have full faith Ger Caff will be back stronger than ever but surely Keane/McHale deserve a go in it in the league. Keane was trusted to start an AIF at 21 years of age, at 24/25 in his prime years and in superb shape surely he has to be given a go in a league game. Mort, in his book, alluded to the fact KK was underused this year (directly mentioned the replay), I’d agree with that, I’d like to see new mgmt giving him a rattle at the 3 shirt. I actually thought he had a stellar cameo in the replay, really holding Donaghy but for some daft refereeing decisions by he-who-shall-not-be-named

  10. Delighted Alan is sticking around for another session, some people give him stick, unfairly I think and it is only a few of the prawn sandwich brigade… Dillon has bn a great servant to Mayo football and I’d love to see him claim a Celtic cross in 2015… 2006 semi v Dublin will live long in the memory : )

  11. Never considered myself one of the prawn sandwich brigade, but I have been critical of his performances when his form dropped significantly over the last 2 year’s. He had a good summer and I am delighted he is staying on. He should be a Hugh influence on the younger players, as he is a good role model. I have heard a lot of people speak highly of Mike Connelly in the last few weeks.

  12. I too am delighted Alen is sticking around for another year, not sure how much he will contribute on the field of play, as time waits for no man, buy as a highly respected player who has seen it all, his influence on the training ground will be invaluable to the younger players. It also gives a huge vote of confidence to the new management team, to have a player of his standing prepared to give it another go.

    As regards the 2015 season, it’s impossible to forecast anything at this stage. Only time will tell, if the players still have the hunger and commitment necessary to compete at the highest level. Age wise they’re still young, but in football terms, they have a lot of miles on the clock, and being so near and coming up short on those big days, must surly take it’s toll. That will be Noel and Pat’s biggest challenge, to convince those lads that regardless of those recent losses, they must truly believe they can do it – and as we all know, this is easier said than done.

  13. With all of last year’s panel available and none of our players involved in the latter stages of the Club Championship, Noel and Pat should have a full deck of cards to choose from early in the new year. Choosing the right players in the right positions will be the key to getting success! Hopefully we’ll see players who can improve the team get plenty of game time in the coming months. You’d really hope that the players truly believe that they can be the best team in the country in 2015 because they can be! We learned some really harsh lessons this year. James Horan has laid the foundation, heres hoping that Noel and Pat can finish the job. Roll on the FBD league…..

  14. Everyone has an off day and he had one in limerick from what I can remember, but he was mAjestic in the drawn game , that point where he lifted turned and shot was epic.

    Plenty more to give , good on him

  15. James Murphy, I hope you are not including me in the prawn sandwich brigade! Too many miles on the clock and suffered too much heartache to be a member of that cabal.

  16. I think pebblesmeller you might have a case to answer here, and this might be as good a time as any to deal with it. The question is, do you or do you not like prawn sandwiches ? 🙂

  17. I think the importance of Alan Dillon to Mayo’s performances over the last 10 years may not be fully appreciated. Since he swung over 5 or 6 points from frees and play against Tyrone in 2004 to the influence both he and Andy Moran exerted in the second half against Ros this year, Mayo have always needed him to get over the line. I would dearly love to see them both on the field at the end of a winning All ireland final, whether they start or not. But we will need a few pacey scoring forwards to complement their intelligent play. I hope we will have them in situ when the Summer comes.

  18. it’s really great news that Alan is staying on and that we have had no rumours of players of players taking a year out or going travelling etc. They really deserve credit for their commitment to the cause. It just occurred to me that a fifth Connacht title in a row, on the cards next year, would be something not achieved by Mayo since the early days of the last century. Even the great teams of the ’30’s or ’48 – ’51 failed to achieve it
    Things are looking good with everybody seeming to be pulling together after a traumatic end to 2014.

  19. Yep Dillon proved me wrong , i thought his time was up and it clearly wasnt.

    In saying that i’ll be disappointed if we dont get some fresh faces to the championship panel ,so in reality im hoping there are at least a couple of panel members dropped come summer after a league campaign that has hopefully given a fair run to the new faces,ie Evan Regan.

  20. Methinks the teams of the thirties or 48 to 51 achieved a hell of a lot more. I would include Connaught in that. These were decades when other teams in the province contested and won AIs. They were not coming up against the might of London in the Connaught final.

  21. Mayo McHale, OK, OK I admit it. I’m a glory hunter. I just jumped on the band wagon 3 years ago. Someone on Twitter said that Mayo would a “cool” team to follow so I bought the season tickets and a full kit, socks and all 🙂
    Truth is, prawns, lobster, crab or any other crustaceans are a little too chic for me. I’m more a “boiled egg in the morning, bacon and cabbage in the evening” sort of chap 🙂

  22. AndyD you’re right, there hasn’t been a whisper of anyone packing their bags to head away, and I had assumed there would be at least two or three candidates taking time abroad especially after last year. They clearly believe it’s worth sticking around, and that counts for a hell of a lot.

  23. Wow. I hope Evan Regan is as good as he is being talked up to be. Both here and on gaaboard he is constantly mentioned as The Answer. Funny, I don’t remember him doing a whole lot during his previous stint on the Mayo panel. Hopefully he will prove that he’s a better player in 2015, but I don’t envy him the pressure he’s going to face when his chance comes around.

    Could he be yet another Mayo player whose reputation rises the longer he is not in the team? After all we had some people here recently suggesting – apparently with a straight face – that Conor Mortimer was the missing piece in ’12 and ’13. Jesus wept.

    All the more reason to be grateful for Dillon’s presence in 2015. No flouncing off panels in a huff for him, and no lack of effort on the field either. A real Mayo footballer.

  24. I too think it is great news a dillon is staying on, I think we need all hands on board if we are to close the deal, however I will be surprised if many new faces break through, maybe kk and mchale and a fit c barret in defence , m sweeny and j donague in the forwards we really need a good cf, while aos was very good I think we need him at midfield, that is just my view, and I am glad I am not in noel or pats shoes

  25. @ Corick Bridge – Has James O’Donoghue transferred from Kerry? Excellent news! Or is this J Donague someone I’m unfamiliar with?

  26. Well that’s a relief pebblesmeller, I would hate to think that one of our best posters on this site, would be anything other than a cabbage and bacon sorta guy 🙂

  27. Hahaha Davy J ! who is talking him up ? Should be no pressure on the lad if hes given the chance , a chance to go out and see if hes up to it . Thats all i have ever said , i believe Horan made a mistake cutting him from panel when he did. I couldnt see the logic behind dropping a promising 21 year old forward whilst keeping others who had been there a few seasons as forward subs that didnt make much impact.

    Arrogant townie forwards are always accommodated for in Kerry.

  28. I have been critical of dillon in the past. Having said that he proved this year that he is a very clever footballer who picks up excellent postions around the half forward line. Good news for mayo. Even if he turns out to be an impact sub. Maybe our panel will be that bit stronger this year. Up mayo

  29. Below are some excerpts from last year’s IT Sligo v UUJ Sigerson Cup game:

    Mayo footballer Evan Regan scored 10 points for IT Sligo, but a good second half helped Jordanstown to victory in their first-round clash in Belfast. Ballina forward Regan, who left the Mayo squad last year, hit seven points (four from play) in the first half of a brilliant individual display.
    Sligo’s best spell came before half-time when they racked up five points, with Regan’s left boot causing mayhem for Monaghan All Star defender Colin Walshe.
    IT Sligo: E Regan 0-10 (5fs, 1 ’45’), P Varley 0-1.

    Maybe he won’t display that kind of form for Mayo this year, there is a huge difference between Senior Championship football and the Sigerson Cup but maybe he will produce that kind of form as well, who knows. It would be great to see him given a chance, along with players like Adam Gallagher, Darren Coen, Conor O’Shea, Mickey Sweeney and Diarmuid O’Connor, to see what they can produce. If we are to be the best team in the Country in 2015, then we’ll need something different from the last few years.

  30. Agree with hope springs eternal.

    Completely jumping the gun and being ridiculously optimistic for December , if we go the exact same way again we will at best be caught out in semi v Dubs , we have to change it up at some stage if we are gong to keep challenging and winning provincial, quaters and semis otherwise there is just going to be a predictability about us eventually .

  31. I have never seen Regan play and cannot comment one way or another on his attributes. However I do not think he is being touted by anybody as a great white hope, just as somebody that is worth a look at. Having watched Mayo for more years than I care to admit to I have seen quite a few player get more chances than their on field performances seemed to merit. Maybe the arcane nature of management saw something I did not. I have seen players being anonymous for whole games and still stay on the pitch. On the other hand players have been given chances and seemed to do okay, but seemed to have been called ashore very quickly and never heard of again. I suppose that is the all down the arcane nature of Mayo football managment and beyond my comprehension.

    Back to Regan – how often has he played for the Mayo senior team and how has he performed?

  32. Good question Roger Milla. All I’ve heard about the development panel was that there were around 20 or so players on strength and conditioning programmes, I don’t remember individual names being mentioned.

    Sean Burke, people have been talking up Regan for months and months. See this post from WJ on this very blog from last January for example (http://mayogaablog.com/?p=14182), where WJ makes the same point that I’ve made i.e. let’s not overhype the lad. And a certain Sean Burke makes the comment that ‘Both Gallagher and Regan have the stuff to do it, they’ve got the stuff I’m telling ya.’!

  33. Okay Davy J, we will just have to wait and see i suppose albeit i think Gallagher proved me half right by his two motm performances in the league . I stand by my comment though if thats what you want (neck on the line type thing) , i believe the two boys are good enough . It might take another year or two even, esp with Regan who has lost out on inter county senior training for two years and that was the mistake imo.

    Anyway im sure youd be only too delighted for them both to prove great players for Mayo. Surely?

  34. Yeah Sean, it would be great to see some new blood make a big impact next year. Noel and Pat said that they would like to find 5 or 6 new players that would be capable of fitting into the team. I make it a minimum of 10 games that we have before the championship (3 FBD and 7 League Games). What Kerry did last year, was identify the players that they wanted to come into the team and then give them plenty of game time before the championship started, e.g. Paul Murphy was one of those players and he ended up as MOTM in the All-Ireland final, winning an All-Star and an All-Ireland medal. It would be great to see Noel and Pat do the same thing in the new year, giving players who they feel can improve the team plenty of game time before the championship starts. Maybe one of our new players can emulate Paul Murphy’s achievements, why not….

  35. Your obviously unfamiliar digits. Our JOD is Jonathan o donoghue from belmullet, was a mayo minor around 2008/09, had an excellent season for belmullet this year. Not sure if he’s good enough for mayo but certainly deserves a chance in the FBD at least. I think he’s a brother of Eoin, who had a superb season for this years mayo minors at corner back…

  36. I obviously don’t know why Evan Regan wasn’t on the panel this year any more than anyone else, but I was under the impression that he’d ruled himself out. Totally open to correction on that, of course, as it’s nothing more than hearsay, but my point is that things are not always as straightforward as they appear. And so it has always been with these player/manager situations which have drawn controversy in the past.

    Either way, I’d be more than happy to see him, and indeed some of the 19 other new faces togging out on 4th Jan.

    I sincerely hope Adam Gallagher will be back on board too. He was such an exciting prospect early last year.

  37. Absolutely Sean. My intention wasn’t to have a go at you in particular, more at the tendency we sometimes have in Mayo to talk players up to the skies too early – and put too much pressure on them in the process. I certainly don’t want that to happen to Regan (or Gallagher) – and I think it might be better for the players in question if everyone (not just on this blog, but on GAAboard, Hogan Stand, etc.) eased up on the hype about them. If they’re coming in ‘under the radar’ a bit, it’ll be easier for them to deal with the inevitable setbacks they’ll have as they make their way in inter-county football.

    You may well be right about them and I’ll certainly be delighted if that proves to be the case. We need all the good forwards we can get!

  38. Delighted to see Alan Dillon commit for another year. Has taken a lot of unfair stick in the past few years but is a class operator both on and off the pitch. On another note, has anybody seen a list of the players selected for development? There has been a lot of talk on the site about this but nobody seems to know who they are. Surely there would be no harm in letting supporters know their identities?

  39. For my sins in a past life I managed my local junior club team . A league fixture brought us to Ballintubber where we were, to say the least, taking in water at half time. We were, maybe eight or ten points down. An image which will always remain with me is that of Alan Dillon walking before me to take up his place for second half. The way he encouraged and advised some young fellow they were about to bring on will always remain with me. That day I just thought, “What a role model. What a wonderful man to have in your club.”

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