Dominant second half display sinks students

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Photo: @MayoAdvertSport

A bumper crowd turned up in the bright winter sunshine at James Stephens Park in Ballina today to see our lads canter to an easy FBD League win over IT Sligo. Leading by four points at the break, Stephen Rochford’s charges pulled away in the second half to win in the end by 1-16 to 0-8.

Over 2,000 souls congregated in Ballina for this afternoon’s game but I wasn’t one of them. As a result, this account is a second-hand one, culled from Twitter updates from various sources and Mike Finnerty’s commentary on Midwest.

The team for today’s match showed six changes from the one that started in the FBD opener against NUIG last weekend. Out from last Sunday went Rob Hennelly, Kevin Keane, Padraig O’Hora, Colm Boyle, Tom Parsons and Conor Loftus while in came Matthew Flanagan, David Kenny, Ger Cafferkey (who captained the team today), Keith Higgins, Caolan Crowe and Andrew Farrell, with full debuts being handed to Flanagan and Kenny.

I’d say a fair few people were expecting to see Evan Regan lining out for the county on home turf today following his injury-ravaged 2015. It was announced ahead of throw-in, however, that Evan’s involvement for UUJ in the McKenna Cup rendered him ineligible to take part this afternoon. No worry, there’ll be plenty of other opportunities for Evan to shine this year.

IT Sligo went down to a heavy defeat to Roscommon in the opening round game last Sunday, most of the damage being done by an early flurry of first half scores by the Rossies. At half-time today the students would no doubt have been a bit happier with how they were going as they only trailed at that stage by seven points to three but when our lads upped the gas after the break the contest quickly turned into another decisive loss for the third-level side.

Killala’s Andrew Farrell didn’t take long to announce his return to the senior inter-county scene when he knocked over our first point of the day less than a minute after the throw-in. Jason Doherty then pointed a free to double our lead and after the students opened their account from a free, Mark Ronaldson – who lined out again today at centre-forward – pointed from play.

Keith Ruttledge added another one for us and after IT Sligo got their first from play via Lee Carr, further points from us, the first by Mark Ronaldson and the second from Keith Ruttledge, extended our advantage in this contest. Another IT Sligo free followed before a third point from play from the influential Mark Ronaldson sent us in four points to the good at the break.

We opted to make no alterations for the start of the second half but the one change our lads did make was to up the tempo on the restart. Three points without reply – from Jason Doherty (a free), Mark Ronaldson and Keith Ruttledge – saw us move to take complete control of the game.

Cathal McGettigan and Kevin McLoughlin then swapped points from play before we made our first change of the afternoon. Keith Higgins, who was named at no.5 today was replaced by the man who has made that particular jersey his own in recent years, Lee Keegan.

The scores kept coming for us. Two more points from play, from Darren McHale and Jason Doherty, were racked up before our second change was made. This was an enforced one, with Shane Nally black-carded for a hand-trip, the Garrymore man being replaced by Colm Boyle. Another championship regular, Donal Vaughan, also came on at this juncture, in place of Shane McHale.

Another Kevin McLoughlin point stretched our lead to eight points and the Knockmore man put the outcome of the game beyond doubt with his next score. The goal was Kevin’s second of the year and it hoisted our lead into double digits.

The changes continued, with Tom Parsons replacing Andrew Farrell, Conor Loftus coming on for Keith Ruttledge and, shortly before the end, Padraig O’Hora replacing Brendan Harrison. They got two points without reply but their eighth point was also their final one of the day. We added two more scores before the finish, points from play from Tom Parsons and Conor Loftus, to close out a facile eleven-point win.

So it’s two from two for us so far in this year’s FBD. With Roscommon beating NUIG in this afternoon’s other Section A clash, this should add a further dab of piquancy to next Sunday’s winner-takes-all (if a winner could ever be said to take all in the FBD) meeting with the Sheepstealers at Hyde Park.

Mayo: Matthew Flanagan; David Kenny, Ger Cafferkey, Brendan Harrison; Keith Higgins, Shane McHale, Shane Nally; Jason Gibbons, Caolan Crowe; Kevin McLoughlin (1-2), Mark Ronaldson (0-4), Andrew Farrell (0-1); Darren McHale (0-1), Jason Doherty (0-3, two frees), Keith Ruttledge (0-3). Subs: Lee Keegan for Higgins, Colm Boyle for Nally (black card), Tom Parsons (0-1) for Farrell, Conor Loftus (0-1) for Ruttledge, Padraig O’Hora for Harrison.

38 thoughts on “Dominant second half display sinks students

  1. It was a very poor match , Rutledge, ronaldson played well

    Conor loftus played well when he came on too

  2. Dont know how much we learned from this.Good atmosphere but skill levels were I suppose what you would expect in January.In fairness a lot of new players got game time which is proper.
    I think Shane Nally and Caolan Crowe and Conor Loftus have potential.They were good but no need for hyperbole yet!

  3. Will be great chance for new faces against what I presume will be strong rossie team ,, should be big crowd for that one ,, also thought ronaldson played well ,, Sligo poor side ,,

  4. I’m still frozen , and my arm hurts from holding the programme to shield me from the winter sun. But all in all a decent shift put in from the lads . It was a poor enough game though . I was impressed with a lot of the runs made by Keith Ruttledge and he scored a decent point hopefully he’ll get a run out against the rosssies next week and maybe Cork . Hers to a FBD league ( as if it matters ).

  5. One very obvious change on display today was the direct kick passing. In the first half especially the Corofin style of play was plain to see. It was only when the senior players came on that we reverted to type with Vaughan and Keegan making their characteristic attacking runs. It’s very early days, but it seems Rochford and McEntee intend to implement this style of play which I for one am delighted to see.

  6. Had to stay put in Dublin today . Seems a bit strange to have Regan on the bench and not give him a run in a game like this in his hometown too.

  7. One thing I forgot to mention was that the bench was like a convaer belt today . I’m all for giving yong blood a chance especially in games like this but at least give them more than 10 minutes. I agree with regards to the foot passing back to the old mayo style that the ulster counties can’t seem to latch onto .

  8. I was most impressed with the grand cover of grass in Ballina.My sheep and lambs would have thought they had arrived in heaven but alas they had to forage away in their own sparsely grassed swamps.
    Just how important and effective a well timed/weighted kick and run can be was demonstrated a few times today. K Rutledge was at the end of some of these and with good first contact made nice hay with three points.
    Had to admire Mc Loughlin …. He does so much good stuff.
    J Gibbons was elegance itself at times. Let’s hope he’s available later on.My thought was how we missed his presence last year.
    M Ronaldson seems to have a genuine eye for posts.Surprised some today with five points.
    And C Crowe did nt do his cause any harm at all . I thought he stood quite tall with Gibbons and got in a fair amount of hard work on the day.

  9. What was good today was all starting forwards got on the score sheet. And most of them from play. All the guys tried hard and fair play for that. All knockmore men did not look out of place today. Please god they keep improving. They work hard and are good footballers. Crowe was outstanding also. He dug out a power of possession today and used it well. Im hoping these guys can keep up the good work and push hard for the nfl. Ronaldson is playing mighty at cf. Well done to debutants. Dave kenny looked solid and is destined to be star of the future. Farrell scored great point and worked hard.

    Of course tougher games lie ahead but all work being done at moment is pleasing. We need new guys pushing hard for places this year. Competition for places should bring out the best in everyone.

  10. To answer a question above evan Regan cannot play until uuj are out of McKenna cup, once they are out he is free to play in later stages of fbd.

    Shane nally has shown very well in last 2 games and should be on panel for summer though he will face tough competition to nail down place on mayos half back line.

    Conor Loftus though not on for long looks like he has what it takes.
    Ronaldson scored four or five points today but I think we could have got a few more scores if he passed the ball more.
    Finally well done to all involved in Ballina stephenites. Would like to see more games there.

  11. I’m afraid I was unable to get excited about the fare on offer today.
    Possibly knowing what the result was going to be even before leaving home had its effect, not only on me but on the players – of both teams – too.
    And I fully accept that it is hard to play exciting football on January pitches.
    On the positive side the Stephenite’s soup went down very well at half time. Nice to see a club make the extra effort for fans and I hope it was worthwhile for them too.
    Here’s to the Hyde next Sunday. No doubt it too will be a dead, heavy pitch which will test the resolve of players to deliver their best.

    One note of complaint re yesterday’s U21 match. Unlike the Belleek outing their was an admission charge on Saturday, admittedly not excessive at €5, but I would have expected a programme with it.
    I imagine not many would be able to recognise the majority of players, even your own team, and a programme would have helped. With the array of modern printing methods it would not have been hard to produce. It’s the little things, after all. Like the soup.

  12. Not amazing fare today but Liam I was thinking the same as you re the direct movement And kick passing, I couldn’t help wondering whether McEntee is already having an influence. Some lovely fast movement and shooting. Although I actually thought we did alright on that front in the second half myself even if the backs were attacking more.

    Caolan Crowe did very well today, as did Kev Mc (classy as hell), Ronaldson (though he had an acre of space) and Rutledge. Quietly excited about Nally and Loftus. Thought the Sligo IT forward (from Leitrim) was decent and put Caff under a bit of pressure in the first half, though he was getting poor supply, and that Lee Carr from Donegal was quite nippy.

    It was lovely to get a game in Ballina Stephenites – if only there could be a league game here! Though it wouldn’t take the crowds we are now commanding for those games. Credit to the club who had the place looking great and everyone was delighted with the soup – two stations as well! The grass was a bit long but the pitch is among the best in the county.

    AndyD I agree re programmes at the U21 game yesterday, I asked and was told they “hadn’t arrived yet”, but they still hadn’t shown up by the end of the game! Thankfully Mayo GAA shared their team list via Twitter which was helpful, pity Sligo couldn’t have done the same. That wasn’t a great match either, Sligo were very poor but good to see Mayo chalk up an emphatic victory. Fionan Duffy was very good, as were Brian Reape and Sharoize Akram (he is a really classy player). I thought Fergal Boland put in a great shift too.

    Onwards to the Rossies next week, I don’t care whether we win or lose as long as we see a good bunch of our newer guys getting a good game against strong opposition. Though it’s always sweet to beat the Rossies, even in January 😉

  13. Great reading there posters for us based in Dublin who didn’t travel. Many thanks.

    Also noted from Mid West report that Conor O’Shea had a powerful second half against Rossies. Good to hear that our ‘diaspora’ are doing well

    Coupled with good performances from Duffy, Akram and Reape yesterday, the emerging talent is beginning to look interesting.

  14. Caught 2nd half of game today it was an easy victory! Sligo I.t were very poor!
    Anyhow some people impressed .ronaldson was very lively even though no one was near him.ruttledge looked lively to as did nally who gave one lovely long range foot pass that led to a good score!
    Good to see a big crowd in Ballina.if the powers that be want to get rid these sort pre season competitions in January they need there heads examined.theres clearly a market for these games! Supporters want to get out to watch games after a long few months without games and managers want try new players and styles!

  15. Anne-Marie, i don’t believe that you don’t care whether Mayo win or lose next Sunday against Roscommon. The winner is through to the final, and unless i’m mistaken, a draw next Sunday will see Roscommon reach the final, as i calculate that they have a 4 point advantage over Mayo in points difference.

  16. Observer 2 I’d be quite alright with it -given we have bigger fish to fry than the FBD. I also immensely enjoyed the very enthusiastic reaction of the Roscommon supporters last year when they beat us in a pre-season competition.

    That said, the extra game would probably be very beneficial for us given our late start, but if seeing more of our new faces on the pitch for more of the game ultimately results in a loss, I won’t be too upset about it.

    Now, if they beat us in the league, it’d be a different story …

  17. Scoring 1-14 from play and not conceding any goals is nice to see. I’d take that for the second week-end in January. I always like that, when I am following the updates on twitter, to see that the scores are coming mostly from play, as thats what you want to see.

    Next week-end will see a step up in terms of the opposition that our U21s and Seniors will be facing, Donegal and Roscommon. Our first league game against Cork is only three weeks away, so things will be getting serious from here on!

  18. Let’s be honest Ann Marie nothing can me taken from this game

    Sligo it were a poor side, the game was dire , with little or no atmosphere.

    How can you say Mc entee is having an influence already ? Collectively they have only been together a few weeks

    It will be interesting to see what sort of a team they will field next Sunday

    From what I seen today and last week , I can only see 6 or 7 of these players been kept on allowing for the fact that the Castlebar and hollymount players have to come back .

    I’ll say … Darren McHale , padraig o hora , Conor Loftus , Rutledge , nally , Crowe

    Flanagan in goal looked very nervy in goal and suspect under the high ball.

  19. Delighted to see Irwin back in the fold with U-21s. Important that everybody with a contribution to make is brought inside the tent. Leakages have always been a cause of what might have been in the past. All others from 2013 minors seem to be on board. I would like to see Eoin ODonoghue and TJ Byrne added to the panel. The former looked a natural defender at minor level and Byrne’s goal v Kerry in the semi looked straight out of the late Tom Langan manual. Both talents are worth nurturing. As Captain Renault said you never know when they may become scarse.

  20. I think we should play as weak a team as possible against roscommon. Roscommon need a good game against a top team like us as preparation for their games coming up in Div 1.

  21. Observer 2 There is a game coming up very soon at the Hyde that Mayo must win. I am not referring to the FBD game next Sunday. The league encounter in March will see us try very hard to secure the points in this Div 1 game, and we should win. Next Sundays game matters in the context of giving the Nally, Ruthledge Crowe, McHales, Kenny McHale, Flanagan, Loftus O’Hora at closer look at the real thing. Sincerely hoping some of these guys get a run in the FBD. The result is not important as Anne Marie said, that’s not to say its a case of “Don’t Care”.

  22. Today was a training session, if that, but I still enjoyed it. It is pre-season after all. Next week is a proper game. I’m genuinely looking forward to it. It’s our first game against them since our meeting in Castlebar in the same game last year and they were filthy that day! I’m hoping it will at least be competitive like that game. I always say, we have a limited number of games to really try out new, fringe players. For that reason, I would love to see us win next week and get the extra game before we head for Cork. Looks like the winner will play Galway too. Two decent pre-season games against the Rossies and Galway is a good pre-season, And NUIG are a nice side too!

  23. Well, Mayo 51, it appears plenty of others here seem to have taken something from the game too, so I’m not really sure why you’re singling me out. But you seem to have rather high expectations for the second Sunday in January!

    We fielded an inexperienced bunch of players who won well and decisively on soft ground, albeit against poor opposition, including three players who pulled on the green and red jersey for the first time today. Realistically, what did you expect from them? An exhibition? And Matthew Flanagan was one of those debutants, having lined out in Saturday for the U21s too. You might give him a break until he actually makes a mistake and allow him the time to gain experience. We may well only retain 5-6 of these players after the FBD, and that of course would be consistent with previous years. We don’t need a new panel. But I’d agree with your selection on all counts.

    I wondered whether McEntee was having an influence. He’s been working with a relatively new bunch of players, and that direct kick-passing style we know he is fond of was notably evident in our play at times today. Now perhaps that’s that was coincidental, but it’s hardly an unreasonable speculation given they’ve been training with him for the best part of a month.

    Next Sunday will be a good test. And whether or not we win or lose, I’m sure both the players and the supporters will take something from the day.

    It’s a shame you didn’t take anything from the game, but I’m happy to say I had a nice day out and left the ground quite satisfied with the result. I hope better days lie ahead ahead for you!

  24. Mayo 51,

    I had the exact opposite impression of Flanagan in goal to you. I thought he looked quite confident and unflappable. I also saw him in Belleek and in Crossmolina with the U21’s and had the same impression. I watched him in Crossmolina before the game taking a range of shots from c.45m before the game with excellent results. Considering Hennelly’s inconsistency with those efforts, notwithstanding his outstanding free last Sunday, I thought that was interesting.

    Regards Roscommon next Sunday, I always say that you can’t beat Roscommon often enough or by enough. Nevertheless I wouldn’t be upset over next Sunday’s result whatever way it goes if we see a few younger lads standing up and proving themselves. There are few things better than seeing Rossies getting overexcited and carried away with themselves either, like last year. And we know how last year turned out for them. They may have forgotten.

  25. Captain Renault had some great lines Billy Connolly , lets just hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship between the Rochford management team and the players!

  26. Personally if there are two new starters and two new subs for the summer after Fbd n league that would be great progress. Thinking logically one new defender and one new forward starting. Lot o football yet. Many players would be close based on club/U21/Fbd form. Another big thing will be all these guys like Stephen Coen/Patrick Durcan/Diarmuid OConnor who will be stronger and more experienced.

  27. Ann marie i also enjoyed parts of what i saw yesterday. A win is always nice against any opposition. It was evident in part that the kicking game is being implemented. The ball can travel alot faster than the man. The quicker the ball is delivered to the forwards the better. Even if it breaks down your defense is still in place. The running game that we have been looking at for so long is good. But if it breaks down there seems to be to much exposure at the back. Exposure that has cost us and other teams also. It would be nice to incorporate both styles. Have a few attacking plans as over the years we seem to have fell short on this.

    I saw alot of guys on show in the past 2 weeks that can play football. Newcomers trying hard and making good impact. At this stage im happy enough. We all know tougher challenges lie ahead. sure is’nt that what were preparing for?

  28. Done Deal – I was including Andrew Farrell from Killala (unless I’m mistaken, which has certainly been known to happen the odd time!) I know he played junior for us in the past but don’t think he has played senior – but am open to correction on that one.

  29. @Mayo 51,

    I’m not sure if I was at the same game at all, I thought Flanagan in goals had a good day. Picked one outta the sky from going over the bar too if I’m not mistaken?

  30. @mayo.mick im with u on matthew flanagan. He done great for his first time out. He handled the occassion well, Even if he was nervy could u blame him? I met the lad and he works hard on his skills. He has success behind him and i can tell ye he has it in front of him as well.

  31. Personally I think Mathew Flanagan will be a class goalie if he continues to improve at the rate he is going . Could make the panel later this year after a good run at U21

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