What’s the point?

Honestly, what is the point of my writing another post that explains the disappointment of being knocked out to Galway? Again. Having to listen to the other half boast about Comer and co. Again.

Talking in paragraphs about our great resilience in the qualifiers, again. Writing pieces for the blog was just pointless, I could just copy and paste an article from last year, tweak a few words and hey presto.

But then, last Saturday against Tipp, that all changed.

We went three points down and it looked as though that was it. The wheels had come rolling off, the goose was cooked. In my head I had already started scribbling down the obituary for this Mayo football team: 2011-2018, RIP.

James Durcan’s goal changed the whole momentum of that game. I honestly believe if that doesn’t go in, we go out.

One thing I miss about being a sports reporter in Mayo is getting to see all the stars coming through. You don’t know the joy of witnessing the likes of Diarmuid O’Connor playing at club level and just knowing that his name is going to be on everyone’s lips in a year or two.

I was hearing James Durcan’s name pop up all the time in the several groupchats I’m involved in. “He’s tearing it up for Mitchels, he’s the extra forward we’ve been crying out for”.

Photo: MichaelMaye.com

And whether he meant that goal or not, he has now become another player who the fans will pile their hopes and dreams upon.

Last Saturday’s performance and particularly Durcan’s goal has sparked an ongoing question in my mind that we need to address: Why does it take Rochford’s Mayo team so long to get into action?

It was the same last year against Derry and Cork. It’s only really when our backs are against the wall, properly stuck to the plaster, that we decide to kick it up a notch and seal the victory.

Durcan’s goal went in and it was as if the group on the field just went, ‘We’re Mayo, what are we playing at’ and everything started to fall into place.

Mayo remind me of that auld fella in a bar when a sing-song breaks out. The one that is a fantastic singer and everyone else in the pub knows it. They ask him to sing a song and he refuses a few times. Eventually, at the end of the night, he blasts out Spancil Hill and leaves the whole place on its knees.

It’s like they have a time limit before they realise it’s time to pull it out of the bag again. “Oh, 60 minutes gone, five points down, suppose we better go on and win this, lads.”

And it’s beautifully torturous. Scrolling through Twitter after the Tipp game and I was seeing tweets like “well worth the money in”. You could pay €80 for a Mayo ticket in the qualifiers and get your money’s worth. It’s not a game of football when they play anymore, it’s a full on Shakespearian play (which sadly has turned into a Shakespearian tragedy in September over the last few years).

There’s the optimistic start, the rocky middle, the climax and the happy ending. God help the men who play Cillian, Aidan, Boyler, McLoughlin, Clarke and the others when they turn it into a film. They’ll have some amount of a script to learn off.

You come out of Mayo games and you honestly feel like you just spent an hour and a half on an extreme water slide or on a roller-coaster ride.

Then there is the other side of the coin to the ‘leave it ‘til last minute’ approach which we have fallen into, which is simply that this Mayo team must be absolutely shattered.

Wrecked.

I read some stat before last Saturday’s game that in this current era (i.e. from 2011 onwards) the team have played something like 48 Championship games, Tipp being the 48th. And in that time we have been beaten by three teams only: Kerry, Dublin and Galway.

You must applaud the sheer determination and bounce-back-ability of this Mayo team.

As well as those two points, if you consider Durcan’s goal to be the turning point in the game, it was just the bit of luck we needed this year. We’ve been so unlucky, firstly losing Tom Parsons and then, in Thurles, Seamus O’Shea. For once, we just needed the gods to shine down on us. Sadly it came at the expense of a Tipperary side who really had put it up to us for a good 50 minutes.

Or, if Durcan actually meant the shot and is confident and accurate enough to ping it in the net from those sort of angles, we could do with one of them each game, please!

Either way, when we were up against the ropes, I remember praying that my next article for the blog – which was going to be this week regardless – would be a happy one. Thankfully, it is.

I honestly couldn’t think what I’d do with myself if Mayo were knocked out on Saturday. The only thing that got me through work was the thought of Thurles.

Is that sad? If so, I’m a saddo, the biggest one going and I don’t even care. Because you know why? The thought of going again in Round 3 is what’s keeping me going through this week of work.

In the depths of winter, we would have bitten your hand off to be still involved in July. Sure, we’d love to be in Galway’s position but I’d rather be testing out my heart beat and blood pressure week in, week out then to have it untouched.

Side Note: It’s still ticking away for the moment, it’s a good thing herself is a nurse.

This great Dublin team – they are our enemies, but it is allowed to admire their greatness – also began their great run in 2011, winning their first of many successive Leinster titles in that time. It’s sad that one team has always been that little, tiny bit better than the other when it has come down to it.

But there’s no point looking back. It’s all about looking forward and so we march on now to face Kildare in Newbridge on Saturday evening. Taking one game at a time, of course, but knowing that we are two more steps away from the Super 8s.

It wasn’t too long ago that last we faced the Lilywhites in a crucial qualifying game. We’ll be hoping for the same outcome as we achieved in the 2016 game.

24 thoughts on “What’s the point?

  1. Very nice job on that report, very uplifting! Cannot wait to see the movie with the happy ending!!

  2. “ it’s not a game of football anymore , it’s a full on Shakespearean play “…… the truest words of this or any of the last six or seven years .

  3. Interesting post. Actually think Mayo would have won even without Durcan goal. Also it is next to impossible to go at full throttle for the whole game, every game. Even the great dubs don’t do that. We tend to play in fits and starts but usually do enough to get there in the end. By the way Donegal have beaten us since 2011, but in fairness we have beaten all the heavy hitters at least once. You are right.these are more than just football matches. They are pure theatre where we can hang out with our fellow county people roaring on our team and feeling the wonderful sense of belonging that only the GAA can provide. I think so many of us dread when this great era comes to an end, hence our desperation to make it last longer. That’s why we travel in such numbers and come out after matches wrecked yet invigorated. Long may it continue.

  4. I too believe that goal or no goal last Saturday that Mayo would have won. They overran tipp and took 9 out of 10 scoring chances inthe last bit of that game, which is something to be happy about. And as far as the end of an era, there are plenty of young kids playing in Mayo schools and clubs today that will carry the baton in the coming years, we must keep supporting and encouraging them.

  5. I get your point ‘whats the point’.
    I have attended a lot of games over the years where we were beaten by narrow margins. That was hard when there was no back door. It was heartbreaking for lads whose season was suddenly over in June. But it made the winning of a Connaught title very sweet. Then you were two games away from an all Ireland title. I recall he Connaught final of 1988 when we beat Roscommon in Hyde Park after a severe drought of titles in the eighties. The Irish Press newspaper article of the match recalls a lone voice starting a melodic chant of Mayo, Mayo Mayo which permeated through the Mayo supporters leaving the grounds and became a tumultous chorus all the way up to the centre of Roscommon town. I recall the air was very similar to the song Ole, Ole Ole as per the Irish soccer theme written by the U2’s Edge for Euro 88 later that year. I know for a fact that the Edge, Bono and a friend of mine from Cong were at that match. They had a house in Cong(don’t know if they still do). The bastard heard our chant and stole it for the soccer theme. If you don’t believe me look up the Irish Press archive and their account of the Connaught final of 1988. I think we should reclaim it. It is ours after all. I’m telling you the Mayo supporters are amazing and have many hidden talents only they don’t know it.

  6. Nice piece Darragh.
    Turning back and forward to the much bandied around H & S concerns, there is so much to cater for now to ensure all goes well this on this fixture above all fixtures. Apart from ensuring a Mayo win, both sets of supporters want this to be a tremendous success. But are all angles being covered, lets hope so – its 28 degrees in Newbridge today and forecast for 25 on Saturday. In all likelihood people will be circulating for this game in that heat from 5pm, standing on the terraces from 6pm until 8.30pm with temperatures in the 20’s for the whole of that time. Are sun shelter/shade areas being erected? Is this a jammed packed terrace with no prospect of sitting down at least beforehand or at half time? Might one of the high branded pharma businesses work their magic and supply a few sun factor stations around the ground? Will there be a plentiful supply of water stations (if there is any left in the country)? I think I read that there are only two entrance/exit points which is probably adequate if the powers that be say so, but we need to ensure that the ambulance service for patrons and players is fully accessible and prioritised. Finally I haven’t been there in a long time and never with children, would any of the local regulars recommend a good position to take in such a crowd to avail of a good view but above all else a get away from the conditions for a wee break if needed. This stuff might sound a bit pathetic to some of you younger lads and girls but it needs to be a top priority now in Newbridge – there will be lots of kids and elderly people there from both counties – lets not give the hierarchy any chance to throw back I told you so.

  7. ‘Olé Olé’ was around for a long time before 1988 (as anyone who watched Mexico ’86 can testify.) And Larry Mullen Jr. wrote ‘Put ‘Em Under Pressure’, not The Edge.

  8. Richardmgd you highlight great points that tbh I was amazed no one pointed to when talking about health and safety ( for this particular game). The stupidity related to overturning the original Croke Park decision , and the people behind it , is yet to be fully appreciated.

    As WJ has pointed out the long term ramifications are enormous.

    Shorter term there is a real risk of sunburn , dehydration , heat stroke especially among vulnerable older supporters on medication . Throw in emotion , excitement ( guaranteed when Mayo are playing ) and the usual stuff and you already have a heady brew.
    Add one more “significant ( unanticipated ) variable “ in there and believe me the health and safety risks associated with this game were woefully “under appreciated “ and not as has been suggested overdone .
    It’s all good and fine for the young and the strong but is this any way to treat people after traveling from the far reaches of Mayo ?

  9. Who would play the lad that ran on the pitch at the end of the Kerry match in Limerick? Lou Ferrigno maybe. Saoirse Ronan for the long-suffering daughter…

  10. Folks, remember to talk to those you know have season tickets to make sure they’re being used. I’ve already re-homed 4 tickets. 2 of those wouldn’t have been used at all if I hadn’t mentioned it. Lots of season ticket holders can’t go for a variety of reasons – working, other plans, can’t stand at the game.

  11. Swahili, I totally agree. Apart from the long travelling Mayo fans there is also the disappointed Kildare fans. the Kildare CC has now apologised to its supporters for not being able to meet demand for the game. You couldn’t make this stuff up. As Homer S. would say “D’oh!.

  12. Great points Richard. Sun shade seriously needed. Went very early to league match in Newbridge with my 7 year old who has special needs and is huge Mayo supporter. Was very lucky to get one seat between us in the stand. Rest of family were happy to stand but shocked at amount of elderly having to stand and will be much worse in this heat. No view at all for children who make up a large part of core Mayo support. Hope those people who said there is no health risk have some consideration for others who are less able. Mhaigh Eo abú!

  13. So well written Daragh.you express exactly how we all feel about this team over the years.
    I hope especially for this team it’ll be the happy ending they truly deserve.
    Silage hay and turf saved. Let the summer of Mayo football roll on for us all God willing.
    Living thru special times.

  14. Great read Darragh. I hear what ppl are saying re health and safety. Having lived and played in the African sun I might suggest people bring their brollies…not Joe Brolly mind you. But it’s great shade from heat of the sun and all the better if it’s green and red!! It’ll be bloody hot so bring buckets of water and hope Mayo make it a little less exciting and just win it!! Enjoy the game you lucky punters… Mayo forever!!

  15. A very good post,to be honest I felt the same myself before the Duncan goal,but onwards and upwards,please God,I don’t agree with Tomás O Shea,when he said on the Sunday game we haven’t. got the strength in depth we lost SO. Shea and Tom P. Of course they are a huge loss,but I think we have players that will step up to the. mark, looking forward to New bridge!!hon Mayo ?? and

  16. Hillman I agree with you that saying we don’t have strength in depth is no longer true. Of course I don’t know how many more injuries we could sustain .

    At this early stage and not having seen them play midfield together I’d wager that Aidan and Diarmuid would be a match for Fenton /McAuley and Moran/ Barry and whichever midfield pairing Galway have.

    What is really interesting about all this is that Kerry at least seem to believe they can beat Dublin ( in the absence of Connolly ) with a high press and speed . With Connolly it would be a different matter.

    So the irony for O Se is that I don’t think he fully understands that Diarmuid has as much or more pace than any other midfielder out there , can fetch , score goals or points and all around uses possession very well .
    IMO he could neutralize Fenton if we got to meet Dublin and Barry if Kerry .

    Not only that but the forced revamp ( due to the loss of Seamie andTom Parsons ) creates space for even more speed merchants of our own ( such as James Durcan and Hanly and Loftus )to come in. The game , in general , may be moving relentlessly right now to a much faster situation .

    All this comes at a time when Dublin and Kerry are focusing more on speed of running , speed of thought, and slick hand passing ( a la basketball )

    I know I’m getting ahead of myself because super eights is still a long way off for us , but I think there should be obvious shades of this strategy in place on Saturday if we are going that route. I think we are and I think we can do well going that way. We kind of have to die to the injuries.

    Finally , as our skills improve with more games and rhythm , timing etc are better , I expect us to put away at least some teams before the 50 th minute . I expect and hope that will be the case on Saturday .

  17. Aiden is nowhere near as mobile as the Dublin midfielders . He will do a job for a while but won’t last full match in midfield . Keegan could go out and push Aiden into forwards . If I was opposition manager I’d be instructing mobile midfielder to run the legs of him . No offence meant to the big man .

  18. Of course it would be a crowded midfield with other runners there ( ? Keegan ) and Aidan playing as the “ defensive midfielder “ but I understand what you’re saying completely .

  19. As regards our midfield now, those of you who remember the great Galway 3 in a row team will never forget the powerhouse Pateen Donnellan was when he played there.
    A small man compared to his rivals, but he got on some amount of ball. Broken down by his bigger partners and he was expert at getting onto them and making good use of them. We could play 3 midfielders, 2 big men and we have plenty that could do Pateen on it then.
    With practice, it could work. Long kickouts would be well covered, and our forwards could watch the short ones.
    Are we there yet???? No, but we are coming.

  20. Not that I have any actual insight to the players I can’t imagine they are to perturbed by this week’s fiasco. They are basically professional athletes, the know what their job is.

    Re the game, I think Tipp are a better team than Kildare. I expect us to win but Kildare will put up a decent fight.

    Looking back on the recent league game, if Kildare had their shooting boots on in the first half we would have been in trouble. I don’t believe they have improved much since then.

    Keeping Flynn quiet is key, I’d out P Durcan on him. Hes not as tall as Quinlivan so will cope better.

    Rest of back same, I’d possibly start O’Donoghue over Barrett.

    DO’C and Lee at 8 and 9. Aidan will tip out for kickouts anyway.

    Otherwise I’d keep the forward unit as last week.

    Now, just waiting till Saturday

  21. Muckle, the Edge did own William Wilde’s (a Ros man!) Moytura House near Cong at one stage. The bit about him at Hyde Park getting inspiration from Mayo’s chants sounds like a story that grew legs over the years.

  22. That was my favourite post from you, really honest and well written. I do think the cheating got the dubs over the line the last time and still maybe they were that touch better.
    Mayo in my opinion aim for a later peak, sure Donie V is getting his July call and we will rock on up to Dublin and maybe this time be the tiny bit better team

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