Our own little four-in-a-row

I know we’ve just had Christmas but the next one is coming early for me in 2019.

Why is that you ask?

On the 23rd, Mayo play Dublin. On the 24th, Manchester United play Liverpool and on Monday, the 25th, it’s my birthday and I begin a new role as Deputy Editor with Irish Mirror’s online website, Dublin Live.

I mean jam-packed isn’t the word for it, is it?

In an ideal world, Mayo would put away the Dubs in their own backyard, United would put a halt to Liverpool’s title chances and I’d go viral with a story on my first day in the new job.

I’d take one of those ‘wins’ before anything else though and I don’t even need to tell you what it would be. Because, Liverpool – if you leave them to it – will probably mess up on their own and, sure, Tuesday is another day in work anyway.

First things first. Saturday evening’s game means it’s a nice early return to Croker, a place which we took a brief holiday from last year. A place that holds a lot of memories but also a lot of heartache and all that emotion hits you at once when you come near Drumcondra.

The 16 Dublin Bus brings me to the airport. You pass Drumcondra on it and as I see Quinn’s and the remains of The Big Tree, you can’t help but smile.

Straight away I’m up in my seat, trying to adjust my position to see the top of Croker. It doesn’t matter if it’s December or the middle of the summer, I want to know that it’s still there and to let it know that I hope to visit real soon.

We’re top of the League so far this year but the fact that we conceded more points at home to Cavan than away to Tyrone just shows that we’re not home and dry by any means. But we have momentum and sometimes that can already pop over one or two scores for you before the game starts.

Dublin, despite their poor start, are goal hungry though and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two hit the back of the net on Saturday. But can we match them score for score, man for man?

Absolutely. If they hit us with two, don’t be surprised to see a Leeroy special or Diarmuid O’Connor running the pitch to shake their net as well.

I don’t need to emphasise the importance of a win against Dublin in Croker in the long-term. For the moment, though, we shouldn’t even be thinking about that anyway. For now, it’s solely to further our chance of a League title.

2014 was the last time we came close to a league win against them, a high-scoring, goal-fest draw in Croke Park.

It’s been seven years since our last win against the Dubs in the League, funnily enough the same year we last beat them in the Championship too. The same year that we were last in a League final as well.

You tell me that the League means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

We know what we can do to come close to the Dubs, drawing off recent years as evidence, but what did Monaghan and Kerry do to wobble the champions?

Well, first things first, they were lucky enough to get them on the road. We’re starting to make MacHale Park that fortress once again so having that in our locker would have been great but alas, we move on.

Monaghan introduced Stephen O’Hanlon who grabbed the same headlines that Fionn McDonagh did for us against Tyrone.

This young lad that few knew about was over here, now he’s over there and then, bang, he was up in the air and fielding balls and using the new mark to the best of its ability. Before Dublin had even half-sussed him out, he had already turned the game on its head and dragged them back from defeat to win the game.

Dublin know our veterans like the back of their hand but what about the fresh blood that Horan has been trying out?

He’ll be looking to them to cause the champions problems. One Monaghan player disrupted the flow in the league opener, what could happen if two or three new guns stepped up and gave performances that we know they have in them? Our bench now needs to become as important as the starting fifteen.

The new offensive mark currently being trialled is crucial too and all our forwards seem to have picked up on it. They’re constantly moving, looking to make the space, get on the ball and hopefully be close enough to pop over from range if there’s no momentum in the attack.

Jim Gavin came out recently and kind of boastfully said that his team hadn’t been “practising or even talking” about the mark. That’s either him playing down their League tactics or maybe they’ve honestly thought “what’s the point?”

The point is, it has shown that it can make a difference and win you games in the League. And especially the way Mayo and Dublin play, the opportunities for marks will come up regularly.

But, if Dublin aren’t practicing it offensively that means they won’t have thought much about it defensively either which could be a flaw on Saturday.

Much like ourselves last year, Kerry were slated after their exit from the Super 8s. But a rejuvenated Kingdom is now on the way, filled with youth and a new man at the helm. Kerry don’t fear the Dubs, same as how the Dubs don’t fear anyone. That’s why their battles in recent years have been as noteworthy as ours.

Take them on, hit them hard and hit them fast.

The Kerry manager believes in youth, same as Horan, and took pride in showing the GAA public that these were his All-Ireland winning youngsters. Now they had become men and could put anyone to the sword on the way.

They had the stamina to put Dublin under pressure, to tire them out, to stop them from getting the scores and then to hit them painfully on the scoreboard when they retrieved the ball. The only other team who play against Dublin like that is us.

Even when Dublin were down and out – like we’ve seen so many times in the past against us – they really weren’t. They came back at Kerry. Dublin asked the questions, but Kerry had the answers right until the death.

Now it’s our turn to do the homework.

A post on the blog during the week asked people to vote on Mayo’s favourite score. It also came in the same week that John Morrison passed away. Both things were connected for me.

McDonald changed the way I kicked a ball in 2006. I went from curling it like Beckham to slicing every shot I could with the outside of my right boot all because of him.

I meet ‘famous’ people (the interpretation of that word may vary) all the time in my line of work and only one left me stuttering. McDonald said hello to me and shook my hand after a Ballintubber-Crossmolina game that I was reporting on for the Western People at the time. I’d say he was already driving out of Clogher by the time I managed to get the words out.

And it was fitting that, that outstanding point came in the same game in which the great John Morrison played such a vital part.

You know the scene by now. Pillar Caffrey’s shoulder into the back of Morrison is just as iconic as McDonald’s point. Morrison simply turned around as if he had felt a fly behind him.

John showed that day that we wouldn’t be bullied, that we’d stand up and fight even when our backs were against the wall, or in his case, against the Dublin manager.

Caffrey had more chance of running through a brick wall that day. I hope we show the courage to break down Dublin’s defensive wall on Saturday.

45 thoughts on “Our own little four-in-a-row

  1. Happy birthday Willie Joe and best of luck in your new role with Dublin live and I hope Mayo win for you but being a Liverpool fan I can only hope we beat ye Sunday but you will have my full support when ye play Man City

  2. I wish John had swung at the copper and put him into the middle of next week but he was far too much the gentleman anyway McDonald’s left foot hurt Pillar more than that shoulder hurt Morrison

  3. Thanks Backdoorsam but it’s not me! This one was a guest post from Darragh Berry so I’ll pass on your best wishes. I’ve no strong feelings either, I must confess, about how the soccer goes.

  4. Now WJ. If only you’d use some sort of heading to point out these are guest slots maybe we’d stop repeatedly miataking you for penning…. ?? …. only pulling your leg Backdoorsam ?

  5. Nice piece…I will be on the Stretford End on Sunday hoping to see the scousers title ambitions slowly crumble….hopefully!! 😉

    The one title that trumps all a million times is handed out in Croke Park on All Ireland Senior Football Final Day over and I’d gladly see lpool win ten leagues in a row if it meant Mayo could win Sam while I’m fit and healthy to enjoy it!!

  6. I remember going to a game in Anfied 2 weeks after Mayo lost another final to Dublin after a replay. My heart was still broken Liverpool was winning and the Kop was
    Singing but my ol heart wasn’t in it all the European cups or league titles would never surpass to see Mayo win Sam. I see a lot of the same passion and desire to win a title in the scousers as I see in us Mayo people maybe this will be our year or maybe not. Anyway apologies Willie Joe for not copping it was a guest post and best wishes in your new post Darragh

  7. Long suffering Liverpool and Mayo fan…be great to witness Liverpool winnthe league and Mayo win Sam.

    Liverpool and Mayo to be are emotional football teams for various reasons and it’s the fans that make them special

  8. I follow all sports, incl soccer, but for the life of me I cannot see why an Irishman gets worked up about the fortunes of English teams. I mean why just English? None of the top teams , which the Irish get so excited about have an Irish player on the books anymore. Yes, in the 80/90’s there might have been some reason for supporting MU or ‘Pool but today????. Why not support Barcelona or Real Madrid, who have the nearly all the best players anyway?
    So give me a break. This is a Mayo supporters site. I’m sure their are others for MU etc. supporters.

  9. Wide Ball – Man U fans were insufferable during their golden spell…remember the ABUs? If Mayo were going for 5 in a row I’m guessing we wouldn’t be everyone else’s favouritr team either, then again even now I sense we are disliked but who gives a f€@k.

  10. I think we have played the 3 worst teams in the league on current form and done all that could be done by beating
    them, and we’ll win 2 of our next 4 games to leave us on 10 points which would be a fantastic return

  11. I was there in 2006. Ciaran McDonald was unplayable that day. The warm-up shenanigans were not Pillar’s finest hour.

  12. The Hillgate incident did exactly what it said on the tin. Pillar’s lack of control was proof of this. BTW why do Dublin always warm up on that side of the pitch?

  13. @Sinabhfuil, Probably because it’s near the hill. I believe technically it’s due to allocation of dressing rooms, which is decided Alphabetically.

  14. Jaden the alaphabet rule for warming up was brought in after hill gate. One of my most enjoyable days ever but it’s still tainted slightly in my mind due to the fact we collapsed in the final 3 weeks later.

  15. @yew_tree, I think you may be correct. Oddly, I didn’t enjoy that day. The Davin stand was a sorrowful place to be that day, and the trudge down Jones’ road afterwards was a true trail of tears. It marked tone of the low points in our Winter of discontent in those years.

  16. Jaden – those 16 years without Sam must have been tough….;) come back to us if ye ever go 68 years and counting

  17. If that alphabetical rule was brought in after 06 why didn’t Donegal warm up at the hill on the few occasions they played the Dubs in croker. Smells a bit fishy to me whatever the Dubs want they get or they throw the dummy.Bus siren sponsor their travel needs imagine what that’s saving them every year even if they only leave home a few times a year.

  18. Alphabetical rule! False news. I hate people telling me stuff when it is pure and obviously bullshit. The reason Dublin warm up on that side of the pitch is because they have the hierarchy of the GAA in their pocket.

  19. Sinabhuil, whatever about rules about dressing rooms, warm up sides etc (all of which are meaningless when the ball is thrown in), the second part of your comment a. Makes no sense and b. has zero relevance.

  20. It’s not bullshit, Sinabhuil. That’s the reason alright and because Dublin is Ath Cliath (not Baile Ath Cliath) it’s only when playing Antrim or Armagh that they’d have to shift. I’m also with Mayomad on the second part of your comment, which was just a gratuitous insult aimed at politicians which has no place here.

  21. I thought this was a discussion forum with alternative views allowed. Whilst there is such a massive division in the level of funding provided I feel our GAA reps need to be challenged. Agreed I should not have brought the politicians into it – that is for a different form. The alphabetical rule is just a convenient way to deal with giving Dublin the advantage. Anyone that cant see that is seriously naive. As regards all of the other stuff including funding unfairness this persists because our GAA representatives allow it to persist. Talking about it here does no good. The only people who can change it refuse to do it or is the GAA that un-democratic that they have no way of fixing it.

  22. As regards the rules of who warms up when and where in Croke Park…… The old, ‘Brehon Law’s’ prior to the Norman Conquest of Ireland, come to mind….If a man was suspected of commiting a Crime.!.. to find out the truth, he was tied up and thrown into a lake, If he sank and drowned he was presumed ‘Innocent’. .If he floated and survived he was presumed guilty, and if the crime was serious enough, put to death…. You see the powers that were back then made the law’s to suit themselves, no matter how illogical stupid or obsiously unfair it was…. The same goes for the continuing ‘Pandering’ to the Dubs by the powers that be in the GAA, be it the right to warm up where they want, to continue to play the Lions share of their match’s at their defacto home..’Croke Park’ their Dublin home, paid for by the other 31, counties… But the ordinary GAA fan of all other counties seems to be without a voice…. Even though you would imagine that their own County Boards would challenge the unfair status que!.. I am waiting for the the dam to burst and all the County Board’s to stand in solidarity with their Donegal counterparts….Club player’s seems to be without a voice at the decision making table as well. I have spoken to a few in the last few days, who are far from impressed with having to play a ‘Kelly Cup’ match’s on the Sunday after Dublin and Mayo!. Who do the GAA powers that be actually represent?

  23. 2016 drawn final. Both teams came out at the same time.

    Dublin were supposed to be out first as listed on the programme. I believe that Dublin delayed their entrance so that Mayo would have to come out first.

    In that case, they were being dared to go to the hill end or let Dublin gain a psychological advantage by seeing Mayo go down the Davin side.

    I think in 2006, Mayo had 2 games with Laois in the quarter. They had got into the habit of going down the hill end and weren’t for turning.

  24. I like many football supporters are fed up of seeing the same team win each year, not good for football, not good for us supporters.
    I read something on Google News just before coming on here, Conor Mortimer thinks that it will be a huge psychological boost for Mayo if they win on Saturday, I was enjoying his piece until I came to the section where he thinks the Dubs will be winners. It’s no wonder that he was on the losing finals of 04 and 06.
    The timing couldn’t be better to beat them.
    Here’s why,
    Horan back,
    Horan very competitive in leagues of 11, 12, 13 and 14
    A freshness about the setup.
    No All Ireland hangover from 2018
    The new guys are playing better than the used subs of 2016, 17 and 18.
    The new guys are more powerful than the new players of the past 2 years.
    The Dubs are very ordinary without 2 or 3 key guys.
    Much bigger panel than the last few years.
    I say beat them and send them a message.
    Jesus almighty, Mayo owe them for the last 6 years, no point in going into a game thinking a good performance is sufficient, a win is very possible.
    Imagine how the Dubs would fare out without their 3 key men, if one or two where to get injured early in a game.

  25. In reality, there should be a coin toss for dressing rooms/warm up areas purely to demonstrate the view that this is a neutral venue, particularly for championship matches.
    Dublin have taken advantage of a gaa policy to ensure that gaa is strong at a grassroots level in Dublin and they continue to major strides in this activity.
    All that being said, there is no reason why we will not compete on Saturday, or indeed into the championship. Dublin are a fine side but need everything to go right to win 5 in a row, and I will not be hugely surprised if some team stops the drive for five.
    I am sure that James Horan will not send the team out with an inferiority complex, lets not make excuses for losing in advance due to money, warming up in front of the Hill etc. I would like to win but really interested to see how competitive we are and if players settling into roles / positions that will help us win connacht and then into Super 8’s.

  26. I’ve read Conor’s musings, Mayo88. I’d imagine he’s simply trying to curry favour with those he meets and mingles with in his current base which I think is in the pale.

  27. Dont think Mort is the only Mayo man who sees a Dublin win on Saturday to be fair to him.Im sure he would be delighted to see a Mayo win as it aint easy being at the losing end of so many Mayo Dublin battles especially when he’s working in Parnells gym(to the best of my memory).

  28. I think we will see the bully boy strong arm tactics from Dublin this Saturday, Barry cassidy will turn a blind eye to the majority, except for when he can penalise both sides,

  29. Missed that thing earlier about the rules re the warm up, done in alphabetical order,
    I have to laugh at this one, must have introduced by a Dublin official after the mill by the Hill in 06.
    It’s a wonder that the Dubs didn’t change their name to AAA Cliath, this was once a trick for handymen putting their add in the Golden pages.
    I agree 100% with Sinabhfuil, nothing will change my view on this.

  30. Wouldn’t be blaming the ref on Wednesday for ignoring alleged bully boy tactics by the dubs on Saturday. Fact is that the Mayo team are no shrinking violets on the field and neither are the dubs thugs or bully boys. Teams do what they need to win. In all those close games between us and the dubs we were well able to look after ourselves and did not lose because refs turned a blind eye to so called Dublin aggression. Sure we could point out incidents that didn’t go our way but you could say the same about both games. My biggest gripe with a ref was not v Dublin but the day Kerry beat us in Limerick when we were totally screwed by the ref. Even then we could have won only for the desperately unfortunate clash of heads between Aido and Cillian. Despite some heartbreaking losses in finals that day was my biggest ever disappointment following Mayo.

  31. Same as that. Coming out and listening to the Kerry supporters saying unlucky and be proud of your team was like daggers being stuck in you.

  32. Dublin will win because they have to, to keep their league hopes alive and start building momentum for the drive for five. Either way 2 more wins for Mayo ( home wins against Galway and Monaghan are realistic targets) and we are in shake up with Dublin probably to join Kerry in league final…

  33. Jesus some of ye talk pure rubbish…blaming the ref midweek before a game…Dublin will win because they have to….I hope yer not involved in training teams in this county with that attitude.

  34. Well said @ YewTree. This is an open forum and it’s marvellous for that reason but I can’t fathom why we talk ourselves down all the time. Beggars belief.

  35. Team For Saturday V Dublin
    1. Rob Hennelly – Breaffy
    2. Brendan Harrison – Aghamore
    3. Ger Cafferkey – Ballina Stephenites
    4. Keith Higgins – Ballyhaunis(C)
    5. Lee Keegan – Westport
    6. Colm Boyle – Davitts
    7. Paddy Durcan – Castlebar Mitchels
    8. Matthew Ruane – Breaffy
    9. Donal Vaughan – Castlebar Mitchels
    10. Fionn McDonagh – Westport
    11. Aidan O’Shea – Breaffy
    12. Ciaran Treacy – Ballina Stephenites
    13. Andy Moran – Ballaghaderreen
    14. Brian Reape – Bohola Moy Davitts
    15. Jason Doherty – Burrishoole

  36. Mmmm.. very interesting. Hennelly back in goals. Ruane to start a stamina sapping game and Diarmuid to finish it. Big calls and I really like the team selected. Really looking forward to this

  37. I think there could be changes to that team with Diarmuud in for Matthew Ruane and Kevin Mcloughlin or Michael plunkett in for Tracey. ..
    I don’t think saying Dublin will prioritise a victory more then us given their position in league and slow start is rubbish….

  38. good team and with two O Connors ,K McLaughlin , Barrett and Plunkett etc fighting for places ,a very good bench also come the Championship

  39. We’re overdue a victory over the Dubs at this stage, especially given how close many of those games were over the last seven years.

    Good to see JH some of the pacey young fellas a run. Have Dublin named their XV yet?

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