The day before

Image: @MayoGAA

It’s the day before the National Football League Division One decider and, for the first time in seven years, we’re in it. Time, I guess, for a day-before-the-big-match post.

Sure, the match isn’t, in truth, all that big. The League is only the League and once the final is done with tomorrow there’ll be little in the way of hoopla afterwards, no matter which way the result goes.

For both sides, the trip to Croke Park tomorrow is their reward for the satisfactory Division One campaigns they’ve put in. They’ve been the two most consistent teams in the top tier this spring – them that bit more so than us – and tomorrow’s decider gives them the opportunity to test each other in front of a big enough crowd at HQ. That opportunity, plus the extra match both will get, is a real bonus at this time of year.

From our point of view, it’s great to be back at Croke Park so soon after our last underwhelming visit. We never got going at all against Dublin and it was as if the memory banks of all those totemic battles we’d had at the venue over the years had somehow been wiped. Tomorrow gives us the chance to show this was just a one-off.

It’s also a chance for silverware. Even if it is only the League, there’s a cup – and medals – on offer for the winners. Kerry are well used to claiming titles but the last one of any kind we won was the Connacht Championship way back in 2015. A League crown to end this hugely positive spring campaign would be a perfect boost for us heading into summer and the tricky provincial challenge that awaits us once more there.

James Horan has demonstrated repeatedly with his team selections that it’s towards the summer he’s aiming. Final or no final, that’s an approach he’s bravely – and correctly – stuck to with his pick for tomorrow.

It’s a pity that – as Mike Finnerty predicted on the podcast – injuries have ruled out David Clarke, Michael Plunkett and Fionn McDonagh. All three would have been in line to start, if fit, and there would have been little argument had they done so.

But that misfortune has opened the doors for others.

Robbie Hennelly’s performance was one of our few bright spots the night we played Dublin and he deserves his chance to start in tomorrow’s final. Lee Keegan is recalled – his 100th start for Mayo – to line out on the pitch where he’s put in so many scintillating performances for us down the years, displays that have seen him garlanded with four All-Stars and the 2016 Footballer of the Year award.

Fergal Boland’s sparkling contributions to the wins over Kerry and Monaghan see him rewarded with a start tomorrow at wing-forward. Darren Coen lines out at full-forward, which will be the Hollymount/Carramore player’s first appearance for the county at Croke Park since he came off the bench in the second half of the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final.

But all the focus will be on James Carr. The Ardagh club man lines out at senior level for the county for the very first time tomorrow, becoming, in the process, the first Ardagh player ever to appear at this level. Every Mayo supporter will, I’m sure, join me in wishing James all the very best on his debut at HQ tomorrow.

The lads will, of course, be joined at Croke Park tomorrow by a big, vociferous Mayo following. While the lads will be wearing dark blue shirts on the pitch, there’s sure to be plenty of the more traditional Green and Red in the stands.

I’m okay with the changed strip, I have to say. Afflicted as I am with colour-blindness, anything that helps me to distinguish clearly our lot from theirs is okay with me. So blue will do.

It’s an easy jaunt for me down to HQ tomorrow but many of you will, of course, be taking to the roads. If you are, you might want to listen to our League final preview episode of the podcast while you’re making your way east. It’s available on SoundCloud here.

If you are on the road today, take it handy and rest those voices. They’ll be needed at HQ. Back tomorrow morning with some final pre-match thoughts.

80 thoughts on “The day before

  1. Im colour blind as well Will Joe and often have trouble distinguishing between teams.It certainly eradicates that problem but its a horrible jersey! That said we have a perfect record in it so hopefully we can keep that going.

  2. Awful jersey. Christ. Who came up with this? Playing in a national final in blue.
    The sight of the green and red running onto Croke Park always quickens the pulse rate and the hairs stand up. None of that tomorrow. It will be like roaring on Chelsea or Everton.

  3. I don’t see what was wrong with the red and black jersey. This money making racket of bringing out new jerseys every year has to stop. The blue one is not only hideous, but blue is not a Mayo colour.

  4. Grand training top, but not a jersey in my opinion. I’m pining for a white second kit for years.

  5. Ridiculous to have a blue Mayo Jersey. No where in our county crest is the colour blue to be seen. White would be more appropriate. That said if we win tomorrow we will have happy memories of playing in blue. Best of luck to the team panel and management tomorrow safe traveling everyone

  6. Best of luck to the lads tomorrow.
    Expecting us to put in a good performance, but still undecided as to which way the game will swing, very hard to call.
    Have some worries over the aerial ability of Clifford and Walsh against our full back line.

    Also good luck to Leitrim today. Always had a soft spot for them, so it’d be nice to see them winning a final in Croke Park. Still, their mission for this years league has been accomplished.
    And who knows, maybe we’ll be taking a trip to Carrick at the end of May for a Connacht semi-final.

    As for the jersey, no thanks. It’s an eyesore.
    Either stick with that black/red one we had or go back to our traditional white jersey.
    Still, if we win tomorrow, who’ll give a shite??

  7. Kerry’s team young but talented. They’re on the up (have to be with so many underage titles). Would be great to have them taste defeat before getting too big for their boots or we’ll have a Dublin style domination on our hands. Cmon Mayo.

  8. Don’t care about the jersey and definitely don’t care for anyone putting any kind of superstition around jerseys. It’ll be the last thing on our lads minds. They’ll be focused on winning a final.

  9. I feel there will be some changes for tomorrow. I dont see who in that full back line can mark Walshe. Vaughan could maybe go back on him but I think Horan knows he’s needs to boss the center of the park to stop balls into their full forward line cos if they get enough good ball in, they will win, the power players selected in the middle 8. Keegan should pick up Sean O’Shea, nullifying him will go along way to winning the game. Best of luck to james Carr, big occasion for him. He’s a big man so it maybe ya trying the aerial bombardment!

  10. You’re living in Dublin too long WJ when you say blue will do lol! Let’s bring a huge support tomorrow and go for it!

  11. Safe traveling to all tomorrow.
    I hope Mayo play out of their skin and I hope we manage to steal it by one or two as we will both benefit from a classic. Hand on my heart, strangely a Mayo victory would also please me but in a kinda medicine way, as in it wouldn’t taste that nice at the time but I’d feel better after a day or two.

    I’d imagine Lee will have a rather large key in his pocket to wind up a young Seán O Shea, if anyone will make him chime it will be lee. A desperate hoor he is but we love to have him in our ranks. I presume Harrison will be handed the job of dealing with Clifford, that battle alone will be worth making the trip up not to mention SOS v LK and the midfield muscle competition. Can’t wait

  12. Team looks like the best we have – Clifford could do damage. Does anyone know the subs list?

  13. It’s often said’ Blue and green should never be seen ‘ but we’ll be seen all right tomorrow in every way. Best of luck to lads tomorrow.
    Best of luck to the St Colemans lads who take onn st Michael’s Enniskillen in an hr. Hon Mayo.

  14. Would be great were we to win this one, but everywhere I look I see danger on this Kerry team. Our best bet is to attack them at every opportunity even at the risk of leaving holes at the back, it’s the only way we can hope to beat them. Too much emphasis on defending will only invite them on and with Clifford and O’Shea in sparkling form, they could run rings around our defence. Our recent victory over them will count for very little when the ball is thrown in, so we need to ready for a backlash!

  15. Nice jersey….all da oldies giving out but the younger crowd like it 😉 it’s an away jersey, no need to get too hung up. Connacht blue is what I’ll take from it.

    Also best of luck to St Colman’s college throwing in around now…will be listening on radio

  16. Make sure you allow extra time if you are traveling from Limerick / Cork side – road works! Mhaigheo abù

  17. Is the Hill open tomorrow? Someone just said to me that they can only get upper Cusack or corner of hogan. Would be an absolute disgrace if it’s not open.
    Was there, the hill, for 2001, and despite what some have said here it was a superb atmosphere and was a special day. Great memories. Its the only national trophy won in my lifetime and would love to add to those memories tomorrow.
    Good luck to lovely Leitrim today and of course to donegal. The last thing anyone wants is some sort of resurgence in meath football.

  18. Best of luck tomorrow to the lads and management and safe journey to the best supporters in the world. Let’s not over analyze or over hype anything. Enjoy the occasion, enjoy Croke Park and let’s just give it welly on the pitch and in the stands. Watching the late late last night hearing that man from Leitrim speaking full of passion for his county that’s what it is all about. And best of luck to Leitrim today we’re all hoping ye win. Had a load of Leitrim people beside me when they won the Murphy cup in 06 before hillgate what a day!

  19. Best of luck Mayo and all Mayo fans! I’m behind the lads all the way tomorrow.

    The test will do us good. To echo a poster above, I hope our manager has been in sparkling form strategically – it’s this that I’m hoping for most of all.

    And I hope our lads get stuck in, enjoy it and show us what they can do. Every good wish to one and all.

  20. Colmans are only 2pts down at half time in the All Ireland semi. They were losing 2-5 to 1 pt and shot 1-5 against the breeze without reply. Colmans have the breeze in the second half.
    Colmans twitter thread has the Fermanagh GAA radio commentary link.

  21. Thanks JP for the St. Colman’s update. Nice comeback. Heard it was on radio but not Midwest.

  22. Claremorris radio with Billy Fitz has reg updates and back for last 10mins. Coleman’s holding them. 1.8 colm 2.7 Mich

  23. Couldn’t care less of the wore pink with black dots as long as they win But I fear Kerry will have a bit much for us Said the same a few weeks ago and got it wrong so hoping the same will happen again Hard luck to Colman’s Ulster schools are tough to beat Leitrim having loads of chances but not taking them Should be interesting second half

  24. Couldn’t care less what we wear tomorrow. I see the blue Jersey advertised on Elverys but still no sign of the Mayo day Jersey, would rather that go on general sale but Elverys aren’t the sponsors so not sure what the sale outlet will be.

  25. Hi Willie Joe. 1st time poster but long time follower of your blog. Thanks for all your great work over the years. Doesn’t matter what jersey we’re in tomorrow! I believe we will defeat kerry in a tight contest.It’s been a great league campaign under James Horan and with the mix of experience and new blood the future looks promising.

  26. Good to hear you’re supporting us Outta the blue!
    I personally quite like the jersey (mainly because the lads look the business in it). Sky blue, now, would have been a bit of a departure too far, but this blue is quite OK. I don’t know how the away colours get decided though.

  27. Personally I like the away strip. The players don’t care, they do care about having 1-15 on their back at 16.00 tomorrow. Plus the lads from 16-26.

    At 17.45 odd their will be no swapping of the blue jersey as it’s be a momento of a league win in 2019.

    We will win. I’m sure of it.

    Best odds available on Boylesports ;0)

  28. The colour of a Jersey won’t decide the winner tomorrow, a tight defence will sway it for one of the teams. Football has come full circle, the packed defences are on the way out, going back to the pre 2003 ( created by Mickey Harte, further designed by Jim McGuinness, and Jim Gavin). we all know that jerseys are changed regularly these days, every year or two, more revenue for the teams.
    I hope our fullback line play much better this time in Croker.

  29. I hope kerry bring a few extra jerseys with them because Lee keegan usually goes through a couple of jerseys every match.

    Leitrim put up a good score.but just fell short. Think Donegal were 8 down but got the better of Meath.

    Everything is set for the big one. Hope the referee is consistent with his decisions and I hope there is a Mayo man operating hawkeye.

  30. Bit surprised to hear o donoghue, Loftus and Gibbons all togged for their clubs , crowe played too.

  31. Best of luck to James and the lads tomorrow, particularly James Carr. Safe travelling to all. 2 adult tickets and 2 kids available for the lower davin free if anyone interested. (Apologies willie Joe, also posted this in previous topic by accident)

  32. The usual oul guff out of Breheny in the Independent I see. He loves to recite the sorrowful mysteries of Mayo football every chance he gets. The legitimacy of our 2001 League win is still annoying him. Give it a rest. There will be no asterisks if Diarmuid lifts the cup tomorrow.

  33. Reape also played for moy davitts this eve. With Clarke, Mcdonagh and Plunkett potentially out injured our bench tomorrow could look like this:
    Slingermann
    Drake
    Coen
    Boyle
    McCormack
    Treacy
    J.Durcan
    Regan
    Moran
    Diskin
    C O’Connor

  34. So probably Conor o Shea ,James durcan on the bench and no place for reape . I don’t get that at all .

  35. I don’t get that either.
    It’s insane that it’s actually Fr. O’Hara Park this evening or could have been a national final in Croke Park tomorrow.
    That’s a thin line for these fellas.
    I wouldn’t have the nerve for it.

  36. I’d agree with a lot of Billy Jo’s thought on the game.However I think a win will be hugely beneficial to the lads mentally that is .Climbing the steps of the Hogan even if it is league final win should hopefully bring the team on .Maybe more beneficial to the older lads .I think there will be a savage Mayo crowd in Croker .Its a hard one to call .Experience an all is great but winning is what matters as far I’m concerned .Every time I hear people saying ah shar losing won’t be bad as the experience gained will be invaluable. Reminds me of the kids now and all of them getting a medal for taking part .Winning is all that matters. Mayo Abu !!

  37. Hi All,
    Teams wearing blue have a Great record in league finals over the last few years so hopefully it continues tomorrow and obviously later in the Championship….best of luck to Mayo tomorrow.

    Kind Regards
    Martin the Dub

  38. Bit disappointing for Coleman’s to lose to a fermanagh side. Should be winning those games, with respect.

    Was anyone at it?

  39. Can’t figure out how Evan Regan is in the matchday panel ahead of Reape I think Reape offers a more potent scoring threat and is stronger and less injury prone but glad to see Ciaran Tracey in there he’s a class act

  40. Where did you hear the hill is open ? I’ve not seen hill tickets advertised or available

  41. Why Regan though I’m not saying your wrong but what in the name of Jesus has Conor o Shea done ?

  42. Subs for tommorrow
    16 d clarke
    17s coen
    18 d drake
    19 m plunket
    20 j mcCormack
    21 c oboyle
    22 c oshea
    23c treacy
    24 e reegan
    25 a moran
    26 c diskin

  43. Looking forward to the trip up tomorrow now
    I think a win would be huge for the evolution of this squad in the short and medium term
    Hopefully we will do it
    I think we will

  44. Don’t think I would be second guessing James Horan re his subs. He has done really well to get us to the final and has developed the squad quite a bit. I’m sure that 26 will change again before the championship starts.
    Is it regulations that the squad gets cut to 26 or can a county have more than 26 players involved ?

  45. Sean Burke I can’t figure out how Conor O Shea is there either I suspect both players will drop out of the 26 when Cillian and Cian Hanley comes back. I’d love to see Reagan and O Shea come on tomorrow and have the game of their lives but for me Fionn Mc Donagh Brian Reape Ryan O Donoghue even Adam Gallagher who’s not even in the panel is ahead of them

  46. So much about the ‘Blue’; I asked an aerlingus man once about the self same colour (royal blue) mixed in with the green on their planes and he informed me that royal blue is the heraldic colour of Ireland.

  47. It’s a small point and I know I’m about to draw down the ire of many contributors here. I spent most of today preparing our club grounds for Round 1 of the Senior League. And then the actual game. Logging on here tonight I find an overwhelming number of posts on this thread are in relation to the colour of the jersey we will wear tomorrow. Mother of God give me patience. Our mission tomorrow is to beat Kerry regardless of them wearing pyjamas and ourselves wearing whatever. Why waste time and negative head space on nonsense such as this? It is my understanding that all outfield Mayo players will wear the same colour jersey. That’s good enough for me.my

  48. Always thought Adam Gallagher done well in last years league .. where is he now ? … anyone ??

  49. For what it’s worth
    I also think the blue jersey choice sucks
    I have been following mayo for many decades
    Never saw them wearing blue
    It is commercialism at its worst
    And it reaks of copying the premier leagues

  50. We will win 5-4 on penalties tomorrow wearing blue…. And repeat the feat again (5-4 on penalties) in September after a replay after extra time. We will win 2 National titles this year without winning any final in normal game time. Would we settle for that?

  51. WJ…Nitpicking yes but Darren Coen’s last appearance for the county in Croke Park was the 2016 junior final v Kerry 😉

  52. Let no one be worried about the colour blue.,.. it’s the the original color of Ireland, believe it or not…In Paris, there is a museum… it’s very near the grave of Napoleon, Who send troops in 1798 to help rid Ireland of miss rule by the ‘Sásanagh’ … it’s called if memory serves me correctly, ‘Les hospital des Invalides’ it house’s the biggest collection of military flag’s in the world.. including the acient Irish blue, it also house’s one of the first flag’s of Irish green, with the words ‘Eirn go bréath’ from 1798, and the Races of Castlebar! , Blue and Green will do me fine;

  53. Best of luck to our lads today.Blue skies and hitting for Croker,doesnt get much better than this.Massive Mayo crowd heading from what i can make out.Safe travels to all and lets be heard in the stands!

  54. Looking forward to this.
    A real pity Fionn mcdonagh and plunkett are injured hiven their contributions over the league. Delighted for Boland who has certainly earned his spot. He handled the physical stuff really well last week against a tough monaghan team.
    Kevin McLoughlin, what can I say, a joy to watch, always first name on my list. Exciting times with him in the ff line. Hope we beat Kerry well today.

  55. You’d have to wonder what level of zen perfection some people have attained in their lives when all they have to worry about is the colour of a jersey, I personally wouldn’t care if the lads won while wearing Guinness stained string vests. Best of luck to the team today and looking forward to the trip to Croker. Mayo by 3..

  56. Winner today is the team prepared to fight for every score. Take every ball as if it’s your manhood and leave the opposition in no doubt that this game is yours. I’ve seen enough in JH team this league to suggest we might have that attitude…no fear, respect, yes but no quarter given. Win today and win again and make a habit of it cause I think I’m sick of shrugging the shoulder and congratulating the other team. This is our day and let’s believe.
    Safe travels to one and all. Don’t hold back in the stands…these warriors deserve your full support.
    The plains of the yew from the mountains to the sea…a powerful and proud county. Maigheo go deo!

  57. Hello to Rock who was travelling early this morning. I hope you have a great day and I wish all of us a brilliant day too. Let’s go for it!

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