Sat, Dec
19 New Articles

Mayo find a way again


NET GAINS Mayo’s Jason Doherty celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal against Tipperary at Croke Park on Sunday. Pic: Sportsfile

Talking Tactics
Billy Joe Padden

YOU have to be in it to win it, and Mayo are there.
One of the major upshots of reaching an All-Ireland Final without setting the world on fire is that there’s likely to be a lot less hype in and around the county this time around.
In fact, outside Mayo I’d say there weren’t too many people talking about Sunday’s match by Monday afternoon.
Whoever wins the second semi-final next weekend will go into the final as red-hot favourites and Mayo will be wearing the underdog’s tag.
But they will also be bringing a huge amount of experience and a sense that there’s plenty left in the tank after seven matches.
It’s the perfect position to be in really.
I’ve got to be honest, there were chunks of Sunday’s semi-final that I didn’t enjoy a whole lot, but the lads got there.
As they have done in most other games this year.
Between the way the Qualifier draw worked out, and things on the pitch that are going our way, like David Clarke making a good save with his feet at a vital time…
Maybe Mayo are catching a few breaks.
They’re the kind of things you need sometimes on a championship run, and all that’s left to play now is another seventy minutes. And who knows where that will take us.
One thing that is certain though is that Stephen Rochford and his coaching team are devising plans and strategies for each different opponent along the way.
So a lot of what we saw against Tipp’ we won’t see again in the final. Take Barry Moran, for example. If we play Kerry I think there’s a good chance we’ll see him start again. If it’s Dublin, I’m not so sure we will.
These are the kind of decisions management will have to mull over now.
I half-expected another midfielder to start last Sunday, and Barry got the nod. He did really well on the Tipperary kick-out, and when we really dominated the game was when we pinned Tipp’ in. When they just couldn’t get out of their own half in the last ten minutes of the first half and the middle of the second half.
Big Barry was a big player during those phases.
I must admit, I didn’t like the fact that he was used as a sweeper as well. I thought it took away from his legs in terms of his role as a ball-winner, and I also felt that Kevin McLoughlin was in no man’s land at times.
I didn’t have a problem with Barry dropping back to support the full-back line, and it worked well as he intercepted a lot of ball, but I would have liked to have seen Kevin there as well.
We struggled to get out of our own half at times, and I think the amount of work Barry was being asked to do probably resulted in his impact being limited on our kick-out. If Kevin was sweeping too then maybe Barry could have picked the times he dropped back.
But from Stephen Rochford’s point of view, his primary concern before the game would have been to stop Quinlivan and Sweeney because, without big games from them, Tipp’ weren’t going to win the game.
So while I personally wasn’t a fan of Barry as the full-time sweeper, or Lee Keegan spending a lot of time in the full-back line, it was probably always a game-plan that would be successful for Mayo considering that it shut down the opposition’s big threats.
That defensive strategy did knock some fluidity out of the Mayo play going forward, but ultimately it got the job done and we can’t really ask any more from the management.
It was another ‘horses for courses’ game-plan that got us over the line.

Sometimes it’s hard to beat experience
THE Tyrone result will still be a major source of confidence and energy for the group over the next few weeks; that when the chips were down they were able to produce a match-winning performance against another title contender.
The last ten or fifteen minutes of the first half on Sunday were very impressive too, and the Mayo lads will be able to draw on that and say: ‘When we had to lift it, we did.’ We got ourselves far enough ahead, and we were able to stay there’.
Okay, there’s plenty of room for improvement from the second half but they have a month now to address that.
The experience of being here before for so many of the players will definitely stand to Mayo now as well.
They know what’s important.
It’s about getting yourself ready, physically and mentally, to win a seventy minute football match. Whatever part you can play, or you’re asked to play, just make sure you do it.
Getting back to Sunday, I must single out Aidan O’Shea for special mention.
A lot of people have criticised him in the past for not delivering in big games for Mayo, but that certainly wasn’t the case against Tyrone or Tipperary.
In the first fifteen minutes, when Mayo weren’t doing too many things right, Aidan was doing well and putting it in.
It was the same all the way through the first half.
We struggled to get him on the ball a lot in the second half, but anything he did was done well.
The referee, David Coldrick, seemed to be of the opinion that just because Aidan was the strongest man on the field, he wasn’t going to give him a free until he was half-killed.
I don’t know what that’s all about!
But I’m sure Aidan is delighted to be back playing well again.
It’s good news for him and great news for Mayo.
It was a different day for Cillian O’Connor. His success against Tyrone came around the ‘D’ but on Sunday he was competing with Kevin McLoughlin and Jason Doherty for the same space a lot of the time.
I think that was one of the reasons why Cillian had one of his quieter games, he just didn’t have enough space to work with.
That’s something that management will have to address between now and the final. They’ll have to look at it closely and see, ‘did that work for us?’

Latest Sport

Mayo GAA accounts show €1.1m surplus

GAA The annual Mayo GAA financial report to next Sunday’s County Convention has been described as ‘extremely satisfactory’ and shows a surplus of €1.1m

Read more ...

Seven top Mayo LGFA posts unfilled

FOOTBALL Last weekend’s Annual General Meeting of Mayo LGFA ended without a number of posts — including chairperson — failing to be filled

Read more ...

The big interview: Ronan Kirrane

GAA The outgoing Mayo GAA Assistant Secretary from Davitts GAA club has been outlining why he feels he should be the next Mayo GAA Secretary

Read more ...

The big interview: Mary Prenty

GAA The current Mayo GAA Planning and Training Officer from Ballyhaunis GAA club has been outlining why she feels she should be the next Mayo GAA Secretary

Read more ...

Mayo LGFA squads to increase to 40 players

FOOTBALL A motion to increase Mayo LGFA underage squads by ten players passed by just one percent at last weekend’s Annual General Meeting

Read more ...