Mayo to Prosper in World without Hype

Posted: August 31, 2012 in GAA
Tags: , , , ,

Dublin v Mayo, Croke Park, 3.30, J McQuillan (Cavan) * Live RTE


#NOHYPE made an appearance in the world of Twitter this week to calm any notions Mayo fans may have had of ordering their 12-MO-SAM number plates, or taking green and red paint to the road markings.

Mayo are League finalists; All – Ireland semi – finalists for the second year in succession and are facing a Dublin team who have shown uncertain form in this year’s championship. In a county who’s supporters have an understandable history of delving from crisis to optimism with the changing of the wind, you could expect a certain level of hype to be bubbling above the surface. Not the case.

In the GAA world hype is something to be avoided like the plague and in Mayo we’ve learned that hard way. Keith Duggan christened Mayo football ‘The House of Pain’, after last week’s epic encounter, Donegal will be living in its hype equivalent. The mantle will briefly pass to Dublin on Sunday but in the past Mayo carried their fans suffocating expectation with difficulty.

In 99’ they faced Cork with the county desperately willing them to one last shot at redemption. In 2004 and 2006, Mayo hit Croke Park in late August having blitzed through Connaught, with a team too reliant on too few to perform. After a tangible change in approach last year, this Mayo team are travelling to the capital in the right frame of mind and with a team ethic to back it up. Mayo people are calmer now about the prospects of their team. The flags are out, the buzz is tangible, but the expectation is contained.

There is faith in what James Horan is doing with this team. The reaction within Mayo to Andy Moran’s injury was telling. If Ciaran McDonald had suffered the same injury at the quarter-final stage against Laois in 2006, the team would have been written off. Despite the loss of our talisman this time around there is enough belief in the team and system as a whole that we can prosper regardless.

For Mayo to do, it will come as a result of  dominance in the middle third. Moran and O’Shea have the potential to be the best mid – field in the country. I expect them to dominate Bastik and Fennell and set the platform for the Mayo victory.

For whatever weakness Mayo have in their full forward line, the support play that has become their hallmark, can more than compensate. Lee Keegan, Donal Vaughan, Colm Boyle and Keith Higgins are crucial; for Mayo to win these players will need to feature prominently in attack and on the scoreboard.

With dominance at midfield, gaining a platform in the full forward line is crucial to allow these runs from deep to come good. This is where the likes of Varley, Doherty and Conroy come into play. Not much is expected of them but their movement will need to be exceptional to compensate for Moran’s loss. This could be their day to make an impact in the absence of their captain.

Twelve months ago Donal Vaughan rose to the occasion against Kerry in a mighty way and forced defending duties upon Declan O’Sullivan. Despite McCauley being named at centre forward Alan Brogan will more than likely be his direct opponent.  If Vaughan can cut down on his tendency for over fouling and dominate that area he can cut off Dublin’s main supply into their full forward line. It’s likely that Kevin Keane will pick up the other Brogan. Keane is equipped to negate the influence of Brogan; no man in the Mayo defence will relish the challenge more.

Mayo have rarely approached a big game in Croke Park in a better place psychologically. Dublin have their All – Ireland, if the game comes down to the last 10 minutes you would hope Mayo’s desire will be greater. This team is as prepared as they possibly can be, the belief is there. I think it will be enough.

Verdict: Mayo by 2


And Finally..

THANKFULLY hearing Ciarán McDonald speak for the first time wasn’t as disappointing as the moment I first  heard David Beckham’s squeaky tones on Match of the Day. Ciarán Mc has a voice that matches the man; as reassuringly Mayo and composed as what we see on the pitch.

If you haven’t listened to Off the Ball’s interview with McDonald, please do. If ever there was an interview to thaw the cynical hearts of many a jaded Mayo fan, this is it.

It’s hard not to be over sentimental when you talk about one of the only modern Mayo player who can be talked about in the same context as Courell, Flanagan, Langan and Corcoran, but McDonald spoke with passion and authority. His views on Donegal were interesting and what you would expect from a  man, who like Donegal, plays the game in his own way.

Here it is:


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