Archive for September, 2012

Donegal v Mayo, Croke Park, 3.30, M Deegan (Laois) * Live RTE

 

AT this stage rational and impartial thinking is a commodity that’s rare on the ground in Donegal and Mayo. As we move into the weekend that we’ll take to our graves, the line between logic and hope is becoming more blurred by the hour.

The game has been all consuming this week; analysis fatigue has set in.  The relentless stream of analysis, opinion and interviews have fed the unquenchable thirst for the game but would make you nostalgic for the days when your media consumption was one of the locals on a Monday or Tuesday and the paper on the morning of the game.

The importance of Sunday to both counties not just from a football perspective has been mentioned all week. There has never been and probably never will be an All – Ireland with as much deep rooted emotion attached.

Concerning ourselves with the overall context of this final and its importance to each of the counties is the prerogative of Journalists and bloggers, while we get all emotional into our laptops. It is hard not to get swept away by the importance of this game but I expect James Horan has avoided and will avoid talk of the past good or bad. It has no relation to this Mayo team. When it comes down to it, it’s the team who avoids been wrapped up in all this emotional baggage who have the best chance of success.

Mentally both sides could argue that they have the advantage. Donegal will argue that this Mayo team carry the burden of 61 years and a history of final day disaster. Mayo, perhaps more convincingly, can say that Donegal’s present of fan hysteria and favouritism far outweighs their inglorious failures.

Either way some players will underperform. Equally some will write their name into folklore. The systems that both Horan and McGuinness have created will allow for bad games and therefore will allow both teams to get a foothold in the game. There will be no capitulations this Sunday.

If Mayo can stay with Donegal for the first half and even build a lead, its then that any psychological advantage Mayo have will come into play. No matter how focused and task driven Jim McGuinness says his players are, finding themselves in this position will not be what they expected and not something they have faced this year.

Mayo can and must dominate midfield. Contrary to belief, clean ball can still be won in the modern game and Aidan O’Shea and Barry Moran are a better mid field pairing than Gallagher and Kavanagh. O’Shea is the figurehead of this Mayo team. As a footballing county, Mayo had a tradition of tough, ‘raw boned’ men that sadly has been lost in the last decade. O’Shea and others have given Mayo back this edge that’s vital to a team’s inner belief and how the opposition now perceives them.

Again Kevin McLoughlin will be Mayo’s most important player. The speed and accuracy of everything he does along with his work rate has seen him become one of the quiet leaders of the team. His performances have been as effective and more impressive in an attacking sense than that of the much loved McHugh.

The tactical question of this championship has been how to play McHugh. Pushing up on him as Cork did in the first half can be effective but we also have to have faith in what has brought us to this point. Not making exceptions for exceptional players might be naive but we also must trust that our system will match their’s and that in the end we will have the footballers to finish the job. I don’t have the answer; I trust that James Horan does.

Our full back line have been fantastic all year, I expect the same on Sunday. I relish seeing Kevin Keane mark Murphy and Cafferkey doing battle with McFadden. We should have no fear in that area, our full back line is equal to Donegal’s forward equivalent in quality, if not in praise.

A tough afternoon awaits the Mayo full forward line. They will have less space to operate in than they have ever experienced before. As in the semi final, little is expected of the likes of Varley, Conroy and Doherty and like the semi-final it is position that can provoke a defiant, proud reaction.

They will need to win ball inside for Mayo to gain some platform near goals. If the full forward line can get onto quick ball I expect our scores to come from our support play that has been Mayo’s trademark all year.

Victory on Sunday would mean everything. Pride in our County is always something that has come easy to us as Mayo people, probably more so than most. James Horan and his players have allowed us to carry that pride with a lot more ease.

Sentimentality is not going to have any bearing on Sunday but that line between logic and hope has truly evaporated in my mind.

‘The Kings of September’ by Michael Foley recounts the 1982 All – Ireland Final between Kerry and Offaly. In the days leading up to final, Sean Lowry of whom we claim some ownership attended a funeral of a neighbour. At that funeral he spoke to a stranger by the name of Declan Carolan who articulated  better than anyone the beauty and significance of an All – Ireland. His words inspired Lowry on that day when the impossible happened.

 Remember that, when you go out on Sunday, you’re going to be playing for people that you’ll never see. People you’ll never meet. You’ll have people in Australia and New Zealand who’ll have their chest out Monday morning if Ofally beat Kerry, but you’ll never see them or have the feelings they’re feeling. You’ll never realise the lift you give them if you beat Kerry on Sunday.

That is what it’s all about. On Monday morning I believe that every Mayo person will walk chests out, with a pride that hasn’t been felt in six long decades.  For the players it is an occasion that will define their lives. They are staring immortality in the face. Go on and take it boys.

Prediction: Mayo by 2

NEVER mind next Sunday, the real battle has been going on for the last few weeks on the airwaves. Donegal may have had a week’s head start but here in Mayo we have the lethal combination of form and experience in this area; anyone remember this absolute CLASSIC from 1996?

Follow that. Unsurprisingly enough quite a few have duly taken on that challenge to create the next GAA masterpiece. Before we start all the serious build up and predictions, let’s take a moment to acknowledge those who have done what few thought possible, make Mid West and Ocean FM essential listening.  Wherever there is All – Ireland fever, your music will live on. Let the ceremony begin.

Best Song – Mayo: The Ginger Melodeon Experience – Up Mayo

Mayo getting to All – Ireland finals makes for strange happenings. How about a trad version of a Flo Rida song with Mayo football themed lyrics? Now that’s ingenuity. Definitely the best of the Mayo representations this year, the track from the London collaboration is free to download at http://gingermelodeonexperience.moonfruit.com/, with a link for donations to The Irish Cancer Society on the same page. #MayoForSam2013,  The Chieftains featuring Snoop Dogg?

 

Best Song – Donegal: Rory & the Island – Jimmy’s Winning Matches

If you’ve somehow managed to miss Rory Gallagher’s (formerly of The Revs) catchy tune you’re in for a treat. Rory and Jimmy’s musical sojourn began on the island of Lanzarote where the original song ‘Jimmy’s Selling Watches’, was wrote in tribute to the watch selling, Molly Malone singing Senegalese native. Listen out for Jimmy’s impressive knowledge of Mayo geography; he’s nearly as good as Mike Denver.

 

Best Song to Make Grown Men Emotional: Myles Kelly – The Mayo Man

It does sound like Myles may have recorded this with his phone but it’s still the most rousing of the 2012 vintage. With lyrics like, “Jimmy might be winning matches but James is winning too” and “I am a Mayo man today is my day”, it’ll either have you fit to run through walls or leave you blubbering into your pint a two in the morning. Either way, Myles deserves a call from Up For The Match.

 

The Best of The Rest 

A selection of some of the more obscure, somehow strangely entertaining,  but none the less deserving winners.

Best Performance Video: Cyril Brennan – Bring Home Sam 2012

Best Use of a Christmas Song Melody: Martin Fitzmaurice – Doing It For Andy

Lifetime Achievement Award: Michael S Togher – The Dream Has Never Died (Because he’s a legend – Maggie’s Flannel Drawers, need  I say anymore)

If we’re basing victory on YouTube hits, Donegal may have won the musical battle thanks in the main to Rory and Jimmy. I think we’ll let them have this little win though, as long as the sound of the Saw Doctors is ringing around Croke Park come 5.oo pm Sunday.

HAVE you in the last week called your uncle in Longford for the first time in six years, or facebooked that lad who was in your class in 1st year who coincidentally enough is now a manager in Ulster Bank? If so, then you are probably experiencing a wave of ticket frenzy, common to many other Mayo-ians at the moment.

Fair or unfair, we are all well aware of the reality of the distribution of All – Ireland final tickets to the wider GAA community. A breakdown of last year’s distribution, available here, shows why some of the unlikeliest of people can get their hands on these most precious pieces of paper.

All week rumour and counter rumour about the size of Mayo’s ticket allocation spread through the county and as a result what each of the already request burdened  clubs will receive. The  e-mail containing each Donegal clubs inflated looking ticket allocation, only added further to the rumour mill.

Yesterday the Mayo county Board met with Croke Park Officials and received an allocation believed to be between 8,000 and 10,000.

Over 70% of this allocation will be going to the clubs from Wednesday onwards. As explained to delegates at the County Board meeting last Friday, the allocation of tickets to clubs will not be based on the amount of members a club has but rather their grade. The distribuition is as follows:

  • Senior – 100 tickets (50 Stand, 50 Terrace)
  • Intermediate – 80 tickets (40 Stand, 40 Terrace)
  • Junior – 60 tickets (30 Stand, 30 Terrace)

On top of this basic allocation, club delegates were made aware at the county board meeting that each club will have the option of purchasing an extra 20 ticket’s with a contribution of €1,000 and another 20 tickets if they raise a further €1,000. Clubs who have representation on the county panel will receive an extra 10 tickets per player.

The five top performing clubs in the county board development draw will also receive an additional 25 tickets. The three main urban clubs Ballina, Castlebar and Westport (where demand will be particularly acute) will receive an additional 50 tickets each, as well as any surplus of tickets made available by clubs not availing of the additional 40 tickets

If clubs contribute €2,000 for the additional tickets, a Senior club without a county panellist will receive a minimum of 140 tickets, Intermediate clubs 120, while a standard Junior club will receive 100.

Chairde Maigh Eo members will of course be entitled to buy one ticket each but will be given the option to purchase a second if they pay in advance for next year’s season ticket.

In what is believed to be a first in Mayo, any player who has worn the green and red in championship football will be guaranteed a ticket. This fitting gesture will incorporate approximately 350 – 400 players who have played for Mayo as far back as 1945.

Mayo PRO, Aiden McLoughlin is confident that the County Board will be able to provide the clubs and supporters with enough tickets to satisfy demand;

“Through all their allocations clubs will get more tickets than ever before. I think the people that need to get a ticket and that need to be accommodated are going to get them through all the different ways.”

Club secretaries and chairman now have the unenviable task of playing God for the next week and a half, while the loyal and not so loyal disciples wait in GAA purgatory.

Could be time to start ringing the American cousins.