It’s August, and we are back to a familiar scene. Our opponents were confirmed on Saturday evening after Sligo were parked up by Cork.
When Cork emerged under the leadership of Brian Cuthbert, they looked to have prowess. They had a steady league performance, and with Kerry looking at sixes and sevens in the league, it looked from early on like they were the Munster team to watch. That theory was quickly demolished after the Kingdom destroyed them in the Munster Final by 12 points. And in a flash, Cork were banished to the dreaded qualifiers. They arrived in Tullamore on Saturday for a date with Sligo. Cuthbert made six changes from their Kerry hiding and unveiled a significantly revised game plan. A game plan that is now the new wave of vogue in Gaelic Football: overpopulate the opposition’s defence and stay there. This new wave was originally designed by Jim McGuinness and now, just like tight jerseys, it’s pretty much the new black!
At times on Saturday Cork played with only one player in the opposing half of the field. This style of defensive football was used on Sligo but in reality it was being introduced for their quarter final meeting with Mayo. But they have a lot of work to do before they perfect this style. On Saturday it worked for a while, then they drifted off course and looked unsure of themselves. Colm O Neill and Paul Kerrigan, seasoned players, were their star attractions; they looked sharp and up for the challenge. O’Neill finished with 10 points and will inevitably be a handful for the Mayo full-back line on Sunday, but with Keith Higgins now firmly back there, he’ll have the measure of the rebel. With the way the game is going now, it’ll be an interesting competition for Mayo, to see how they cope with the defensive approach. Fintan Goold started from the bench but replaced debutant, 20 year old, Ian Maguire and would look to have made enough of an impression to start on Sunday. Cork are jittery though, and tend to fall away when pressure is applied.
Mayo have never had a great record against Cork in championship. Horan’s men have looked slow to get going so far, maybe they are just warming up to this stage or maybe they are beginning to tire. Sunday will tell a tale. Big performances will be needed by every Mayo player. Will Mayo counteract the defensive trap? Will they need to?
James Horan’s men have shown heart and determination when needed in their Connacht Championship, let’s hope this continues through on Sunday.
When Galway disposed of a poor Sligo outfit the weekend before last, it was Sky Sports first time showing a Gaelic football match. I was closely following the reaction on the twitter machine as the game went on. The British audience seemed nonplussed by the game, whereas the previous week they were enthralled with the hurling.
I always thought this could be the way at the outset, but I’m sure the football will improve and excite our new audiences across the water before the summer is out. Galway won the game with ease in the end and as a result of this victory; they have earned the right to face Mayo in Elverys McHale Park on Sunday 13th July where both sides will do battle for the Nestor Cup.
A Connacht Final against Galway, it does not get any bigger than that folks! The fact that Mayo are going for their 4th in a row will also be motivation for our opposition. Whenever these two teams meet in championship, more often than not there is only a kick of the ball in it. Mayo blew Galway into smidirini last year and Galway will be looking for revenge.
The Galway midfield were made to look good by Sligo, who continued to kick the ball long and straight down the middle even though it was coming back with interest. I am certain James Horan will have watched this and will instruct Robbie to take evasive action if necessary. Having said that, I feel our midfield will have enough to win that particular battle. Aidan O’Shea should be aiming to get back to last years high standards where he was touted as Footballer Of The Year going into the final, with his brother again being the unsung hero grafting away in midfield.
Our backs were magnificent against Roscommon. I lost count of the number or times we turned over possession. Tom Cunniffe and Caff were masterful. Boyler was his usual combative self. Donal Vaughan didn’t bring the shooting boots but worked hard and I’m sure Lee Keegan (for me best wing back in the game at the minute) will be back to himself the next day after a very, very rare off day.
Up front will be interesting. I wonder will James stick with the team that started or will he reward those who made such an impact against Roscommon? I’m assuming Andy is fit to play, having come on for Ballaghadereen recently and by all accounts had a great game. What I would like to see is space up front – our lads undoubtedly have the stuff to do it, it just feels at times our attacking plays can actually end up restricting the space for us to attack. Once upon a time I was a right corner forward. I had one particular teammate who told me before games that his main aim when he got the ball was to feed me, that as soon as he got on the ball I was to be moving for a pass from him. I was small enough but I thrived on knowing if I made a run then 9 times out of 10 the centre forward was looking for me. Whoever plays CHF and in the corner forward position should be sitting down hatching plans to terrorise Galway. Clarity of role and effective communication is essential.
As for us folk on the terraces and in the stands, it was noticeable the support given to the team by the Mayo supporters against Roscommon when they were three down with ten minutes to go. I’m sure the team appreciated that and more of the same will be needed on the day. We need to be the 16th man to help our boys drive on to a wonderful 4th Connacht title in a row. See you on the 13th and as always with Club ’51 the message is a simple one. BRING A FLAG AND BRING YOUR VOICE! Mayo forever!!
TrevorFollow me on Twitter: @trevornaughton
Photo: Michael Maye
It feels like forever since we were last gearing up for a Championship game, and while those of us lucky enough to get to New York got a fix of sorts, it didn’t quite scratch the itch. Next weekend however sees the action beginning in earnest on home soil as Mayo travel to Hyde Park to take on Roscommon at 2pm in Dr. Hyde Park.
By all accounts the Rossies, buoyant after another strong U21 campaign are looking forward to this clash as much as we are, and they will fancy their chances of springing a surprise on their home turf. So we could have a cracker on our hands next Sunday.
Ticketing and Admission
Dr. Hyde Park as most of us know by now is not the most accessible of grounds, and a large attendance is expected next week. The Connacht Council have decided that seating will be unreserved for this fixture, meaning that if you want to get a seat in the stand, it’s first come, first served. Admission is €25 (terrace €20) with U16s paying €5. In their wisdom, they have decreed that OAPs and students must pay full price on the gate, with refunds of €10 available upon presentation of valid ID cards at turnstiles 6 & 18 (meaning that they potentially have to queue twice). For those of you travelling with large groups of children, you can enter at Turnstile 8 and avail of a decent group rate of €30 which gets you 10 x juvenile and 1 x adult ticket – we’re assuming that this is restricted to the terrace). All season ticket holders must enter the ground via the County Road Home end.
With all of the above in mind, Club ’51 have after a bit of debate decided not to hold our customary pre-match meet-up before the game next week. Rather, we are urging anyone travelling to the game to get in there early. Very, very early. If you want a seat, it’s likely you’ll need to be there at least an hour before throw-in, and if attendances at the Allianz League games this year are to be believed, it’s looking like this game could easily be a sellout. Instead, we’ll be aiming to congregate inside good and early and get the atmosphere building.
In addition to this, the curtain-raiser sees Mayo hurlers in action once again, taking on Roscommon in the Connacht Intermediate final. Throw-in for that game has yet to be confirmed but is likely to throw in around 12pm, if not sooner. The hurlers have put in a great season this year, and are deserving of good support. So we urge you to come along and shout them on (and stake your claim on a seat while you’re at it).
It’s Championship time proper now, so let’s get the colours out! If you’re coming along, we’re asking you to do one thing – BRING A FLAG. Be it a big flag, a small flag, a flag without a pole, a car flag, a sheet – just find something green and red and wave it around! It’s amazing the difference a flag display can make to the atmosphere, and we want to make the Rossies feel next Sunday like they’re playing an away game and facing into a sea of green and red. Club ’51 will have the usual flags there and if you’re planning on being there early, come and find us in the stand, join us for the craic and help us make a bit of noise.
We go again …
See you all in the Hyde as we start once again in earnest on this journey. It’s always an adventure, and it’s time to get behind the lads as they put themselves and their bodies on the line once again. Let’s start as we mean to go on this year, shout loud and proud and be the 16th man through thick and thin … Maigh Eo Abú!
PS: Another thing worth doing on the day – Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland are running a fundraising competition on Facebook – they’re asking you to take a ‘selfie’ or a group photo in your county colours, text AUTISM to 50300 to donate €4, and post the photo and text receipt on their Facebook page here. Why not!
Whether you were there or not, we think it’s safe to say that the New York game was a big event. While those of us who were lucky enough to make the trip across are still in recovery mode, talk in the county is now turning to “Step Two” in this year’s campaign on 8th June. But in the meantime, here’s how our latest guest poster Fear an Chomórtais fared over in NYC last weekend. Welcome aboard, sir!
There’s very few guarantees in this life, but but one thing you can guarantee, is that when this fair county of ours takes the football show on the road, we will most definitely enjoy ourselves! The planning for this New York trip for me started 5 years ago, having been out to Gaelic Park in ’04 and ’09, so to say I was looking forward to this trip was a massive understatement.
Getting the pleasantries out of the way and meeting a few fellow Club ’51ers at the airport, after the flight we did the minibus ride into Manhattan, after which a few of our English neighbors were much wiser on the state of Mayo football as we dismounted.
The customary Mayo flags flew out from the Irish hostelries to entice the noticeable gathering inside. You’d get an odd “go Mayo” in a strong New York accent,to which the reply came “good man yourself”. Eugene Rooney’s Irish Pub became the focal point of the weekend for us, meeting a load from home and some not far from there. Friday night we did our own thing, even gatecrashing some local collegiate alumni event in Suite 36 on W36 St between 5th and 6th avenue, indeed getting some alumni souvenirs for our efforts.
New York gets ready for the Mayo influx …
The intention was to get up early on Saturday to watch the All-Ireland U21 final, between Roscommon and Dublin, which we more than managed to do in the Old Castle Bar. A large crowd was there and I’d even hazard a guess saying 40% were shouting for the Yellowbellies. I for one wasn’t, but the conundrum was I didn’t want the Dubs to win either! The atmosphere was very relaxed all day. We did the customary sightseeing after, of course in the colours, but at this stage you could see the green and red on every street. I love the way that when away at a match like this you always get acknowledged with a nod or a “Howaya lads” while every other New Yorker has the earphones in and the blinkers on, oblivious to the craic building up all around them! Mayo brought the party to town!
The function in Connolly’s that night resembled Quinn’s or Coppers on match day, wedged and very humid. Hard to get to thebar and getting to the bathroom none better. I did think the band were a bit American to be playing Irish tunes but god bless them they played their hearts out each of the 4 times they played The Green And Red of Mayo! But the craic was good and after a while we ended up chatting to John Casey – sure all the stars were out – wasn’t Mike Finnerty holding court behind us and Willie Joe up at the bar! I was getting plenty chat over my shirt, I wore it knowing well that everyone would get a laugh out of it, who would have known that we Mayo people could warrant a laugh at a t-shirt saying “bollox of a ref”! We’ve met more than a few! Legged it back to the Irish pub about 1am, and had the pleasure of sharing a few drinks with the O’Toole brothers from Inisturk, stars of the documentary “Pride of the Parish”. We won an all Ireland there and then, pity it had to finish!
Mayo GAA fans take over the New York Subway
On to Sunday, started well and ended well! What happened in between is the stuff of legend. We met a few legends at the Irish bar; Bernie Waldron who was involved with the mayo minors in the 90’s and a crew from Ballyhaunis. The beers were flying and the craic was mighty, (already arranged the return leg at the Hyde!). The story of the weekend was the lads got into a taxi, Johnny Devaney from Ballyhaunis hopped in the front, asked the cab driver “Where are you from” he answered “Egypt” without a missed breath Johnny replied “and do you walk like an Egyptian?” well when we heard that I split my sides laughing!
We got the subway out to the match – not before stopping off at the Playwright to see if Nicky Joyce was tending bar – he wasn’t – so we moved on. We had a singsong all the way out, cameras were taking pictures and videos, the Yanks didn’t have a clue what was going on but surprise surprise they wanted pictures of us all, and we duly obliged. The Punch Bowl just before Gaelic park provided a comforting pit stop but the one toilet proved torture!
Mayo supporters party in Gaelic Park
The carnival atmosphere at the pitch I’ve experienced before, but you don’t get tired of it. Seriously though, you will not understand it until you’ve experienced it. Met friends who came down from Philadelphia and from Boston – was hard to meet everyone. As for the game, it was hard to see, we couldn’t get a seat so soldiered out a place at the fence. If this was a Premier League match, a “very professional performance” phrase would be used. It’s not the Premier League, but it was a very workmanlike outing. Truth be told it’s a routine fixture, the exiles never expected to get close and they didn’t. The party after was worth coming for! Having read the Sunday Independent and Colm O’ Rourke’s article, it’s plain to be seen that the New York trip was enjoyed by more than just the Mayo diaspora! It felt like a celebration.
I had a chat with Kildare legend Johnny Doyle, what an absolute gent. He was supremely jealous that Kildare and the likes couldn’t be involved in something like this. His opinion on the championship is that it’s the Dubs to lose, but Mayo the only team to challenge them! On Sunday night, it was back to the Oldcastle after Gaelic park, the $30 donation at the door a tad steep but knowing that it was for the players fund it was worth paying. The party atmosphere followed into Manhattan from the Bronx, but already the focus had switched to the Rossies in June.
While I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed every second of this trip Stateside, it’s the start of hopefully a long summer, one which rights a few wrongs over the last few years,and come June 8th be it the Yellowbellies or Lovely Leitrim, we will show up in force like we did in New York and push this team forward.
Photo: Bryan Sweeney (via Joe.ie)
As Mayo travel to New York for the first round of the Connacht Championship on Sunday 4th May in Gaelic Park, with a huge number of people travelling to New York from Ireland and indeed many other parts of the world, there are numerous events taking place around Manhattan and the outer suburbs.
Given that there are already so many events already organised for the weekend, Club ’51 won’t be holding a standalone meetup as is now customary before away games, but you can be assured that we will have numerous representatives in place at most, if not all of the events below. We do like a good party, we do.
Here’s what’s happening:
Friday 2nd May
- Mayo GAA (NY) invite supporters to join them at Dunwoodie Golf Course, 1 Wasylenko Ln, Yonkers, NY 10701 from 7 to 10pm for a BAR-B-Q and beverages where they are hoping to defray some of the team’s expenses for the weekend. The Mayo team will be training in Gaelic Park that evening and will be stopping by for a meal following the session. Tickets are $50 per person, and can be bought from any member of the club, or on the night (it’s recommended that you get there early).
- Alternatively, if you fancy something a bit more central, some of the Club ’51 crew will be meeting up for a few quiet (!) beverages in The Old Castle Pub & Restaurant, 160 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 from 7pm.
Saturday 3rd May
- Given that we’re in the Big Apple for a good time, not a long time, we will be rising bright and early to embark on a bit of sightseeing, (it’s not all about the partying, you know) so if you’d like to join us for a bit of craic and culture, we’ll be starting around 9am and getting one of the bus tours. We’ll circulate a meeting point closer to the weekend but it’s likely to be somewhere around Times SQ. Sunscreen (and sunglasses and maybe some Panadol) essential.
- On Saturday night, in what is sure to be one of the highlights of the weekend, Mayo GAA are holding their official Cáirde Mhaigheo Function in Connolly’s Pub & Restaurant, located in Manhattan 121 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036. This is being billed as a very informal meet and greet event, where supporters can congregate and meet with some of the past players and chat about the match. (You’re allowed to talk about other things too, but why would you want to do that?!) There will be musical entertainment on the night and Midwest Radio will be in attendance. They will be a raffle on the night with a top prize of tickets to the 2014 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final.
Sunday 4th May (Match Day!)
Try to get to bed at a decent hour on Saturday night, because there’s a big day of football and festivities in store on Sunday! Your destination is Gaelic Park, W 240th St, The Bronx (1 train uptown to 238th St) and the itinerary for the day is as follows:
- 10.30am: NY Ladies Féile Team vs. St Brigid’s
- 12pm: NY Boys Féile Team vs. Philly Boys Féile Team
- 2.30pm: New York vs. Mayo
- 4pm: NYPD vs. Buffalo Fenians (Buffalo’s first ever appearance at Gaelic Park!)
Ticketing information for the games is available here, on the New York GAA website. Due to the large numbers expected to travel, do try and get there early. Contrary to what Croke Park told us previously, there is a cost for GAA season ticket holders, but there’s a substantial discount all the same, so don’t forget your card!
- This will be followed by the customary post-match get-together back in The Old Castle Pub & Restaurant, 160 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 from 8pm till late where the Mayo team will join supporters for a night of live music and craic.
So there you have it – you have a week to stock up on the multivitamins and get some sleep! See you in the Big Apple for what is sure to be an unforgettable weekend.