Under 21’s give us plenty to be optimistic about

POACHER SUPREME: Mayo's Mikey Sweeney

POACHER SUPREME: Mayo's Mikey Sweeney

WHILE there is a far from upbeat tone among Mayo supporters about our seniors this  year, yet again underage seems able to provide reasons to be cheerful.

Winning the last three Under 21 titles is no mean feat as Messrs Holmes, Connelly and Collins deserve immense credit for that and by the looks of last Saturday’s match, they’re going to give the four in a row one helluva shot.

A one point win over Galway was secured in Charlestown and there’s a number of ways to look at this game. A win is a win and we’re in the semi-final – the pragmatic outlook; why must we continue to struggle to beat Galway even when we’re much the better team? – a somewhat negative if realistic outlook; or haven’t we a lot of talented players to bring onto the senior team in the coming years? – the big picture outlook.

One can look at each of these in isloation and find truth if every aspect so we’ll look at them in isolation and draw our own conclusions. For a match report on the game check out the Mayo Advertiser site who have one updated already – http://www.advertiser.ie/mayo/article/9773

A win is a win

A win is a win they say and Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly will be grateful for that. There was nothing certain about victory going into this game with the lack of ideal preparation and the fact that Galway were the opposition. Given that a lot of the players may not have played together before and that conditions were closer to wintry than summery you can appreciate that there is a small element of a shot in the dark to the first round of the Under 21 championship.

The win should bring Mayo on and they should be able to improve from there on. And it will be Mayo who will be training this week for a Connacht semi-final while the Galway players scatter back around the county. For that we should be thankful, a win is a win.


Why must we alway struggle with Galway?

A win may be a win but a few questions remain. Why do we seem to do our best to lose to Galway? For years at senior level we seem to have to have sixty percent plus possession and chances to eke out a narrow win. When Galway have sixty percent plus possession and chances we get hammered! Galway’s economy is frightening and our wastage even more so and that has been repeated time and time again at senior inter-county level.

EOIN CONCANNON: Misses a chance to grab an undeserved draw for Galway

EOIN CONCANNON: Missed a chance to grab an undeserved draw for Galway

It seemed to drip down to our Under 21’s the last day too. Mayo shot eleven wides to Galway’s four, hit the post and missed a great goal chance. We utterly dominated around the middle where Tom Parsons ensured Paul Conroy was a peripheral figure and yet with the last kick of the game Galway’s Eoin Concannon kicked a shot wide which would have drawn the game. Why or why do we make such hard work of beating Galway?

We never seem able to go for the kill against them, a problem that certainly Galway don’t have when the shoe is on the other foot. I think we give them far too much respect and when we take a healthy lead, like we did the last day when Jason Doherty struck the second goal to put us five clear, we almost think we’re lucky to be so far in front and sit back waiting for a comeback rather than trying to finish them off when they are vulnerable.

That it got so close in the end the last day was frightening but then we never do it the easy way, do we?


But on a brighter note

The fact that we should have beaten Galway comfortably the last day reflects a Mayo team that has a lot of talent on board and I’d expect to see a lot of this team line out at senior level at some stage in the hopefully not too distant future and that’s the big picture with underage teams.

TIALTNGO tried to predict the team in advance and we got it close enough if we can allow ourselves a boast. Thirteen of our fifteen started with Frank Burke starting ahead of Brian Gallagher and Cathal Freeman ahead of Ray Geraghty.

And onto how the fifteen played. Kevin McLoughlin deservedly took the MOTM award with a fantastic display from wing-back which saw him mix wonderful attacking with a vintage display of defensive qualities of tackling, covering and reading the game. TIALTNGO has big hopes for McLoughlin and he showed us all what he is capable of on Saturday.

NATURAL FOOTBALLER: Mayo's Cathal Freeman was among their best players on Saturday.

NATURAL FOOTBALLER: Mayo's Cathal Freeman was among their best players on Saturday.

Others were in contention for MOTM with Tom Parsons, Cathal Freeman and Mikey Sweeney all coming in for mention. Parsons lorded the middle of the park and showed a relentless workrate, combined with superb fielding. It must be pointed out that he did this against Galway senior player Paul Conroy, someone who Galway haven’t been as excited about since Michael Meehan made his breakthrough.

Freeman had a superb first half in which he got on a power of ball and always seemed to pick the right option. He’s possessed with a natural footballer’s brain and shouldn’t be too long waiting for an introduction to the seniors. Still he’s only out of minors so there’s no rush.

If there’s a better man to receive the ball in a goalscoring position in Mayo than Mikey Sweeney then TIALTNGO would like to see him. Sweeney is a poacher supreme and having witnessed him at close quarters over the past few years I struggle to remember him missing a goal chance. Certainly Conor Mortimer could do worse than watch Sweeney in action to improve his own touch in front of the net.

On Saturday Sweeney struck Mayo’s first goal with a smart finish under Adrian Faherty and he played a crucial part in the second – playing a superb pass to set-up Neil Douglas, who in turn gave Jason Doherty a tap-in, when many others would have opted for the point. A great brain in these situations does Sweeney possess.

Others to impress? Plenty. A couple of misplaced passes aside, Donal Vaughan was very good at wing-back, John Broderick did very well when moved onto Michael Martin and TIALTNGO’s tip from last week Lee Keegan did reasonably well at centre-half back, although you could see the rugby instinct in him when he ran too far with the ball whilst attacking.

GOALSCORER: Jason Doherty got Mayo's crucial second goal.

GOALSCORER: Jason Doherty got Mayo's crucial second goal.

Aidan O’Shea mixed the good with the bad. He does need to learn to pick the right option but my o my what a talent we have here. Cathal Carolan got through a lot of thankless work while along with Sweeney, Jason Doherty and Neil Douglas showed out in front well on the inside line. But we do need more of a scoring return from the inside line.

Also Holmes and Connelly will surely be worried about the lack of a recognised free-taker in the team. This will need to be solved but how is the question.

But, as I said earlier, we’re still in the championship so all’s good for now. Roscommon await on Saturday in Charlestown. We’ll discuss that game later in the week.

For now we’ll list the team that lined out on Sunday.

Mayo: Robert Hennelly (Breaffy); Michael Gallagher (Achill), Kevin Keane (Westport), John Broderick (Claremorris); Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe, 0-1), Lee Keegan (Westport), Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore, 0-1); Tom Parsons (Charlestown, 0-1), Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy, 0-1, f); Cathal Carolan (Crossmolina), Frank Burke (Kilmaine), Cathal Freeman (Aghamore, 0-1); Neil Douglas (Castlebar), Jason Doherty (Burrishoole, 1-0), Mikey Sweeney (Kiltane, 1-0). Sub: Ray Geraghty (Ballintubber).


7 Responses to “Under 21’s give us plenty to be optimistic about”

  1. 1 Willie Joe March 16, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Great report, TIALTNGO, it’s nice to have a championship win over Galway under our belts before Paddy’d Day, isn’t it?

    I haven’t looked properly at the Connacht U21 draw but how on earth can we have been pitched against Galway in the first round and then the Sheepstealers in the semis? That only leaves Sligo and Leitrim in the entire other half, as I assume the exiles don’t partake at this level. Given the recent pedigrees of Galway and Ros at minor and our dominance in Connacht at U21, that’s as lop-sided a draw as you could have but I suppose that’s the problem with an open draw format.

    • 2 thereisalightthatnevergoesout March 16, 2009 at 2:15 pm

      Always great to beat Galway, anytime but the hard work we made of it was worrying. But a potentially very good team we have at our disposal. I reckon moving O’Shea to full-forward and Brian Gallagher on the 40 could give us good balance in the forward line. But the Rossies will be a step-up. Here’s hoping.

  2. 3 perseus March 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Great report , Really enjoying the site , as regards the free taking problem , last years minor whose name escapes me , might be an option ?

    • 4 thereisalightthatnevergoesout March 17, 2009 at 7:15 pm

      Yeah Aidan Walsh is last year’s minor freetaker. Trouble is he is still minor so would be asking a lot to bring him in. Amazing that there’s no specialised freetaker in the squad though. Aidan O’Shea would be the closest but that’s about it.

  3. 5 Peter March 17, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Liked the under 21 report. We’ve a good team there but we need to take our chances or Roscommon will sort us out I’m afraid.

  1. 1 Green and Red » Match reports + Face The Ball Week 4 results Trackback on March 16, 2009 at 11:38 am
  2. 2 There is a light that never goes out « Thereisalightthatnevergoesout’s Blog Trackback on March 20, 2009 at 2:02 pm

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