What have we learned?

THE ins and outs of yesterday’s game aren’t that important – it had the look of a pitch opening game, which, in many ways, it was. We did dominate well in the second half and could have won the game. But, by the same token, had Tyrone their bearings, we would have lost.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Like the new stand at McHale Park, Mayo are a work in progress. Unlike the stand though our county team look like a project that is developing ahead of time.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Like the new stand at McHale Park, Mayo are a work in progress. Unlike the stand though our county team look like a project that is developing ahead of time.

But yesterday was more about the end of one campaign and the lead into an altogether more important and telling spell – cham’ship. And for that acid test just where are we at?

Over on gaaboard.com respected poster Barney has started a very interesting thread where he reviews the league and looks forward to the championship and what he wanted at the start of the league – something resembling a settled side and players putting their heart and soul into matters – reflected my thoughts too and we can be happy with where we are at now.

We can say with a fair degree of certainty who will be at 3, 6, 11 and 14 for championship and midfield will be purely a matter of which of Tom Parsons and Pat Harte partners Ronan McGarrity, the other going to 10.

And the heart we’ve seen in Mayo performances recently show that even if we don’t appear to be street leaders on the line (that’s all we’ll say on that), we have the players who can stand up and take responsibility for their own displays.

The second half displays against Donegal, Galway and Tyrone showed real character and that really is encouraging.

But not only did we see character, we saw ability and if enough of McGarrity, Harte, Dillon, Mortimer (x2) and O’Shea perform to the maximum of their ability we can take care of every team bar, like the Scottish play, the team we can’t speak of.

And most of all we have in Aidan O’Shea a prospect to really realish. TIALTNGO queried his selection on Sunday for two reasons. Firstly we wondered about the wisedom of playing him six days before an All-Ireland semi-final for the U-21s – still a valid point. But our worries about what effect being marked by no less than Conor Gormley was confounded.

UNDER PRESSURE: It's this kind of harrying that TIALTNGO really likes about Aidan O'Shea's game.

UNDER PRESSURE: It's this kind of harrying that TIALTNGO really likes about Aidan O'Shea's game.

O’Shea gave one of the most rugged defenders in Ireland a torrid time and while his goal will justifiably steal the show, what really was uplifting for me was how twice he managed to turnover the ball when Tyrone tried to clear, leading to two points. That type of hard endevour shows the attitude you want to see in one so gifted. One man alongside him could do worse than follow suit, although to be fair to Conor Mortimer, his workrate when the opposition have possession has improved.

How are we going to line out for championship? Hard to say precisely but we have the spine fairly well sorted. We’ve been impressed with Ger Cafferkey and Tom Cunniffe through the heart of defence. Trevor Mortimer is a flawed centre-half forward but he brings enough effort to the role to just about justify his placing there ahead of on the wing while Aidan O’Shea has shoved Barry Moran out of the number 14 jersey.

Ronan McGarrity will play at midfield even if he could do with drinking whatever he drinks at half-time before the game while we reckon Tom Parsons will play beside him.

Pat Harte will play at 10 – with a license to help out at midfield and Conor Mortimer at 13, but not as vital as he has been over the past few years, thanks to the arrival of O’Shea.

David Clarke will line out in goal but those are the only players and positions we can be certain about. Alan Dillon is the only other definite starter but will it be at 12 or 15? After that there’s competition. Peadar Gardiner will likely be handed the number five jersey but the returning four defenders cast some doubt over that as a certainty.

So too Liam O’Malley at corner-back and while Kevin McLoughlin would be my choice for number 4, its not quite nailed on just yet.

And what to do with Andy Moran? His yellow card yesterday was unfortunate – I would have liked to have seen how he did in the second half when we were raiding forward. But he could yet end up wearing number 15 too.

Keith Higgins, David Heaney, Billy Padden, Aidan Higgins, Austin O’Malley and Mark Ronaldson will all be in contention too which will give us plenty to talk about both before and after the New York game. We’re probably at the right level of stability in the sense that we have a strong spine with still plenty up for grabs in the wings.

We’d like to see the following team line out: Clarke; L O’Malley, G Cafferkey, K McLoughlin; P Gardiner, T Cunniffe, K Higgins; T Parsons, R McGarrity; P Harte, T Mortimer, B Padden; C Mortimer, A O’Shea, A Dillon.

That full-forward line is really one to relish and a Connacht title now looks much more attainable than prior to our trip to Tuam.


4 Responses to “What have we learned?”

  1. 1 ontheroad April 13, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Good reading of the situation. I have to differ with you over McGarrity. I have never rated him, he is neither a Darragh O SE nor does he inspire the team. He was at mid in 2004 and 2006 finals. He was atrocious in both, yet others got the blame. Seamus O Shea, Barry Moran, Pat Harte and Parsons are better midfielders than him. Yet for some strange reason he is accorded Mourinho the Special one status with mayo. I would not have him on the panel. Adequate is how I would describe him.

    • 2 thereisalightthatnevergoesout April 14, 2009 at 10:41 am

      I would have to say that’s a bit harsh On The Road. I know he was poor in both finals but he wasn’t on his own. He is not a top class inter-county midfielder at the minute but I do think he is our best midfielder and I reckon we’ll see a great summer from him.
      My preference for beside him would be Seamus O’Shea – he’d be the ideal foil in my opinion.

  1. 1 Green and Red » Match reports and stuff Trackback on April 13, 2009 at 5:22 pm
  2. 2 Green and Red » Other voices Trackback on April 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm

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