More poor fare but scope for Mayo to improve
By Ray Silke
Let us avoid political correctness and call it as it is.
Yesterday in Hyde Park was very hard going for the paying public and those who love sport. The enjoyment index was at a low ebb for the entire 70 minutes of the tie. It was tight, but that was as good as it got.
It was a really dire game and while Mayo and their supporters will be delighted to have put provincial titles back-to-back for the first time since 1997, and it was a major plus for them to have Aidan O’Shea back in action, that is about all they got out of the experience.
For Sligo it was another case of so near and yet so far with 2010 revisited in some regards. Their exciting win over a toothless Galway in Pearse Stadium seems a long time ago.
This game highlighted the biggest crisis currently facing the GAA. The reality is that if football supporters are served up too many more of these low-scoring, sterile, swarmed defence, free-ridden games (there were 37 frees) they will run out of people who are prepared to cough up at the turnstiles. There were no goals yesterday either.
In the first half, Mayo scored two points from play and Sligo matched them in that department. I sat in the terraces for the game and many punters were cribbing about the fact that for €25 they had been served up a 0-5 to 0-3 borefest.
So why was the game so bad? Firstly the amount of unforced errors on both sides was farcical and some of the decision making left an awful lot to be desired.
One incident stands out in particular. In the first half Donal Vaughan made a fine run down the middle, beat a few Sligo players and instead of tapping over his point, he tried to make the killer pass for a goal when it was never really on and it was intercepted. Likewise both Keith Higgins and Andy Moran punched the ball wide from good positions and I could offer many more examples from both sides of poor play.
Secondly, there was no real flow to the game and Meath referee Cormac Reilly allowed a lot of niggling fouling that was hard to watch. Of course, the players commit the fouls and when you have massed defences it is not easy to control.
It might also be time for an alteration or two to the rule book which would not allow one player be tackled by three or four opponents. It is poisonous stuff to watch.
Anyway, what did we learn about Mayo? Well, they are an extremely hard-working side and have scope to improve. They shot 13 wides and if they could improve on their shot selection they will be difficult to beat. Barry Moran had a fine game and when the very powerful Aidan O’Shea ploughed on, they really took over at midfield.
Up front Andy Moran worked very hard and linked well with the lively Kevin McLoughlin and Alan Dillon. Ironically on a week that Conor Mortimer withdrew from the panel, neither Enda Varley or Jason Doherty made any real impression and were both withdrawn, so it is likely the Mort would have seen action.
Sligo were disappointing and the lack of good supply to David Kelly and Adrian Marren cost them dearly. The fact that both their midfielders, Tony Taylor and Shane McManus, were withdrawn tells you where their problems lay. If they get the wrong draw in the qualifiers in two weeks’ time, I don’t see them getting to tread the sod in Croke park.
I was in Dr Hyde Park on Saturday to see Tyrone and Roscommon. In the second half, Tyrone opened up and blew the home side away. One guy who really caught the eye for Mickey Harte’s men was Darren McCurry who came on in the final quarter and hit four glorious points from play.
I need to mention quickly Galway’s defeat on Saturday. At least 20 people (all Mayo) approached me yesterday to enquire about what had happened. I told them the same thing I have said on these pages for the past four or five years — Galway football is in a bad place.
Many Galway football people were not at all surprised by the defeat to Antrim. I will come back to it another day, but there is phenomenal work needed if Galway are to get back to being a top ten team. We have not won a Connacht minor title in the past five years.
Apart from Leitrim’s great win over Wicklow, and it was a poor weekend for Connacht football.Home