Do we want a league final spot or not?

GAA: Casey's Call

Jumping Jack Back: Mayo's Jack Carney looks on after the full time whistle in Mayo's clash with Tyrone last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

Jumping Jack Back: Mayo's Jack Carney looks on after the full time whistle in Mayo's clash with Tyrone last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile

The big question every Mayo supporter is asking this week and the biggest topic of debate amongst the Mayo faithful - all circulates around one thing. Do Mayo actually want to play in a league final?

If last Saturday's showing against All-Ireland champions Tyrone is anything to go by, then the answer is an emphatic no, but a few key factors have to be considered before you jump to that conclusion.

I have heard some fairly bizarre conspiracy theories during the week. Firstly, no manager or management team would ever contemplate telling players to throw a game and under-perform and lose on purpose, no matter the importance of the match.

Secondly, players have a reputation to uphold for themselves and a duty of care to a jersey; so for anyone to suggest players underperformed intentionally or were instructed to do so, is just ludicrous. On top of that, the dog-eat-dog world of inter-county football doesn't allow for too many lacklustre performances from individuals, particularly now in a Mayo set-up where the competition is quite intense.

Current Mayo players know too well you might not see a jersey again for a while if you don't do it justice while you have it in a competitive environment. The single biggest influence a manager can have over whether his team wins a game or not, is by choosing the personnel to play the game.

If you leave out a few fit and able influential players, then it may suggest you weren't too concerned about the outcome. All other factors remain constant on game day, from motivation to tactics, no matter what team takes the field, the ultimate goal of course is to win the game.

The encounter in Omagh was a very frustrating watch from a Mayo perspective. Maybe I'm way wrong here but I don't recall a game with as many mistakes and unforced errors. Ball handling, decision making, hand and foot passing and basic execution, was as poor as I can remember. It will certainly be up there with one of those games I would like to forget.

What makes it even more frustrating/bizarre is, despite all the errors, Mayo could have and should have still won it against the All-Ireland champions in their own backyard - and that's despite Tyrone desperately needing to win in their fight for survival.

The first half was totally forgettable. Too many mistakes to mention that resulted in coughing up cheap Tyrone scores early on. Mayo didn't have their first shot at the Tyrone goal for a full 15 minutes, which went wide, and then it took a brave run by Aidan O'Shea to get a free that got us our first score in the 25th minute from one of our better performers on the day, Ryan O'Donoghue.

Things improved slightly in the second half as Mayo had the strong elements at their backs but the errors were still in abundance. I think the most frustrating aspect is that Mayo, who were six points down at one stage of the first half against the breeze, all of a sudden, while playing poorly, were only one point adrift with only 50 minutes on the clock with the elements at their backs.

At this point, even the most pessimistic would have presumed Mayo were going to kick on and win by three or four points. Conceding just 11 points is encouraging and our midfield pairing are doing well with Jordan Flynn scoring two fine points in Omagh - but it's a real worry that our starting six forwards only registered a single point from play for the duration of the game and that was from Ryan O Donohue who was the only starting forward to score at all, his other four points coming from placed balls; Jack Carney - the only other Mayo forward to bother the umpires when he scored a point after coming on.

James Horan has constantly chopped and changed the team throughout the league making wholesale changes from week to week with a certain degree of success. As supporters, we got great encouragement regarding the depth of our squad as we seemed to have cover in nearly every position.

After a couple of losses, those massive changes from week to week all of a sudden don't seem a good idea. In fairness, there aren't too many players that can say they weren't given a chance to shine.

Our championship opponents, Galway, had a very encouraging win away to high flying Derry - the Tribesmen securing a place in the division two league final and of course promotion to division 1 for 2023. Mayo take on Kildare this Sunday in Carrick-on-Shannon knowing a win will see us play Kerry in the division one final on April 3, three weeks out from the Galway game. The team selected by James Horan for the Kildare game will give us a clear indication of whether he wants to play in that league final or not.

 

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