1. This is still a work in progress
THIS Mayo project has come a long way in the last eight months. Anybody who watched the team bow out of Championship 2010 with a whimper in Longford last June will testify to that.
In the aftermath of the recent All-Ireland quarter-final win over Cork, there may have been a feeling (and some lazy assumptions) in some quarters that all was well with Mayo again. That all of the squad’s ills had been cured overnight.
However, if last Sunday proved anything it is that a considerable gap still exists between the genuine All-Ireland contenders like Kerry and challengers such as Mayo.
James Horan has addressed and fixed some issues and problems this season, and his players have restored some faith and pride among the Mayo GAA faithful again.
Together they have made a decent start to this rebuilding job so the challenge for 2012 is to push on and learn from the lessons of last weekend.
2. It’s hard to beat Kerry’s art and craft
LAST Friday morning on RTE Radio 1, former Mayo News columnist Kevin McStay was asked why he thought Kerry would beat Mayo on Sunday. His answer revolved around one word: ‘guile’.
It seemed the perfect way to sum up the difference between the teams after the final whistle sounded at Croke Park. Guile. Craft, Know-how. Call it what you like, Kerry have it in abundance.
Mayo can definitely learn from this experience, particularly when it comes to option-taking and decision-making in the final third of the field. If James Horan is to break new ground with this group they will need to put more scores on the board; that is one of their biggest challenges.
Kerry have no much problems. Despite being held to three points in the first 25 minutes, they racked up 1-17 in the final three-quarters of an hour. Mayo managed 1-6 in the same period.
3. Some more fresh faces are needed
THE Mayo management scoured the county last Autumn and Winter in an effort to find some new talent. They also gave a plethora of players their opportunity during the Spring.
As a result, the likes of Robert Hennelly, Richie Feeney, Cillian O’Connor, Lee Keegan, Jason Gibbons and Jason Doherty were given their first tastes of senior championship action this Summer.
Nine of the team that started against Longford last June were in James Horan’s starting fifteen again last Sunday. On the evidence of what unfolded, the Mayo management team will be hoping to unearth a few more gems in the weeks and months to come.
Cathal Freeman, who was one of Mayo’s ‘Maor Uisceanna’ against Kerry, should hopefully have recovered from his injury problems by next year. The talented half-forward from Aghamore could definitely make a difference.
The talent search must go on; hopefully more players will put their hands up.