CONNACHT SFC NEWS
MAYO manager Mickey Moran is just days away from his first ‘acid’ test in the Connacht Championship against Leitrim and has decided that the time has come to move things to another level.
For that reason Mayo’s training sessions for the foreseeable future will be conducted ‘behind closed doors’ as the management team attempt to fine-tune preparations for an assault on this year’s championship.
The Derry native told The Mayo News that he finds the Mayo support ‘extraordinary’ but added that sometimes this can be to the detriment of the team.
“There has been some amount of hype in Mayo in the past and much of that has got to the players before. The team needs space, especially coming up to the championship. I guess it is the price you pay for the level of expectation in the county. We are training on Tuesday (yesterday) behind closed doors, as will be the case from now on. The team was accessible prior to now but we have to try and guard and protect the players. Some of what we have been doing in training has got out to the opposition.”
On the injury front, Trevor Mortimer and David Brady (see panel) are the only Mayo players not in a position to start against rank outsiders Leitrim in the Connacht SFC semi-final clash in Carrick-on-Shannon.
Mortimer hasn’t started a competitive game for his county since last August and while he improved considerably on Mayo’s training trip to Portugal earlier this month, the Shrule man is still not 100% match fit.
“Trevor is doing well with the physio and he will be part of our squad with a view to possible coming on this Sunday but he will not be ready for starting,“ explained Moran. “Apart from that we aren’t doing too bad. We had a couple of injuries which were helped greatly in Portugal, it was the perfect setting to recover because everything was on site, pool, gym and physio.
“We trained twice a day there and we had a good quality of session. The lads were excellent in their attitude which made things go all the better. We trained on a rugby pitch and while it wasn’t quite GAA full size we devised different situations to work in like 12 v 12 or 13 v 13 games and had smaller, more specialised drills.
“It was a bonding trip and it also gave you a perfect opportunity to do tactical type work. What we did out there in terms of tactical stuff in just one week would take us three months at home in a normal training situation. We had access to the lads all the time and we made excellent use of team meetings and one on one sessions with the players.”
It was, says Moran, the perfect preparation for the business end of the Connacht Championship. Leitrim, he added, will be a difficult obstacle.
“Leitrim will be very strong opponents, we know that. They did very well in the league considering the injuries they had and this will be a game they will be gearing 100% towards. Like us they are just 70 minutes from a Connacht final, they’re formidable opponents and if I were from Leitrim I would see plenty of reason to look forward to this game.”
With speculation in Mayo continuing apace over the positioning of Moran’s key personnel and central positions, the Mayo manager is quick to dismiss the nature of such talk.
“There is very healthy competition for places in the Mayo squad and I wouldn’t want it any other way. To be honest I don’t pay any heed at all to any of the talk out there about players.
“The only person who knows everything about the players is me. Everyone can make conjecture on what team should play but I am the only person who knows which players are fit, who’s off form, illnesses etc. Everyone else is giving opinion when they might not be aware of the facts.”
The Mayo manager was also keen to stress that he couldn’t find fault in the application of the Mayo players, something he says “makes the ordeal of travelling from Derry worth it”.
“In terms of attitude the Mayo team is the best I’ve seen in my time in management. The Derry team of 1993 were exceptional, they dedicated their whole life to winning the All-Ireland. Everything else came second, lifestyle, family and work. This Mayo squad is just as dedicated.”
Brady set to miss Leitrim match
MAYO’S experienced midfielder David Brady seems certain to miss next Sunday’s Connacht SFC semi-final against Leitrim because of injury.
The Mayo News has learned that the Ballina clubman sustained a foot injury during the course of Mayo’s training camp in Portugal recently which was further aggravated during a squad training session on Sunday.
The injury to his instep looks set to keep Brady out of next Sunday’s clash with Leitrim as well as a possible Connacht Final date with Galway on July 16. However, the full extent of the damage was not known at the time of going to press.