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Mayo team need to reset ‘goals’


ONE THAT GOT AWAY Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor has his goalbound shot saved by  Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton during the recent National League match at Croke Park. Pic: Sportsfile

Edwin McGreal

IN four National League games thus far this year, Mayo have scored just one goal – that from Cillian O’Connor’s penalty against Roscommon.
It’s a poor return, but it’s made worse still when you delve back through the games and see how much Mayo have missed.
Against Monaghan, Kerry, Roscommon and Dublin, Mayo went for goal on 19 occasions. Scoring just one goal from those 19 shots is abysmal, and certainly worthy of further analysis.
These 19 efforts, it must be pointed out, do not include times where Mayo tried to go for goal and were foiled from getting a shot off – take Andy Moran’s quick free to Kevin McLoughlin near the end of the Monaghan game, which ended with a Colm Boyle shot for a point going wide.
They only include actual shots for goal, and just how badly Mayo are falling short in this regard has to be a worry for Stephen Rochford and company.
Looking back at each of those goal chances there was a combination of poor decision-making and poor execution. But what is apparent from the figure of 19 efforts at goal alone is that Mayo appear to have a strategy to go for the jugular when even a sniff of a goal chance presents itself. Or, certainly, one would hope this is the case, as it can partly explain some of the poor decision-making involved.
After the Roscommon game, we flagged that while scoring 1-19 and having 12 different scorers was a positive, the fact that Mayo only hit the net once against a poor Roscommon defence was a worry.
That’s backed up by the fact that Mayo have raised just one green flag in more than six hours of football, and these concerns were very prevalent in Croke Park against Dublin.

Zero from five against the Dubs
MAYO went for goal on five separate occasions in Croke Park last Saturday week and had no goals to show for it. We’d argue that only on two occasions was the decision to go for goal the right one.
Kevin McLoughlin had a proper goal chance midway through the first half.
The decision to go for goal was not flawed, but where he shot from was. Beating Stephen Cluxton from the range he kicked the ball (15 metres out) would require an excellent effort. McLoughlin had the scope to take another play and increase the percentages for himself scoring or by off-loading to a team-mate, as three Mayo attackers were facing two Dublin defenders.
Evan Regan’s shot for goal in injury time may not always have been the right decision, but at that stage in the game it was a better option than taking his point.
However, on three other occasions, Mayo took the wrong decision.
In the first half, coming in from a tight angle, Cillian O’Connor tried to steer the ball past Stephen Cluxton. The Dublin ’keeper saved and you’d have to think he would come out on top more often than not. We’d estimate it to be a one in five chance of success for O’Connor from that spot against someone like Cluxton – making it a lower percentage option than taking his point.
In the second half Mayo had two efforts for goal which were definitely the wrong decision, and they came one after the other.
Firstly, Andy Moran, under a lot of pressure and with no clear sight of goal, tried to drill the ball through the cover. It was easily blocked. Diarmuid O’Connor picked up the rebound and tried an even more speculative shot for goal from almost 25 metres.
It was a very straightforward point opportunity, and going for goal showed to the Dubs that Mayo’s composure had deserted them.
While Andy Moran has been, arguably, Mayo’s best forward in the NFL thus far, he has been particularly guilty in going for goal in low percentage situations. He’s gone for goal five times – more than any other Mayo player – and only on one occasion was the goal most certainly on.
That was in the first half against Kerry when he broke through, soccer-style, only to curl his left-footed shot wide of the far left post. The play was brought back for a free with no advantage accruing, but it was certainly a clear chance.
However, twice more in that game, Moran went for goals that realistically were not on.
One, in the first half, was blocked and the second, after the break, was easily saved.
He was also easily blocked against Roscommon, allied to the aforementioned blocked effort against Dublin.

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