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Time runs out for Mayo minors, says manager

Sport

ON THE LINE Mayo manager Damien Gavin (left) is pictured with members of his backroom team during last Sunday’s Connacht Minor FC defeat to Galway. Pic: Ray Ryan

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Mike Finnerty

HAVING just three weeks together to train collectively before last Sunday’s Connacht Minor Championship defeat to Galway was one of the contributory factors behind their early exit, according to Mayo manager Damien Gavin.
With the provincial championship starting two months earlier than in previous years, Mayo and Galway were thrown in at the deep end last weekend for their preliminary round clash.
However, two goals just before half-time put the young Tribesmen in the driving seat and Mayo were unable to recover as they crashed out of the championship in disappointing fashion, losing in the end by thirteen points.
“They don’t become bad players overnight,” Gavin told The Mayo News afterwards.
“Twelve of them are still only 17 years old, another eighteen of them are 18 years old, so they have big futures ahead of them. They need to regroup now.
“A lot of them have been very successful this year in the schools system. Five schools got to Connacht finals, four of them got out of the provinces, so they’re obviously very good players.
“We probably just didn’t have enough time to prepare as a collective unit. We only had three weeks together, two at high-pitch and the last week we were tapering down.
“I’m not making excuses but that was a factor, plus we had four lads out injured today.
“I’d like to have done a lot more with them, but we just didn’t have enough time to get structures put in and systems of play put in.
“We’re all proud Mayo men, I love my county, we all want to do our best for Mayo, and I’m going to try and keep doing that.”
Gavin, who has now completed the first season of a three-year term, will take charge of the Mayo under-17 team in 2018.
The 37 year-old Swinford clubman was at a loss to explain just why his team were so far off the pace against Galway.
“They’re a lot better than what they showed there.
“Unfortunately they didn’t perform. I don’t know why it didn’t happen for them because we were very well prepared.
“The lads were very positive in what they were doing over the last few weeks, the mood in the camp has been very positive, but we were just beaten by a better team.
“We have about five or six leaders in the team, exceptional players, and they didn’t perform to the best of their ability,” he added.
“They’re still good players, but it didn’t work for them today.
“But the lads didn’t throw the towel in, they showed good team spirit. We were well behind, the two goals before half-time did the damage, and once a team gets a run at you at this age level it’s very hard to turn it around.
“Some of these lads will go on to become serious senior county footballers for Mayo in the future.”
Gavin and his selectors will now turn their attention to this year’s county under-16 squad as they try to start assembling an under-17 panel for next year.
However, the Mayo boss also believes that the championship format in Connacht could be tweaked in order to give young players a chance to play more competitive games in the competition.
“I’d love to see a round-robin like they have in Munster and Leinster,” he admitted. “These lads have put in savage effort, if they were all with us full-time they would have been training Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the last four months.
“They’re playing with their clubs and schools, and over the next two weeks they’ll be playing four rounds of the club minor league. So it’s very difficult get our hands on them.”

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