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Nallen: Can Mayo go again?

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STALWARTS Former Mayo selector James Nallen says current management obviously feel that Barry Moran still has something to offer. Pic: Sportsfile

Interview
Ger Flanagan

FORMER All Star James Nallen believes Mayo need to bring a ‘freshness’ that will match their rivals if they are going to be successful come September.
After an erratic National League campaign that saw Mayo survive relegation on the very last day, the Crossmolina native believes that the big question still to be answered is if this current Mayop squad have the ‘energy’ and ‘enthusiasm’ to win an All-Ireland.
“We haven’t played our best football yet and it is no harm having things to work on,” he reflected. “But I suppose the real question is whether this group of players, and I am talking about the older group of players in particular, still have the energy and enthusiasm for another season of it. They know what commitment is required and anything short of winning the damn thing isn’t going to be acceptable for them.”
Six long years on the road for this Mayo team without the ultimate success has raised doubts as to whether or not they can bounce back from last year’s All-Ireland Final replay defeat.
Nallen, who played for Mayo until 2009 and served as a selector for three seasons under James Horan, says that only the players themselves know if they have the drive to go again.
“It’s definitely a tonic if you win [one] along the way and you can see that from any of the teams that have, obviously Dublin. Winning for them is what they expect.
“It’s just a big generalisation that they [Mayo] don’t know how to win the ultimate prize,” added Nallen. “Mayo have had opportunities which they haven’t seen home for different reasons at different times. And the reality is that if they were to win, that would be a tonic in itself, and we wouldn’t be talking about whether or not they can sustain it.”
Veterans Barry Moran and Alan Dillon have both been included in Mayo’s championship squad, though neither featured in the National League.
But recalling his own days as a player in the latter stages of his career, Nallen – who represented Mayo 132 times – believes they still have a part to play.
“On their day, they can still be two very influential players, and management obviously see them as still having a part to play.”
The six-time Connacht Championship winner and two-time All Star wasn’t prepared to speculate on Mayo’s chances in the championship. Instead, he says their opportunity hinges on the ability of the team as individuals to strive for a singular goal.
“You don’t really know unless you’re part of the group, ultimately, everything is second-guessing looking in from the outside,” he told The Mayo News.
“You would hope that there is good harmony in the group, everyone is singular in their commitment and if they are, then they are making lots of sacrifice and putting in big effort.
“But if they are not doing that, if some of them are and some are not, and then to compete against Dublin, Kerry, Donegal and Tyrone, who are all going to be in the shake-up. .
“Teams that will bring a freshness that if Mayo can’t match, then they will be found wanting.”

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