BIG THREAT Derry Under-20 midfielder Callum Brown is pictured against Down in the Ulster Championship. Pic: Sportsfile
MAYO Under-20 football manager Mike Solan was surprised by his team’s winning margin in the Connacht Final, but says they have a very narrow focus as they prepare to take on ‘a very strong’ Derry in next Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final.
Solan was an interested spectator when Derry beat Armagh by seven points (2-15 to 0-14) in the Ulster Final last month and was impressed with what he saw.
“They [Derry] came from nine or ten points down in the middle of it,” he told The Mayo News. “They are certainly a team that have got a bit of momentum behind them and have had a good Ulster campaign.
“They’re a very strong side at this time of the year. When you’re getting to this stage of the competition you’re going to be meeting strong sides, and they came through a tough Ulster campaign and had a few really good battles. ”
Derry substitute Brian Cassidy scored both of his team’s goals that day in Clones while they will also be looking to the likes of Oisin McWilliams, Callum Browne, Declan Cassidy and Lorcan McWilliams for leadership and scores.
Many of this Derry side played in last year’s All-Ireland Minor final defeat to Kerry, while the county has won two of the last three Ulster Minor football championship titles.
Mayo will be without the services of inspirational centre-half back Oisín Mullin who suffered a dislocated shoulder in the victory over Roscommon, but other than a few ‘bangs or knocks’ the Connacht champions will be operating at full strength, according to their manager.
And while their provincial final victory was comprehensive in the end, Mike Solan says they ensured nobody got carried away with it.
“Maybe the scoreboard said it was easy but when you’re involved in it, it never feels easy,” he explained. “There might have been an outside perception of it being easy… But if you ask any of the players what it was, or the management team, there was no stage of the game where we thought it was easy.
“We have a very, very narrow focus on what we are doing. We’re just focusing on what we have to do to get ourselves ready for next Saturday. We won’t be looking at anything bar our preparation and making sure we get as much right as we can.”
All-Ireland U-21 FC
Mayo v Derry
Saturday, July 14