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McDonagh finds his feet

Sport

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Fionn McDonagh produced a man of the match display on his first start in the National League for Mayo. Pic: Sportsfile

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Mike Finnerty

MOST of the crowd of 6,500 people had left Healy Park in Omagh last Sunday when Fionn McDonagh made his way across the field to be interviewed by TG4.
Having just started and finished his first National League match, the Mayo number ten had a man of the match award to collect and a short chat to record with reporter Marcus Ó Buachalla.
Just like his performance against Tyrone, McDonagh was foot-perfect in the interview and didn’t miss a beat.
The key messages to get across would have been reinforced to him before the cameras started rolling, but McDonagh was relaxed and assured anyway.
By all accounts, he’s a laid-back young man who takes most things in his stride.
“Coming up to the first away match of the year in Tyrone, with them coming off an All-Ireland, we knew the work-rate and everything had to be right from the get-go,” explained the Westport native.
“We knew there could be no mistakes, we’d have to work hard, and that’s what we did. And we’re two from two now, but taking it one game at a time.
“We’re not looking past Cavan next week.”
That last line was delivered like an inter-county veteran!
McDonagh had come off the bench in the dying moments of the windswept win over Roscommon a week earlier, but Sunday was his first start in the National League.
He had waited patiently for his chance and had impressed James Horan a lot last year when the two of them worked together in Westport.
McDonagh’s honesty, big engine, long stride and eye for a score ticked a lot of boxes for Horan. And they picked up where they’d left off with Westport when Mayo returned to training in November.
“We’ve been training hard all winter so it was nice to be able to show what we could do,” said the 21 year-old.
“The conditions had a massive influence on the game last week so we couldn’t really show what we’d done during the winter.
“The pitch was good here in Omagh so it was great to show what we can do and put on a performance.”
The University of Limerick engineering student was also asked about Andy Moran’s influence on Mayo’s new recruits and, unsurprisingly, McDonagh had nothing put praise for the man who made his 169th appearance last Sunday.
“Andy works harder than anyone and age is only a number really. That man, the head he has on his shoulders. . It’s not about physicality, it’s the way he plays.
“He’s so smart, I don’t think he’ll ever lose that, and that’s why he’s still playing.”

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