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Mayo triumph over adversity

Sport

BACK IN THE GAME Cillian O’Connor receives some instructions from James Horan before going on in the 48th minute against Armagh last Saturday evening. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Talking Tactics
Billy Joe Padden

ONE thing this Mayo team can never be accused of is being boring. You certainly get full value for your Cairde Maigheo Season Ticket or admission fee when you go to watch them.
And if last Saturday night’s win against Armagh proved anything once again, it’s that you also can’t accuse this Mayo team of lacking resilience or showing the white feather.
Sure, it wasn’t the perfect performance, they rode their luck at times, and suffered some sort of meltdown in the last ten minutes, but the way they reacted to the loss of Lee Keegan before half-time spoke volumes to me about their mentality.
I thought it was very telling how three of the more experienced lads, Aidan O’Shea, Paddy Durcan and Jason Doherty, reacted to Keegan’s departure.
Aidan O’Shea catches a kick-out and Jason Doherty and Paddy Durcan kick points when the team needed them. That sort of leadership was one of the reasons why Mayo ultimately won the game.
Because it could easily have demoralised a team that’s already lost so many of their key men recently to injuries.
The way they responded to more adversity should make them and us proud. It’s a great quality to have in a group when the easy thing might be to drop the head.
And while we’re giving credit where it’s due. . .
I was critical after the Roscommon game of how long it took James Horan to make changes, but he certainly couldn’t be accused of that last Saturday evening.
Kevin McLoughlin, Stephen Coen, Donie Vaughan and Cillian O’Connor were all on the field before the 50th minute, and for me that’s the reason why Mayo delivered a strong third quarter.
I have to admit though that I didn’t agree with taking Andy Moran off first.
I thought it was harsh.
The problems to me seemed to be around a lack of attacking initiative coming from the half-back and half-forward lines, but Andy ended up carrying the can.
Now, fast forward to the last ten or fifteen minutes.
Horan has put a plan together; he’s emptied the bench, brought players on, and Mayo go five points up in the 55th minute. This is the time of the game when an experienced team like them should be able to close this game out.
But, and this is the mental flaw that’s cost them in the past, they lose their way and let Armagh back into it.
And there’s absolutely nothing that James Horan can do about this. He’s standing on the sideline with the rest of us.
In my opinion, a lot of it had to do with complacency.
There was Aidan O’Shea’s telegraphed pass that was intercepted by Rian O’Neill and nearly ended up in a goal for Rory Grugan. In fact, I thought David Clarke did really well to come out and narrow Grugan’s angle.
Then there were the short kick-outs that Mayo were left with because Armagh were doing so well on the long ones.
Then you see David Clarke left trying to bring the ball out himself which, for me, is just not good enough.
That screams complacency to me, and the players have to address that. Why don’t they drive on?
You had Fergal Boland caught on his heels waiting for a ball to come to him. That shouldn’t be happening.
Mayo made a mess of the last ten minutes, and the fault for that lies squarely with a number of players on the field.
Simple, unforced errors led to the likes of Stefan Campbell’s late point when he waltzed past a few Mayo defenders.  
I put that down to lack of concentration and a lack of understanding that possession is the most important thing.
That needs to be addressed before next weekend.

Mayo need to catch more breaks
MANAGEMENT won’t have much time for focussing on too many things this week with another game coming up so fast, but the whole area of Mayo’s long kick-out strategy needs looking at.
By and large, David Clarke got his short kick-outs away well against Armagh but, what caught my eye was that Mayo were struggling on the breaks from the long ones.
Kieran McGeeney had done his homework and Jarlath Óg Burns and Niall Grimley are a good partnership.
That meant that Aidan O’Shea wasn’t able to catch too many of them clean because he was being crowded out.
That’s perfectly understandable too because when you lose two midfielders of the calibre of Matthew Ruane and Diarmuid O’Connor, you’re going to struggle to dominate teams in the air.
The reality is that it’s going to take time for Mikey Murray to find his feet at that level, and it’s going to take time for Aidan O’Shea to get comfortable with him and build a rapport.
Having said that, you would expect fellas like Ciaran Treacy, Conor Loftus, Paddy Durcan and Colm Boyle to pick up a few more breaks.
Mention of Colm Boyle, and I wasn’t surprised to see that he got the Sky Sports man of the match. He was Mayo’s spare man at the back and I thought he was very sharp all day. He read the game well, cut out a number of balls that Armagh were trying to play through, and protected the full-back line well after a shaky first ten minutes for those lads.
Another man in the mix for MVP was Darren Coen.
He’s a lovely striker of the ball and kicked his points well.
As for the injuries, yes they are really hurting the squad, but you can’t legislate for them. James Horan and the players just have to keep driving on.

MPU Mayo

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