A MAN WITH A PLAN Offaly manager John Maughan came up against Meath in the Leinster championship already this season. Pic: Sportsfile
ALL the pressure is on Mayo as they head to Croke Park to face Meath in the second round of the ‘Super 8s’ next Sunday, but if James Horan’s men attack Meath’s kick-outs and go man-to-man there’s no chance of an upset.
That’s according to former Mayo manager John Maughan, whose Offaly side pushed the Royals to the pin of their collars in the Leinster championship back in May.
A 63rd minute goal from Bryan McMahon gave Meath a narrow two-point victory against their Division Three opponents that day, who held a four-point lead with 15 minutes to go.
“We went up very, very confident because we felt they would be complacent against a Division Three team and they were,” Maughan told The Mayo News.
“We were so commanding at the start of the second half and kicked seven unanswered points. “We had them by the throat, but we just didn’t squeeze them hard enough.
“Mayo will be very anxious that there is no element of complacency coming into Croke Park. Meath will make it awkward and throw the kitchen sink at it because they have nothing to lose, so all the pressure is on Mayo to deliver.”
Maughan, who returned to inter-county management this year after a long hiatus, says Offaly felt Meath were vulnerable in their full-back line, but says Mayo must curb their attacking half-backs, Donal Keogan, Padraic Harnan and Gavin McCoy.
Full-forward Michael Newman can also cause plenty of trouble if allowed.
“We felt there was a vulnerability in their defence, even though their half-back line is strong, which is an area Mayo have to be cautious of,” he said. “The one thing Mayo need to do is put a stopper on that half-back line getting on breaking ball.
“Their full forward, Michael Newman, is very good and has got plenty of headlines. Even though we managed to snuff him out to a large extent, against Clare he was involved in everything before he went off injured.”
Back in 1996, John Maughan was managing Mayo when they lost the All-Ireland Final after a replay to the Royals. Even all these years later, he still feels it was ‘the one that got away’.
“I think about it regularly, but not near as often as I used to,” he recalled. “It often still flashes through my mind being quite honest.
“Of the three All-Ireland Finals I was involved in, it was certainly the one that got away – we should have won it. We beat Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final for the first time in decades and I felt we were a six or seven point better team, and we were. But unfortunately we didn’t win it.
“There’s the fortuitous Colm Coyle strike from the middle of the field that evaded Pat Holmes, I think it was at full-back, and bounced over John Madden’s head and the famous melee.
“With 15 minutes to go there was only one winner, so it appeared, and people were beginning to rejoice in the stands. Next thing it was gone.”
Next Sunday the Crossmolina native thinks Mayo should attack Meath’s kick-outs as he feels their goalkeeper is vulnerable.
“I can’t see an upset at all,” he said. “I’m on record saying I didn’t see one against Roscommon either, but as long as we don’t pick up more injuries to key players, such as Aidan O’Shea who is playing the football of his life at midfield for us, that’ll be key.
“We [Offaly] attacked their kick-outs because we felt their goalkeeper was vulnerable. So if Mayo pressure his kick-outs and go man-to-man, force them to go kick long, we’ve a great chance of winning a lot of primary possession. And that will be critical.”
Mayo v Meath
Sunday, July 21
Croke Park at 2pm