Talent found, more needed
James Horan handed out eight debuts this summer and three of them – Matthew Ruane, Fionn McDonagh and James Carr did well enough that they all started the biggest game of the year against Dublin.
The question now is can the other five debutants follow in their footsteps and push for starting places next year and can Messrs Ruane, McDonagh and Carr continue to improve after what would have been a chastising experience in Croke Park.
There certainly is plenty to be positive about but Mayo will need to find more talent next year, especially if there is a host of retirements.
Shortage of defenders
Malachy Clerkin from The Irish Times came with a great stat after the game.
Mayo had, marginally, the younger average age of the two teams who both started and finished – 27.2 and 27.9 to Dublin’s 27.3 and 28.3.
A small straw in a big wind Clerkin observed but it underscores the start that has been made on an infusion of youth in the team.
However the numbers rise when you isolate Mayo’s back six. The starting six defenders had an average age of 29.5; it was 28.33 by game’s end.
Five of the nine defenders who featured (if we include Paddy Durcan) will 30 or more by the end of this year. James Horan has a job of work coming his way.
Provincial honours still matters
For silverware alone, winning Connacht will surely be a big target in 2020. We’ve been here before though, every year since Mayo’s iron grip on the Nestor Cup was lost in 2016.
Mayo have a frustrating ability to struggle when their backs are not to the wall but there can be no doubt that the efforts involved through the back door took their toll in the Dublin game, especially with a ridiculously short seven day turnaround from the Donegal game.
That turnaround would have been tough even if it was after provincial success. Defeat to Roscommon meant it was six games in seven weekends. A huge ask.