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Doherty delivers on Mayo debut

Doc’ delivers on his first day out

Mayo’s two-goal hero takes it all in his stride

Mike Finnerty

IT was after midnight last Friday when the Mayo team for Sunday’s showdown with Galway was finally released to the public. Only those who were surfing the internet, or checking their e-mails, at that time of night would have been aware that James Horan’s selection had been revealed.
The Mayo manager had held off from announcing his selection all week, and it was only after training on Friday evening in Castlebar that he decided to reveal his hand.
There were four changes from the side that lost to Kerry; Chris Barrett and James Kilcullen both drafted in to get a chance to impress, while James Burke and Jason Doherty would make their first NFL starts. The late team announcement meant speculation was kept to a minimum. A low-profile was ensured for all concerned.
That was until Jason Doherty burst on to the national scene on Sunday afternoon. The TG4 ‘GAA Beo’ cameras beamed his goalscoring exploits all across the country while, later that evening, they were repeated on RTE 2’s ‘League Sunday’.
After waking up on Sunday morning as just another league debutant in a county teeming with good, young footballers, the 21 years-old Burrishoole forward was suddenly the talk of the place.
On Mid West Radio, Billy Fitzpatrick described Doherty as ‘a natural corner-forward’ and selected him as his ‘man of the match’. TG4 did too.
After such high praise, and making such an impressive first impression, it would have been easy for the NUI, Galway student to get carried away. But that’s not Jason Doherty’s way.
Standing in the old press box at Tuam Stadium, the fresh-faced youngster from Cuilmore in Newport smiled broadly as he reflected on his first day out with the Mayo seniors. His feet, however, were firmly on the ground. 
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start,” he admitted. “Things just happened to go my way. In your first game you just want to get on the ball, lay it off, make a few scores. . Today I was just happy with how things went.
“I just wanted to make an impression. I just wanted to stick with the pace of it and I think we all did alright.”
He also explained how those goals were scored, beginning with the first.
“When I picked the ball up I got the turn and I could feel him [Galway defender] falling behind me. I just decided to run on. I was looking for the pass but everything seemed to open up in front of me so I said I’d keep going. I went low, under the ‘keeper, and luckily enough it went in.”
And the second? “Chrissy Barrett came up from the back and gave me a great ball. The defender had committed himself so I managed to give him a side-step and I kept it low again.”
He made it sound so simple, and also spoke succinctly about life in new Mayo set-up under James Horan.
“It’s brilliant. It’s enjoyable. You’re enjoying going to training. It’s a new experience for me and I just want to keep it going now. I’ll keep going hard at training and hopefully stay in the team.”
Then Doherty left, bringing his TG4 ‘man of the match’ crystal with him. He’s in Sigerson Cup action with NUI, Galway on Thursday and hopes to be playing in the ‘finals weekend’ on Friday and Saturday too.
The best may be yet to come.