Donal Vaughan reflected on Mayo’s state of mind
THE dressing room door was open and Mayo players trickled out in ones and twos for around 20 minutes. Donal Vaughan emerged looking exactly like you would expect him to look — tired but content. The quiet focus of each Mayo player afterwards was a statement in itself.
Before talking, the Cork-born defender composed himself, throwing his bag on the bus, and pausing for a couple of seconds to reflect on the game in his own considered style.
So, how much of a motivating factor for Mayo was being written off in the days leading up the game?
“There are two ways of looking at it,” he began. “We had belief in our dressing room. It doesn’t really matter what people say outside of the dressing room. When you’re going well, people will say you’re great. When your going bad, they’ll say you’re bad, but the reality is you’re always somewhere in between.
“It definitely was said beforehand that they were going to wipe us. No one had expectations of us. The fans out there today, and I’ll have to thank them, they were brilliant, they came in hope rather than expectation.”
That hope was seeping out of an eerily quiet Croke Park 16 minutes into the contest when Cork led by seven and seemed ready to push on and run up another big score. The belief must have been tested.
“I suppose it was. It was a lucky enough goal to be fair but we didn’t drop the heads, we just kept going. Then Kevin [McLoughlin] got the goal and gave us a lift. There is a belief in this team that wasn’t there before, which James has brought in.
“After Cork got their penalty, we had a penalty chance as well which they might have given in the Premiership but they didn’t give there,” added the 22 years-old.
“We spoke about that scenario beforehand. Crazy things happen in championship, we knew we just had to keep going and keep playing and things would come.”
Mayo conceded another goal to Paul Kerrigan not long after Kevin McLoughlin burst clear to score but, by that stage, Mayo had found their rhythm.
“If you put pressure on any team they are going to find it more difficult to get the scores,” explained Donal Vaughan.
“But at the same time I think Cork missed a number of good scoring chances as well. “In any game you need the rub of the green but I suppose the big thing that stood to us in the end is that we didn’t stand back.”
The calm demeanour of each and every squad member in the aftermath was something that caught the eye of this reporter. We wondered was it just mental fatigue or something entirely different?
“The way we have approached every game all year is one game at a time,” said Mayo’s centre-half back.
“London, Galway, Roscommon... Our next game is Kerry, We’ll enjoy tonight but we’ve a big game in three weeks time. We have a recovery session tomorrow, training on Tuesday, and we’ll get straight back into it again.
“I’m just proud of the players, the whole panel,” continued the Ballinrobe clubman. “There are 31 of us, including four or five who didn’t tog. It’s what we are trying to base our game on this year, working for each other. Thankfully, we did that today.”