MAYO minor football manager Tony Duffy believes Sligo should be favourites for Sunday’s Connacht MFC semi-final on the strength of how their colleges have performed over the last 12 months.
According to Duffy, colleges football provides the best insight into the minor championship and the performances of Summerhill College and St Attracta’s, Tubbercurry were far superior to anything achieved by any second level school in Mayo.
“Summerhill were very unlucky to be beaten by St Jarlath’s and St Attracta’s won the B Championship in Connacht so that is very solid form and Mayo did nothing so that is obviously a worry,” the Mayo boss told The Mayo News.
“We had an up and down league but things have been coming together nicely and I’ve been very happy with the way preparations have gone over the last few weeks,” he added.
Incidentally, one of Mayo’s best performances in the Connacht League came against Sligo back in April when they won by 1-8 to 0-5. On that occasion, a James Quinn goal five minutes into the second half dug the foundations for victory.
Mayo made a premature exit from last year’s Connacht championship when suffering a six-point loss at the hands of Roscommon and there are eight survivors from that panel, although Adam Gallagher was the only starter in the Rossies defeat.
However, Shane Hennelly, David McHale, Sean Moran, Ryan Coleman, Conor Byrne, Diarmuid O’Connor and Stephen Coen were all part of the 2011 squad.
Mayo have prepared for the Sligo clash by playing four challenges over the last couple of weeks. They have beaten both Tyrone and Hollymount/Carramore, and lost narrowly to Down and Ballintubber but it was the performances rather than the results that interested Duffy most.
“I would never judge a team until I see them in a championship match and it is very hard to compare this team to the ones from the last couple of years. But the one thing I will say is that the attitude and application of the lads has been top-class.
“With minors you can’t delve too deep into tactics but it’s important to coach them how to do the basics well – good tackling techniques, positional sense, kicking and passing – all areas of the game that are important.
“The lads are really buying into what we’re doing and there is certainly potential there. We are really looking forward to Sunday.”
Belmullet’s Cathal Barrett is definitely out with a broken bone in his foot but there are no other major injury concerns.
“Cathal is out but the rest of the lads seem fit and well. There are a few knocks and a few dead legs so we will delay naming the team until probably Thursday night but I hope all the knocks will clear up in time and that we can name our strongest team.”
The Mayo boss has seen Sligo play on a number of occasions and has singled out a couple of areas when they could cause problems.
“Sligo are very big and physical down the middle. This is probably the best minor team that they have produced in the last couple of years and we are under no illusions as to the magnitude of the task ahead of us.
“It should be a good game and whoever gets the breaks at the right time will go on and win the game. Hopefully that will be us and I’m hopeful that we can play to our potential. It would be a great year for us if we could win a Connacht Championship. Anything after that would be a bonus.”
Fixture Connacht Minor FC Semi-Final
Mayo v Sligo
Sunday, June 24
Castlebar at 1.30pm
Referee: P Neilan (Leitrim)