WHEN you’re a Division 1 league finalist and playing a mid-table Division 4 side, complacency can ride shotgun. That’s arguably what happened last year in Ruislip when Mayo could and should have been beaten by London. But there were few enough signs of it on Sunday, and Mayo midfielder and man of the match Barry Moran admits they had guarded firmly against it.
“Sometimes if you are listening to other people you’d think it is only a matter of turning up, but in fairness, James [Horan] and the backroom team didn’t allow that at all,” Moran told The Mayo News.
“They made sure we had our heads screwed on and that Leitrim were coming here and didn’t fear us. I think that showed in the first 20, 25 minutes when they really pushed themselves onto us and it was sticky there for periods. When you go into any championship game it doesn’t matter who you are playing, if your heads aren’t right you are going to be caught out. Thankfully we had the heads right and we got out of the blocks and got the result.”
Moran was a living embodiment of that attitude and had one of his finer games for Mayo. He caught five clean kick-outs in the first half and another four in the second half. He kicked one of the points of the day too. He certainly wasn’t going through the motions, and admits that Mayo didn’t hold their fire in the second half either, despite an eight-point lead.
“I think it is something that is often said, that the third quarter is the championship quarter. We were trying to drive on and make sure of that because we knew Leitrim were going to come out and throw everything at us. If we sat back and didn’t drive on they could have snuck a result. It was just important that we got out of the blocks,” admitted the Castlebar Mitchels star.
Moran broke the hearts of a few relatives yesterday too as both his parents are from Mohill in Leitrim. He was happy with his display but, he quickly adds, the important thing was for Mayo to get out of the blocks, play well and qualify for the Connacht final.
“Yeah, I’m happy [with how I played] but the main thing was that Mayo got the result and are through. It was a long wait. We were the last team in the country to be out. We got an awful lot of work done over the last seven or eight weeks, but lads were just chomping at the bit to get out there in championship and get going.
“The Connacht final is going to be a tough test and we know we can take nothing for granted. We’ll have to regroup, get the heads down and just make sure we show up and have our heads right for that game. We saw what Sligo did to Galway in Galway. We’re looking forward to it, but at the same time we know it is going to be very, very tough.”
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