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Mayo need to tune in right from the start



Mayo need to tune in right from the start

Noel Connelly

NO matter how well you’ve done the day before, in football you’re only as good as your next game.
Mayo dealt pretty well with being fancied the last day against Galway, which is always a big derby game, so it was probably a bit easier for players to prepare for that game as favourites.
Roscommon are in Division 3, so it’s going to be very hard to prepare mentally and focus like they did the first day out. But three years ago, Roscommon turned over a Sligo team who had beaten Mayo and Galway in the Connacht final in Castlebar. They’re in the long grass.
Their preparation is very low-key, and I’d be very wary about Sunday.
Roscommon are coming off the back of a lot of underage success. They’ve a lot of experience around the middle. St Brigid’s have just won the club title. So there’s a lot of confidence up there and a lot of good footballers.
It might be camouflaged by the fact that they’re in Division 3 of the league, but league and championship are completely different. Mayo were playing out of Division 3 when we got to the 1996 All-Ireland final. So I’d be wary.
The talent is there, and it’s one we can’t take for granted.

Missing Link
CILLIAN O’Connor is a huge loss. For a young man, he’s shown a lot of maturity and he was involved in most of what was good in Galway.
Alan Dillon would probably be my first choice to fill in in at centre forward, because he’s a playmaker and a good man on the ball – very composed, and he always seems to pick out the right pass and pop up in the correct areas to support his full-forward line and take points. But for whoever comes in, they’ve big boots to fill. Cillian has been playing with a lot of confidence.
Is it time to start Andy Moran? Maybe not. But hopefully he’s up to playing a full half the next day, and if Mayo get over Sunday, starting against either Leitrim or London might be a better run-out for him.
On another note, we’re always a target for long, high ball, so we should consider throwing an extra man back in front of the full-back line early on.

The Verdict
THIS is a banana skin, but if Mayo focus from the start, we should win the game comfortably. But if Mayo don’t give Roscommon the respect that they deserve, we could be in for a difficult and maybe a close game.
But Mayo have been playing out in the last few months. They should have the experience. They’ve had a lot of tough games throughout the league, they’ve won comfortably over Galway. Their confidence will be high, and they’ve had a good few weeks under their belt to up their fitness levels. So I think Mayo will win, with six or seven points to spare.