Killer instinct stands Aidan in good stead
MAYO win in Croke Park and not a single supporter makes it onto the pitch; an achievement in itself. Under the Cusack Stand the Mayo dressing room area has an understated feel to it. No high-fiving or getting carried away with victory here.
The players warm down, shower, take their ice baths and by the time they emerge to load their gear on the team bus, thoughts have already turned to next Sunday and the Dubs.
Aidan Kilcoyne is one player who cannot wait until Sunday comes.
“We’re in an All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin, 80,000 people in Croke Park, I’m really looking forward to it,” explained the Knockmore man. “We’d a long break after the Connacht final but we’ve now had two tough games one week after another and I think that will stand to us. There’s no pressure on us going into this game, Dublin are raging, raging hot favourites. We can just look forward to it, go out, work on our own game, cope with Dublin’s strengths, and give it 100%.”
Naturally, drawing a game is never part of the plan but get through the replay and the draw will stand to you is the consensus. Kilcoyne agrees.
“That was the initial reaction after last week. We said if we got over Laois that that game would really stand to us for the semi-final. Hopefully it will. We’ve had two really tough games out there, got used to Croke Park and lads are really playing well. The team is getting settled now and I think we’ll really give Dublin a good shot next weekend.”
Kilcoyne came on earlier than he would have expected on Sunday with Michael Conroy and Billy Joe Padden both picking up first half injuries. He arrived on the field at a time when Mayo had built up early momentum.
“That was something we said we would try to work on. At the team meeting beforehand we said we would try to hit the ground running, get up a lead. We knew if we could we have forwards like Conor Mortimer, Alan Dillon and Ciarán McDonald to tap on scores at will and thankfully it worked out that way today. Maybe at the end we had to play a bit of keep ball but that just goes to show the composure these lads have too.”
The Knockmore man has performed well in Croke Park, coming off the bench in both Laois games and scoring. He admits that sometimes it can be easier than starting.
“I suppose it’s probably a little bit easier coming off the bench because for a young fella (starting) the pre-match hype and nerves might get to you. But when you’re sprung off the bench you haven’t time to think about it, you just go in and it’s instinctive.
“I’m happy enough with the last two weeks. I suppose in the first half today I’d a chance when I should probably have slipped it into Conor, I didn’t see him inside and I dropped the ball short but other than that I would be pretty happy with the two weeks.”
Dublin is the clear focus now and Kilcoyne admits that Mickey Moran did stress the importance of switching attention straight away for that game.
“Afterwards he was saying it’s another step, get the bodies right for next week, train during the week. We’ll talk about this game and what we need to improve on. We’ll be all ready for Dublin next Sunday. We tried not to think about it before the Laois game because we didn’t want to look past them, but now that we’re there it brings a smile to your face. It’s one I’m really looking forward to.”
Making an impact
Mayo sub’ Aidan Kilcoyne goes past Joe Higgins of Laois during Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC quarter-final replay at Croke Park.