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Mayo must get back to basics


ROARING BACK Colm Boyle reacts after scoring a point during the first half against Galway in the Connacht SFC semi-final last Saturday evening. Pic: Sportsfile

Mayo didn’t meet their own standards against Galway

Billy Joe Padden

PART of me felt sorry for everyone involved in the Mayo set-up last Saturday evening. For this team’s remarkable five-year run of wins in Connacht to end like that was so disappointing.
I’ve said it before, that these players don’t owe any of us anything, but that performance would have been unacceptable for themselves.
These lads set themselves very high standards, and that display fell a long way short.
To add insult to injury, Mayo were beaten by a fairly mediocre Galway performance. I believe they played much better last year in Salthill but left empty-handed.
This time they took full advantage of Mayo’s malaise.
With less than three weeks until the All-Ireland Qualifiers game, it’s time now for everyone in the Mayo set-up to get back to basics — on and off the field.
It’s a message that has to permeate to every aspect of the squad, players, management and backroom team after last Saturday’s sobering defeat.
The players have to get back to doing what made them great in the first place, and the management and backroom staff need to do everything in their power to facilitate that.
As supporters, we need to give these Mayo players the chance to redeem themselves. Every team, at one stage or another, has taken their eye off the ball but they can only truly be judged on how they react.
We’re going to learn an awful lot about this Mayo group in the weeks ahead. They’ve never faced adversity like this before during the lifecycle of this particular squad of players, where they have such a short period of time to react to such a setback in the championship.
It’s unknown territory for all concerned, which is why they have to get back to doing what they’re good at immediately.
Put guys in positions where they’re comfortable (e.g Lee Keegan needs to be left in the half-back line) and play orthodox football that gets the most out of what we have.
Long-term strategies and game-plans need to be parked for now. It’s about getting this team ready in every way for what needs to be done on Saturday, July 9.
I have absolutely no doubt that Stephen Rochford and his management team would have felt awful after the game.
They know better than anybody that a decent performance would have been enough to beat Galway. So do the players.
Knowing the way these Mayo footballers think, they will be cut up about how poorly they performed last weekend in light of what happened last October.
These players backed themselves last winter when they decided to propose a vote of no confidence in Pat Holmes and Noel Connelly as joint managers.
But the players didn’t deliver on what they promised themselves against Galway.
That’s why we might see something from them next month.
If I was going to give Mayo’s management team one piece of advice it would be this: decide right now what you’re going to do, and how you’re going to play, and focus on that.
Nothing else.
Stephen Rochford and his coaches need to use the limited amount of time they have with the players to make them a better football team.
Coaching on the field, resurrecting confidence, and getting key players doing what they do best is all that matters now. Starting with the likes of Aidan O’Shea.
Everything else is just background noise, and irrelevant right now. It’s time to get back to basics.
This team is at a crossroads, but there’s every chance that they’ll be in a better position in six weeks time.
There’s no better place to learn about yourself as an individual or as a team than when your back is to the wall.
These Mayo lads need to remember that they’re footballers who live or die by what they do with the ball when it’s in their hands, or what they do to get it back.
It’s time for the real Mayo to stand up again.

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