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Mayo can’t ‘find the anger’


A QUICK WORD Tyrone manager Mickey Harte shakes hands with Stephen Rochford after the final whistle In Sunday’s National League match in Castlebar. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Talking Tactics

Billy Joe Padden

ONE of the biggest problems for Mayo over the last twelve months is that they’ve shown that they’re unable to get up for certain games.
Last year’s National League loss against Dublin springs to mind, the home defeat to Cavan was another, and a few of last year’s Qualifiers were hairy enough at times too.
Not to mention this year’s league game against Galway.
It’s something that some of the Mayo players have spoken about as well and there’s no doubt that you can see a trend emerging.
Last Sunday was another prime example of this group of Mayo players sleepwalking their way through a match.
You can be sure if Mayo were properly ‘on it’ they wouldn’t have gone seven points down after half an hour. No way.
I think it’s a reflection on the squad as opposed to individual players. The reality is that guys like Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan, Tom Parsons and Aidan O’Shea can’t lead it every day.
This Mayo’s team success is built on eight or nine guys driving the whole thing forward from the front.
But if three or four of those guys are missing, and another two or three are not playing well, and another two or three just want to do their own job on a given day, then a game like last Sunday can just run away from you.
There just weren’t enough guys to lead the charge and pull the thing out of the fire, just like there weren’t in that league game against Dublin in Croke Park last spring.
Jürgen Klopp talks about ‘finding the anger’.
Mayo players knew what they had to do last Sunday, but they just couldn’t ‘find the anger’ to do it.
I know I sound like a broken record at this stage, but I cannot stress enough just how important a good start is against a team like Tyrone who play a blanket defence.
So for Mayo to find themselves 0-5 to 0-1 down after 15 minutes, and 0-8 to 0-1 behind after half an hour, was a disaster really. In fact, it’s practically impossible to turn that around unless you’re winning 70% of your own kick-outs and have a goalscoring threat in your forwardline.
Neither was the case for Mayo last Sunday.
With Cillian O’Connor, Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan and Andy Moran all off the field by half-time, even when Mayo got to within four points of Tyrone early in the second half, I never felt that they were going to make a game of it.
Not with four players out of that calibre all absent, and so many other leaders still out of the team too.
The fact that both Lee Keegan and Cillian O’Connor have picked up fairly serious injuries is a huge hammerblow in terms of Mayo being ready to produce a match-winning performance on May 13 against Galway.
I would argue they are our two most important players, in terms of Cillian being our free-taker and leader up front, and Lee being our best player, full stop.
Keegan is the one guy who has done exceptional things in crazy moments, time and again, in big games over the years.
Think of his goals against Dublin, his inspirational points, his overall contribution.
The two lads are going to miss an awful lot of training sessions over the next eight weeks and that is going to affect the team’s preparation, and their preparation, for Galway.
Speaking of our neighbours, based on the league so far, you could make a case that Galway have surpassed Mayo in the hierarachy. Based on the fact they didn’t back down against Dublin last Sunday, on what they did to us a few weeks ago, and on what many people believe they will do to us again in a few months’ time.
The reality is that, while Mayo will be a better team in summer, and an even better team when they get into Croke Park, they may not be the second best in Ireland by September. Galway might be.
It’s time Mayo started showing what they’re made of again.

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