MAYO’S ‘huge’ trip to Navan next Sunday to face Meath in the third round of the National League is a ‘four-pointer’, according to Andy Moran.
The former Footballer of the Year was working as an analyst on Eir Sport – alongside Mark O’Sé and Joe Brolly – for last Saturday night’s clash between Mayo and Dublin in MacHale Park, Castlebar.
Moran admitted that he was not surprised by Dublin’s latest victory over James Horan’s side, but believed there is still plenty of positives to take from a Mayo perspective.
“When I saw the two line-ups, did I think Dublin were going to win the game?” he said afterwards. “I did, so it’s not a surprise.
“But Jordan Flynn getting sent off early didn’t help it as a spectacle and it didn’t help Mayo either because they tried to do a really high, good press against Dublin, keeping a man in front of the full-back line. And once Jordan went off that was a struggle.
“But the likes of Tommy Conroy who came on and did very good, Oisin Mullin in the full back line, Brendan Harrison, Robbie Hennelly in goal, you have to take some positives out of them performances.
“And they got a few of the older guys back on the pitch, so from a Mayo point of view you got to be happy with that.”
Moran went on to say that Mayo adopted a similar strategy to the National League last year by integrating young players, which he believes is vital to help their rising age profile.
“The age profile of the team is not getting any younger,” Moran said. “You can play all these guys [older players] and burn out in late summer, or you can get the younger guys in. Also, a lot of the older guys have injuries, like Cillian [O’Connor], Keith [Higgins], Lee [Keegan] and now Boyler [Colm Boyle], so what do you do?
“The thing I would say, there’s young fellas coming in and they’re playing well. We did the same thing last year with Mattie Ruane and a couple, [like] Fionn McDonagh.
“Oisin Mullin and Tommy Conroy did very well, and Padraig O’Hora.”
In the wake of a 16th game in a row where Mayo failed to get the better of the Dubs, Moran also noted that the Westerners just cannot match the All-Ireland champions’ turnover of players and their consistent level of performance.
“The scary thing is that Dublin seem to be re-generating all the time,” he said. “They’re introducing players all the time and they’re not getting any worse or any better.
“I remember when Ger Brennan retired, I thought they were in trouble; Rory O’Carroll went away and I thought they were in trouble; Diarmuid Connolly went away and I thought they were in trouble.”
Looking ahead to Mayo’s trip to Navan next week, Moran believes it’s a must-win if Mayo are to retain their Division One status for another year.
“It’s a huge game,” he stated. “From the start, I’m delighted to see Lee back, delighted to see Aidan [O’Shea] getting a half and a bit more behind him tonight because next week is a huge game.
“You could see it from the outset… we did well to get a point in Donegal; today was always going to be an uphill struggle, so next week you’re on about a four-pointer in Navan.”
NFL Division 1
Meath v Mayo
Sunday, February 9
Navan at 2pm
Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone)