FORMER Mayo captain Andy Moran believes that the reigning Connacht champions are ‘on the right side of the draw’ after they were paired with Sligo in this year’s provincial championship quarter-final.
The 2021 draw, which as held on RTÉ last night (Monday), saw James Horan’s side come out of the hat first, quickly followed by Sligo, who are now managed by former Mayo selector, Tony McEntee.
The winners of that clash at Markievicz Park in late June will take on Leitrim in the semi-final.
Speaking to The Mayo News last night, Andy Moran said that while ‘Sligo will be delighted with the draw’, James Horan would see ‘this as an opportunity’ for Mayo’s young players ‘to express themselves’.
“Sligo are always a tough nut to crack,” said Moran, They have really talented players and a very fine management team of Tony McEntee and Joe Keane from Crossmolina. Any team that Joe is involved with will be thoroughly prepared and he’ll know a lot of the Mayo boys, as will Tony.
“Championship football is always a challenge and Mayo will take nothing for granted, but you’d have to say we’re on the right side of the draw. James is introducing a lot of new lads to the panel and will see this as an opportunity for them to express themselves,” remarked Moran, a member of the last Mayo team to lose to Sligo in the championship in 2010.
“Right now, the lads will be just delighted to be back on the pitch training together and feeling normal again. There won’t be much time before the season gets up and running and then it will be hectic until the meeting with Sligo on the last weekend of June.
“Sligo will be absolutely delighted with the draw. They’ll have nothing to lose and everything to gain and that makes them very dangerous. However, it’s an exciting draw for everyone involved and I’m sure all sides will take positives from it.”
The sides last met in championship in 2017 when Mayo prevailed on a 2-14 to 0-11 scoreline, but thoughts of championship glory will be put on the back burner this week as more pressing matters occupy the minds of players and managers alike.
Inter-county training resumed last night (Monday) for the first time after the easing of Covid restrictions and Mayo wasted no time in getting back on the grass. James Horan and his men were delighted to be back together agains after spending the past few months on individual training programmes.
Mayo’s opening game of the season takes place on Saturday, May 15 when they take on Down in the National League at MacHale Park, Castlebar will be Mayo’s first outside the top-flight for more than 20 years.
Mayo will also take on Westmeath and Meath in the group stages of the league campaign.