OUT OF REACH Tyrone’s Brian Kennedy jumps for the ball with Mayo’s Matthew Ruane during the All-Ireland SFC Final back in September. Pic: Sportsfile
Matthew Ruane reflects on a bittersweet year for him and Mayo
Name: Matthew Ruane
Occupation: Global Supply Chain Analyst, Coca Cola
Did you know? Matthew made his championship debut in New York in 2019.
THE year just gone saw Mayo midfielder Matthew Ruane win his first All-Star but fall short in pursuit of the ultimate aim – a Celtic Cross.
The All-Ireland Final defeat to Tyrone and, particularly, the poor performance from Mayo, still sticks in the craw for many. And Ruane is no exception.
“The most disappointing thing is we just didn’t perform and Tyrone, credit to them, they didn’t allow us to perform and they were the better team and they fully deserved to win.
“We’ve absolutely no complaints, we didn’t perform,” he told The Mayo News.
“We didn’t play anywhere near what we are able to, but yet we still could have won the game.
“We won every game to that point despite not performing in certain parts of games. Looking back on it now, and I know we were playing in Division 2, we still managed to win every game and that was one of the most disappointing aspects of the defeat.
“If certain things went our way, or if certain moments went our way, who knows? Momentum could have changed.
“Myself, personally, I didn’t feel like I performed to the best of my ability. Unfortunately the lights just didn’t come on and we’ve reviewed it as a team and we’re already looking forward to 2022. We’re going to push on again,” he said.
But what do the players and management feel led to such an underwhelming display in the final?
“It is definitely a hard thing to put your finger on. I’d like to think we would all prepare the same for this game as we would for any other game. It is one of those things. That’s sport.
“I would say that we definitely prepared as hard for this game as we did for any other game. “Physically we were all in brilliant shape going into it. We were going in there full of confidence, we had come off the back of a really big win over Dublin and Galway and despite only playing in halves, nearly, in both of those games.
“It is a hard one to pinpoint. We’ve had the last couple of months. We’re starting to get back training now and over the next couple of weeks, that’s when we’re looking forward to seeing where we can really improve.
“I always find looking back at games is great and you can talk about how you are going to do things, but unless you go out on the pitch and start putting the things you’ve talked about into practice, that is where the real learning will come from.
“The next couple of weeks leading into the FBD we will try and sort a variety of those problems,” he said.
Three months on from the final loss to Tyrone, the Coca-Cola Ballina employee said he has started to reflect on the year as a good one overall, but only in the past two weeks.
“Overall, it was a good year. Apart from the final we won every game, we won promotion to Division 1, we won the Connacht title.
“I really enjoyed the year personally. As hard as it was in the month after the final, in the last week or two I’ve started to reflect on how it was a really enjoyable year,” he said.
‘A low place’
HOWEVER, he admits the weeks after the Tyrone defeat were ‘really tough’ and a ‘really low place to be’.
He recalls returning to Breaffy training the Wednesday after the final and the journey to the midlands where they trained to facilitate Dublin-based players.
The car journey with Colm Kelly, Keith Mulchrone, Stephen McDermott and John Deane was a great leveller, he recalls.
“There’s a great mix of characters there and we had a good aul’ laugh in the car and got back training and that was just the start of getting back to normal life.”
He said he received no personal criticism on the street himself and gives social media a wide berth around games.
He can understand the frustrations that many fans feel though.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We’re very lucky to have brilliant fans. Everyone was hurt after the game and no one more hurt than ourselves.
“There was criticism … A lot of aspects of the game they’re probably right in saying that.
“We didn’t actually perform to the best of our abilities and I know a lot of people were frustrated, but people need to think that there is no one more disappointed or gutted than the players. We know we didn’t perform, that’s the most important thing.
“Some criticism was right and justified, other criticism was not. That’s just the way it is, that’s sport, everyone has an opinion, it’s why we all love it too.”