ON THE ROAD TO CROKER Keith Higgins will be back at Croke Park with the Mayo hurlers next Saturday for the Christy Ring Cup Final. Pic: Sportsfile
FORMER Mayo footballer Keith Higgins says he is ‘expecting a big backlash’ from James Horan’s charges when they return to action in the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers on Saturday, June 4.
The draw for round one of the Qualifiers will take place next Monday morning with Mayo set to meet one of Tyrone, Armagh, Louth, Clare, Meath, Westmeath or Monaghan.
Higgins, who will be in action with the Mayo hurlers in next Saturday’s Christy Ring Cup Final against Kildare at Croke Park, believes that the county footballers will need to have made the most of their time on the training ground since losing to Galway.
“I think they’ll probably be hurting from the fact they lost to their biggest rivals at home,” Higgins told The Mayo News. “They’ll be hurting after a lot of the criticism they would have received after that game.
“The few weeks of the break might not have done them any harm, get a few of the injured boys back. . . But the majority of that panel would have has successful Qualifier campaigns previously so they’ll know what to expect.
“Obviously, it’s not as long a road as it once was, but it will be a bit trickier.
“You’d be expecting, and you’d hope, that there will be a bit of a backlash. “You’d be hoping that they’d figure out what happened, or what went wrong against Galway.
“That they’d figure out how to work around a blanket defence like that or a team that goes a bit defensive, because they’re going to come up against that regardless of who they’re playing.
“So you’d be hoping they’d take something from that as well, expect a big backlash.
“In one way you’d be wondering whether it would be a good thing if they got an Armagh or a Tyrone or a big team like that. Maybe in a way it might be, it might kickstart the season again.”
Mayo would have to win four games in a row to reach their third All-Ireland SFC Final in succession. Keith Higgins says he ‘wouldn’t completely rule it out’.
“You can never say it’s a bridge too far,” he said.
“We saw last year before the Dublin game, not many people would have given them much of a chance and we saw what they can do.
“You wouldn’t completely rule it out. I think they’ll need their best fifteen fit and fully fit, and not pick up any further injuries along the way.
“But it remains to be seen, they’re always in with a chance.
“I wouldn’t rule it out.”