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Minor win ‘the stuff of dreams’

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GLORY DAYS Mayo’s Diarmuid Duffy, left, and David Dolan celebrate after Saturday’s All-Ireland Football Minor championship semi-final in Tullamore.  Pic: Sportsfile

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Oisín McGovern

MAYO minor manager Sean Deane has always said that this Mayo team are capable of playing and adapting to a number of different styles of football.
Having racked up 3-18 against Kildare and 2-21 against Sligo, his charges approached last Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final less like ‘machine-gunners’ and more like ‘snipers’, such was the dearth of scoring opportunities.
After The Mayo News fended off a small army of hand-shakers and well-wishers before getting to speak with him, the Kiltane native hailed ‘a battling performance’ against an untypically defensive Kerry team.
“It proves one thing, that these guys can play different brands of football, different styles of football, they can battle, and when their backs are to the wall they come out fighting,” he said.
“One of the things we looked for was a strong performance in terms of their work ethic. That was there in abundance. You could see there was an awful lot of guys that had nearly ran out of steam. They had given everything for that 62 or 63 minutes. I couldn’t be more proud of the lads.”
Reacting to prospect of an all-Connacht All-Ireland final, and another rematch with Galway, Seán Deane could not speak highly enough of these ‘young men’, as he likes to refer to them.
“It means everything. These guys have done about 60 sessions, so if you look at the work that these guys have put in, and I mean work, there’s no one slacking in training in any way, shape, or form,” he explained.
“If you just look at the effort and energy they put in, they deserve it based on that. But then you fuse that with the talent that these guys have, and the attitude they have.
“They are 16, they are 17 years of age, but really they have the maturity of a 26- or 27-year-old. They are an absolute pleasure to manage.”
He was also fulsome in his praise for his ‘phenomenal’ goalkeeper David Dolan, who’s early second half acrobatics helped Mayo win such a low-scoring contest.
“I am not surprised, because I’ve seen David do this in training,” he said.
“I am glad it was on TV, and I’m glad it was witnessed, because it was no more than he deserves, because he’s the coolest man in the dressing room. He keeps the defenders all grounded because that was a massive, massive turning point in the game.”
Mayo joint-captain Diarmuid Duffy admitted that they were less than satisfied with their first half performance.
“To be honest, I’m a bit wrecked, but we couldn’t come all the way down to Tullamore and make it simple for ye, we had to put on a show,” chuckled the Ballinrobe teenager.
Duffy said the prospect of playing in the final somewhere in Connacht is one that hasn’t phased him or his Mayo team-mates.
“We always wanted to play in Croke Park, but I suppose that day will come again. We’ll focus on the task at hand and play wherever it is, and hopefully go out and win it.
“It’s the stuff of dreams really,” he added. “I said it to Mike Finnerty after the Connacht final. You go into there and it’s like a club dressing room, the vibe that’s around it. Everyone just gets on and everyone loves working hard. Like I said before. It’s a special group really.”
A special group that will become extra-special if they beat Galway again next month.

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