NO PAIN, NO GAIN Mayo’s Ryan O’Donoghue is fouled by Galway’s Neil Mulcahy during Saturday’s National League clash at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park in Castlebar. Pic: Sportsfile
Billy Joe Padden
ONE of the biggest things that Kevin McStay would have wanted coming out of last Saturday evening’s game was a sense of positivity around the Mayo project.
Thanks to Ryan O’Donoghue’s last-gasp equaliser, he got that.
It was something that came across in his post-match interviews too; that he was happy with the point, the result, and some of the individual performances.
But, overall, just pleased to start the National League on a positive note.
It was important for a few reasons; like Lee Keegan’s retirement, Oisin Mullin going to Australia, and the feeling among a lot of Mayo supporters, rightly or wrongly, that there was a negative feeling about the whole thing last season.
So when you get a big crowd into Castlebar, and they’re nervous and excited at the beginning of a new season, sending them home feeling good and positive about things is a good start.
The new management got above-average performances from players they are going to be relying on to step up into the future, especially the defenders like Rory Brickenden, David McBrien and Jack Coyne. Colm Reape had a decent game in goals too.
It was an inexperienced backline overall, and when Mayo’s best defender, Paddy Durcan, comes back then it should be a solid unit.
I’ve no doubt that Kevin McStay will see the way the game finished as something he can build on too. That when all seemed lost they kept going and got something out of it.
In terms of how the game itself played out, I was impressed with how Mayo played in the second half.
Workhorses around the field like Jordan Flynn, Mattie Ruane and Diarmuid O’Connor really upped their games and started to play a bit better. That was a key factor in Mayo dominating the game the way they did at times.
Players were definitely less inclined to pull the trigger as well in the second half and a lot less shots dropped short, which was a big positive and showed they learned from their mistakes.
Up front, it was evident again how important Ryan O’Donoghue is going to be.
He’s not afraid to take on extra responsibility, he kicked his frees, and he stepped up when the equaliser was needed.
James Carr has got the raw materials and I don’t think he’s one of those players that can be moulded into a conservative, ‘percentages’ forward. That’s not who he is.
He’s dynamic, he tries to make things happen, he’s a bit erratic, but you don’t want that coached out of him because he has that ability in him.
One area that can improve is his shot selection and that can be tightened up, but I have no issue with him hunting for goals around the 20m line.
Bob Tuohy did really well for his first day out. He’s going to get physically stronger but he held on to the ball well under pressure and showed that he has a good understanding of the game. He’ll come on a lot for the experience, and the way he took his point without looking at the goals, knowing exactly where they were, showed how comfortable he was under pressure.
One thing that struck me about the half-forward line was that they are all midfielders by trade really: Bob Tuohy, Jack Carney and Jordan Flynn. I think that line needs another inside forward to crank up the scoring level and I’d expect to see management try and address that over the next few weeks, to try and find the right balance between physicality and ball-winning ability and putting scores on the board.
Jordan Flynn had a really good second half, he worked back, showed really good discipline in the tackle, won some important turnovers and that shows his growth and how important he’s become to the team.