Fresh from putting in a man of the match performance, the first thing asked of Lee Keegan in the concrete catacombs under Croke Park as he waited to board the bus following Mayo's win over Donegal last Saturday night was, had he meant to go for goal when he scored Mayo's second and vital third pointer just after the break. "Absolutley, there's no debate and I'll take it to my grave if I have to," smiled the Westport powerhouse.
Looking back at the game as a whole, Keegan said that he felt that Mayo were in control of the contest for the most part and he was very happy with how they performed. "I felt like we were in control of the game for long periods of time in the first half. Again, when we got the goal, it just kind of flattened Donegal in the second half. I think we scored 2-11 from play, so that sounds like a great achievement for us. So overall we are delighted. Donegal are always a team we look at, they have high standards and we've had great tussles with them over the last four or five years."
As for their next opponents the All Star said: "Dublin are probably the team that everyone's looking at in terms of scores, defence, everything, They're definitely a team we look at too. It's just going to be a great challenge. It's always a great game to have in Croke Park. We'll work on what we need to work on from this game and we are really looking forward to the challenge in three weeks' time. It's going to be a great game; I think Dublin/Mayo always pop up with big, big, games."
Working on the defence
The rabbit out of the hat that Mayo pulled in placing Barry Moran in front of Mayo's full back line to shore up a line that had been creaking a little bit in the previous rounds, was the selection choice that everyone was talking about afterwards. Asked after the game if they had something else like that lined up for the semi-final Keegan joked saying: "If I was manager I could tell you but I'm not unfortunately! I'll leave that to Pat [Holmes] and Noel [Connelly]. Again, we'll have to review Dublin's game against Fermanagh. We'll look at ourselves too. [There is] a load of different factors."
The improved defensive system is something that Keegan that Mayo had been working on after they had been hurt by some of the critisicm levelled at them after they won a fifth Connacht title with ease. He said: "We took a lot of slack conceding 2-11 against Sligo, so we had to work on something; we were kind of hurt from that. You always have to look at different ways for different games, and it depends on the team we're playing." As for what they will do against Dublin he added: "We'll just have to look at Dublin, see the way they play and how we set up. We've three weeks to look at it."
The Dubs gave Mayo a good beating in the league in Castlebar back in the spring, but that will not be playing on the players' minds going into the game, according to the flying wing back who said: "It's something we won't look back on too much. It was just one of those nights where we never got out of second gear, and Dublin just put us to the sword early on. No I don't think it's going to be a factor for us. Again, we've played Dublin enough times over the last five years to know … in championship we've beaten them and they've beaten us in big games. From that point of view, we know what we've to work on; they know what they've to work on. So again, it's going to be a huge game, one we're really looking forward to, and the guys are just biting at the bit to get at it."