Mayo's experience could be key says former Rossie

GAA: All Ireland Senior Football Championship Quarter Final

Keeping close tabs: Mayo will have to keep a close eye on Ciaran Murtagh and the Roscommon attack on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

Keeping close tabs: Mayo will have to keep a close eye on Ciaran Murtagh and the Roscommon attack on Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

Former Roscommon goalkeeper Shane Curran believes that Mayo’s experience of playing in Croke Park over the past six years could be enough to see them over the line against his native county.

The 2001 Connachtt championship winner told the Mayo Advertiser that he thinks “the experience of Croke Park, that battle hardness that Mayo have, and no little quality as well, that and their physical power should be enough to see them beat Roscommon by three or four points.”

“But Mayo have shown frailties” he said, “and if those frailties come to the fore on Sunday, in their backline in particular, we have the forwards in Roscommon to take advantage of that. If Roscommon can knock in a goal, or even two, it’ll then be interesting to see how Mayo shape up to a chellenge from a young team that will be full of confidance. But I think if you are to look at it Mayo are probably strong enough at the back.”

Roscommon go into Sunday’s clash as the Connacht champions after their nine point victory over Galway in the Connacht final earlier this month but they remain rank outsiders for most pundits and the bookmakers. Curran thinks this could work to their advantage. “The more they knock our chances the better. It’s quite similar to the Connacht final when nobody really gave us much of a chance against Galway. I can understand the bookies opnion though because many people will see Mayo as a far more mature and seasoned team than Roscommon. They have been the best team in the country as far as I’m concerned in terms of consistency alongside Dublin.”

Kevin McStay was one of the frontrunners for the Mayo job following the resignation of James Horan in late 2014. On that occasion the Ballina native, alongside Liam McHale, were unsuccessful but Roscommon took a chance on them and have been rewarded with a provincial title. Curran was goalkeeper on the St. Brigid’s team that McStay and McHale led to All-Ireland club glory in 2013 and has great time for the Ballina duo. He doesn’t, however, think the fall out from their Mayo job application will have any effect on Sunday’s clash, telling the Mayo Advertiser “Knowing the individual that Kevin is I don’t think he will think about any added motivation from not getting the Mayo job. I know he was quite hurt the way the Mayo thing turned out but he’s continued on to do the Roscommon job and this year has done a fantastic one. Maybe it’ll look like vindication for him should Roscommon turn over Mayo.”

Curran, is clearly a big fan of Mayo and their style of football. He speaks in high praise of guys like Cillian O’Connor, Aiden O’Shea and Patrick Durcan but kept his highest praise for a member of his own fraternity. “I think David Clarke has been the standout goalkeeper for the last number of years in the country without necessarily getting the credit he deserves. His save against Cork was Gordan Banks type quality and it kept Mayo in the game at a time when a goal could have ended their chances.”

Curran believes Mayo will overcome Roscommon on Sunday, letting his head rule his heart, but is of the belief that whoever comes through the clash will come up against the Kingdom saying, “whoever marches on we back them in the semi-final against Kerry.”

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