The Mayo ladies booked their place in the All Ireland semifinal with an impressive quarterfinal win over a hotly tipped Donegal team last Saturday in Mullingar. Mayo manager Frank Browne spoke to the Mayo Advertiser after what was a very satisfying win for his team.
"It was interesting now all right, people doubted us, and we see this, and I've said it before over and over again, we see it in men's football and ladies' football - people might doubt character, but we said whatever else we'll do here, if we go out, we'll go out on our shields and we'll go out fighting and living for everything we've done," said Browne.
Mayo got off to a poor start conceding two early goals to the Ulster champions but they rallied back in brilliant style to win the game comfortably at the end. Looking back on the how they did it Browne said: "They got a goal, we got a point, they got a goal we got two points - the intensity that we brought to the game, the girls were out on their legs there at the end and you can see how much they gave for the jersey and you can't ask for much more, it was brilliant."
The showing of Grace Kelly caught the eye, with the Moy Davitts attacker scoring 1-4 from play and Browne knew that Kelly and others had it in them to drive Mayo on. "We hear so much [from outside] about this being the Cora [Staunton] show - and in the last five minutes when we needed her she got on some great ball, but Grace Kelly was superb, Sarah Rowe made so many runs in there, but we saw that in the Kildare game when they [Kelly and Rowe] scored 2-7 between the two of them as well."
"They have worked incredibly hard on their fitness, and fair play to Andy Moran he gave us free use of the gym and our strength and conditioning team have them in tip-top form, I was feeling there that there was a period 10 minutes into the second half when the game was in the mix and we drove on. Niamh Kelly drove down the middle and Aileen Gilroy drove down the middle and that was just a huge moment. Also Marie Corbett as our sweeper, she was just so good, she read the game so well."
Getting back to the All Ireland semifinal is where Mayo wanted to be at the start of the year, but they want to go further than they did last year, and they had been looking at last weekend's game from a long way out to make another step along that journey. "With all due respect to Kildare, we've been looking at this since the Connacht final, we worked and practiced for this, we have Cork and we will go away and get ready. Our ambition has always been to try and go further than last year and win the All Ireland, people might say that's big and that's arrogant or egotistical, but that's why we play sport, we want to be the best."
As for the challenge ahead against the multiple All Ireland winners from Cork, Browne says he is just concentrating on his team ahead of that one, but you can be sure he and his back-room team will have something up their sleeves for the Rebels. "All I'm worried about, as Aidan O'Brien said, you can only train the horses that are in your own stable and these are the girls that are in our stable and we'll take on all comers, people doubted our character and it was so nice to show them and say we're back."
You can read a match report from Mayo's win over Donegal at http://www.advertiser.ie/mayo/article/94621/mayo-down-donegal-in-impressive-style.