Mayo are bona fide All-Ireland contenders

While Galway were incredibly poor last Sunday and some of their defensive errors could be made into a coaching video on "what not to do in possession", you really had to admire how Mayo went about their business.

They were clinical and looked like a team with a glint in their eye to try to go one better than last year.

Considering they were down a few players like Michael Conroy, Barry Moran, Chris Barrett, Jason Doherty and Andy Moran, who came on to a rapturous reception, they looked like a serious outfit.

David Clarke was terrific between the posts and his restarts set up far too many of Mayo's rapid counterattacks. His kick-outs have improved significantly over the past two years and he is a player at the top of his game.

Defensively Mayo are strong. They know how to tackle in numbers, when to foul if necessary, and they have options from the bench.

Colm Boyle, who was many people's selection as man-of-the-match, Lee Keegan, Keith Higgins and Donal Vaughan (1-1 from play ) are impressive players. Vaughan does not like to be put on the foot, but he is a powerful man and supports the attack at serious pace.

To be fair to Galway's Paul Conroy, he did quite well on Ger Cafferkey who was an All-Star last season and Cafferkey was yellow carded for persistent fouling and was replaced at half time. Tom Cunniffe is a lively player too and the likes of Chris Barrett, Kevin Keane and Shane McHale offer options if required.

The two O' Sheas are good players too, and Aidan is like a man-mountain when he tears into the fray around the middle. He is in good shape this year and, if he adds a little subtlety and cuteness to his game when in possession, he can become the top midfielder in the country.

Ten different Mayo players scored

Up front Mayo shot 4-12 from play and the likes of Alan Dillon (0-3 ), Enda Varley (1-3 ) and Cillian O' Connor (0-6, 4fs ), who gave the pass for their last three goals, really caught the eye. Ten different Mayo players scored and competition for places will be intense between now and their clash with Roscommon in McHale Park on June 16.

Their management team has been significantly strengthened by the addition of Kerry native Donie Buckley, and he, alongside James Nallen, Tom Prendergast, Ed Coughlan and team manager James Horan, are a formidable outfit.

Their team psychologist is Kieran Shannon, and he has garnered lots of experience over the past two decades as a national journalist. He has studied Tyrone and Mickey Harte in great depth and adds a lot of value to a county trying to win their first All-Ireland since 1951.

They are 7/1 to win the Sam Maguire in 2013, behind Dublin (5/2 ), Kerry (4/1 ) and Donegal (9/2 ) and, considering that Mayo are likely to be in the last eight come the first week in August, they are worth serious consideration. And at the minimum, as an each-way bet.

They are a serious outfit now and are mentally strong. They were 2-1 to 0-0 down in last year's All-Ireland final and came back to put it right up to Donegal.

And they beat Dublin in 2012 and Cork in 2011 (1-13 to 2-6 ) - both reigning All-Ireland champions.

The county has been beaten in All-Ireland finals in 1989, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2006 and 2013.

Perhaps with a little bit of help from lady luck, this could be their year.


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