Paddy Durcan is working his way back to full fitness after having to come off injured at half time in the All Ireland final last December against Dublin.
The Castlebar Mitchels man felt his quad tweak early in that game and by half time he knew himself he was unable to continue at the level he needed to be at he told us.
“I was fine going into the game no issues at all, I had no real injuries for the most part of the season, but just after a few minutes I pulled a quad I think it was three and half minutes in and then 17 minutes in right before the water break, got real more damage done on it and to be honest I was very limited and did well to make it to half time as I wasn’t able to move at the level I wanted to, it is what it is, no point in complaining about it too much.”
With the action still to resume on the training field ahead of whenever Mayo get back in action, the extra break from activities will hopefully see him in top shape when it is time to get back to Mayo duty he hopes.
"Obviously we haven’t got back to training, I have got scans on it, but I would be hopeful enough that when we do get back, be that in the next few weeks, I would nearly be on point.
“I suppose it is one benefit that if the league had taken place when it normally does, in January and February, I would be pretty confident I would have missed most of it if not all of it, so that is one positive to take out of it, I would be hopeful that I would be able to make it back.”
Having to watch on from the sidelines was tough during the second half of that game he added, but Mayo were there or there about he believes going down the home straight of that loss.
"It goes by so quick, once the decision was made at half time, you try and support the guys as best you can and have a few words with them. It was tough watch in the second half, when you have no major influence on it.
“Look we were in a good position up to the last quarter. I think there was one in it maybe going into the last quarter and Dublin got a couple of scores quickly at the start of the fourth quarter that was probably a big point in the game and we struggled to get back into it, but look it was probably a tough watch, but it is what it is - you move on from things as well.”
As for when Mayo get the not to go again a good month lead up will be needed he feels if teams are to hit the ground running and fully ready to go
“You are going to need three to four weeks anyway, just to get to that match intensity even from an injury prevention point, if we are only going to get and week then have to play games, you can be pretty sure that there is going to be a lot of guys who will break down, because you can’t just replicate that on pitch demands, definitely going to need a few weeks - the longer the season gets delayed I don’t know how long you’ll need. But if you talk to Conor Finn our S&C he would say that he would want a few weeks with us to get us up to our intensity level.
“We’ll see what transpires in terms of the league, if we get three to five games - it will be just important to get games to try and gel the team, in a normal season you can have four to five months to gel your team to try and get a championship team ready that is not going to the case for any team this year, we need to get games, games and even if it is training ones for James and management to decide on what set up they want to go with or personal.”
The resumption of the league in Autumn through to the All Ireland final saw a number of new faces emerge as real players for Mayo and the aftermath of the game has seen a good few experienced players decide it was time to hang up their boots - so it will be a much different Mayo set up that Durcan comes back into when they get the go ahead to resume.
Looking back on the truncated end of the season last year it was enjoyable the Castlebar man says.
“It was great honestly - it was great to just go out and play at that time of year, there wasn’t much happening besides that and in fairness we had a good Connacht Championship with a good couple of wins, starting off with Leitrim and then Roscommon and Galway in their respective home grounds so that was positive,
“The integration of a lot of new young lads, there was a lot of positive throughout the year and hopefully it bodes well for us going into this year and I’m sure there will be a lot of new lads coming through as well.”
“So obviously look, we have lost a good couple of guys who have massive experience around the group so I look it is going to happen to everyone at some stage, but teams evolve and we brought through a good couple of guys last year and that is probably going to be the case again with guys stepping away, that is part and parcel of sport, when your time comes to move away it comes - you can only give your best for as long as you can and then you walk away.”
Durcan is now one of the experienced old heads who will have to guide the younger lads through the life of an inter-county footballer something that he has no qualms in doing.
“I think that is important in any team environment, when you come in as a young person, you can be a bit sceptical at the time, you are coming into an environment and you don’t know what it takes, what it entails or how you will be received - so we were all in that boat someday.
“I was in that boat in 2015 when I came in and a couple of guys were great to me when I came in and it does make you feel at ease, so now the table has turned in a certain sense I have a few years under my belt and I will try to be as open and accessible to young guys and make it as easy integration into the squad as possible.”
As for who has impressed him most of those younger players who have come on, they have all staked their claim and that’s all you can ask for he thinks.
“There has been a load’s of them, but the main thing if I’m honest is they have really good attitudes and they are just demanding and are not in just, they are fearless they just want to come in take a jersey and be the best they can be.
"That’s maybe the most impressive thing about them, they are not holding back for anything and you can see that from their performances and that is probably the most positive element and they definitely brought a whole new lease of life to the team.
“Competition is defiantly ferocious enough last year and when a team dynamic changes with the introduction of the pace that the likes of Tommy, Oisin and Eoghan brought - it benefited us as a team.”
Getting over Dublin and finally reaching the goal that has eluded Mayo since 1951 is something that Durcan doesn’t think Mayo are that far away from doing.
“I feel like any time we have played them there hasn’t been too much between us and the year gone by there hasn’t been too much in it as well, look they are obviously and it is alluded to a lot and they are a brilliant team, in some ways they probably haven’t got the credit they deserve for what they have done, but we certainly feel like are one of the few teams who can match them and we always love the challenge of playing them.”
As for the game evolving and changing since he made his Mayo debut back in 2015 - Durcan thinks that things have moved on a bit when it comes to conditioning and how teams approach games.
“The athleticism is really important, maybe it is probably improving all the time with the level of conditioning of teams, maybe it is gone when I look back at maybe five years ago it was a small bit more defensive - especially last year it was maybe more an open game in some capacity in the way the teams want to set up it was a small but more open, but then generally the games that we play against the likes of Dublin and Kerry are open anyway - but maybe it is a small bit more open and teams are having a bit of a go more - but the level of conditioning is improving all the time.”
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