Walsh hails players character as they book Ring final spot

GAA: Christy Ring Cup

The men behind the team: The Mayo senior hurling backroom team celebrate together after booking their place in the Christy Ring Cup Final. Photo: Mayo GAA

The men behind the team: The Mayo senior hurling backroom team celebrate together after booking their place in the Christy Ring Cup Final. Photo: Mayo GAA

If the craic and fun that Mayo have a training, that their manager says they have continues this week - you can’t count them out of putting a Christy Ring Cup title alongside the Nickey Rackard Cup they claimed last year.

Mayo manager Derek Walsh was full of pride not long after the full time whistle in Hastings Insurance MacHale Park on Saturday afternoon.

Mayo were looking good when they were six points up with time ticking down but a late surge from Derry saw them cut the gap to a single point with a couple of minutes left on the clock and under pressure.

But they were expecting Derry to come at them and had spoken about it in the dressing room at half-time Walsh said.

“Job done. Not good, for the nerves the last few minutes, but we showed serious character after we conceded the goal in fairness.

“We did touch on it at half time if we did get caught with a sucker punch to keep going right to the end and not drop the heads and credit everyone to a man they kept going right to the end.

“We’re fit, we knew we had 70 or 75 minutes in us and we needed it today. Derry are a right good team they beat us by 20 points in the league.”

Mayo put in a serious work rate from start to finish and that showed in the stats at half time Waslh told us.

“In fairness to the stats guys at half time they just said they were off the charts, the best we had all year and you could see that out there. It was warm out there too and we kept going.”

But Walsh did feel Mayo could have been further ahead than the four points they were at the break.

“The first half I was very happy, the only thing I wasn’t happy about was the scoreboard, I thought we should have been more up at half time.

“The benefit of going up last Sunday (to watch Derry play ) was we got enough out of it to know how they were going to set up and play in the first half.

“We just didn’t take enough scores and I think we left them with five scoreable frees in the first half which was a killer. But look at the character you can’t question that in them boys.”

Mayo captain Shane Boland put in a man-of-the-match display hitting12 points and that didn’t surprise his manager at all.

“It was the same the last day in the last 20 or 25 minutes he was a real leader on the pitch when we needed him he stood up. For not the biggest fella he put in some shift and look he’s a great captain for the team.”

After a rough early start to the year, Mayo look like a team transformed over the past few weeks as to how they have changed it around so much Walsh said: “The Kildare game we blocked it off and looked at winning two of the first three, look at the character.

“We have good craic at training with plenty of banter going on the whole time, it can’t all be serious they are all young fellas who give over their lives.

“They are eating properly they are minding themselves, when we get training we have a bit of craic and we have two of the best coaches in the country in Damien Fox and Liam Hodgins in fairness to them - training is enjoyable.”

As for facing off against Kildare the Ballyhaunis man knows it is going to be a challenge but one he is looking forward too.

“Kildare are as everyone knows coming down from Joe McDonagh last year it is going to be a very tough proposition we will have to do some homework on them this week and see how we will come up against them.

“But look, we are looking forward to the challenge and they beat us well here in the first round, but we will have a plan put together for them and hopefully we will be competitive.”

Having not got into play in MacHale Park the previous week against Sligo, Walsh was happy that his side got to hurl there this time around and the size and space of the county ground was the reason they wanted to hurl there he explained.

“As you can see from the surface it is unbelievable, it is the nearest to Croke Park we have in the West grass wise, it is brilliant. I met the county board and I made the point that we're a small time and a quick fast pitch will suit us and so look, I think so was worth a few points. We love going to Ballina to and we’ve had some great games, but we fancied a bigger pitch.”

Now it is on to the great vast open expanses of Croke Park for Mayo and one more giant hurdle for them to climb and one they’ll be looking forward to taking on.


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