There is one thing for certain before a ball is thrown in this evening in Dr Hyde Park - and that is that Mayo will be prepared and focused to the best of their ability ahead of the game.
After his minor side last year getting just one crack at the championship, when Mayo were beaten by Roscommon in the same venue they will be playing in this evening - this year has seen the 2022 version of Sean Deane's Mayo minors go through the entire championship unbeaten; winning all four round robin games in Connacht, then collecting a provincial title and moving to see off Kildare and then Kerry in the All Ireland series to get themselves to within an hour of claiming the All Ireland title.
Everything has been building towards championship and breaking that run down into blocks of games and that was a conscious decision by Deane. Things like saying challenge games were pre-championship games, not challenges or friendlies, to get the minds of his side focused on one thing.
When asked was it a conscious decision to use the term pre-championship game for this end, Deane explained: "Yah, that’s it, we don’t play challenge games. Whether it is an in-house game or what, they are pre-championship games effectively, I don’t like the word challenge, because it has a different connotation completely.
"Everything we have spoken about since we came together on January 2, has been building on that whether it be the work ethic within the team or the respect we have for each other or ensuring the last thing we did before we left Tullamore was clean the dressing room - that was the last thing that was done.
"If you were with us last night, the guys were in ice baths and like a tsunami in the dressing room, but the guys were out with mops making sure that we left the dressing room the way we found it and that is having a little bit of respect for everyone we engage with, every place we go and that is crucially important, having a respect for themselves first and foremost and the management team and the jersey, the groundsmen and whoever it may be - and that is important."
One game at a time
As for trying to take his side's mind off what is an enormous occasion in a young player's life and getting them to focus on it being just a game, a similar tactic has been used, he told us.
"It doesn’t really faze them, we don’t talk about All Ireland finals or Connacht finals, we just talk about - and they are probably bored listening to this - that this is game two of two.
"We broke this down to three sections when we started. We started with one which was the pre-championship games, of which there was six, and we knew we’d have four more and we didn’t know any more than that. So that was game one of ten, then when we got past that we knew we’d have a Connacht final and an All Ireland quarter final, then we had a game against Kerry lined up and an in-house game and that was game one of four and we know where we are now at this juncture.
"It is a game and we even as a management team internally we don’t talk about that (it being an All Ireland final ) because that has no relevance really - the relevance is we are going to to play a game and be the best we can possibly be to make sure we represent our clubs, our families and the county with the best distinction that we can."
Going through the championship unbeaten to date is something that Deane is pleased about, but it has no relevance on what will happen this evening - even after beating Galway twice already this year, he added.
“You go out to win every game and are delighted with that, but it has no relevance if Galway lost one, two or three. They are in an All Ireland final, so our seven wins (before ), whatever about what they won (or lost ), are irrelevant, as they are still in the same place, so it has no bearing on anything as far as we are concerned and we take it game by game; so we will look back for learnings but in terms of winning seven games, it will have no relevance to what happens of Friday."
Learning from the past
Mayo struggled early on against Kerry in their semi-final, but they were able to work out the puzzle and get over the line in impressive style at the end of the day and while, to the outside observers, nerves could have played a part in Mayo's slow start, that is not something that affected his side, Deane believes.
"I wouldn’t say nerves, Kerry are a good side and they had us on the back foot for a period of time and there is no doubt about it and we had to come to grips with them. It was a different type of a game and I thought that even if they were on top we managed them fairly well and I thought Ronan’s (Clarke ) goal changed the game, even thought they came back and got the next three scores, I think.
"But again, the mentality of the guys is huge; if you go back to the Roscommon game and 0-5 to 0-0 down after about eight or nine minutes, and we rattled off the next six points, get a man sent off at half time and go in at half time down to 14 men, and again a lesser team and a lesser bunch of men would fold, but not these guys, because there is character there, huge, huge character. Kerry did very well in the first 15 minutes and we found it difficult to be totally straight but there will be purple patches in games that opposition have and you have to manage that as best you can."
Work done in previous years coming to fruition
Having been involved himself in the academy structure in the county before taking the minor job, Deane is full in his prise of the work being done at academy level with development squads.
"The other thing - and it would be remiss of me not to say this, but we are very fortunate that we have this group of players, but the work that has been done from an academy perspective at 14, 15, 16, has prepared these guys for us.
"It is not that we have come in and changed the world; a huge amount of work has been done, most notably at u16 level when Diarumid (Byrne ) had them and they did very, very well and albeit there are a few different personnel in with us that maybe was with themselves, but that work speaks volumes of where we are at this time.
"It proves one thing and people give out about academies and I was fortunate enough to be involved at u16 level as Gary (Ruane ) was before the minor job - it works guys, it absolutely works, no question or doubt about it; even the mentality of the guys, they are being used to playing together, they are used to having a Mayo jersey on and I think that is very much demonstrated in terms of the coolness of the guys at this juncture."