Just after the final whistle had blown in McHale Park last Sunday evening and with the taste of victory still fresh in his mouth, Mayo manager John O’Mahony was still urging caution despite the comprehensive manner in which his side had just dismantled Galway. “It's two points at the end of the day, you won't be asking me about this next September, or October, or even July,” was O’Mahony take on people getting carried away following last Sunday’s result.
The Ballaghaderreen club man also knows that this Sunday’s trip to Omagh will be a very difficult test and nothing will come easy from the Ulster men. “I'd caution any elation after today. We have to go up to Tyrone next week and there'll be a backlash up there after what happened last night [Tyrone were beaten well by Derry in their opening league game last Saturday night]”. But O’Mahony knows that his side have been working hard and will have to work as hard in every league game in what he sees as being a very tough division. “The thing that people need to realise about these guys is that they are good footballers, they're working very hard and we'll see where that takes them. You take points where you get them, there'll be an awful lot of teams taking points off each other as this progresses.”
Last Sunday’s win over Galway and the fashion in which it was achieved took a lot of people by surprise, as common consensus was that Galway were flying under new manager Joe Kernan, while Mayo were looking sluggish and had not really got off the ground yet during the FBD league.
Mayo were at one stage 13 points clear of their southern neighbours but following the dismissal of captain Trevor Mortimer early in the second half the Tribesmen pulled the gap back to seven points at the conclusion of the contest. But the performance of a number of younger players in the side has given hope to Mayo supporters of a good run in this year’s championship. Kevin McLoughlin in particular stood out in the half back line with a fine display, and whether McLoughlin would be better deployed in the forward line or in the defence is an argument that will be sure to stick its head up over the summer. Donal Vaughan looked assured at corner back and even made his way up field to tag on a point for Mayo when they were flying on all cylinders. Seamus O’Shea, who lined out at number 11, but operated as a third midfielder, put in a really good showing, winning a lot of ball and distributing it well until he left the action after picking up a knock. Up front Garrymore’s Enda Varley will have enjoyed his 70 minutes after getting to grips with the game following a shaky start to the contest, and he finished up with 1-1 at the end.
O’Mahony was confident that the younger players would continue their growth in the coming months after the Galway game and that Mayo will be successful down the line. “Mayo have been in a couple of minor finals and won an under 21 final and won four Connacht u21 finals in a row, there are a lot of good players coming through now. But it's now about finding the guys who really have the ambition to see it through going forward. I have no doubt that Mayo will have a very successful team, but how soon is the question that we are all trying to answer as soon as possible.”
Tyrone for their part went down by 1-18 to 1-12 at the hands of Derry in Celtic Park last Saturday night, Mickey Harte’s men have been a familiar foe for Mayo in the national league since John O’Mahony returned to the fold as Mayo manager. Last year’s clash in the league saw the sides battle out a draw which ensured Mayo’s survival in division one, while in 2008 Mayo went down by two points to Tyrone in Omagh, the last time Mayo made the trip to Tyrone, while in 2007 a four goal haul by Mayo saw them overcome Tyrone by 4-7 to 1-11 with Conor Mortimer scoring a hat trick in Healy Park.