While the league is second fiddle in how a season is judged as the championship is still the be all and end all, last Sunday’s Mayo performance in Ballyshannon is something that will have every Mayo supporter worrying about how long Mayo’s summer involvement in the championship will last.
Bad days at the office are par for the course in almost every year over a league and championship campaign, but the manner of the collapse and defeat that occurred in the second half last week coming only a weak after a defeat to Down at home is what will have Mayo supporters fearfully looking at the current run of fixtures for Mayo over the next few weeks when they play Cork, Dublin, and Kerry in a row. Mayo did start well and were five points clear early on thanks to a Enda Varley goal. Mayo went in leading 1-5 to 0-6 at the break and a man up (after Rory Kavanagh was dismissed just before the break ). Even though they would be facing into a strong wind in the second half they would have been confident of being able to go for the win. But it was not to be as Mayo collapsed in almost every area in the second half. Midfield was wiped out by Neil Gallagher and Martin McElhinney. Mayo got their first score of the second period when David Clarke came up from goal to convert a 45’ with only a minute left in normal time, and sub Michael Conroy added another point before the death, but over the last hour’s play of the game Mayo were outscored by 0-16 to 0-4. A return of 1-3 for an hour’s football is plainly not good enough at this or any level. Mayo’s passing attacking movements collapsed with such regularity it put the back six under constant pressure in the second half, and Ger Cafferkey was dismissed for a second yellow card eight minutes before the end. The Ballina man was walking a tight line from the first half after he was booked early on and warned later in the half by referee Marty Duffy. His dismissal was for a clumsy rather than malicious challenge, but the damage was well done at that stage.
Sunday’s visit of Cork offers Mayo a quick chance at redemption and getting their league season back on track. James Horan and his brains trust will have been working hard all week trying to figure out how everything went so wrong last Sunday and formulating a plan to put it right for this weekend. Addressing the current slide in form is something that will have to be put right very soon.