He was one of the last to make his way from the dressing room and throw his bag under the bus, and only a couple of years ago he might have been one of the last people that you would have expected to have been part of a Mayo side booking their place in an All Ireland final. But in the last two years Michael Conroy has worked himself not only back into the minds of the Mayo football public but back into their hearts too. He's veteran of the 2004 (where he scored 1-1 from the bench ) and 2006 All Ireland finals and an All Ireland u21 winner six years ago also, yet until this year he was off the Mayo radar for a couple of years. His form and drive in captaining Davitts to last years intermediate championship in Mayo, then Connacht and then on to the the All Ireland final itself gave the Ballindine man a way back into the Mayo set up and he hasn't really looked back since.
While he was delighted with the win in Croke Park on Sunday, there are far bigger fish to fry in three weeks time he knows. “It feels great yah, but you know it's no good just winning semi-finals, it's the final we want and have a go at, but it's great to get there an have a go at it.” But he knows the Ulster champions will be another difficult test. “But it's great to get there to the final, but Donegal will be very very tough, but we'll give it a rattle. You can't win it unless your in it, you know.”
Mayo got off to a great start with Conroy and his fellow five forwards all getting on the scoreboard before half time and that's something that he believes was very important in setting up the win. “Everyone tries to get off to a good start that's the name of the game, it's just to keep it going. We died down a bit and let Dublin back into the game. At one stage we were seven, eight or nine, I don't know ahead. That's a big issue we'll have to look at for the final. But we got off well, we 'kinda' won midfield for a lot of it and let the ball in early quick and that was the start of it.”
The Davitts man did admit there is still a lot to work on over the coming weeks in preparation for the final especially the way Dublin came back at Mayo in the closing 20 minutes. “That was a problem, but all we needed was one ball or two. But we knew we could hold it out, we brought on Seamus O'Shea and he got a good score. Alan Freeman came on and won a free and Cillian slotted it over. But there was little things like, we couldn't win a break at midfield, they just cleaned us out, that was the situation. But we got out and if it's good enough against Donegal we'll see.”
Keeping going until the final whistle is something that James Horan has instilled in Mayo since he took over according to Conroy and it's something they bring into every game. “That's the sign of a good team that when you go ahead and team comes back at you, you keep going and keep going. We want to play right to the bitter end and thats the way were going to do it and got us to the All Ireland final. If were one down or five behind or five ahead we'd keep going that's something that James Horan has put in us.”
Like last year, Mayo have dethroned the All Ireland champions yet will go into the final in three weeks time as the underdogs, asked did he feel that Mayo are getting enough respect for their achievements he said, “I don't know, we have knocked out the last two All Ireland winners in the last two years, but there is no good knocking out champions unless you give it a rattle. You can't win it unless your in it. We're there, we've three weeks to look forward to that and we'll give it a rattle.” And as for the hype that will no doubt descend on the county for the next 20 odd days, there is nothing the team can do about that is Conroy's view. “I can't control that nothing to do with me, if the fans want to go mad. It's nothing to do with us.”