Gilvarry looking to end Roscommon’s three in a row dreams

While the Mayo senior team are looking to make it three Connacht senior titles on the trot on Sunday afternoon, at high-noon Enda Gilvarry will looking for his Mayo minors to end Roscommon’s dreams of making it a similar feat at the minor grade. The Mayo manager who is in his first year in charge of the minors, knows it is not going to be an easy task. “They’re going for three in a row and that speaks for itself in Connacht over the last number of years. In fairness to them they’ve dominated Connacht over the past number of years. They’ve beaten Mayo in each of those years as well, it’s a huge challenge, but no more than the challenge that faced us when we were up against Galway in the semi-final.”

Mayo’s semi-final win over Galway in Hyde Park a few weeks back was one of the most end-to-end games you’re likely to see this year, with Mayo coming on strong in the second half of extra time to claim the victory, but there’s plenty still to work on, according to the All Ireland minor winner from 1985. “The lads showed great heart and fight and huge commitment to keep going when at times during the day it didn’t look like things we’re going to go our way. But when you look back at it and review it in the cold light of day, we had an awful lot of ball that we didn’t actually use. We’ve a lot of things that we have to work on as well, we’ll need to improve no matter what challenges lie ahead.”

Mayo missed a couple of what would normally be very rudimentary frees in that win, but with a strong gale blowing down the field there were reasons for those misses, but they’ve been working on ensuring their reliability from dead balls all year he says. “It’s a concern, (missing the frees ) it always is, but to be fair to the free-takers, they’ve been exceptional all year, whether it was pressure or the wind which was a serious factor. But it’s something we’ve been working on before the semi-final and the Leitrim game and we’ll continue to work on it.”

Gilvarry reckons that even at minor level the game is very different from the one he played himself back in the 80s. “I’m sure the excitement and experience of playing for your county is still the same, but apart from that it’s completely different. It’s been a long time since I played minor, the game has completely changed. The speed and fitness of these guys, thank God I’m as old as I am, because I’d have never had kept with them. The training that they are expected to do and willingly put themselves through. I think in 1985 it was a hobby, now it’s a lifestyle choice, even at minor football. The intensity and speed they are using the skills has changed. The basic rules and skills have stayed, but the speed and intensity that the players are expected to play at even at club football are hugely different.”

With both the victors and the losers in Sunday’s final progressing to the last eight of the championship, it could be easy to look forward to that stage of the competition. But Gilvarry isn’t doing that or are his players he says. “I think a Connacht final is special in itself and we haven’t talked about a quarter-final or anything beyond what is now the Connacht final. I think it would be fair to say both teams are approaching it and trying to win it, after that we can look forward a see what happens in the All Ireland quarter-final and series. Each game brings it own challenge.”

The man entrusted to lead Mayo on the field on Sunday is Hollymount-Carramore’s Stephen Coen, a veteran of last year’s minor team who lost out in the All Ireland semi-final to Meath. The young south Mayo man is honoured to have the privilege to lead out his side on Sunday. “It’s a great honour for me, my family and my club to be captain.” But he reckons there’s enough leaders around the side with him to make sure they’re all pulling the right way. “The only pressure you have is the only pressure you put on yourself, me being captain is easy because there are so many leaders on this team, everyone is very vocal, everyone works together I don’t need to say to much, we all keep talking.”


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