With the cheers ringing for the introduction of the Mayo senior team as they took to the field, Mayo minor manager Enda Gilvarry was able to reflect on a job well done safe in the knowledge that his minor team had already held up their side of the bargain.
The Connacht champions were hugely impressive as they dismantled a physical Monaghan team but Gilvarry was quick to point out that goalkeeper Mark Mulligan had played a big part in their semi-final victory.
“I don’t think the score-line reflected the full balance of the game. While I thought that we were good at times, Monaghan had a number of missed goal opportunities when they hit the woodwork and our keeper pulled off a couple of great saves at times when they could have put us under a bit of pressure. We’ll take that luck any time we get it, and certainly at the other end I thought the goals came for us at just the right times and it kept giving us a cushion to work off. The work-rate all over the field was as good and thankfully Mark mulligan was in the right place at the right time to make those saves.”
Very much singing from the same hymn-sheet as his senior counter-part James Horan, Gilvarry stressed that while the win impressive, there is still much to work on before they have the chance to capture a first All-Ireland Minor title for Mayo since he himself was part of the team in 1985. Asked was this the best performance by his charges all year, he was measured in his response.
“In some ways and it some ways there is an awful lot more to work on. At times we let opportunities go and at times we left our full back line exposed. The times we didn’t work hard enough on winning the breaking ball. These small little things add up to a lot of work that will need to be done on the training field in the next four weeks. Thankfully we have the opportunity to do that.”
Monaghan’s defensive structure was counter-acted by Mayo’s decision to go man for man, pushing up on the Ulster champions, and the end result was some majestic scores in their massive tally. Gilvarry pointed out that this is the way they have gone about their business all year.
“You could say that it’s just mad attacking football but it has been something we’ve done all year, we’ve decided to set out our stall as a team. We’re not bad defensively but we go and attack. We used the strengths we have in our team, that is attacking football and open football and that has been the plan so far. There’s no doubt about it they are excellent footballers, they are comfortable with the ball.”
The searing pace of the team helps he admitted, exemplified by man of the match Michael Hall.
“It always helps. Yes we do, we wouldn’t be the biggest team, and they are conscious decisions that we made. We looked at the squad and we said we would try and play with as much pace as possible because if we can’t outfield them we’re going to have to out-run them.”
The experience of playing the wide open spaces of GAA Headquarters failed to faze the Mayo lads but their manager acknowledged that it’s not an easy place to manage either.
“It’s hugely different and hugely challenging. It’s certainly different to club football or even in the early rounds of the championship, to get a message across the field, or to even use the radio equipment that we use, it’s very, very difficult. But these are all the challenges that we have to face and we have to try and work around it.”
A place in the final assured, Mayo can now sit back and keep a close eye on their possible opponents next week and Gilvarry knows that whoever they face in the September duel will offer a serious threat.
“I think it could be a very tactical game (next week ). Roscommon, I’ve been hugely impressed with them every time I’ve seen them this year, Tyrone play a little bit more defensively than ourselves, I think it will be a very interesting game.”