Bedevilled by injuries for most of the summer Michael Conroy served a timely reminder of just what Mayo have been missing with a superb cameo when introduced on Sunday. Playing his part in several crucial scores in the final quarter, the corner forward certainly put his hand up for a starting berth in September. He admitted that the way the starting Mayo forwards have been playing this season he knew he needed to make an impact when he got his chance against Tyrone.
“It’s a 20 man game now a days, when you get a chance, the way the boys are playing, you got to go in and do your best, you can’t do anymore.”
Despite his injury troubles he was confident that he would have a part to play before the championship ran its course.
“I hurt my shoulder at the end of the league after a pretty good league campaign and I was three months out with that and came on in the Connacht final and after two minutes I tweaked, and had a tear in the hamstring. I had to be patient, the medical team were brilliant but I knew I’d get my chance and I came on today and now I’m looking forward to the final. I have to put pressure on the boys, both on our full back line and our own full forward line for us to see can I get in. If I can’t I’ll just have to wait for the final and make the most of any game time.”
The strength of the Mayo panel has helped them to blaze their way back into a second All-Ireland Final and the Davitts star revealed how competitive it is in training, as players fight to make the starting fifteen.
“The thing about it is that nobody is safe on the team. That’s why training is so good. Boys are training at half six to get ready for eight o’clock, just to loosen themselves out so you won’t get injured because if you do you’re ruling yourself out, and that’s going to be especially so from now on because we’re in an All-Ireland final and everyone wants to be involved and it’s a great time for Mayo football. It pushes everybody on, it’s what makes us a better side.”
It was that sort of strength coming off the bench that helped them overcome the loss of Cillian O’Connor mid-way through the opening half.
“One man goes off, another man goes in, it doesn’t matter who it is. Anyone that gets injured we have players equally as good if not better to come off the bench. We have a luxury in that sense, Enda Varley came in for Cillian he played very well. I hope he’s ok but we’ll see.”
Trailing at the interval for the first time this year Conroy pointed out that they never lost sight of their ultimate goal.
“Maybe we were taking the ball into the tackle a bit too much in the first half. As the game wore on we figured it out. We were 0-7 0-4 down and we got it back to 0-7 0-6 at half time and then we kicked on at the start of the second half. We just stick to the process and keep playing. We don’t think of anything else, we don’t think of Tyrone, their players, anything like that. It doesn’t matter where any player is playing, we’ll go with it.”
Now there is another All-Ireland final for Conroy and his team-mates to prepare for, to fight for a starting place in.
“We have an extra week compared to last year and I suppose that’s the advantage for us. We’ll just stick to ourselves though, whether it’s Kerry or Dublin, it doesn’t really to us, we’ll just stick to our own thing and stick to the process and see where it takes us. We’re absolutely buzzing for it; we’ll enjoy tonight and see after that.”