Mayo manager James Horan, summed up the feelings of everyone about the location of next Saturday’s All Ireland semi-final replay on Sunday evening after Mayo’s draw with Kerry.
“It’s bizarre that this is an All-Ireland semi-final and it can’t be played in Croke Park. If you just have a think about that, it’s bizarre. This is where every player wants to play,” he said, before going on to say, “It’s not ideal playing the game in Limerick and I’m pretty surprised that it’s the case. We’ll go and check it out during the week and we’ll be ready wherever it’s played.” Horan did confirm that Mayo were appealing the venue, but even at that stage the decision was a fait accompli no matter the protestations of Mayo’s management, officials or supporters.
But getting back to the game, he went on to say: “It was exhilarating to watch, to be honest, we had players who just weren’t going to lose.” As for what was said in the dressing room at the break following his teams tepid performance in the opening 35 minutes. “We just knew we weren’t playing and we talked about what we were going to do in the second-half. It’s pretty much always calm in our dressing-room at half-time. We just went at it in the second-half and just played.
“[Mayo’s second half performance] was probably as good as any team has played. Fellas just stood up. It was exhilarating to watch, to be honest. We had guys who weren’t just going to lose. The Kerry set-up – we were a bit in no man’s land with one or two of the things that they did. It took us a while to figure that out. Michael Geaney was getting a lot of ball in the first-half. But we sorted that out. Sometimes, when you’re not playing the game that you play, you can be thinking about it too much and get caught out. That seemed to happen to us a little in the first-half.
“But I thought we were excellent in the second-half. We drove on and played the game that we’re always trying to look to play, an attacking based game with high tempo and a huge skill set. When we do that we’re a dangerous team.
“In the first half we were a little bit tentative. We were slow, running into tackles, trying to hand pass the ball and loop it over guys – we were just off it a little bit. And it could have cost us.
“The display in the second half was great to see. The leadership shown by the guys was just terrific.”
As for Lee Keegan’s red card three minutes before the break, Horan confirmed that they would be appealing it. “I just had a look at it there on video. To me, it’s not a sending off. No way. The way I look at is, he was being held on to. It was like a shrug to shake him off more than a kicking action I would say. I’m not blaming the referee. You can see how it would have been seen. But to me, if we’re getting straight red cards for that, the game is going down.”