Kerry win builds confidence in Mayo camp

GAA: National Football League

Watching brief: Noel Connelly keeps an eye on the action in Killarney on Sunday. Photo:Sportsfile

Watching brief: Noel Connelly keeps an eye on the action in Killarney on Sunday. Photo:Sportsfile

A seven point win over the All Ireland champions is as welcome a start to national competitions as any management team could hope for and joint Mayo manager Noel Connelly was pleased with how things played out in Killarney yesterday.

Speaking after the game, the Hollymount-Carramore clubman, who was the last Mayo captain to lift the league trophy back in 2001 said: “It's nice to get a win, two or three new fellas introduced to the team as well and the fact that they played well was a big boost to us. Mark Ronaldson did well in the corner, Stephen Coen did well when we brought him out to the half-back line and we competed well all over the field and that was pleasing. Any time you get that when you go out you have to be happy.”

The win over Kerry will have everyone arriving into training tomorrow morning with an extra pep in their step, Connelly also believes. “As a new regime, I suppose you always want to start with your first game as a win, because it builds confidence. Had we been travelling up the road on the back of a defeat it would have been hard coming in on Tuesday night, but now the lads have confidence inside of them and are looking forward to the next game against Tyrone. It's a thin line, but it make it a bit easier for us this week.”

As for the style of play that Mayo imposed on the game in Fitzgerald Stadium, it’s a familiar mantra to the last management’s philosophy, where work-rate is the key according to the former Mayo captain. “We're trying to work hard as a unit in defence and turn ball over and transfer it quickly from defence to attack and compete everywhere on the field once we're out of possession, everybody has to work hard and try and build that into the team ethos and if we build that right it's a good start.”

League is there to be won

With a win under their belts, Mayo can be confident of picking up a couple of more wins to ensure they remain in division one for next year. But if the chance arises, Mayo will be gunning to have a crack at picking up their first National League title since 2001, Connelly says: “Staying in division one is crucial, we always said that and if it's a thing that we qualify for the play-offs we'll take it as it comes. There's only two national competitions and we always treat it with respect, we haven't won it for quite some time and if we get to a play off, there's a national trophy at stake and you go and try and win it. For us now it's primarily to stay in division one, but if we qualify then we'll go hard to win it if we can.”

Mayo’s two goals came at crucial times in each half and swung the game in their direction, something that Connelly recognised. “Alan had a lot to do and when he got inside he showed a lot of composure to put it under the keeper' and Kevin is Kevin, he can do that for you. He's very sprightly on his feet, he controlled the ball well and stuck it in the top corner. It was a good finish, we needed that at the time, because we were under a bit of pressure around the middle of the field, because we had lost that battle of eight or ten minutes before that, we needed that to give us a bit of a lift and when Aidan came in it shored up the middle sector for us.”

While Evan Regan was the major concern following his horrific fall that saw him pick up a suspected concussion and a broken collarbone, he is thankfully on the road to recovery already, two more of Mayo’s forwards had to come off with niggles Connelly said: “Michael (Conroy ) has a bit of an Achilles injury, he didn't want to do any more damage so we took him off. Mark Ronaldson had a bit of cramp, that's why he was pulled.”

Seven subs and Tyrone test coming up

Mayo used seven subs over the seventy minutes and Connelly cleared up any confusion over the number by saying that “Evan Regan, I think he took a knock to the lip as well so he qualified as a blood sub”

It’s onwards and upwards for Mayo with Tyrone coming to Elverys MacHale Park next Sunday in round two and Connelly knows it will be another tough test for his side. ““They were leading at half-time and were turned over, they won't be happy and they'll be coming to Castlebar with a sting in their tails and we'll have to be ready for that. It's vital in our first home game that we win that. We'll have to work hard, it's only two points today, we need to knuckle down on Tuesday night and prepare for the next game.”

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