Connelly looks forward to the next challenge

GAA: Connacht SFC Final

Shake on that: Noel Connelly shakes hands with Sligo manager, Niall Carrew at the end of the Connacht final. Photo:Sportsfile

Shake on that: Noel Connelly shakes hands with Sligo manager, Niall Carrew at the end of the Connacht final. Photo:Sportsfile

For a number of Mayo players it was their fifth Connacht title in a row on Sunday in Hyde Park, but for the Mayo management team of Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes it was their first in the senior job. Speaking after the game Noel Connelly said that, “We were pleased with the performance, everybody worked hard and that’s all you can ask of them going out and they delivered in fairness to them and now it’s about moving on to three weeks time.”

Mayo’s relentless intensity for the vast majority of the game was something in particular the former Mayo captain was happy to see. “You have to be pleased with that also, that’s the challenge everyday you go out, when you hit a purple patch and your intensity is high, you’ve to try and keep it up for 70 minutes.” He also said that during the league they really hand’t upped the intensity of the training to ensure that Mayo were in top condition for the championship. “We were conscious that they had four hard years, we didn’t train really hard for the league, with the view of maybe not burning the lads to early. Barry Solan is in there and he’s done a great job on the strength and conditioning side of it” he said.

He was fulsome in his praise for the influence of Aidan O’Shea on the game, but was also keen to point out that it was a massive team effort on the field. “He’s a big guy, he’s very strong, even if the ball doesn’t come in 60/40 or half decent, with the power that he has he’s able to win ball off his man. But Aidan is one of 15 and the supply going into him was very good, so I wouldn’t just focus on him and I’d focus on the team. He’d a good game and he played very well for us, but we’d know that and long may it continue. He’s a guy who can play the ball up and down as well as in the air, it’s good to have a man of that stature on the edge of the square that can do that for yah and bring guys into the play around him.”

Another of Mayo’s stand out performers on the day was Tom Parsons and Connelly said that this year the Charlestown man has really applied himself to make sure he’s in top condition for the challenges ahead. “He’s been there the last few years, he’s focused really hard and he’s got himself really fit this year and he had a fine game, but the team over all it was great.”

As for what lies ahead in the last eight of the competition, Connelly said that Mayo will have to make big improvements in defence for when that challenge comes around. “It’s going to be a huge task when we get to Croke Park, that’s where I assume the venue will be. We’ll have to up or game. We still conceded 2-11 today and it could have been three or four (goals ) only for chances saved by our keeper. We’d be very disappointed with that side of things and we’d have a lot of work to do on that and to try and cut that out and that’s what we’ll be focusing on.”

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