It was third time lucky for the Mayo Ladies last weekend, when they picked up their first win of this year's National Football League with a 3-14 to 0-18 win over Armagh in Clonmore. Mayo will be hoping that five point win will kick start their league campaign up a few gears, following defeats to Galway and Monaghan in the opening two rounds of the competiton.
Speaking about last week's win, Mayo manager Frank Browne summed it up saying, "It was well deserved and needed." He added: "As in all the different leagues at the minute it can be hard to judge where you are in the first two weeks, some sides have two months of hard work behind them and and others have just a few weeks, it is kind of from last weekend on you can see where people are really at, and it levels out a bit for everyone. It was a good win last weekend, a tough win, but one that we deserved and we're looking forward to tomorrow and the visit of Cork to Swinford for what will be another tough game."
Looking back on the previous two defeats, Browne said a little bit of discipline and early season rustiness contributed to those defeats. "When you look at it, in those games against Galway and Monaghan, we lost by the smallest of margins in both of those games, but with the sin bin, we played 25 per cent of those 120 minutes of football down a player, because we got three sin bins and at this level against sides like that it's very hard to win games. We've looked at that and when you combine a bit of rustiness at the early part of the year, you can be just a second out on a tackle that you wouldn't be later in the summer, and you'll get a yellow card and be gone for 10 minutes."
A place in the league semifinals is what Mayo are aiming for at the minimum Browne says, so they will not be sitting out of competitive football for more than two months until the championship rolls around. "We're aiming for that and then to make the final of the league like we did last year, because of the nature of the Connacht Championship, it's the ideal preparation process for the girls. If we can make it through to the final, like we did last year, it will leave eight weeks until the Connacht final, we took a week off last year after the league final and it gave us seven weeks to get the hard work done and preparation for championship, it's kind of the ideal lead in time, because if you don't make the knock-out stages, it could be close on three months before you get back to competitive action."
Mayo were boosted by the decision of Cora Staunton, Yvonne Byrne and Martha Carter to return to the fold for the start of the league, but one other key experienced member of the team is absent for the league, but is expected back for championship Browne said. "Yeah, Fiona McHale is off travelling at the minute, but we expect she'll be back before championship. It's great for her to go, she owes nothing to the game, people have to live their lives and experience new things, and she decided to go off for a few months and we fully support her in that. We all want to win and be winners, but at the end of the day, you've got to live your life too and she's doing that."
Mayo showed great fight last weekend, trailing by five points at one stage in the first half to go in just one behind at the turnaround, before they drove on for victory in the second half, with Sarah Rowe hitting 2-6 for Mayo along the way and Cora Staunton chipping in with 1-6 of their tally. The win over an Armagh side which had shocked Cork a fortnight before in the same venue is a great boost to Mayo ahead of the visit of the All Ireland champions tomorrow afternoon.