Mayo need to turn the screw on Monday

GAA: All Ireland SFC quarter final

Up and over: Lee Keegan watches the flight of the ball against Roscommon last Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

Up and over: Lee Keegan watches the flight of the ball against Roscommon last Sunday. Photo: Sportsfile

Having shot the lights out in attack in Limerick on the previous Saturday against Cork, the Mayo attack misfired last Sunday against Roscommon, so on Monday they'll be looking for much better return. Registering just four points in the second half that stretched out to 42 minutes is a poor return in any man's language. Cillian O'Connor had very poor day with his shooting, but the Ballintubber attacking ace is more than capable of turning that around this time out. He scored just three points over the 80 odd minutes of action - just one of them coming from play.

He took on 11 shots in total, with seven of those from play. He had four of those efforts in the dying minutes of the match, one of them was from a very tricky long range free, while the other three from play were from positions that he himself would expect to execute from but he missed the target under pressure. While O'Connor will be disappointed with his return, he was still the man that Mayo looked to, to take on these vital efforts. On Monday Mayo will be looking for other players to take the pressure off him a bit more in general play. But come the crunch, if Mayo need a score late on, he's the man that most Mayo supporters will want to see with the ball in his hands.

Lee Keegan's performance, in particular in the first half showed exactly why he is the current footballer of the year. Despite picking up Roscommon's influential midfielder Enda Smith, Keegan ended up with 1-3 in the first 35 minutes and those scores were the reason that Mayo had pulled themselves out of a seven point deficit into a two point lead at the break. Keegan's influence was so great that Kevin McStay posted Smith in the full-forward line after the break to try and curb the Westport man's influence on the proceedings. Mayo were slow in moving Keegan back out of there after the restart and the result could have been different if Keegan has been allowed to operate further out the field in the third quarter, where he is much more influential.

What can Mayo do this time around to surprise Roscommon on Monday is the question people will have been asking themselves all week. Tom Parsons was a major loss to the Mayo midfield sector and if the Charlestown man is able to start on Monday it will add another bow to the Mayo attack. It could also allow Keegan to fall back to his more natural position in the half-back line and allow him to punch holes in the Roscommon defence from there. Andy Moran scored two points from play before he was called ashore, the Ballagh' man was under fierce pressure (both on the field and off it ) when he broke for balls all afternoon. Is it time to hold him back for the final 25 minutes? Along with his undoubted abilities it would give the Mayo crowd a major reason to cheer on the side when he entered the action. Conor Loftus was the most attacking sub that Mayo made, it could be time to give the Crossmolina youngster the chance to have a go from the start of the game and run at the Roscomon defence. Danny Kirby is another option that could be considered in attack, the Castlebar man has the size to cause problems for any defender and he has the finishing ability to hit the back of the net if he gets the chance.

The decision to remove Colm Boyle from the action midway through the second half is another thing that has the Mayo supporters talking all week. The Davitts man was putting in another big shift in Croke Park and kicked a vital score in Mayo's drive to come from seven down in the first half. It didn't look like Boyle was tiring out there and Mayo supporters will be hoping that he can bring the same high level performance again on Monday.

It will have been a week of intense revision and revising for the Mayo management team and players a like, but they have shown over the past seven years, when it's put up to them, they'll not be found wanting in leaving it all out there on the field, and expect nothing less again this Monday.


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