Mayo have it all to do on Sunday

Thumbs up: Lee Keegan was back in action for Mayo last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile.

Thumbs up: Lee Keegan was back in action for Mayo last weekend. Photo: Sportsfile.

Mayo find themselves second from bottom of Division One after suffering their third defeat on the spin.

To be honest I expected Mayo to get a pasting so if there is such a thing as a moral victory then this is one. Forced to line out against high flying All-Ireland champions Dublin without a host of seasoned regulars, Mayo gave a fairly good account of themselves.

Eoin O’Donoghue got a taste of what it’s like against the elite of the game when he got spun in the second minute by the gazelle-like Paul Mannion who roofed the ball past a helpless Rob Hennelly in what was a nightmare start for Stephen Rochford’s team.

Credit to Mayo they battened down the hatches and gave a good account of themselves for the remainder of the half. It was great to see Lee Keegan back in a Mayo jersey although his jersey didn’t last long as it was ripped off his back. His on and off the ball tussle with Ciaran Kilkenny was exhilarating and amusing to say the least. At one point Kilkenny prodded Keegan aggressively in the chest up to ten times and in typical Keegan fashion he wouldn’t back away and marched forward much to the frustration of Kilkenny.

Dublin’s five point half time lead probably a fair reflection on proceedings. It’s normally the third quarter when the Dubs put their opponents away and only for a glorious goal chance that was squandered by Adam Gallagher early in the second half Mayo would have made a real fist of it.

Dublin’s second goal put the game to bed as a contest. The ease at which Dean Rock worked his way through the Mayo rear guard a worry. Rock floated a hit and hope hand pass across the Mayo six yard box only for Niall Scully to athletically leap above Kevin McLoughlin and Robbie Hennelly to fist the ball into the net.

Defensively Mayo will be disgusted the way Rock got through and even more so that Scully latched onto his pass. It was a perfect opportunity to clean Scully out of the way when the ball was in the air. Man and ball should have been taken.

Cillian’s importance shown up last Saturday

There is no question Mayo are not scoring enough and are struggling to break through a packed defence. This time around Mayo failed to score from play in the second half. I watched the game in the vicinity of Mayo captain Cillian O’Connor and without having to say it, he above anyone will know the importance of converting hard earned frees.

Mayo had four different free takers who had attempts at the Dublin goal which I’m guessing may be some sort of record. Jason Doherty, Robbie Hennelly, and Andy Moran all missed very scoreable chances (Hennelly in fairness did nail a superb 48 metre kick ) before Conor Loftus came on to take the mantle. I have no doubt Cillian will not want a repeat of missed frees for the remaining games.

I’ve mentioned it several times before, some players are cut out for free taking and some are not, missing frees doesn’t bother some but for others its saps your confidence and your entire game suffers as a result. There lies the importance of a player like O’Connor.

Dublin don’t play by the numbers

My major gripe from last Saturday is the late changes made by Dublin just before throw in. Not one person was aware of them until the game was in motion. I spent the first five minutes trying to figure out who wasn’t actually playing for the Dubs until the tannoy announcer put me out of my misery.

I don’t get the reasoning behind it. It’s a nightmare if you’re doing live commentary on the game. Then a certain Diarmuid Connolly came on wearing no 17 and he wasn’t even named in the programme.

The GAA should impose some sort of penalty for teams making wholesale changes before throw in. In soccer your team has to be handed in an hour before kick off, the same should happen in GAA and if you deviate in personnel from the team handed in it should count as a sub used, that wouldn’t be long putting an end to managers naming “dummy teams”

Lillywhites will be no easy task

Mayo’s game on Sunday against Kildare in Newbridge is an absolute must-win. From memory the last time they played there in 2014 it was a proper shoot out with Paddy Brophy landing a late winner for the Lillywhites on a 2-19 to 2-18 scoreline. You won’t find any such scoring exploits this time around.

Kildare are rooted to the bottom of Division One after four straight defeats, lose on Sunday and they know they are as good as relegated. Add to that the fact that they have been quite unlucky in two of their games and on top of that that they are very disgruntled after captain Eoin Doyle’s dismissal last weekend for not having a gum shield in will only make them even more determined to end their losing streak.

Mayo have been in these tricky situations in the last number of years so hopefully that experience will guide them through. Mayo are priced at 8/11 while Kildare are 11/8. If you think it’s going to be close the draw is available at 15/2. That is of course if the game goes ahead.

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