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This win wasn’t lucky, it wasn’t by chance, it came about through sheer hard-work, believe in themselves and by playing some breathtaking football. It has taken Mayo 21-years to beat Kerry again in the football championship, but the jubilant Mayo faithful - who roared on their hero’s from the first minute to last, know that there is still a big job to do in three weeks time. But that doesn’t mean that this game is not to be savoured.
Not long after Mayo rattled in their third goal in the first half of their All Ireland quarterfinal replay win over Roscommon, the thoughts of plenty of Mayo supporters wandered to what will we do to stop Kieran Donaghy, the man who has inflicted more pain on Mayo in recent years than probably anyone else on big days.
When 15 minutes before throw in, it was announced that Footballer of the Year - Lee Keegan wouldn’t be starting there was an air of fear amongst the Mayo supporters who made the pilgrimage back to Croke Park on Bank Holiday Monday. But once the ball was thrown in that unease was soon vanquished as Mayo went right at Roscommon and rolled them over in impressive style at the second time of asking.
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.
It wasn’t pretty for a long time, but when it came to the crunch Mayo dug deep and ground out the win the required against Derry in MacHale Park. The wide count almost tallied the scores for Mayo on the day, as they looked like they might kick themselves out of the championship and only for a late rally they could very well have been looking at the rest of the summer free from inter-county action.
There has been a seismic shift in football power in Connacht in the last four years. After Mayo's 17 point drubbing of Galway in Salthill in 2013 it looked like it would take the Tribesmen light years to make up the ground. After slowly narrowing the gap in 2014 (seven point Mayo victory) and 2015 (four point Mayo victory) they have now caught and surpassed us, beating us twice on the spin in crucial Connacht championship semi-finals.
It was close. Far too close and tense in the final 10 minutes for heart rates. But for Johnny Heaney's superb double goal-line block off Danny Kirby and Diarmuid O'Connor, and it is questionable whether Galway would have contained the Mayo charge in the last quarter.
Mayo left Salthill with even more questions to answer than when they were turned over by Galway at the same stage of the competition last year. Last years win by the Tribesmen in MacHale Park - was seen as a smash and grab raid by the visitors, one that Mayo would learn from. This result was something else entirely, the decision by Stephen Rochford to drop Colm Boyle from the starting line-up was something that had everyone talking in the build up to throw in.
Mayo got over their first hurdle of the championship season with a nine point win over Sligo in MacHale Park on Sunday afternoon, but Stephen Rochford will be looking for a big improvement from him his side come their meeting with Galway next month.
The first round of the Mayo GAA senior championship was played out under blazing sunshine last weekend and threw up a number of surprise results with Hollymount-Carramore's massive 4-15 to 1-6 win over Ballaghaderren probably the stand out performance, along with big wins for defending county champions Castlebar Mitchels and Breaffy.