Mayo reacquainted with regret and left with much to ponder

Connacht champions left to rue missed opportunity to kill off Dublin

No whingeing, no moaning. Unfortunately for Mayo footballers, they have become masters of accepting a beating and this was another time when a quiet dressing room was full of ifs, buts and maybes and a tired acceptance that it wasn't their day. Again.

For a time early in the second half, it had seemed as if Mayo were masters of their own destiny. Four points in front and with a number of further scoring chances materialising, the script that was handed to them saw players fluff their lines. The chance to put further daylight between themselves and Dublin was scorned and possession was conceded far too easily.

Noel Connelly, the joint-manager, talked afterwards of Mayo giving up what he termed "easy ball" when his team had the opportunity to press on.

“We were four points up and I suppose we were well in the game. We ran at them quite a bit for the next five minutes and we turned over easy ball. At this level, it cost us. We had opportunities to go five maybe six points up. Maybe that would have made the difference. Look it, everybody goes out there to do their best. Turnovers happen. Everybody makes mistakes, so I think that period just after we went four up, we let ourselves down a little bit on the offensive side. In fairness to Dublin, they picked it up from there and ran at us and they got the crucial goals at the crucial stages,” said Connelly.


He added: “We feel if we had got more momentum, maybe gone five to six up, it might have been a different game and maybe those scores would have given us the lift and the guys legs to push on and finish the game. Look, it wasn’t to be.”

Those three Dublin goals were indeed the killer blow to Mayo's aspirations and Connelly admitted to a feeling that Dublin had got "the rub of the green" with the first goal, when Bernard Brogan turned the ball into the net after Brian Fenton's initial shot for goal was dragged across into the corner-forward's path.

“The aim of every team that plays Dublin is not to concede goals because they flourish off that, their confidence is up and they kick on from there in most games and we saw that today. When they get ahead it is very hard to break them down, they kept the ball well, moved it through the phases very well and we found it difficult to get it back off them,” said Connelly.

Much of the talk through the day in the build-up to the game concerned the DRA’s overturning of Diarmuid Connolly’s one match suspension but Connelly insisted it wasn’t a factor or a distraction. “We had prepared all week for his return to be honest with you, that wasn’t a factor.”

With Mayo's quest for the Sam Maguire at an end for another year, Connelly said the squad would regroup over the winter. "They are disappointed, but, as we have seen before, there is great character in the room and they will dust themselves off, they'll go back to their clubs and finish off the championship and leagues and they will be a few months away from the Mayo setup. (Come) Spring again, they will be fresh ....most of the lads are the right side of 30, so wouldn't be worried in any way about that."

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times