The loss to Galway was hard to stomach again, but it may end up benefiting Stephen Rochford’s men in the long run as it did last season.
Mayo’s form to date hasn’t been great, we were average against Sligo, lost to Galway – although I believe we’d have won with 15 lads on the pitch – and we didn’t set the world alight against either Derry or Clare.
Mayo aren’t at the level they once were, but I’m still convinced that they’ll get better the longer they remain in the Championship and can rattle Dublin or Kerry should they meet.
One man who has stood up in the Qualifiers is Aidan O’Shea. He’s had to deal with a lot of nonsense in the run up to this year’s Championship and it’s great to see him back to his best.
When you’re coming back from injury it can be difficult to get back to form, however he’s been Mayo’s best player by some distance since the loss to Galway.
I played with Aidan during the early stages of his career and he’s one of the most dominant players that I’ve ever shared a pitch with. He brings an insane amount of physicality to the game and his ball playing ability is seriously underrated, probably due to his size.
When you have the Breaffy man on the park the most important thing is to get him on the ball as often as possible, that’s why midfield is his best position.
When he’s in the middle he can win his own ball from kick-outs and act as a link man between defence and attack, something he does brilliantly.
I can understand the temptation of sticking him in on the square, but the problem is he has to rely on the lads out the field and he doesn’t get the same amount of opportunities to get on the ball.
If a number of Mayo’s other big names can raise their game to Aidan’s level then we’ll really have a chance against the top teams. Right now, he’s setting the standard and it’s up to the rest of them to match it.
If they can get over Cork this weekend they’re back to where they want to be – the quarter finals.
The Leesiders had a poor National League campaign and only managed to scrape by Waterford and Tipperary before being on the wrong end of a heavy defeat to Kerry in the Munster final. There’s a sense that all isn’t rosey in the garden, everything points to a Mayo win.
That said, they do have good footballers and if we let them get a hold of the game early on they could give us some trouble.
Mayo have yet to put in a solid performance, but I’m hoping they lay down a marker this weekend. If we can put together a solid 70-minute effort it will give them something to build on before having a right cut at the business end of the Championship.
Considering everything, I can only see one result and that’s a Mayo win by 4 or 5 points.