Sunday was an amazing day to be a Mayo supporter and it’s great to be in another final. Stephen Rochford got his tactics spot on and made a load of his critics look like eejits.
However, it’s all well and good to be in a decider, but the only thing that should be considered a success is a first All-Ireland title since 1951. Rochford has done well over the course of his two years in charge, but we can no longer be satisfied with merely being considered one of the best teams in the country: we need to make a breakthrough and actually win something.
On Sunday, Mayo were far hungrier than Kerry but Eamonn Fitzmaurice played into our hands by playing a sweeper. There was so much room for our runners to run into that wasn’t there the first day, and the men in black and red really made hay.
We dominated the middle as well, which gave us a solid platform, and we never looked like losing the game from the very first whistle.
Our form has been up and down all year but I believe that we’ve now reached our level and will produce a big performance in the final.
We probably should have beaten Dublin at the first go of it last year, but we were missing that ruthless streak that was on display against Kerry at the weekend.
However, what they’ll face on September 17th in Croker is like nothing they’ve seen before. The Dubs are a phenomenal outfit and the 70 minutes they put in against Tyrone was as near to a peak performance as I’ve seen.
Tyrone were overhyped, but they’re still no slouches and were made look so ordinary against the Leinster champions.
Given the quality of Dublin’s defence, space will be at an absolute premium and it’ll be very difficult for us to rack up scores like we did against Kerry. The Dubs also have the best bench in the country, which can make a huge difference in the final quarter.
That said, Mayo need to focus on themselves. There was too much attention paid to negating Donaghy in the first game, which took away from our performance.
Rochford has surprised us all year with a number of leftfield calls but I think he’ll play it straight in the final.
The Dubs have a very settled side and have shown that they can play against any system or tactic that they come up against. They’re such a formidable side and I can’t see the benefit in trying something that might backfire for the sake of surprising them. It just wouldn’t make any sense.
It’ll be a huge ask. Still, we’ve had a good run and hopefully the hype will be kept under control over the next couple of weeks, which will allow the players to get their head in the right space for the big one.