Owen Mulligan: Does Jim Gavin think we’re muppets? Mayo are definitely on his mind

Two-time National League winner Owen Mulligan praises Mayo victory on Sunday and has some strong words for Dublin boss Jim Gavin…

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I thought Mayo showed great character on Sunday to win the National League. In the past, they would have folded like a deck of cards after conceding those two goals, but they got themselves better organised at half time and were much the better side after the break.

Maybe Mayo have turned the corner. At this stage, they’ve lost games every way possible and perhaps now, they’ve finally become battle-hardened to the setbacks.

James Horan knows Mayo GAA better than anyone else and he looks to be a man who’s under a lot less pressure now than when he first managed them. He’s more relaxed on the sideline and that reaches out to the players on the field.

You face adversity in almost every game and this Mayo team look like they have prepared themselves mentally for it.

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Marauding Mayo have found a killer instinct

Mayo got a taste of what it’s like to kill off a top-four team in Croke Park – when it mattered –  on Sunday. They had an opportunity to really hurt Kerry late on. However, when there’s silverware on the line it’s easy to see why they concentrated on game management – even if it did nearly cost them at the end.

Now that they’ve landed a national title, I see no reason why Mayo can’t push on and destroy a big team in the final quarter of games.

When you’ve got a player in the type of form that Diarmuid O’Connor is in, then anything is possible for Mayo.

O’Connor has stepped up and now we need to see if he can consistently deliver when he’s needed the most. Mayo can’t go on depending on the brilliant Andy Moran to pull them through tight games, so other lads need to step up.

We can’t underestimate the influence that James Horan had on the League final. He spotted a weakness in Kerry’s kick-out strategy and went after it.

When Mayo pushed up on Kerry restarts, the Kingdom made mistakes. Suddenly the accuracy of what they were doing just stopped.

Mayo hunted in packs around the breaking ball and that gave Aidan O’Shea the opportunity to sit back in the open space and spray passes all around the place. O’Shea’s a serious operator around that middle third and you’d have wonder why he was wasted at full back on Kieran Donaghy the last time the two sides met in the Championship.

Kerry need to man up a bit

Kerry players got thrown around the place on Sunday and secretly their manager Peter Keane will be more than happy about that.

They were getting things far too handy in the League this year, Sean O’Shea and Dara Moynihan were destroying teams. Sunday gave him a taste of what’s to come in the big championship games this summer.

They need to man up quickly in the physicality stakes.

Handling that is as much a mental thing as it is physical. It might take another year or two for some of the Kingdom’s panel to get themselves into that frame of mind.

Dublin can be stopped

Dublin are showing signs of tiredness. The desire to do five in a row will be there, but is the hunger still there?

They need Diarmuid Connolly back playing in sky blue, but I’m not convinced that he fits into Jim Gavin’s plans. The Dubs need to be working harder than they’ve ever done before, if they don’t want to be caught out by Mayo, Kerry or Tyrone.

Mickey Harte will be analysing every aspect of that game yesterday. Jim Gavin would have you believe that he was out walking on a beach somewhere. He’d be telling you that Diarmuid Connolly, Mayo, Kerry or anyone else are not on his mind.

Does he think we’re all muppets?

There’s not a chance that he won’t be fully aware of what went on in Croke Park on Sunday. There will be no five-in-a-row unless he was.

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