James Horan couldn’t have had a better start on Saturday night if he had dreamed it, especially when you hand a start to a young lad like James Carr and he bangs in two goals early. Carr’s second goal was a fantastic finish and it’s exactly what you want to see from a forward, when they back themselves to take on their men, but you’d have to question Galway’s defending as well, he cut right through the defence and that shouldn’t happen that easily.
Mayo kicked off at a lightning pace, it was like watching green and red teams of old. They were missing players and many had written them off, but they had a massive opening period. On the flip side, they kept Galway in the game the whole time and weren’t ruthless enough to finish them off. Galway missed a penalty and it had a huge bearing on the game. You’d have to wonder if Mayo were playing a real top side would they get away with playing like that? Probably not.
But it’s a good result for them considering they were missing Lee Keegan, one of their driving forces, for most of the game and Aidan O’Shea had a quiet evening. Their back where their supporters want them to be, and now we have the makings of a massive game next week in Kerry when Mayo come to town.
They’ll get a lovely welcome down here, don’t worry.
James Horan will be happy coming into the Super 8s though. He’s tried out all of his panel because of injuries, so he knows what he has to work with.
Mayo just bring drama with them wherever they go and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of that next week. As for Galway, it’s very hard to know where Galway are at. The knives seem to be out, especially for their system.
O’Connor’s boot is priceless
Cillian O’Connor was certainly moving well on Saturday night, a player like him will have been frustrated he wasn’t back earlier from injury. A free-taker like him – even if they are not scoring from play – they are still worth their weight in gold. He’ll always get you five or six points a game either way.
I remember when we played them in 2014 and he caused us all kinds of trouble. He’ll only improve with every game he gets and with him starting, you can then turn to impact subs like Andy Moran and Seamus O’Shea. They’ve all these players to come on to lift their team. Other teams might have one or two they can call on from the sideline as crowd favourites, but Mayo seem to have a few more lads to bring on and make a difference.
You’d have to say Darren Coen and James Carr will have to start this weekend given how they played, but the beauty about Mayo is you haven’t a clue who they’ll name. They are purring along nicely though. Kerry is a big test for them though and it will tell us a lot about both teams.
David Clarke should stay as Mayo’s no.1 though because you need to have a settled team. Chopping and changing goalkeepers throws the balance of a side off. Teams train hard on kick-out strategies and it can be very difficult for a full-back line if you keep changing their keeper.
I know myself from playing back there, you kind of have a telepathic relationship with a keeper and you know if they are comfortable behind you, them you are comfortable too. I hope Mayo will learn from what happened to Galway last night. David Clarke is a fantastic keeper, he’s solid in the nets and they’ve got no reason to take him out of there for Rob Hennelly again. Clarke has won a couple of All-Stars too, which shows you his quality as a player.
Carr hitting top speed
By the looks of it, they have unearthed a new star in James Carr. I’m always saying you can find a player in the League, but you never really know the condition of the player they were up against. The League is very hard to gauge. But, to do it in the Championship is a different story.
That turn of pace he had for his second goal was frightening.
He’ll only grow from that Galway game. It’s important Horan stands by Carr now and keeps faith in him. He’ll be a big player for them now going forward. They always said that Mayo were missing an inside forward with a massive pace, well there he is now.
As a Kerryman, you’d love to be corner-back on him the next day now though, because all you’ll want to do is mark him out of the game. If he doesn’t see the ball, even if you don’t get on it yourself, you’ll have your job done.
Monkey off Mayo’s back
It’s massive for Mayo to have knocked Galway out of the Championship. I know from my time, when we met Cork in All-Ireland semi-finals and finals, it was just different when it was do-or-die games outside of provincial Championship. Saturday’s win will be a huge boost for Mayo.
Now Galway still put up a big score, so Mayo and James Horan will have plenty to learn from the game. Saturday was all about getting over Galway and staying in the Championship. Like every year it seems with Mayo, they were plodding along after hitting a few bumps in the road and next thing they pull a big win out of the bag and drive on from there.
They’ve found the knack of winning when they need too as well and that’s a great sign of a team. Now Lee Keegan and Seamus O’Shea will have an extra week of fitness under their belts, so it’s all positive for them. Mayo are going well, but this is a different animal they are coming down to next week.
I reckon James Horan will give the lads that started the jerseys again.
He’ll know it’s a big game for them coming down to Killarney, but they’ll feel that they’ve got nothing to fear. From a Kerry point of view, James Horan had plenty to say about them after the National League final, like that they should have beaten Kerry by 10 points and that’s something as a player that will motivate you. You’ll be saying “that’s what he thinks about us” and anything you can use for motivation you’ll take it.
Now, I don’t believe the Kerry lads will need it because they’re at home and there’ll be a massive crowd in for this game. Kerry and Mayo has been a bit of a saga this decade, with the Limerick game and stuff like that. What better place to get Mayo than in their home patch. Hopefully, Kerry’s young lads will turn into men overnight.
It’s the biggest game in Killarney since Tyrone came to town in 2012. I remember that game and when you speak about getting monkeys off the back, it was just one of those games that we just had to win. It was as simple as that, we could not lose. This Mayo game for Kerry is a game they cannot lose. There’ll be a big Kerry crowd going in with an expectancy and maybe with their eyes open after Cork’s massive performance on Saturday. Cork were absolutely ruthless against Laois, so people might look at Kerry now and think that they weren’t as bad as they were made out to be after the Munster final.
Killarney is a fortress for Kerry football and with Mayo coming down, our young lads have to remember that Mayo didn’t spare them in Croke Park in the League final. There’ll be a bit of hurt there for Kerry, you have to look at yourself after being beaten twice by Mayo this year and say “it’s time to put a stop to this”. Where better than Killarney to do that?
Kerry up for GAA Galáticos
James Horan’s comments wouldn’t go up on the dressing room wall, but the Kerry players would be saying “where did he see those 10 points coming from?” It’s a good thing for Kerry to use. You are always looking for an angle to get yourself up for a game even more. As a supporter these days, I would think Mayo should have been happy enough to win the League without rubbing salt into Kerry’s wounds. You just feed off of those things as a player, even if I don’t believe Kerry will need much to get wound up for this one anyway.
This is the game we all wanted down here. When I saw Galway drew Mayo in the Qualifiers, I wanted Mayo to win because this is an ideal game for Kerry to kick off their Super 8s campaign with the Galáticos of Gaelic Football coming to town.
What else could you want? These are the games we live for.
Kerry need to die in their boots for the cause and get over the line no matter what. That’s what it means to be a Kerry footballer. We spoke about all these minors coming through for Kerry, but this is the game where you make your name. This is where we’ll find out – and quickly on Sunday – who is up to Championship level and who is not.
Kerry can hurt Mayo in midfield, Aidan O’Shea and the returning David Moran will be a great battle. Moran always seems to raise his game to play Mayo and if we get enough ball into our forwards, they’ll cause Mayo huge problems. Obviously, we need Paul Geaney going well and David Clifford will be our go-to player. Stephen O’Brien is having a massive year too. These guys have pace, they’ve football skills and they’ll relish this challenge.
Going back to the League final, everyone talked about how Mayo bullied Kerry. I hadn’t ever heard that about a Kerry team down through the years and that will stick in the throats of these Kerry lads. They won’t be bullied on Sunday, mark my words. If Kerry’s forwards click on the day, they’ll go to town on Mayo.