AFTER A SUMMER where Mayo have sailed serenely through their championship assignments, yesterday in Croke Park offered a different challenge.
Victory was ultimately achieved against Tyrone but the opening stages of the game did not offer portents of hope.
“Today was a grind,” admitted manager James Horan. “We looked very poor and it was the hardest grind we had, particularly in the first half.
“We were making poor decisions. We were taking the ball into contact, turning the wrong way and losing all the 50-50 balls. We started taking crazy shot decisions. We made every mistake you could possibly make.
“To figure out what was wrong and adjust and come through and kick on and take control of the game and win by six very pleasing. I think today was good for us and we’ll take a lot from it.”
“It was an All-Ireland semi final where we didn’t play well, certainly in the first half. We made every mistake you could possibly make.
“To figure out what was wrong and adjust and come through and kick on and take control of the game and win by six very pleasing.”
Mayo captain Andy Moran also spoke about the sluggishness that afflicted them in the opening period.
YouTube: Fintan O’Toole
Mayo had to overcome the loss of Cillian O’Connor through injury early in the game. In his absence Alan Freeman stepped into the breach but Mayo saw his first-half goal disallowed by referee Maurice Deegan.
“I saw the signal early in fairness so I didn’t get caught up in celebrations,” admitted Horan. “I knew it wasn’t a goal. It was okay.”
But after the break Freeman did find the net for a decisive score.
“It was an excellent penalty. It was at a key time and he absolutely nailed it. That gave us a bit more confidence and we built on it from there
“Alan’s frees and his general play was very, very good. But he’s been showing signs of that for the last couple of games so delighted for him today.”
Now Mayo go forward to an All-Ireland final aiming to atone for last year’s final reversal.
“I think we are in a better position every game we play. The last couple of games we developed physically, technically and skill-wise.
“We are starting to do that very well and are improving in areas. I think we are in a strong position now and we are looking forward to the next four weeks.”